Runaway Bridesmaid

When my sister told me she was getting married, I was overjoyed. When she asked me to be her maid of honour, I said yes without a doubt in my mind. I knew she wasn’t going to get married on the beach at sunset with daisies in her hair. It would be a go-big-or-go-home kind of wedding, complete with an itinerary, centrepieces, a seating chart, Pinterest inspirations and stress. Oh, there would be stress. I was promised this the day I was given my responsibilities. Okay, I told myself; I can deal with stress. I assumed my sister and her groom were over-exaggerating so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed.

They weren’t.

The pressure of planning a perfect day is intense, to say the least. You need the perfect venue, you have to invite everyone you possibly can within a budget, hire the right photographer, videographer and DJ. You have to make sure the food and alcohol situation is as good as it can be. You have to find the perfect dress, the perfect shoes, the perfect veil, the perfect bouquet, the perfect tux. The perfect… Perfect. It all has to be perfect.

After learning first hand what wedding planning took, I decided against having one of my own. This one would be enough for me. I didn’t get it. Why do this to yourself? Why spend all this money and time just to freak out that the flower arrangements were wrong? It dawned on me that the entire idea of a wedding was a big conspiracy. I began theorizing while sitting at my desk for the third hour surfing Nordstrom’s like an Internet zombie, trying to find the right bridesmaids dresses. Suddenly I had this big epiphany that weddings are total and complete bullshit.

Two weeks before the day, my stress was visible: I found three gray hairs and started drinking espresso. I was constantly texting or calling someone to make sure everything for the bridal shower was flawless, that everything was running smoothly. Do everyone’s dresses fit? Are these cupcakes the right colour? There was a checklist going off in my head, and I wasn’t even the one doing the actual planning. Why were my sister and her fiancé, two otherwise very intelligent and level-headed people, doing this to themselves?

Finally. The bachelorette party was done, the bridal shower was done, and it was Friday, the eve of the wedding. Everything was ready to go — a year’s worth of planning complete and set up for the next day. And suddenly it happened. The stress left my body that night and was replaced by an excitement I’ve never felt before — an excitement that had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the love I have for my sister. The big day was here and the minute she put her dress on I started to cry. Just a day ago I had decided weddings were total bullshit, and now there were tears of joy running down my face.

This transformation carried on throughout the day. No matter what happened, it happened perfectly. Our limo driver almost ran someone over, we were late for the ceremony, my hair looked terrible — but everything was tranquil.  At the end of the night I stopped for a minute and saw an entire dance floor full of people, people who were all there to celebrate love, dancing together — happy, drunk and letting loose. I realized that this wedding had brought happiness to them all. On what other occasion would I witness this? The joy I felt that day was something I’ve never felt before in my life. Looking at the couple and seeing how in love they were on their night… all the stress, the gray hairs, the yelling — it was all worth it in the end.

I learned something valuable that day: never get caught up in superficialities, but also don’t deny yourself of what you want. This wedding had everything a traditional wedding has, including stress, but the magic in the room was louder than everything that went into making the night. You can plan and plan, and try your hardest to make your dream wedding come true, but never let that get in the way of the reason you’re there to begin with. TV shows and magazines have turned weddings into a business; planning a wedding can be enough to break a couple up or make them go broke. It’s important to remember why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for. Your wedding night should be everything you want it to be, but what you want should be by your standards, not by those of some reality show on TLC. Do it for you and your loved ones and nothing else. After all, there is no price-tag on true love; it will shine through no matter what.

Meet: Arti

Arti Naidu knows her purpose in this world- to give new mothers the birth of their dreams. For many women, pregnancy is an emotional and spiritual journey beyond any other, but the actual process of giving birth hasn’t always had the greatest reputation. That’s where Arti comes in.

A model and aesthetician, Arti has always had an interest in making women feel beautiful, happy and at peace. After meeting a number of new mothers and pregnant women in her line of work as an aesthetician, she developed a fascination for the process of birth. This moved her to train to become a doula. Her passion about a procedure that so many females fear is a little bemusing to me at first, but as she continues to speak of the emotional journey of a birth, I begin to understand why she’s so spirited about it.

Arti has a firm grasp on the energy around her, and she knows that she can utilize that power to help women during one of the most challenging events that they will ever go through. The job of a doula is to be an emotional supporter of the mother-to-be, but also to maintain a calm and positive energy in the birthing room. She meets with the parents a number of times beforehand and discusses their hopes, fears, and everything they want out of the day- the bulk of her attention being on the needs of the mother. She calls this the planning of the birth party, and suddenly the entire thing sounds exciting to me.  She sets up the birth room just as the mother wants it, making sure she is surrounded by things that will bring her comfort and joy. On the day, she’s all in: whether her support be through encouraging words, hand holding, making sure the mother is physically comfortable, or even being there for the partner. She’s there to provide peace and tranquility, a feeling that will transfer to the baby.

“Strong emotional imprints are already being made on your baby during birth. ” She emphasizes the importance of the energy in the room, and the needs of the mother during the entire process. “So many women have told me that they felt there was no one there to ask them what they wanted, or why they were in so much pain, and sometimes they couldn’t even verbalize what they wanted. That’s what I’m there for.” The purpose of a doula is to ensure that the birth, a memory the mother will hold onto for the rest of their life, is a positive and happy journey. I tell her that the thought of giving birth doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but rather fills me with a large amount of anxiety, and she laughs. She assures me that it’s common and completely normal, but it’s not the way it should be.

“In the past, so many women died, hospital births were brutal. The spiritual journey of the birth was lost. But now we have the opportunity to change that.” The relationship with her clients is simple- what do they want? She makes a point of getting to know their personalities, asking what they would like to see happen, learning their birth plan and then monitoring the birth to ensure that everything is as it should be. “If you put your fear aside and don’t let birthing scare you, and you think instead of what your dream birth would be, what the environment that puts you in a calm place would be, then it can be the most amazing journey of your life.”

Arti’s passion about her line of work is both inspiring and comforting; in our two hour long conversation she made me see birth in a completely new light. The significance of a doula is relatively new in Western culture, but on a steady rise. “I just want women giving birth to be as comfortable as possible. As a mother, you don’t have a lot of control when the time comes, and giving up that control is difficult. You have to put it into the hands of people you completely trust and are comfortable with. People that are there to make you feel at peace.”

Hair and Make Up by  Kym D from Swank Makeup
Arti’s Instagram @vamalifewellness