My Cigarettes Are Not Invited to My Wedding


Quitting smoking during planning

My Cigarettes Are Not Invited to My Wedding | A Practical Wedding
by Wendy Ginther

The month of my thirtieth birthday, I made two major life decisions. I called the Colorado Quitline to enroll in their smoking cessation program, and about two weeks later (on my birthday, actually) I agreed to marry the love of my life. To be frank, my life has turned into Wedding Madness with a side of Constant Nicotine Fit.

When I told one of my coworkers that I was quitting smoking and planning a wedding at the same time, she looked at me like I was crazy. She proceeded to tell me to my face that I was, indeed, insane. Unfortunately, she’s probably right. My little cancer sticks and I have been friends since before I knew most of my wedding party. Though I’ve attempted to quit several times before, it’s never been successful because something always pops up where the stress gets too overwhelming. Wedding planning is not the best environment for avoiding stressful situations.

This time, I’m determined to stay quit. As of this writing it’s been two weeks since I’ve gone off the nicotine patch, and ten weeks since I started the quitting process. In that time I’ve cheated exactly once, and immediately got back on the wagon. It is damned hard to stay motivated in the face of worrying about absolutely everything that is typically involved in wedding planning. I had no idea that this was going to be so much work! We are crafting much of it ourselves, and we recruited friends to help with a few projects. As a result, I now read wedding blogs on the toilet and have no fewer than eight Pinterest boards devoted to the subject. There are also a thousand other things besides the wedding that intensify the desire to have a cigarette. Little things like roommate conflict, job-related stress, and preparing to adopt our first pet. In the end, though, I know being a smoker won’t make any of this shit easier to do. The cigarette is not going to figure out how to word our invitations for me or get my roommate to pick up his dirty socks; it’ll just make it easier to cope with it.

I admit I’ve already had several meltdowns, and I do feel that it’s at least in part because quitting any addiction inevitably leads to emotional instability. My fiancé has gotten quite used to me having hysterics over things like discovering that our new Swiffer WetJet was defective and I couldn’t mop our floors, or that the navy in the ribbons I got for all the wedding craft projects don’t match. I have already told him, “I hate you for making me quit!” at least once, even though the decision was entirely mine and I know he would not have loved me less if I remained a smoker. He understands everything I am going through, and continues to be supportive and patient. Even when I can tell he just wants to tell me to put my big girl panties on and deal with it. There are times, however, where I can almost see the thought, “What the hell did I get myself into?” cross his face. Those moments are the ones where I ask myself if it’s worth it.

No one said any of this—quitting smoking, planning a wedding, adjusting to the idea that I’ve agreed to permanently share my life with another human being—was easy. There’s always the risk that it’ll wind up too much for me, and I’ll light up again. Or that I’ll turn to my fiancé and say, “It’s too much. I can’t do this anymore. I want to cancel the wedding.” Not leave him, mind you, just cancel the whole shebang and live in sin for the rest of our lives. Of course, there’s a risk one of us will be hit by a truck tomorrow, and I worry about that too.

I haven’t had a cigarette in two months. I get married next summer, so I’ve less than a year to get my shit together. It’s overwhelming, stressful, and I want a cigarette all the damned time. I just keep telling myself that I’m an ex-smoker. I’m an ex-smoker. I’m an ex-smoker. I’m an ex-smoker who never sleeps, obsesses about her wedding, and cries about four times a week over silly, inconsequential things—but I’ve still earned the right to say that. And next July, when I walk down that aisle and I smell like my perfume instead of cigarettes, when I can bust a move on our dance floor without getting winded, and my groom can kiss me whenever he likes without worrying I’ll taste like an ashtray—well, I’ll know that it was worth it.

Photo by APW Sponsor Gabriel Harber Photography

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  • Emily

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Both on your engagement, and on your gorgeous quit!

    What a great post. I have belonged to a quit-smoking support site for almost 3 years now, which really helped me learn how to treasure the smoke-free life I was forging. It is such a big transition in your life, but just like getting married, you only have to do it once. The process may be long and seem never-ending at times, but you are well on your way to sweet, sweet freedom! Yesterday I celebrated my 33-month anniversary, and believe me when I say, it is worth it!

    Every tear you shed in irrational emotional turmoil now will be worth it. I like to say every truly awful day you slog through early on will be repaid by 2 awesomely amazing days, 4 great days, and 7 just alright ones. Your body and brain are still recovering and recalibrating, as smoking affected every part of you. Be kind to yourself, celebrate your progress at every turn.

    I feel like a religious zealot when it comes to quitting smoking, I’m just so happy I finally made it! I want others to realize they are worth it too, and they can do it, and it’s so amazing once you get through all the shit of the quit, and you’re finally free.

    • Tan

      ‘the shit of the quit’ – ha ha ha – I love this! It’s totally true!

    • Crayfish Kate

      This comment is beautiful.

    • APracticalLaura

      “Be kind to yourself.”

      AMEN.

  • http://alithompsonart.com Also Ali

    I just quit cold turkey a 17 days ago. It’s been hell. Really really awful, and worse than any of the times I’ve sort of, halfheartedly tried to quit before.

    Thanks for sharing this. And as far as being emotional and on edge and everything else that you’re going thur– me too. Me too so much.

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    At first I wanted to type “Good luck!” as an encouraging comment, but really you’ve written it down in such a way that I know I don’t need to say that at all. Rather, “Congratulations!” and “Have an amazing wedding!” and “Have an wonderful life!” are in order =:^D

  • Jen

    I only have three words to say: YOU GO GIRL!!!! :)

  • Tan

    You can do it! Last week I celebrated one year since I quit. I found for the first 3 weeks the electric ciggies really helped just take the edge off and after 3 weeks I didn’t have to use them at all. It was a great security blanket when things were stressful. But its also really important to make sure they don’t become a replacement addiction! Also – I had a close friend who had been through the same thing a few months before and he effectively acted as my sponsor! He was great. Finally – the first three months really really sucked for me – I was so ill – I felt like shit all the time. It was basically my body purging itself. And I did wonder that if quitting felt this bad – so much worse than smoking itself – then why bother quitting! But I hit the 3 month mark and things dramatically improved. I’ve had a couple of tricky moments in the last year but nothing I couldn’t overcome, and if I can do it, anyone can! (I’m completely lacking in self-discipline). Good luck!

  • carrie

    YOU ROCK, LADY!! Quitting smoking was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was so, so worth it. It’s been 14 months and I still miss the shit out of smoking, but I’m so much better without them.

    You are not alone. The day David and I quit, I went to work with no cigarettes. Maybe I had a lighter, I don’t know (because as a smoker, you make damn sure you have your stuff with you). And it got to be time for my 10 am smoke, so I called him. And I SOBBED. I mean, just ugly cried. At work. I had no idea how to be an adult and not smoke. I smoked for 17 years. The patch made me so sick, and then the withdrawal made me depressed. It was awful. But then I realized I stopped taking most of my asthma medication and I wasn’t having “bad breathing days” as I used to call them. And I thought about smoking less and less. Some days, I didn’t think about it at all.

    I also realized that cigarettes were little procrastination devices. You get so much more shit done, you get more time with people, with yourself, with your fiance. Stay strong, lady. You deserve it.

  • Keeks

    Congratulations!!

    I quit four days after my partner proposed and you’re right, planning a wedding adds an interesting dimension to the whole process! I do think the key is having a buddy that understands and is willing to put up with the ups and downs. My fiancé has been putting aside two dollars for every day I make it without lighting up, and I forfeit four if I smoke. We’ve got the funds marked for a girls weekend before our wedding next year. It takes the pressure of being perfect off. It makes each day a decision, with a specific, limited “penalty”. Somehow, by tying it all in with the wedding, it keeps me focused on my own reasons for quitting – not wanting to bring the addiction into this next stage of the life we’ve been building. Despite it all, the hardest part has been reminding myself that the changes to my body are okay. The weight I’ve put on is alright in light of the health I’ve gained. The wedding stuff makes this harder though. So often, it feels like me and my body are under a microscope.

    Thank you for sharing this post, and creating an opportunity for these stories. It REALLY helps to know that others are juggling with these same issues. Congratulations on all the exciting things in your life right now! And congrats to all of you out there taking control back from an addiction, whatever it may be!

  • Miriam

    Congratulations! I’m sure you’ve got tons of stuff to think about, but you took an amazing first step by contacting the Quitline! This may be a shameless plug, but they really do offer tons of resources and support, so you should feel free to continue utilizing it at all your various stages of quitting.

    Yay public health interventions!

  • Laura C

    My question from this post is unrelated to smoking: what wedding stuff are you working on now? Because as a non-smoker, I read this and freaked out about what are we not doing right now that we should be doing that’s going to bite us in the ass closer to the wedding? If it’s mostly decor crafting, I can heave a sigh of relief because we’re just basically not having much decor. But right now we’re focusing on the guest list, thinking about who’ll do what in the wedding beyond the wedding party, starting to think about save the dates, doing some dress shopping…but nothing all-consuming. Are we missing something?

    • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha

      As someone who started wedding crafts/projects about as early as this poster, I can tell you exactly what she’s working on: anything she can. I approached wedding planning from the perspective that procrastination was the enemy. Anything I could get done early, got done early. We hand-made our invitations so instead of spending one weekend of hell completing them in a stressful rush, I spread them out over several months and it was enjoyable and fun the whole time.

      • ART

        same here! we figure there will be unexpected needs that come up closer to the wedding, so we don’t want to still be dealing with anything we already know we need to do when those arise!

        but if you aren’t, say, cutting and dyeing all your own cloth napkins and table runners (dyed half my ombre napkins this weekend – yeah!) and you know you’re on track for the “deep planning” (i.e., what people are doing and when to make the week and day of go smoothly), like the commenter below said, you’re probably in good shape!

    • M.

      Also remember that no two weddings are the same and there’s no timeline you HAVE to stick to or way things MUST be done. It’s yours and unique to you. If you two feel you’re doing what you can/want to right now, then I’m sure you’re just fine. Have fun! :)

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        Definitely this. We had fun pulling out the timelines other sites told us we needed to stick to and laughing at all the things we should’ve finished before we even got engaged (we had a 5 month engagement).

    • Wendy G.

      OP here.To answer your question, Laura, it is mostly decor and booking the appropriate talent early. Fiancee and I both work retail, and if you’ve ever worked retail (especially in grocery or specialty retail) then you know that it gets crazy from Mid-November to mid-January. Even without working overtime, we’re mentally and physically exhausted at the end of every work day. I do not want to add Wedding Stress to it, so we’re trying to get whatever we can do early done by Thanksgiving, and the more time-sensitive stuff (like ordering invites, favors, etc) after mid-January. Not every couple has to take a two month break from wedding stuff during a 13-month engagement, so don’t feel bad if you’re still just gathering ideas.

  • KM

    Just wanted to say, Congratulations for quitting smoking! That is huge and you should be very proud.

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha

    Amazing. You can do it!! Sounds like your fiance is pretty rock-start-awesome, so power through!

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

    I quit smoking in 2008 and got married in 2011. I still think it’s a victory that I did not have a cigarette the entire week leading up to my wedding, especially since my chain smoking aunt was in town for a lot of it. Congratulations! It gets easier (except when sometimes it’s really not, but those times go away in a few hours).

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  • Kater

    Congratulations, this is amazing and something to be so proud of!!

    This sounds like such a stressful time for you; are you able to squeeze in some self-care activities too? About a month ago, I felt myself spiraling with wedding stress, and I was constantly putting off going to the gym (my happy place & mood stabilizer) bc I was getting sucked into a black hole of wedding planning. I have finally been able to say: ok, my mental health is a priority, I will be better equipped to plan this wedding if my stress level is lower, and making going to the gym my priority. It is still stressful & busy but I feel a lot less crazy.

    Long story short: don’t forget to support yourself in th

    • Kater

      … that’s what happens when I try to comment from my phone …

      Long story short: don’t forget to support yourself during the crazy ride of wedding planning / quitting smoking / general life stress (often easier said than done). Figure out something that’s a stress reliever for you and make it a priority, schedule it – your wedding will be a success whether or not all of the details are perfect and it will all go more smoothly if you are feeling less crazy.

      Wish I could have taken my own advice a couple months ago :)

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      I was right there with you. My fiancé/husband was really supportive of me signing up to run a marathon a month after we got married because he knew training for it while we were engaged would be very good for me mentally. And it was fun to run it with “He likes my runner’s legs” on the front of my shirt and “Just Married” on the back.

  • http://www.ronmphoto.com Ron

    Good for you!!

  • H

    OOO. I’m soooooooooo excited for you. Research says that new habits can be formed around transition times in your life! (On the negative side, this is why marketers so aggressively target people going to college, people getting married, people having a baby). That means, not only will you quit smoking, you’ll likely stay that way for a very long time!!!!! Go you! It’s totally worth it!!!!!

  • ART

    the writer and the commenters on this post are so inspirational…i’m not a smoker and i thought i was getting stressed during wedding planning – can’t even imagine going through the quitting process at the same time! you guys really rock.

  • GA

    Oh my god. Congratulations, and good work. If I thought I had to plan this behemoth without chocolate, I’d probably never have started…

  • Alice

    Way to go with the quitting!

    I quit smoking after 5 years and multiple quit attempts, and it’s been 4 years, 3 months, and 10 days now. Changing habits was huge for my success. It helped that I moved the day I had my last cigarette, so I never smoked in the places I lived after that. It helped that I went away for the summer and was around all new people during the worst of the physical addition recovery. It helped that my now-husband never knew me as a smoker.

    I still have cravings sometimes, but they have decreased over the years, and I have learned to understand that they don’t mean I’m some sort of not-actually-quit-failure, but rather a person whose body remembers a strong physical addiction but whose mind resists it, and then I can be proud.

    You’re not insane, you believe in your own (awesome) abilities! YOU GOT THIS.

  • Kim

    I loved this! Seriously, I never comment on blog posts or news articles or anything, but I feel the need to say Good For You.

    I also want to share a value tidbit I heard once that has helped me to kick a bad habit: Reframing my thinking from “I want it but I can’t have it” into “I can have it, but I don’t want it.” Though it sounds like you’ve reached that reframing already. Perfume smells like heaven and determined women.

  • Splendid

    YES! Congratulations on quitting the evil (and for all the commenters on here as well). I’m a former smoker, been off the nicocrack since 2008. You can do it! Anytime you feel the urge just load up this page and remind yourself of how awesome you are and how meaningful it will be on your big day (and every day) that you wake up smoke-free, smelling good, and feeling great! Also, I highly recommend cutting out alcohol (at least for a while), relying on pistachios, sunflower seeds, baby carrots, and friends! Good luck!

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    Whoo hoo!! Yea!! Go you!! Woot woot woot!

  • Sarah

    I can relate to the meltdowns. When my Mom quit smoking after about 50 years of smoking every day, she realized that she had been smoking herself calm and had been using smoking to cope with every day emotions and problems. When she quit smoking it all came out. My poor Dad bore the brunt of her highs and lows. The good news is, she did adjust, and now, even though I lived with her smoking for 19 years, I can’t believe she ever did. You can do this. And if you screw up, you can quit again too.

  • Stu

    Well said!

    Even having grown up with a family of smokers, it never appeared to me that they were cognizant of how they came across to others.

    Wendy, I wish for you all the necessary willpower to overcome this addiction.

    Stu

  • Bethany

    Congratulations! You can do it! My mom quit a few years ago after smoking for 30 years and I’m so proud of her.

  • Kat

    I’m not even close to being married — I use this site as an anecdote to all the uber religious, uber conservative wedding-related stuff posted by friends on Facebook! — but I also recently quit smoking after 7 years of doing so. Health issues aside, I was also really motivated by the eventual wedding (and kids?) that I know are coming sooner rather than later. I’m 25, and I suppose I kept using my age as an excuse as to why it was OK for me to keep smoking…but the more my boyfriend kept talking about getting married, I realized that this all will happen sooner than later because I’m *gasp* an adult now! I then understood it was my fear of taking that “next step” in “real, serious adulthood” that was preventing me from quitting. It will be one month in a few days.

    My boyfriend still smokes, though, which has definitely made this a test of willpower. Hooo boy!