Bride spins out of control selecting Save the Date photos

Guestpost by Ericka Kreutz on Jan. 25th

So, I'm getting married. Like, ring on finger. Like, picked a date. Like, getting magazines delivered monthly to my door, reserving room blocks, and picking out "my colors."

It's all a lot of input and should-haves and should-buys and not long after I said yes to a man, I was saying yes to websites, and wedding favors, and steak or chicken, and extra tents, and a whole lot of material things to make the one non-material thing in my life look really pretty in yellow ribbon and daisies.

And, although the semi-addicted online shopper in me enjoys parts of this exploration, it does become a glitter and bubbles-filled tornado after awhile. And I was spinning out of control.

It happened one late night while I was searching Save-the-Date postcards…

A simple task, and one that I was delighted to do. As I surfed, I found myself specifically attracted to those cards that had photos of the to-be-married couples in them. You know the ones: The couples are multi-ethnic. They probably live in Brooklyn. Or Portland. Or Prague. They met at an art supply store. Or at a mutual friend's dinner party on the lower east side. They have good skin and bright teeth and they look so damn happy.

I fell in love with a certain template so I double-clicked on the slick photo not expecting a new window to pop up. The website asked me to upload my own personal picture. Of me and my fiancé. A photo of us — fresh-faced, with blown out hair, in mid-laugh, after eating an eggs benedict brunch with sixteen of our closest friends in a quiet restaurant on a cobble-stoned street. We look intoxicated from the mimosas and the calorie-free blue corn muffins and with each other. We look so… damn… happy.

Well, I've got to tell you, there is no such picture of my fiancé and me. And believe me, I've searched. We're both geeks. And freaks. And hams. We have cavities. And allergies. And I would never wear heels on a cobble-stoned street.

But maybe I need to? Maybe I need to look like I'm beyond ecstatic, like those girls on those blissed-out wedding blogs. Maybe I need to scream and shout and giggle a lot. Because that is what those brides do on TLC. They are out of their minds in love. (And boy, can they say yes to a dress.)

But I don't look like those girls. And I certainly don't feel like they do. And although my fiancé and I have been together for seven years there is not one photo in our database where I am not about to eat something. Or about to complain about the blister on my toe. Or about to get a zit. There is not one picture of us looking longingly at each other. Or about to kiss. Or frolicking in some tall grass meadow somewhere. It just doesn't exist.

And that is where my tornado touched down.

I do not look like other brides: therefore I am not meant to be a bride. I do not act like other brides: therefore I am not ready to be married. And of course, we are not in love, because what we look like together does not match what these shiny people in sepia tones look like. At all.

And that is when the knot in my stomach took over surfing TheKnot.com. I suffered a sugar-crash from all the fluffy white marshmallow mass emails selling me the perfect cake topper and I made a decision to detox. And drink seltzer. And hide under the covers. And have a big long talk with myself.

The thing is, getting married is a big deal. It's a ginormous deal. And while cutting a deal with the DJ is great and all, it is really about the deal I am making with another human being. The deal says: I take you, for who you are, forever. And even scarier than that, as I came to realize, is that it is saying: you are taking me. As I am. As I am not. As I will be. Someday.

It is saying: I will let you take care of me. I will let you in. As my partner. As my companion. As my backseat driver. It is allowing someone into my groggy morning rituals, my yo-yo dieting, and all the various self-created tornados in my head.

We don't look like other couples. And we never will. In our pictures we are making silly faces. Or drinking beer. Or playing games. We are coffees, and instant oatmeal, and asthma inhalers, and mouth guards, and clipping coupons, and too much TV, and too much popcorn, and talking to each other twenty-two times a day. And sharing everything.

I still don't know what love looks like. Or what it's supposed to look like. But I know what my love looks like: It looks like a used couch that squeaks. It looks like a fourteen-dollar bottle of wine bought on splurge. There is a candle lit. And music in the background. And I am not wearing any makeup. Or shoes. Or pretenses.

And we are talking. And we are listening. And we are making suggestions on how to live a fuller life. And how to be a better person. And how nothing and everything matters. And we are teasing each other. And we are laughing. And I am so… damn… happy.