I attended my first wedding post-COVID restrictions this past weekend to celebrate my cousin and her new husband who FINALLY got the day they were planning for years. During the ceremony, something hit me that hasn't hit me yet...
In 9-months...I will also be walking down the aisle, sharing my vows in front of all our friends and family, and begin our lives as husband and wife. You may be wondering...Nicole, why haven't you reflected on this yet? Haven't you been engaged for a bit now? Oh trust me, I know! Well, let me tell you my story...
My fiancé and I got engaged in the Spring 2020, a week before the world shut down. We were so excited to share our news and finally celebrate a major accomplishment in our lives; however, it didn't feel "right" to be rejoicing and excited when the world was literally put on pause! After some careful reflection, we decided to hold back on the social media posts and planning and truly consider the timing. For me, this was really tough. I wanted to leap for joy, go dress shopping with my Mom, plan parties...but we couldn't! How frustrating is it to be stuck in this limbo phase during a time you and your partner have worked so hard for? I'll be honest, this crushed my excitement and put me into a bit of a rut...
All the while, my work increased in intensity and the demand for mental health support skyrocketed, as you probably know! I'll be honest, I shut my own feelings and needs away during the pandemic because I was needed somewhere else, both physically and emotionally. I was in a position to be present for my clients and what they were going through during this time. I was asked to be present in my practice for those who needed someone to be present at all in their lives. I was a connection to normalcy for my clients; I was the shoulder to cry on and the ear to vent to. I was something to someone, and that felt really important. In all of that, there wasn't time to process how I felt about postponing our wedding, or the fact that my "life plan" was suddenly delayed. After all, people were sick, families were separated, and there were bigger problems than mine. So instead, we focused on our work, on adapting to living together, and becoming more financially secure as a unit. After all, the pandemic also made us take a hit to our pocket books and made us reflect on what we now had to sacrifice to continue to work towards our goals. While this is equally as important as a wedding, I felt like there was some kind of step that I had skipped along the way. At 26, I knew I wanted to have my life feel secure, safe, and on a path forward. As a "type A" and "perfectionistic" millennial, my reality was telling me I was on the right track, but my anxiety was saying there was something missing. There were many journals written, conversations had, and cries but nonetheless we made it through, and I believe we may it through stronger than we came into this pandemic.
The pandemic taught me how to appreciate my connections and my world in ways I never had the chance. My fiancé and I grew so much together during this time. We built a home, adopted a fur baby, and made more quality time for one another. Our relationship grew so much stronger in the past year than it ever has. Life without him would feel empty, because life with him feels so fulfilled. I know with the world normalizing again, we will only experience more as a couple, which makes me so excited for the future. But, I think there are still things to process that I had buried along the way. I'm glad we made the decision to move in together before the big "I do's", something that is untraditional in both of our cultural backgrounds. However, having the freedom to experience and adapt to life as a unit without the pressure of marriage felt comfortable to us, and it led us to feeling more secure in our decision to tie the knot! Sadly, many couples do not make it past the 5-year mark together simply because life changes and they struggle to adapt against the pressure. Communication breaks down, emotions get confused, and the commitment you originally made seems to have shifted somewhere else entirely. Living together almost 2 years before marriage in the prime of our young entrepreneurial lives is paramount to our success as a couple and as individuals. We live together, but we are still our own people. We love together, but we still know how to love ourselves. This is key, and I hope we can continue to work towards this as a couple along the way.
In attending my cousins wedding, it FINALLY hit me that I am getting married too! Living everyday life together makes life feel so normal, that you don't even remember the fact that you have so many milestones left to check off your list! I have never been the girl who dreamt about her wedding day. I never cared about the dress I would wear or the decor and venue. Those things were never important to me. I wanted and value the meaning of marriage. To have the connection, safety, and love of a partner for the rest of your life. I wanted the partnership that my parents have and still have after 30 years of marriage. So, as I watched my cousin go through all the wedding things, I finally felt the anxiety of "getting married" for the first time in a year and a half of being a fiancé. And girl...that was scary!
I think I still need to process why it's so scary for me and what about that is scary at all. We have everything figured out (at least for now) and life is on a steady track ahead. We are close to both sides of our families, something I am so grateful for. We are both entrepreneurs who are focused on the success of our businesses and continue to work hard within them. We have a solid relationship and healthy communication. We love and respect one another, and that is a special kind of love that I cherish. As we plan the day, I am focusing on slowly but surely working on the stuffed down emotions that came from COVID interrupting my life plan and what that means for our story moving ahead.
So, if you are a millennial bride that was impacted by COVID, please know I see and hear you. Your emotions about postponing your wedding or having a wedding that is so not what you had ever imagined it to be, are real and valid. It's not easy to flip your expectations around and "accommodate" around a virus! But yet, here we are. I encourage you to take this time of planning as an opportunity to reflect and set boundaries with what YOU WANT for your big day. Forget the tradition or expectations, what do you want your day to be with your partner? What do you want it to represent? What is the value of marriage to you and your partner?
On September 6, we will be celebrating 8 years together. These 8 years represent commitment, love, and passion for the life we are building. As a couple, we work hard for one another and strive for success. As husband and wife, I know we will continue to pursue our goals and support one another along the way. So, to my fiancé...I am so excited to marry you and so excited to be your cheerleader during the course of our life. In the next few months, I will be secretly writing my vows to you as I begin to unpack the things that have been stored away throughout this pandemic. In 9-months, we will be sharing these vows together, among a crowd of our proud and smiling family members. This will be a day I will always cherish.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and active reflections today. If you are interested in following along on my wedding planning journey, please stay tuned via Instagram or Facebook for posts sharing new blog post releases! I will be aiming to actively share my reflections monthly as I approach the big day!