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I Hated My Wedding


This wedding wasn't about me.

I Hated My Wedding | A Practical Wedding

by Anonymous

I have a dark secret. The deepest, darkest secret of any other girl I know. So deep, and so dark that even in the anonymity of the internet, I feel myself looking over my shoulder before I tell you. I hated my wedding. I look back on that day and I get a feeling in my stomach that I feel equal parts guilty and ashamed of.

I was never one of those tulle-on-the-brain girls, and I never spent my time daydreaming of my super sweet wedding. I did, however, spend long hours daydreaming of my perfect marriage. Even at eight, I knew I wanted someone who would express his feelings for me in song form (spoiler alert—I found him!!!). But as for the day itself, I had no expectations whatsoever. I expected there would be a white dress, a cake, and my friends and family there. That’s about it.

Skip ahead about twenty years, and finally that song-lovin’, good-time guy has come into my life and we decide to get married. I say decide, because it was less of a proposal than a rational decision we agreed upon. That’s our style. We tell his family and get a hearty, “That’s nice.” We tell my family, and all hell breaks loose.

You see, my mother has worked in the wedding industry for the past fifteen years or so. All her friends work in the wedding industry. And she has watched all of their daughters march up that well-lit, gardenia-scented aisle and has been chomping at the bit for her mother of the bride moment. A little backstory: my parents (still together after thirty-two years—impressive) got married in my grandparent’s backyard. My mother and family made all the food and stored it in every single neighbor on the block’s refrigerator. The party lasted days and the local liquor store sold out of many a beverage. My father ended up skinny-dipping. That was their wedding. So of course, my mother (like all mothers) wanted me to have better than she had. She wanted all the fancy things that she had been putting together for brides she’d worked for. Let’s just say that these are “dropping $15K on flowers alone” type of events. There was NO way that we could swing that, or that it was what we (the bride and groom, remember us?) wanted.

Here is what we wanted: an intimate, handcrafted ceremony at a beautiful, scenic, outdoor location. Preferably in Colorado, where we met each other and live. We wanted our closest friends and family there (eighty people) and to pick our music and have a good time.

We had everything planned when we announced our engagement. We would write the ceremony and have a friend officiate. His brother would brew the beer and wine, we would get a local restaurant to cater, and we would meticulously pick out the playlist. I would find a secondhand dress and he would wear a suit he wore to his brother’s wedding. It would be simple, sweet, and within our means.

And I hate to say it, but this is where it got ugly. There were many nights on the phone crying where I felt like my mother was saying anything and everything she could think of to manipulate me into having the wedding her way. She wanted it in New Jersey so that she could plan every last detail. She told me my family said if it were in Colorado none of my aunts, uncles, or cousins would come (I later found that out to be completely untrue). She said that since it wasn’t in the Catholic church, we would not be really married (this one stung the most). And the one that MOH and I bring up over glasses of wine, that “This wedding wasn’t about me.”

I know that in her mind, this was all coming from a place of love where she wanted me to be a beautiful princess and have the absolute perfect day of days. I’m not completely ungrateful or oblivious to her feelings, but I beg to differ that “this wedding wasn’t about me.”

I had to make a choice. I could have the wedding the way I wanted it, but with that came constant berating, complaining, and guilt trips. Or I could wave my bridal white flag and just do it the way she wanted it. I have to say this was the hardest choice of my entire wedding process. After careful deliberation with my (then) fiancé, I chose to wave my white flag. I relinquished almost all control over my wedding to keep the peace.

People would ask me how wedding planning was going and I’d have to say, “Honestly, I don’t know.” Decor was kept a secret from me, I wasn’t allowed to know the songs for father/daughter dance, and I had never seen my venue (turns out, I had worked a wedding there in college with my mother of course). My parents flew out and bought me a “proper” wedding dress that cost more than all my furniture combined. It still breaks my heart all the money that was, in my eyes, “wasted” on that day. Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful dress, but I would have been just as happy and just as married in a $40 white dress from Nordstrom Rack. Probably more so because I wouldn’t have thousands of dollars of guilt on my (very toned) shoulders. Our DJ did not play a single song from the (pages long and meticulously crafted) playlists that we had given him, short of our first dance song. Our wedding was beautifully decorated and very well thought out, but it did not feel like my wedding. I felt like I had stepped into one of the many, many New Jersey weddings I had worked at when I was younger. Except I was dressed better this time.

To be fair, there were some things about that day I look back on and am completely fulfilled by. Our first look was wonderful (our photographer was the only vendor we had control over), we did end up writing our own ceremony and having a friend officiate (much to my parents’ chagrin), our wedding cake was delicious, our first dance choreography went flawlessly, my husband made me the most beautiful ketubah that I adore, and my absolute hands-down favorite part of the wedding: the hora.

I’m trying really hard to focus on those moments and pretend like the rest didn’t happen. No one is even allowed to mention our wedding DJ in my presence. But I feel like the hardest part is trying to say with a smile, “The wedding? Oh yes, it was wonderful. My mother did such a beautiful job.” Because what I want to say is, “She hijacked it. She stole my wedding day from me and I can never have that back” (and probably stab a potato with a fork while I say it). I hope I made the right decision. I hope that conceding to the wedding of her dreams will have saved me from a lot more unnecessary stress. We’re planning on doing a vow renewal in the next few years so we can have the experience of what we wanted all along. But in the meantime, every time my mind wanders to memories of the day, I hear a certain song, or banner ads still pop up for wedding sites (Google—for real, stop it) I get this sad, hollow feeling. I guess I’m still mourning the wedding that could have been.

I realize that the wedding day was just that—a day. And what I’ve really been dreaming about was the marriage, which is absolutely exceeding my expectations. And that’s what it’s all about, right? But just know if there’s anyone else out there like me who dreads or looks back on their wedding with regret, you’re not the only one. It stinks for the time being, but I know these feelings will pass. A best friend and some wine helps a lot too.

So there you have it, my not-so-rosy wedding experience. My biggest secret. I’m glad I told someone.

Photo by Lisa Wiseman (APW Sponsor)

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  • AB

    Thank you for writing this. My question is, do you regret giving up control over planning? Or are you happy that you kept the peace and let your mother have what she wanted? We’re a few months into planning, and my future MIL (who has, for all the years I’ve known her, been a lovely, funny, thoughtful woman) has suddenly gone a bit wedding-crazy, and is trying to take control over certain aspects of planning, and in some cases flat-out overriding plans we’ve already made. I let her have her way when she added people to the guest list without asking us, because I wanted to keep the peace. Now she wants to make changes to the music, the dessert, the food, and I’m realizing that I need to draw the line. Not because I especially care what music plays as we walk down the aisle, but because I want to make it clear that this wedding actually IS “about us”, and not, as she told me, about showing us off to her friends.

    • Granola

      I’m very pro the “pick your battles” school of wedding planning. One thing that might help you sort through, is to consider the philosophy of how you’re each approaching a wedding. For many women of my/our parents’ generation, it was totally normal for the bride’s family to plan the whole wedding and the couple would make a few choices and sort of show up. And then you got to do the same for your kids.

      In the meantime, the culture changed and now it’s more common for the couple to be at the helm. Which for me caused problems because my mom had been looking forward to something, and, I realized, so had I. Those different approaches caused some clashing, which may be what you’re experiencing with your MIL. For her, it really is about something else, and that’s not bad necessarily, but the approach just needs to be agreed upon by all.

      • http://writemeg.com/ Meg

        That is an excellent point about a cultural shift. When my parents married, my maternal grandparents planned everything — ev.er.y.thing. — and though they had a lovely day, I’m sure my mom might have enjoyed a little more say in the process. When it came time for my sister and I to marry, there were some differing expectations about who does what and how and when.

        Though it worked out in our case (and we really planned everything ourselves), I could definitely see where AB’s MIL might have differing expectations that need to just be talked about and worked through. I’m all about compromise and am also in the “pick your battles” wedding planning school, like Granola, but I think making changes to your music, dessert, etc., is stepping way over a line.

      • AB

        You are so right about the generational differences. My grandmother planned my mother’s wedding, and my MIL’s mother planned her wedding. It makes sense that she would look forward to planning (or at least being involved in) ours. And I WANT our parents involved. I want their input, and I am grateful for their support. I just also need to figure out how to say, very clearly, that she needs to accept our decisions when we make them. It’s OK for her to disagree, it’s not OK for her to “surprise” us with a cake we already told her we didn’t want.

      • TeaforTwo

        This is such a good point. And frankly, I wouldn’t mind a bit if that was how my wedding had gone.

        Showing up at my wedding shower, a party that other people did all of the planning and logistics for, where I was only expected to smile and greet guests and have fun? BEST DAY EVER. Especially in contrast to being in the throes of wedding planning. But note, also: even though it was a great day and I loved every second of it, it was emotionally exhausting to be a guest of honour, and to receive all of that love and support. I didn’t lift a finger, and I spent the afternoon basking in the whole thing, and then I was wiped. Being a bride is a big job, and it’s a different one from being a wedding planner. Doing both at once is why people go bananas.

        That said, I’m pretty traditionalist. Part of why having other people plan your wedding worked for generations before ours was that weddings looked the same within a given culture: show up at your house of worship, go through a prescribed service, eat and drink (probably nothing too lavish), go off and enjoy your wedding night. I am happy to have the same service that my parents and grandparents did; for first-generation atheists or interfaith couples, I get why that’s not in the cards. I get, too, that the sheer delight and novelty of starting a brand new life together doesn’t really apply to couples who have been living together (and I’m in that category), so maybe the focus of the celebration starts to shift.

        Either way, if I could convince someone else to throw me a wedding, I’d do it in a New York minute. F the spreadsheets.

        • moonlitfractal

          “Being a bride is a big job, and it’s a different one from being a wedding planner. Doing both at once is why people go bananas,” really resonates with me. I think it’s something that most of us struggle with.

      • SO

        That’s an excellent observation – one that most likely stems from who paid the bills! I think “who pays, says” as much as possible. This helped us immensely during our planning year.

    • TeaforTwo

      Oh, UGH. I have had a few people tell me that our wedding should be “about us” and I always bristle at the idea, because I seriously hope that it’s about more than just us. It’s about family, and marriage, and tradition, and much more than our individual aesthetic taste. But to say it’s not about you because it’s about showing off? OH, UGH.

      Veering off into none-of-my-business territory, I will suggest that it may be wise to pick your battles. There have been a few points in my relationship where I needed to prove a point and draw a boundary with my in-laws, but I’ve found it’s best for those to be the boundaries that I really needed to be there. As in, “I really want X, you want Y, and I’m politely but firmly going my own way on this.” But the parts of the wedding that matter to her and not to you might be a good way to make her feel included without compromising on the parts you care about.

      • http://heartsvsbrains.tumblr.com/ HeartvsBrain

        I’m very pro- “Draw your boundaries with a double bladed sword and cut anyone who tries to cross them” but maybe that’s just me. :)

        • M.

          Not just you!

        • TeaforTwo

          Hahaha, I feel the same way, I just think this works best when you’ve thought carefully about what your boundaries are. There was one incident in wedding planning where we had asked my inlaws for some privacy and they said “don’t be silly, you have plenty of privacy”…that was a moment for a double-bladed sword. But if, as AB said above, it’s something you don’t particularly care about? I don’t think that boundaries for the sake of boundaries (and then swords for the sake of swords) are very productive.

          • http://heartsvsbrains.tumblr.com/ HeartvsBrain

            If you could just tell me how not to care about every single thing that has ever happened or will happen, I think I’d be all set. ;) *lesigh*

      • AB

        Oh, agreed on the “about us” mindset. I guess what I meant to say is that I want our wedding to be *from* us. We want to honor our relationship, as well as our family, friends, and traditions. I do want it to reflect our style, but that’s secondary. I do not want “showing off” to factor into it at all.

      • jhs

        I think it definitely depends on how you define your own wedding meaning. For you, it’s about family and tradition and this bigger picture. For them, it’s about them. For other people it falls somewhere in between, or means something else. But I do think that, no matter how much else it’s about, the couple is at the center, so if they’re gonna be miserable then something is wrong.

    • april

      I agree that you should draw some lines, but just try to make sure they’re not arbitrary. Pick some things that you and your partner really care about (music, maybe? photographer? ceremony?) and politely explain to your future MIL that it’s really important to the two of you to handle those decisions by yourselves. Then pick some things that you really don’t care so much about and offer to give her free rein (or at least a fair amount of leeway) to do those things on her own. In my experience (very pushy aunt/guardian who likes to second guess all my decisions … ), letting someone like that really ‘own’ one part of wedding planning (that you don’t care so much about) is a great way to let them feel included and and to lighten your planning burden as well. My aunt and her friends had total free rein over flowers and table decor. They did an incredible job – and I say that as someone who doesn’t usually care so much about those types of things!

      • Laura C

        This. I’ve gone from feeling like because we don’t care about flowers that much, we shouldn’t spend a bunch of money on them but that meant we should probably DIY them, to feeling like screw it, my FMIL has professional relationships with florists, she cares about flowers, she can go to town (within certain limits, like that we will not be having those tall tall arrangements). I changed my mind from feeling like going cheap with it was the way to show my lack of care to feeling like saving my own time and stress was the way to do it, and it gives her a thing to have some control over.

  • Granola

    Whoa. I just want to give you an internet hug and say that you should cut yourself some slack. It sounds like you did the best you could at the time, and I hope you can quit beating yourself up and rethinking that decision in your head.

    As someone who experienced a few parts of what you did (on a minor scale), I just want to say that I know a little bit of what you’re feeling. You’re not alone. I wish I had a better suggestion for coming to terms with your mother about it, but I’m a bit adrift there myself. I just try to remember that compromises are OK, and your decisions were good, and even if you wouldn’t make them again, that doesn’t mean they were the wrong thing.

  • Kari

    Anonymous, I’m really sympathetic to your plight here, and that must have been awful being forced into such an unpleasant situation.

    But, and I say this respectfully, your choice of words in opening this post is nothing but hyperbole. If hating your wedding really is the deepest, darkest secret of your life and those around you, then you’re doing OK. There are much bigger, uglier secrets out there. I get that it feels huge to you, and it is, but it was a really bad choice of words.

    • M.

      Hyperbole, though, isn’t meant to be taken literally – it’s for effect, and I found this to be effective (Ooh, what’s it going to be?), especially given the expectations surrounding weddings as The Best Day Of Your Life, to the point that hating your wedding potentially could feel like real baggage to carry as a secret, along with the disappointment…even if there are uglier secrets in the world. Either way, we’d do well to be kind to each other here.

      • Alison O

        Yeah I read it as ironic, highlighting the absurdity of the hyperbole that is–sometimes subtly, sometimes not so much–expressed in the WIC that your wedding is your one big chance to have an amazing time.

      • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Row

        I don’t necessarily see her comment as unkind. Criticism is not unkind per se. Any time a writer puts herself out there, even anonymously, she needs to be ready for some criticism. It is part of the deal. Mean attacks are a different thing, but I thought Kari’s comment was respectful.

    • Kayjayoh

      I agree with both Kari and with M. on this one. When I read those opening lines, I also though, “Oh really? Lucky you.” and pondered how triggering that might be for someone who is hiding serious, ugly trauma in their past.

      And yet, I can also see how the hyperbole works as a writing technique. There’s a reason they teach about hyperbole in creative writing class, and that is because it can be effective. Anonymous expects the reader to know that her secret isn’t really the deepest, darkest secret. She knows that and we know that, and it sets a tone for “Ok, this isn’t truly the biggest problem one could have but it’s eating at me and I can’t talk about it,” in the context of this, a wedding website.

      So I guess YMMV.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      This line of thinking really bothers me. After going through some very serious shit myself, I feel like it’s unfair to ask other people to measure their pain against anyone else’s. Pain is relative. And just because what I’ve been through is perhaps, objectively, worse than what someone else is experiencing, I don’t get to tell them that their experience is doesn’t measure up enough to count or matter. (I can’t cite it, but I think somewhere there is a study that shows that because of the fight or flight imperative, our bodies literally process different situations with the same level of elevated stress, regardless of what the situation is.) And while I do believe the author was using hyperbole for effect here, even if they weren’t, I don’t think it would matter if we’re approaching the piece with empathy.

      • kari

        I did approach the piece with empathy; as I said I really feel for her. I just really disagree with the characterization in the opening sentences.

        • Erin

          Like a lot of commenters who’ve replied, I thought she did a really good
          job
          highlighting the conflict between The Feels You Are Supposed to Feel and
          The Feels She Actually Feels. The whole *deep, dark secret* thing was a device, and she used it to great effect. There are a lot of grand expectations surrounding weddings (well-trodden ground at APW), and it seems like she was crushed under them more than most.

          I’m troubled by your comment for one reason, though. People can make this argument about
          anything–for example, I work in classical music, and I sometimes hear
          people make the argument that, if there are still starving
          people/diseases without cures/refugees/whatever tragedy you choose in
          the world, then they
          can’t justify donating money “just” to support the arts. Yeah, I suppose when
          you compare the two things, the arts come off looking frivolous–but
          it’s a false dichotomy. The arts still have value and are worth
          supporting, and her feelings about her wedding (however frivolous they
          may seem in the grand scheme), have value and are worth expressing.

    • Erica

      When I first read this post, I was also thrown (and put off) by the “deepest, darkest secret” framing. But the more I think about it, I think the fact that the author’s mother felt that it was okay to constantly berate, complain, and guilt trip her is not a trivial problem. The secret underlying the “secret” that she didn’t like her wedding is that her family dynamics are such that the author didn’t feel she had a choice but to abandon things that were actually very important to her in the planning — a decision she feels so bad about after the fact that she is already planning a re-do(!).

      Anonymous, my heart goes out to you. I hope for your sake that this is the only occasion on which your mother has behaved like this, rather than a recurring pattern.

      • KEA1

        THIS. I’ve been mulling over this piece, and the comments, since it came out and you just nailed what was bothering me about the criticism of the author’s semantics. We aren’t editors, so it’s really not for us to debate the validity of chosen literary devices in a post. But we can be a supportive community who actually looks beyond the surface of what a writer on this site says. And we can definitely be a supportive community who acknowledges that if someone is going through *whatever* kind of tough time, there are kinder things to do than to try to tell that person where their experience falls along the continuum of “who has it worst.”

  • http://writemeg.com/ Meg

    I’d like to offer hugs, too. I can relate to the feeling of “what might have been,” even when I did love my wedding day. It’s just . . . an occasion laced with so much emotion, expectation, joy and difficulty. Our families are wonderful, but families can be complicated. Honestly, if I had been in your position, I probably would have done the exact same thing — because I’m a peacemaker. I hate conflict, and I definitely hate parental discord (a longstanding personal battle!). I think planning a vow renewal is a wonderful way to capture the experience you longed for and, perhaps, re-frame your wedding day.

  • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

    Thank you for sharing this today. Weddings tend to bring up a lot of emotional things- and although I haven’t dealt with anything on par with your experience, the sacrifices and compromises I’ve made still eat at my joy. Our wedding isn’t until March, but when people ask me about “my day” I really just want to cry sometimes. I agree with Granola- keep positive about your strength and good decisions. I hope that we can both find some peace.

    I know everyone processes things differently. I’ve found that journaling has helped me get through some of the internal conflict. Hopefully writing and submitting this post has helped you. I’ll be sending you good thoughts!

  • KT

    i feel for you so much. hugs. i too have never dreamed of my wedding, although i have always imagined marriage and considered that my aim rather than a princess day. yet now i am struggling against other peoples’ well meant input into our day. i hope you have a wonderful vow renewal and can put those bad memories far away even though they’ll always be there.

  • GA

    UGH. That’s HORRIBLE. Families can be wonderful, but they can also be unbelievably ridiculous. When it comes to weddings, it’s all amplified. I hope you get the wedding you wanted when you renew your vows. :(

    I planned my wedding with an iron fist. I (and my fiance) made the decisions, and even my own mother was kept largely in the dark. I did this to protect the wedding from undue external pressure. Even so, I felt the entire time that we were planning a wedding to suit the expectations of my fiance’s family. Weddings are a huge deal to them. They use them as social capital, it’s absolutely disgusting. Therefore they “expected” things out of our wedding. I conceded to my fiance on having things they expected despite hating the contrived nature of many wedding traditions, but I still insisted on doing it all in our way.

    Wedding day came, of course, and I will say that it was a wonderful day. I’m thankful for that, because wedding planning was hell for me and if it hadn’t all been worth it I’d be miserable. However, we discovered later that his family had doubts about our (my) ability to plan a wedding. My secrecy about the details apparently told them all that I had no idea how to plan. They bombarded my FIL for months before the wedding for details that they had no need of knowing, and came in on the wedding day with the intent to scrutinize. (Apparently they bestowed upon us their approval of the proceedings. I’m honored.) If I’d known on the morning of the wedding that half the guests were only there to see if I’d f*ck up, I wouldn’t have gone. Childish, maybe, but they’re the reason we did half the stuff we did, and I couldn’t stand the idea that they would stand around the whole time judging to see whether or not we lived up to their expectations.

  • http://heartsvsbrains.tumblr.com/ HeartvsBrain

    Admittedly at first, I was feeling rather judgmental of your choice to just opt out of your wedding to “save the peace” because its the kind of choice I would never intentionally make myself. Except I totally did, when it came to planning my own wedding. Trying to make decisions without strife and fighting, is all a bride cares about sometimes. In addition, I also did what you chose not to do – I fought (everyone it seemed at times) to try and have the wedding I wanted…and I still failed. I hated my wedding too. It’s hard to look back on that day and feel anything good.

    The thing I’ve tried to take away from the whole thing, is that maybe I’m not a wedding kind of girl. Maybe I would have always been unhappy at my wedding so there is nothing that could have been done to make it better. It might not be true, but it helps me feel better about the whole thing. Of course, I also don’t keep it a secret. I openly talk about how much I disliked my wedding (when asked of course, I’m certainly not bringing it up myself), if for no other reason than to make it ok to say so. It should be ok to say, without self pity, that an important day in my life ended up being pretty crappy. I want other chicks who didn’t like their weddings, to feel free to say so. I think it helps lessen the shame. I hated my wedding and I’m not ashamed to say it.

    • M.

      “I want other chicks who didn’t like their weddings, to feel free to say
      so. I think it helps lessen the shame. I hated my wedding and I’m not
      ashamed to say it.” Thank you!

    • Alison O

      My reaction to some of the other comments (and in the post) about feeling like you have to grin and bear it and not share your disappointment with other people was sort of similar – I think you should be able to talk about it. Or, at the very least, if someone asks about it, you can say truthfully the parts that were good (even if the only good part was coming away married), and not lie that you liked it overall. I’m not suggesting people are bad for lying; I think what’s problematic about it is it denies the experience you had and your feelings about it, which is just inflicting more of the same on yourself.

    • Del678

      Very few things in our wedding turned out at all, but my husband and I got married (YAY!) When I get the countless people asking “was it perfect?! how as the wedding?!” I say, “No, not really”. I was SO HARD at first to admit that the wedding didn’t turn out at all as expected, but it gets easier every time. The only person I won’t ever tell how disappointed we were with everything is my mum who paid for it. I’d hate for her to feel that money was wasted.

  • Ella

    Weddings are complicated, and they can be even more complicated when they’re your own. I spent the last hour of my wedding reception puking in the bathroom because, apparently, my dress was too tight and was squeezing all the contents of my stomach. Hooray! I danced for one song with all my friends, when I had been envisioning boogey-ing the night away for months. I’m still really disappointed by it and it’s hard for me to listen to my playlist without getting sad. But, I’m learning to compartmentalize my feelings about it because the rest of the day was wonderful.

    It sounds like you’re working through making your peace with it…just know you’re not alone.

    • Alison O

      The compartmentalization thing was what I thought about when I read “I’m trying really hard to focus on those moments and pretend like the rest didn’t happen.”

      I think pretending like the rest didn’t happen could be unsatisfying because you know it did happen, and it sort of invalidates the grief felt about it. Hopefully it’s possible to get to a place where you can accept the whole thing for what it was, recognizing the good and the bad and the fact that they can coexist in the same moment. And if you want to dwell, dwell on the good parts but not the bad.

  • MW

    I’ve been lurking on APW for over a year and I’ve finally gotten the nerve to comment.

    This. This exactly. Instead of my Mom though it was my Dad. It was all about him and what a good party he could throw. Whether or not he could outdo his brothers and the weddings they threw for my cousins.

    My (now) husband and I are introverts. And Wiccan. And I’m most certainly NOT the princess type. We wanted something along the lines that you wanted. Except closer to 25-ish people and we’d all go out to a nice restaurant afterwards. A celebration, but on our terms. We wanted the marriage to be the Big Deal. Not the wedding.

    Fast forward to the wedding day: I vomited 5 times. Once, right before my father walked me down the aisle. I froze in the middle of the aisle because there were over 80 people staring at me. My Dad dragged me down the aisle because I completed froze. Some of the people staring at me I didn’t know or hadn’t seen since I was 5 as they were my Dad’s colleagues and teammates. However, We did get our handfasting. We had it before the “main ceremony”. I tried to be present for it but there were vendors setting up everywhere and all I felt was impending doom.

    I feel for you so very much. Thankfully my marriage is also exceeding my expectations. I look back at pictures from our wedding and yes, it was beautiful and the reception was a booming party. My Dad is absolutely ecstatic in all the photos. My favorite photos are the ones of my husband and I where we’re looking at each other and we can’t stop smiling. Those are the photos and memories I cherish.

    • Meg Keene

      Oh my GOD. Reading this I flashed to birth trauma (for whatever reason), and how they have therapy to help people work through birth trauma when they had particularly awful birth experiences. Interestingly, those experiences often involve feeling really out of control. Say, doctors taking over and forcing a c-section without really getting consent. It sounds like you’ve worked through it, but part of me wants to give you a hug and talk you into a few birth trauma therapy sessions. Just, poor you. So much sympathy.

      • MW

        So sorry for the flashback and thank you for the hug!

        I’m still in the process of working through that as well as all sorts of baggage that the wedding brought up (who knew?!) I’ve thought about writing about it for APW but I worry it would be too depressing to write about until I work through it some more.

        APW, and my now-husband, have been my lifesavers throughout the wedding planning, wedding and after-wedding and I am extremely grateful for that! Thank you!

        • Meg Keene

          Sorry, I mis typed. I flashed back to the IDEA of birth trauma. I had a really good (if not ideal) birth. But thank you for this comment, it’s so kind.

  • Ann

    Thank you for this! Your dream wedding mirrors my dream wedding and I’m currently in the process of having the “a wedding outside the Catholic church isn’t real” conversation in short, polite, snippets with my mother. However, I know the day will come when it reaches a head and is an all out argument and I’m dreading the day. Thanks for sharing your secret. I appreciate it.

    • Jobin

      I’m in the middle of that too and it is so, so hard. Many hugs to you!

  • LizNahg

    this post and the comments make me a little terrified that this is what I will be saying eventually… me and my fiance both are against the idea of having a crazy lavish wedding that’s all about “us”. We’re both brought up in fairly conservative asian families where honoring elders is seen as the #1 virtue in life. We are very early on in the wedding planning process, yet I already feel so much pressure from both extended families I find myself crying most days. I never thought wanting to put our families’ wishes first would include so many ridiculous demands about the wedding – where did the sweet thoughtful simple family members we grew up with go? Everyone has something to say about the wedding date, the venue, the number of guests, who to invite, what to wear, and even when we should consider ourselves husband and wife (we want to get legally registered first to get paperwork out of the way, and only want to consider ourselves married after the wedding, but some are actually insisting I consider myself his wife because of what they think is right/wrong)… it’s all getting so ridiculous and out of hand. I’m starting to want to stick up for myself a little bit, but my fiance still wants us to just take everything in quietly.

    • LizNahg

      just to clarify I don’t mean to say that all “about us” weddings are crazy and lavish, just that we are not looking for that particular kind of “about us” wedding.

    • KH_Tas

      *hugs*

  • CL

    I completely understand your feelings! At one point in the wedding planning process, my mother said, “Well, I didn’t get to have X at my wedding, so we’re having it at yours.” I admire your positivity because, honestly, I struggle with bitterness toward the whole thing. I really respect the fact that you believe your mother deep down wanted you to feel like a princess and get the wedding you deserved. Me, well, there are parts of my wedding that I feel my parents just used to show off to people. Parts of MY wedding were used as a ploy to make people think we were richer than we are, more sophisticated than we are, etc.

    I know this is a hard (almost grieving) process, but you and your husband will get through it.

    • Alison O

      That sounds really hard; the showing off part especially would seriously bother me. That said, I also sort of respect the fact that your mom said flat out that she was doing for you what she couldn’t get for herself. A fair amount of parents do that in various ways and to varying degrees (sports/dance come most to mind in people I’ve known) but they don’t come out and name it for what it is. Not that it made the actual result more pleasant for you. :/

    • malkavian

      Ugh, my mom did this so hard when it came to my dad walking me down the aisle. “Me and your aunt didn’t have this, and your cousins won’t either, will you please just do it for us? You’re the only person on our side of the family with a dad!” Except my relationship with my dad (and my mom for that matter) is extremely strained, so it would have felt artificial, and I hate the tradition anyway. I held my ground on this one and my husband and I walked together.

  • Meredith

    Wow. I wasn’t aware my husband had another sister?! My new MIL said the exact same things to us when we were planning our dream ceremony that we wanted to be officiated by his aunt. “But if it’s not in the Catholic church by a priest you can’t get communion and you can go to hell!!” and “BUT THE WEDDING ISN’T ABOUT YOU!” … wait, what?

    We got married last month and it ended up being lovely and perfect. However, we did use a priest so that we don’t have to worry about the hell thing. ;) I hate that you don’t have the same memories about your wedding day.

  • http://www.impersonated.blogspot.com impersonatorlindsay

    I hated my wedding too. And it struck me today reading this that I hated my wedding because I chose to.

    We had pretty independent choices around our small family wedding, and it was very much how I wanted it, but for some reason I let myself get into a funk that day and didn’t enjoy it. It may have been because of some of the other things around my wedding – my mother-in-law was putting up a fit about us moving in together before we were married, so we accelerated the wedding timeline to have it sooner. It worked sorta-ok because my sister was going into the Peace Corps and we wanted her to be a part of the wedding before she left for two years. Either way, I got into some weird mood and didn’t fully enjoy myself. And man, does it show in some of our wedding pictures. And reading your experiences, I realized that I didn’t have to be moody, and it was me who made me hate my wedding.

    We had a wedding party a few months later with more family and friends, and I actively forced myself to have a good time. And I did.

    Thanks for the post, because it’s really clarified for me the role I played in hating my wedding.

  • moonlitfractal

    I also didn’t like my wedding, but for very different reasons than you did. Everything came out beautiful, and it seemed like everyone there had an amazing time (with me as the only exception). When I look at our albums I mostly feel stress and disappointment. Maybe I should write my own post.

  • emilyg25

    I’m sorry. My coworker has a story just like yours. Even 20 years later, she readily admits that she hated her wedding and it felt completely inauthentic. But like with you, the marriage is wonderful, and they’ve lived the rest of their lives exactly how they want. So yes, you’re not alone.

    The funny thing is, your mom and dad’s wedding sounds AMAZEBALLS.

    • APWFan

      I had control over a lot of my wedding, and a lot of it went well, but even I still experienced several major disappointments that will forever color that day. I can barely look at photos from the rehearsal dinner because my (well-meaning, but disorganized) fiance was an hour late and I was mortified in front of 80 friends and family. My father somehow got overwhelmed and made a toast honoring my (married in) aunt’s 99-year-old mother and barely mentioned or congratulated the bridal couple, and none of the other parents spoke. My photographer, despite being told 800 times to “please try to get a group shot of each table when people are eating dinner” and working with 2 assistant photographers for unlimited hours, somehow managed to not photograph a significant chunk of guests at the wedding, so that they are now permanently left out of our album. What can I do about these things now? Sigh and appreciate the marriage and present, look forward to the future, and appreciate the many things that did go well. (Side note: I was thrilled with my rustic, minimal flowers, serene venue, wholesale gown and rented/borrowed/already-owned, colorful bridesmaid dresses. Thus, I challenge Meg’s motto of “You will not remember how your wedding looked; you will remember how it felt” because I loved how my wedding looked!)

      • APWFan

        Sorry if this response went directly to you; I was trying to share with everyone!

    • APWFan

      Sorry if this response went directly to you. I was trying to share with everyone!

    • J. Driver

      OK…right?! When the author said her mom wanted her to have “better than she had” I was like…HOW CAN YOU TOP THAT

  • jashshea

    Skipping down to say your parents wedding sounds fabulous.As does your described perfect day. *Back to reading*

  • M.

    ((hugs))

  • SO

    I grew up in NJ, specifically the area with the densest collection of wedding venues in the nation. This gifts us with the ability to imagine many different weddings and ways that we would “be different”. The best decision we made was to get married out of that environment, and I’m sorry that you got sucked in. Have a wonderful vow renewal on your 5th/10th anniversary, and don’t look back. Good luck!

  • Laura C

    Wow. Our wedding is probably kind of halfway between what my parents would have wanted (small) and what my future mother in law would have wanted (she’s Indian, plus her American friends’ kids seem to have had some very WIC weddings). My parents have basically said fine, we will accept the bigger wedding than really fits our values, but I’ve also pushed back against my FMIL a lot in planning a wedding that’s not the 50 my parents might have been more happy with or the 400 FMIL probably wanted, but 250. I read this and I think, if my mom had been the one suggesting, say, a $15,000 venue, would I have been as able to push back? Or if my parents had just been much more assertive about wanting it small, and I’d had to say no and deal with them being unhappy when what I want is closer to what they want to begin with. How much emotionally harder would this all have been? I really shudder to think.

  • Chris

    My friend, you aren’t alone. My wedding was hard and not at all fun for completely different reasons, but the core feeling of “how was the wedding?” “Great! Really! I’m so glad everyone came!” When I wish I could say “I was totally overwhelmed and it was more than I can handle and it’s really nobodies fault, but it was too much for me then.” Is the same. People who love me come to the wedding, and when they’re asking if I enjoyed myself, they’re wanting to feel like the gift of their time and moral support was well received. How can I tell them that I love them, I love everyone in my family, just not all at once?

    Now, two years later, it’s easier. The questions fade, the memories and anxiety haze out, and real life with my partner takes precedence, in both my mind and theirs.

  • Ann

    I’m sorry you had that experience. My mom hated her wedding. By necessity (my parents got married during their third year of law school) and by tradition, my maternal grandmother planned the entire wedding. My paternal grandmother rewrote the ceremony that my parents had carefully written the night before and it included so much on what a woman’s role was “supposed” to be (not a lawyer!). There were 300 people there, and my mother is very introverted. She had so, so many bad memories of the experience, and it makes me sad to see how much it pains her to this day, 35 years later. When it came time for my wedding, she vehemently wanted me and my husband to have the wedding we wanted, but she’d go through phases of being disappointed in not getting to choose stuff that she would have wanted. And I did tell her that if she wanted the $1,000 fancy cake, she could pay for it. (She didn’t, as soon as she found out that cake was included by my venue). I chose my dress, but her seamstress altered it in ways suggested by my mom (and my mom bought a truly stunning dress that cost more than mine). In the end, she loved my small, 30 person wedding, and I found ways to let her choose things she wanted without choosing the feeling of the day. My wedding was about me and my husband. And all of our parents actually loved that–after all, they love us! My mom wouldn’t have chosen to watch me run around barefoot in a wedding dress flying a kite after the ceremony, but that’s now one of her favorite pictures.

    Since no parents had family or friends present at the tiny wedding, they weren’t worried about what other people would think, which helped. They were able to be present and be happy without the burden of playing host.

    • Alison O

      Yeah my mom had a less severe but similar version of your mom’s experience. Her mom basically planned everything and had the wedding be in their home town in California, in their church, while my parents were living in Philadelphia at the time, and just about all of their college friends were living on the east coast. Most were too poor to fly out to CA for the wedding, so many of their best friends were not able to come. My mom’s not a super assertive person, and also pretty go-with-the-flow, so I don’t think she put up too much of a fight.

      What really irked my mom was that decades later my grandma said, “Why did you have the wedding here? Why not on the east coast where you and your friends lived?” like she had nothing to do with it, genuinely curious. I don’t know, maybe it was a harbinger of the Alzheimer’s to come.

  • Whitney Kippes

    Ugh. My sympathies. My whole wedding planning experience to date has felt like everyone telling me what I want is ‘wrong’. I’m seriously considering postponing indefinitely, in hopes that they can all move their attentions to my sister’s wedding so I can quietly plan my dream wedding without anyone noticing.

  • D

    Many hugs to you. I know this feeling of shame, of knowing you should really really love the wedding you had but just can’t. I honestly wanted to elope, but felt compelled by various factions to “do it right” and have a proper wedding, so the whole planning process felt against the grain of my personality, and it was so so stressful that I couldn’t enjoy most of it. I at least managed to keep the wedding small and somewhat intimate, but none of it really felt like me… plus, family drama nearly destroyed the reception. That part was what really hurt the most, having your “best day” nearly undermined by the people who should have been propping you up.

    But there were good moments, as you mentioned, and I am very glad that I’m married. And very glad that the wedding part is all over.

  • Alyssa M

    I find myself petrified about hating my wedding… Because everyone, not just my mother, but everyone seems to equate weddings with big parties… And FH and I just aren’t good at parties. I feel like with all these expectations, we’re bound to let everyone down… And be miserable as the result…

  • Anon for this

    Internet hugs. I understand so well. For me it was my mother-in-law, and instead of keeping the peace, it was a combination of cultural factors and the need to preserve my sanity as I tried to write a thesis and deal with a resurgent panic disorder at the same time that I was planning a wedding. It ended up being a lovely wedding, and very much fitting with my husband’s family’s culture. But I felt very much like a dress-up doll who smiled and nodded her way through most of it. I did love our ceremony (which we crafted) and our time together getting ready. But much of the rest of it felt so not-me. I know that tug of disappointment when I attend another friend’s wedding which is so much more like what I would have liked, or when I see lovely, smaller, weddings on the internet. Go ahead with the vow renewal. We had a smaller, much more “us” reception back in our home city after the wedding for friends who couldn’t make it, and the fond memories from that have helped quite a bit with the conflicted feelings about the wedding itself. I wish you all the best.

  • Alexandra

    I wouldn’t say I hated my wedding, but I will definitely say it wasn’t the easiest of my life. I had full control over the planning even though I didn’t pay for my wedding myself, but my wedding philosophy dictated that I not make decisions that appealed directly to my personal preferences and idiosyncrasies. Instead, most of my decisions were designed to force me to step outside my comfort zone, and that made large portions of my wedding extremely uncomfortable for me.

    What would have made me happiest was a wedding that resembled my rehearsal dinner: about 40 people, all of whom I knew really, really well, and a party catered by a friend of ours in another friend’s gorgeous backyard. It cost us $800. THAT was an awesome party.

    We had around 200 wedding guests. The ceremony was at my church, and the reception was at a country club that had lovely views and decor and (most importantly) didn’t charge a venue fee. All we had to pay for was the food and booze, It was cheap and seated lots of people. We had contra dancing and hired a band and a caller, we had the wedding on a Sunday afternoon, and we finished at around 8:00. I had time to spend about 45 seconds with each guest. I know, because we stood at the door to the buffet line and hugged every last person on their way to get dinner. And that was the extent of my conversations with almost everyone.

    I am extremely introverted, and not getting to actually talk to almost anybody on my wedding day was really hard for me. It was all too fast, too intense, too many people, too loud, too many emotions. A horribly overstimulating day, not made easier by the fact I hadn’t gotten any sleep for two nights before.

    This is counterintuitive, but despite how hard it was for me, I’m really glad we did it this way. Our community is very important to us, and we could afford to invite everyone we knew–work friends, old, slightly forgotten friends, church friends who would have never expected to be invited–we just wanted to include everyone, give everyone a good party and a chance to be a part of the first day of our marriage.

    Cheers to having the ability to throw more parties in the future, of the kind I would enjoy more! There will be game nights and intimate dinners with friends galore in my life. But I only got one chance to have a wedding, and I wanted it to be for everyone I knew, not just me, even though I knew that meant I would be a little freaked out all day.

    • macrain

      I am also an introvert and am worried that I will feel too overwhelmed by the day to actually enjoy it. I actually got into a fight with my fiance about whether we would want to after party post-wedding, since I’m pretty sure I’ll be spent by that point and he is pretty sure he will want more time to party and celebrate.
      What I’m trying to remind myself is that I have permission to feel however the hell I’m going to feel that day, and it’s possible I’ll be too freaked out at the time but may be able to appreciate and it enjoy it later.

      • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

        As an introvert, one of the things I found most useful was our mid-reception tea break.

        My husband and I slipped out during the main course, and had a cup of tea in the gardens. Which gave us a few really pretty photos, but also gave me brain a well-needed break from talking to people.

      • en

        I’m also an introvert and I had a full on panic attack when people started glass clinking to get us to kiss. I knew I was going to have a panic attack if people did that, but I some how convinced myself that it would be fine. My dad had to go around to all the tables and tell people to cut it out unless they wanted to see the bride cry. It’s still really hard for me to think back on my wedding because there were so many really uncomfortable feelings for me. So I guess, take your fears seriously and trouble shoot where you can anticipate hard parts?

      • Alexandra

        Yeah, try to give yourself permission to feel however you feel, and not stress out just because most of it isn’t transcendent in the moment. I just got the pictures back over the weekend, and they are making me really, really happy. I look ecstatic in all of them, and I’m actually getting to see everybody and see what everybody else was doing that day. I’m getting a sense that it was super fun to be a guest at my wedding, despite how uncomfortable a lot of it was for me!

        Also…when I got into the car after it was over and we drove off, about two minutes after we left the country club parking lot I burst into tears and sobbed intermittently for the next two days. It wasn’t that I was sad to be married–no way! I was soooo happy–but I was overwhelmed by the experience of the wedding and how much I would have preferred to be a guest than a bride. And how sad I was to say goodbye to everybody who traveled from out of town and whom I never had much time with because of all the wedding stuff. I don’t know if an after party might have helped that. I think it might have. Our wedding was on a Sunday, though, so I don’t think anybody would have wanted to stay out that late.

  • Katie M

    I started reading this and I could see myself going down this road so easily. And I’ve decided to embrace it, instead.

    My fiance and I went into engagement with an idea of what we pictured as our wedding.

    And then we made a list of priorities:
    Hosted Bar
    good music
    good food
    open toasts at the rehearsal dinner
    toasts for best man & maid of honor at wedding
    great photographer
    convenient to lodging
    happiness, joy, a bit of silliness, and a trend of the traditional sprinkled throughout
    lots of dancing

    And that’s what I keep going back to when details get in the way and I fight with my mother, and eventually give in, to her more traditional view of a wedding versus my somewhat offbeat views. Because they’re just details. I’m still going to look gorgeous, we’re still going to have fabulous dessert, and beverages. It just doesn’t make sense to me to fight over the details when they mean so much to her.

    Because guess what? We are still getting married. We still get to start our marriage in the presence of our friends and family. We get to forge our relationship in their support and celebrate with them. The rest is details.

    Did it take me some time to get over the details I had envisioned? Sure. Do I still think of them? Sure. But I’ve decided to simply love them. We were going to go lower budget and do the flowers ourselves, but my mom doesn’t want me working and stressing out before the wedding, so we’re having a florist. Many of the things are because she wants me to be able to simply focus on forging our marriage without stress and with me present in the moment rather than worrying about this or that detail that I need to arrange, or be in charge of. And that is something that I love about her. She knows me so well that she’ll save me from myself. (My fiance is very happy to have an ally on his side to get me to let go and enjoy myself)

  • Empathizing Geek

    I have four sisters and a baby brother, so while I’m not to weddingness yet, I spent my formative years giving in to what everyone else wanted (as it seemed better than trying to get my way and failing gloriously). I certainly empathize, even if I don’t quite identify, and I’ll have to be careful not to end up reenacting this (although I have no relatives in New Jersey).

    Incidentally, as for the Google wedding site ads, if you go to “google.com/settings/ads” you can edit the “Interests” their system believes you have. It had me pegged very, very wrong once, to the point of offense, which is when I discovered the settings. Clicked the buttons to remove the undesired interest(s), and the ads magically stopped causing unpleasantness.

    • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

      Thank you so much for the link to Google ad settings. One of my relatives recently had a baby, so I did some shopping for them online, and now Google thinks I’m having kids. Which I’d like to do in the next 8 years or so, but am not ready for now- and am not really interested in seeing all of their ads for “parenting” yet!

  • enfp

    I’m kind of terrified that my partner will hate our wedding. We are lucky enough not to be dealing with the the stressful family pressure described in this post (which sounds awful, my sympathy to the author and the commentators who’ve experienced this), but what do you do when you and your partner want different things for the wedding? How do you avoid one of you hating the wedding? We’re agreed on most of the key elements (type of ceremony, casual outdoor vibe, axing traditions that don’t feel right to us) but we fundamentally differ on numbers. I am an extrovert who LOVES big, killer dance parties, and he is introvert who is dreading the crowds and attention. I won’t feel right marrying without inviting my giant extended family (with whom I am close), and he won’t feel comfortable being the centre of attention in such a big gathering. There is no way for us both to have the wedding that would feel authentic and right to us, because they are mutually incompatible in terms of numbers. He’s agreed to have the bigger party because he understands how important it is to me to have our community present, but he isn’t looking forward to it. We try to remind each other that at the end of the day we’ll be married and we’ll both be happy because of that, but it does make me sad that my partner views our wedding as something he has to ‘get through’ in order to be married to me. I don’t know what to do about it short of having a wedding that would feel unauthentic and disappointing to me (which is not an outcome that he wants either).

    • M.

      Some good introvert stuff here: http://apracticalwedding.com/tag/weddings-for-introverts/, and http://apracticalwedding.com/2012/08/surviving-the-wedding-week-as-an-introvert/ Hugs as you navigate this (OBB has some resources too but they’re not loading for me just now)

      • enfp

        It really helps to hear that your partners ended up loving the wedding! Thanks for that. Am feeling more hopeful that my man could end up feeling uplifted by the love and support of our community rather than overwhelmed. Also M, thanks for the resources will definitely check em out. Glad I emerged from lurking to comment.

    • Violet

      enfp, my partner and I actually had a few good conversations about just this. He’s not an introvert per se, so I wasn’t in the same situation as you are. But for him, the wedding ceremony is this sacred, vulnerable thing, and to him he felt nervous performing such a sacred act: in front of an audience. The best analogy for me to understand it was it’s like having spectators during sex! Which, woah, uncomfortable for most people! I understood how he felt, all the while I saw it very differently: while the vows are important, I view it as more of a community ritual, an example of public speaking. Which doesn’t phase me at all. He went along with our “big wedding” (ahem, around 70 people for the reception, slightly fewer at the ceremony) because he knew having family there was important to me. Like you, I felt occasionally guilty and/or sad and/or angry (I know, I know, but they were my feelings, what am I gonna do?) that this was not really the wedding he wanted. And in our case? He LOVED our wedding. I mean, LOVED it. Basically, more than I did, to be honest. He ended up being Psyched to see everyone there, and he was grinning all day. Whereas I was like, “This is what I planned, this is cool.” Haha! So keep having those conversations, keep respecting his feelings, and keep an open mind for how you both end up feeling on the day of.

    • Lauren from NH

      Speaking as someone who is not stoked at the idea of having a huge wedding, I am doing my best to negotiated down our guest list way way in advance. It is not that I am introverted, I think I have excellent social skills, but I am a small circle type of person. My family is small, 5 people (including significant others), I would extend and invitation to a few more if my mom wanted it, but it’s not important to me to have people there I see only every three years. My circle of friends is small too. I value relationships that are personal and go both ways, people you would go out of your way to spend time with, and have in-depth conversations with. People who are just around, or just aren’t around, but are blood, aren’t as important to me. And my partner has a huge family that feels like it is 80% the second type of people. If we invite as many of his family members to our wedding as he would like, it will feel to me like 50% of our guests are strangers and I would be very very uncomfortable being surrounded by so many strangers on such an intimate and transitional day.

      • KH_Tas

        Yep to this. I’m not quite the same, I have a medium-sized family, but my partner feeling obliged to invite a large number of extended family members who are strangers to me, yes that sounds very familiar. Oh and he’s the one who wants the smaller guest list *lesigh*

    • jashshea

      Just to give you some hope: Me & mine are the same setup, I worried about the same thing, and my partner had a BLAST at our wedding. Now, he’s not exactly introverted, just not a huge dancer/center of attention guy (generally anxious at the thought of people staring). People were so busy paying attention to the epic dance party my friends and I were having that he was able to work the crowd in a way that made him happy as well.

      FWIW, there was never a chance of talking me out of the crazy dance party and he’s a really good sport. Also, bourbon.

      ETA: We invited 286 to give a frame of reference.

    • Guest

      It really helps to hear that your partners ended up loving weddings that were bigger than they’d hoped for! Thanks for that. Feeling more hopeful he might feel loved and uplifted by the presence of community, rather than just overwhelmed. Those resources on weddings and introverts look helpful too. Glad I emerged from lurking to commenting!

    • D

      We had to make a major compromise – I, a severe introvert, wanted to elope; he wanted a huge church wedding with a 300 guest list. We had a church wedding, but the guest list was cut way down to about 100 (and only 75 showed) and the overall vibe of the wedding was very laid back. I was FREAKED the night before, so much so that my fiance had to pull me aside several times to give me pep talks. But remind your husband that once he’s standing up in front of everyone, and he sees you, and you start exchanging vows, it won’t be so bad. In fact, it will all go by much faster than either of you think. Honestly, once the hard part (the ceremony) was over I no longer cared how many people were present, and I actually really enjoyed the reception (except the parts that went very badly, but that’s another story).

    • Tania

      It was a little bit the same with us – I love big parties, he loves small groups of close friends. We talked a lot about expectations and what we did and didn’t want and we compromised. Most importantly, we made time during the wedding day for just the two of us to catch some time together away from the maddening crowd. I valued those moments the most. And, as it turned out, he absolutely loved everything about the wedding.

    • MDBethann

      I’m an extrovert with a big family (loads of cousins on both sides of the family) and my husband is definitely an introvert with a much smaller family who does not like being the center of attention. But we managed to keep the guest list to around 150 people, around 20 of whom were children (not like they’re paying attention anyway), and once we were through the ceremony & first dance, it was just a giant dance party & eyes weren’t on us. I think he was exhausted by the end of it, but he didn’t seem to hate it and I don’t think it turned out to be as bad as he was afraid it would be.

      There were some areas where we didn’t do things because of his introvertedness: no groom/mom spotlight dance (he promised his mom he’d dance with her at another point in the evening & the photographer got a picture, so that was fine with her); no garter toss (bouquet toss was fine & awkward moments were avoided since the flower girl caught the bouquet); no big “groom’s side” – his sister was the Best Woman & his nephew the ring bearer, that was it & he was totally happy with it (as were we all – my SIL rocked her black satin skirt & top); and no receiving line. We also made our venue, food, cake, & photographer choices together because those were the things that were important to him so we had equal say in them so he’d be happy about it.

      Do I think he’s want to repeat the day? Probably not. But he was happy & smiling the whole day, and not the fake “I have to smile because it’s my wedding” smile. We even managed to laugh and crack some inside jokes when we messed up some of the steps during our first dance (no one noticed but us but we laughed about it and ended up with an awesome photo).

      Anyway…. maybe having him view it as a “big family party” since, in a way, that’s what it really is, will help? And maybe reducing the times where *he* is front & center and making be more about the TWO of you front & center. Also, depending on the type of ceremony you have, maybe you can sit down during the readings & music (we did) – then it doesn’t feel like everyone is staring at you so much.

      Good luck! I hope you can find a balance that works for you.

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

    I think perhaps, given what the author has said and others have commented, this problem stems from another WIC complex that implies your wedding is THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE. There’s this overwhelming pressure to come out the other side of your wedding with that feeling and it’s totally unrealistic.

    My wedding was great – there are things about it I wish I could change, but overall it was a wonderful day and (generally) went as planned. But that doesn’t make it the best day ever. There will be so many more days that are great and so many memories to come in my marriage that I’d hate for other events to pale in comparison, simply because I tried to maintain my wedding as this perfect day in my memory.

    • Violet

      Martha, I had a very similar experience as you. I thought overall our wedding day was great. But it doesn’t mean there weren’t a few things I wish were slightly different about it. Something about this ONE DAY mentality can really bring out the perfectionistic streak in some people (ahem, me). I don’t expect the rest of my days to be 100% how I want, so it’s weird to me that I even think about these minor things from my wedding day at all. I try to brush it off, but it’s hard. I think you highlighted for me where this pressure is coming from, and I’m going to take that into account when I have looking-back-wishing-for-some-differences moments. It also helps that you’re pointing out that even if it were a “perfect” day, that wouldn’t serve me in all the days to come. Thanks for your perspective!

    • Heather

      Totally agree with the overblown BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE thing. The two big looming events in my life are finishing my Ph.D. and getting married, and when talking about the two of them recently, I surprised someone (a recently married and recent Ph.D. graduate) by saying I thought that defending my Ph.D. was more important than a wedding. I anticipate (although I’m nervous about some things) the wedding being fun and a really great day, buutttt, finishing graduate school is something I will have accomplished and been working towards much longer than a wedding, and I’m a little surprised that I had to defend that to someone who’s recently gone through both things.

      • Bethany

        YES to this! I’ll be finishing my graduate degree about a year after our wedding. Working toward a MS and an Mrs. at the same time is exhausting, and I fully anticipate being just as emotional as I walk to get my degree as I do when I’m walking down the aisle toward my future husband. I think the things that we see as being profound and special to us are for us to decide, but the pressure to have the wedding day be THE DAY is incredibly strong. I’m glad I’m not alone in this!!

        • EF

          Was at my fiance’s work christmas party this week when his boss, very jovially, asked why were weren’t getting married sooner (it’ll be in a bit more than a year; we’ve been engaged a few months). I explained that my master’s dissertation is due in September, and from Easter to September, I’ll be doing nothing else.
          He was very supportive of this, and even mocked my fiance for not doing more to plan! (It’s not that he’s not planning, it’s just that we’re pretty laid back about the wedding in general).
          So yeah, I get the ‘biggest day everrrr’ thing. Nah, getting my dissertation defended, published, and an awesome job post that is kinda the bigger thing on my radar right now.

      • Winny the Elephant

        It’s absolutely ridiculous. People keep asking how the wedding planning is going and I’m like “I really can’t even think about it right now, I have a thesis to finish”.

        • Rebecca

          I just submitted my doctoral dissertation last Thursday, two weeks before the wedding. People kept asking if I’m excited, if I’m stressed, etc. All I could say was yes I’m incredibly stressed, but the wedding is the LAST thing on the list right now.

          I now have less then a week to go before the wedding (and more than a week has passed since the dissertation became officially out of my hands!) and almost wish I still had something “real” to stress about. Now that I can focus on the wedding, family pressure and all the minutiae and last minute endless decisions are really wearing me down. I guess you can’t win either way. :)

          But on the other hand, now that relatives have started to arrive, I’m beginning to understand that all this leads to a big fun PARTY where I can let go and let loose, and really celebrate with all those people! So there is a light at the end of the tunnel/pot of gold at the end of the rainbow/whatever other metaphor you like.

      • Tuppet

        I graduated 1 month before my wedding. I loved graduating, I’ve never been so happy for something I’ve done myself and any time I think of it I remember how happy I was. Now, my wedding was great and I’m really liking this marriage thing, but it was just a day and an event to organise, and if I think about it too much I end up remembering the few things that went wrong and trying to figure out how I could have avoided them (so I’m prepared for the next time I’m standing outside a church in the rain and the car to pick up my friends doesn’t arrive. I’m sure it’s worth analysing for future improvements). Even if it was a fantastic event in a great venue (victorian era pumping station at a science museum!) which everyone seemed to enjoy, it was just a day where we decided to celebrate something together. Graduation was a day where someone who doesn’t love me said I did good, and said it to my parents and husband, and that made me pretty darn happy.

    • D

      Completely agree. Even though I didn’t initially want a wedding (originally wanted to elope) I let myself get caught up in this BEST DAY mentality and committed myself to things that ultimately didn’t matter to me much, but I convinced myself they mattered and it only added a lot of unnecessary stress to the overall experience. Like long hair. I actually thought I would regret not having long hair for my wedding, because of all these beautiful WIC pictures of brides with their hair up. And I spent a whole year growing out my hair (growing out short hair is a pain, ya’ll) and got it made up for the BIG DAY and now I look at the photos and think “Why do I have long hair in these photos? I hate having long hair; I’m a short hair kinda girl. These photos don’t look like me at all! WHAT WAS I THINKING??” Anyway, yeah.

      • Kat Robertson

        RE: Long Hair – I am currently there. I was taken in by beautiful photographs of Kate Middleton. I can’t wait to cut it back to my pixie after the wedding. I’d do it now, but it’s been so darn much trouble I would hate myself for not sticking it out!

        • Jennie

          I cut 12 inches of hair of 6 months before our wedding, back to the bob I favor. There was definitely some push back, but I’m glad I did it – I justified the trouble of getting it that long by donating it.

    • Ana

      To me, the wedding planning process was really fun and important, maybe even more so than the wedding day itself. Sure, the ceremony was meaningful and the food was delicious, but writing the ceremony and picking the food was just as meaningful/delicious. I don’t feel pressure to remember my wedding as a “perfect day” but I do think I’ll remember the process of being engaged/getting married as a really fun time in my life.

    • Katie

      I went in to my wedding day with a healthy dose of cynicism and feeling very “THIS WILL NOT BE THE BEST DAY OF OUR LIFE!”

      And I was completely broadsided by the emotional tanker truck that WAS one of the best days of my life. So I hope that people don’t give up on the idea that your wedding day could be pretty fantastic because they perceive that joy as being manufactured by the WIC (which does do an INCREDIBLE job trying to guilt you into “having fun, or else!”). The ‘best day of your life’ kind of joy can happen organically and can come from within you and your guests and that is simply magical.

      That said, I am pretty excited to spend the rest of my life one-upping all the “best days” that came before, including my wedding day.

      • Erin

        “I am pretty excited to spend the rest of my life one-upping all the “best days” that came before, including my wedding day”

        This!!!

    • Kate

      Thank you for this. <3

  • nikki kovach

    So, just sort of curious because I’ve been going through my own planning ifs and buts… does the feeling pass? No matter what the plan is (large, small, elope, etc), if you deviate too much from the dream, do you ever feel better about it? I’m asking because right now I’m still deciding if my dream is feasibly, logistically and financially, or if we’ll just need to elope and deal with the consequences later.

  • pamelajane

    All the hugs belong to you.

    I love the idea of renewal of vows that is much more your style.

  • TeaforTwo

    The more I read the comments on this, the more grateful I am for our short engagement. We got engaged at the end of June, and will be married on the weekend. The wedding has taken up a lot of intensive energy over the last few months, but the decisions have been made like this:

    “We found a venue that has availability on a Saturday in December! It’s booked!” “We found a caterer that we could afford – they’re booked!” “We found two restaurants that were available on the Friday for a rehearsal dinner. We booked the less expensive one!” and so on. We just haven’t had the time to do a lot of daydreaming or researching and weighing options. Which means that we haven’t sought any input. Which means that we haven’t received (too much) unwanted input.

    We’ve sought input on the guest list, and asked our parents to be involved in the ceremony in different ways, but for the most part we have just gone ahead and signed contracts, then reported back. And while I would rather someone else were making all of the decisions, if I have to make them, it’s sure been easiest to make them without 9 people wanting to vote.

  • APWFan

    I had control over a lot of my wedding, and a lot of it went well, but even I still experienced several major disappointments that will forever color that day. I can barely look at photos from the rehearsal dinner because my (well-meaning, but disorganized) fiance was an hour late and I was mortified in front of 80 friends and family. My father somehow got overwhelmed and made a toast honoring my (married in) aunt’s 99-year-old mother and barely mentioned or congratulated the bridal couple, and none of the other parents spoke. My photographer, despite being told 800 times to “please try to get a group shot of each table when people are eating dinner” and working with 2 assistant photographers for unlimited hours, somehow managed to not photograph a significant chunk of guests at the wedding, so that they are now permanently left out of our album. What can I do about these things now? Sigh and appreciate the marriage and present, look forward to the future, and appreciate the many things that did go well. (Side note: I was thrilled with my rustic, minimal flowers, serene venue, wholesale gown and rented/borrowed/already-owned, colorful bridesmaid dresses. Thus, I challenge Meg’s motto of “You will not remember how your wedding looked; you will remember how it felt” because I loved how my wedding looked!)

  • Jane12

    I felt like I argued with my in-laws over every detail of my wedding – they were certain everything we wanted to do was “wrong” or “crazy.” They even took it upon themselves to just do things we specifically asked them not to or didn’t discuss (like homemade floral arrangements they brought into the building against our direct warnings which then gave a close friend of ours a totally expected/warned against allergic reaction. And there was SO much drama/guilting.) In the end, my own family and close friends and husband helped to make a lot of the day “ours”, but I felt so awful about having argued and pulled teeth just to get there that I still have a lot of resentment built up months later to people with whom I’d gotten along just fine before the engagement. I just couldn’t enjoy any of it. I think the level of control and the amount of manipulation they tried to exert over my husband and me has made me fundamentally distrustful and changed the way I feel about them – maybe permanently.

    So what I’m saying is you’re not alone – I didn’t love my wedding either. And I sort of wish I’d just let his family do what they wanted, because then maybe I wouldn’t feel resentment towards people my husband really loves and needs in his life.

    • D

      I feel what you’re saying. One of the reasons my wedding was not-so-great was how it changed the way I looked at my inlaws. I saw a side of them I didn’t see before, or if I did see it I never fully acknowledged it. Now I feel like I should tread more carefully around them, in an emotional sense at least. But I also think it’s good to learn these things so early in the marriage..?

  • Tina M

    I’m so sorry. It’s incredibly difficult to stand up to your mother — I know. Mine is the reason I’m having a wedding at all. Actually, THANKS TO posts like yours (so your crappy experience is good for something, for what it’s worth) I’m able to stand up to my mom and do my own thing before it’s too late (the wedding’s in August). Example: yesterday my mom told me that the day I’ve picked for our wedding – the anniversary of our first kiss, which will be our anniversary FOREVER – was an astrological disaster and I should definitely change it. I paused for a full minute, during which I may or may not have had some matricidal thoughts, and then said, “I don’t believe in that stuff.” She said more stuff, and I said, “Yes, well, thank you for your concern. I don’t believe in that stuff and I’m going to keep it the way it is.” Is this issue laid to rest? Oh, no. I will hear far more about the moon being void of course, but you better believe I’m getting married on August 29 at whatever time I damn well want. We’re having a wedding only because mom said *and I quote* “To be excluded from your wedding would be a deep and lasting source of pain for me.” Fine, we’ll have the wedding. But we’re doing it my way.

    It really sucks that you regret your wedding — but thank you for reminding me that your experience could be mine, and for giving me the courage to not be bullied!

    • Stephanie B.

      My husband proposed on the anniversary of our first kiss (our kissiversary, we call it), and we would have gotten married on that date the following year, but we didn’t want to wait a year! (Plus, a February wedding in Ohio could very well be blizzard time, and we didn’t want to risk that, either.)

  • Anne Schwartz

    I had to take a deep breath when I read this because I just feel for you. The expectations you had not being met is just heartbreaking. I hope that one day in Colorado you sit in the spot where you were going to get married and drink some wine. Not for anyone else. Just for you. (Maybe wear a white dress from a thrift shop.)

    I hope you can create a memory that feels like you. Maybe to put on top of the one you have now.

  • ann_veal

    AMEN, sister.

    While I actually loved my wedding, there were aspects of it where I threw up my hands and just said:

    -fuck it, let’s go with the Chinese restaurant in the strip mall with the free parking in the back instead of the quaint steak house with a picturesque garden in the back
    -whatevs. No donation to WFF with a picture of Hulk Hogan saying, ‘Let’s ALL save the pandas’ like I wanted. Let’s get those 3-packs of ferrerro rocher chocolates cause Chinese people love those things
    -oh wait, you want us to have our First Dance to be of a middle-aged Asian man karaoke-singing to some Chinese love song neither of us heard of? Sure!
    -best of all: we can invite ALL 40 of your parents’ closest friends and acquaintances, despite the fact that my fiance [now husband] and I invited 3 of our friends to OUR OWN WEDDING

    Actually, I have no idea how I got over the last one. But I did, and I realized that all of our best friends were there, my family, and most importantly, my new husband. The food turned out to be really really good, one of my cousin’s adorable kids kept shoving those chocolates in her mouth and just melted my heart. And all of those guests? They all brought a ton of cash-ola with them cause they were all middle-aged well-to-do’s and our bank account thanks them.

    The karaoke serenade to our ‘first dance’, though… that one I still cringe about.

  • supernintendochalmrs

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been loving these honest, anonymous pieces APW has been running lately. In addition to being incredibly heartfelt and well-written, I appreciate that they’re anonymous. As a writer I really respect the authors for choosing to protect their families instead of gaining the publicity/clips. I’m not saying that that’s the right choice for every writer, but I know it’s a difficult one.

    • HannahESmith

      I completely agree. I think the anonymous format allows the writers to be really honest. Also, it allows writers to talk about subjects that are taboo.

  • Payingforthewedding

    My heart really goes out to you reading this — it’s comforting to know that you have the marriage that you want even if the wedding didn’t work out that way (because, you’re right, that’s what will really matter in the years to come).

    Something that is hinted at but not made explicit in this post is the question of who pays for things — it sounds like you intended to pay for the Colorado wedding yourself and budgeted accordingly, but your parents ended up paying for the bigger, glitzy, not really what you wanted NJ wedding.

    A few months ago, I would have been very jealous of you because those were your circumstances. I am an attorney, working a job that I do not really like very much at a corporate law firm, with a brilliant fiance who makes very little money doing a job that he loves very much. My parents were generally pretty well-off (in a middle class sort of way) while I was growing up, until a few years ago, when my father was fired from his job as a result of alcoholism and my parents divorced. Suddenly, at about the time I finished law school and was hit with a TREMENDOUS pile of student debt, my parents’ financial situation (particularly my mom’s) became very precarious, and I did the dutiful thing by taking the corporate job. And I have stuck it out for five years, paying off every red cent of my law school loans, paying for my mom’s divorce attorney, and helping out in other ways that I could financially. I am very lucky in this economy — I have a job, and a well-paying one at that, and a prestigious degree that will help me get another job if I need it. Everyone is healthy and well-fed and has debt that is, for now, under control. And I am marrying a wonderful man who still agrees to rub my feet even when it’s been three months since my last pedicure.

    But I will tell you, when I first started wedding planning, I did resent the fact that I had to pay for everything. And I know what a brat that makes me sound like. But I had law school friends whose weddings were these huge, 50k and 60k events, and I knew that their parents were footing the bill. For once, I wanted my parents or fiance or SOMEONE to step in and help me have a special day (although I never wanted the 50k version — I mean, come on) just so I did not have to shoulder the burden of paying for everything myself.

    Recently, though, I’ve had conversations with friends who are also in the wedding planning process, who have much larger budgets than mine, and whose parents are paying. And it makes me thank my lucky stars that my fiance and I are doing it on our own. I love getting input from both of our families, and I want to use the day to acknowledge and honor the role that our wonderful parents have played in our lives. But at the end of the day, we call the shots. His is the most important, and in some cases the only, other opinion that I must consider when making decisions. And I think that’s liberating. Does my grandmother have an issue with the fact that my gay best friend is an usher? Maybe, but she’ll get over it, because he’s important to me. Does my crazy cousin who I have not seen in 15 years and who actually got into a fist fight at the last family wedding get an invite? Nope, because the fiance and I say so. This makes the experience less stressful for us, and ultimately, our families. My mom (with whom I am very close) was the only person that I took wedding dress shopping, and I think we both enjoyed the experience all the more because I was the only one worried about paying for the dress (and we limited ourselves to affordable stores –hooray, David’s Bridal).

    Has anyone else felt that taking on the whole financial burden of the wedding can, in fact, be liberating?

  • OnionCityResident

    I had a wedding very much like this at 20, the difference being the groom wasn’t right either, but I got bulldozed every time I brought that up too- and now at 30 I’m about to have the right wedding to 700% the right groom. I hope you have the most marvelous vow renewal, or at least a magnificent 5th anniversary party or something, because I know that strange feeling, of not being allowed to be ungrateful for this massive, miserable thing that was done in your name and had nothing to do with you. Making it right feels wonderful, as awkward as having a second wedding can feel sometimes. I wish you all the best and I am glad to share your secret.

  • J. Driver

    This just about broke my heart. I sincerely hope that your vow renewal event will have your own fingerprints all over it, instead of fulfilling the dream of someone else.

  • Laura

    Whoa, gut punch. Hijacking. I am currently going through a not-dissimilar situation, but still on the planning side. I have gotten everything from “This is really *our* party” to “We’re the investors – you need to convince us that your ideas are worth investing in.” Not willing to relinquish what should be a meaningful, personal experience altogether, I’ve held my ground on a handful of important issues (location, officiant, …groom), but the fight has left me completely exhausted by wedding planning. Like, tapped out. Like, I.Just.Can’t.Care.Anymore. Which is a shitty as hell way to feel about your own damn wedding. I don’t know yet if the fight will be worth it, but I really hope so.

  • anon

    I really sympathize. things between my Mom and me were tense during wedding planning. My Mom thinks she is right about everything, even matters of taste that are by definition just opinions and not facts. I was planning the wedding from out of state and it got to the point where I was trying to really space out our communications to save my sanity. I knew that the minute she had my ear I would be bombarded by her opinions, concerns, and advice – of which she was way too full!

  • Valerie

    I would really like more discussion about how to have a wedding as an introvert. We are a wonderfully mismatched introvert/extrovert couple, and we are planning it smallish, with moments alone, but I would love thoughts from folks who found it worked well for them.

  • clairekfromtheuk

    Big ups to the vow renewal/second wedding peeps. I just (like 2 weeks ago) did number 2 and it.was.awesome.

    No pressure, no expectations (beyond how different will it be from the first one!)

  • Anon

    Wow, this is going to make me cry. I am in that boat right now. My parents have completely taken over my wedding. We got engaged in June and my parents literally took it over the day we got engaged. My fiance and I were already planning on making concessions, like having it in a Catholic church in the state we grew up, but it wasn’t good enough for them. They wanted to control everything. I fought hard all summer with lots of anger and crying. Then I started a new, highly demanding job in September and just… gave up.

    I am getting married in May and when people ask me about it I just kind of shrug. It makes me sad and self conscious that I can’t really muster any enthusiasm for my wedding. Everything I have to do is a chore. They embarrassed me at family Thanksgiving when my uncle asked me about my wedding and I shrugged and then my mom loudly announced “Well it’s our party, not hers,” like I am not an adult with any agency (I’m nearly 30).

    The worst part is, any time I challenge them on anything they accuse me of being bratty and ungrateful. And they complain about all the money they are spending, money I never asked them to spend in the first place!

    My ship has sailed in terms of this wedding but I am trying to find a way to let them know how disrespectful and hurtful they have been without coming across as the bratty teenager they seem to think I still am. Is there even a way to do that?

  • pumpkin

    Thanks so much for writing this!! This is exactly what I’m going through, and I needed some extra umph to get me through the next battle. Every time we talk about the wedding, my mom tells me that whatever I’m thinking about is too casual or isn’t thinking of the guests or otherwise implies that I don’t understand wedding planning, even though I am spending ALL my time researching this. I love her, but she’s making me feel pretty shitty. I’ve already given in on a few big things that i wish i hadn’t. But I hope I’m able to hold on and make enough of the wedding feel personal to my fiance and I.

  • Slutberry

    …And this is why we planned our wedding in 8 weeks. “Oh, yes, I love xyz thing you are suggesting, too bad we just have to keep things simple with our time frame!!”

  • LeannaEl

    Oh my god, I hope you have stopped letting people manipulate you. Your mom was not coming from a place of love, she was coming from a place of selfishness.

  • SadBride_HappyWife

    I hated my wedding – looking at the pictures made me cry. I wanted to buy a lovely Lily Pulitzer knee length lace dress and birdcage veil and go to the court house but instead my mother-in-law insisted on doing the church ceremony with a long reception afterwards. I hated the dress my Grandmother insisted I wear. I was crying the morning of my wedding. Even talking about it makes me upset……glad to know I’m not the only one.

  • yep

    Reading through this, I feel like I’m watching myself now and looking in the future. I feel as if I’m being selfish if I say I’m not getting the “wedding I want.”- but that’s to include my fiance’s opinion on things. Right now, I just feel as if my in-laws are getting married, not us.
    A little back story, I converted over a year ago to a religion that I truly do believe in. I knew dating – and potentially marrying someone – within this religion, could lead to being critiqued by everything and never owning up the measure of what was “expected” of me. I was weary because I knew (the irony) that I would be judged for mistakes/decisions I made and not the person I am.
    SO I met Mr. Perfect, we got engaged and of course decide to tell his parents. They were happy for us, seemed so excited for it. I’ll never forget that the one point they so desperately tried to make to us was that it was “our” wedding and not to let anyone tell us how to plan it or run it. A detail that was in an “addendum” you could say to the proposal after I said yes, was that he would like to change his name to mine, because I have a child from another relationship… and that’s when it all started, but was hid from me to avoid my feelings being hurt.
    They offered to take care of one or two things and I gave specifics that was agreed upon by my fiance and myself. Two months later… nothing. Not even a quote from different contacts. Not even a guest list! I take the helm of things and even found the solutions to the situation that day. I kept hearing things from him about critiques and how they wanted to do one thing or another. An example of this: When receiving the invitation, the first thing said was not thank you, or hooray the invite, it was, “you spelled celebration wrong.” spelled – celebreation. 100 people got the invitation. 100 of my friends who are also fans of being grammatically correct all the time, no really ALLLLLLL the time. Not ONE of them noticed. They all said thank you, they all were happy. No big deal, right?… wrong…
    Month an a half until the wedding. Everything planned, scheduled, ready to be paid for. Then that night happened where my MIL starts balling in the middle of the restaurant with my fiance, saying things I refuse to let him tell me because I will probably be so furious that I would never see her again. (to include saying, “No, don’t adopt your wife’s child, you’ll regret it.” and, “You change your name, you’ll threaten your position in this family!” and my personal fav, “You change your name, don’t bother changing it back!”)
    Here this woman was saying these things about his future wife and step child. Anger built up inside of him and finally he shouted at her. My kind worded, soft spoken, never angry, never riled, sweet talking fiance had enough and actually yelled at his mother.
    What do I do? What COULD I do? Here I was, holding my Prince Charming in my arms who was so upset that his family could just not understand that it was his right to chose, his right to make our family whole. The fact his parents could not respect his decisions and were berating him for wanting to make a decision for the family in total. All I could do as his future wife, was just tell him it was OK and that I support whatever it is he chooses to do.
    I sucked it up and did the only thing I could do, just to make sure they didn’t hurt him anymore – and keep both of them off mine and my child’s back – I relinquished all of everything to this woman. This wasn’t my first event planning, and his parents (regardless of how many times I indicated it) just thought we would miss details and not get everything properly completed.
    Venue, backdrop, food, music… after all four of us sat down for a “chat” The only thing I was left with was Flowers (Deposit was already paid), Photographer (because I said he’s a professional… subject was dropped), and cake… which I don’t even think we’ll use. I’m sure a cupcake at this point will do the trick. Because the invitations did not have their name plastered across the top… yes, the top, of the invitation (because this is proper etiquette to have the Groom’s parents on the top of the invitation apparently) I even said they should do that since we’re changing venues 30 days out and no invites sent because here I was STILL waiting on the address list.
    I simply asked to keep the colors, the bridesmaids keep their dresses and if not, they need reimbursed and the new dress purchased for them, and They stay away from my dress. I just feel like I’m holding my breath, waiting for them to tell me that something is wrong with the dress my mother is currently hand making for me.
    I’m sure it will be pretty. I’m sure that I’ll be happy to be seated next to my husband. The point that day is that I want to marry their son. However he hates the fact that me relinquishing pretty much all artistic creativity from here on out (Minus that dress) is so that they leave us all alone. I asked they plan the rehearsal dinner, apparently that wasn’t sufficient enough.
    So, when I read, “I hated my wedding,” I get it, really. And any advice you have, would be greatly appreciated because so far I’m Hating my wedding, and it’s not even here.

  • Kate

    I found this through Google and some of these comments are really comforting knowing there’s other people out there who despised their wedding day, but they’re right, its the marriage that counts, not one day. :)
    I got married almost a month ago, so it’s had time to sink in and today I just broke down entirely. I hated it. I hated all of it. It wasn’t that anything in particular went wrong, although several things did, but that it wasn’t ‘us’. All the plans kind of fell together with no specific direction, and it just felt like someone else’s day. It wasn’t special, nor did it even feel like a wedding. I keep looking for little silver linings. Like how the restaurant we chose was lovely, and I’d happily go there again, so at least I ended up discovering somewhere good to eat! I guess it’s the little things that keep you going through situations like this, LOL!
    Even the honeymoon was vile. With the exception of the first few days, I wouldn’t go on that trip again if you paid me.
    I’m just heartbroken. It isn’t like a birthday party, where you can say ‘oh well, we’ll do something different next year’. Once it’s done, it’s done!
    My mum knows how upset I am, and she’s offering to throw a lovely outdoor party in the summer as a “Wedding Reception: Part 2″, with all our friends and family who couldn’t come to the ‘real’ wedding, along with everything else I wish I’d included, which I am so grateful for and it sounds amazing, but my husband wasn’t into the idea and got into a foul mood when I suggested it, so I’m assuming he wouldn’t come. He doesn’t really like family events, but a ‘wedding’ party wouldn’t really be the same without him there, so we probably won’t have one.
    I’m coping. Slowly. It hurts like hell, but a few of these comments have really helped.
    Thanks everyone. :) xx

  • Melissa

    Oh my gosh! I found this because I was actually thinking about how much I hated my wedding day lol Everything from my dress, my hair and the decor was chosen by my mother-in-law. And everytime I would speak up I got a “Honey, you don’t know what you really want.” Grrr!! All my husband and I wanted was a tiny ceremony that was outside, with a simple cake, and a really simple tea length dress I had gotten months prior. But thanks to my mother-in-law, I got just the opposite. :( Luckily, like you, my marriage has been everything I could’ve wanted and more. Just glad I’m not the only one who hated my wedding day!

  • anony

    i hated my wedding…i had no say and it was cheap and ugly. the pictures are embarrassing to look at it. i didn’t know how it would turn out until the day of and the decorations, stage were sooooooooooo cheap and there were paper cups and plates. we didn’t enter to any music. this is because my father in law is stingy and took control over everything. at least yours was beautiful.

  • Michellet

    Hello, I am planning a wedding and feel like crying reading this post. I feel the same pressure from my mother who wants me to have typical wedding. If it was up to me, I will go to city hall and get it over with. But as compromise, I am having simple picnic wedding with compostable paper plates, but it is hard to shift this gilt of disappointing my mother, who wants to me to wear “THE wedding dress”and have the lavish reception. I wanna get married but I am tired of planning wedding. Finally, someone writes about struggle in wedding planning and importance on marriage!! Yes, whole point of this is marriage and life together. Thanks for your post:)

  • DreadingTheBigDay

    My fiance and I were discussing this recently, through my sobs and tears, and he said…”You know we’re having the wedding your mom didn’t have, right?” I’ve lost count of the number of times she’s said “this is all about you and it’s whatever you want” and then immediately questioned my decision. The latest was a discussion of flowers. She had sent a picture of what she envisioned, I said it was a bit big and mentioned just having something small in the middle of the table to which she responded, “well, don’t you want it to look pretty?” I am not the girl who planned her wedding as a child, I do not dream in tulle and lace, and I couldn’t possibly care less about some of these ‘super important’ decisions like what color the napkins should be, how my hair should be styled, and what dress my mother wears. When I think of my wedding I think of marrying my fiance. I want to be his wife and I want him to be my husband. I want my friends and family around to share in the moment. And then I want to dance my butt off and laugh and have a great time. I want a party. A celebration. Not a miles long to do list that causes fights with my parents, anxiety attacks, and countless, countless tears. I keep hearing that your wedding is a day of joy, and one of the best days of your life, blah blah. I sure hope I feel that way on the day. Because right now my mantra is “It’s almost over.”

  • Sabrina

    I read this and almost cried. I want to find you, give you a hug, and say thank you, because I feel like our experiences have been so eerily similar. I was starting to wonder if I was the only person to feel this way. I wanted a wedding like you wanted. My fiance and I had it planned. Now we are 3 months away, and between his mom and my mom, my wedding day has become an over the top 300 person event that could probably feed all of Haiti for a day with it’s accumulated expenses. this happened because I too waved my white bridal flag of surrender – I don’t want to fight anymore. I gave up. All I care about is marrying my amazing fiance and starting our life together.

    Thank you so so much. I feel better knowing that others have felt this way too.

    Cheers <3

  • Stuck and Tired

    Here is an honest question- would you change it? If you could go back, would you have chosen the criticism and struggle to be able to do it your way?

    I am in a similar situation, but even stickier. My parents (more particularly my mother) is doing exactly what yours did, hijacking the entire thing and planning it her way with her guests, she has even told me “it is her party.” but beyond that, she is not happy about the marriage at all. She keeps reminding us that she doesn’t like my fiance and wishes she wasn’t doing this, but feels obligated to. We have asked on numerous occassions to please let us do this for ourselves and all we get is a snappy “we are a family, we do this together.” We are at the point where I don’t think I can handle the struggle anymore. We want to do it on our own, but are afraid, just as you were of the criticisms, berating, and guilt trips. Would you do it differently if you could go back?

    Thank you.

    • Sara

      Ouch, I’m sorry about your mom’s comments. I know how mom’s criticisms can be the worst. I wrote this post and it’s still something I think about. If pressed to decide, I wish I would have done it differently. I have the luxury of distance on my side, living almost 2,000 miles from my parents. I wish that so much money wasn’t spent on something I didn’t really care about, and there are just so many little things I feel like I missed out on. Going to my brother in law and sister in law’s wedding a few months later was really hard for me when they had something that was closer to what I wanted.

      All in all though, it doesn’t make too much of a difference. Right now we are expecting and I was so worried about telling my mother about it, thinking that she would give me a huge guilt trip about having the baby so far away. I was armed with “we did the wedding your way, now I don’t want to hear it”, but haven’t had to use it yet. No major guilt trips, just little ones. I think I ended up trading one fight for the other. Which is fine, because the baby is the bigger deal to me.

      The difference between our situations I think is the support of the family. If I did not feel supported in my choice of husband, I would have high-tailed my tush out of there and eloped and not given it a second thought. My fight was more about a party than anything else. Which, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t consider something to burn bridges over.

  • sunny

    I’m sorry and I can completely empathize. My husband and I payed for our entire wedding, and he wanted a big wedding. As a result of limited funds + large guest list, everything became sub-par. All the things I wanted – getting married outside, at sunset, dancing – didn’t happen. To make it worse, my wedding dress was hand made, and came out awful (I didn’t get to try it on until a few days before). So on top of the horrible memories, I look horrible in all the pictures too (hair included). And like you said, it’s a one time event that you never get back. I get the same abhorrent feeling thinking or talking about weddings, especially attending others, and the feeling still hasn’t passed after a year. While I’m sorry your experience was bad, it’s good to know I’m not alone. I hope the vow renewal helps you fill this gap!

  • Ka cy

    This is what I’m starting to go through. I wanted a very small wedding, now it’s upwards of 200. I wanted it at a beautiful, quaint ranch, and that is vetoed too. I wanted to do the decor by hand, and my family members have taken that over. I am to the point where I just don’t care. I don’t care about the wedding, I just want to marry my fiancé. I am dreading the details and planning and really don’t even want to show up. It’s may now and my wedding is in August. I have my dress and my boots should be coming in soon, my horse is no longer sick….. As for everything else; I have very cold yet emotional feelings about the wedding. I feel hollow in planning “my day” for everyone else to enjoy.

  • Q

    My wedding was hijacked. Nearly a year later, I’m about to have our first baby, and I’m looking forward to being a family. There are other moments and memories to be made. I just wish that I could have had one photo of our wedding. There are thousands of them on a disk in a drawer. It doesn’t look like us, and it reminds me of feeling so manipulated. If we had just eloped, I would have had a photo to go with our story.