(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on April 14, 2010)
Expectation is a presumption, often accompanied by eagerness. It is a belief that something will be achieved. Expectation is frequently intertwined in traditions, culture and social norms. With it can come great satisfaction or extreme disappointment. Expectations can cause a lot of pressure and stress, but they can also be motivational depending on the context. So, in what context am I thinking about right now? A wedding. My wedding. Oh my goodness, my wedding.
Weddings are full of expectations, as most of you know. Expectations from parents, from the bride, from wedding magazines, from perfect strangers even. Some expectations are valid and some are just plain archaic and need to be outlawed.
Our wedding will be very untraditional and we’re loving it. There will be no chicken and asparagus atop mashed potatoes at dinner, we will not cut a tiered wedding cake hand in hand, my dress is fantastically not pure white and our wedding rings look like welded stars in concrete. Even better, our parents have been amazing and have supported us wholeheartedly in our creative twists, never demanding that we politic and invite aunts and uncles we never met.
Like many brides, I had some expectations of my own of how a wedding should be. My fiancé, on the other hand, has been much more open-minded about doing things not of the norm. His lack of knowledge of wedding traditions has proven to be really beneficial in shaping the freeness of this day. I’ve learned a lot from him in the past few months, about letting go of frivolous things like matching colors!
At first, the energy of others’ expectations caused me to worry because I felt like I might be doing something wrong. I also started to feel selfish because I am not one to plan things around me, and certainly not one that likes to displease anyone. I put a lot of expectations on myself to try and make this a wedding that would make everyone happy, which in turn caused me to ignore whether or not I was happy too.
This wedding makes me shy, despite that I know deep inside that a wedding is meant to celebrate the couple.
I have come to realize how the power and influence of expectation can make another person feel. I have also realized that many expectations are our own to deal with and not beliefs we should project on others. The only expectation we should project on a person, especially during a time like a wedding, is the expectation of happiness.
I think there is a definite art to expectation. Everyone has expectations and we often impress our subjective beliefs on others without knowing it. Expectation mingles with things like deductive reasoning, trust, tradition, history, patterns and preconceived notions. We can’t always tell if our expectations are selfish or helpful, and there is a balance when deciding when to expect something out of someone and when to just let go and allow something new and refreshing to emerge. Expectations can be falsely binding, so we have to be careful when we apply it to others and ourselves.
I’ve learned to ask myself whether or not the choices I am making for this special day are to appease the traditional wedding gods, or are because I truly find joy and honor in those choices. It has helped me to breathe more steadily through this process and enjoy the reason why my fiancé and I are having this ceremony to be together with my best friend and to give praise to finding someone with whom to spend my life.
So, for all of you in the midst of wedding planning: For you crazy parents, be kind to your children unless you are absolutely sure their partner is a complete fool. For you looney bridezillas, remain calm and exorcise the wedding demons. Don’t let the wrong flowers make your fangs grow. For you nutty bridesmaidzillas, you will one day have your wedding so please be patient and suck it up even if you hate the dress you’ve been forced to wear. For the grooms who think this is the worst year of their life, remember that you love her and you asked her to do this!
I love my husband, I am grateful for what I have been learning and I am looking forward to a fun-filled celebration to share with great friends and family!
Mari Nakano can be reached by e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.