I make it a ritual to dedicate an hour to reflecting on the highlights and lowlights of each year. In 2023, I decided to leave my 10-year career to join Diego full-time at Chas Studios. I also underwent intensive dental surgery to remove toxic dental work, spent four months living in another city (Montreal), and got married not once, but twice! I decided to do this exercise specifically with our wedding. Given the significant amount of time and effort we invested in planning both ceremonies, I felt it was important to pause for reflection. I believed that comparing our elopement to our formal wedding would be particularly interesting, considering the marked contrast between the two experiences.
Eloping vs The Wedding
The elopement felt adventurous and exotic. We traveled to a historic European vineyard an hour south of Montreal in Quebec. It was the first time we visited the region which created a sense of novelty and excitement. I strongly believe in sharing new experiences with your partner, such as learning a new skill or traveling to a new city, to recreate the “newness” that is so prevalent at the beginning of the relationship. In other words, sharing new experiences can help keep “the spark” alive. Also, the ability to see your partner with new eyes or a fresh perspective has immense benefits for the relationship. That’s why it is so important to be curious and continue learning about your partner (we are always changing after all!), but I digress. After our ceremony, we were free to roam around the vineyard by ourselves. I felt like we were two young kids without a care in the world. We could just be ourselves in the presence of one another without the context of who we are at home. In a sense, the elopement felt like a honeymoon, or what I would imagine a honeymoon would feel like.
On the other hand, our wedding felt warm and comforting. We were in our hometown surrounded by our closest friends and family. I also felt how big of a step we were taking, something I had not felt at our elopement. I think this is because sharing my thoughts and feelings about the wedding in my conversations made it feel more real. There were also specific moments that allowed me to see the grandiosity of it all. For example, there was a moment during Diego’s dinner speech where I was able to zoom out and see our life from a bird-eye-view. I saw all of our friends sitting there, I heard Diego’s beautiful words, and I looked out at the view of Puerto Vallarta. I could see the life we had created (and it was a good one!).
Most Memorable Moments
I loved the native ceremony performed during our Puerto Vallarta wedding. It was incredible to have the shaman lead us through a spiritual ritual overlooking Banderas Bay with all of our friends and family present. It felt surreal. It was heartwarming hearing Diego read his vows because it’s not often that we verbalize our feelings for one another (something I’d like to improve). It was special for me to write my vows too. I love being able to write something with such clarity and directness that I don’t need many words. My favorite quote on writing is, “I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write you a short one.” Applying this practice to my vows allowed me to become crystal clear on exactly why I fell in love with Diego and why we were compatible. It sounds corny, but this simple exercise recreated the feeling of falling in love all over again.
This year has been full of experiences that taught me many valuable lessons. It’s hard to categorize them as “good” or “bad” because, in the end, all experiences teach us something about life and make us more evolved humans. Wedding planning is no small feat, but it is a valuable learning experience for any couple because it forces you to discuss the big things, such as money and family. It’s like traveling for the first time as a couple. You’re able to see how well you two work together. Who takes the lead in planning? Who is the more passive or spontaneous planner? Do you stay in 5-star luxurious hotels or rustic campsites? Who pays for what? Will you spend your days lying on the beach or will you have a full itinerary of sightseeing? You learn so much more about your partner through these types of experiences. A wedding normally carries a much higher price tag and involves a lot more people than planning a weekend vacation, hence, you’ll run into even more complex questions.
Diego and I ran into multiple road bumps and learning experiences in our wedding planning journey, the most significant involving setting family boundaries and understanding each other’s money mindset. Trying to plan the wedding the first time around felt chaotic and forced. I realize I felt so stressed because I was trying to plan everything according to what our family wanted, rather than staying true to our goals and desires. I also realized I was being too strict and rigid with the outcome I wanted. I am so happy we waited to plan the wedding until the timing felt right, Diego and I were both on the same page with finances and goals, and I learned to let go and trust more in the process rather than trying to force my extremely rigid vision into existence. It felt better to go with the flow rather than against it.
I also learned that even though Diego is not a natural “planner” by nature, he can step up to the plate and plan something if he puts his mind to it. I noticed that he didn’t get too caught up in the small details, rather he made fast decisions and focused on the bigger things that mattered. Last but not least, I realized our brains work completely differently. This was apparent when we had our financial meetings and went through the numbers. We each had almost opposite methods for looking at an equation or situation. Though at times this was super frustrating, it allowed me to practice patience and understanding.
There were many times when we had heated conversations and my initial reaction was to persuade Diego to agree with me rather than try to understand his point of view. I found that taking just five minutes to truly listen in an open, non-defensive way, ask questions, and understand his perspective had two major impacts on our relationship. First, Diego felt heard and understood (sometimes this was enough), and second, it was much easier to come to an agreement or compromise when we understood each other’s motives and perspectives.
They say that a relationship is a tool for spiritual growth because a relationship is about growing more than you could by yourself. Why enter into a relationship if your growth is better served alone? More times than not, when I work on improving the relationship from this standpoint – working on myself and not trying to “fix” Diego – the relationship inevitably thrives. This insight stands out as the most significant lesson from this whole experience. Diego and I will inevitably run into challenges, as we did many times in our wedding journey, but rather than reacting and getting triggered, I’ve come to realize that the relationship and these challenges can serve as vehicles for both personal and spiritual growth.
Thank you for joining us on our 10-week journey through our wedding chronicles. As always, please reach out with any questions or comments, or if you’d like to share your wedding journey. You can email me directly at email@example.com.