If you’re like me, when you hear the phrase “wedding planning” your thoughts don’t immediately jump to the concept of “powerful personal transformation”. When I hear “wedding planning” I think “ack!”. For me, planning my wedding was a rocky road. I did not relish the tasks of choosing the venue, making the guest list, finding a dress. The whole process was a fertile ground for all kinds of murky issues to rear their heads: my feelings about femininity, my relationships with my parents, my cynicism about marriage as a child of divorce.
But looking back I realize what a unique opportunity the whole wedding time was. So rich! So bountiful with opportunities to explore my deepest fears and feelings. Woo Hoo!
Your wedding and the period leading up to it are unique times in your life. Your wedding is one of the few times in your life you get to focus on the heart, publicly. If you want to milk this time for all it’s worth (and I recommend that you do – after all, we only pass this way once), here are some suggestions of delightfully murky places on which to place your attention – five steps to transformative wedding planning:
1) Deepen your relationships with your family of origin: Let’s face it. We all have feelings about our families of origin. And surely they have feelings about us. Planning a wedding is a process where you get to be really honest about things. Take the time to reflect on where you’ve come from. You and your partner are on the cusp of forming your own family, and now is the time to look back on where you’ve been. What have you learned from your family? How have they helped you grow? Let them know what you discover. Consider sharing some heartfelt words or rituals with them during your wedding ceremony.
2) Close the chapter on your single life: The mainstream wedding industry and media lead us to believe that we should be nothing but happy, no, ecstatic, about becoming married. And sure, that is a big part of it. But these days, when people are getting married later and later, the fact is that a lot of us have lived big, wonderful, thrilling lives as single people. And it is totally valid to want to mourn the end of that. Give yourself permission to grieve. Spend some time letting your heart break a little about what you will miss.
3) Clarify your values: There’s nothing like spending a chunk of change in a really public way to get you thinking about your values. The truth is, you get to have your wedding your way. Spend some time with your partner thinking together about what you truly value. Everything about your wedding – from your vows to the ceremony to how your photos look to where you source the food from – is an opportunity to live and communicate your values. So go for it! Know what you believe in, and show it.
4) Set your course: Remember that you and your partner actually have choices in how you live your life together as a married couple. You are not beholden to follow the paths your family or friends followed – life invites you to blaze your own trail. As you work with your officiant to design your ceremony, spend time really envisioning what you want your life to be like, and use that vision to inform your vows and your intentions.
5) Bring people together: Weddings are notorious for interesting and exciting interpersonal exchanges. Got divorced parents? Friends who’ve had fallings out? Relatives who don’t talk to each other? This is your opportunity to mash them up! You get to think about who you want present with you and then invite them. After that, let the chips fall where they may. It’s always good to give people a little practice in being gracious and connected. And you get to practice not taking care of other people’s feelings. A win-win!
All life transitions are fertile ground for self-discovery and personal growth. Embrace the muddy waters and messy feelings of wedding planning. Roll around in them. And know that you will come out on the other side, not just married to your beloved, but a little wiser and bolder too.