When Jon proposed to me, I had a dream. (Okay, I had the dream when I was 12.) I dreamt that I would marry this wonderful, temperamental, totally-for-me guy on my Uncle Harry’s farm in the early fall. Oh, there would be cider and pumpkins and my uncle’s great big white farmhouse as the backdrop to my day. The dreaming was so lovely.
Then my dad and grandmom threatened to not come to my wedding because it was at my uncle’s. Jon started to balk at the amount of work we’d have to do. I started to have guilt about spending a lot of money on my day when I have two kids and should be focused on their futures. I’ve never been married before, but I started to think I couldn’t have the things that brides who “got it right” could have. So I made a deal with the devil (my lovable dad) and agreed that if I got married in a small ceremony and reception—like forty people small—he would not only pay for it but also would take me and my family to Disney World as a “family-moon.”
I crumbled like week-old cake. Disney World with my two- and four-year-old AND my whole family? Disney World with the love of my life who has never been there? Oh, man, sign me up!
So we’ve spent a few months planning the ceremony at a small outside courtyard and a lunch reception at our favorite Irish eatery. So where does the regret come in?
I have a family that outnumbers some graduating classes (it sure beats mine!). As I read these lovely stories about other peoples’ weddings and try everyday to convince myself that it only matters that Jon and I are getting married, I sink deeper and deeper into regret. I think of having a party later in the summer for our extended family, but then why not just have a big wedding? And how can I pick my top forty people when I always longed to spend my wedding day with my top 140?
First, let’s discuss this part of your letter. “I’ve never been married before, but I started to think I couldn’t have the things that brides who ‘got it right’ could have.” While I have my suspicions about what you mean by that, I definitely don’t like it. You can have whatever you can afford and can make happen due to whatever circumstances that you have in life. That’s it, end of story, thank you and good night. And who are these ladies who “got it right”? They’d probably disagree with you and give you a laundry list of things that they could do over. So start thinking of yourself as someone who’s getting it right. Because you are. Having kids you love when you get married sure isn’t getting it wrong, and if you need visual proof you can see pictures of weddings with kids, from blended and non-blended families over here. So if I even catch you whispering that to yourself again, you are so grounded!
Now. Not loving your wedding. APW ladies know a little bit about that. But not loving the wedding you’re planning? That’s similar, and possibly a better, situation to be in because you can try to adjust your thinking now. The problem isn’t your wedding, it’s the mind-set that you have to love every single thing about it in the first place. Planning for perfection is setting yourself up for heartbreak. And this includes going into planning thinking about the perfect wedding you could have had. There is nothing wrong with mourning previously open doors that are slammed in your face. The problem comes in when that mourning starts to affect your happiness about the chosen alternative.
Kimberly, your previously imagined wedding sounds lovely. But that’s not your wedding. Your wedding is the wedding you chose to have due to family concerns, fiancé requests and an opportunity to do something wonderful for your family. (A FAMILY-moon?!? I loves it.) So let’s talk about how to deal with that.
One thing you can do is think about the wedding you could have had, but think about it realistically. Imagine the fights you and your partner would have had as you both worked to achieve this wedding he wasn’t fond of. Think about how exhausted you would have been trying to juggle the plans, as well as pay for it. Pumpkins are lovely, but they also come with dirt and bugs and fertilizer and, oh look, you forgot Aunt Judy is allergic to apples and, dear LORD, did the kids get into the barn and what is that SMELL?!? Think about the reality of the farm wedding and you might not view it through wedding-colored glasses that give it vintage processing and a sun flare.
Your other option is to focus on the good parts of the wedding you are having. Outdoor weddings are gorgeous and small weddings are great and often enviable. Catering issues? BAH! You know your food will be tasty. Your children are not only going to have a great time at your wedding, but they get to be included on a family-moon that they won’t forget. Also, the money you’re saving will be a gift you can’t yet see, but will be greatly appreciated in the future. Focus on the lovely and beautiful aspects that you know will be at this wedding. And know there are many more to come that you can’t even imagine yet. (A toast in Chinese, anyone?)
As for a party later on, why not? A big wedding vs. a small one and a party later can vary wildly in price, just for the fact that the party doesn’t have the “wedding” prefix attached. Also, with a party you can avoid having those conversations about your choice of venue, food, tableware, etc. that you would have to weather when dealing with a reception. As far as the guest list, you’ll have to whittle down just like any other bride; slowly but surely and with a few tears. Just picture Team Practical behind you, rubbing your back and handing you scotch.
On a final note, you might want to have a talk with your dad and grandmother about this business of not coming to your wedding based on the location. As we said before, there are very few reasons close family or friends should boycott a wedding and they usually involve criminal activity, severe emotional stress, or being on fire. To deny you their presence in an effort to make you pick a side may be okay now, but this isn’t something you want to encourage them to continue. You don’t need that kind of manipulation your life.
What do you think, Team Practical? How can we help Kimberly move past her dream wedding? I know you guys have had to make some hard choices during wedding planning that have made you mourn “what could have been,” so let us know how you dealt with it in the comments!
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). We’re not kidding. It brings us joy. What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!