The following is an essay I wrote while planning my wedding, conceived as a lighthearted way to keep sane while dealing with wedding stress. It has never been published before. Enjoy!
Planning a Wedding in 15 Easy Steps
Step 1: Tackle groom to the grass in front of a high school that belongs to neither of you, where two years earlier you decided on baby names.
Step 2: Make appropriate calls. Wake your mother out of a sound sleep. Have to repeat the news twice. Her only response to ask for the date. You are fairly certain she's still sleep-talking.
Step 3: Use every minute between that night and graduating from college (that is not dedicated to insane girly giggles) to repeating the word "fiancé."
Step 4: Move in with the groom's family. Be asked at least once by everyone at his graduation party for a date.
Step 5: Write vows in the margins of a manuscript. Realize they suck. Lose them on purpose.
Step 6: Move 1200 miles away, together. Sit in the apartment with more half-unpacked boxes than pieces of furniture. Visit the pet store. Find love at first sight—with whiskers.
Step 7: Have an existential crisis two months before turning 24. Consider running away because very little makes sense anymore. Rapidly approach five year anniversary.
Step 8: Get over it. Have make-up make-out nights on the couch—for a whole week. Remember the worshipful way the groom looks at you.
Step 9: Create a wedding board on Pinterest. Try to find a pub to rent out in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Step 10: Consider eloping.
Step 11: Question how a seven-letter word adds 3000 dollars to the cost of anything. Question when 1000 dollars started looking cheap.
Step 12: Consider eloping.
Step 13: Jump out of bed at midnight when you and the groom come up with the perfect cake topper—a chipped teacup.
Step 14: Beg to elope. Get shut down because the groom wants to see how beautiful you'll look in your gown. Feel like a really shitty person.
Step 15: Find the perfect invitations. Decide that everything else could go wrong as long as you get those invitations.
Step 16: Go look at wedding dresses. Have the saleslady look at you like you set an orphanage on fire when, a) you ask for no bling, b) you say your budget is $500 (when it's actually 300), and c) you meant July of this year.
Step 17: Find THE DRESS before discovering it's more than twice the budget for the dress. Drown sorrows in a pint's worth of frozen margarita. Go home. Get told you're crazy and just to buy it if it's THE DRESS.
Step 18: Call a firehouse because a) they're affordable and b) your fiancé's father is a firefighter and you think it's this whole poetic thing. Painlessly secure a date. Ask your mother twice via text, once via voicemail, and twice on Facebook if she's sure she can make that date.
Step 19: Go back for THE DRESS. This time, don't break out in hives. Buy THE DRESS and celebrate by stuffing yourself with soup and coffee.
Step 20: Fill out an online form for Caterer #1. No response. Call and then text Caterer #2. Slow response. Call Caterer #3. No response. Question whether or not legitimate catering services still exist in NEPA. Get confirmation from Caterer #2. Refer to it as "the event" each time so they might think it's a graduation or anniversary party, to avoid the $3,000 "wedding tax."
Step 21: Give wedding planning advice to a friend also on a budget. Tell her the three rules you've learned: a) It's stressful as fuck. b) It's expensive as fuck. c) You and the person you're marrying will figure it out eventually. (This last point is more a hope than a fact.)
Step 22: Discover invitations from Step 15 no longer exist. Find better ones (because the hair colors of the cartoon bride and groom are right) and order those before someone from one of your families travels 1,200 miles to beat you to death with your own wedding dress.
Step 23: Wonder if everyone knows they need to RSVP or if they think because they asked about the color and fabric for their bridesmaid dress that their attendance is assumed.
Step 24: Justify why you picked the state you did (Pennsylvania) for the wedding, whether or not you'll have a Catholic priest (he'll be the Lutheran groomsman and secular and technically you'll have already gotten the paperwork signed in Arkansas), and whether you were aware you did or didn't invite X, Y, and Z person (to which you have a ready "we're keeping it intimate" reply.)
Step 25: Report steps 10, 12, 14, and 24 to your therapist.
Step 26: Write an 853 word email to MOTHER OF THE BRIDE and MAID OF HONOR explaining the loose plans you have for arrival on the east coast. Make a mental note to buy train tickets whenever you get paid next.
Step 27: Caterer falls through.
Step 28: Calculate how many slices of pizza you need to feed 40 guests.
Step 29: Struck by inspiration, decide to come down the aisle to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme song.
Step 30: Wonder if you'll be able to run in your wedding dress from the torches and pitchforks that are sure to ensue from this "ceremony."
Step 31: Re-write the vows from scratch the morning of the ceremony.
Step 32: Edit the vows in your wedding dress while hiding in a back room five minutes before the ceremony.
Step 33: Wing it. All of it. Hope it comes off as something in the realm of endearing.
Step 34: Survive, with the pictures to prove it.
Step 35: Remember this was supposed to be only 15 steps.