This article first appeared on QuietRev.com.
After being to a few of my boyfriend’s friends’ weddings and knowing my boyfriend does want a wedding, I know that we’re next (both of us are introverts). Do you have any tips or resources for us? Especially for me as I’d rather hide in the coat closet the whole time than be the center of attention. — Demure Dawn
Dear Demure Dawn,
If it weren’t your boyfriend (fiancé?) who wanted a wedding—if it were your mother, future mother-in-law, or best friend—I’d say skip it and elope. But because the desire has been expressed by the one other person who is most intimately involved, this is one of those times when you have to grin (or grimace) and bear it.
But “a wedding” is a generic term for an event that you can meld to your own needs, desires, and preferences; it needn’t be a full-out veil-and-flower-girl event with dinner, speeches, and a band playing hits of the 1980s. Once you have decided to have “a wedding,” you and your boyfriend can sit down and imagine what sort of experience will feel right and genuine for you both. Can you compromise on the size of the wedding so that the people who are showering you with attention are those with whom you feel most connected? Perhaps something casual, like a backyard barbecue-cum-wedding ceremony, will feel good. Or a clam bake, if you’re in clam bake territory. If you and your nearest and dearest can afford it, a destination wedding will naturally limit the turnout since not everyone will be able to manage the trip. An afternoon tea-and-cake receptioncan be fairly quick and painless.
Nor are you required to wear a big froufrou white dress if you don’t want to—those do tend to draw a lot of attention. Your wedding, your dress. You decide what will make you feel beautiful rather than uncomfortable.
Wherever you decide to have the wedding, there’s nothing wrong with scoping out a place in the venue where you can escape for a breather when you need to (the bathroom may or may not work, depending on the likelihood of running into doting friends or relatives in there). Halfway through their wedding, one couple I spoke to for Introverts in Love slipped off to the kitchen for a break while the catering staff, too busy to pay them any mind, bustled around them. (I assume they weren’t in anyone’s way. Or maybe they were, but it was their wedding, so that’s the way it goes.)
The wedding you have is limited only by your budget, your imagination, and your ability to reach a compromise with your boyfriend—and certainly now is as good a time as any to practice this essential skill for a solid marriage.
And one last thought: I believe that events such as weddings and graduations are once-in-a-lifetime moments that allow us to pause to celebrate milestones and appreciate where we are in life. If all goes according to plan (and I trust it will), you will have just one wedding. I hope you can create it and frame it mentally in such a way as to approach it with joy rather than dread and accept openheartedly the love that people want to show you as you embark on this new chapter.
After my wedding (afternoon wedding in a park building, 120 guests, DJ, my husband’s rock band, barbecue buffet, frozen-margarita machine, tea-length dress made with love by my dressmaker mother, no bridesmaids or groomsmen, and a ceremony so brief some people blinked and missed it), it occurred to me that I would never again have all those friends and loved ones together in one place. So, exhausting as it was, 24 years later I am thoroughly rested up from it and don’t regret for a minute the time, money (we paid for it ourselves), and energy expended.
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This article originally appeared on QuietRev.com.