For all of my hesitations and doubts about the wedding itself, there are also tons of parts that I'm really enjoying. I've seen a lot of angst running around the wedding web lately and I relate to it. But I wonder it there isn't an echo chamber vortex that's pulling us deeper into the challenges instead of lifting us out and back into the good stuff. And it's important to talk about the challenges that aren't all rainbows and soft-lit love, but it's equally important to talk about the good. Because there definitely is good stuff too, and I'm definitely not talking about the dress, the cake, or the pretty inspiration boards.
When I started realizing this relationship with Jason was different, was bigger and more meaningful than anything else, I didn't know what to make of it. I couldn't tell if it was love, because it didn't feel like the messed-up versions of love I'd experienced before. So I did a lot of reading about "what is love?" and a lot of trying to decide what love and marriage and commitment really mean. (Yeah, marriage. At five months in, I knew this could eventually get there, even if it wasn't remotely on my near-term radar.) So what does it mean to fall in love with the right person, outside of the BS notions of Prince Charming perfection or tortured unrequited yearning, or the I-can-save-him impulses (yeah, I've been to all of those dark places.) In my process of research, I found one idea that really resonated with me, and has come to matter in non-relationship aspects of my life as well: the 80% concept.
It's the idea that nothing is 100% perfect: not a job, not a house, not a relationship, and not a wedding. I'm certainly not perfect, so it's ridiculous to expect that a relationship will be. Extend that to your family, and you can see why wedding perfection and ease-of-implementation is one big, silly myth. So if you get 80% good and 20% bad, you're one of the lucky ones. I'd go so far as to argue that 70% and 30% bad is a pretty good ratio too, as it certainly falls squarely on the positive side of the equation. (Good and bad are also contextual, of course. If you're in a relationship where he's great 80% of the time and physically assaults you the other 20%, there's zero good in that. But you know that's not what I mean in the 80/20 analogy.) The point is that life is full of great and awful moments, so we should try and focus on the great things, mitigate the bad to the best of your ability, and ultimately accept that everything is a trade-off but that you certainly have it pretty good at 80% awesome.
The point is, that I think there's a lot of great things about planning a wedding, if you do it right. Is it 80%? I'm not sure. There are tons of frustrations, ridiculous expenses, and absurd pressures from yourself, your family and society at large. However, I want to make it clear that I'm finding a lot of reasons to truly enjoy this process too, and it's certainly over the 50% positive threshold. So, this week, I'm putting aside the angst to focus on the pleasures, joys, and all the reasons that planning a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime process that I am savoring. Maybe it's 80% joy and maybe it's somewhat less, but I want to move beyond the concept of loving/hating our DIY projects, loving/hating picking flowers, and generally all hating our financial constraints. Because weddings are something a lot more than that. Weddings are (hopefully) joy, in all their myriad forms, despite all the also-associated stresses. Despite those stresses, I'm not convinced that rushing towards marriage, regardless of how long we've been together and how committed we were before the engagement, is the best way to approach the process.* I'm finding that my eventual marriage will be stronger and more fulfilling because of this process of working through the stresses together. We're consciously taking time to appreciate each other, to learn new and nuanced layers about each others' personalities and families, and discovering surer footing as we learn to stand together as a solid unit, facing challenges wedding planning head on. So, this week, I want to get back to focusing on that 80% joy, in all its complexity, and give a big eff you to the 20% of the cr*p that's outside of my control anyhow.
*nor is it the worst way to approach the process. There are benefits to both approaches.