Jason and I have been working hard to develop our own combined vision of what's important. We've researched and re-researched and talked over all the options ad nauseum as we attempt to craft an honest day that meets everyone's needs and our core desires. Of course, this has been hugely beneficial for our relationship and wedding but, paradoxically, it's also made clarity more elusive and difficult to achieve than ever. Although we're definitely on the same page now, our exposure to so many incredible real weddings and DIY ideas has somehow muddled our focus. One day we want fabric bunting, the next we want papel picado, the next day we want fabric draping, the next day we want vintage chic, the next we want bold paper lanterns, the next we want paper flowers the next we want pinwheels and so on. Decor, however, is not a major wedding flashpoint for us. We like the pretty, but we're willing to settle on something that's simply right for our site, our vibe, our budget, and our sense of DIY ease. In the meantime, it's just inspiration (for the wedding or our next party, whichever comes first.)
Or so I thought. I thought I was doing well keeping it in perspective. I though I was doing well keeping focused on our shared vision. I thought I'd learned to dismiss most of the blog photos as too-expensive-for-us, but nice to look at and adapt. I thought I'd been able to view it with a clear "that's great for them" and "oh how pretty - for someone else" approach until late last week, when I made a birthday-present-to-myself jewelery purchase that's closer to my true personal style than anything I've been obsessing over in my recent wedding dress shopping. The surprising immediacy and strength behind my desire for that jewelery showed me all the ways in which this wedding inspiration has been more insidious than I'd realized.
I wasn't planning to make this jewelry purchase. And, I admit that I got a bit carried away. But I love bold statement piece jewelery. Purses, shoes and dresses are great and all, but jewelery is my true personal style love and weakness. I know about quality jewelery. And I know an amazing deal on jewelery when I see it. So when I happened upon an amazing deal (over 80% off worth-it designer jewelery) on a one day secret boutique at Rue La La last week, my heart skipped a few beats, I checked my bank account, and pounced.
I am a firm believer in the gut check method of decision making. And recent books and research tend to support this. It's almost as if, the more choices we have, the more paralyzed we become. It's (one of the many) reasons I hate going to the Cheesecake Factory, because their 20 page menu entirely stresses me out. I would far prefer an edited menu of quality choices, thankyouverymuch. Wedding planning is like the Cheesecake Factory menu on crack. It's endless websites devoted to options: some great, some awful, many mediocre, and a lot of reasonable compromises-for-now. It's how I end up choosing a cajun chicken pasta because I just have to pick something and it sounds tasty enough and healthy enough and dear god I can't spend any more time with the menu but, when I get home, I realize I had really wanted a lemon chicken salad.
This overabundance of choices actually tends to erode our well-being and happiness with the choices we've actually made. That chicken pasta doesn't seem so great anymore when I'm wondering if I should have gone with a personal pan pizza or whatever. And our gut check is an important subconscious means of cutting through the analysis as we sift through the endless options to hit at the truth of what we really want. The gut check is actually a very sophisticated means of sifting through our amassed data, drawing on our past experience and knowledge, and handing us an honest response in an instant.* And our gut check mechanisms are often overwhelmed, the more research we do and the more options we have.
The jewelery I bought at Rue La La was my personal style gut check. My "I HAVE to find a way to buy this" response was a burst of aesthetic honesty that got lost somewhere along the way in this wedding planning process. Somewhere along the way, everyone else's beautiful dresses and weddings have clouded what I've always known I wanted in our wedding style: a simple and classic base punctuated by bold architectural lines, strong colors, and modern takes on tradition. These are the aesthetics that make my soul sing, and somehow they've been clouded by the inspiration photos of beautiful dresses, locations, decor, and core elements that are stunning in their own right. Just not for me. And so, my gut check gasp upon finding the Amrita Singh boutique at Rue La La finally brought me back to my own authentic style. And I purchased each of the following pieces, investing in jewelery I know I'll wear and treasure throughout my life.
These are the sort of necklaces I'd always imagined wearing to my wedding. I don't have a dress yet, so I don't know if these specific necklaces or earrings will work with my future wedding attire, but I do know that this is the style that makes my soul sing. This is the style that I've been investing in for years, as I've saved up to buy one or two special jewelery pieces every few years. This is me, and this is what actually that feels right for my wedding, where my true self wants a simple-but-chic white dress, some killer colored shoes, a hairflower, and accessories like this that I can re-wear each anniversary, and any other time I choose.
It's been so easy to get off track with the wedding. It's been so easy to get seduced by all the truly gorgeous dresses I've fallen a little in love with. But some part of me has always known they're not right. Some part of me knew my previous dress wasn't right when I sold it. Because, while the dress actually fit my personal style description (bold, architectural/interesting lines, modern take on tradition) I didn't really want that style in a dress. I want it in everything else. I want it in the pieces I can carry with me and re-wear after the wedding, in accessories that make my heart sing. The dresses may be most other brides' style priority but, given that I'm working on a limited budget that doesn't generally allow for dress amazingness anyhow (though lucky breaks can and do happen for some women), my true style priority is my accessories (which also fit with my desire to keep the wedding sustainable and less focused on single-use items or attire.) From here on out, I'm looking for a basic dress with a cut that flatters and material that doesn't feel too cheap, and for long-term accessories that make my soul sing.
I'm so grateful to have rediscovered that basic truth about myself, after being so subtly pushed in other directions by other peoples' wedding truths. I'm so grateful to have refocused myself on a simple-but-flattering white dress search. This gut check is helping me retrust myself again, and I'm more excited about the wedding again as a result.
*If you're interested in the science and psychology of choice (including an overview of the value of gut checks), I just listened to an excellent episode of Radio Lab devoted to the topic. I started listening to podcasts after Ira Glass raved about Radio Lab as the best thing on the radio today, and now I'd be hard pressed to decide whether I like This American Life or Radio Lab better. It's that good.