"It's going to be the most important day of your life."

I hear that at least once a day, sometimes from friends or family, but usually from someone trying to sell me something. I'm getting ready to be married, you see, and while most brides-to-be look glowing and delighted, I must look like a plump chicken: ready to be plucked.

"It's going to be the biggest day of your life," says the photographer as he tries to push a bigger, more inclusive wedding package.

"It's going to be the most special day," gushes the florist. "You can make it perfect, make it whatever you want it to be." And he ignores all thoughts of cost. This is the stuff that dreams are made of, who could think of money at a time like this.

It has been amazing how many professionals have tried to use the perfection of my wedding day as leverage against my checkbook.

I had only been engaged for a week when the full realization hit of just what an ordeal planning a wedding was. It began with the first merry trip to the wedding aisle of the local bookstore. An entire rack filled with wedding books greeted me with promises of elegant weddings and economical brides. There was the perfect wedding, the romantic wedding, the rustic country wedding, and half a dozen variations on the theme. Dozens of doe-eyed brides gazed at me shyly, hundreds of roses bloomed to perfection.

It seemed so innocent and beautiful that I was surprised when on reading, almost every book warned, in language more severe than the State Department's caution on traveling to Libya, about the dangers of the bridal boutique.

They cautioned to be wary of the $800 polyester dress with unfinished seams. The evil and sneaky bridal consultant was like some character from a Grimm Brothers fairy tale. Everyone was a possible villain, and their book would help me navigate around disaster.

Not a little shaken by all this villainy hiding behind the pristine ivory folds of love and romance, I began trying to find a location for my wedding. Speaking with a local vineyard, I was graciously told I could have the wedding in the grass field near a barn. They would supply a tent if I wished. The total price: $1,500, not including chairs.

"Aha!" I thought. "I have discovered the manipulators Savvy Bride warned me about." But I was wrong, since two phone calls later I discovered that was a bargain compared to the grass and tent another sight was willing to lend me for $3,000.

Then there was the whole business of colors. Any professional I talked to regarding the wedding wanted to know "my colors."

"Well," I said the first time I was asked. "The groom will wear black, and I'm planning to wear white."

I was laughed at, politely. "Colors" was code name for my favorite color, which I was supposed to plaster on everything -- my bridesmaids, the flowers, the invitations, party favors . . . For some inexplicable reason, even the caterer needed to know my colors.

Perfection was starting to drive me insane. Petty decisions, like the font and typeset of the invitations were consuming my days and ruining my nights. I was haunted, Roman type or Clarissa? Twelve point or 14?

My fiance dove for cover while my mother and I agonized.

I knew I was in trouble when I stood there, helpless to decide if in my quest for the wedding of my dreams, the stamps should be hearts or berries. It was there, standing in the post office, that I realized how low I'd sunk.

The fact is, I am convinced the photographer doesn't really care about perfection or what he calls the most important day of my life. That's just his job. He has seen hundreds of weddings, hundred of brides. He takes good pictures, but that is as far as it goes for him. Just another job, laying a guilt trip on me was only a part of the sales pitch. I finally realized that the dress of my dreams won't make an iota of a difference in my married life. And neither will a perfect wedding.

So the next time someone says that my wedding is the most important day of my life, I'll tell them they're wrong: the most important day of my life will be the day after the wedding. There will be no photographer, no caterer, and no florist. And that will be just perfect.