I remember the day of my wedding still, like it was yesterday, even though this fall it will be fifteen years ago. I remember the whole week leading up to it, really. I remember that by Wednesday of that week I had stopped caring, I had fallen over the stress precipice of planning the whole damn thing and was done, just done. Whatever happens, happens. I thought. I can do no more.
Which was good, because my flower girl never showed up, she had strep throat. And the grandfather's boutonnieres disintegrated in my mother-in-law's hands when she picked them up to pin them on. Being a florist herself, she robbed a little from here and there and cobbled together something respectful for the grandfathers, and so it was fine. I didn't even care. I wished she hadn't have told me.
I remember sitting in my hairstylists chair that morning and watching in the mirror as my face suddenly turned green, a la Shelby from Steele Magnolias, as it hit me that I would be paraded in front of 150 people in a mere few hours. The fact that I was getting married was never my concern, but to realize that I would be on stage and all eyes would be on me was suddenly a revolting, terrifying thought.
Everything turned out fine. My hairstylist kept saltines in his drawer for just such occasions.
The wedding went off great. I wouldn't have cared if there were major hitches, it was over as soon as it started, and generally I roll with things pretty well. I may be a control freak, but I understand fate and circumstance. I'm a pretty level headed girl.
This morning at the church where I work, I encountered a bride and groom getting married and having a reception in our space this weekend. We've known these folks were a little high maintenance, we just didn't know how high. Because of a communication/scheduling error, we had to tell them this morning that they could not have full access to the reception hall on Friday, as they had hoped, because of another event that evening. An event that is owned by me. They would have to decorate on Saturday morning. They could have everything delivered as planned, but could not set up the tables and the centerpieces and her grandmother's heirloom china or the 8x8 gazebo that was being brought in that was not on the contract until Saturday morning. The wedding is at 4pm.
This was not met with acceptance.
Let me just clarify, this is a church basement reception, not the Hilton ballroom. We don't charge much.
I ended up taking the call kind of by accident, the person they really wanted to speak with wasn't in the office, although I knew I would be in for it. I didn't expect what I got, however. The groom berated me. I apologized profusely. I offered ideas to help redirect their anger. He didn't bite. He got the bride on the phone, and she proceeded to start crying, then balling, then hyperventilated, then she started vomiting. On the phone. As if I'd just told her that a child had passed away. Her mother then got on the phone and said to me, "look what you've done! My daughter is throwing up all over the house because of you! You've ruined her life!"
I disengaged from the conversation, at times holding the phone away from my head as they yelled in stereo, and finally said "We'll get back to you" and hung up the phone. I shut my door and cried for a few minutes.
And then I called the masonic lodge across the street and asked if I could move my event over there.
I've been yelled at so many times in the corporate world it's ridiculous. I've had my job threatened, more than once, by power-hungry marketing client executives who refused to let a young female marketing executive tell them they can't have their way - a young female who was only talking to them in the first place because her manager was too chickenshit to make that call. I've made people cry myself, usually a TV rep in a small town who didn't run my media schedule correctly, and because someone was breathing down my neck, I screamed down hers. I hated doing it. But I've always been able to say, it's not personal, it's just business, and move on. It's the way the game is played.
I've never had someone on the phone cry until they puked. I thought only babies did that.
Years ago, after enduring one particularly brutal reaming, another woman in my office said to me, "Honey, let it go. It's not brain surgery. We aren't saving women and children here. It's advertising." It became my mantra.
Here's what I know. You have to keep the main thing the main thing, always. It's not about the gazebo, or intricate, handmade table decorations, or the symbolism of displaying grandma's heirloom china. It's about the love. When the minutiae of the details become more important than the thing itself, you've lost.
"I am not a smart man, particularly, but one day, at long last, I stumbled from the dark woods of my own, and my family's, and my country's past, holding in my hands these truths: that love grows from the rich loam of forgiveness; that mongrels make good dogs, that the evidence of God exists in the roundness of things.
This much, at least, I've figured out. I know this much is true."
~Wally Lamb, I Know This Much Is True