There are two really big events in our adult lives: the day we get married, and the day our baby is born. As a little girl, I dreamed of both of these days frequently. I wondered when I would meet the man of my dreams, how we would meet, how he would propose…

I dreamed of the wedding – and spent many months planning it. From the day that he proposed and we set the date I thought about it every moment. I dreamed of what it might feel like to walk down the aisle, to look into his eyes and hear him say, “I do”. I knew that it would be a day I would always remember, and every single day I thought it. I was nervous to say the least!!

Another friend of mine got married just 3 months before I did. She was terrified of getting married and so she hired the most expensive consultant that she could (also came highly recommended by another friend)… she, too, was planning a larger wedding celebration. The closer the day came, the more excited she became.

Unfortunately, it seemed that everything that could go wrong did. The caterers that the consultant hired showed up late, there was a mix-up between the consultant and the florist so they delivered to the wrong church, there was a freakishly huge snowstorm that grounded most of her family from being able to fly in, the wet snow ruined her hairdo and made her curls go flat, and in her disappointment her tears made it impossible for her makeup to stay clean. I watched her cry in the back room while waiting to walk down the aisle, her disappointment at seeing the church with 30 people rather than her planned 175. She found out during the reception that the flight they had booked to take them to New York for their honeymoon had been cancelled. I remember Teresa coming up to her during the reception and saying, “Why are you so upset? After all, you have a good husband, isn’t that what’s important?” When she expressed her disappointment to the wedding consultant at the outcome, all he could say was, “I’ve done this a thousand times, this was a beautiful wedding – you have a good outcome.”

Watching her go through this experience made me more nervous about my own wedding – and honestly, I considered calling it off and just eloping. After all, if you don’t get your hopes up then you can’t be disappointed. I thought about what I wanted and decided on the old adage, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” I did not hire a consultant – instead we hired something called a “wedding assistant”. I loved my assistant – she helped answer all of my questions, made sure I didn’t forget anything, knew what all of my options were. I even attended a seminar she recommended on “planning your wedding – knowing what to expect, getting what you want”. It helped us SO MUCH!

We ordered the invitations, ordered the cake, picked out the dress, hired the band. We hired our caterer, reserved the church…

…Oh, the church, I forgot to tell you about the church. I was raised in a strict Catholic family, but hadn’t been a practicing Catholic for about 5 years when I got married. In fact, I met my husband in church…a non-denominational church. We were both Christian, but not Catholic. My fiancée and I wanted to get married at the church we regularly attended, the one we met in – and my family threw a FIT! I remember the final ultimatum my mother threw at me: You will get married in the Catholic Church or we will not pay for the wedding.

That made for a very hard decision for us as we didn’t have much money. One night at dinner, my fiancée held my hand and said, “This wedding is about us and OUR family – what do YOU want? You’re the one getting married…’ I told him I wanted to get married at our church. He smiled and said, “Then that’s where we will get married.” When I asked him about the money, he said, “I only plan to get married one time…it’s worth it to me. We will make it happen.”

So as the day drew near, I felt that I had done everything I could to give us the best chance at having a beautiful wedding. I remembered my friend’s snowstorm and knew that there were things that were out of my control…but I had done my research and done what I could to give us the best chance at having a wonderful day. Even if something like that happened, I knew that I did everything I could. I listened as my friend Teresa would go between, “I’m never getting married…I’ve seen how horrible that can be!” and “I guess I just don’t understand someone wanting to have a big wedding…isn’t it enough to have a husband?” and “I don’t know why you’re doing this to yourself – just hire a consultant and let them deal with everything, they are the experts.”

My family finally accepted that we were committed to getting married in our church and agree to support us (although not financially). The day of my wedding was much more stressful than I anticipated and I have to admit that about halfway through the morning and I wondered if it wouldn’t have been better to hire a consultant. I helped show the caterers where to set up, the band we’d hired were friends of ours who showed up early out of excitement, the centerpieces on the tables were made by my friends the night before (with flowers they had picked out of their gardens!) There was a lot of work for me to do and at times I felt like I was running around in circles.

Finally the moment came, and as I walked down the aisle with the spring rain falling in torrents outside, I saw my fiancée standing at the front with the most handsome smile I’d ever seen. I got up to the front of the aisle and as I took him into my arms I knew it was all worth it. Any challenges, any amount of stress, it was all worth it. Our family and friends filled our church and watched as we both said, “I do.”

At the reception…we laughed and ate and danced. Most people had hair that had gotten soaked in the rain and was as far from glamorous as it could have been – but I don’t think anyone noticed. We cut our cake and as we sat down to eat it I looked over the room, my friends and family….and thought how very sad that so many people will never experience the bliss that I had at that moment. I heard many people at the reception talking about how magical it was, and how it wasn’t what they expected and it was the neatest wedding…they loved how very personal and emotional the ceremony and reception was.

Planning my own wedding was hard – but I would never trade the experience!! It was full of challenges and there were things that didn’t go exactly as I’d imagined…and yet, in its own way, it was perfect! Not only do I have an amazing husband for the rest of my life, but I will always remember our wedding day as one in which my dreams and wishes were respected – and I will never regret making the decision to plan my own wedding and get married in my own church and to welcome my husband into my life in a way that I will always remember. I will never regret spending the extra money for our wedding assistant or for the extra money we had to spend because of our decision to birth at our own church. (after all, I will only get married to this man once!)

Just because it was harder doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it…it was…a thousand times over.

NOTE: the preceding is a fictional story meant to illustrate a point about childbirth. The wedding consultant would be any health care provider who wants to control your birth choices and tells you to just sit back and let them make all of the decisions. The wedding assistant may be a midwife…or a doula. The seminar is a childbirth class. The Catholic Church is a hospital and the Christian church is a home – the parents are both the financial backing an insurance company as well as the pressure you may receive from family to birth their way.