An excerpt from ‘Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar’

Dear Sugar ,

I’m getting married in a few months. Why do I feel totally aggressive and angry? How does anyone get through this event?


Dear Aggressive,

     My guess is you’re the bride and that you feel aggressive and angry because you’re in wedding planning hell and you’re caught up in all the expectations, outdated fairy tales, overpriced products, and irrational beliefs that one adheres to when one believes it possible to flawlessly orchestrate the behaviors, conversations, drinking habits, and attire of a large group of in- laws, out- laws, friends, strangers, and co- workers while simultaneously having a meaningful and intimate exchange with your sweetheart in front of an audience. It is not.

     Or at least it’s not possible in exactly the way you’re imagining now. I’m quite certain that whatever you’re all worked up about these days— the colors of your napkins, the invitation that should or should not be sent to your mother’s cousin Ray— matters little and whatever will actually happen on that day when you get married will positively blow your mind.

     Your wedding is going to be a kick, honey bun, but only after you accept that it isn’t something to “get through.” Perhaps it might help to stop thinking about it as the perfect “event,” but rather a messy, beautiful, and gloriously unexpected day in your sweet life.

     My own wedding was really something, though for a good stretch it appeared that everything had gone to hell. As our one hundred or so guests arrived, it was pouring rain and we’d made no rain contingency plans for our outdoor wedding. Mr. Sugar realized he’d forgotten his pants sixty miles away, back in the city where we lived, and I realized I’d forgotten the marriage license. My mother- in- law arrived dressed like a sheepherder from biblical times if sheepherders from biblical times wore teal, and one of my old friends pulled me aside to grill me about why I hadn’t chosen her to be a bridesmaid. I couldn’t find the bobby pins I’d brought to pin my veil to my hair and then once other bobby pins had been purchased, in a mad dash relay effort that involved two local drugstores, I and seven of my girlfriends couldn’t get the goddamn veil to stay on my head.

     Many of those things seemed calamitous at the time, but they are now among my most treasured memories of that day. If they hadn’t happened, I’d have never run down the street in the rain holding Mr. Sugar’s hand laughing and crying at the same time because I was going to have to marry him in a dingy library basement instead of on the banks of a beautiful river. I’d have never felt the way it feels when everyone you know volunteers to drive at an illegal speed to retrieve a pair of pants and a piece of paper. I’d have never known what a biblical- times sheepherder might look like in teal, and that important piece of information about my old friend. And I wouldn’t have been so distracted by getting those goddamned bobby pins in my hair that I didn’t realize the rain had stopped and Mr. Sugar had discreetly enlisted our guests to carry one hundred white wooden chairs a quarter mile, from the terrible library basement back to the grassy spot on the banks of the beautiful river, where I had hoped to marry him in the sunlight and did.

     We all get lost in the minutiae, but don’t lose this day. Make a list of everything that needs to be seen to and decided and worried about between now and your wedding day and then circle the things that matter the most to you and do them right. Delegate or decide on the other stuff and refuse to worry anymore.

     Let your wedding be a wonder. Let it be one hell of a good time. Let it be what you can’t yet imagine and wouldn’t orchestrate even if you could. Remember why it is you’ve gone to so much trouble that you’ve been driven to anger and aggression and an advice columnist. You’re getting married! There’s a day ahead that’s a shimmering slice of your mysterious destiny. All you’ve got to do is show up.

Yours, Sugar

Cheryl Strayed. ” Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar ” Random House, A Vintage Books Original, July 2012