It was, to say the least, a difficult period in my life. And the first moment that I really and truly knew I'd be okay happened while sitting alone in a park. I couldn't walk, and so I could only sit there and take everything in. I watched dogs playing offleash. I watched kids playing frisbee with their parents. And I leaned back into the smell of fresh springtime grass and blooming flowers and it suddenly hit me: he and all my mounting problems couldn't take away from the simple pleasures of a sunny day at the park. Life could fall apart around me, and still, I could always take solace in a quiet moment of beauty. And I could string together these small moments of everyday beauty until sometime, someday, they added up to a recaptured life of fully appreciated joys.
I picked a few small yellow flowers from next to me and stuck them behind my ear, and I somehow turned an emotional corner. It took a year to recover from him and my own complicity in my relationship patterns, and I've managed the health and financial impacts just fine. But I learned something more important about how imperative it is to search out small moments of imperfect beauty in my everyday.
All these memories came flooding back last week after reading Ms Awesome's eloquent post about why the details do actually matter in our weddings:
After trying so hard to carve some sanity for myself in this wedding process (and budget) with a giant eff it to the unimportant stuff, this post hit home. Because, while it's true that pretty invitations, unique centerpieces, pinatas, bouquets, a stunning dress, and all the other details don't matter one whit in crafting a meaningful or beautiful wedding, they have a fierce pull on my heartstrings for more than simply aesthetic reasons. Aesthetics are deeper than superficial markers of wealth, theme, and prettiness that our wedding decor can project. Aesthetics don't have to rely on DIY projects or extensive florals, but there's a reason so many of us are drawn to these projects and expenses, and why many of us battle with wanting to achieve Bridal Pretty (TM). I think it's because, at our core, we're responding to the smell of cut grass and those bold yellow flowers in the park. We're pulling from our own moments of beauty that have sustained and nurtured us through the hard times. We know how framing a photograph or filling a vase with flowers can transform a room, make an apartment into a home, and make our everyday just slightly more worthwhile. And we want to have those feelings, writ large, on our wedding day."Beautiful light. A second cup of coffee in pajamas. A crisply tied bow. A perfectly frosted cupcake. There is beauty and power and magic and art in the details.Why in the hell else would I spend a year of my life planning and writing about our wedding if not to focus on the details? ALL the details. Aesthetic, emotional, and otherwise.There is beauty in the intent, in the execution, in the memories of the details themselves. Our paper cranes started out as a purely aesthetic and slightly budgetary detail (paper is cheap yo!) but they’ve evolved into much more than that. When I look around at the hundreds of cranes in the trees at our wedding I’ll remember my drunk friends trying to fold straight lines and pouring more wine, and laughing out loud and showing off their epic crane fails. And that makes me smile. And even if I don’t notice the cranes on our wedding day, I’m sure the pictures of them will make me smile just the same. And I’m smiling right now, so I think the cranes are already worth it!Here I am constantly trying to justify or rationalize or over think my desire for a beautiful wedding when there is absolutely nothing wrong with beauty. Beauty is valid, life affirming and uniquely in the eye of the beholder."
And yet, there's a real reason to disregard the details. They are expensive. Some of us just aren't DIY savvy. And DIY can also be a giant, expensive, near-impossible, time-consuming, pain in the *ss. And frankly, the details aren't important in the grand scheme of a wedding. As intelligent people, we know this. And so we embrace the core purpose of our weddings and embrace the practical-but-ugly chairs that come with our venues. I cheered when A Cupcake Wedding posted pictures of ugly chairs at a beautiful wedding because my chairs are going to be the ugly plastic things that come free with our venue and my wedding is going to be beautiful anyhow. I needed to see that. I needed to see it in pictures to finally know it, after having seen far too many images of joy that get equated with chivari chairs and "effortlessly" designed wedding details.
But still, the Pretty has its pull. I think it's important to honor such an important day with aesthetics that make our heart sing. If I got married in a recreation center with grey metal chairs, plastic plates and no semblance of celebration, a part of my would cry inside, regardless of how emotional my vows might make me. Granted, I'm getting married at a community center with ugly chairs and (possibly) compostable plates, but we chose this budget-compromise spot because of the stunning ceremony views, partly so I wouldn't need to make myself nuts with wanting aisle runners, hanging flowers, and pretty chairs. And we can easily spruce the place up with succulents and a few flowers, and our plain plates with some bright tablecloths. And I'm looking forward to crafting-and-wine parties with friends to create the imperfect-but-festively-pretty decor we'll throw around the room and cocktail area.
And that's why I think the obsession with wedding details gets it wrong. Beauty matters because it honors the celebration and importance of our weddings. But the details do not matter in and of themselves. And beauty is not achieved in the sum of 50 amazing DIY projects or well-executed details coordinated throughout the event. A few well-chosen and well-loved details help honor our day, both in the process of lovingly creating them and in their display. But they don't matter because they're stunningly pretty. Nor do they matter in and of themselves. An invitation is an invitation. A stamp is a stamp. Big effing deal. They matter because we chose to make them matter and because they hint at the real beauty and meaning underlying our wedding day events. And this beauty can be achieved without one single flower or one single pretty detail, so long as our courthouse-wedding grins shine over any possible plainness in the city hall office (or wherever we get married that hasn't been blessed with design-worthy beauty.)
Our obsession with details makes sense: they are the photos that get celebrated on blogs, they are certainly beautiful and can make our aesthetically-attuned hearts jump a bit, they're more concrete and easy to tackle than the difficult questions of writing ceremonies, vows, and promises, and, yes, they matter. But everyone who's been through this wedding stuff before said to pick a few important things at the wedding and disregard the rest. If you love food, focus on food. If you want a dance party, focus on your tunes. And if you want pretty details, focus on a few. We can only spread ourselves so thin, and this desire for pretty details can easily take us to the breaking point of wedding day sanity as the unfinished projects pile up and we worry about how our wedding will measure up and if it will be pretty enough. Um, of course it will be pretty enough. We're getting married, and true joy from a true partnership will light up even the ugliest recreation room and grey metal chairs.
And so, this wedding is also becoming a process of cutting back, of finding beauty again at its core, and of remembering that I only need one yellow flower tucked behind my ear to transform the day. Simple decor and simple efforts are enough when they honor the beauty of the day itself. Wedding details are important because they are honoring something important, and not because of their intrinsic aesthetic. And the moment we forget that we are choosing our pieces of beauty to honor something important and not because We Need The Pretty, that's when meltdowns happen. And that's when we need to take an afternoon in the park with dogs running around, kids playing frisbee, and some freshly cut grass to remind us that it's going to be alright.