There are many things about the lives of the ladies on The Real L Word that don’t resonate with me. For example, aside from the always-on-tour members of Hunter Valentine, none of the other girls appear to have actual jobs that prevent them from indulging in endless lesbian drama and weekly soft-core porn scenes. I, on the other hand, work at least 50 hours a week (so I have to squeeze my lesbian drama in on nights and weekends), and to date, no major television networks have asked to set up a camera in my bedroom.
But, the last two episodes of The Real L Word in which Whitney and Sara have been frantically finalizing the details of their nuptials, hit home with me in a big way. The scene where an exasperated Whitney tries to get a spaced-out Sara to focus on an Excel spreadsheet has become an all-too-familiar occurrence in my house. My fiancée and I got a good laugh about seeing ourselves reflected in Whitney and Sara for what I believe was the first time ever.
Planning a wedding is stressful, y’all! I don’t care what anyone tells you. Even if you think you’re keeping it “small and simple,” I guarantee that the stress of gathering all of your family in friends in one place for what is presumably the most important day of your life (not to mention the most elaborate party you’ve ever organized), will, at some point, get the best of you. For lesbian weddings, you may have the extra obstacle of possibly unsupportive families (I’m looking at you, Sara’s mom). Plus, the simple fact that you’ve got two brides instead of one means double the strong opinions about weddings and double the high-flying emotions, particularly at certain times of the month. God help the engaged lesbian couple whose menstrual cycles are in sync.
I foolishly thought my wedding planning process would be like a series of scenes from rom-coms. Fantasy scene one: Me and my fiancée, dressed in stylish outfits, meet with an even more stylish wedding planner who pulls off the whole affair effortlessly. Reality: Me in sweat pants entering addresses into an Excel spreadsheet, yelling at my fiancée to get off of the couch and do something.
Fantasy scene two: Me and my bridesmaids giggling with champagne while they try on the adorable vintage-inspired pink dresses I’ve picked out. Reality: They are currently organizing a coup against the color pink.
Fantasy scene three: Me and my fiancée, dressed again in stylish outfits, walking hand-in-hand through Bloomingdale’s, stopping to kiss occasionally, as we scan high-end mixing bowls and pretty champagne flutes to add them to our gift registry. Reality: I was actually dressed in a semi-stylish outfit for this one, but my feet hurt so bad and I became so delirious after hours of wandering though the department store that I – to my fiancée’s horror – put on a $450 cashmere robe that I insisted I must own and laid down in one of the fake display beds.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Wedding planning fantasies and the reality of pulling off a real-life shindig don’t often match up.
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You may think you’re a laid-back gal who won’t let wedding planning get the best of you. Maybe you’ve laughed at or scorned Bridezilla-esque behavior in the past. But, darlings, even the coolest of cucumbers crack at some point. From my own experience, possible side effects of wedding planning include, but are not limited to: obsessing over inane things like napkin colors or seating charts, crying whenever you perceive a relative or friend isn’t supporting you in the exact way you need, and arguing and/or threatening to break up with your fiancée when you discover her obscene taste in casual china. I know it sounds crazy, ladies, but it’s true. If you don’t believe me – talk to me when you’re about a month away from your big day.
That all said, I’ve discovered a six strategies that may help you get reduce the screaming, crying and obsessing so you can actually enjoy the process of planning your wedding.
Have a long engagement: I don’t know why people try to plan weddings in less than a year. If you’re a lesbian bride, there’s no chance you’re knocked up, so you don’t even have that excuse. Give yourself 12 to 18 months to plan your wedding because, believe me, every single thing from choosing a venue to agreeing on a first dance song will take longer than you ever imagined.
Divide and conquer: Planning a wedding is an excellent test of your ability to work together as a team. In fact, I now firmly believe that if you can plan a wedding with someone and still like that person by the time your big day arrives, then you are truly meant to be together and your marriage will be a piece of cake. The secret is to play to each of your strengths and delegate accordingly. Is your wife-to-be more tech savvy than you? Good. Then let her build your wedding website. Are you better at getting a bargain? Then you should be the one to negotiate with wedding vendors.
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Whoever cares the most wins: I was given this sage piece of advice many years ago by a very wise couples therapist. She couldn’t save the dysfunctional relationship I was in at the time, but she sure did help turn me into the near-perfect partner I am today (right, honey?). Joking aside, I think every couple should implement this deceptively simply rule – in wedding planning and in marriage. Here’s how it works: You want a DJ at your wedding and your fiancée wants a live band. She cares more about music, so she wins. Or, if you’ve always dreamed of getting married on a beach and your fiancée has never really given it much thought, then a beach wedding it is. Pick your battles, ladies, and pick them wisely.
Set aside time to work on wedding planning together: Once you get engaged, plan to be very busy. No one ever tells you, but organizing a wedding is like having a part-time job. There is always an email to respond to, a vendor to call, a decision to make, a mother-in-law to talk off of a ledge – the to-do list is endless! If you don’t set aside some time to work on this stuff, it won’t get done and as your wedding date approaches, your anxiety level will reach dangerous new highs. So, scale back on your social plans, avoid taking on a new project at work, or do whatever makes sense for you to make room in your schedule for planning your wedding.
Set aside time to do fun things together: My fiancée has started joking that we no longer go on dates. Instead, we have wedding planning meetings. I’m embarrassed to admit that she’s kind of right. Fortunately, she knew exactly what she was getting into when she slid that ring on my finger, and our relationship is strong enough to endure my Type A obsession with this wedding. After planning a wedding, I feel like I have a teeny, tiny glimpse into what having kids does to a relationship. You start to become more like business partners trying to conquer a to-do list that never ends instead of lovers who go on spur-of-the-moment adventures or stay in bed all weekend. With all of the cake tastings, dress fittings, bridal showers, and yes, wedding planning meetings, it can be hard to find time to squeeze in an honest-to-goodness date. Go see a scary movie to take your mind off of wedding planning or have dinner at the restaurant you went to on your first date to rekindle the romance. You just have to make quality time a priority, so you don’t end up marrying someone who has become your business partner.
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Plan a honeymoon: Weddings are expensive, and for that reason, a lot of couples choose to forgo or delay a honeymoon. My advice would be to cut some costs from the wedding (do you really need to invite your third cousins?) so you and your new wife can get away together shortly after your big day. That doesn’t have to mean a two-week European adventure or a private villa in Bora Bora. Even a few days at a nearby bed and breakfast or a fun road trip should do the trick. After all of the stress of planning the wedding, you will need a honeymoon to recharge and reconnect. Plus, I have found that fantasizing about my honeymoon helps me remain calm whenever wedding drama starts to flare up. I picture myself on the beach sipping an icy cocktail with my one true love, and suddenly the color of my bridesmaids’ dresses, my dilemma over whether to wear my hair up or down, and whether or not the caterer remembers to serve our late-night snack at exactly 11:00 p.m. all seem completely insignificant. Then I remember why I’m dealing with all of the craziness in the first place: because I am lucky enough to have found someone who I want to spend the rest of my life with and I want to celebrate that with an amazing party which, deep down, I know has nothing to do with dress colors or canapés.
What is your best coping mechanism for dealing with wedding planning stress?