Rachel: Going the Distance


by Rachel W. Miller, Contributing Editor

Rachel: Going the Distance | A Practical WeddingRachel: Going the Distance | A Practical Wedding

On the rare occasion I tune into Say Yes to the Dress or Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids, I find myself scratching my head. I know reality TV isn’t real, but there is a small detail on these shows that I actually find more odd than anything else: the pushy mothers-in-law and the picky bridesmaids. I’m confused by them—and not by their behavior, but their very presence. Every time I see one of these shows, I find myself thinking, “Who are these women who have all of their bridesmaids and their mothers in the same place at the same time?! And how do all their friends know each other so well!?!”

The Myth of the Montage

The idea that our friends and family will be with us through the planning process is an accepted part of the cultural narrative of weddings. In movies or on TV, you see brides surrounded by bridesmaids, mothers, and mothers-in-law at dress fittings, cake tastings, appointments with the florist, showers, and bachelorette parties. (The sort-of-but-actually-not-all-that-funny joke is that they are more involved than the groom.) For me, the traditional wedding exists mainly as a montage (one that typically includes really over-the-top hair). In reality, wedding planning unfolds across a longer time period, and, for many of us, across a much longer distance.

Eric and I live in Houston. My family is in Michigan and his family is in Kansas. We’re getting married in Austin. I have two bridesmaids in Chicago, one in DC, and a bridesman in LA. None of them know each other. While I wish we lived closer to all the people we care about, I know there’s no way to really make that happen and I’ve accepted it. And since I don’t buy wedding planning as THE HAPPIEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE™ I didn’t think being alone while wedding planning would be different than being alone any other time. But…it is different.

The Wedding Dress Selfie

When I started thinking about wedding dresses, I wasn’t sure if my grandma would make my dress, or if I’d buy something. At the very least, I wanted to get some ideas of what I liked and what looked good on me sooner rather than later, but I didn’t have anyone to go with me. My friend (and bridesmaid) Julia was going through the same thing on the East Coast. We shared our feelings of, “Um, should I be embarrassed about this?” over IM one day, and together made the decision that we should each just go alone.

Rachel: Going the Distance | A Practical Wedding

My whole experience shopping for a dress was very business-like, particularly after I stopped fucking around in ball gowns and went to try on the one dress I was seriously considering buying. There were no tears or champagne or even much excitement; my whole reaction was just…”Yep.” As in, “Yep, that’s the dress I wanted to try on,” and, “Yep, I like it as much as I thought I would. Yep—it’s for me. Yep, that’s all I needed, I’ll be in touch when I’m ready to order.” I took a coworker I’m close to (his wife is a costume designer so he knows and appreciates fashion) and we had lunch afterward. It was a perfectly nice, “Yep, we just ran an errand and now I’m hungry for lunch,” but not the, “Eeee we just went and looked at wedding dresses!” kind of lunch I would have had if any of my bridal party or family members could have been there. I don’t mind shopping alone, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the one time when you aren’t supposed to go shopping alone.

When it came time to start thinking about dresses for my bridesmaids, I realized that the idea of getting any of them together—hell, the idea of even being in the presence of one of them—in the next year was a long shot. And it’s not like we’re all BFFs so we could all arrange a trip together; my friends are friendly enough but don’t know each other. (This is another WHO ARE THESE WOMEN AND HOW DID THEY STAY A FOURSOME FOR SO LONG?! HOW DID NO ONE MOVE AWAY?! moment I have when I see female friendships on TV. I’m so perplexed, and envious.) So I did what any independent, modern woman would do: I found things I liked on the Web, and then went and tried them on by myself. I figured I could report back to my friends on the ones I liked best, and then maybe they could try them on themselves at bridal salons in their respective cities. In the dressing rooms, I evaded the saleswomen’s questions about my bridal party and wedding while surreptitiously taking photos of myself with my iPhone. (Note to all bridal salons who ban taking pictures of the dresses: I know you’re trying to protect your bottom line, but if a bride’s friends and family live hundreds of miles away and you won’t let her take pictures, you’re going to lose the sale anyway.)

The World Wide Wed

All three of my bridesmaids happen to be engaged too. Julia lives in DC and is planning a Michigan wedding; Beth and Jacki live in Chicago and Jacki is currently planning a Chicago wedding. (Beth hasn’t started planning yet.) We are all relying heavily on technology for communication as both brides and bridesmaids. But while we’ve been doing our best to keep in touch, I was still bummed that I couldn’t hang out with them on a Friday night in yoga pants, sipping wine, and going through bridal magazines and blogs, or that we couldn’t spend a Saturday afternoon filling up on macarons together at a bridal expo. I tried not to get too sentimental about it, but the whole high-tech wedding process felt a little weird and inhuman to me.

Rachel: Going the Distance | A Practical Wedding

As the people (physically) closer to my friends started planning their pre-wedding events, I knew I couldn’t realistically organize, host, or even attend most (or any) of these events. And… I wanted to. Meanwhile, everywhere I clicked on the web, I could read an article wherein the author or commenters bitched about having to fly across the country to friends’ weddings and buy them a gift, and how resentful and pissed they were about it, and I just kept thinking, ”Yes, this sucks, but why are you so mad at your friends?”

But then I’d realize there really isn’t anyone or anything to rage against, and that for most people it’s much easier to just get mad at the couple than acknowledge that a combination of goals, hardships, amazing opportunities, and personal choices are the reason that so many of us are planning pseudo-destination weddings. Gone are the days of your mom helping you plan your wedding because you still lived in her house. Gone are the core group of best friends from middle school who will take turns standing by each other as they all get married, one right after another. Logically, I know that gone, too, are the laws that say I can’t marry Eric because of our different racial backgrounds, but it’s hard not to idealize this misty myth of weddings past.

Going the Distance

Though it seemed impractical, I was secretly hoping that I could afford to attend one pre-wedding event for each of my friends; a few months ago, when Jacki told me that her mom was throwing her a bridal shower in our hometown in Michigan, I started looking at flights. (At the same time, I was agonizing over the fact that I couldn’t attend her bachelorette party too.) Then I remembered that Julia mentioned she was going home to Michigan around Memorial Day. It seemed too good to be true! Maybe I could ask Beth to come up from Chicago that weekend too and we could actually pull off a Say Yes to the Dress type of thing with three of my bridesmaids and my family!

Turns out, it was slightly too good to be true; Jacki’s mom had to change the shower date by a week so there wouldn’t be any overlap in the trips. But now I had the idea of seeing my people and doing wedding things in my head and couldn’t get it out. I decided plan a ten-day trip to Michigan at the end of May, my first trip home in eighteen months. I could be there for Jacki’s shower and for the beginning of Julia’s trip. Then Julia rescheduled her trip so she’d be in town for longer—and found out the bridal salon where she ended up finding her dress during her last trip home was able to schedule her first dress fitting for this trip, which meant I could go with her and her mom to the appointment. I’d also be able to hang out with my family and work with my grandma on my wedding dress. She’s currently making a version of it in cheap muslin for me to try on when I get home so I can decide if I like how the pattern actually looks on me, and so she can get an idea of how it will fit. I felt a little guilty about being away from the office for that long, but we’ve since begun working remotely so I can actually work through most of the trip and won’t really be missed. And that’s what has me the most excited: for once, I won’t be the one who is missed. I’ll be the one who is there.

Rachel: Going the Distance | A Practical Wedding

While I hate how spread out everyone is, I appreciate that it forces us to become intentional with our time, our money, and our bandwidth. When my friends asked me to be their weddings, I had to think about the logistical concerns and whether I really wanted to commit the resources I value to their weddings. In the case of both Jacki and Julia, the answer was a clear, resounding yes. Yes, you are worth the overtime I will work to pay for it. Yes, you are worth the vacation time. Yes, if I don’t have a wedding shower but I do get to FaceTime chat with you at some point, that’s okay. (And if the answer was, ”Yes, you are worth whatever it takes, but I just can’t make it work,” I know they would have understood that sometimes distance is simply not a surmountable hurdle, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the state of a friendship.) A lot of us acknowledge that love is a choice while forgetting that friendship is too. And though whether or not I attend someone’s wedding is not the marker of how close we are, there’s something about looking at flights and agreeing to bear witness to someone’s huge life event that makes me think about these things.

And you know? At the end of this process, Jacki, Julia, and I will each have our own montage of lovely wedding planning moments. It may include some bridal salon selfies, but on the whole, I don’t know that it will look all that different from what we were expecting. So maybe the only thing that has really changed is the technology. And (thank goodness) the hair.

Photos from Rachel’s personal collection

Rachel W. Miller

For most of her life, Rachel has loved the sound of her own voice. She loves reading, doing yoga (she still refuses to call it “practicing”), hanging out with her dogs, and talking Eric’s ear off. She lives in Houston, TX. You can read more from her on her blog.

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  • Iz

    I have had a similar experience in my wedding planning – with family, friends and our wedding location spread between 3 countries and multiple cities. While it hasn’t always been easy, the Internet has made it doable (I’d hate to have attempted it say 20 years ago). And having such far-flung loved ones will make the wedding day that much more special when they are all together in one place. Then all the long-distance planning will have been worth it.

    • Rachel

      Yes! I think the thing I’m most excited about with wedding planning is that this is like the ONE TIME when I get to have all my people in one place!

      • Sarah

        Yes, me too, I was really looking forward to having everyone in the same place on the same day, though inevitably there were a couple of last minute cancellations.

        I’m in London, my bridesmaids are in Melbourne, Aus and Vancouver, Canada, so all bridesmaid dress shopping went on individually and photos were shared. I ended up buying the dresses here and shipping them to the two of them to make sure they fitted (and in the case of one, getting a larger size adapted for a growing pregnancy bump).

        Then the bridesmaid in Aus couldn’t make it to the wedding due to Visa issues anyway (getting out of Australia rather then getting into the UK, interestingly), so that was that! If we’d known this earlier the bridesmaid in Vancouver could just have bought a cute pregnancy dress off the shelf and I’d have saved a ton in airmail, but it did mean we have time together, even if it was by email and on pinterest.

    • http://www.theatreprojects.blogspot.com jessamarie

      While I was planning my wedding long distance, my granny often told me about the struggle of doing just that 20 years ago when my aunt got married. Granny went around looking at reception sites and dresses, taking photos, having th em developed and then mailing the photos to New York for her daughter to look at. Makes you really grateful for vendor webstes and camera phones.

    • http://www.theatreprojects.blogspot.com jessamarie

      While I was planning my wedding long distance, my granny often told me about the struggle of doing just that 20 years ago when my aunt got married. Granny went around looking at reception sites and dresses, taking photos, having th em developed and then mailing the photos to New York for her daughter to look at. Makes you really grateful for vendor websites and camera phones.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    Yup, this was pretty much how it was for me. I went wedding dress shopping the first time with my mother in law, but that bridal shop was kind of dull, and wanted me to decide on a sample dress (that was not even discounted and on which I was not 100% convinced) right-that-second.
    I went a second time to another shop, all by myself, and that’s when I found my dress. There were no tears or drama or anyone with me, but I *knew* I liked the dress and I felt like me (not me-in-disguise), and it was comfortable, pretty and on my budget. The next day I came back with my mother-in-law again to actually order it, and they finally let me take some photos (I don’t know why taking photos is forbidden, most designers have photos of their dresses available online and it’s not like you can copy a dress by looking at a photo made with an instant camera or a phone).
    Then I sent photos to my mom, sister and best friend, and hoped they liked it cause the decision had been made.
    Luckily, when my parents came for our civil wedding, a few months before our catholic ceremony, my mom came for the 1st fitting, and it was lovely, because mother in law, and my now-husband’s grandmother were also there, 3 generations of women right there with me :)
    As for bridesmaids, I didn’t have that experience at all. I just told my best friends that if they liked / felt like it they could dress in variations of pink / salmon / greens. They are all different, and in different countries. My sister wore a gown in both those colors that she already had and was just perfect.
    The clothes didn’t really matter, but the support (through email, skype, facebook) all along is what made for the experience.

  • Stella

    Oh my goodness! This is so like my experience of wedding planning! My bridemaids are spread across a bunch of different countries and time zones — super awkward for shopping but the internets has simply been the best! In a weird way its actually brought us closer because we’ve had to make way more effort to call and face-time!

  • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

    My wedding planning process started when I bought my wedding gown, with my fiance’s mother. Not that my mom didn’t want to be part of the process, but we got engaged during my mom’s busy season. Most of my friends live in the area, but I have two long-distance bridesmaids (one had to step down). there has been a lot of trying dresses on myself when I wasn’t giong to be the one wearing them, figuring out the logsitics of getting a dress to a friend in PA and then back to my friend in San Antonio.

    I didn’t really get montagey like you see on TV and I’m okay with that, though at first it was a struggle for me. I wanted to have all my friends with me to get the bridesmaids dresses but that wasn’t practical – my sister is in college with a double-major, and half of the bridal party is out of state. The best I could do was agree to put the dresses on with the massive clamps and take pictures along with my bridesmaids who could go with me. I also needed to accept that there is a cultural narrative out there around weddings but that only one friend of mine really got to live that cultural narrative.

  • http://andshelovesyou.com youlovelucy

    Any time I want to take a picture of how I look in a thing, I get completely side tracked by how I should be making my face act.

    Smiling? No, maybe that will look self absorbed.
    Straight face? Now I look pissed off about this outfit, crap.
    Silly face? Oh god no delete immediately that’s never cute.

    Fuck it I’ll just crop my head out of the frame. Perfect!

    • Ellen

      We have two mirrors in our house- one is set up so that I can see from the waist up, one is set up so I can see from the neck down. It is important to have an idea of how your shoes look with your outfit!!

      • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

        I have told my fiance that for our wedding? I don’t care if it’s a cheap one from Target, I want a full-length mirror. I have to use our, granted, enormous windows, to see how my complete outfit looks. I guess that’s one benefit of living in a 100+ year-old house?

  • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

    Loving your shoes… are they Chromatic Gallerie by any chance?

    • Rachel

      Thanks! They are actually from Target! :)

  • Martha

    Not that you were asking – but I love the first dress!

    And I also feel you on far-flung-planning. It’s the pits!

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  • LILY

    I’ve had a very similar planning experience so far. FH and I have done all of the venue shopping, cake tasting, and other planning together, which has been great fun and actually really good for our communication. My mom did come up to take me wedding dress shopping, and it was so special to do that together. What made it even more special was that, unlike the lady three fitting rooms down from me, it was just my mom and I. No bridesmaids, no aunts, no little sisters…and honestly, the idea of having five or six additional sets of eyes and opinions to deal with makes me cringe. So much staring and critiquing! Plus, it was lovely one-on-one time for my mom and I, and I didn’t have to worry about balancing tons of individual dynamics.

  • http://myminimalistwedding.wordpress.com Alyssa

    I feel this on so many levels. First, the majority of my closest girlfriends don’t even know each other. They are all from different stages in my life: my childhood BFF, my high school BFF, my research partner/study partner/college roommate (we always joked about how we never introduced each other as “friends”), my workout/shopping buddy, my sister. And they’re EVERYWHERE. One is in Texas, one is in Georgia, one is in Maryland, and only 2 are in California with me. And I haven’t even talked to my mom in like a year so when I bought my wedding dress I saw online, went to David’s Bridal with my one friend, tried on 4 dresses and sent pics to the other friends, then ended up buying the one I fell in love with online. But there was no “OMG it has to be MORE PERFECT THAN PERFECT” feeling about the whole thing. It took like an hour max and we got drive-thru In N Out after.

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  • http://chroniclesofalistmaker.wordpress.com Amanda

    I’ve just started planning and will be doing a similar thing. We live in Virginia, are planning in Connecticut. I have 2 bridesmaids in CT, 1 in NYC, 1 in Minnesota and…my fiances sister in Hawaii. Hopefully something like this ends up happening and I can have a montage moment.

    Rachel- I love the coral color and the shape of the navy. If you don’t mind sharing…what are the brands?

    • Rachel

      Thanks! And I’m happy to share! I’ll just put all the info out there in case anyone else is wondering.

      1. Alfred Sung Style D488 in Seaside
      2. Alfred Sung Style D568 in Candy Coral (I thought this one was SO cute on but I couldn’t really see my friends in it)
      3. Alfred Sung Style D522 in Quarry
      4. Alfred Sung Style D516 in Midnight (PS This is the one I’m wearing for Julia’s wedding, in Quarry! The back is really stunning!)

      PS I didn’t end up choosing any of these dresses (they’re wearing Banana Republic!) but I was really leaning toward the midnight…the color is seriously GORGEOUS in person!

      • http://chroniclesofalistmaker.wordpress.com Amanda

        Thank you so much! I just looked them up and that back is beautiful! Now to find a place to go see them in person.

  • Ammaring

    Oh my…..planning a wedding from across the country can wreck havoc on that MustHaveSpecialMomentsWithMom/Sister/BestFriend need, especially when they don’t occur (and especially when it comes to the dress!).

    I was lucky enough to have a sister and a close cousin living in my city when I started looking (and found on the first stop) the dress, but I held on to the hope that I could have that moment with my mom (who lives 1600miles away). So when my mom decided she was coming out to help her sister for a week I was so excited to be able to schedule the most major dress fitting while she was here. I even rescheduled it 3 times to deal with her ever-changing schedule. Finally on the last day of her trip, 40 minutes before we were supposed to be at the fitting, I learned it wasn’t going to happen because my mom got distracted by other things. Devastating. Cancelled the fitting because the last thing I wanted to do was go by myself in tears, and was sad because my sister and Mother-in-law-to-be had already left the city for the summer as well….so I rallied the troops and my dear cousin made sure to be able to come with me, with a little bit of bubbly and a bunch of laughs. Lesson learned – in this modern age of planning a wedding from across the country, things are just different. Hopefully at least I can help my mother pick out HER dress when I go back to my hometown 6 weeks before the wedding.

  • Maria

    Yep, this is it. I’m in one country, the wedding in a second, my family in a third and most of my friends all across other countries. But its actually been okay. Although I don’t have bridesmaids, I have a handful of good friends who have offered to help – and have followed up on those offers. Emails are flying across the oceans every week, and two months before the wedding we’re more or less ready! Some of them are flying into our destination wedding a week early just to help out with the final touches, so I’ll finally get my ‘girl time’. It’ll make up for all of the lonely online planning, I’m sure.

    Shopping for wedding dresses by yourself and not being allowed to take photos is the worst though. Even worse when the shop of your choice doesn’t even carry photos on their website and you have to wait MONTHS to show even your mother the dress that you’ve chosen. Not cool, bridal salons, not cool.

    • MDBethann

      Interesting. I wasn’t able to take pictures of my dress at first. But once I paid for it, the store happily took pictures of me IN the dress so that I’d have them to show the florist. I guess my store figured you aren’t going to replicate a dress for which you’ve already paid!

  • Katelyn

    Watching Say Yes to the Dress with the entourages of 25 people, including in-laws and 3rd cousins makes me break out in a rash. I’m hoping to just go with my mom and that’s it.

    Just wanted to let you know that you look KICK ASS in all of those dresses, are they Alfred Sung?

    • Rachel

      Thanks! And yep, all are my homeboy Alfie!

      • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

        Alfred Sung dresses are the best. If I had gone for traditional bridesmaid dresses, I would’ve picked Alfred Sung dresses. They’re so classic and I can definitely see people wearing them again.

    • http://writemeg.com Megan

      Totally agree. I am not all about the entourage. I went with just my mom and sister, and it was a peaceful and sweet day!

      • Brenda

        Me too. I went once to try on vintage dresses for fun with two of my not-bridesmaids (who are not-bridesmaids because I have no interest in telling them what to wear), and then ordered my dress myself from the internet. I one hundred percent do not regret not doing the whole months long dress shopping with tons of people process. Ugh.

  • Caroline

    I have to say, I loved dress shopping alone. I was lucky enough to go with my mom and sister (2 weeks after we got engaged, the day before her winter break ended and she went back to college. That was fun, but it was really great going by myself, even though everyone (well, my fiancé and the Internet) says you shouldn’t go alone. I really liked shopping alone. (Although if I had no choice in matter I might have been sad.)

    I think the corollary to “whose wedding looks like TV? All our friends are spread out and don’t know eachother” is “Whose wedding looks like that? I don’t have that many best friends”. My sister (maid of honor and likely only bridesmaid) offered (demanded) to throw me a bachelorette party, an my aunt offered to throw me a shower. I’m so excited and delighted but I have no idea who I will invite. I have maybe 4 lady friends who I’m inviting to the wedding (pretty small, mostly family wedding). Maybe some aunts and cousins will travel 3-6 hours for it, I hope. I have a few close friends from synagogue, one or two from school, and my bestie. But I’m probably inviting about 5 female friends total, and half of them are super broke and thus I would feel weird inviting to a shower or an expensive pay your own bachelorette. (And clearly my 21 year old sis can’t pay for everyone for a bachelorette, nor can I.) So yeah, not easy when the people in/around your wedding don’t look like they “should” but should is a four letter word anyways. These are the people I love who love me.

    • MDBethann

      For one of my college BFFs, we wanted to include her soon-to-be sister-in-law who was a high school student at the time, so obviously we had limits on where we could go. The MoH’s uncle had a house just south of Atlantic City, so we turned the bachelorette into a huge weekend slumber party at the beach (in April, so it was a little cold). There were 10 of us, but the costs were really low since we provided our own alcohol, cooked our own breakfast, made the cake ourselves, and someone even had a karaoke machine. We ate at the bride’s favorite boardwalk pizza place for dinner, but that was probably as extravagant as it got (aside from parking in Atlantic City). You can have SO MUCH FUN on a small budget!

  • http://juliahalprinjackson.com Julia

    You have no idea how much relief this post gives me. I’d say 90% of the anxiety I’ve felt as a bride-to-be has been in meeting the expectations of my 2 maids of honor – and, ironically, they don’t have many, I just THINK they do. We’ve gone to a few fittings together, which was fun, and enough. Thank you for validating my initial instinct; that these events are symbolic, and we can honor these same traditions in other ways, if we want to.

    That, and you look great in all of those dresses!

  • http://writemeg.com Megan

    Definitely relate to this! Despite having friends and family nearby, I struggle mightily with “my wedding is not an imposition.” In short, I don’t ask people to accompany/help/whatever with me because I don’t want to “bother” them. I’m working on that — really! — but it’s hard. I’m very independent, and I’ve grown to not rely on others to help out because . . . I always get let down? I don’t know. And I’m so afraid of becoming that “overbearing bride” who slams friends with too many details that I wind up sharing . . . nothing.

    Not good.

    But not bringing girlfriends or bridesmaids to many of these appointments/events has had a plus side: I’m doing them with my fiance. Aside from dressing shopping, which I happily did with my mom and sister, my guy has been super involved with every aspect of our planning. We’ve ignored those WIC-powered stereotypes that men will just “show up” in a tux on the wedding day. Others have expressed surprise that S. is so involved in all the little details, but that’s what’s making it so great: it will truly be a day celebrating both of us.

    And if I’m sitting there cutting ribbon to tie onto our bookmark wedding favors, he’s right beside looping all the knots.

    • Rachel

      Same here! I love that aspect of it, though sometimes the WIC gets in my head and I’m like “Is this weird that we’re doing all this stuff together? Shouldn’t I be doing this with my friends?” But…no! It’s not weird! I just need to get over my hangups about it.

      • Elisabeth

        Totally agree. It’s not weird, it’s the most fun we’ve had so far!

        • Rachael

          My friends are spread out and have all been busy popping out babies during the lead up to my wedding, so my fiance went dress shopping with me as well. We were in and out of the shop in less than an hour – basically went to try on a specific, casual dress and I had the same “Yep, this is about what I expected” feeling about the dress as was described in the post. I was so happy afterward – not because I was crazy in love with the dress, but because I was relieved to have it out of the way and with such little hassle.

          It definitely didn’t seem like a weird thing to take my fiance at the time, but of course some people have given me flak for it. Just wait until they hear we’re spending the night before our wedding together ;)

        • Brenda

          My husband (we’re already legally married) and I are doing everything together too. I can’t imagine making any of these decisions without him and I think he would be quite hurt if I went off and did it with my friends. It’s his wedding, not theirs. He didn’t help me decide on the dress, but I did show him before I bought it and after it arrived.

          It’s fun to do it together, and I really feel like we’ll have exactly the day we both want.

      • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

        My husband and I went to all the things together. He even had say in the flowers, and surprisingly had an opinion about which ones we used.
        I love that we had those experiences together. It was truly OUR wedding.

    • http://snippetsof.blogspot.com SarahE

      Doing stuff with your partner makes so much sense to me. Aside from it being his wedding, too- you’re partners!

      To me, having a partner (and calling him such) is more than just “romantic partner,” it’s also travel buddy, movie date, dance partner, etc. etc. Neither of us considers the other to be a best friend, and there are of course activities we prefer to do separately or with our friends, but really, he’s my default choice for any activity I don’t want to do solo. If I’m going to spend time with anyone, I generally prefer it be him (hello, that’s why I picked him in the first place), and if no one else can/will be my buddy for an activity, he steps up (again, because he loves me and he picked me).

      This is not to say that it *should* be this way (I know we have a multitude of experiences here), but when it does come down to you and your fiance doing everything together, minus the entourage- it’s not weird! That’s why you picked each other! Teamwork!

    • Suzzie

      Since I had moved to another country to be with my husband and we were having the wedding in that country (we have no family here), we did end up having to do a lot of the planning together. Many things were left up to me to short list, etc. But since it was “our” day, my mindset was that it should be about us and not about me and my family/friends opinions.

      To me it would have felt strange not having him help out with decisions and meeting with some of the vendors as that’s what we do in our everyday lives. And he did get to see photos of the dresses I liked and since we lived together he did see it hanging in the closet once I brought it over with me. We stayed together the night before, we got ready together at the same place, we spent the wedding morning running a few last minute errands together. And we loved our wedding day because it was actually ours and what we both wanted.

  • KTH

    I also had spread-out bridesmaids, and ended up going dress shopping with friends who weren’t bridesmaids but happened to live in the same city as I do. I vastly prefer shopping alone, and wouldn’t have minded it much, but those dresses are freaking heavy and hard to carry!

    Love those Alfred Sung dresses!

  • RachaelRei

    I needed this post so much today. My wedding is next month, and throughout this year of planning it’s been very lonely, all my bridesmaids are very far away and besides my sister I never saw any of them during the planning process. I picked out dresses online and they all ordered them and we sent around pics. I’m trusting their opinion that they are nice in person and they want to wear them, lol!
    The majority of our family is also out of town and will be flying in, the ones who could come. Sometimes it feel like I created this huge wedding in a vacuum and I have no idea what the actual experience will be like once you throw all the people in…hopefully it will all come together. :-)

  • Moe

    For the most part, planning was lonely for me. If it wasn’t for co-workers who took interest and were willing to chat over my Pinterest boards I would have been limited to sharing my plans with the dog. My dress shopping experience was very similar to yours, I went alone and it was a very brief straightforward business transaction instead of a Say Yes to the Dress moment of tears.

    A day before the wedding when my dress was lost because of a shipping mishap I was desperate to find a quick replacement at David’s Bridal and had no time to bring anyone with me. I was in the store at the same time as two other young brides who each had a large entourage in tow, sisters, kids, grandmas, bridesmaids etc…

    When they heard my story about my lost dress both families took me in and offered encouragement and took pictures of me in potential dresses. I felt like an adopted bride and it meant the world to me.

    Thank you for your post Rachel, you’re not the only one who experiences planning this way.

  • http://whataboutsara.com Sara

    This is so how I felt – thank you for putting words to my experience, and the frustrations that I felt while planning my wedding!

  • Megan

    Oh man. This: “I was still bummed that I couldn’t hang out with them on a Friday night in yoga pants, sipping wine, and going through bridal magazines and blogs.” I broke down crying to my fiance one night a few months ago because the wedding planning felt like all business, no fun – I think the above sentence came out of my mouth almost verbatim during that little breakdown.

    I live on the west coast, my maid of honor lives in China, and my family and all of my best friends are spread out in various states along the east coast. We’re getting married on the east coast so planning has been a lot of emails and a lot of “uh, cool, that sounds good, I’m not anywhere nearby so I’ll just go with it and hope it works out.” I got to go dress shopping with my maid of honor before she moved to China (and she found my dress – well played), but other than that I haven’t gotten to plan with her or friends or even really my fiance since he’s been on the west coast or with his family in the south every time I’ve been at my home doing wedding planning stuff. My mom is very focused, very business-minded, so wedding planning has been an incredibly no fuss, no muss, not much fun process. Not that I’m not thankful for her help. It’s just not the movie version of wedding planning by any means.

    I am very lucky though – somehow, by a series of miracles, all my best friends and my sister/maid of honor are going to be able to come to my bachelorette party and bridal shower in a couple weeks. My 4 best friends from college and 4 best friends from high school haven’t gotten to spend much time together, but we’re all going to be hanging out for a weekend in CT, and my sister will be back from China during that time! I am indescribably grateful that this has worked out and that all the people I love most will be in one place and will get to share in these two parts of my wedding shenanigans. Yay.

  • Jen

    Oh yes, this.

    Not only with wedding planning, but in the ‘real’ world too, it’s another challenge for us to accept that friendships don’t quite follow the traditional path as set out in the movies. A big ‘Exactly’ to:

    WHO ARE THESE WOMEN AND HOW DID THEY STAY A FOURSOME FOR SO LONG?! HOW DID NO ONE MOVE AWAY?!

    And indeed, did friendships not grow and develop, change and end, over time? I have friends that have been in my life a matter of months that I value and trust more than I do with the friends I grew up with. yet I think it would appear odd to have them as part of a bridal party, them being relatively new ‘acquisitions’ to ones group of initmates.

    APW has been very focused on the roles of motherhood, and the challenges we face when we enter that new, scary, life changing role- which is so fantastic (beginning to plan a family and these articles have been so reassuring), but I wonder if there’s also some space here for a discussion for the roles of friendships in our lives along the same lines? How we’re expected to live up to one particular narrative; that we’ve had the same friends since we were small, we grew up together, know each other’s darkest secrets, are all sucesses in our relative fields, and always on an equal footing- but if there is a crisis, it will be easily resolvable by the power of our unconditional love for each other…

    I’m sure friendships do exist like that- but what about all the other kinds of friendships? The ones we feel slightly guilty about, perhaps. Like the best friend from our teens that’s gone slightly awry, and we can’t sympathise with their life choices any more- the only tie being nostalgia for a period when we were on the same page. Or, the friends that are older than us by a generation, the friends that are younger than us, the friends that are of a different gender. Even, the friends that we don’t really like all that much!

    I think it’s about time we began to break down the myth that our friends are just slightly different reflections of ourselves and our values, and are as multifarious, changeable and whimsical as our inner selves.

    xx

    • Rachel

      YES to all this! I could write so many posts on this topic actually (and an earlier version of this post got into some of that). I just feel like it’s SO important to talk about and it comes up for a lot of us in relation to wedding planning (I think for some of the reasons I mentioned here). I have this theory that not talking about how friendships sometimes end (or need to end) actually is a way of devaluing them. Like if we believe that friendships can be AMAZING and so important and special, then we should also acknowledge that they can be heartbreaking or just run their course like a romantic relationship. But we don’t. I feel like we sort of owe it to our friends to break up with them instead of letting things fizzle out, and we owe it to each other to allow people to mourn the end of a friendship the same way that we allow that when romantic relationships end.

      • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

        I totally agree. I decided to “buck the trend” with new friends in the bridal party. I got engaged six months after making a new friend, and she is in my wedding. I feel like it may be odd, but we text and email ALL THE TIME and shre a lot of interests. I think it would be weird not to have a now-very-important-to-me-friend not included – at least, weird to me. I also feel like I’m sort of going beyond the WIC/cultural narrative of “you must have known these friends long enough to use them as references for jobs” for the bridal party.

      • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

        I think there’s situations where breaking up with friends makes more sense, but I think that it’s limited. A lot of the times friendships wax and wane over time and a friend that I was super close with years ago and have drifted from somewhat now? I don’t know that unless there’s some huge issue (to the extent that I literally never want to see her again) that breaking up is the best choice. Maybe we’re just at different stages of our lives and don’t really connect but three years from now we might be close again.

        And I wonder if that’s why we don’t properly break up with friends more often, out of the hope that one day life will change enough for the friendship to make sense again?

    • Breck

      You know, it’s so interesting because, to me, the overwhelming narrative surrounding female friendships has always seemed to be the one of college besties who met freshman year and go on to share an apartment in the big city post-grad…

      …Which is exactly what I don’t have. I have a few good friends from college and a lot of fun acquaintances, but my core group actually is 2 girls I’ve known since kindergarten and 2 from middle school. The grass is always greener, right?

      And, of course, I’ve had friendships end and fade away, and I totally second both you and Rachel in the desire to open up some more discussion about those dissolutions.

      • Jen

        You’re right, the grass is always greener. A natural part of the human condition in being curious and having such creative imaginations means perhaps we’re always mentally trying on the best aspects of the lives we see around us and judging them favourably in comparison to our own.

        I guess what needs to be recognised is that just like the relationship we have with our partner, friendships aren’t perfect. In whatever shape they take, they come, they go, they hurt and they bring unexpected joy. When an argument happens or a friendship fizzles out it’s not always a case of looking back with nostalgia at the highs and lows, there will be the gritty, slightly shameful embarrassing parts too.

        Also, from a lot of comments here, it seems like a conversation about loneliness would be interesting. With friends in disparate places, family all over the country, how do we now cope without a natural, sustainable community?

        … Montages have a lot to answer for, it not only the trials of searching for ‘the dress’, but in that editing of time and lives to only feature those extremes of human experience, rather than the constant, much more real time of everyday life.

        What a ramble! Rachel, all those dresses looked totally stunning on you! Good luck with your planning.

        x

        • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

          I think a conversation about loneliness would be great, both in and out of the context of wedding planning. We’re sold this idea that we should always have a pack of besties around and also that once you’re married, you’ll never be lonely. I have amazing friends, but they’re all in different parts of the US and I’m in Japan. And I’m very happily married, but my husband deploys and even if he didn’t, couldn’t take the place of having girlfriends.

    • http://snippetsof.blogspot.com SarahE

      So much wisdom in this. I could write a ton about this, too, especially after moving away from all my closest friends. If I had stayed in PA, I still would have had to drive a couple hours to visit them, but now it’s a couple *days* of driving between us.

      I also have a fairly pragmatic view of friendships that have faded- it’s not that I don’t like them or enjoy their company, so much as our connection was situational.

      I’ve enjoyed the posts on APW that have talked a bit about friendships already- like using your wedding as a way to rekindle a friendship, or end it for good, or how friendships change or don’t after finding a partner and getting married. Sigh, I could talk about friends for days- I miss mine so much and am constantly trying to cultivate new ones.

  • Emily

    I recently went to my first dress fitting alone, and was more freaked out I think because of what TV tells me that experience is supposed to be like. I was sad that I was going alone and what that said about my wedding experience. I have bridesmaids here in NYC with me, but they work! I didn’t want to reschedule, obligate my busy friends and I realized – whatever, I like the dress, there are professionals on hand to work out the alterations, what other hand-holding do I need? It all was fine. Woohoo independent dress fitting!

  • Rachelle

    Isn’t it amazing how many of us have had this experience? So glad I’m not alone. I went dress shopping by myself and – lots of selfies later – I’m very happy that I ended up buying the one I loved without anyone else’s opinion.

    The part that really got to me was alterations! On my first appointment the girl before me had an entourage of six people… I had a mimosa all by myself thank you very much. But now I’m a little worried because NO ONE where I live in Denver will even be attending the wedding, so no one can come with me to learn how to do the bustle. Hopefully it won’t be too complicated, but it really drives home the fact that I don’t have any good friends where I live and how much that sucks.

    • Mikala

      Rachelle, I live in Denver too! I also don’t have a ton of friends here. It really does suck, doesn’t it?

      • Rachelle

        Girl, yes! I want to preface everything with “I really do have friends, they just don’t live here.” But that seems a little overboard. You know, people might think I’m crazy and THAT certainly doesn’t help the friend making process :)

    • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

      I bought my dress with my mom and bridesmaids, but yeah, alterations were all by myself. It was a bummer that the first time I tried everything on together (dress, veil, shoes, jewelry), no one was there. I was a little worried about the bustle, but it was super easy and I had no problem showing my bridesmaids how to do it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu Carolyn M

    Very familiar to me too!

    I bought my dress on the Internet.

    Had a try-on, unveiling it kind of thing with my future mother-in-law.

    My mom isn’t that excited by dresses, though my dad gushed when I emailed them a picture!

    • Emily

      I found it was fine to not include everyone in some pre-wedding events, and just have whoever can be there show up.

      I just had my bachelorette party in the Bay Area, where I used to live, where my partner’s folks live, and where my MOH lives. I included friends who lived there, both those who were invited to the wedding and those who weren’t (that was a bit awkward to navigate, but I think it worked out fine). Impressively, one of my bridesmaids was able to fly in, but I told them all that there wasn’t any expectation to come (our wedding party will come from 4 different countries).

      Luckily, I was able to combine a trip out there with some work and other various things, including a non-shower shower (essentially a BBQ for us at his folks’ place). It all ended up being awesome.

      • M&M

        Just wondering how did you coordinate the outfits of your wedding party? Similar to at our destination wedding, our wedding party will come from 4 different countries as well. Looking for ideas on how to coordinate bridesmaid dresses and tux rentals!

  • Samantha

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one in this situation. I’m all alone the West Coast, my family is in Michigan, and my bridesmaids are all over the place. I also tried on my dress alone in truly non-momentous fashion.

    I had one question for you and other APW readers: how do you have a bachelorette party when your bridesmaids and best friends are strewn across the country? Do you have it just before the wedding? Do you ask people to fly to your location for both the bachelorette party AND the wedding (that seems like a lot…)?

    Creative ideas welcome! I’m okay trying on my dress alone, but I don’t want to party alone, too! ;)

    • Rachel

      I honestly have no idea (and also, I sometimes feel super awkward thinking about it because…doesn’t someone else plan the bachelorette party? I don’t know the “rules” for this shit). I was thinking we could just go to Chicago because that’s the most central location for my bridesmaids and friends…but I still don’t know if that’s best or not! I’d love some suggestions too!

      • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

        Also, Chicago is awesome!

    • Brenda

      I did the bachelorette dinner for my best friend (we’re not crazy party types) a couple of days before the wedding because I was only in town with her the week leading up, and it was great. Just don’t do it the night before!

    • Mikala

      I think we’ll probably just do something two nights before the wedding, and it will most likely be a girls night in with pajamas, wine, snacks, wine, girly movies, wine, and gossip. Did I mention wine? (seriously, I’m not an alcoholic).

    • Emily

      My sister’s are throwing me a bachelorette party a few days before our wedding. It was the only way that people could be in the same place at the same time without extra plane tickets. Most people are just flying in a day earlier than they would have otherwise. I’m excited for spending quality time with ladies right before the craziness of the wedding festivities begins.

  • Holly

    THIS! All of it. This is exactly what I’ve been thinking the entire time. (Do you live in my head?!) My entire family lives in MI, his in PA, and we live in DC (as does my maid of awesome). The wedding is in PA (cheaper, and closer than DC for everyone, except maid of awesome; another reason why she’s awesome).

    He’s on night shift with days changing every three months; I’ve got fairly regular hours. Finding time getting both of US, let alone anyone else, in the same room at the same time for a several hour stretch, that doesn’t involve Skype, WITH photographic evidence = the whole reason we didn’t elope.

    This means that we talked to our venue coordinator on our own. I’ve found my dress on my own. We’re cake testing on our own. We are doing flowers on our own. In some cases stuff is on my own because he doesn’t have the same “weekend” I do. Or for example, he will call during business hours for something because I can’t break away from work and he is home.

  • Remy

    I felt a lot of this same stuff during my year and a half of wedding planning. Part of it was that my bridesmaids were far-flung for at least part of that time, but also we just didn’t get together regularly anyway. And, oh yeah, 3 of us were working on master’s degrees, and I was working full-time on top of that. It’s really not all that surprising in retrospect, but I really missed some of the bonding I had been expecting to (magically) happen. Maybe not so much over the dress (which I bought online), or at least not with the shopping for it, but with the result? decorations? planning? I dunno. I waver between (and this is 7+ months afterward) feeling really let down by the overall experience and then remembering gems of awesomeness (my sister playing in-law defense, my ex’s emotional support, the way my MOH looked in her dress when it finally arrived, the amazing buffet produced by my friends). Maybe I should have acknowledged and curbed my expectations.

    “I was still bummed that I couldn’t hang out with them on a Friday night in yoga pants, sipping wine, and going through bridal magazines and blogs, or that we couldn’t spend a Saturday afternoon filling up on macarons together at a bridal expo” and “Gone are the days of your mom helping you plan your wedding because you still lived in her house. Gone are the core group of best friends from middle school who will take turns standing by each other as they all get married, one right after another… it’s hard not to idealize this misty myth of weddings past.” would have looked a bit different for me, but the nostalgia behind them rings true. That is what I miss and what I will never have. And it feels all twisty inside.

  • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly Ever After

    Like a lot of others, I feel like I could’ve written this. I live in Chicago, and my bridesmaids lived in Kansas and Arizona. My parents are in Indiana and my in-laws are in Michigan. I did get everyone together to go dress shopping with me over the holidays, but that was it. My best friend missed my shower and my sister missed my bachelorette party. Thank goodness for technology!

  • Kiera

    This Globe and Mail video clip actually touches on the reality of more brides going dress shopping on their own:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/life-video/video-getting-married-you-need-to-know-these-5-wedding-planning-tips/article11937593/

  • http://www.stellarfashionandfitness.com Jennifer

    Rachel, I love LOVE this article! It really hit home. My wedding is in Birmingham, Ala. I have one bridesmaid who lives about 45 min. from here. The rest are in Chicago, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and my sister, my maid of honor, is in Massachusetts. And my parents living in NJ. It’s crazy! I’ve taken a LOT of iPhone photos & emailed a LOT of links, so I feel you on the technology. I even shared my Pinterest pages with some of my bridesmaids/my mom and I have shared a Google doc with some people, too. It’s been nice to share ideas this way! I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve done things by myself, like trying on veils, and that’s been kinda hard. Luckily I was visiting my sister & mom when I found my wedding dress, and on another visit we chose the bridesmaid dresses. I’m hoping to do a few things with the other girls, too. One thing is: We’ll probably do my shower & bachelorette up North on the same weekend. It’ll be busy, and I’ll be exhausted, but it’ll be fun to have everyone there! So while we can’t do EVERYTHING with our loved ones, at least we can share some things!

  • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

    Thank goodness I’m not the only one who feels this way. Our families and friends all live in different states, so we’re doing all the planning on our own. I won’t like, I was really depressed about it earlier this week. For some reason I can’t get Hollywood out of my head- Isn’t this supposed to be the time when I’m hanging out with girlfriends (at least on Skype or Google Chat?) and talking about wedding daydreams as well as having the decision making conversations with my fiance?

    I think my main complaint is that no one asks about my wedding, and I don’t want to be “That Bride” who always talks about the details whenever she has a conversation. Does anyone have tips for wedding planning when no one seems interested?

    After typing that, it looks really angsty. I don’t mean to have all the angst, I really am just looking for tips on how to deal with it! Hollywood and reality keep clashing in my head, and I’m not sure how to deal with it all!

    • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

      I felt the same way – bummed that nobody asked about it and then frustrated with myself for feeling that way. Mostly I’d just text my sister about whatever I was working on and she’d at least act really interested and excited for me.

      • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

        My sister and I are doing the same thing! She’s even being nice enough not to put down my decisions even though we have drastically different tastes. It’s really sweet of her. The fiance’s trying to step up as well- he’s trying to have opinions about things he doesn’t really care about. There’s a reason I love him so much.

        Idk. Media told me that everyone was going to ask about my wedding and have opinions about it. And so far that hasn’t happened. Maybe I’m actually just really lucky- I just wish I wasn’t struggling with the wedding imposition thing…

  • k

    All I want to say is omg your hair is GORGEOUS.

  • http://dylanandsarah.com Sarah T

    Aside from my roommate, I had, literally, no one else in the same town as me. Friends, family, and future husband were all at least a state away. I also decided pretty early on that I would not be having a white dress, that I wanted something practical, that could be worn again, and also reflected my heritage.

    One of my best friends came to visit for a weekend during the planning stage, and I made appointments at a few bridal shops. We went around for an afternoon where I tried on lots of A-line white dresses. If money were absolutely no object, there was a surprisingly stunning, $7k Vera Wang that looked much better on me than on the website (but I couldn’t take any pictures!!). So we got to have that experience together, to be a little bit ridiculous together, knowing that we were never going to buy anything I tried on. It also allowed me to let go of some of the white dress what-ifs I had lingering in my mind.

    And then I got my real, red/orange/multicolored dress made in Chinatown for $600 or so. (not exactly cheap, but cheap for a wedding dress, and I’m all set for my next black tie event)

  • http://byjacki.com Jacki

    Those shows are very confusing to me sometimes, too. (For many reasons.) And this may be a little weird, but even though I don’t anticipate doing much long-distance wedding planning, I cannot WAIT to go wedding dress shopping alone. The first time, it was all about making other people happy, trying on sparkle-sequin-tulle things that did not appeal to me just to appease others who “just wanted to check”, etc. If/when it happens again, I’m taking myself shopping and listening to my gut :)

  • Sophia Rose

    I haven’t gone dress shopping yet… but I totally wish I could do it alone. I will bring my mom and sisters along at least once, because I know they’ll be heartbroken if I don’t. But honestly, I hate shopping for clothes with other people present, salesgirls included.

  • Suzzie

    Virtually most of my wedding in some parts was done by distance. When I met my husband he was living in New Zealand (7,000+ miles away). In the end I ended up moving and we decided to get married here (hassles with immigration, logistics, etc helped make that decision).

    Through it all, there were small bits that many friends helped participate in. One of my girlfriends before I left the country threw me a little dinner and go out dancing night to celebrate. We had a small engagement party with a few of my friends when he came to visit. My family had a small dinner out when we went to see them. In between moving back and forth between the countries, I stayed for a few months with my parents in another state. While there my mom went dress shopping with me (she’s not like those mothers on Say Yes to the Dress thank goodness!) and we found three dresses that I liked. In the end, we picked one and spent a few weeks making the veil and attaching the lace my future mother in law sent me from India. Then we had a fun night trying to fit it in to one of those vacuum space saving bags so I could take it in my luggage on my final trip back to NZ! Actually had a nice lady when I went through TSA who didn’t insist on taking it out of the sealed bag and was astounded that it actually worked (it was in my carry on because I didn’t want to risk my luggage possibly getting lost!).

    But once I came to NZ, I was pretty much on my own. The only person I knew here was my hubby. So while I was waiting on immigration, I would go out wandering on my own, trying to find venues, food, etc. When I made short lists, then my hubby would come with to check out my top picks. But we ended up with a wedding that was very personal to us and I think we enjoyed our day so much more because we didn’t have input from people saying we needed something one way or another.

  • Rebekah

    I scrolled all the way through the comments to find that no one has yet said that they read the whole post with the Cake song of the same title stuck in their head.

    I find that hard to believe.

    Point 2: Rachel, you’re smoking hot in all those pictures. Dang.

    Point 3: “Yes, you are worth the overtime I will work to pay for it. Yes, you are worth the vacation time.” This. This is exactly right. Thank you.

  • Rachel B.

    Yay for Austin weddings! My fiance and I (transplants from Pennsylvania and Illinois, respectively) met in Austin and will marry here in June. It has been simultaneously freeing and isolating to largely plan a wedding by ourselves. Thankfully Christopher’s sister lives nearby, and many of our closest friends and family will be able to attend the wedding and celebrate with us.

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    I was also sad to have my bridesmaids scattered all over and not have the posse of best friends who are all best friends with each other. But one of my very favorite parts of my wedding weekend turned out to be seeing two of my best friends who had never before met become really good friends with each other. And I feel I can admit that the thing I was most excited about in the weeks before our wedding was having so many of my favorite people come to where I was. Our people are so spread out and I’d been pretty alone in Pensacola where we were for just six months for my husband’s training. I didn’t get the warm fuzzy planning with bridesmaids time, but I made the most of every minute of having them there for the wedding. I went with pick your own short navy blue dress in part because of geography and in part because what one dress is going to look good on 5’2 and busty, 6’2 and athletic, and three people in between? And in part because we’re all in our 30s and well and truly over bridesmaid dresses.

  • Kater

    Yes, yes, 1000 times yes! Great post, I especially loved:
    “My whole experience shopping for a dress was very business-like, particularly after I stopped fucking around in ball gowns”

    I felt like there was something wrong with me, like I was dead inside or something, while trying on all those lovely dresses that made me feel like I was suffocating. So, yep, I think I’m probably just gonna order the casual, comfy, beautiful dress I’ve been eyeing from the get go.

  • Emily

    Rachel, if you’re anywhere near Ann Arbor on your visit to Michigan, you should definitely check out The Bride’s Project. It’s all volunteer-run, and they sell donated dresses; proceeds go to the local cancer support center. I was dreading the dress search process, but the volunteers are amazing and make the whole think surprisingly fun.

  • Julia

    I didn’t even really realise this until now, but most of my friends are all over the world, and I am actually kind of sad that I am not going to have a shower or a bachelorette party because of that. My best friend’s mom offered to host a shower, but I thought it would be pretty awkward with so few people in town who even know that I am getting married (mostly my mom’s friends, and they are not really the ideal audience for shower games!). And although I am not really a shower or bachelorette person (I hate being the centre of attention, pink makes me gag, the rituals are embarrassing and lame, and I am much too old for that sort of pretending that I am an innocent virgin or that this is my last moment of “freedom”) your post helped me to understand that the sadness I am feeling isn’t about the WIC, it’s about not having my favourite people around to be excited with me…

  • A

    I can absolutely relate to this. We’re planning our wedding from 3,000 miles away. I dont want a traditional bridal shower or bachelorette, but feel sad that I won’t have any pre-wedding celebration with my friends or family. My sister is very pregnant, and isn’t planning to organize or plan anything. While I of course understand, I can’t help but feel a little frustrated because of everything I did for her wedding – cross county travel, shower, bachelorette, etc.

  • Laura

    I’m struggling with this right now. My fiancé and I live overseas from our friends and family for law school and even when we’re on our home continent (where we’ll be married), we’re from vastly different places (think michigan and la). our friends in the bridal party don’t know one another (at ALL), and when we graduate this summer, we’re not sure where we’ll settle. we have friends in our current city who are great, but they’re new friends, and wedding planning tasks and conversations can be really intimate – it also thrusts you into the spotlight of the conversation in a way i’m not really comfortable with, especially with new friends. it’s been hard to accept that i need to go try on dresses without my mother and best friend, and that even when we move back, i’ll likely be 2000 miles away from them still. i get really envious of groups of friends who’ve stayed almost illogically intact since middle school – i don’t have any experience with that. we recently made our guest list and it was really hard to see that in black and white i only have two friends (who aren’t otherwise family friends) that i bring to the list independently of my fiancé. We’ve been together seven years, so instead of having two friend lists from undergrad, we just have one – ditto for law school etc. wedding planning is definitely very different than it is portrayed – i’m also the first of my friends to get married, so no one really knows what the expectations/traditions are (myself included!) thanks for this :)