As some of you know, I got married last month! It was mind blowing and life changing in ways I could never have imagined or anticipated. A huge celebration of love and friendship that I will treasure forever. But rather than indulge you with all the details of the wedding itself (this isn’t a wedding blog after all), I wanted to share the ways I prepared for it.
The preparation of marriage - emotionally, mentally, spiritually - is often overlooked, with the focus being firmly on ‘the big day’. Like with any big transition in life, fear plays a role and in preparing for the new, we say goodbye to the old.
Here are some of the ways that I consciously navigated the transition.
1. Making time to reflect
This was a great piece of advice from our friend Sam who married us in Spain. Through the process of preparing for our ceremony, I was given homework to start reflecting on the meaning of marriage and our decision to marry each other. I asked myself; what’s my intention for marriage? What makes a good one? What do I want to promise and commit to? How can I stay true to myself and not lose myself in this marriage?
Some pretty meaty questions that couldn’t be answered in one sitting. I got myself a new notebook (any excuse, I am stationary obsessed) and scheduled some dates with myself to start getting clearer on it all.
2. Feeding up on inspiration
To help answer some of my big questions, I read books on love, collected inspiring quotes and poems about marriage, I read blogs, listened to podcasts and drew inspiration from friends’ relationships that I admired. One of the biggest lessons? That marriage is about the union of two souls whilst also being faithful to the voice of your own soul.
This process of gathering inspiration helped me to get clear on what I wanted to commit to. I wrote about being fully present in my marriage, my promise to be Pav’s lifelong dancing partner and to make loving fun. And as well as committing my love to him, I made a commitment to my own self-love, as I know our marriage will flourish if I stay true to my needs and take responsibility for my own happiness.
I was inspired by a blog post by Melody Godfred, the co-founder of the Self Love Pinky Ring, where she talked about how self love saved her marriage. And I discovered a pretty cool ancient symbol of sacred geometry that consists of two circles overlapping in a way that creates a third circle in the middle (known as the Vesica Piscis):
3. Preparing to be vulnerable
The idea of standing up in front of our family and friends, celebrating our love felt super indulgent, even if a wedding gives you full permission to do it. That’s what they want, that’s why they are there! But I was still blocked around this. I went to Jody Shield’s LifeTonic event with a friend and I worked on my resistance to open up, I listened to heart-opening meditations, I meditated with the Headspace app and I prepared to get spiritually naked. I find giving love a whole lot easier than receiving it and actually when I thought about it, the idea of feeling love from all our family and friends all.at.once felt overwhelming. For me, being vulnerable will always feel uncomfortable, I am feeling vulnerable right now as I write to you. I am so used to writing from my comfort zone, speaking as a love coach, but recently (since my hen party) I have started to open up about my personal life in the Project Love space. In feeling the fear and doing it anyway, I normalise that discomfort so it doesn't have so much power over me. Our wedding ceremony felt like one big cuddle and by opening up to receive all the love that was showered on us, I realised just how supported I am in this next chapter of my life.
4. Journalling one out
Preparing for marriage brought up a whole spectrum of emotions for me, from the incredible sense of joy to the confusion about my new identity as a wife and a woman with a new name. Even trying on my wedding dress for the first time triggered some insecurities, which sounds silly now but felt very real at the time (as someone who lives in jeans and trainers, I just didn’t feel ‘polished’ enough for a gorgeous silk dress. Aren’t beautiful dresses for really girly girls?). I turned to my journal to make sense of my feelings and developed a 3-part process for working through my fears:
- Step 1: Raw and unfiltered mega riff - getting it all down on the page
- Step 2: Asking myself, ‘Ok so what do I want instead?’
- Step 3: Stepping into the shoes of a loved one and writing myself a loving note of kindness and support
When I read back to some of those notes, I recognise the voice of the loved one as the way I talk to clients or how I console a friend. I don’t always speak to myself in that way, often it’s a dance between my inner critic (AKA the Shitty Committee) and my inner cheerleader. In writing my thoughts out like this, I could manage my fears whilst having a huge amount of compassion for myself.
5. Feeling the feelings
In any period of change and expansion, even an immensely positive one like a wedding, it’s normal to feel a sense of loss. In the run up to the wedding, there were moments where I felt down for absolutely no reason. We tend to fuel our emotions with our thinking, so when I was feeling a bit sad, I’d then feel sad about feeling sad. This is rarely the stuff that’s covered in wedding mags or wedding blogs and it’s not really talked about, which brought up some guilt at not feeling ecstatically happy all the time. In honouring where I was at, and ignoring how I ‘should’ be feeling, I was able to just sit with it. Sometimes I would just say to myself ‘It is what it is’ or ‘I surrender’ when the shitty committee was giving me a hard time. It really helped to talk things through with friends and to talk it through with Pav, we had a really honest chat the week before the wedding, about the expectations on us and the worry of disappointing our guests - what if we’d had a really bad nights sleep the night before and we were quite low on energy? Or how about those days when you wake up in a weird mood and you just can’t shake it? Maybe those worries are totally unique to us but it was so great to talk about them. We both agreed that whatever we were feeling was totally normal and to just go with it. And that is exactly what we did, as a team.
There's a piece of advice that was read out by a friend during our wedding ceremony and it's something that I'll be carrying with me in this new chapter:
Like with any big transition in life, preparing for marriage is a soul journey, full of incredible highs and unexpected twists and turns. We close the door to a part of ourselves that we know so well to open the door to something new. I’m just getting my bearings here but my feeling so far is that it's pretty wonderful.