3 lessons from my wedding journey

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YOU GUYS! I’m a married woman. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been rather quiet around here. And for good reason! I took a business hiatus to give my full attention to the wedding. I wanted to be fully present to the love, to the creation of our sacred union, and the magic that would undoubtedly ensue on that special day.

Thank goodness I did, because there were some MAJOR shifts that came to fruition in the few days surrounding this wedding (besides just getting married, duh). And I mean MAJOR.

Whether you’re a bride-to-be, someone considering a big life change, or just a gal looking to live her best life, you’re gonna wanna read this. Here are 3 massive lessons I learned on my wedding journey.

#1: SHAME DOESN’T GET AN INVITE TO THE PARTY.

How often do us women feel ashamed of our bodies? As little girls watching movies and TV, we aspire to be like the perfectly shaped celebrities on screen. Then as we get older, we compare ourselves to our peers, reaching for the ideal weight to be popular or get a boy’s attention. There’s an unspoken societal body ideal that has taken me years to shake off in favor of accepting of my body’s natural weight, curves, and beauty.

As we began planning our wedding, some of my old body issues started sneaking back in to test me. I’ll never forget going wedding dress shopping with my mom and besties. Trying on dress after dress can be a trying process for any type of shopping day – especially for brides – so I was already feeling vulnerable. I glanced around the room and noticed other engaged women grabbing at their underarms, sucking in their stomachs, and generally looking uncomfortable as they tried to envision what they’d look like in their dress at their wedding.

The dress I had on in that moment wasn’t sitting right, and it wasn’t accentuating my favorite body parts. Suddenly, it was as if a wave of genius came over me. I turned to the sales associate and said: “What you see here is what you get. There will be no wedding diet, no bridal boot camp. Even though the wedding isn’t for another year, this is my weight, and it needs to look good on me today. Not in 12 months, but how I am right now in this moment.” She looked me dead in the eye and told me, “In my 15 years working at this store, no bride has ever said those words to me before.” It hit me. Old Michelle would have been vowing to cut out gluten, dessert, or fill-in-the-blank before the big day, and I was finally at peace with my body in this moment.

Flash forward a year. I went to the first fitting, and it appeared I had gained a bit of weight. My body naturally fluctuates a few pounds every few months. I admit I was worried my dress wouldn’t fit, but I knew there was nothing to do but carry onward, and if I felt comfortable in my own skin, I would look gorgeous on the big day.

Photo by The Portos

Spoiler alert: the dress fit – whew! Mid-fitting, my mom (with loving intentions), pulled up the photo from the day we bought the dress to compare side by side, worried because she didn’t remember the gown being that “busty.” I reminded myself to breathe and let it slide. I got this! When she started grabbing lace and suggesting we add more fabric to the neckline to cover me up, another wave of genius flooded over me. I turned to her, and calmly explained: “This is me. This is my body. I am proud of what I’ve got, boobs, curves, and all.”

Whether she agreed with me or not, the important thing is that I carried this pride and confidence into my wedding day. Had I gained weight? Yes. Did that change my worth, who I had become, or how much Alex loves me? Not one bit. If anything, it made me appreciate myself and all I’ve been through that much more. I’ve never felt more beautiful than I did on my wedding day, and that feeling overshadows any negative thought I’ve ever indulged inside my silly brain. I dreamed of a day full of love and community, and shame was not part of that vision. Shame was never on the guest list, and never will be for future gatherings and life events. Shame and confidence cannot coexist, and I choose confidence. Every. Single. Time.

#2: BREATHING IS THE KEY TO BEING PRESENT.

“It goes by so fast,” my married friends kept telling me. Some don’t remember their own weddings. Others recount stories of all the details that went wrong, and how their upsets soiled the day.

I took all of this to heart. My intention for our wedding was to be fully present. So I started breathing. Full. Deep. Breaths. It started as a tool to handle all the stress – from my own planning, to others’ anxieties, to take in the weight of the day. Upon any signal of overwhelm, the old Michelle would have turned to alcohol, drugs, or sugar to numb the influx of feelings swirling around in my heart. This time around, I acknowledged the overwhelm, and continued to breathe through it, to move through it, and feel it all.

My breathing practice turned into my way to reconnect to my body and my intention. From the rehearsal dinner through the last dance, I was consciously breathing deeply and focusing on my way of being through every moment. And because of this, I was present. Fully present. I was able to BE with all of our family and friends. I was able to receive all the love from them. And I was able to show up as my best self for one of the most important days of my life.

The best part is? We can do this ANY TIME. Wedding day and every day. Breathing is the best way to feel like we’re LIVING (after all, that is what keeps us alive). It gets us out of our crazy thoughts and into our bodies, so we can show up for life. Showing up is what life is all about. And wedding or not, I choose presence over numbing out any day of the week.

#3: COMMUNITY IS HOME, AND CAN BE CREATED ANYWHERE.

No two weddings are alike. Sure, it’s common to have some sort of ceremony, food, drinking, dancing, but the details are always different, and the people joining together will create a unique dynamic. Alex and I were very conscious about the dynamic we were creating. It was important to have our loved ones feel present to both the love between us as a couple, and the universal love that connects us all. The intention behind each part of the ceremony was explained so that everyone felt included. We paused at one point to give others the opportunity to send us their blessing. This sharing and open contribution in the ceremony created an energy exchange that was DRIPPING with community.

The rest of the evening was one big fat celebration. Yes, everyone was celebrating US, but it was more than that. It was a gathering of people who felt connected to a community, and everyone was celebrating LOVE. We were celebrating each other. We were celebrating what we had created together.

The honor of creating community is not lost on me. Especially as Alex and I get ready for the journey of a lifetime as we search for our next city to call home. Deep down, I know that “home” isn’t a physical house. It’s not a couch or a bedroom or a city. It’s a community. It’s where the love is. It’s where I am. It’s where you are. And it can be created anywhere. Share with others. Allow those around you to contribute to your life experience. As humans, we will naturally grow together. And I will continue spreading community wherever I go. Will you join me?

Deep love to you for reading my wedding journey. I hope you’ll share what you’ve gotten out of my story in the comments below. I’m so looking forward to hearing from you!

Happy & healthy,
Michelle

P.S. If you want more of me and Alex, make sure you follow our food-loving Maiden & the Beast Facebook and Insta pages documenting our road trip journey. I guarantee it will be delicious.