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Enjoying the Ride

By Kirsten Valle

Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009

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Photo by Critsey Rowe

Kirsten Valle is a business reporter for the Observer. She can be reached at kvalle@charlotteobserver.com.

Read more "Getting to 'I do.'"

This fall, with eight months to go until the wedding, we’ve found ourselves overcome with the strange sense of having nothing to do. In reality, there's still plenty of planning left. We haven't booked a florist, or lined up music for the ceremony or cocktail hour. We haven't chosen bridesmaid dresses or tuxedos, booked a honeymoon - or even figured out where we want to go.

But compared to the first few weeks and months after the engagement, when we were faced with a mountain of research and choices, it feels as though we've reached a lull in the action. The to-do list is still there – and, in some ways, still overwhelmingly long - but the urgency that accompanied our earliest decisions has dissipated.

We have our date. Our venues. Our band, our photographer. All the vendors that we worried would book up and leave us in the dust are signed and paid.

At first, this realization made me nervous. Was there something major I was forgetting? Wedding planning couldn't be this quick and easy, could it?

But after a while, I found myself enjoying evenings and lunch breaks with friends, or by myself, instead of buried under menus and pricing sheets and wedding books. I was having conversations with my parents that had nothing to do with the dress or the guest list. I found myself confidently telling newly engaged friends that the planning process wouldn't always be so crazy.

Most of all, I began to enjoy simply being engaged. In the beginning, we seemingly spent every weekend visiting venues or making other wedding plans. But earlier this month, Reese and I went to Kiawah Island, S.C. - the weekend was a gift from our parents - with nothing on the agenda except relaxing and belatedly celebrating our engagement. We spent three days watching the waves from our hotel balcony, lingering over dinners and enjoying sunny early-morning walks. To me, it was a taste of what life would be like after the wedding - no pressure to do anything other than enjoy each other's company.

I've often wondered how I'll feel the day after the wedding. Exhausted and excited about the honeymoon, sure, but will I also be a little sad it's over? Will it be the feeling you get as a child on Christmas day - thrilled, but a little deflated after all that buildup? What will we look forward to, after looking forward to the wedding for so long?

The answer, of course, is our life together. A number of my married friends have said they felt relieved after their weddings. Those were great days, rich with family and friends and laughter and tears, they said, but when the music stopped and the guests left, they were delighted to realize they could simply be with each other.

After we returned from our beach weekend, refreshed, I picked up the wedding planning again. I chose linens for the reception. My mom and I went back to the bridal shop, and I tried on my dress for the first time since we bought it. I fell in love with it all over again. We checked out bridesmaid dresses, and I've (slowly) started to think about flowers and invitations and save-the-dates. I'm having more fun with it all than I have in months.

I expect the planning process to kick into high gear sometime after the holidays, when the home stretch begins and the weekends fill with showers and bachelorette parties for me and all the beautiful brides-to-be I know. But for now, I'm enjoying the fact that there are still eight months to go. I'm enjoying the slower pace and the rediscovery of just how much fun this is. And I think I've learned that, no matter the length of the to-do list, it's important to sit back once in a while and enjoy the ride.

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