Wedding Undergraduate: Me


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Whoa. In going through archived posts last night, I found this one, unpublished. I wrote this two months before our wedding, and I never published it, because it just made me feel to vulnerable. I can tell you now, that during this week, REALLY hard stuff happened. I cried, very hard, a lot. And looking back, yes, it was rock bottom, and yes, it was worth crying about. And yes it got better. But when all this hard stuff was happening, when I told people (or hinted to it on the blog) people would tell me, “Don’t worry, you’ll be married in the end!” And I’d want to scream, “I f*cking know that, but that does not make this moment any less painful.” But I shut up and hunkered down and plowed through. So now that it’s over, now that you know how wonderful it was in the end, I’m going to finally hit publish on this. This is for you, whoever you are, crying yourself to sleep over some part of the wedding. This is my hug, lady, because I needed one then:

I hit what I sincerely hope will be rock bottom of wedding planning last week. I cried myself to sleep at least once, and David and I had a few bouts of yelling at each other. Why am I admitting to this? Well, first of all, I’m feeling much better now so it feels safe to talk about it. But mostly I’m talking about it because I think that wedding planning often isn’t easy, and our desire to speak only about the good parts of it can make you feel isolated and crazy when things get hard.

There are infinite stressors in planning weddings, but as a somewhat-indie-bride, I find that one of the pressures is to act like you’ve got it under control, and like your wedding isn’t really a big deal anyway, so who cares? Well. If only, right? Here is the real truth: weddings involve a lot of really big important things, they involve family, grappling with tradition, relationships with friends, and with an externalization of your values, just to name a few. Weddings have a way of bringing long-standing issues to the surface, of forcing you to deal with things you would rather ignore. So when I say I cried myself to sleep over the wedding, I don’t mean that I cried myself to sleep because I couldn’t find stamps that matched my envelopes precisely. Please. I cried myself to sleep over good friends who were not there when we needed them, over how much work I had to do and how overwhelmed I felt by it, over caring about my wedding when the world was telling me that I shouldn’t care. In short, I cried over big stuff. And when two people are sad about big stuff, sometimes they yell at each other. That’s how it rolls.

Part of what happened this week is that at two months out, the wedding transitioned hard and fast from fantasy to reality. In fantasy wedding-land your wedding is still about your inspiration board, your invitation designs, and what style dress you want (Not like these things can’t be stressful too. Lordy.) In reality wedding-land, your wedding is about scheduling, about hauling, about set-up, about manual labor. In fantasy wedding-land, your wedding is about the ambient joy you will share with your guests on the day that you join your life in partnership with your beloved.* In reality, your wedding is about the fact that some people you care about will not end up coming to your wedding, and that your planned guest count might not match your real guest count. Of course, there will also be people that step up and help in ways you never dreamed of, and people that fly all the way across the country and the world to be with you on your wedding day. While these things are infinitely more important than the disappointments you will face, I’ve found that the fantasy prepares you for the wonderful parts, but never mentions the harder parts.

I’ve planned events for a living, so I’m lucky to not have the stress of having to plan a party for 125 and not having the first clue where to start. However, I had the shocking realization this week that I was planning a party for 125 with a very full time job, and no staff to help out. On Monday, I spent the day off slaving over my spreadsheets scheduling hauling and timing. At one point I looked up at David and said, “Oh God, why is this so much work?” and David reminded me, “Well, we’re trying not spend a lot. That means a lot of work for us.” I think, at least for us, we’ve been caught betwixt and between, again. We can’t afford (and don’t want) a wedding planner, but we no longer live in an age where we have tons of family and friends who live close by and view a wedding as a community event that they throw for the bride and groom. We are lucky to have family and friends who will help us during the week of the wedding, and who are taking on small bits of planning for us now, but the bulk of the responsibility is ours. And that leaves us with spreadsheets, and time tables, and lists.

Being a modern bride or groom often means feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place. Weddings are events. Events are hard work. Weddings are emotional, and not always in a good way. Yet through it all, we are supposed to keep our game face on. Never yelling, never crying, never complaining, always emphasizing how lovely our marriage will be and how in love we are with our colors/details/style. Well, I’m not playing that game. We can be practical sane grounded brides, and still get stressed out by the hard work of planning and by the difficult emotional stuff. That says nothing about our marriages, nothing about our enjoyment of the wedding day, and nothing about our priorities. It just says we’re here, we’re human, we’re paying attention, and sometimes this is hard.

*Having been through it now, I can say there really is so much joy. But there is pain too. It’s a little like being born. Hard in the middle, new, in the end, and wonderful. And worth it.

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/09572086822325849480 A-L, from An Honorable Estate

    Thanks for posting this. It is good to hear that wedding planning isn't always a joyful experience and I agree that it usually is not shared within the blogosphere. So again, thank you.

    But just out of curiosity, what kind of lists and spreadsheets were you making related to scheduling, hauling, labor, etc at two months into the planning? I'm one month in (8 months to go!) and I've got spreadsheets comparing photographers, caterers, hotel blocks, etc, and Word docs with decorative elements and their costs, but that's about it. Since I've never organized a big event, and you have, I thought you might want to clue me in as to what I'm missing.

  • sarah

    Ah, this is just what I needed to read today.

    I am about 2 1/2 months out right now, and going through exactly what you described, except for the fact that I hadn't yet been able to put into words why or how I suddenly stopped having fun and started having restless nights over how exactly we would break down the ceremony space with our guests in the same room, and who would put the tablecloths on all our tables, etc. So thanks for the reminder that stressing about these things doesn't make me a bridezilla, it just makes me human.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11575834126606152875 miss fancy pants (the bride)

    Great post, so glad you decided to publish it!

    I try not to play that kind of game too. It's so hard because people assume that if you're upset about your wedding, you must be crying over something stupid like invitations or stamps. But what a lot of people don't realize (and honestly, I was probably one of these people prior to being engaged) is that the emotional side of planning a wedding is 1,000 times harder than everything else combined. Stressers like catering and the DJ are nothing compared to dealing with parents who disapprove, trying to fit into a new family, involving the people you love and facing the emotional disappointments when things don't work out. I think the "at the end of the day, you'll still be married" phrase should only be applied to detail situations like stamps. It doesn't work so well when you're dealing with an emotional dilemma.

  • http://www.estherjulee.com estherjulee

    Thanks for sharing and being open and honest.

    It's embarrassing but I have cried over some of these bigger things and even over the smaller parts of wedding planning and have felt pretty stupid about it. Wedding planning is probably one of the most stressful things I'm going through, and when I was open and honest about it to my brides, I've realized to many of them could also relate… and then we were there to support each other.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16938682423617877499 KRISTIN

    Meg, your blog really helps to normalize my pre-wedding experience, post-wedding experience. I've carried around this slight feeling of guilt, ever since our wedding in June. I had a few big fights with my husband. I cried a lot about 1-2 months out. I was overwhelmed, exhausted and had sole reponsibility for every aspect of the event. (Luckily, my husband was willing to do anything I asked of him–within reason, of course.) My emotional responses to the situation left me feeling like a horrible person and anything but a bride (based on what I had been told about how I should feel). You help me to believe that this happens more than we discuss. And you know what?!?! It's OK!

  • Anonymous

    Meg, thank you. our wedding is two weeks away. it is the middle of the night where i am and my fiance and i have had more fights during the last few weeks than we have in nearly ten years together. probably doesn't help that i am also facing pressure at work (90 odd hours a week for the last little while, up from the 70 hours a week of the last year). You have just made me feel like what we are going through is normal and that just because we are fighting now does not mean that our marriage is going to be a disaster. of course it's not, it just feels very frightening to feel so out of control and vulnerable. thanks

  • conmigo

    @Meg: Thank you. I feel like I'm perpetuating the "brides must be this one way" by NOT talking about how difficult things can be, but the difficult things are also the most private things, and deep-seated family things, and I can't talk about that with anyone but my closest. So when coworkers ask "how's the wedding planning going?" I usually just say, "oh, fine, just found a great deal on bud vases online, super excited about that." (which is also true, but not nearly the entire story).

    @missfancypants: 100% agree

    @A-L: I am 4 months out, and have just started the logistical planning piece. Although we aren't doing any BIG things ourselves (I thought I'd want to be a total "DIY bride" but turns out I have no interest in dealing with food, flowers, music, etc. so we've found fabulous wedding elves for that)– there is still quite a bit of coordination involved. I'm starting with a "master production timeline" that literally just lists everything that needs to happen that day, and when. Hair appointments, arrival at venue, photo times, when the cake will arrive, etc. This is a good exercise for me to go through to make sure I am not missing anything, and then I will give the final copy to everyone that needs it. The DJ, the florist, etc., and also one to my nicenice friend who is acting as "production manager" that day. It'll be like the script for the day. Except once its written, and the day arrives, it'll likely feel more like an improv– a well-armed improv.

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

    Oh, my gosh, Meg, thank you for this post. I was venting to my fiance the other night about how I have been trying SO hard to be "cool" about the wedding and to not care, because that's what you're supposed to do if you're not a pretty-pretty-princess bride. But I DO care, because it's my freaking WEDDING, and I am tired of being ashamed of that.

    We are a month and a half out and I must say that I prefer reality-wedding-land. Yes, I'm worried about how we're going to handle the logistics (my mom has been stressing about that for six months), but I would rather deal with schedules and transportation stuff than keep feeling like a failure for a) not caring enough; and b) caring too much. Defined tasks and problems, I know how to handle. So does my logical, unemotional family.

    You hit the nail on the head as to how I've been feeling. "Don't stress" and "You'll be married in the end" would help if I freaked out about details, but I don't. I freak out because my in-laws are crazy and I'm going to be dealing with them for the rest of my life, and because my mom is upset, and because my guy still hasn't gotten my wedding ring or fixed the transmission in his car (which we're planning to drive on our road-trip honeymoon!). I'm worried because our pastor keeps forgetting to call us back and I really don't have a Plan B for an officiant (online ordinations aren't valid in this state). I wish I were a zen bride, but…

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

    @A-L
    That's another post. You might not need them. We had a biggish wedding and needed a lot of help, so we had a detailed document with 'shifts' – who was doing what when, and schedule.

  • saveroomforpi

    Thank you for posting this. I am now on the other side, having gotten married this past Sunday, but still trying to get my thoughts in order and feel confident about so many things.

    Thank you :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02567097973987043341 Lauren

    This takes me back to two weeks before my wedding, when I had a hair trial with a hairdresser I had never met, and she did a crappy job. And I went home with my hair kind of pretty but not what I wanted, and Jeff told me that she did a bad job. And then I was crying my heart out and yelling at him that the wedding was two weeks away and I had paid good money for this stupid hair trial and what was I supposed to do and I felt hopeless that I would figure it out and I didn't have time and my oldest friend wasn't coming and she had just told me and everything was so expensive I had so many stupid paper flowers to make and my mom wanted to walk me down the aisle and I didn't want her to and and by the way I never wanted to be a homeowner and I couldn't believe that we had bought a house a year ago and and and. And on top of all that, I was crying because I sincerely believed that I should not care about my hair, and I did care, and I was embarrassed about caring. It is HARD. So keep on telling it like it is, Meg- the end result is beyond amazing, but it is important, and it does matter, and it's not easy.

    Word verification- Fruck! Which might just sum all this up perfectly!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14507022899099637507 Jamie

    Thanks for posting this. This is exactly how I feel RIGHT NOW. I am losing my mind, I am 4 months away, and am ready to say Eff-it. I waiting 6 years for this, and here I am, losing my mind. And I feel that it's all self-inflicted, and I feel guilty about complaining about it, and I feel overwhelmed and angry, and no one in my circle understands why. Your post hits the nail on the head… I am doing a ton of work because I'm not willing ot spend a ton of money.. and people don't get that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08765093048803671506 Julia

    Thank you so much for this post, Meg. I generally don't comment on blogs but you moved me to speak in order to tell you how very much this means to me. I have just spent a full week at what I hope is rock bottom! We also are 2 months out and the wedding reality is hitting hard. I feel like I spent a week crying about all of this, and then crying about crying! Thank you thank you thank you SO VERY MUCH for publishing this. It helps me know that I'm not "getting weird about this wedding stuff" (as my mother told me this week). Again, thank you!

  • Elizabeth

    This post is bringing another long-time lurker out of the woodwork to say: THANK YOU. It seems weird to say this, but reading your blog over the past several months has been the turning point that made me believe I'll be able to handle the real parts of being married. The emotional part of combining lives has been so, so, so much harder than I could have imagined…and we haven't even set a date yet. Thank you for filling in the gaps, thank you for saying what my smug, Stepford-y friends (frenemies?!) won't tell me because they're too busy pretending to be perfect, thank you for saying what my mother can't say because she's twice-divorced and manic-depressive. What you do here is so unique and important. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06985820953743653787 Ms. Bunny

    As someone who is still living in fantasy wedding land, it is really good to about reality wedding land. I know sooner or later the conversations I need to have with certain family members are going to catch up with me, and those are going to be rough moments. I'm also expecting another emotional event in our family soon and I'm sure these things are going to rock me from the fantasy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11149273635999807016 The Office Bride

    Just added you as a link on my blog!

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

    YES! Exactly where I'm at right now, just over two months to go. We're planning this all by ourselves, and yet feel the need to maintain this illusion of "Oh, wedding planning is going great and it's all stress-free and wonderful." But you know what, it's not great all of the time. There are some very difficult conversations with family members and with each other. And I know exactly when I hit rock bottom.

    And if I do tell people about the hard parts (yes, big things, not the shoes or the jewelry), I think it sounds like I'm complaining, when I "should" be focusing on the wonderful parts. Your post is right on.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12248670382470122540 Leah

    Thanks for the hug, Meg. I just entered reality-land in the planning. 35 days out from the big day, and all I need is a little validation to know I'm not crazy and can let go of the "I shouldn't care so much!" and "I shouldn't be this worried!"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15310797505053866594 Making Change

    Thank you so so much for posting this. I cannot tell you how many of your experiences I have shared. It is really nice to know I am not alone or abnormal and to know that in the end it will all shake out!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15082554090481175349 A Los Angeles Love

    Thank you Meg. This post is exactly why the wedding is already stressing me out, even from a year away. I've planned the big events professionally too, and I can see down the line how overwhelming this is, how we're so constrained-yet-overwhelmed but the budget and lack of significant help (although we do have some important supports, of course) and how there's no where to erally talk about it because I'm supposed to be so effing perfect with my 70 hour workweek and volunterring and blogging and laid back wedding and eeeeeeeeeef. And it's even harder because my partner doesn't see it, not really, and so when I try and make decisions that will make the day and flow easier he wants to hang fucking lanterns and streamers from the cieling that morning (with what? effing? time?!!!)No one sees it but me (yet) and I don't feel able to talk about it (like you mentioned). So thank you for this, and at least five minutes worth of space to talk about it. And really, I'm going to be holding on the the hopes of After and saying eff it eff it eff it left and right in those last two months and checking back here to know I'm not insane.

  • Anonymous

    Irish Catholic family versus alcohol-is-the-devil some kind of Christian denomination family. We're six months out and neither of us subscribe to either of our families religious beliefs, so I'm just waiting for the emotional stress to sneak up on me like a final exam!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02189637917666578405 Allison

    I am going THROUGH IT right now about F*CKING FLOWERS. All I want is a single hydrangea in a milk glass vase (which I already own) and we're being charged $17 a vase. Now I'm eternally greatful that my parents are paying for flowers and my mom is pretty much shutting down any chance of going DIY because we're gonig to be busy but that's $500 I KNOW we could save and spend somewhere else…like buying our sister's dresses or splurging a little more on decor.

    I dare not say a word to my mother but the thought of spending THAT MUCH MONEY for something so simple is kind of giving me a heart attack. It also doesn't help that she knows the florist and we're not even getting any kind of deal, which I know I shouldn't expect but it would still be nice, you know?

  • Anonymous

    I could write a million responses to this, but I'll just say this: People need to talk about this pain more, because it's very real! Thank you, Meg, for trusting us with these feelings!

  • Kate

    First of all, thank you all for your courageous and intimate revelations. It certainly strengthens this community, and they're oh-so-valuable in many ways – including the "real" factor, which the WIC does NOT want us discussing.

    However, I'm 11 mos out. Fantasyland is an understatement. :-) That being said – someone tell me: did you manage to make it through the wedding gauntlet without losing your shit? (I sometimes lose my shit just because it's a Tuesday, for reference.) I'm not asking because anyone need EVER feel judged by their own personal responses to this stress, but because I'd love to know how to manage it. Work through it. Embrace the chaos.

    Did anyone actually make it through to the other side without this seemingly-inevitable hellish turmoil going down?

    Much love and a million buckets of gratitude to everyone who threw down their "real" in the comments section today. I <3 you all.

    -k

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00393240932186455103 Adie

    Thank you for the post. I am 8 weeks out from my wedding and the other night I actually said "I can't wait for this to be over" and I am really feeling sad that I feel this way. I really really want to like this process, but at this point I am just not… and I kind of don't know what to do about it. It feels like our life is an endless "To Do" list right now and very joy-less. How did you get the joy back after hitting bottom… ??

  • Amy

    Oh my god, thank you so so much for writing this. I keep trying to explain to people why I'm stressed out right now (less than a month out) and it boils down to working a full time job, and still having to produce this large 125-person event. When I do those events at work, I get paid to do it all day every day, and have a team of about 8 people to help me. They also allow me to bitch and moan when its getting hard.
    For the wedding? No team, just me, sometimes with help from the bridesmaids (who btw are not these magical indie bridesmaids everyone seems to have who work in the industry and can provide me with endless hours of time and crafting). It is hard, and family saying 'oh – you do this for a living – it must be easy!' is not helping.

  • Anonymous

    We need to exchange the word "Bridezilla" for "I'm-going-crazy-planning-a-large-complicated-event-while-holding-down-a-full-time-job-and-navigating-family-dynamics".

    Otherwise known as "I'm juggling 10 plates in the air and trying not to drop one."

  • Jill

    Thank you for sharing this. Thank you so much!! We are one month away and I regret everyday not going with my gut and eloping in Hawaii. I just want it to be over.

  • Amy

    Btw – can we discuss how annoying it is to see these gorgeous "indie" weddings featured in magazines and blogs that mention repeatedly how the couple is a designer/chef/insert creative profession here and their friends provided free food/labor/stationery/discounted products/time/energy/effort? I think it really sets up this unrealistic expectation of the type of free/discounted labor and expertise brides 'should' have access to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14024629745837124042 Mary

    While I've crossed the rock-bottom valley and come out on the side of married bliss, I was -so- -there- a month or two before the wedding. While I had thankfully taken the semester off of school (because I would have failed most of my classes if I hadn't.. and I'm a damn good student) I was still incredibly busy. Working nearly full time, training for a promotion, and most stressfully, visiting some of my most beloved members of my family in the hospital most every day. My grandfather had a stroke 3 months out (and passed away 2 months after my wedding), and my dad got checked into a psych ward for a few weeks about a month out from the wedding. Oh, also, my brother-in-law "lost at minesweeper", as he puts it, in Afghanistan 2 months before the wedding. My sister was my matron of honor, though her newfound more important duties were obviously completely understood. Let's just say I was a little… STRESSED.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12928917209075734716 Kristy

    it doesn't seem to make sense that such a thing exists but i am at a point where i am not talking about wedding planning and am just stopping for the moment because i am feeling torn in a similar way that it sounds like you were. on one side of the fence and to some family members i feel like i am always explaining my intentions to not have tuxs, or roses, or a string section as i walk down the aisle because they fear we are having a trashy family picnic, and in the same room feeling guilty talking to another soon to be bride family member that is truely dealing with it so cooly, so nonchalantly, and i guess "indie" that i feel shame and catch myself from telling her i know where she might be able to find a good dress for her relaxed event because that would reveal how deep i am in this wedding planning crap…i'm feeling always on my toes hyper self conscious and really really tired.

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

    You know, the other funny part is how people snark at you. We told another indie couple, when they asked around this time, that we were "A little stressed by the wedding." This made *sense* by the way – my mom was just out of the hospital, and unsure if she'd be able to make it through my wedding day, not to mention ALL THE REST OF THE CR*P DETAILED IN THE POST.

    And they looked at us and said, "Oh, we were never stressed *we didn't have that kind of wedding*" Like, we were suddenly the nutso WIC couple. I was SO EFFING PISSED. Because what? I can't win? Judged on both sides? Not supposed to be stressed that my mom was ill?

    And the funny thing is, looking back, I know they were LYING. Because I *now* remember talking to this couple a few weeks before their wedding, and them mentioning how overwhelmed they were.

    So yeah. Not a lot of honesty out there, but a whole lotta judgement.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04795863661094922831 Jo

    This is your best post ever. The most needed, the most honest. Thank you for sharing it. I know I was there when planning my wedding, and I have two good friends in this place right now who I think will appreciate this very much.

    Also, the analogies between birthing a baby and birthing a wedding are sometimes very relevant, if weird and kind of unfair to pregnant women.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13931645264080688801 Ash

    Oh my goodness. Yes. Yes. Sometimes I want to punch my wedding, myself, and everyone else in the face. But I feel like I'm not allowed to be upset because my wedding isn't a typical wedding. I'm Mormon and getting married in a Mormon temple, and because of this, some of my friends/family think that because the ceremony will only have about 20 people, that coming to the reception is not important. Or they can't afford it. Or they have just chosen not to come. I've tried to be cool, but man, it gets me down. Thank you for writing this. I feel less crazy.

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

    YES. Thank you for sharing this. I was unprepared for the reality that hit about 10 days before the wedding. Because of what was going on in my life and in my best friend's life (my MOH), I had a lot of tears and felt so exhausted. Those last days were emotionally HARD. And I felt like my wedding experience was abnormal because I had never heard a bride say anything about this. I wrote a post that addresses the reality and the mixture of sadness and joy that I experienced. To anyone that is having these difficult (non-all-bliss) emotions…you are not alone.

    http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/2010/01/next-time-well-get-it-right.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06648909402880706542 Mandy

    This post pretty much sums up Why The Wedding World Needs Meg.

    Although it did leave me thinking, "…spreadsheets? Do…do I need spreadsheets?"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14066772853679484107 Sarah

    Oh thank you Thank you Thank you for this post. I'm just under two months out from the wedding and it is all starting to hit. I was like "ooooo two months" and then I said "holy crappola- 2 MONTHS!"

    And people don't seem to get that i'm not worried about it raining, or if the tables look okay or if I fall on my face while walking up the aisle. I'm worried about the ballooning guest list and all the people that i'm going to have to talk to (some of which i've never met). I'm worried because when I told my parents that "people you think won't come will come- the wedding blogs all say it" they didn't believe me and looky looky- those people were the first to RSVP YES.

    I am planning from afar like many people and although, compared to many people on this site, am having a pretty traditional wedding, planning from far away stinks.
    So thank you for this post.

    Now I get to go try on my dress and hope the alterations are good!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08532582178848404633 ~ Jen

    yes! THIS. *exactly* this. I want to well up and cry just reading this.

    I am a month out. I am stressed. And I am overwhelmed. I am not a party planner, so I'm also clueless and figuring out (or, more often, screwing it up) as I go along.

    And if I should ever be so brave as to admit to people that the pressure literally keeps me up at night, they think I'm this princess fretting about the fluff and sparkles of her pretty pretty day.

    That's bullshit, and it pisses me the hell off.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13811559996670448379 Emily Takes Photos

    Oh Meg, I'm so glad you posted this. I'm about 3 months out, and as much as I've tried to remain nonchalant about it all, there have been some things during the planning that have just sucked. Glad to know I'm not alone.

  • Colleen

    Thanks for this Meg. I recently realized that I was putting a huge amount of pressure on myself to be the chill bride, the caring about the meaning but not the details so I won't get stressed bride, the I don't buy into that crap
    so it'll all be a breeze bride. Right. That worked well. It's amazing how much lighter it all feels after accepting that it will be stressful and hard at times. Thhis post fits with all of that, so thanks!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08957881038963763046 Jenn

    I'll add my thanks to the pile of everyone else's :) I really needed to read this. I am 4 months out and have already been struggling so many of the points you mentioned in this, especially with familial ambivalence and feeling concerned that there will be too much to do when the day actually comes.

    This makes me feel so much better, though. Things work out, and that it's WORTH it in the end, even if there are bits that really suck now.

    Your blog goes a long way to helping keep me sane, thank you :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07070862577463593562 Sharon

    Thank you for this post, Meg. It made me realize that I've been trying so hard to be the cool, relaxed, "I don't care" bride that it's been stressing me out. It's true, I DON'T care about the flowers or matchy colors, etc., but I care very much that some of my best friends in the world aren't going to be able to make it to the wedding, and I do care that a lot of family baggage is getting dredged up because of wedding planning. And that's the stuff that is so difficult and exhausting to articulate when you are trying to defeat everyone's expectation of the bride who's obsessing over tiaras.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01666686327678250484 WeddObsessed

    AMAZING. This is exactly how I feel. You are inspirational. This is the best wedding blog there is. Period.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01377787038293960528 Stacey

    Thank you so much for posting this. I think I hit my rock bottom a few weeks ago and it was a hard mother-[blank]er (http://werondwif.blogspot.com/2010/03/wer-wifs-flying-circus.html).

    I'm feeling much better now and I appreciate your honesty in acknowledging (and saying, better than I ever could) how hard it can be. And that it's ok.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09572086822325849480 A-L, from An Honorable Estate

    Thanks, Conmigo and Meg. I actually started creating a schedule of events for the weekend, but it wasn't as detailed as including the time for the cake to be delivered, etc. At least I know I shouldn't be too worried yet.

  • Hannah

    I started crying in the car yesterday with David and about how much there is to do and how tired I am and how the caterer just won't return my phone calls. As a feminist and a kinda-sorta indie bride I want to be totally unconcerned and not a "bridezilla" and I think the guilt about being stressed exacerbates the stress. I think it's important to make being stressed and sad and crying normal and okay and not bridezilla-y.

  • Julianna

    as many other commenters have said, thanks for hitting "publish" on this one and sharing the hard parts as well as the happy ones. you're right, it's so rarely acknowledged, and is really hard to talk about without being judged or involving people in personal family issues you'd rather they not know all the gory details of. My worst moments so far were the month right after we got engaged, when we were struggling with family & religion issues (up to and including "will my father even come to the wedding?") and there were many sleepless nights and many many tears. It was difficult to deal with such raw, emotional issues right in the beginning when everyone expected us to still be in the "happiness and light" blissful newly-engaged stage.
    While I hope things don't get quite that bad again now that we've resolved *some* of the family issues, it is good to know that further bumps & stressors are normal parts of this process and that it really is all worth it once you get to the other side.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14994374749738180430 Katie Jane Parker

    I feel like at the end of every single post I say thank you, but… yeah. Thank you.

    Right now I am grappling with the reality that one of my maids of honor (I have two – my two best friends) might not actually be able to make it to the wedding, and it's just really breaking my heart. And I am trying to not be upset, it's not the end of the world… but it's just something that's really bothering me and caused some tension because now I have to change some things around. And ok, whatever, I have to change some things… I don't actually care so much about that. It's more that I can't believe this person won't be there on my wedding day. And some well-meaning people have said, "Well… this is about you and your fiance, and who cares if she's not there?" But it's not *just* about us. It's about all of our loved ones, and I can't help it that I am so heartbroken by the fact that my best friend won't be there while we're getting ready, won't be standing with me when I make this huge commitment, won't be dancing and partying with us after. It's just weird, and I can't help the fact that I'm so unhappy about it. I *know* the most important thing is that at the end of the day we're married, no matter who is or isn't there. But I really need a little time to grieve over it, and I need people to stop making me feel bad for that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17468276901563947172 Kristy

    This is probably the most honest, relevant blog post I've ever read. Thank you for that. I think the biggest point for me was But when all this hard stuff was happening, when I told people (or hinted to it on the blog) people would tell me, "Don't worry, you'll be married in the end!" And I'd want to scream, "I f*cking know that, but that does not make this moment any less painful." Yes. Absolutely. Yes.

    And to whoever said the B word needs to replaced with I-have-10-plates-in-the-air-and-I'm-trying-not-to-drop-any (or something along those lines): YES.

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

    Thank you for having the courage to post this. I've been nervous to reach that point in the planning process when the wedding becomes this real thing rather than a fantasy inspiration board, and you've been a huge help, as always. PS the verification word is WORRY haha

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

    @ Katie Jane Parker- I understand what you are going through, and it is okay to grieve this, because it is very sad not to share this amazing life experience with your best friend. And to be honest…if you are like me, you will miss your best friend very much on that wedding weekend and on the actual day. But you will also experience joy, happiness, and laughter too. Five months after our wedding, I am still deeply sad that my best friend was unable to be at the wedding. But we did have a very special and fun and meaningful day too.

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

    @A-L
    Um. The cake being delivered is someone elses problem (whoever is delivering it). How and when your huppah is getting set up, your flowers are being hauled to the site, and your wine and beer is being hauled and set up at the bar, and your sound system needs to be set up because you didn't pay extra for that, and, and. We had a GINORMOUS rental van for our wedding weekend, because so much stuff had to be hauled, and we scheduled that stuff so we didn't have to worry. I'd seen too many brides dragged away from parting because there was no one running logistics… and that wasn't going to be me (and it wasn't. no one asked my a logistical question all day. WIN!)

    Hopefully, you don't need all that :)

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

    @ Katie Jane Parker
    What I didn't want to say in the main post (this is slightly less super public) is that week a very good friend (well, someone we thought was a very good friend), who was going to help us with things that weekend, etc, told us she'd decided to go on vacation instead. And she was awful about it. She was like, "But the vacation is ONCE IN A LIFETIME." You know. Not like getting married. And then I started crying and she got pissed at ME, like I was the one being a bitch. I was devastated, and I was right. We literally never heard from her again. So. That's the sort of friendship BS that normally takes years to come out, and comes out gradually so you can let go. But sometimes weddings bring it up in 10 seconds.

    Obviously your situation is different, but it's ok to grieve. Your best friend and maid of honor can't come to your WEDDING??? That's really fucking sad and upsetting. Really, wouldn't it be more worrisome if you *didn't* find that upsetting?

    Which is a long way of saying, at least be really nice to yourself about it… it's hard enough, no?

  • Anonymous

    So many wedding planners and wedding vendors are always saying that even the most calm brides get crazy in the last weeks before the wedding.

    Well, maybe they need to read all this because these comments make it completely understandable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14972662194285467559 willow

    after months of looking at pretty pictures of same-same looking 'DIY' weddings, I finally found your blog. Meg, you and your archives are amazing and constantly remind me why I am getting married and what is important. Thank you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14592134684232246855 Seanie

    Meg, thank you for taking the time to go back through old posts and share this with us.

    My Mr. Handsome Pants proposed on Wednesday, and while most of the responses from our friends and family have been nothing but positive and supportive, I've already been pegged with the questions about when, where, how, why, and a billion other things.

    Umm, hi I *just* got engaged, and I'd like to, I don't know, ENJOY that part for a while, thanks. I'm going to make a "no talking about the ceremony or reception until April at *least*" rule *lol*

    The most surprising statement came from a good friend of mine last night, who kept stressing that the reception was not for us, it was purely for our friends and family, catering to their every need, and that's why she didn't have one. This really struck a cord in me, because I disagreed with it on so many fundamental levels. The reception IS for us, as a collective community of friends and family, to celebrate.

    Anyways. Thank you for doing what you do, and while I've paid attention to how wonderful you are, now that I'm in that place…I'm going to be living here :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02425750469635997448 Michelle {Things I Love}

    I have to echo everyone else and thank you for posting this. I can't tell you how much I needed it. I am at under 3 months to go, and I feel as though I am having a meltdown or fighting back tears every other day. My loving fiance offered to help me finish making the invitations the other day (the nerve of him, right?), and I just WENT. OFF. ON. HIM. When it happened, neither of us knew why it was happening, and even now I cannot believe that that was me! I feel exactly as you did, and I am so grateful that you posted this. It is so easy to feel alone as a bride, and this post made me feel so not alone. Thank you, thank you, a million times.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13537148941452235301 Margaret

    I was surprised how upset I felt after I found out that one of my closest friends wouldn't be able to attend our wedding. I really, really, wanted to be 100% happy for her (she was actually calling to tell me she got a job). What stung most was that she didn't mention the wedding, i.e. I think she has no idea when the date is. I was crushed and then immediately felt guilty for thinking of how her news would affect my wedding… but it was simply because she is important to me, and she was one of the people I was most looking forward to seeing. And it was sort of a feeling of "oh, I guess maybe we aren't as close as I thought?" and then it turned into a teary "hmm, how'd I turn into a woman with no close female friends? etc.

    I felt like such a bad indie/laid-back bride for caring about something seemingly self-centered/bridezilla-y; but in truth, it was about much more than just the wedding, the wedding just happened to be the catalyst.

    Am bookmarking this page as we are entering the it's-really-happening part of this ride, and I think I may need to re-read these words of wisdom.

  • Nina

    Once again, thank you Meg! About 3 and a half months to go and I am just feeling the first pains of moving from the "fantasy" to the "reality" camp. And the groundedness is starting to falter. There is just so much more to wedding planning than planning an event – and no one tells you this! You end up facing so many issues and asking yourself so many important questions. Relationships change. It surprised me, in a good and bad way. Without even really realizing it, I've also been operating under the idea that sane brides don't stress about their weddings, which is just making things worse. Thanks for sharing this.

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

    YOU GUYS-
    Dear friends who can't make it to the wedding is not a small thing. That's not being upset because you don't like the shade of white of the chair covers. SERIOUSLY. When we do all this work (that people don't even view as work, since it's invisible – women's work? Hum. Just thought of that) to throw a celebration to see all of our loved ones, and then some we love most can't make it? Or worse, very *casually* can't make it? It hurts your little heart.

    And, really, that just means your heart is in working order. And that you value your wedding day as something emotionally important to you that will only happen (you hope) once. And those are GOOD things.

  • Anonymous

    Oh thank you. I have been engaged for six months and won't be married for another year+ due to crazy school/work schedule things (lots more time to go crazy!). Forget all the food, flower, foto stuff, I am already crying and worrying over the guest list. I want to keep it small (team practical!) and that makes the guest list dynamics incredibly complex. Don't want to alienate anyone, lose friends, piss off my new family, but I'll be damned if I'm going to invite them all. I'm having the hardest time facing the facts about shaky friend relationships. As Meg said, weddings bring the friendship stuff up in about 10 seconds when you might not be ready for it. What's worse is when you can foresee some of it, can't avoid it, and start to hate the wedding because of it. So this is where my stress is coming from, and thank you for confirmation that I'm a normal lady actually dealing with big emotions, not just picking out party favors.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06996991111308891331 Graphic Foodie

    After a very long engagement, I'm suddenly in the final months of prep and time is FLYING. The fact that I'm getting married in a remote village in another country is a logistical nightmare.

    So by heck did I need to read this post.

  • Cate Subrosa

    (((Meg)))

    (Yeah, women's work, I think you're onto something there.)

    Brilliant post, well done you for posting it.

    The process of getting wed is a microcosm of your life together, with concentrated patches of stress and joy as you work out how to become a family. That's why it's a rite of passage. We do ourselves a disservice by keeping quiet about the stress, because the stress is all part of the process that makes us come out stronger and better-prepared to share a life together. Those shouting matches (or however you handle it) are important – it's a time to work so much out.

    That's my take on it, anyway. Not just "it's ok" but "it happens that way for a reason."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12556730671414909236 // S

    It's refreshing to read something so honest about the wedding planning process. It's not always magical & fabulous. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it sucks a lot. God, the husband and I had some killer fights during the months leading up to the wedding…

    Thank you so much for posting this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18361291538358633691 Olivia

    Thank you, Meg, for yet another post that makes me feel like who I am is okay.

  • Anonymous

    What is a "community wedding"? I've seen it mentioned a couple of times before, but don't know what the definition is or where it comes from.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03367631935043016430 Mrs T

    Amen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07173746904946406303 peasantwench

    @kate: "Did anyone actually make it through to the other side without this seemingly-inevitable hellish turmoil going down?"

    I just got married yesterday (eee!) and I can say that I think I managed to make it through the *wedding planning* part without too much *wedding* turmoil. I had one freakout that was solved by making my own personalized to do list and talking it over with my husband's (eee!) mother over dinner at McDonald's, of all places. I realized that while yes, there was a lot of work, it was all totally doable.

    Now. It helps that we had a really casual evening wedding at a community hall with no dinner and my mother in law organized all the desserts and I didn't care about flowers or decorations. Also, my dad died less than two months before the wedding, and well, yeah. They kind of put everything in perspective.

    Not a helpful answer, I realize. Basically, I made lists and spreadsheets (I *like* lists and spreadsheets) and just checked things off. When I got a little anxious a month before the wedding, Dave turned the list into a super detailed countdown list with deadlines, tasks and who was responsible. And then we just worked it through. It helped that our vision, if you can call it that, was clear. We wanted to be married. We wanted as many of our families and friends who could be there, to be there. We wanted to dance and drink and talk and meet each others extended family. Neither of us cared what the hall looked like, or, well, any of the details. And neither did our family.

    I don't know – may that makes me part of the "oh so easy" problem. But, well, my dad died, and then we bought a house. I had so much else going on that we knew what was important, made that happen, and ignored every thing else.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14380765313210226220 R.A.P.

    Meg thanks for sharing this. Right now I'm in this sort of euphoric post-wedding place, and the wedding went so well that none of the drama even matters anymore, but it's good for us all to hear that weddings are amazing but not easy. We didn't have any truly difficult things happen to us during our engagement, our families are healthy and happy basically (except my MOH's dog died, sounds so small after hearing someone lost their father, but I loved that little dog like he was my family), so I feel pretty lucky that the guest list was the most stressful part (but man it really did suck). Glad your mom ended up coming through ok.

    peasantwench! we're wedding day sisters! congrats on your marriage! but I'm so sorry to hear about your dad passing, I can't even imagine that happening at all, much less 2 months before my wedding. <3 -Rachel (aka D-Day)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18182268757502634911 sera

    I'm so glad you published this. Oh the "friends." My regrets are so about the friends. The family members always seem to make it out of some obligation and then, yes, judgement. But the friends, they'll shock you. When my man-of-honor bowed out and told me I was crazy and he needed a break from us, followed two days later by another good friend telling me she couldn't "deal" with the wedding, I did not know who to turn to. I didn't have a single bridesmaid until a month before. In the end some of my peripheral friends completely surprised me – were more than there for me, but I didn't know that until a month before. And two of those friends live far, far away from me.

    My friendships still haven't fully recovered and to be honest, I have scars. Like a bad break-up, I am hurt and feel alone a lot (thank god for my husband). I dive into your blog (and a couple of others) like I'm listening to a good friend because I don't know that I have those relationships in real life anymore. And that scares me more than anything else, because I realize that this blogging thing has that exposed and superficial layer to it. You didn't hit publish until now because it was too personal. I have a dozen drafts just sitting in my blogger. I am sera edited, all the time – in the blog and in real life.
    as always, thanks. and thanks for letting me blather on in your comments.

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

    @Sera
    Yes. And try not to feel bad about yourself because of it. A) I think that's much more common than people admit, and B) It's not your FAULT. We had a lot of that with the wedding, and I think most people do… they just don't tell you it's true.

    As for edited. Well. Yes. But I think that's different from superficial? I don't share too much, because I need my personal space… I need you to not know me unless you know me. But I'm very true with what I do say. I'm not saying that about ME, I'm saying that about everyone who blogs.

  • applesidra

    I am 4 weeks out from the wedding and am planning it from far away (wedding is in France, I’m in on the east coast) and in a language I don’t understand (fiance is French, I don’t speak a lick). The stresses have finally gotten to me as I tried to juggle everything you mentioned in this post – my families’ expectations, guests’ expectations, friends who ended up not being able to make it and traditions I’d like to honor of my heritage and other things I didn’t even think I cared about. At the same time, fiance doesn’t kow what’s gotten into me and why I’m acting this way. At times, I wonder if I’m overreacting, if I should calm down, if I should just let it go. Your post let me know that it’s all normal, we’ll work through it, and it’ll be awesome in the end. Thanks.

  • emmylou

    this website is truly saving my sanity, again. I hadn’t visited this blog for few months and feel back into the WIC/inde conundrum. Stupid me. I’m back. To stay and to admit that YES I care about this wedding and I will try no to lose my head over things, but pardon myself if I do.

  • Serena

    I am fairly new to APW and came across this post when I typed “lonely” in the search box. I’m just having a hard day and grappling with many of the issues you mentioned above, and everyone around me doesn’t get it, they think i am stressing over a “party” when really i am upset over all the emotional issues that the wedding keeps bringing up, so this was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you Meg :)

  • Aloe

    First time commenter here. Thank you for this lifeline. I’m a lonely bride and as of yesterday I am feeling even lonelier. My parents live in another country and my closest friends live in other countries or cities or have young babies so they cannot help much so the only person I have enlisted to help is a cousin I grew up with and assumed would ‘have my back’

    Well, a nasty and patronising email from her yesterday set me straight on any assumptions I had. She is my only bridesmaid (my MOH lives in another country) but her email yesterday informed me that she was no longer willing to be emotionally available to me and that, according to her I hate my wedding and everyone associated with it and that I should seek a therapist to discuss my wedding problems with in future. I am completely shocked. The wedding planning has caused us enormous stress due to issues too numerous to mention and yes, I have vented some problems (but certainly not all) and expressed my dismay about people I counted on to attend who aren’t but good grief! I was only sharing my problems with a friend and valued family member. I am so upset. As an unmarried woman she assumes that I should enjoy the entire wedding planning process and never have a moan about any aspect of it. I’m really not sure how to respond to her accusations and fear that it might cause an enormous family rift. What to do?

  • http://www.simpleweddingsbytoni.com Carina Colasuonno

    Great post. Very informative.

  • Emily H

    Years later, this is the post I needed today. Grandmother is dying, family lies perpetuating, honeymoon cancelled due to natural disaster. Yet still, I feel like I have to act like it’s no big deal. That’s the worst part– the pressure to be that bride who’s got it all together.

    Thanks for writing this.