On Good Friday of this year, Mr. Narwhal, MOH Cass, her boyfriend, and I had a crazy eventful day. We somehow managed to get ourselves four tickets for a 500 ticket secret exclusive Mumford and Sons concert.
The concert had one rule. No cell phones or cameras allowed. As someone who has spent too much time at a concert trying to record a song (that I never watch!), or taking a ton of photos that all look the same, I now try to only take a few pictures and put my phone away to be present at concerts. You never quite enjoy the experience as much looking through a lens. Not being allowed a phone or camera added a whole other level of presence to a concert, and that night was truly one of the best musical experiences of my life. It was my third Mumford concert, and while each has been incredibly special, this one had another layer captured by the experience of real presence.
Our only record of the night
This has really stuck in my mind and taught me a lesson about presence and experiencing the moment versus being so focused on reliving it later through photographs. It’s a funny balance we create in the world of social media and the quest for the perfect picture. Our wedding day is the extreme version of this with grandiose photography and videography budgets. So much goes into thinking about what pictures are going to look like when it comes to wedding planning, from our bridal look to every other little detail of the day. We have a vision and we want it to be executed beautifully in photographs to forever capture the memories of the biggest day of our lives. We put a lot of pressure on it. And no, this post isn’t about having an unplugged wedding.
I have a shocker to announce. I’m a female who has body image issues. Jon Stewart really captured it recently when speaking about Caitlyn Jenner, “Now you’re a women, and your looks are really the only thing we care about.” He may have been trying to be funny, but his words really highlighted something that women often contend with on a daily basis in Western society.
I’ve really struggled with the idea of being a bride, and the centre of attention on our wedding day. Everyone commenting on how I look, and really while judging isn’t the best word, there will be judgment. We’re all so focused on how beautiful the bride looks on her wedding day. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit thinking about and agonizing over what I’ll be wearing and how I’ll look.
As a bit of a rebel on this topic, I kind of refused to focus on losing weight or “sweating for the wedding” or do anything all for the sake of one day. That’s so far from the point in my mind. I care about my health more than the size of my jeans and the positive choices I make every day over the inches I’ve lost in the last few months. It was an issue before I was engaged, and something I’ve been working on far longer than before I had a set date, so focusing only on our wedding day just feels wrong to me.
Image from Etsy shop: fitlittlebride
The thing is, I can’t lie about it. I do care. How can I not? I really truly wish I knew the answer to that question. How can I not care about what I look like and just be confident in my own skin for who I am as a person? It weighs heavy on my mind. I cannot help but have the wedding in the back of my mind when I’m signing up for classes at the gym or deciding what to make for dinner. I want to make mindful choices about what I do for my everyday life, and really just don’t want it to be about our wedding day.
This past weekend was my bridal shower. One of the best days ever. I promise to get to that next (it’s a much more fun topic!), but this is just weighing so heavily on my mind right now, I need to put this out there before I get to the recap of just one of the most lovely days ever put together by my most favourite women in my life.
With time to kill the morning of my shower I booked my makeup trial and a blowout. I was so excited about my makeup, and went to get my hair done. The salon offered beach waves as a blowout option, and I thought it would be perfect. The girl doing my hair, however, chose not to listen to me when I told her I didn’t feel like myself when my hair was really voluminous, and I received the diva version of beach waves. It looked like I had stuck my finger in a socket (and when I asked her to fix it she added more volume). With no time to spare, I rushed to my parents’ to water my hair down a bit to lighten the load, and quickly changed into my dress. My confidence was shaken, and I no longer felt good about what I was wearing and how I looked, but it was too late to fix it.
I was overwhelmed with the love that was put into the shower when I arrived, and the shower was so lovely. Lots of great visits, laughter, and just a ton of fun. When I looked at the photos later, though, I couldn’t help but focus on my hair and my body and how I didn’t look the way I wanted to look. I tried desperately to fight that feeling and to focus on how amazing the day had been and all of the amazing people that took their time out of their lives to celebrate our relationship and our upcoming wedding.
Why was how I looked what I was thinking about? Why did I care? Why did this matter to me?
That night before falling asleep, I couldn’t shake the feeling. I sort of mumbled out my angst to Mr. Narwhal, as the tears soaked my pillow. I was frustrated with myself that I couldn’t let go of something so logically silly, and let the love and gratitude in my heart take over for how I felt about this day. I felt selfish for caring about this over how amazing the day was. He said all of the right things, that nobody was thinking about that, rather seeing me as the person I am, and not the judgment I am feeling for myself. I never look at a photo of a loved one and think about what they look like—I just see them, and how I feel about that person and care about them. I should be able to do that for myself.
It was a bit of a wake-up call for me, and yet another bold lesson in presence. While having those photographs to capture memories of a special day do matter, and are wonderful to have, it’s not what really matters. It’s the feelings, the emotions, and the real memories you create. Feeling present in a moment. Soaking in the love and support. The laughter. The smiles. The photos from our wedding day shouldn’t change or affect how I feel about the day (unless it’s for the better).
As sucky as I felt on Saturday evening before I fell asleep, I’m so glad I experienced it. It was a wake-up call of some work to be done on myself over the next 12 weeks. I need to work on letting go of what I look like, and focus more on the love, the support, the moments and memories I want to soak in on our wedding day. No matter what the photos look like after our wedding day, I want to remember what is most important.
I want to feel healthy and beautiful, but not only based on the positive choices I make in the exercise and food department. I want to feel that way because I’ve also worked on feeling love and support for myself on the inside. I want to see what Mr. Narwhal sees in me, in myself. I want to feel as beautiful as he tells me I look. I want to be present, feel the love, and soak in every moment.
Image by Isos Photography
This topic was a tough one to share and put out there, but if it speaks to any bee out there in need of a little boost and helps someone become just a little less worried about how they look, I’ll say it was worth it. So, whether you aren’t the size you want to be, you are suffering from dress regret, you’re doubting your hair choices or your nails, or whatever it may be that is weighing you down, try to remember that you’re the only one worrying and thinking about it. Let go and truly enjoy your day. Remember, the day is about sharing your love and marrying one another. It only happens once, and the last thing you want is to waste any space in your head worrying when you can be soaking in the beauty of the day.
Have you struggled with how you will look on your wedding day?