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Ask Team Practical: Embarassed to be a Bride

I’ve never been the type to “want to get married.” I don’t feel like I have a maternal bone in my body and have never had the desire to have my own children. You can imagine my/everyone’s surprise when I fell pregnant at 18 and decided to keep the baby. So fast forward 18 years. I’m pretty happy in my chosen career, my baby girl has grown into a beautiful, strong, capable, brilliant, clever, funny young woman and graduated high school with flying honours, and I am affianced to a fantastic guy that I’ve been with for 5 years. And want to marry. And schemed to marry, and cried in secret when he didn’t ask me on my birthday last year. (I read Manya’s story about that wanting to get married and laughed and laughed.) And then he asked, and that’s where the problems started.

I just feel so embarrassed and awkward all the time. I feel like I can’t talk about the wedding to anyone without playing its importance down. I have played the importance of my wedding down by keeping it as fuss free and cheap as possible. I felt embarrassed and awkward going into wedding dress shops (thank god for Ebay). I feel embarrassed saying I’m a bride. But at the same time I’m aware that awkwardness and embarrassment is seated in this terrible sense of loneliness. I’m not shy (I’m a singer and feel most comfortable on stage), but I hate the fuss and attention. I don’t feel I deserve it, and it should be directed at someone more worthy. I feel like other people must be thinking that I’m too old for this?

I want to be able to embrace this as other people do. Why can’t I embrace my inner bride? Where is she?? Why don’t I fit in anywhere? I love my partner so much and want this commitment with him. But I’m hating everything and just feel depressed and lonely.

Awkward in Adelaide

Wedding planning is never what you think it will be. Never. So stop adding excess stress by worrying about what you should be feeling. You’re gonna feel how you feel. Haven’t you been reading APW, lady?!? Remember how we’re throwing out all our shoulds and supposed tos? We’ve had brides who’ve had children before they were married, brides who’ve been married before, older brides (I’m not calling you out with a link, but I expect you to show yourselves in the comments, ladies…). Listen to these ladies and learn from them.

Or just listen to Meg from nearly two years ago today.

Ever worry that you don’t feel like a bride?

Here is why: you’re not one.

The bride gig lasts for eight to twelve hours. It may not feel the way you expected, but trust me, you’ll notice the feeling. And if you really pay attention, that one day of being a bride will be enough for a lifetime.

See? And know that however you feel during those eight to twelve hours? That is what a bride feels like. I can’t answer why you feel like you don’t deserve a wedding, but I can tell you that you are the only one who feels that way. Your partner is proud of you, your friends are happy for you and, hell, even strangers are happy for you. As they should be. What makes you a bride is the act of getting married. Cultural norms have made it seem like all brides are some fresh, dewy, young thing, but they are not. They come in all ages, shapes, sizes and personal backgrounds. You know this, I know you do. You wouldn’t begrudge a friend who’s your age the joy of being a giddy bride, so why are you doing it to yourself? How would you feel if your beautiful, strong, capable, brilliant, clever, funny daughter was making herself feel like you are?

I don’t know how to make you feel better about your age. So what if you’re not the average age of a bride in the US; would it help to know you fit in nicely at APW? (Our 30 to 40 year old readers are almost equal to our 18-24 year old readers, by the way.) You’re not too old to be a bride. You don’t want to help perpetuate the stereotype that brides are young and virginal, do you? Hold your head proudly when you say that you’re getting married. Be the example that you wish was set forth for you, so you didn’t feel this way during your planning process.

And perhaps consider some counseling. We here at APW are big fans, both personally and professionally, of seeking out counseling now and then. Not because you’re broken (you’re not), but because having someone experienced to help you sort out the pieces of what you’re going through can be really helpful. It seems like your anxiety might not just be wedding related, and there is lots of help for that (we know, the APW staff is an anxious one). Your partner, your family, and your friends can tell you all day and all night long that there is nothing wrong with being 36, with a daughter, and getting married, but until you truly learn it, it’s not going to stick. And I think a professional might help you work through what’s keeping it from sticking.

Also? You can’t see them, but you have a whole slew of ladies raising their virtual glasses to you and cheering you on. Relax, enjoy the rest of the ride and know that it’s going to be over pretty soon. Thank effing goodness.

******

Spill it, Team Practical. What helped you feel more like a “bride”? Hell, did you even feel like a bride at all??

Photo of Amanda and Devon’s wedding from the APW Flickr stream by Megan Schley Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). We’re not kidding. It brings us joy. What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!

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