weddings

'My best friend just got engaged. The wording of her announcement triggered me beyond belief.'

Last Sunday, whilst sitting across from my two best friends sipping on a glass of wine, I was triggered.

And, despite my best attempt at playing it cool, I very nearly lost the plot.

You see, my friends are getting married. They got engaged last week. 

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Right now, they are floating around in a beautiful, wonderful love bubble. 

The proposal is recent enough that they are basically still living it and the wedding is far enough away that it’s not coming up in their wall planners just yet.

I watched as they giggled and chatted about wedding venues, bridal parties, colour schemes and honeymoon destinations. I felt happy for them - truly happy. This is something we’ve all been waiting for for a very long time.

Then, the groom-to-be - one of my favourite men in the entire world - said something that set me off in ways I can’t really explain.

“We’re not going to get stressed.”

Yep, that’s it. My reaction felt completely illogical and drastically unfair but it was undeniable: I was infuriatingly triggered.

The problem was that at the time I couldn’t quite work out why.

But now, after considerable reflection, I think I’ve been able to put my finger on it. 

It was just over three years ago that I was in their exact position looking ahead at my own wedding. 

I remember how glorious the love bubble felt and how incredible it was to finally be able to officially begin organising the best day of my life. 

I made the decision very early on that I too was not going to get stressed.

I believed stress was controllable and I was ready to control it. 

So, as friends and family began to come at me and my fiancé with often very helpful advice, I got into the habit of shutting them down with one little sentence, “we aren’t stressed”.

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I did this because, although it’s almost shameful to admit it now, I really did think I knew better than everyone else. 

I’d like to say it was because I was afraid of stress or I thought anxiety was going to be my downfall but unfortunately for me that just wasn’t the case. I wanted to have the perfect wedding and be the bride that surprised everyone with my incredible poise, chill-vibes and organisational skills. I thought that to do this I had to achieve the unachievable - I had to remain completely stress free.

And I had absolutely no doubt that I was able to do that.

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I took on the ‘no-stress’ rule like a contract to myself. 

I was certain that as a professional event manager, with quite a few mishaps under my belt, there was absolutely nothing that could surprise me or even get close to stressing me out. 

Unfortunately though, none of my experience compared to - or prepared me for - organising my big day. Not even a little bit.

The first few months were fine - even great. It turns out the love bubble does last for quite a while. We had fun perusing venue options, daydreaming about our first dance, and creating Pinterest boards. 

It wasn’t until the last six months that things really got interesting.

Decisions had to be made - constantly. ‘Where do you want this on the table?’ ‘Do you like this flavour of cake?’ ‘Who do you want in each of your photos?’ ‘What song is going to be playing while you sign the documents?’

The questions were firing constantly from almost everyone in our lives.

In between the never-ending decision making came the well-intentioned (but rarely useful) pep talks from nearly everyone around us. 

‘Remember, it’s just about you two - no one else matters’ (Definitely not true). ‘Just have fun, you only get to do this once’ (Luckily this one is true but not particularly helpful).

The combination of these things meant that we had no choice but to become entirely consumed by wedding talk. 

And although I had an incredibly organised budget on Excel, a shared wedding planner on Asana, and a run sheet that was down to the finest of details - there were still varying levels of disasters happening all around us that I had absolutely no control over.

By the time we got to the week of the wedding, I was a wreck who was barely holding it together. 

I very nearly didn’t have a dress, our event manager was a no-show, our wedding stylist had gone MIA, and we had absolutely no idea whether our guests were even going to be able to make it to the wedding at all (the whole thing was on an island).

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Despite this though, I fiercely stuck to my ‘no-stress’ rule. I had made a promise to myself and I had every intention of keeping it. 

Not once did I reach out to anyone for support or give any hint to the people around me that things weren’t a-okay.

If I’m being honest, by the end, I’d even convinced myself I wasn’t stressed. 

It wasn’t until the final night before the wedding, as I hid in the bathroom with my fiancé, that I realised that perhaps I wasn’t really okay at all. In fact, I realised that I’d made a pretty big mistake.

Though the no-stress approach had saved me from the really tough emotions, it had also blocked out the possibility of the really great ones too.

I knew in that moment that if I was going to have any chance at a wedding that I really did enjoy, I needed to let go of the crazy expectations I’d put on myself and lean in hard to all of the feelings - stat.

So, on my wedding day I made a point of opening up my eyes to everything that was happening around me. 

I felt the whole range of emotions and allowed myself to truly lean on those around me as I rode the roller coaster.

As soon as I did that I was met with overwhelming support. I realised that I had a whole tribe of incredible people around me that I had been pushing away for months.

Our wedding was beautiful and wonderful. 

Amongst dozens of highlights, both my husband and I agree that the best bit was watching our favourite people come together to make miracles happen for us and truly opening ourselves up - for the first time - to the love that they were so ready and willing to give.

My only regret is that I didn’t give myself the chance to experience that love earlier.

So, as I sit here now reflecting on all of this, I now know why I felt so incredibly triggered when my two best friends told me how they just ‘weren’t going to subscribe to stress’ for their wedding. 

It felt like I had been catapulted back three years and had the chance to restart. 

But, because I didn’t yet understand my own emotions, my reaction in the moment was bad. It was really bad.

I instinctively knew that I wanted to save them but I just didn’t know quite what from just yet. So I began hopelessly word vomiting in an attempt to communicate feelings that I didn’t yet understand myself. Phrases like, “I don’t want to be that guy” and “If I can just give you one piece of advice” started falling out of my mouth. It was unhelpful and a bit of a downer. 

Unsurprisingly, the result was that I achieved precisely nothing. In fact, I actually created a bit of tension. By chucking out all of my cautionary tales, I made it out like I don’t think that they’ve got it handled and even worse made them feel like I wasn’t bursting with excitement for their wedding.

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Both of which are obviously not the case.

Looking back now, I know that what I should have said goes something like this:

Your wedding will be an experience you will never forget. You will feel more in love than ever before. This love bubble you’re in right now really can last.

But, whatever you do, don’t miss out on the good bits for fear of the bad ones.

One of the things you have to look forward to is feeling the love of your tribe.

To unlock this love, unfortunately you’re going to have to experience some of the bad bits that come along with wedding planning. 

One of those bad bits is stress.

When you feel it, the key is to reach out and give the people in your life permission to be there for you. Be vulnerable with them.

When you do this, they will not disappoint you. They won’t meet you with judgement or pity. 

In fact, they will meet you with the support you need to get you back on your feet again.

And if you’re really lucky, you’ll have a few special people who will arrive at your door with wine in hand ready to experience the emotions alongside you - even if that just means emptying the bottle together.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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