When you think you’ve simplified, simplify some more

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We need much less than we think we need. – Maya Angelou

A few months ago I overheard the mother of a bride telling someone that the month before the wedding was insane. It scared me a little because my daughter is getting married very soon, but I determined I would not let it get to the point of insanity. And it really hasn’t, but I see clearly how it could.

We are a consumer society and there is a huge market for weddings. Each vendor wants to schedule multiple meetings and sell their wares, preferably to an eager and demanding bride-to-be who thinks she is the only gal in town that ever married. The wedding cake vendor who requires two meetings to order a cake, and dismisses the groom in hopes of selling to an exuberant and frivolous bride. The makeup artist whose idea of a natural look is $250 worth of makeup. The bridal shop that doesn’t bring out the sought after simpler dresses because they are less expensive than the frilly ones. It’s sales, people. Wedding planning can and should be a joyful time, but without perspective, it has the potential to wreak havoc on one’s peace of mind.

Marketing schemes and Bridezillas aside though, there are things that must be tended to, and every now and then one of life’s details grabs me by the neck and has me in a chokehold. The current detail is wedding centerpieces.

The bride-to-be is, shall we say, the antithesis of Bridezilla. Her preference for her bouquet was literally limited to this: Let’s keep it small. I don’t want to be lugging anything huge thing down the aisle. She is in fact overwhelmed if she has to meet with one more vendor. So with the intention of simplifying, we decided to eliminate the florist by ordering dried flowers and arranging the centerpieces ourselves. I ordered lots of flowers and when they arrived we filled mason jars with dried larkspur in three colors, and then added ribbon. Lovely. In fact it gave me an all is well and I have simplified the decorations and am on top of my mother-of –the-bride duties moment.

And then it hit me. The centerpieces are too big. Guests will not be able to see across the table! How can they talk to someone they cannot even see? I pictured the dried flower arrangement looming too big in the center of the table. It was no longer a simple, pretty centerpiece. It was an obstruction. An intrustion. My nemesis. Worse than a task undone, it was an un-task, something done perfectly wrong that might require starting over.

I looked up images of the venue. I saw a picture of the rustic reception room looking lovely and inviting. In the center of each table was a number set inside a pretty stand. And nothing else. It looked good. Simple! Fabulous! Why hadn’t I noticed this before? There was room for the wine bottles, and open space to see across the table.

Suddenly, our simple centerpieces were too much. I had a box the size of a casket full of larkspur in my basement and what I wanted was to have almost nothing at all. The solution? Either fill the vases more sparsely, or only use the centerpieces to decorate the non-dining tables, such as the place card and gift tables. The lesson I learned? When you think you’ve simplified, simplify some more. When you think you have just enough of something, consider that you may actually have more than enough.

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