SEASON OF ENGAGEMENT
My husbands birthday was a few weeks ago and I got us tickets to Star Wars: The Last Jedi on opening night. I felt like I scored some wife points for this one. But truth be told, I’m pretty excited to see it too.
When it’s said that nature is a force, it’s true. It has a will of its own independent of ours. So why not do as Luke recommends and use the force. Nature’s best resources are all around you just begging to be not only admired but utilized.
Had I been doing the very things I’m going to share with you during our engagement 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have:
A. Ironing tablecloths in our hotel room the night before.
B. Bought more in decor “stuff” than I spent on photography.
C. Had my Mom do my hair and makeup instead of relaxing.
D. All of the above.
Well if you guessed D, you’re Yoda level telepathic. And what I’m talking about here is going to save you from every misstep I made. And while none of these were life or death situations, they still are things that bothered me enough to recall them now. If I had worked through my engagement, with the mindset of the seasons, I might have had peace in times of chaos. I might not have been so ready to just “be done with it” instead of enjoying that time of planning. And since I brought up, the notion of “being done with planning” is an idea I’d love to get out of our collective conscious. I fear that overwhelm in the wedding industry is causing couples to dread planning their weddings instead of appreciating the time for what it can be.
The best way I’ve found to change this mindset is to move from a linear view (point A to point B) to a circular one (no beginning and end), just like we have in nature.
You have your wedding date set. Could be a year away, 6 months, 3 months, what have you. Take that length of time and divide it by 4. However many days, weeks or months you have in each quarter tells you how much time you will spend in each “season” cycle. Not I’m not suggesting that the literal seasons have to match up with your 4 chunks of time. Because Spring and Fall are the most popular seasons for weddings, your cycles likely won’t coincide with it anyway.
Once you have your time frame, you’re ready to work through your engagement with grace, intention and less stress.
It’s a common reaction to want to get everything done super quick because you think that you’ll have lots of free time after to live life, but I haven’t found that it works out quite that easily. When you’re rushing decisions, you could also be sacrificing what you value for quick gratification. Leaving you ultimately dissatisfied in the end. If you stay the course and go with the flow, you’ll be better equipt to enjoy your wedding day wholeheartedly, joyfully and completely.
S P R I N G
Spring is a beloved season because it’s refreshing. Full of emerging color and bloom, it’s exciting and new. The first quarter of your engagement brings up these same feelings. Embrace this season of emergence by focusing on what’s new coming into your lives. Now is a time to start planning but the magic of letting nature guide you through it is you just have to know the right things to plan now and let the rest follow.
Like plants grabbing all the moisture from the melting snow, this is the time to absorb everything you know about your mate. Many women have ideas of their perfect wedding day (since childhood) but for men, it may be a bit harder for them to explain what’s they find important. But be patient and open. Work against the tendency for decisions to rest on one person. Rephrasing the questions helps a lot! When I consult with couples about their stationery I ask, “How would you like your wedding day to feel?”. It pulls the focus away from concrete details and towards subtle clues that will help determine season and location. Keeping it light at this stage will work wonders to open yourself up to new possibilities.
Look at the things you like to do, where you like to go, and who you like to be with. As you discuss, keep a fluid list of likes and dislikes. See where you agree. Where your ideals intersect are your core values. BIG TIP: Keep your discussions between the two of you for now. It can be tempting for people to want to get to know your plans before you’ve even discussed it. Opinions from even your closest family can cause you to revisit your core values. This quarter is not the time for open discussion (that will come next).
The goal of this time is to be uplifting and positive. No idea is a bad one. Brainstorm constructively and avoid criticism. Be in a bubble for awhile and enjoy your friendship. Remember what it was like when you started dating. Getting back to some of those early feelings can help you feel renewed and excited for what’s to come.
S U M M E R
Summer is warm and active. Nature is electric and energetic as it becomes it’s most visible. Greenery becomes vibrant, vegetables and flowers in full abundance. This stage of your engagement should inspire and enlighten. Give yourselves the space to explore and collaborate.
A good habit to get into at this stage is to think about your future life together. Your wedding is one day but your marriage is a lifetime. Do you want to own a home, have kids, get a new car, travel, start a business, change careers, or go to school? How you plan your wedding day can have an impact on your ability to provide for your future lives, both financially and emotionally. Make your future plans visible to your partner and come to find common ground when discussing differences. Re-evaluating your core values helps you decide what the most crucial elements of your wedding day are.
Now is a good time to get input from your closest family and friends. Share your core values with them, but be firm in them. Allow them to lead you forward you but not redirect you. Open yourselves up to looking at things in a new way.
You’ve done the all prep work in discovering what your core values are and now you’re ready to align them with the tasks of your day. This is the time for action and connection. Finding spaces, places, people that fit your core values, communicate with them, allow them to help you discover ways that you can make your values a reality.
Don’t allow this time to get too complicated. This isn’t a time to focus on the small details (that will come next). You’re going to have lots of options and opinions, but with your core values as your compass and rule book, you have the guidelines to plan the big things without getting overwhelmed.
A U T U M N
Fall is the season of harvest. Gardens are bursting and it’s time to pick the last of the season’s bounty. Planning should be slowing down, preparing for rest. This quarter is dedicated to completing tasks, focusing on the details, and tidying up.
You’ve expressed your core values, connect with people and places that capture them and bring your day meaning and heart. Now is the time to make sure all the formalities of holding an event are secured. Your last bit of focus can now be on the details. But like before, always return to those core values. Allow these details to bring greater meaning and mindfulness to your day instead of holding wasted space. Do these details add to the connection you have with your guests, are they fulfilling to your heart. Be practical and decide if they are necessary.
Live by Coco Chanel’s mantra, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” I write about a less is more mindset a lot, because it is incredibly important. Leave more space in the day for your love than anything else. Leave time for your commitment to each other to outweigh your commitment to anything else. For this one day, you get to be selfish about your love and promise to each other because it is the heart of why you’re getting married. So give yourself the time to indulge in it.
I’ve also talked in other posts about making a connection to your family during your engagement and why that is so vital. Now is the time to give them the space to enjoy your love too. Reinforce your core values with them and allow them to give you gifts that align with them. For more on that check out my post on gracious giving,
Allow them the space to share their wisdom with you. This time is the culmination of activities and action to open yourselves up to acceptance and grace.
W I N T E R
Like the first flakes of snow that hit the ground, Winter is cool, calm and collected. Its power comes in its ability to bring all life to rest. Include your own rest in this final quarter as one of your main priorities. Listen to your body and take a load off.
Take in all that wonderful wisdom and let it really soak in. Revel in this beautiful time that you have as a couple. One of many seasons like this in your lives to come, that will call to you in the busy times, so prepare for the journey ahead with some downtime. Let go of what could have been and embrace what is. Planning, action, and finishing are over so now it’s time to release.
Now is a perfect time for self-care. But by all means please do give yourself time in all the other phases! Grab your girls and head for a spa day, Support your health and emotional well-being, with yoga and meditation. Evaluate how you feel about your future spouse. Are you connected? Are you emotionally ready?
Give yourselves the time to get reconnected. Reflect on this process together and how much closer it has brought you (If you followed the seasons!). Evaluate your engagement, not in terms of what you did or didn’t do but in terms of how well it prepared you for your married lives together. Are you more connected to your families and friends? Have you cultivated kindness, encouragement, and support in your relationship with each other and your closest company? Are you spiritually ready to accept a lifetime of ups and downs with your love? If you haven’t given yourself time thus far to consider these things then now’s the time to begin.
Nature’s seasons are perfect examples of ways we can find consistency and connection to get us through times of change and unfamiliar territory. I dare say we are biologically wired to work with the seasons. So let nature nurture you through your engagement. Let it open you up to its glorious examples of how to live purposeful, whole and gracious lives.
I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment on how this could change your engagement!