by Stephanie Grossman, M.A.
Last weekend was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was my first time being a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, and I had been looking forward to this weekend for the past year. I couldn’t wait to experience my friend’s joy, eat delicious wedding cake, and reunite with the rest of our close friends from high school. But everything leading up to making this day “perfect” took a lot of work. I’m sure most are familiar with the typical tasks, which for me included dress shopping, writing toasts, watching YouTube videos to get that “smoky eye” look down, taking time off work to attend all wedding-related events, and figuring out transportation. And then you have all of the other fanfare and planning leading up to wedding that reinforces how “important” and “perfect” this day must be—the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, and of course, buying the “perfect” gifts.
After all of the effort and money and forethought I put into this event, it started to seem that everything was going wrong. First, my dress was inches too long. This meant an emergency trip back to the tailor. After the second alteration, the dress was still too long, but she didn’t have time to make another cut. So now I was worried I would trip during the ceremony. The day of the wedding, my efforts for perfection backfired. First, in an effort to be bug-bite free at this outdoor wedding, I ended up getting multiple bug-spray stains on the front of my dress before the ceremony. Right before we had to walk down the aisle my fake eyelashes started to come off.
While writing all of this now, I realize how petty it sounds to place importance on something that seems so insignificant and tied to privilege in the first place, but in the moment I felt angry and I felt anxious. I had spent so much time and energy planning for perfection, only to feel like all of that was a waste. I was angry at others— the tailor should have hemmed my dress correctly! And I was angry at myself— I shouldn’t have been so careless about the bug spray! I engaged in unhealthy reassurance seeking, asking the other bridesmaids, “Can you see the stains!?” What was I going to be like at my own wedding!?. I thought- I won’t be able to handle it. I had somehow equated “perfection” or this idea of everything going according to plan with being able to have the best weekend. But really, this belief that I needed to be in control, that I had wasted my time, and that because everything wasn’t perfect I wouldn’t enjoy the wedding, was preventing me from actually enjoying the wedding. Once I stopped asking for reassurance, reminded myself that this is nowhere near terrible, and that enjoying this experience was completely within my control, everything changed. I accepted what I couldn’t control, danced with my friends, eyelashes half on, tripping over my dress, and enjoyed every minute.