Updated: Jun 2
A sky of liquid black velvet stretched across the lake, a full moon and sparking stars wound light atop the belly of small waves breaking against the shore. Ancient oaks pearled with dancing Spanish moss dripped thick black branches on the grass around us as he dropped to a knee before me.
That picture is branded in my mind forever now; a blissful, perfect snapshot of being proposed to. It was the beginning of an entire week my fiancé (how strange!) planned just for us, no social media, no phones. Neither of us knew the chaos waiting for us on the other side of those seven days.
The first thing that became painfully clear about being engaged and still trying to write is that the nine-to-five trope is not just a fun nickname for a workday. Chances are, you get off around the same time I do, which means your parents do, your aunts and uncles do, your siblings do, everyone – everyone – has that schedule. We got home from work on that first day back and faced the next three hours of phone calls. It happened again the next day, and every day for the next week. It was so exciting that I didn’t mind putting off writing for moments like those. They were everything. Eventually, the calls tapered off and our afternoons returned to normal. For a second.
The second thing I learned is that everyone has an opinion about everything. No, really, I mean everything. No, surely that can’t be true, can it? Let me tell you the opinions I’ve been informed of after everyone was done offering congratulations: our bridesmaids and groomsmen have to be an equal number; we should use the money to buy a house instead (in this market??); we have to have glow-in-the-dark party favors to wear at the reception; we should have a honeymoon somewhere that’s interesting to everyone, not just us; if I pick the dress I want, I’ll look like a little moth. Yes, I’m being serious. But why would this interrupt my writing schedule? Everyone has collectively assumed that I am the only one planning this wedding and will only call me with these very important concerns. Calls, texts, emails… hours of people making suggestions on decisions I haven’t even been engaged long enough to consider yet. Oh, I should just tell them to stop? Yeah, try that with southern Mommas and see how that turns out for you. I’m convinced planning a wedding is only stressful when everyone around you is trying to persuade you to plan their own personal dream wedding.
It gets infinitely more nuanced if one of your best friends also gets engaged soon after you do. Now, there’s the extra complication of accidentally picking the same best man/maid of honor, making sure bachelor/bachelorette parties don’t conflict, hoping the themes aren’t similar, all while trying not to feel bitter if one of those things does happen because everyone’s just trying their best. More time is spent sending carefully worded texts, checking in to make sure nothing is stepping on any toes.
Then there’s the actual planning. That’s right, we haven’t talked about that part!
All of that aside, how do you make time for writing through it all?
1) Give it to your partner.
I hand the phone to my fiancé when my mom calls now. No, seriously. There’s only one way she’ll accept that he’s planning this thing, too, and it’s if he tells her himself every time.
No, I am not considering that at this time. No, I don’t have time to talk about that right now. No, I’ve already made alternative choices. No, you can’t ask your best friends’ cousin to make our cake.
3) Honestly, take a break from pressuring yourself to write.
Planning is hard and a whole lot of pressure just landed on your shoulders. Forgive yourself for putting your energy toward a new goal; you’ll get back to what you left off with when your mind returns to a normal space. Check in with yourself and make sure your mental health is okay with long spans between writing sessions; if not, reassess your schedule to fit it in when you can.
If all else fails, perhaps there’s comfort in knowing you’re not being featured on Bridezillas and are allowed to feel conflicted and have a few meltdowns. I’m still going through it and learning to grapple with everything, so maybe some updates are in store.
Last piece of advice: don't let this become another one of those moments when everyone calls you Superwoman as they continue to add to your plate. Help is only helpful if it gets you and your partner closer to your ideal goal. Allow yourself to disregard everything else so you can clear up your mind enough to get back to writing when you can.