I'd like to start with an extended metaphor, if I may…
Back when I was doing my Master's degree in Medieval Studies, I had to take a Latin exam. The stakes were high: the exam counted for no credits, but if you didn't pass, you didn't graduate. The exam would consist of four passages of Latin we had never seen before. We would have three hours to translate them into English. No dictionaries were allowed.
We studied. Oh, did we study. I probably spent twenty hours a week working on Latin, for an entire academic year, and that's not counting the three prerequisite courses I'd taken during my undergrad. Our professor, the esteemed Latinist George Rigg, rode us hard all year. He'd taught a lot of classes and knew exactly what we'd have to do if we wanted to succeed.
As the day of the exam approached, Professor Rigg sat us down and told us that the day before the exam, we should not open our books. We should have a good dinner and get a full night's sleep. “There is nothing you can do in the last twenty-four hours that will change how well you do on the exam,” he said. “By the time you've reached that point, either you know Latin well enough to succeed, or you don't. No amount of cramming will help you.”
I'm happy to report that almost everyone passed, including me. Professor Rigg said that we were one of his most successful classes in decades of teaching. I now have an M.A. in Medieval Studies that's good for little more than dinner conversation, but that's a rant for a different forum.
The point of this long metaphor is that this has been my attitude towards wedding planning…
From the very beginning, I told myself that I would plan the heck out of everything as best I could. I would make the spreadsheets. (ALL THE SPREADSHEETS.) I would have hours-long conversations about tiny minutiae. I would send so many emails that my wedding party would have a Pavlovian cringe reaction every time they heard their inboxes chime. I would be the most micromanaging of micromanaging brides. But once wedding day came, I would give up that control and let the chips fall where they may.
That is, indeed, what's happened. More than once, our vendors have pointed out that I'm “so organized.” My DJ wished that all brides were so detail-oriented. My mom has even declared that she's passing on the title of “queen of organization” to me. (I still don't think I hold a candle to my mom, but I'll take it.)
But now, with 67 hours until we're signing the marriage license, it's time to start letting go. Are there a few things left to do? Sure. My future husband and I have to practice our speech. We have to prep for a chocolate fondue party we're hosting for our bridesmen and groomsmen tomorrow. There are a few things I need to print. There are some things that other people need to do — ice the cake, and pick up my dress — but I'm not involved in those things. They have been effectively delegated.
For the most part, my planning is done. It's time to transition into “zen bride” mode.
Whatever happens at my wedding on Sunday, I will go into it knowing that I have done everything I could possibly do to make the day a success. And when things go wrong, as they inevitably will, I'll know that there is nothing I could possibly have done to make them go better.
By Sunday night, if I'm married, the day will have been a success. Hopefully a lot of other things will be successful, too. But nothing will be gained by me panicking. I will be the calm in the storm. The laughing, relaxed, accepting bride.
I will remember the following mantras:
- Your audience (guests) won't know anything has gone wrong unless you tell them.
- No plan survives contact with the reality.
- The worst screw-ups make the best stories.
- If you have delegated to professionals, trust those professionals to do their job.
- Everyone comes to a wedding to see a happy couple. Be happy and they will follow your lead.
That's really all there is to it. Today, I'm thoughtful and reflective. I hope that no matter what happens, I can be the bride I want to be, so that I can have the day I want to have.
Goodbye, micromanaging bride. You were super while you were here, but now it's time for you to exit stage left as we start the final act.