I opened Pandora’s Box last week, asking if people didn’t like their wedding. It seems that everyone has some part of the wedding experience that they didn’t like – which is not surprising, given that weddings are part of life, and in life nothing is perfect. What’s shocking and sad is that women don’t feel empowered to mention that they didn’t like part (or all) of the wedding and planning, so we endlessly perpetuate the same miserable cycles. “Oh yes, I loved picking out my invitations, you should totally do that.” (What you’d like to say, “F*ck invitations. Seriously, forget that sh*t.” (slams head repeatedly on the table.)
After reading through all (117 at this writing) comments, and thinking it through, and discussing it was my wedding-partner-in-crime David, I’ve got some things that need saying:
For the not-yet-wed:
- No matter how many times people tell you that the wedding is YOUR DAY, it’s not. The wedding is ‘our day.’ It’s a day for you and it’s a day for the people who love you. Make your decisions accordingly. Maybe that means you let your mom invite her cousin that you dislike, because it’s really important to her, maybe that means you include a blessing in the service that you otherwise wouldn’t. Think of the compromises you make as small gifts, ways to make the day ‘ours’ instead of ‘yours.’
- For all that the wedding is not your day, it is YOUR WEDDING. Period. The wedding planning process is when you start to learn (under fire) one of the key skills of being a full-fledged grown up: standing up for what you want and what you need, gracefully, kindly, but firmly. If you want a courthouse wedding, and your mom wants a big church wedding, you need to remember that it is you and your partner who are getting married, and it is ultimately your emotional needs that need to be met. In the end, if you are happy, your mom will be weepy and happy and sad all at once, just as she should be. On the big scale you need to make choices that are right for you, even if your parents disagree. You’ll repeat this over and over in your adult life, making decisions about jobs or parenting or any number of things. You’ll make these decisions differently than your parents might wish you to, but following your gut. And then you’ll take responsibility for the result – that’s the great thing about being a grown up. Because here is the key thing I learned: when people tell you they want you to do XXX, what they really mean is that they want XXX to make you happy, or they want you to be happy doing XXX. If you agree to do it, because you don’t want trouble, fully knowing that XXX will make you miserable… nobody wins. So it’s your wedding! Be brave, relish your status as a grown up, and stand up for what you need. (And go find a joyful wedding graduate who did something similar to what you want to do, and show them the pictures, so they can really envision it).
For those already wed:
- It actually doesn’t matter if you liked your wedding. It matters that you can talk honestly about it, it matters that you come to terms with your feelings about it, that you understand what mistakes you made, but it literally does not matter if you liked it. What matters is that you feel empowered to move on, and that you like your marriage. When I was in the last month of planning, dealing with the great dress debacle, I remember sinking down on the couch wearing my soon-to-be-wedding dress, putting my head in my hands, and saying “I’m so g*d-d*mn glad that I only have to do this once in my whole life. This f*cking sucks.” And yes. That’s the magic of weddings. Once you do it, you never have to do it again. (Or if you do end up having to, you can make a whole different set of mistakes the next time…)
- Didn’t like your wedding? Well. Excellent. Because you have a lifetime of entertaining ahead of you, and now you can make each party better than the wedding. It doesn’t mean you need a vow renewal, it means you need a great anniversary party, or a 30th birthday party, or a just-because party. It means everything is uphill from here (and isn’t that the way you want it to be?)
So stop worrying about screwing it up, because if you do, who cares? Life is too short for regrets. Stop worrying and start playing. Roll up your sleeves, remember what you really wanted in the first place, get messy, create. Because as much as I told you about the mistakes we made? Non, je ne regrette rien.