Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pretty Parties and Celebration

I went up to my parents' house yesterday to do a practice table layout with all of the items I have collected thus far for the wedding celebration.  This is it.  I love it.

It's rough, obviously, as the wedding is six months out and there will be flowers to acquire and other details to be collected and created.  However, it gives me peace of mind that it will all work.  If I were to do nothing else, this works for me.

I think sometimes, especially in a world where there are hundreds of blogs dedicated to design, weddings and party planning, unicorn hunting can seem more approachable than getting together a pretty party because suddenly there's so much pressure to make it perfect, as if the whole celebration had been put through a Hipstamatic filter to make it hip, dreamy and somehow untouchable.  But just as I've realized that I'm not going wake up looking like the sparkly fairy love-child of Cate Blanchett, Miranda Kerr and Kerry Washington on my wedding day, the wedding celebration is not going to look like a "best of" feature from 100 Layer Cake.  And while upon hearing that statement, some might be tempted to pat me on the back and reassure me that it will be lovely and stunning and everything my dreams are made of, truthfully, I want a little dirt on my dress and red wine on the tablecloths.  I don't want to hide the traces of the living my parents have done in their home, where the party will be held.

In this process of wedding celebration planning, one thing I found myself quickly caught up in was the pressure to make everything clever and breathtakingly beautiful, as if somehow doing so would reflect those same qualities onto me and my marriage.  But that's not me and that won't be my marriage, nor would I want it to.  My life isn't filtered and I feel it would be an injustice to imply that it was.

One of my favorite people in the world texted me the other day asking for help with planning a baby shower.  She shared that sources like Pinterest can be overwhelming because everything on there is so pristine and she isn't confident that her attempts to create similar details will measure up.  How unfortunate that parties have become anything except for a reason to gather with loved ones and celebrate (and drink cocktails, obviously).

I've had a lot of time to allow myself to self-impose significant pressure to make this wedding mind-bogglingly beautiful and thankfully even more time to allow that to dissipate.  Don't get me wrong; I love focusing on creating beautiful details and there will be plenty of that at this party.  But I love doing those things for their own sake and this is just a convenient outlet for that energy that exists whether or not I have a party to plan.  If I didn't so enjoy fiddling with drink stirrers, handmade bunting and hand-dyed napkins (more on that later), we'd get a keg, put on some clean clothes and grill some burgers, and I have every faith that both versions of this party would be equally memorable and beautiful, because it isn't about how open your wallet is or how much you stress over the creation of the most photogenic place setting.  It's about how open your heart is in welcoming the handful of people you've chosen to love in this world.  That's what celebration is.  That's what a good life is.

I'm so glad I practiced a table layout because it made this whole process feel real and reminded me that there will be actual real-live people--some people I have known my whole life, some I have known only for a couple of years--sitting at these tables.  That as much as I might enjoy gold leafing votive holders and dreaming of air plants, what we will remember is the rumble of a hundred voices talking, connecting, toasting.  We will remember lounging, tired, after dark, after the music has stopped, with the last few stragglers.  Maybe talking, maybe sitting silently content.  We will remember that gentle mayhem left after a day well celebrated.  Happy as a lovely tables cape makes me with its tissue honeycomb balls and gold chevron placemats, I know that's not where my focus will be next July.  And I am eternally, deeply grateful for that.

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