I used to think I was pretty good at making plans. Give me my iPhone and a clipboard and I can conquer the world.
Last month, much to my delight, the man I had been falling in love with for almost three years asked me to marry him. It was such an exhilarating couple of minutes, realizing that Jim was, in fact, the one I would spend the rest of my life with. Excitedly, we began sharing the news with friends.
Then the madness began, and I realized I knew nothing of making wedding plans.
"Have you set a date?"
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"What colors have you picked?"
"Silk or satin?"
"Sit-down dinner or buffet?"
"DJ or live band?"
"Do you need a photographer?"
"What song will you dance to?"
"How many bridesmaids?"
"Where will you register?"
And that was just the first day.
I hadn't really contemplated these questions. While dating, my fiance and I talked about things like family, children, finances and our mutual love of bacon. When he got down on one knee and proposed, I was caught off-guard but I wasn't surprised -- it's not like we had been hanging out all this time just to take advantage of the two for $25 special at Applebee's. We both believed the point of dating wasn't just to hang out, but to figure out if God was calling us to marriage.
With that "yes" and a celebratory toast, however, the angst of wedding planning arrived like a wrecking ball, shattering the confidence I once had in my ability to plan a party or pick out a dress. There are now magazines offering me checklists to use every day, not to mention Pinterest and discussion forums. While I sleep, brides (and mothers) across the country are busy uploading their ideas for converting wine bottles into hanging lanterns, which guarantees that any peace found overnight will be instantly shattered by going online and realizing that no, I hadn't considered 23 ways to incorporate gingham into centerpieces but hello hot glue gun, call the bridesmaids because now there's one more teeny, tiny thing I'll need help with.
Confession: While I'm ecstatic to be marrying Jim, I've never been so overwhelmed by all the decisions, planning and options. When I realized the thought of finalizing a guest list was actually making me light-headed with worry, I shared my angst with a priest for some spiritual perspective.
"Father. I'm losing sleep trying to figure out if I need to invite the teller at the bank to my wedding. I can't remember her name, but once I recommended my favorite hair gel to her and now I feel like we have a bond. But if I invite her, it'd be wrong not to invite her husband and the lady who makes the samples at Publix. She always gives me two desserts. What would Jesus do, and why are you looking at me like I'm crazy?"
Smiling, the priest began, "You're worried about what people will think. And that makes sense; it's a big day and it does take lots of planning. But as you make all these plans, remember that there's only one person you and your fiance need to please. And that's God."
Oh right. Him.
This wisdom reminded me why I had said, "yes" to Jim's proposal in the first place -- before I realized that wedding planning is not all fun and cake tasting, fueled by an industry that's created 19 synonyms for "white." I said yes because the more I got to know Jim while we were dating, the more convinced I became that not only did we have fun together, Jim was the person who would challenge me to be a better person and help me get to heaven. Looking at our lives with the end in mind, we know that this isn't about planning an event; it's about answering a lifelong call to love each other, inspired by God's love for us.
On Feb. 14, Pope Francis spoke to 10,000 engaged couples gathered in St. Peter's Square and reminded them that the party and the dress "are important aspects of a feast, but only if they are able to indicate the true reason for your joy: the Lord's blessing upon your love."
Our wedding day will hold 101 details that may or may not go according to Pinterest or the Real Simple magazine wedding guide. I may forget to invite a fourth cousin or -- my biggest fear -- the Hilton Head Island humidity may leave my hair irreparably frizzy. However, the only detail that really matters is that Jim and I will be saying "I do" to each other and to God.
Remind me of that next time I look at Pinterest.