Last week, I sat down over an iced Americano with a friend who is in that blissful, overwhelming stage of just-engaged. Since weddings today keep entire industries in business and require brides and grooms to take on part-time event planning jobs, she's understandably frazzled. We pondered over venues, dresses, centerpieces, and menus—with plenty of questions like "But will that cost too much?" and "Will the weather work for that?" and "Would we have time?"
At one point, I told her what I remember from wedding planning: the hardest part is making decisions. There are plenty of hard parts during wedding planning: keeping your relationship healthy as you barrel toward til-death-do-us-part, budgeting, finding somewhere to live, and making your family feel valued and important in the process. But the hardest part may be that you and your partner are the deciders of all things, and there are approximately nine million and three things to decide.
It reminded me why I've been a little deer-in-the-headlights frozen lately. We're in a deciding season, too. We're in the beginning stages of a major home addition and remodel, and the options feel weighty and like there are no take-backs. We just purchased a vehicle—an expensive decision I shrank from making for months until it was time to think about strapping in two car seats. We're waffling on big decisions like how to spend and save this year—a year of projects, building a home together, welcoming our second baby, and traveling.
I'm a decider: I'd rather have a choice behind me than before me, for better or worse. I choose the first menu item that strikes my fancy to save myself the angst of cherry-picking from the entire list. I live by a hopelessly optimistic mentality; if I don't like my decision later, I can change it. This life mantra has led to plenty of painted-over mistakes. But when the stakes feel high and heavy—like with weddings and babies and homes and finances—I have to tie that part of myself down and tell her to learn some patience.
The talk of chiffon versus taffeta and dessert versus dinner joined forces with my Americano to start an anxious dialogue in my head that afternoon. Am I making the right decisions? Are we talking things through enough? Are we in God's will for our lives? Are we using our resources wisely? Will we regret these choices later?
My caffeinated mind managed to recall what made wedding planning easier: ignore expectations, stick with what matters. Weddings are Exhibit A in the case against artificially high stakes: at the end of the day, the menu, the dress, the decorations, the music—they're all only background noise to the uniting of two lives. And although there are big decisions involved in big days and big purchases and big life changes, what matters at the end of the day is that you make those decisions with the right goal in mind.
Our home isn't meant to be an ad for HGTV's new season of Fixer Upper (although how do I get on that show? Any leads? I'm desperate here. JK. Kind of. Save me, Joanna.) Our home is for sharing life and raising tiny humans and hosting friends and feeling safe and for bigger purposes besides our own. That's the ultimate goal. No amount of light-fixture regret or flooring anguish can change that. Here's what I'm going to remind myself of when nesting hits hard or I'm feeling the weight of my own expectations: Stick with what matters, Emily. Stick with what matters.