Planning for a wedding is a unique process — a wild, and (if you’re lucky) a once-in-a-lifetime journey, filled with twists and turns and highs and lows. The preparations leading up to the momentous walk down the aisle bring out so many emotions and opportunities for growth for everyone involved in the planning process. It’s no wonder there are reality shows, magazines and a plethora of stores and specialty services dedicated solely to the world of wedding and wedding planning.
But I don’t need to tell you that, do I? I’m sure you’ve heard and seen and even witnessed first-hand the fabulous frenzy of a loved one’s wedding season, or the impact of your own.
I’m here to share my unique journey, as a has-been beauty queen transforming into a bride.
I grew up in the pageant world, which meant wearing lavish dresses, high heels and fabulous hair and makeup from an early age. The attention paid to picking the perfect dress is not a foreign concept to me, as I grew up with my mother scrutinizing every inch and fabric of each competition gown.
Most little girls dream about their wedding and their wedding dress, but not me. I dreamt about my Miss USA gown instead. Plus, coming from a divorced family didn’t lead me to daydream about the perfect marriage.
Being a former beauty queen and now a bride bare quite the resemblance:
- Pageants and weddings both have their BIG DAY, where a crowd of adoring people gather to witness the proceeding.
- Both have a special (and often nerve-racking) countdown, which require preparing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
- Both require paying close attention to every detail, from hair to nails — and if you’re like me, you aim for perfection. I know, I know, but hey–I’m a work in progress too!
- And, of course, both involve THE DRESS! That’s right, the big reveal, the make or break, the final wardrobe change has to illicit wild ooohs and ahhhs!
Within the challenge of carving out the differences between a pageant and my big wedding day, came some comfort. Having the experience preparing for many a competition actually made my transition into bride-hood a bit easier. I found myself looking at this challenge as my biggest blessing — I’ve been down this road many times, and I in fact know what emotional/physical/spiritual preparation I need to get myself centered. Self-care nudged its way to the top of my to-do list.
That being said, picking my wedding dress definitely pushed some familiar buttons. This dress better be the best, you need to look perfect, blah, blah, blah! This particular dress wasn’t just any dress, it was THE dress of all dresses, and I had to get this right.
So, how did I handle the triggers?
- Self Love — Be Your Own Best Beauty Coach
I gave myself a lot of love, and time, and encouragement. I was patient with my little beauty-queen self, who was scared to “lose” and “not be perfect” and “disappoint.” And because of the preparation and awareness I gave to my insecurities, the has been beauty queen inside of me, I was able to coach her off her high horse when she came up to try and make me feel imperfect.
- Patience — Every Experience Is Unique
I mentioned the advantage I have of pageant prep going into wedding season. However, I had to be careful to prepare for my wedding like I’d never prepared for a pageant stage. Pageantry wasn’t a marriage, it wasn’t one of the biggest decisions of my life. Love and marriage require an inner guidance and knowing that pageantry doesn’t. There aren’t judges and coaches. With marriage the ultimate guide is your very own intuition, and the honest communication between you and your partner. I had to be patient with myself as I travelled down some new and unfamiliar terrain.
The location, the invitations, the cake, the flowers, the dresses, who to invite, the seating, the registry. The list of to-do’s can feel as one-dimensional as a shade of foundation with no inner soulfulness to bring the honey beige to life. To plan without joy and love is no planning at all, an invitation without blissful intention will lack energy when opened by the recipient.
And then I had a little come to Jesus moment…that the very essence of both a beauty queen and a bride is this, we just want to be the best versions of ourselves, especially on the big day!
The process for me through my personal wedding season brought up a whole lot of stuff that I didn’t realize was still beneath the exterior. Growth never stops, in fact the opportunities for growth (often disguised as challenges during huge life transitions) bring up some of the unseen darkness that’s been waiting to see the light of day. And that’s all the drama that the shows catch, that the magazines expand upon and that so many of the wedding services cater to. With precious life moments come vulnerability, fear, and pain. It’s a normal part of life. But what we do with it is up to us.
And by the end of the second week of shopping, I was thrilled to have said a big YES to the dress of my dreams! Not because it was anybody else’s favorite but because it was mine.
There’s more blooming to go in my personal wedding season. And I’ll admit, while challenges arise (and I initially attempt to avoid them), I’m so grateful for the opportunity to create a momentous occasion with my vulnerability in tow.
Because I know this heartwarming event and all its trimmings will have the added fulfillment that hard work and transformation afford. And walking down that aisle will feel that much more magical if I can leave my jaded and bully of a has-been beauty queen at home.
Plus, it made looking at my mom with tears in her eyes, through tears of my own, such an everlasting memory that I’ll forever cherish. I’m lucky I was present, vulnerable and emotionally available to receive the moment in all its beauty.
I’d love to hear how you’ve navigated your own wedding seasons, and any tips you have for me and other soon-to-be brides trying to keep their head (and beauty) on straight?
Comment below, I can’t wait to hear from you Beauties!