Wedding Undergraduate: 41 Days To Go, And I’m Feeling… A Lot Of Things


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

So. It turns out I have several unpublished posts from the days leading up to our wedding. Things were hard, my mom was very ill, and I wrote stuff down, but didn’t always feel strong enough to share it with the world. So I’m sharing it with you now. Because it’s part of the story.

Dear Team Practical,

Big sigh from over here. We are (my Knot countdown says… I only go to the Knot to see my countdown) 40 days away from our wedding. My Knot countdown also says I have roughly 100 tasks un-done before the wedding, but it’s incorrect on that front. Being a super organized ex-event planner, I wanted the last month of the planning to be as stress free as possible, so we have very few tasks left to go. And then my mom got sick… and that brings a whole different level of real world stress to our lives. I find that I’m so emotionally distracted that when people ask me things like what shoes I’m going to wear for the wedding, I sort of look blank and say, “Um. The ones I’ve got I think, I’m not totally sure.”

So, what I find odd is that I keep ricocheting between this feeling of, “Oh my GOD I just want to be married already!” Because A) Real life is stressful right now and the wedding can be another layer of stress and B) as much as we’ve planned for the wedding, and as important as having a meaningful wedding is to us, it’s our MARRIAGE that I’m really excited about. And then there are other moments when it feels like the wedding is really real and really close, and I think about wearing my homemade veil and walking down the aisle and dancing and dancing and dancing, and I want to jump up and down from excitement.

Which is all to say, weddings are really complicated emotional times. Sometimes the hardest part for me is feeling like I SHOULD feel really happy for this whole final month. That I SHOULD be overjoyed, or I’m not doing it right. I feel like my excitement shouldn’t be tempered with any other feelings, or with just wanting to be married. My dear internet girlfriend, the very wise Amanda reminded me this week, that their are no ‘shoulds,’ there is only how we feel. That holding ourselves to a ideal standard when that’s not what we feel only creates more stress. Plus, my super smart fiance pointed out that it’s getting married that should be full of joy, not the party itself (which can sometimes be stressful). So, if we’re excited about our marriage, we’re on the right track.

So over the next few weeks I’m going to just let myself go from feeling very excited, to wanting to be married already, to zen, to whatever else I feel… even if I feel all those things all in the same five minutes. And I’m going to try to remind myself that that is OK. Weddings are a complicated time, and there can be other emotions mixed in with joy and excitement, and that is… dare I say… normal. Anyone else in the same complicated boat?

xo,
Meg

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10344084231348504344 lisa

    Awesome post. I'm 74 days till the day and I am having a very difficult time compartmentalizing my life. I have class twice a week, a full time job, and a very needy family to deal with on top of all this wedding stuff. All these elements keep wanting to blend together, and why shouldn't they? Weddings are a complicated business; they force you to stare your future in the face and that can be a stressful, exciting, terrifying…complex…thing to do. I'm making a resolution to make more quiet spaces for myself in the next coming months to help maintain some inner balance. Thanks for the reminder that this is a totally normal thing to need!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07623482999314382372 Michelle

    I have moments where I feel like we're already married, and those make me really happy that we're getting close to being on the other side of the wedding. Did anyone else have moments like that, where you thought, "this is what it's going to feel like when we're married"?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09542698488989087539 Christen

    Meg, thank you for posting this. I've been dealing with much of what you wrote about … even if it was way back when. My mother is very ill, and we knew this when we got engaged and began planning. We decided we would have a 2-year engagement, because –and this may sound horrible, but it is what it is — she would either be much better or not at all by then. And as she's gotten worse and we're still a year-plus away from the day, I've waded through many pseudo-decisions with much empathy. I want to get married, I want to have the party and I want to enjoy every second of it …. because it's worth it. But I feel guilt about planning something I very well know my mother may not be there for. It often makes me feel petty and rather ridiculous.

    And then she asks me how the planning is going. And I realize that, regardless of her health, she wants this for me. She wants it to be something special for me, she wants me to have a fabulous time, whether she is with us or not. I try not to bring it up around her, but she asks me. And that shows me that it's OK for me to do this.

    So, thank you. It's always better to know the feelings within are not strictly inclusive to me.

  • Anonymous

    I'm glad you posted this Meg. I found a lot of strength in your pre-wedding zen posts about experiencing the moment, but at the same time I felt a bit of a frustration for trying-and-often-failing at finding my own zen. It's somewhat refreshing to learn that your zen was as hard-earned as mine. Thank you for sharing the background as well as the lesson!

  • Anonymous

    @Christen,

    OF COURSE your mother wants this for you. She's your mother and most mothers want more for their children than they can imagine. ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Anon
    The zen comes, always, but it's the last to arrive. I was pretty clear things were hard, I just wasn't detailed… after LOTS of jerky comments that made me cry.

  • http://kittenishblog.com Amanda

    Great post. I just wanted to say that I copied #1 and #2 from the second paragraph and am going to email them to my mom (since she just doesn't understand why I wouldn't want to do a semi self-catered wedding in my grandmom's backyard with a tent and rentals of EVERYTHINGG instead of my current plan which is a lunch reception at our favorite restaurant in manhattan.). I'm obviously at a different stage in planning than you were when you wrote this post but your words just so perfectly fit what I've been trying to say. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06118368189622576399 nikki

    it's really interesting to see these scenes of vulnerability from your own wedding-planning experience. you're my go-to lady for confidence and zen and it's awesome to know that we're all alike in a lot of very fundamental and HUMAN ways. (also, I check The Knot for my countdown. and laugh at the incredibly long list of "overdue" tasks they give me. I feel less lame hearing that you did that too)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11338336369653930101 Adventures Along The Way

    I just wrote the other day about all the unfinished things on my Knot list, even 5 plus months after the wedding. :)

    But yes, the complicated emotions…I totally get that. I just think people don't talk about it very much because the assumption is the day (or even the weeks before) should be 100% bliss. And if you don't feel that, it can feel confusing, like your experience is somehow "wrong." It was hard to come to terms with that myself, and I tried my best to give myself the freedom to accept that the real emotions- the complicated ones- that I was experiencing were okay. Because I did not get married in an alternate universe fairytale version of my life. Once I opened myself up to the reality of weddings existing smack in the middle of real life, I found it to be a beautiful thing. It's a choice to focus on a ritual about love, commitment, and hope, even in the storm of sometimes complicated experiences of actual life, with all its beautiful and sad moments, sometimes co-existing. There are times a family and community of people just need that opportunity to focus on the good and the beautiful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12031934571261945172 Jessica Young

    Meg–two months out, and zigging and zagging between options a and b. Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and wildly distracted and mildly schizophrenic at times. Thank you for lovely post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16952930687812804372 melinda

    Wonderfully insightful. As a married lady on the other side now, it's a little easier to look back and sort through some of those complicated pre-wedding feelings.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @@all
    I mostly found that when I posted this sort of thing pre-wedding readers were… what's the word? Jerks. So I stopped. At one point I hinted to things being hard TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE WEDDING, and I swear to god someone left me a comment saying, "Well, you can just elope." What? I'll kill you. I'm two weeks away from my wedding, I'M NOT GOING TO ELOPE. Also? I'd lose a pile of cash. Also? Things being difficult doesn't mean to need to run away. GEEZE. So that's mostly why I stopped putting this stuff up. Now, no one can tell me to elope. Ha.

    @Nikki
    I always get so concerned when you all say that. Am I really not writing myself well? I'm totally a normal person plus, I also have emotions for two. Delightful! I just come off sane when you compare me to the WEDDING industry. But that's damming with faint praise, no?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09542698488989087539 Christen

    @ Hannah

    I totally hate my wedding sometimes too. It's OK to hate it … occasionally. It does tend to swallow you whole, half or eighth and make you feel like you're up to your eyeballs in tulle and 'romance' and make you want to spew. That's when it's really important to step back and realize what it's really about … and once you do that you'll smile, step away from the tulle and step closer to the reality of love. Awesomeness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05775224719230389364 Kelly

    Thanks for this. We have 32 days to go and I am a complete and utter wreck. I'm not an event planner or a diplomat or a creature who runs on oxygen and caffeine with no sleep, so I had another meltdown last night when I was literally too exhausted to fall asleep. I can't shake the feeling that I am a failure as a woman because I'm miserable instead of blissed out (and it doesn't help that my never-engaged friends will pretty much say that to my face). There are mini-zen moments, but those are so brief and few and far between…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16937115144838820243 Kristy D

    How else would the industry thrive off our fears if they don't make us feel like weddings should be all sunshine and roses and pooping gold coins. If you don't have that experience you're a terrible human being…and should probably buy better favors!

    and this comment is only mildly related…but I found a free iphone app called big day lite or something and it will show you your countdown and you can put a picture in. So I click it and it shows me the number of days away and a cute picture of me and my boyfriend…. No lists trying to create fear and make me feel bad about myself, just a cute pic and a number :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Kelly
    Oh lord honey, you're too far out for Zen. it comes, but it comes really late in the game. Like, two days before when you realize that no matter what you're going to Europe for a week and a half* so nothing else really matters. And then you're like, whatever. People start acting all crazy around you and you're think, "You're crazy. And homophobic. And that's really too bad for you. But I'm getting married and going to Europe so bite me."

    And then you know you can make it through. And you do. And it's worth it, sort of. Not the favors or people being awful to you, but what you learned about yourself and the transformation you just made, and how much more confidence you have for the next transformation you'll need to weather, whatever that may be.

    *Insert your version here, this was mine.

  • Tree

    I know exactly those mixed-up feelings! My dad passed away 8 months before our big day, and it was a turmoil of sad/happy/giddy/pissed off/upset/stress! I was sad that dad couldn't be there, but happy for the marriage; stressed because my mom lost her mind (and hasn't found it yet-the wedding was only a month ago!) and lashed out at me, stressed because things were falling apart. And so i fell apart, a little. And now I see that that's okay, and hell, I can't believe I made it through that day. I wouldn't relive it, and if i could, boy would I change some things. But I love being married, and I still miss my dad. And I'm helping my Mom cope, while coping myself.

    Thanks, Meg. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07075148009608610305 Angie

    i like reading your undergraduate posts. it reminds me that i don't have to be "calm and cool" to be a "good" bride. i can panic, i can slow down, speed up, smile, laugh, all of it. i'm looking forward to being married and looking back on all of those feelings. it's all part of the journey.

  • Danielle

    seriously, words right out of my mouth! my mom got very sick two weeks after we got engaged, in fact she had to be hospitalized and was unconscious. People would ask, aren't you so excited?! and i would almost fake a smile and say yes, but her illness was so consuming. SHe was in the hospital for just over two months and actually passed away the day after Christmas. I did NOTHING wedding the entire time she was in the hospital. And even now, now that I know she's here and watching me from a much better place, I still find it a little hard to fret over flowers and food, when all that really matters is that we get married.

  • Hannah

    This made me feel much better today. I'm at my parents house helping them pack all their belongings up so they can put their house on the market because my Dad lost his job, I just had to cancel a spring party we'd been planning and I just decided self catering was the only way we could afford to feed people in a budget without any parental contributions. We're both job hunting and apartment hunting and trying to move and sometimes I hate wedding. A lot. I'm glad that it's not completely evil and unusual to hate wedding.

  • Meghan

    I remember feelling that I didn't want to GET married anymore, I just wanted to BE married (and eloping after the down payments and invites are out? Not. really. an. option).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08630952870183488792 Rachael Eisner

    This is just what I needed, like right now. Engaged for 1 year and six months, currently 31 days out (per Weddingwire, which has caused a need for booze). My parents are divorced, his dad is unfortunately no longer with us. There is a very very awkward love-situation going on between my Dad, his Mom, my Mom (while poor new-hubby to my Mom watches and listens, and my Dad hides in a corner behind cheesy B-rated horror films). Fiance and I are confused as to what to do. Also, 8 months ago I asked him if he wanted a pre-nup, I got a non answer. Now, while I was working out, and right after I had complained about my Mom's drunken phone call to my Dad (who is interested in ZERO relationships especially with his ex-wife), she demanded my Dad to be HER date, and hold her hand all Wedding Day….she did this within earshot of her brand new loving husband….my fiance decides then to bring up a pre-nup BETWEEN US. GEEZ!!! Thanks for this post. I dealt with it in my own way (non-explosive, settled on a post nup so we can have time to get it done). This post served to make me feel better. Simply because I got to realize not all of engaged-dom females/males get to do so in full comfort. Getting pedicure and massage right after one another. Real life does not stop for the engaged.

  • Hannah

    @Meghan -

    That's exactly where I am right now. I wanna be, no more interesting in getting

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15899239356088557995 Amanda

    Good-bye, "should."

    xoxo

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00221846496316618871 Kate

    I too appreciate this post as my wedding approaches – as in, after over a year of engagement, it's really going to happen! There is still a level of surreal for me that is eroding with each passing day, 73 days out. For me (and my fiance), the wedding is coupled with other major life events (like college graduation, and moving to a brand new place together!) and while I'm excited by that, I think I also find it terrifying sometimes. For now, I feel fine about the wedding itself, though that could well change, and it's just nice to come back here and read some down-to-earth wisdom about all the complicated emotions, so thank you!

  • Cate Subrosa

    Stress over how we should be feeling is a big waste of energy, isn't it? We can't control our feelings, best concentrate on our actions.

  • http://galfromawayweds.wordpress.com galfromaway

    I think I really needed to read this post today. We're 128 days out from our wedding, and I've been going through a lot of the "should" thoughts in my head lately – I should have found my dress ages ago. I should have more tangible things to show for the wedding planning. I should be happy and dancing and tossing flower petals as I plan this happy day. I should wear a fancy dress.

    The biggest "should" has been the one about being happy – like I should be happy all the time. And that brings on the "Ok, are we married yet? How about now?" wishing thoughts. We're excited to be married, and to celebrate that, but I'm not into the planning stuff right now. (It doesn't help that life has hit us with some stress over the last four months – FH's job situation, finances, my coursework, etc.)

    Thanks for providing a realization that others go through the same moments while planning and preparing for marriage. And thanks to all those who have posted their thoughts in the comments, too.

    :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06118368189622576399 nikki

    @meg – you're definitely sane compared to the wedding industry, but what drew me to your blog (before I was even engaged) was my intense fear of turning into something awful and scary once I had a ring on my finger. I really admired your attitude while planning your wedding, and it's nice to know that even though you come across as confident and sane, you're also just like me. and um, every other bride ever :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01927302567837372316 Brunhilda

    Good lord. I just checked my Knot. 44 days out. Wow. That just made my stomach drop with excitement. Great post. I found it helpful to just check off the Knot tasks I knew I wasn't going to do. Yet I still have 103 on my list. They added more today. The nerve of them!

  • Leslie

    Ever since my fiance proposed 14 months ago, I’ve been saying I really don’t care about the wedding, just the marriage. I didn’t even start planning until January this year, and now I’m only 60 days away and feeling SO overwhelmed. I’m a total procrastinator, and the idea that everything needs to be accomplished way in advance has been pretty difficult for me– we only booked our photographer two days ago, and when I took my MOH to pick her dress last month the lady at the bridal shop pretty much yelled at me for not doing so sooner. I’ve never been married before, I’ve never even been to a wedding before, how the hell am I supposed to know bridesmaid dresses need to be bought so far in advance?? And then that night, I laid awake from 2 until 4 am worrying whether or not I chose the perfect shade of purple for the dresses. Ten years from how, or even the day after the wedding, I know it won’t matter at all, but I can’t help stressing about it now. Anyway, my point is, it’s nice to read that lots of other people are going through the same stresses and feelings.

  • C

    About 6 months ago, I started to stumbleupon just weddings, (which, by the way, is a completely insane activity), and I came across your post about having a wedding blackout. Your words resonated, and once I could name it, it no longer had power over me.
    I have 19 days until I get married, and APW has helped me the whole way. Whenever I come here, I leave feeling less stressed about my wedding than before. I cannot thank you enough for that.
    I’m riding this emotional roller-coaster too. And it’s nice to not feel alone.
    So thank you, thank you, thank you!