In just under eight months, I'm getting married. While I'm preparing for the wedding as expression of my love to the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with, there seem to be plenty of magazines, websites, magazines and shrieking harpies on television who believe it's about so much more than that. It’s about our love, but it’s also about me looking like a poreless, hairless virgin Real Doll with eyes that magically tear up every time a champagne glass clinks.
Since getting married is no longer the compulsory life event for women that it once was, a lot of us are feeling a little weirdly unprepared for the whole wedding industrial complex thing.
I wasn't one of those girls that dreamt of her wedding and walked around with pillowcase veils. Did anybody? With all of the more important stuff we had to deal with (academic competition, keeping our hair free of lice, violin), I find it hard to believe that these strange little marriage-obsessed creatures actually exist.
The inclination never hit til I was in my 20s. I'd been with my boyfriend for nearly five years and I was completely certain that he was the person I wanted to be with forever. And then, being the awesome, super-perceptive little lumberjack he is, he asked me while we were on vacation in Paris this winter (not anywhere gross like the top of the Eiffel Tower or the Louis Vuitton store).
So I got this pretty ring and then I found out that my new fiancé had his heart set on our engagment leading to an actual marriage, so we decided for a late fall wedding in 2012.
For anyone who’s ever tried to plan a wedding, while the better part of a year sounds like a huge amount of time, it also doesn’t take into account that wedding industry people aren’t like the rest of us. From the florist who is constantly appalled at my inability to identify flowers by the time of year they bloom to the seamstress to the guy who makes sure all of our vegan guests can eat at the wedding, everyone is super-busy, each step of the process takes forever, and everyone wants to be paid starting now and ending never.
So where are all of those people who are supposed to help out in this, those magical people who have nothing to do but plan my wedding for me? They’re either out of my price range, have jobs and/or children, or are dead. Both of my parents have passed away, my sister is a full-time student and single mom, and my maid of honor is trying to find work and has a habit of dropping her phone in toilets.
My fiance’s mother has been very helpful with hints like, “You should probably buy a dress” and “Where are my grandchildren?” but, like most people, she has a job and lives far away.
While I’m super-grateful for all the support that my friends and family do provide, I find myself, more often than not, getting my tips on veils and wedding updos from our postal worker or women at the nail salon.
In order to make preparing for my nuptials, both mentally and physically, a more manageable task, I have decided to divide my efforts into specific areas, so as not to overwhelm myself to the point of exhaustion. Having a job and a house that’s not filthy can sometimes feel like too much stress for me, but when I also find out that I’m going to have to spend an extra 20 minutes every day whitening my teeth, it can turn me into a Sonic the Hedgehog-style whirling ball of stress.
So I’m making little compromises; for example, if I work out five days in a row this week, I’m not going to shave my pubic hair. Perfect pubes can wait -- I’ve got cuticles to cut, stretch marks to massage, and a whole face to resurface. This is not to say I dislike myself or that I’ve had any prompting from my fiancé -- this is a man who brings me flowers every week and always encourages my choice of nachos as a meal -- but as much as I’m OK with being just who I am, I’m also a big fan of looking fantastic.
So first thing’s first: I’m getting my face in shape. To do this, I have employed the help of an esthetician, who I will be seeing once a month for facials, if my wallet permits, the advice of countless beauty blogs I’ve come across through Googling things like “best cream for wrinkly neck” and “tooth funk.”
I am also improving myself with the help of high-tech tools I’ve purchased with Christmas gift cards and on flash sale sites, like the Zeno pimple-burning tool, a cute purple Clarisonic face brush, and this bright blue mouth flashlight from GoSmile that makes me drool all over myself.
If my experiments in drugstore chemistry end up doing more bad than good, I’ll probably consult so-called “experts” like a dermatologist and a dentist, but for now, I’m trusting the Internet and hoping for the best.
Next stop: the rest of my body, although I’m reticent to try any exercise I can’t do while watching “30 Rock,” and I’m open to suggestions.
Got tips for Sarah from your own wedding planning experience? Got horror stories? Send 'em in to
and we'll round them up.