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Somewhere in between the bored bride who believes her wedding day to be “just another day” and the dramatic one who sees it as the most important day of her life, there is a joyful bride-to-be who eagerly anticipates her wedding day with healthy excitement for her new shared life.

That joyful bride is what I imagined I would be. I knew all the signs of a Bridezilla and swore I would never become one. A Bridezilla is a woman who throws tantrums about wedding venues and table settings; she makes it clear to those around her that this is “her day” and that no groom, mother, mother-in-law, or maid of honor will stand in the way of that glory.

With this Bridezilla archetype in mind, I thought that I was a bride who had my priorities straight. “With a small budget, it’s hard to get too wrapped up in nonessential details,” I would humblebrag to my friends.

But I soon learned that you don’t have to spend a dime to lose sight of what’s most important on your wedding day.

It all started with the registry. What began as a wish list to inspire our generous friends and family turned into a list of essentials for married life that I would greedily angst over. Did I need that set of gorgeous glass tumblers that are hand wash only and will very likely all break within my first two years of marriage? Did I need those 802-gram Turkish towels from Restoration Hardware or the copper rolling pin that I would use to make Christmas cookies once a year?

In the moment, the answer was yes, I absolutely did.

I needed those things. Somehow, The Registry had become representative of my idyllic married life. But the more those household things took center stage in my future plans, the more the man I love got pushed to the perimeter.

It wasn’t so much greed that set me off course but rather an attachment to a life that I have perfectly orchestrated. In the throes of wedding planning, I became consumed with place settings rather than the promise I was preparing to make. Instead of daydreaming about the ways I would show him faithful love, I was worrying that I might not get that dish set we registered for—anxious that the beautiful backdrop to our life together might not look exactly as I had planned.

But it wasn’t just the household items I was hung up on. I was also thinking ahead to the honeymoon. I had a vision of how the perfect honeymoon should look: tropical, exotic, with a sea breeze. Mexico is where we planned to travel for the week after our wedding, and I daydreamed about how nice it would be to take our first trip as man and wife—what activities we would do, what drinks we might order, what bathing suits I would wear. It would be bliss.

I didn’t realize how attached I was to the idea of this honeymoon until one fateful Saturday morning a month before our wedding. I woke up to a phone call from my older sister asking me if I had been following this whole “Zika virus thing.” “You might want to reconsider Mexico for your honeymoon,” my sister said cautiously. Zika—the new virus that is suspected to cause tragic birth defects and death among newborns whose mothers contracted Zika during pregnancy—had cropped up in beautiful tropical Mexico. Looking forward to starting a family, Joe and I decided not to take the risk. We were both justifiably disappointed, but one of us handled it better than the other.

I cried from disappointment, and only a few hard-asses would blame me for that. But then I cried and cried and sulked and scowled at any other possible honeymoon locations Joe valiantly tried to appealingly present. Indeed, the Bridezilla that I had always sworn I would never become reared her ugly head. My dream married life was being stolen from me, and by some stupid virus!

By the end of the day, I had gotten to a better place; Joe and I did a little wine tasting for the wedding, and I assured myself that Joe would find a new destination equally wonderful. 

But as we kissed one another goodbye, Joe lovingly called my Bridezilla shit out. “Moni, I feel like you made all this honeymoon stuff about you.”

I knew he was right. But it wasn’t just the honeymoon stuff; I realized then that it was the registry stuff, too. Too much focus on planning for the things of married life had made me lose focus on the what and who of married life. In a month’s time I would vow to love Joe for richer and poorer, with a standing mixer or without one, tropical honeymoon or not. And that was the real cause for joy and the only thing that would matter after we rode off into the sunset.

Admittedly, it took a day or two for all of this to soak in. After all, one doesn’t shed her scary Bridezilla scales overnight. But realizing how I had lost sight of Joe and our marriage in all of my daydreaming and registering helped me to refocus on how lucky I was to be marrying a man who could call me out of self-pity—and Bridezilla craziness—and love me at the same time.

On our wedding day, I walked down the aisle bursting with more joy than I have ever experienced. Not because everything had gone perfectly or because I thought it would go perfectly from here on out. I was brimming with happiness because I knew I was going to share my life with Joe—who loves me, scales and all.

Photo Credit: Zach Robbins