Planning a wedding and going through a wedding ceremony and all the added social requirements that go along with it were not much fun for me, an introvert with fairly pronounced social anxiety. Weddings are basically a bunch of manufactured socializing leading up to a pressure-laden performance, and none of that is my jam.
Don’t get me wrong…I love weddings. I love what they mean. I love the commitment. I love love and romance and the usual joy and excitement that comes along with them. I even love the symbolism in a lot of the tradition and ritual. The rings and the two becoming one and all of that. I love it. I even like all the pomp and circumstance and big parties and stuff. Even shy, backward, borderline misanthropic recluse me will get out on a dance floor and shake it to Twist and Shout at the right couple’s wedding reception. I’ll love an over the top celebration. For OTHER people. For myself? I honestly thought J and I would be a couple who was long term committed, but never got married. Then he proposed. (GASP!) I suggested eloping. J’s sister eloped and so did his best friend, and he remembered that it kind of hurt some family and friends’ feelings that they didn’t get to be there. He didn’t want that. As much as he ALSO doesn’t like being the center of anyone’s attention, *J* wanted the wedding. So I planned one.
I’ve been adequately taught that asking anyone for anything was 1. pointless, because the overwhelming majority of people can’t and shouldn’t be counted on 2. annoying, because no one wants to hear from me or help me with anything and no one likes me enough to care that I need help 3. selfish…who do you think you are? Somebody special doing something special? You’re not special and no one is going to treat you that way, so I hope you weren’t expecting that and 4. weak…if you can’t get something done yourself, looks like you need to do without it.
So I did everything I could possibly do myself. I’d have taken my own wedding photos if I could have figured out how to do it with only burgeoning digital photography capability at the time. And I kept everything as plain and nondescript and off-the-rack and inexpensive and non-invasive for everyone as I could possibly make it. I made my own bouquet, and my matron of honor’s bouquet, and boutonnieres for my father, and J’s, and J and his best man and my brother and the two other men in our ceremony doing readings. I made all the guest favors. I made all the reception hall decorations. I made the invitations. All myself. I planned everything I couldn’t do myself on a tight budget and did all of the administrative work myself. I already talked about switching churches for other people’s convenience. I only asked J’s sister to stand up for me to avoid obligating anyone else from being in the ceremony and attending social functions, and I bought her bridesmaid’s dress and shoes and accessories. J only asked his brother-in-law to stand up for him for the same reasons, and J paid to rent his tux. I bought my brother the tie he wore with his suit (my parents DID buy my BROTHER a suit for my wedding…that he also wore to all of his ‘I need a suit’ high school functions too). Nobody showed up to the bachelorette party I basically threw for myself. Everybody had something better to do. J got dragged out to something his brother-in-law planned with a bunch of his brother-in-law’s friends for his brother-in-law and his brother-in-law’s friends.
I didn’t like planning my wedding and my wedding day wasn’t the best day of my life. J is the best thing that ever happened to me and being married to J is the best thing I’ve got going on for me, but my actual wedding day and all the crap leading up to it? Not all that fun. It was pretty high anxiety from start to finish. I was constantly worried about everything going right…*for everybody else.*
My brother and his fiance are having 4 attendants each (no one in my family is one of them…some of them live PLANE RIDES away). They ordered custom clothing that all of their attendants are buying to basically wear once. My brother’s in-laws and my parents are paying for *everything.* Neither my brother nor his bride-to-be are doing much work beyond cake tasting and showing up to things someone else has planned for them. I’m sure they’ll each have a ball at their wedding. Because their wedding will actually be a group of other people giving to and celebrating them, where they didn’t have to do much work or feel any pressure about making other people happy and comfortable. They don’t really care much about making anyone else happy and comfortable.
Sometimes I wonder how great my life would be if social anxiety wasn’t a part of it. If I could just go through life not constantly caring if everyone else is happy first. If I could just go through life not always worrying how every move I made affected everyone else. But that’s a silly thing for me to think about because I’m here. And I like me. I like that I naturally put other people first. I got lucky to find J, a man who, without social anxiety, also naturally puts other people first, and my life is awesome now. My wedding day wasn’t the best day of my life. But the day AFTER my wedding? The first day we were actually officially MARRIED? THAT was. And every day since then has been a tie.
I know the past couple of days I’ve sounded like I don’t love my brother (my mom actually accuses me of this fairly regularly in those explicit terms…’You don’t even LOVE your brother…’) or his fiance and I think poorly of them as people and I don’t want them to be happy. But I do want them to be happy. And I’d want that even if social anxiety didn’t program me that way…to want everyone else to be happy. I want them to have a grand love story. I want them to have decades of happiness together and a 50th wedding anniversary some day. Even though their lives and their personalities and their wedding are radically different from mine and J’s, I want the core of their marriage to be exactly the same. And I honestly can’t wait to celebrate with them at their big party this summer.