Kaitlin Ugolik is an award-winning journalist based in Brooklyn. She writes and edits stories about the law, health, finance, technology and the media.

A Life Update

This getting married thing is pretty surreal. People give you presents, and throw parties for you, and congratulate you over and over, and tell you that even though you’ve been with your partner for more than nine years, somehow the event a few weeks from now will make you both feel *different.* That feels like a lot of pressure, to be honest. We’ve kind of created a routine and a way of doing things over those nine years – now the rules are going to change?

I know it’s not really as simple as that, and that’s probably a good thing. I’m sure we’ll get the hang of being married and whatever that means just like millions of other couples do. But in the lead-up there has been this whole Bride and Groom thing. It really becomes a whole new identity for a while. At least Bride does.

I’ve tried to write about this a few times over the past year, but every time I just ended up feeling like I wasn’t saying anything new. People get married all the time. It’s pretty well-known by now that there are certain traditions and ideas associated with that in American culture. I’ve seen enough movies and read enough books and known enough people who got married that I essentially knew what to expect. Except the truth is that I really didn’t. I’ve been surprised by so many things. Things people have said to me, feelings I’ve felt that I never expected to feel, uncertainties and certainties that I didn’t recognize as my own. I care about the color of the napkins at the reception. I really do. I won’t cry if they’re wrong, but I had fun choosing them. Who knew? Maybe you did, because you’ve been here, or at least read about this a million times before. But I’m not surprised so many people write about it, as if they were the first to experience Bridal Culture Shock. It just feels so alien and new when experienced first hand.

At the same time, navigating this process as a feminist has added another layer of analysis and confusion to a lot of decisions. White dress? Bridal shower? Kitchen item registry? Name change? I spent months going back and forth about these things, making tentative decisions and then interrogating myself about whether  *I* had really made the decisions or if I’d allowed myself to be swayed by others via social media or Pinterest or just being alive as a woman in 2016. Then, I just turned it all off for a while. I stopped asking or thinking. I started to meditate. No, really. And what I actually wanted to do started to become pretty clear.

And you know what else started to reveal itself? The fact that I actually don’t have a lot of strong feelings about a lot of these things. And I think that’s ok. A person who has chosen every day for the past 9+ years to love me and stick with me and grow and be sick and fail and experiment and commute and do laundry with me wants to make us Officially Family. And I want that too. And a lot of other people want to party with us to celebrate it. The rest is just details.

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