I remember the day of my proposal very clearly. It was a sunny September morning, and my then-boyfriend surprised me out of nowhere on our vacation by dropping to one knee and popping the question right then and there in our cozy Airbnb apartment in the heart of Berlin.
I wish I could say I started planning the wedding right then and there, as many enthusiastic brides-to-be would do. But I'd be lying, big time.
The truth is, I didn't want to make a big fuss out of our wedding. No big church, no fancy meals, no flower arrangements, I said. I dreaded the planning, and I didn't know where to start.
Some days, I anxiously dreamed of escaping everything and eloping, just the two of us.
Fast forward to my wedding day, there I was - standing in the middle of the beautiful medieval church in our hometown, dressed in a white lace dress, nervously clutching a bouquet of beige roses and my new husband's hand.
Somehow, I'd made it to my wedding, and it was way bigger than I expected. And surprisingly - I was glad!
In the process of preparing for our special day, I'd somehow found the excitement for celebrating our wedding and found a deeper meaning to the whole process.
In the end, I came to love every bit of that unrepeatable day.
1. It's the perfect time for both families to meet
Somewhere along the process of preparing the wedding, my mom said to me in a preaching, serious voice: your wedding will be the first time both sides of the family, yours and your future husband's, meet. Like a bridge that connects two shores.
I thought to myself, "nonsense! It's not like they're complete strangers."
But as I started contemplating it, I had no other choice than to agree with her. Some of our relatives came from further away in the country, and many of them didn't even know each others' names.
It was us, the couple in the middle of the whole wedding hoopla, who'd met everyone. Our relatives, however, hadn't bonded with each other, and this was the perfect occasion for them to do so.
2. Reconnecting with friends
My wedding was one of those turning points when I realized how much I love my friends and, surprisingly, how much they love me.
Our friends selflessly offered to help with everything and anytime. By doing so, they conveyed a sense that our wedding was not only important to us, but it was really important to them, too.
"Need any help with the flowers? Should I talk to your mom about why that third-degree relative is not invited? Are you getting nervous? We can go out for a drink and talk anytime you need!"
This level of sincerity felt somewhat unreal to me. Generally, I'm a person who goes through life selfishly thinking I don't need anybody else and that I can do everything on my own.
This time, I let go of the urge to be in absolute control and used our wedding as a chance to be enwrapped in love and friendship.
3. Bonding with parents
Seeing your children walk down the aisle can be especially emotional, even for cool-headed parents who never shed a tear.
And who can blame them? After all, weddings mark the departure of a child when they enter adulthood and start their own family, as their primary loyalty will now be to their spouse.
So, use this special time to bond with your parents and in-laws. Find out what their own weddings were like, and how their life changed afterward. Spend as much time as you can with them because later it will be work, duty, and "the adult life".
For example, even though I wasn't planning on getting a big white wedding dress, I spent a whole day with my mom looking and trying on the especially puffy ones just for the fun of it. And even despite a big fight, we had at the end of trying on dresses, this day with her turned into one of the dearest memories from the whole wedding.
4. Present time!
Don't get me wrong, I don't think the main purpose of a wedding is to receive presents. Not at all.
But I do believe that besides gifting you and your significant other their time, your friends and family will also want to get you something to remember them by.
It's okay to give hints about what wedding gifts you'd like to get. We'd politely asked our guests to gift us cash to contribute to our honeymoon fund. But my all-time favorite gift came from my colleagues who got us comfy couple's clothing with secret openings to encourage hugs and cuddling on a daily basis. Cute, yet practical!
5. All eyes on you
I couldn't say I particularly enjoy being in the center of attention. In fact, when it comes to social events, I prefer the smaller ones without any crowds where you can easily slip away unnoticed.
However, during my wedding, I enjoyed every bit of attention my husband and I received that day. Because this level of happiness doesn't happen often on a daily basis, and I felt like sharing it with the whole world.
And so I waved happily to the group of Asian tourists who stopped and watched us get out of the car in front of the church, taking photos of our ecstatic faces.
I smiled at the kids passing us on the street, saying to us "this must be the best wedding ever!". Because to me, it really did feel like the best wedding, and the happiest day of my life, at least, up until that point in my life.
6. Good vibes only
It might be because of the great, Italian summer-like weather or because everything went exactly as we'd planned that I felt our wedding was filled with positive vibes only.
Or it might be that I got to see all the dearest and nearest, hug them, sing and dance with them, talk to them in one single day.
Whichever way, in that aspect our wedding did feel like a fairy tale - because I don't ever remember another day in my life when I've felt that pure level of happiness 24/7.
The thing about weddings is that most likely, it will be a very joyous day with lots of laughs and happy tears. Your marriage, on the other hand, will have its ups and downs, challenges and plenty of times when you'll just want to give up - and that's fine, too.
That's why I came to think about our wedding as a motivational benchmark, to start our path off on the right foot.
And as the saying goes, if on your wedding day, you look to the side and you're excited to spend the rest of your life with the person you see there, odds are - you're in for a long and fulfilling ride.