When you’re planning any kind of ceremony, you may well become aware of a whole heap of ‘shoulds’ coming your way – either from other people or from right inside your own brain.
Sometimes, those ‘shoulds’ can be helpful (‘you should hire a great celebrant’, for example… 😘)
But most of the time, ‘shoulds’ have come about to ensure that you conform to the expectations of everyone else. They are based on what other people ‘normally’ do and appeal to our self-preservation instinct of wanting to stay safe and not stick out for fear of being ousted from the collective.
For many, even the ceremony itself is a ‘should’. Couples might feel they ‘should’ get married, for example, or that grandpa ‘should’ have a funeral ceremony in the crematorium rather than a celebration of his life in the woods.
These kind of ‘shoulds’ can be disarmed quickly by asking yourself right at the beginning of the process what exactly you want from the occasion. If you don’t know, or your answers aren’t exactly compelling, there’s a strong chance that you might need to further question why you are doing it at all (or, which is often the case, whose expectations you are meeting).
If your ‘should’ isn’t as big as that, you’ll probably discover plenty of smaller ones as you go along. Here are just a small taste of some that you might encounter:
- A bride should wear white
- You should get married in the church/temple/mosque/synagogue
- You should invite your whole family
- Brides should walk down the aisle with their dads
- Grooms should just wait at the front
- You should exchange rings
- You should have a best man, not a best woman (and only one)
Renewal of Vows
- You should wait for a significant anniversary
- You should invite all your friends
- You should use the same vows you used at your wedding
- You should wear black
- You should not laugh or smile
- You should write the eulogy for your loved one
- You should stand up and say something
- You should have an order of service printed
Ugh. All these ‘shoulds’ feel heavy, right?
Here’s the good news though: you do not have to take on a single one of them.
They are not laws.
They are not obligations.
They are just feelings.
If you are feeling icky about any aspect of the ceremony you are planning, check in with yourself and don’t be afraid to question if there’s a ‘should’ lurking. If you find one, try and work out who is saying it in your head (or in real life). Often it’s the remembered voice of a parent or a teacher or another authority figure from your past. Almost always its intention is to keep you safe, but in reality, you are safe and it’s just keeping you stuck.
Examine whether this ‘should’ is relevant to you right now and, if it’s not, thank it for its concern and let it go (check me out going all KonMarie on your shoulds!) If it’s a real life person saying it, there may need to be a longer conversation of course. But do keep in mind whose ceremony this is before you allow other people’s opinions to affect your decisions.
Then wave goodbye to that icky feeling, and to that now-unnecessary item on your to-do list or budget.
Saying sayonara to a ‘should’? Chuck it in the F*ck-It Bucket!
Spending a chunk of cash on wedding favours not doing it for you?
Saying no to a pricey floral arrangement that will be left at the crematorium?
Deciding against a big ‘do’ in favour of an intimate ceremony?
Whenever you find yourself kicking a ‘should’ to the curb, make it official by chucking it in the f*ck-it bucket!
This can be a metaphorical bucket that you agree on with your partner (so that just one little raised eyebrow or a ‘chuck it?’ conveys everything you need to know) or you can go the whole hog and celebrate your conquest of the shoulds by giving them an actual, physical f*ck-it bucket to be chucked in. Maybe have it alongside you whenever you’re talking about your plans, and make it a game to spot the ‘shoulds’, sort them out and chuck any icky ones in the bucket. Really – you write it down on a piece of paper, scrunch it up and lob it in. Bonus points if you throw it across the room and get it in first time.
Whether it’s real or imaginary, the f*ck-it bucket is sure to bring relief as well as a smile. And you can use it to chuck out negative thoughts too. Just write what’s bothering you down and…
Chuck it in the F*ck-It Bucket!
It’s simple. It’s cathartic. It’s freeing.
What’s not to love?!