Last year at this time, if you had asked me how I was doing, I would not have replied positively (or I would have been lying). I was about as worn out as I have ever been. 2011 was just an all-around stressful, hard year for me. My longest friend, and one of the best, dearest friends of my life, died of cancer after a seven year battle, in February of 2011. So we started the year off with a bang. I then spent nearly three months with an upper respiratory infection from hell (more than likely brought on from the grief of that loss). I literally had to be on three rounds of meds--the virus morphed from the flu, into a horrific sinus infection, into severe bronchitis, and then into the start of pneumonia. I don't think I've ever been sicker. I also had some other serious, personal disappointments, and stresses that were afflicting and distracting me. On top of all that, I was planning my daughter's dream wedding.
Our daughter, Allie, was working in Dallas as an Admissions Rep for KSU, and
was working 14-16 hour days. Trying to plan a wedding together for 400 people, at
a distance of eight hours, was no easy task for the two of us. On top of the
distance, Allie was flat beat. She was jumping airplanes on a weekly
basis for her job and living out of hotels nearly 80% of her work week.
So the wedding planning was mostly on me and we had to be quite
creative in communicating to get things decided and accomplished (thank God for technology). It was exhausting
and frustrating most days, at best. She and I had never really had
trying issues in our relationship as mother and daughter, but the stress
of the wedding planning at such a distance was creating them, at times (our personality differences were exposed to us quite frequently, as they often are when you work closely with someone). Trying to get and keep myself healthy, grieve the losses I was profusely grieving,
and plan a party for 400 people was just overwhelming--especially when I
am NOT a Martha Stewart hospitalitarian! Suffice it to say, I rarely
had time for myself, gained ten pounds, and didn't sleep well all year.
I also acquired a new frown line that wasn't there prior. Great souvenir from the year from hell.
to all that, the fact that we had some glitches in the wedding
planning--quite a few of them--and it really became the perfect storm for this recovering perfectionist. Our caterer, with whom I had spent many hours and much preparation
lining out details for the big day, and who was doing everything
from the cake, punch, and mints, to the appetizers, beverages, and full-on beef brisket
dinner, cancelled on us less than four months prior to the wedding due to her mother having cancer (which is somewhat understandable, but still, quite stressful and unexpected for the client). If you have ever planned a huge wedding, you know that finding a caterer for 400 people and lining them out with all the specific details is not something you can do easily inside of four months--especially when your do list for that remaining four months is filled with many other things that have to be done at that time. We then had issues with the bridesmaids' dresses being literally more than two sizes too big for all six bridesmaids. This posed significant issues with the alterations. Next, we had major issues with the printing of the wedding invitations. We
had to scramble numerous times (did I say numerous times?) to find more invitations and get them reprinted
correctly (and invites aren't cheap--even the first time around). Because I had purchased them
early, and thinking I was going to be "ahead of the game" in so doing, they were
discontinued by the time we printed them. So this proved to be a colossal mistake because once we began having printing issues, we had to go on numerous wild-goose chases to locate more, and we wasted a great deal of time and money when it was all said and done. We then had numerous invites get inexplicably lost in the mail. So we were back to trying to find more of them, yet again, and reprint the darn things. I say they were inexplicably lost, but I still believe wholeheartedly, that it was the grouchy girl at the Post Office, who could tell I was annoyed that she wasn't moving very quickly, who "lost" them. I tried to hide my annoyance, but I suck at that--and she could smell it. I think it made her move even slower. If she had moved any slower, she would have been moving backwards in time! I had stood in line for over 20 minutes, and the line wasn't even that long. She was going to cause me to miss the postal truck pick-up guy, who was now outside and about to leave. I recall her snotty smart remark of, "Oh...is the perfect bride going to miss out on her perfect deadline mailing date today???" I clarified that they were my daughter's invites, and that yes, I was stressed. Since she was the size of a sumo wrestler and had no ring on her finger, I'm guessing she might have been a little bitter (sorry, still needing to vent, I guess). I knew as I walked out that I couldn't trust her to take all those boxes of invites out to the postal carrier, as she said she would do. But I still gave them to her. Yet another big mistake on my part. Not only did none of them get mailed that day, but I honestly believe she put some in the trash. Bad karma, honey.
I recall quoting Steve Martin from the movie, "Father of the Bride," repeatedly throughout my year as wedding planner. In fact, one incident in the movie
became my personal motto. There is a scene where he is "losing it" with
the costs of the wedding. So he goes to the store to get away from it
all and get stuff for dinner (wearing his tacky, goofy, outdated tux that he insists
he is wearing to the wedding to save money, though it no longer fits).
At the store, he vents his anger at the fact that he cannot buy eight
hotdogs and eight hotdog buns. So he "removes the superfluous buns," much to the chagrin of the store manager, who upon argument,
has him arrested and thrown in jail for doing so. It is just hilarious. We watched this flick one night with Allie right before her wedding for fun, and boy, could I so relate to the feelings Steve Martin expresses in the film--all the emotions from, "How is my baby girl old enough to be leaving us?," to, "This is costing us WHAT??!!" Big weddings are complex beasts for sure--I think I had sticker-shock the entire year. So, during my full-time career as
wedding planner last year, my personal motto for frustration-venting
was, "If one more thing goes wrong, I'm goin' to jail for hotdog buns!"
My husband and I would always laugh, and the motto worked nicely to bring lightness to
heavy situations. Another one of my personal faves was, "If things don't improve quickly, the MOB is going AWOL." (MOB stands for "mother of the bride"). If you can't laugh, you're just grouchy--or worse, you cry. Might as well laugh. It supposedly causes less wrinkles.
I'd like to be able to say that the wedding day was perfect. But just as everyone warned me, there were glitches then, as well. The first big one was when I dumped scalding hot, WHITE candle wax down the front of my BLACK skirt and my arm at the church. We had just finished all the wedding photos after the ceremony (thank God), and were taking things down and packing them up to transport them to the reception hall (where we were going to reuse some of the decorations and all the flowers). Without thinking about the fact that the candles had been lit for nearly three hours, and in a big flurry (in true Steph form, that is), I blew out the two huge altar candles and grabbed them with the intent of packing them back in their boxes. As I did so, the scorching hot, VERY WHITE candle wax, that had pooled in an amount equivalent to two cups of wax, rolled down my arm and the entire front of my skirt. My friend, Christine, who was one of my bridal helpers that day, looked at my face, and said in a calm, but memorably comical tone, "We're not gonna freak out!!" She immediately gets another friend of mine to Google how to get candle wax out of fabric, and the next thing I know, they've whisked me downstairs to the bridal room, got me out of my skirt, and are magically lifting the candle wax out of it with a hot, dry iron and white tissue paper. It was incredible. Being stripped down to my Spanx panty hose on my daughter's wedding day in front of God and everyone sure wasn't in my dreamy, perfect plan for the day--I didn't see that one coming at all! But God was good. Watching my three card party friends rush around to take care of me was actually a really special blessing for me that day--I'll never forget it. And my skirt looked like nothing had even happened when they were finished. Also quite mysteriously, my arm, that should have had first degree burns on it, was totally fine. I had scraped a ton of the dried wax off of it, and there was not one sign that I had poured scalding hot wax on myself. God just sheltered me, helped me not to even flip out at all (which would be my normal reaction), and gave me three great friends to step up to the plate in my hour of need and rescue me. I marveled.
There were a few other issues that day. Nothing too major, and we handled it and moved on to enjoy the festivities. Overall, it was just the best day of all our lives--Matt and I still say that (as do Allie and Kale). I told myself in the hotel that morning while getting myself ready, "Steph, things aren't going to go perfectly, and it doesn't matter. This is Allie's day. You two have worked far too hard to not enjoy every second. So that is what you are going to do. You are going to relish, cherish, and treasure every second. Who cares if the church burns to the ground. 'This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!'" And I did. I felt so joyful that entire day that I recall the next day as we drove home, thinking and praying, "God, if you don't ever answer another prayer for me in my life, I am good. Anything else is just icing on the cake, pun intended (yes, I even attempt to be humorous with God). Allie marrying a Godly, pure man, and remaining pure herself for her wedding night, is all I need." And I meant it. I have never felt so content.
My lifelong prayers had been answered. My daughter's day had turned into the best day in our little family's history (and I didn't even need any sedatives or bourbon--joking, of course). It was the best feeling in the world though. My year of horror and stress with the wedding planning had paid off immensely. God had helped me pull it off. He had given me the strength and ability to do everything I had done--He even worked out the kinks when they occurred. We were able to enjoy a spectacularly special, joyful occasion, and what a celebration it was! I still have people say to me, "That was the nicest wedding we've ever attended," and, "I've never seen such a fun wedding dance--everyone had a blast at that wedding!" God is so good. Why did I not trust Him more in the valleys of it all? I am ashamed to admit that I slept so poorly last year, worrying about stupid things that weren't worthy of the strain I put on myself. Doubting my ability and strength to pull off that wedding. Doubting that it would be a grand day and live up to Allie's expectations. Doubting a lot of things. And God still came through for me though I doubted. I should never have fretted over any of those things, knowing the faithfulness of the One who provides and enables us to do everything we do. I love Him so much. He is faithful even when we are not. Praise be to God.