Post Bridal Shower Daze

My living room looks like a warehouse, there are empty boxes, ribbons and tissue paper which my cats have been enjoying as they rip it to shreds. There are Hawaiian leis and dozens of rolls of toilet paper (from our toilet paper wedding dress competition), there is left over carrot cake and huli huli chicken and I am sitting here in a complete daze. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have received so many beautiful things, and I have no idea where to put any of them—we have to buy more shelves.

While Chelsea Clinton was getting married upstate in Rhinebeck this weekend, down here in the southernmost part of New York, I was thrown an amazing surprise island-themed bridal shower. Though I’m sure Chelsea’s wedding was incredibly elegant and beautiful, I’m willing to bet we were having more fun down here. I was surrounded by generations of women (and a few men) who are all unbelievably kind, generous, and supportive, some of which have known me since long before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye.

(my mom pulled the whole thing off, it was a perfect day!)

I sat there with my future husband on Sunday night, looking at the epic pile of amazing gifts we had been given and I just couldn’t understand what we had done to deserve them all. We made a big decision, we decided to choose each other as partners, and obviously that’s important, but so are dozens of other things. Starting a business, graduating from law school, moving to a strange country, these are all major life changes and accomplishments, and we should really be celebrating all of them. Deciding to marry my fiancé seemed so easy, I  can’t believe people do such wonderful things for you just because you’re happy. Looking around my shower it was easy to realize that weddings aren’t just about the bride and groom, they’re about all the people who love them. Weddings are way bigger than just you, and not because they’re expensive or over the top, but because it’s a happy occasion, and unfortunately, sometimes the joyful times in life are far outnumbered by the painful, and that’s why the good stuff is always a big deal.

(My friend, and bridesmaid, Jessica made me this gorgeous sign)

When we went around looking for wedding venues, the place we finally chose isn’t the hippest, it’s not slick, or cool, or modern, but it is welcoming, warm, beautiful, and has amenities like huge amounts of parking, and lovely clean bathrooms. Those might seem like little things, but while a wedding is a big party for you and your future spouse, it’s also really for your guests, and all the people who love you and come to celebrate with you. That’s not to say that if you want a small wedding at city hall you should go all out just because your family wants you to, but it does mean that you should consider all those people who are coming from all over the world, taking off time from work, dressing in fancy clothes, and giving you not just their time and love, but generous gifts too. My goal for my wedding is fun, my fiancé and I want to have a big party to give back to all the people who have supported us and cared for us throughout our lives, and I want them all to be happy and comfortable. When they look back twenty years from now, I don’t think people are going to remember if our chair covers were tacky, but they will remember if they had an awesome time, felt welcomed, and maybe danced their butts off too.

Weddings bring people together, they have for thousands of years. We need joy in our lives, with all the suffering and sorrow, it makes sense that when there is occasion to celebrate we tend to go a little overboard. Everyone has different opinions about what a wedding should be, to some it could be a simple dinner with friends, and for others it’s an event worthy of a lifetime of savings, either way you’re surrounded by your favorite people and the only goal is to witness your happiness and then celebrate it with you. When I think about the ban on gay marriage, or even marriages where families disapprove for any reason, I find it hard to understand how anyone’s joy can be seen as less worthy, how a celebration of happiness can ever be a bad thing, and how love can be contingent on who a person chooses to be with. If you love someone, a child, a friend, a sibling, how could you ever deny them the joy of celebration, and how could you not want to rejoice right along with them? I can’t think of anything more important.

(toilet paper wedding dresses; Tim Gunn would have been super impressed!)

(it’s called teamwork people!)

Before I got engaged I never fully understood why people got so misty over weddings, but now I know I’ll probably cry at every single one I attend. It’s not just two people getting up in front of everyone they care about and professing their love and commitment, it’s not that simple. A wedding (and all the excitement that surrounds it) is a true celebration of life, it’s the beginning of a journey, it’s a demonstration of love not only between the couple, but between family and friends. Watching all these women I know from so many different places come together to have silly bridal shower fun, I was surprised how deeply I was touched by it. So many of the wedding shows that are on today, Bridezillas, Say Yes to the Dress, Rich Bride Poor Bride, they all focus on the drama, and yes there is a lot of stress and drama that goes into getting married, but there is also a whole heck of a lot of joy and excitement, and I think we sometimes lose sight of that.

(yes I was made to wear a silly bow hat, but it’s pretty isn’t it?)

Today I feel exceptionally lucky, and eternally grateful. Even if there are parts of my life that cause me major stress and worry, I have some phenomenal people in my life, not only my fiancé, but so many more. I can’t wait to celebrate all the happiness in their lives, I’m prepared to go all out, just like they did for me, because simply being together is reason enough to celebrate!

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17 Comments

Filed under acceptance

17 responses to “Post Bridal Shower Daze

  1. This was really sweet. Congratulations to both of you!

  2. haren

    I’m so happy you had a good time. That makes it all worth it!

  3. kristen

    looks like a wonderful and fun day!

  4. lizzy

    love the pictures!! send me more of your dads!! i wanna see!! i especially love the sign picture! you guys look adorable!

  5. looks like it was wonderful, justine! i especially like the photo of you and jessica. 😉

  6. Megan

    Some nice thoughts and words on a celebration that can so often bring out the ugly in people. No Bridezillas here!

  7. Wilberthe

    This was such a beautiful post. It’s great that you know what a wedding is truly supposed to be about, that’ll probably make the day even more joyful and special for you.
    You look like you have a really fun group of family and friends!

  8. Carmela

    Great sentiments expressed here, Justine. The toilet paper dresses are amazing, too! I am so glad you aren’t a Bridezilla — and you look beautiful and happy!

  9. Jessica

    So True! my favorite post so far! Don’t worry, you guys deserve everything!!!

  10. Katie

    GREAT post Justine! Love the pics! It was so much fun! I’m so happy for you and James!!

  11. Justine

    Thank you so much to all of you for the kind words, I’m so lucky to have such nice commenters too!

  12. Nuala

    How refreshing to have a bride who knows what is truly important. NOT the dress, venue, presents, or anything else that so many “wedding professionals” and media types would have us believe. It’s all about love and happiness. Not only the love that the happy couple has for each other, but all those who love you both, and who are so delighted that you have found each other.

    I always worry when I hear that the wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. Does that mean it’s all down-hill from there? Not at all. It’s one of many, many very happy days to come as you build your futures together.

    If something goes wrong at the wedding (stained dress, late limo, fainting usher, no dessert forks, “wrong” song, etc. — all of which I’ve seen) it’s still OK. These things are not omens about the marriage itself. They are just stories you can tell and laugh about later on.

  13. Kathy

    You are so insightful for a young person! There’s a song called “The Wedding Song” which used to be popular at weddings. The line “there is love” is repeated throughout the song. I think that’s what a wedding celebration is, a place where there is lots of love and a sharing of love. It’s why you were showered with love!

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