A family friend of mine loves to tell the story of the man who—years before—knocked on her Florida front door. The man asked if she wanted to invest in a new company that was going to utilize the growing citrus industry. Thinking the man’s plan sounded foolish and unfeasible, the family friend politely declined. Years later, she still cringes every time she sees an advertisement for Minute Maid orange juice. She wishes she had let go of her doubts and taken a chance.
Regrets are incredibly powerful. They can haunt us in a variety of ways. Not only can regrets weigh down our shoulders from real-life moments (like turning down Minute Maid’s invitation to the investment-prom), but regrets can stalk us in hypothetical ways too.
One thing that’s common to hear from recently-engaged couples is the fear of regretting a wedding-related decision.
Let’s say you decide to keep your guest list to only 30 guests…will you regret not inviting your great aunt Suzy’s childhood best friend? Or let’s say you decide to not have a wedding cake…will you regret not having those frosting-on-the-nose photos to laugh over when you’re eighty? Couples who want to get married in the courthouse might worry they will regret not having a larger wedding. Couples who invite 300 people to their wedding might begin to regret their escalating food bill.
Fear-of-potential-regret is the new FOMO
The fear-of-potential-regret is like the first cousin of FOMO. They both rob us of present joy. They’re the ghosts of future regret coming to haunt us in the night as we sweat through our scratchy Ebenezer Scrooge onesies.
The potential absence of something causes fear to claw at the back of our throat. What if I regret not wearing a veil forty years from now? What if I regret wearing a strapless dress??
Fear of regret can be paralyzing. After all can you imagine how Penguin Books felt after rejecting The Grapes of Wrath or how Viking Press felt after rejecting The Color Purple because Alice Walker used too many exclamation points(!!)? If I were one of those editors I would weep at the sight of manuscripts on my desk, uncertain of what steps to take next. (Side-note: can you tell I’m a literary rejection letter junkie?)
But when it comes to being engaged and wedding planning, it is essential you don’t allow the fear of regret hold you back from making confident, heartfelt decisions.
Pay attention to why you are making decisions. Have you chosen to rent nicer chairs because you truly want them? Or are you afraid you’ll regret seeing the venue-provided plastic chairs in your photos.
Check in with your heart and your gut from time to time. Identify the core values you had when you first got engaged. What is most important to you about the engagement, about the wedding, about the experience?
When all else fails, write a list of the top ten most important things to you about your wedding day. Grab your partner, sit down with a pen in one hand, a pad of paper in the other, and recruit your grey housecat named Scout to hold a glass of wine at the ready.
When you choose to remain rooted in the points that matter most to you, you stand a better chance of fighting off the “but what if I regret” jitters. Decision-making is scary because of the fact that you have to release other options. Letting go is always hard. But just like my mom used to shout at me when I hung on the monkey bars pretending to really admire the lovely shade of grey metal instead of reaching for the next bar: GEEZ, LET GO ALREADY.