By Peyton Garland, Crosswalk.com
Editor's Note: This article is part of our Valentine's Love Letter series. Check out the previous letter here.
Overly Stressed Fiancee,
My southern roots want to offer you a sweet and steady sigh, a chuckle at my own experience, as I say, "Bless your heart."
Josh and I only had seventeen people at our wedding--including the bridal party, even the photographer and makeup artist. As the girl who had been a bridesmaid too many times, I was over what I deemed the "fluff" of a wedding. I wanted something simple and quiet, so we rented a tiny chapel in the foothills of Tennessee to share our vows. We each picked two people to stand beside us. I picked out a gown that was on sale. I even opted out of having a videographer. I wanted intimacy over entertainment.
This, I thought, is how to have a stress-free wedding.
The planning process had been fairly smooth. There were only two bridesmaids to glam, two groomsmen to ensure were packing matching socks, and only ten guests to escort to their seats.
Everyone knew where to be, when to be there, and what to bring.
But, just as I got home from my spray tan, two days before the wedding, my mom received a phone call that would rock the love boat in ways no one could have anticipated.
"Pastor Brad called," she said, soft and wide-eyed. "They just found his mother in a coma. He can't make it to the wedding."
Now, we only had two days to reroute the key figure in officiating the legality of our vows. In that moment, all I could do was cry, but crying is rather difficult when the spray tan lady says I can't get my face or body wet for several more hours... after frantic phone calls by Mom, we found a dear family friend, a gentle, kind pastor, who was willing to take the reins.
I could breathe again.
But then, two days later, less than two hours before the ceremony, the florist delivers my stonewash blue flowers, a delicate bouquet I strategically selected to complement my bridesmaids' dresses. This was going to be the subtle accent that made my ceremony radiant, the ooh and ahh filling the cedar-planked walls of a simple chapel. Excited, I unwrap the foil to reveal bright pink flowers.
Bright pink flowers.
Whether it was a misunderstanding on the order form, a lack of communication amidst the floral shop staff, or a delivery guy who got addresses confused, these were not my flowers. This was the one thing I splurged on, the one thing that would pivot the entire mood of the chapel. And now, well, I was doomed to walk down the aisle with a wad of Pepto Bismol petals.
There was no time to reorder the flowers, no time to ensure they would get things right a second time. So, I carried my bright pink flowers down the aisle, had my veil fall out of my hair halfway through the ceremony, and forgot to tell the pastor what my new last name would be.
You see, he was the dad of a childhood friend, so for my whole life, he had known my name. And in the hustle of throwing together a last-minute ceremony, he forgot to ask what my married name would be.
"I now pronounce you..."
Leans over and whispers a question in the best man's ear.
"Mr. and Mrs. Garland!"
L O L.
I share my story to say this: no matter how small or grandiose your big day is planned to be, so long as people are involved, bloopers will be an inevitable part of your wedding day.
If you'll accept this now, stress won't rule your special day. Now, that doesn't mean when things go wrong you begin throwing flower petals with joy; it just means your priorities are grounded.
I've found these three matrimonial mantras are crucial to keeping brides steady and ready for a day of love (and also life):
1. The hardest part of all the wedding details was finding the right man. I have him. That's all that matters.
2. The life we live after today is the testament of what makes or breaks this day--not if the caterer runs late or a bridesmaid's manicure chips.
3. Notice the people who made this possible--notice them. Understand how much love surrounds this day, regardless of tiny tears in dresses and a baby that makes its debut tantrum in the middle of your vows. Again, notice them.
God created marriage, an earthly symbol of heaven's greatest unity: God and man restored. It's a selfless, soul-filled work, and since people are involved, things down here will get wonky on occasion. And to take this beautiful but messy reality one step further, the wedding-day stress will simply turn into the stress of merging bank accounts, navigating parenthood together, balancing in-laws and student loans, and lots of other yucky things.
But stress isn't ours to carry. We are only meant to carry the burden of love, a purifying calling that requires us to show up for another person, to vow their worth in front of hundreds (or seventeen people), regardless of whether or not they forgot to wear the vest with their tuxedo or forget to remind the best man he should have a toast prepared. Our only calling is to love well, anticipating the flaws that creep up so long as we are here on earth. If we anticipate flaws, we have the upper hand, the opportunity to quietly curate mercy and grace, having these game-changers ready to share when things go wrong.
I challenge you to walk in a unity that's birthed from Love, the same Love that never requires perfection, never demands all our ducks be in a row at all times. No, it's the Love that simply calls us to celebrate Love.
What an honor, what a joy.
Cheers to your special day!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/dragana991
Peyton Garland is an author and coffee shop hopper who loves showcasing God's beauty from ash. Check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, Where Exhaustion and Exile Meet God, to discover how your cup can overflow—even in dry seasons. Meanwhile, follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland for more insight into her writing and the terrors of raising gremlin dogs.