Ask Team Practical: I Don’t Have a Community

My fiancé and I are in a weird stage of our lives right now. We moved across the country last year so I could continue my schooling, and haven’t really made any good friends in the area. We’ve outgrown or drifted apart from a lot of our high school and college friends, but haven’t yet made our “adult” friends. And that’s okay—it’s a thing that happens, the situation will improve when we have more time and are settled down somewhere, I know it’s just circumstances, etc. We have each other and we are mostly happy.

However, we are three months out from our wedding, and I feel incredibly lonely. My sister is probably my best friend, and I could really use her support and enthusiasm. Unfortunately she is going through a really difficult period of her life and has no energy for me. Plus, weddings aren’t really her thing. So I can’t even talk to her, and I feel like I am doing this all by myself.

We have no bridal party. There will be no bachelorette parties or bridal showers. We didn’t have an engagement party. I have no friends I feel comfortable dishing about wedding planning with, and none of them have ever asked for details, although a few texted to say they’re excited after receiving their save-the-dates. I’m not close to any of my extended family members. We’ll only have about thirty or forty guests, and although I’m happy with our intimate wedding, the truth is there’s no one else to invite anyway.

I am realizing that we are missing out on all the special little events and traditions that go along with planning a wedding and celebrating our marriage. This is our one and only chance to experience that, and we’ll never get it. I read posts on APW about how a wedding is a community event, and how your friends and family come together to help you pull it off and how special and meaningful that is. That’s not my experience at all. I am doing everything on my own, and I feel like no one even cares.

We are also a same-sex couple, so sometimes the paranoia eats at me and I feel like we are having this experience because it is not a “real” wedding, so it is not as important to people. In some cases that may be true but in other cases I doubt anything would be different if I were marrying a man. But it still hurts me since I already generally feel like my relationship isn’t valued and like I am excluded from all the traditions and narratives surrounding weddings and marriages.

I don’t want this to ruin my wedding day. I don’t want to spend time or energy resenting my friends and family members and feeling alone and hurt. Ideally everyone would come together and I would feel special, loved and supported, but I can’t make that happen. So how do I cope? How do I stop feeling like this whole wedding is a big waste of time and money when no one seems to care and it’s not even legally recognized in the first place?



Dear Anon,

Your letter hit home for me. It’s really, really hard to face the major life changes without feeling supported by people around you, and I wonder if it hasn’t happened to all of us at least once. I felt really lonely when no one visited me in the days following giving birth. But, I’ve also been the jerk who mistakenly skipped a friend’s funeral for her father because I had an exam the next day (seriously, Self?). Sometimes the big stuff happens, and your community drops the ball. Other times, the big stuff happens before you’ve even met the folks who will go on to be your lasting support. It doesn’t always bear a reflection on you so much as it does on your loved ones being fallible people who, you know, make mistakes sometimes.

You’re partially right about one thing. Weddings are community events in a bunch of different ways. They’re a way to celebrate your marriage with the folks around you, a way to publicly make a statement to everyone about your marriage, and sometimes (but as you’ve found, not always) a way to involve your friends and family in the process of becoming married. But notice, in each of those three points, the main thrust is still marriage. Marriage (meaning that whole promise between two people thing) is the meat of it all, and the wedding is the extra stuff (I mean, just think about elopements). Whether or not your community chips in and supports you (or if you even have one) doesn’t invalidate your promise. It’s the marriage that gives meaning to the wedding, not the other way around.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that it hurts for its own reasons, but you don’t need to let that impact your perception of your wedding, or subsequently, your relationship. Your marriage sounds like it’s still right in place. Don’t confuse that lack of support with being off-track. You’re solidifying a commitment to your partner, and hopefully, you will have time to build a community of support around you after.

We can do away with the “WIC” and the accompanying expectations to have elaborate, expensive weddings, but self-imposed pressure to have an “indie enough” wedding, or a “zen enough” wedding, or a “community driven” wedding is bad enough. Often, these expectations are just as unrealistic. In the same way that not everyone is able to have a lavish ballroom wedding, not everyone is able to have over a hundred friends show up the day of the wedding and set up folding chairs. And with that, even folks who have the parties and folding chair help can still sometimes feel unsupported in the way that you do. I’d go so far as to bet all of my son’s Halloween candy (including Reese’s Cups) that everyone has felt a bit of loneliness or disappointment in their friends around big life-change events. It’s hard to know why this friend isn’t involved or that one doesn’t plan to come. Motivations are tricky. And because we can’t know for sure, it’s better for everyone’s sanity not to assume that it’s because they don’t think your wedding is “real” because it’s a same sex wedding, or you’re marrying young, or it’s a short engagement, or it’s an elopement, or whatever else it may be.

While all of that is true, it still may not change the fact that you’d like a few parties (and really, who wouldn’t). It may not help you feel better about the now, but there’s always time for some of that other celebratory stuff later. Just because the wedding is happening now doesn’t mean that this is the last time to celebrate your marriage. Though it may not be a bachelorette party, there’ll probably be time in the future to go have a crazy night out with pals. There might be housewarming parties at which you can open blenders and toasters. My own parents couldn’t afford a “real” wedding, and recently had their “first dance” at their twenty-fifth anniversary party. It makes their story different, but not less meaningful. The point is, there will always be different times and different ways to celebrate your marriage. The beginning is exciting, but it’s not your last chance.

But, you know what? Your wedding may totally surprise you. You have friends texting you about their excitement? That’s awesome! So many of us face one kind of struggle during planning and anticipate that it’ll spill over into the wedding day, but sometimes it just doesn’t. Here’s hoping that your friends who may not know how to support you now, come through for you on the actual day, and more importantly, beyond. Because the wedding itself is sort of inconsequential. It’s the marriage that really matters.


Team Practical, have you felt lonely or unsupported in planning your wedding? How have you coped? What do you do when your wedding feels less-than or invalid?

Photo: Corinne Krogh Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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  • First of all, a big hug for Anon. I think Liz’s answer was really encouraging and well-said. One thing I’d add is that your friends might not know how to bring up wedding planning, especially if they haven’t been through it before. I know wedding planning can be a potentially stressful experience, so I’m always careful about bringing it up with friends. (I hate asking “So how’s the wedding planning?” and getting a frustrated/sad look because of all the stress and logistics; I feel like I’m adding to the stress!) For whatever reason I was hesitant to bring up a lot of wedding stuff with friends, too. But I think it’s okay if you bring it up, even if it’s something like “Can I vent for a moment?” or “Hey, just got my dress, really excited.” It might be an opening for your friends to ask more questions and feel more included in your day, especially if you’re doing without a wedding party. You don’t have to turn into Lady All-Weddings-All-the-Time, but it is okay to bring it up with people, even if they’re not your super best friend in the world.

    • I agree… I think that you can create your community, at least, that’s how I’m summarizing Annie’s advice.

    • Zoe

      I think this is super good advice. I don’t know your friends obviously, but especially with the posts we’ve had about people feeling bad when they’re asked “aren’t you so excited?!” I think it shows that some people just aren’t sure what to say (even though it’s a happy event) and therefore don’t say anything. Maybe you can start with the friends who texted you back about being excited. Next time you need to vent, take Annie’s advice above and just call/text/email/gchat (whatever THEIR preferred mode of communication is.) 98 percent of people will be really flattered that your trust them, even if you’re not their best-best-bestie, you know? I would be so flattered, even if that girl that lived down the hall from me freshman year but we don’t really talk anymore emailed me about her wedding.,… AND it might even cement some new or old relationships.

      Also, as much as you can, be explicit about what you need from people, as much as you can. I know there is some anti-formal-bridesmaids sentiment here at times, but it can also be a great way to give people some somewhat defined roles, so they know HOW to help. Even if you’re not having bridesmaids, maybe ask some of your close friends who are invited if they would be your “brigade” or whatever you want to call it. Even if they don’t live near you, having even ONE person that you feel like you can vent to (who is not your spouse) can be amazing.

      • Edelweiss

        I think the advice of giving friends a role is key. I also don’t have a formal bridal party, because I didn’t like the thought of asking my friends to jump through the hoops and spend the money that usually implies. Also the two ladies I would have asked both suffered close family deaths in the last 6 months.

        I stand by that decision, but because of it, I unintentionally isolated myself. Closer to the wedding I’ll be asking the two ladies to each participate in the ceremony. I think actively stating that I value them will give them an opening when right now they may feel as if I don’t need them because they weren’t asked to be bridesmaids.

        Similarly, one of my good friends had a family only bridal party when she got married, but asked me to do a toast at the reception. Because her family lived a distance away, I took the toast invitation as an opening to offer help in other ways. And once I offered – she jumped on it!

        Sometimes strong, independent ladies unintentionally give out the vibe they have everything under control – when we really do need that support.

    • Liz

      Yeah! There’s a LOT that can be chalked up to “never done this before.” It’s hard to know how to be supportive when you haven’t needed that same kind of support yourself.

  • It’s definitely been lonely for me. A couple of months after getting engaged, we moved from DC to Florida so my fiance could do training here before we move again in February. My fiance has friends here, but I don’t and since I’m working as a substitute, I don’t meet anyone. I’d done the invitation addressing and favor-making parties as a bridesmaid, but when it came time to do mine, it was just me, alone. I do have a wedding party, but they’re in DC, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Washington State. I knew I’d be far away from everyone while I did this, but I didn’t expect it to feel so isolating. At least, now that we’re less than two months out, my fiance has finally decided that it’s time to do some wedding stuff. He doesn’t generally plan more than a couple of months ahead for anything (I think his military lifestyle taught him that there wasn’t much point) so he hasn’t really understood the need to get stuff done earlier. It’s been hard too getting No replies from people we thought would come, but Pensacola is expensive to fly into and far from almost everyone we invited. Our wedding is not an imposition (so I keep telling myself) but it’s not very convenient either.

    • Laura

      Big hugs for you, Anon. That’s tough and I can really relate to how you feel. Because I’ve lived in so many places my friends are scattered all over the world. Which means some of them will definitely have to decline the wedding invites. I don’t have any in-town bridesmaids either, which means that I’ll be doing all of the invitations and DIY stuff alone. I’ve definitely had to adjust my expectations and remind myself that after a while I will have a community here.

      However, I will also say that this experience is making me reach out in an effort to make new friends so that I can build a solid community here over time. I’ve started planning girls’ nights, attending a church group regularly, and signing up for Meetup so that I can find others with similar interests. Having moved so many times, I realize that I have to become the social nexus that gives people a chance to get together.

    • Lynn

      I’m on the MS Gulf Coast, which isn’t *too* far away. Let me know if you need something ;)

      Folks can fly into New Orleans rather inexpensively and rent a car. It’s pretty straight shot 4 hour, pleasant drive to get to Pensacola.

      I did a lot of our stuff on my own. I had the PA’s family and his friends around and a few of mine, but the people I really wanted…including my mom and best friends…were thousands of miles away because I’d moved here to go to school and then moved away to finish my dissertation and then came back. There were people who told me they were coming–both near and far–who didn’t show at the last minute. But the people who did come through…it was a gloriously beautiful thing.

    • Emily

      I have been kind of a lurker on this site so far, but I just wanted to give you a really enthusiatic “exactly”.
      I also moved to a new place mid-engagement, and I also work in a school where I don’t have a consistent group of colleagues.
      I have a MOH but she can’t afford to fly out here for a shower or dress shopping, and I can’t afford to fly to her. So, even though there are totally legitimate reasons for being isolated, I still feel prety yucky about it.
      On the bright side, I have been skyping and emailing with friends and family A LOT. It has really helped.

    • carlyet

      Hi, Superfantastic! Fellow Pensacolan here. My wedding was two weeks ago, and throughout the planning process, I was in a similar boat. We had our wedding here because we live here, but our party members were scattered in south Florida, Ohio, DC, etc. We mourned a bit for the lack of pre-wedding activities, too. It certainly can be tough to do the planning, invitations, and such all on your own. Our work schedules make it challenging (weekly work schedule changes plus school for me and a 3 am – 12 pm shift for him) to see the friends we have, let alone attempt to meet new people and keep up with those far away. I felt lonely fairly often. So, I hear you!

      One heartening thing, though: the week of our wedding was amazing. Our party came together and made us feel like we were in a giant, glowy love bubble. It made up for all the planning difficulty and the distance. We felt part of an awesome community, which was great. The only bad thing is that now that they’ve all gone home, we miss them super duper extra. I read it a lot on APW but it was nice to really experience: though not everyone can come to the wedding, the people who are able to be there sure do make things wonderful.

      Best of luck, and please let me know if you need anything!

    • A-L

      Sorry to hear about this, Superfantastic. Though I wasn’t totally isolated down here in New Orleans (mom & grandmother live here), I still felt like I was a bit socially isolated in terms of the wedding. The bridal party is all out-of-state, as are all of our close friends. And since we were only inviting family and the closest of friends (I think there were fewer than 12 people at the wedding not related to us), it was hard to discuss it with people who lived here, because talking about a party to which they’re not invited is not so great.

      BUT, when the wedding weekend arrived, everything was great. There was a surprise bridal shower, friends helped to get the site ready the day before, and I felt the community that people always seem to talk about but that I hadn’t heretofore experienced. And looking back, that’s how it’s usually been for weddings in my family. We’re so spread out that we’re not there for most of the planning, but when the wedding weekend comes we’re doing everything possible to celebrate the nascent marriage. Even so, I know it can be hard while going through the process, so best of luck to you!

  • One More Sara

    As usual, I agree whole heartedly with Liz. Although there was one point in the letter that went unaddressed, and I think it was pretty important. Maybe some people (in the world, not necessarily your family and friends) think that your marriage isn’t real, but get that out of your head! If you and your partner are committing to take care of each other through thick and thin, congratulations! You are getting married! Whether the government recognizes your VERY REAL marriage or not, you two are still in love and making a commitment to each other, which deserves a celebration.

  • I don’t really have any real advice to help with feeling the lack of community, and I’m sorry the wedding planning feels so lonely for you and your love. Is there maybe a way you could reach out more to the long distance people who might be interested, say a wedding website where you could maybe post updates every now and then and keep those far flung friends in the loop? Or ask one of the friends who texted how excited they are if they’d might be ok with some email updates/vents as things come up because you need someone to bounce ideas off of?

  • JESS

    Oh Anon, I know exactly how you feel. I got married in Spain, and all my family and friends live in the States or somewhere else, and I too often felt like I didn’t have a community. And though my husband was involved and helpful, sometimes it felt totally lonely not having someone to gush to or vent to or just talk to. I also lamented the fact that I knew I wasn’t going to get any impromptu surprise bridal showers or bachelorette parties, and I mourned them. I felt like I couldn’t talk to my mom about things because she always had an opinion about something (“Mom, can we talk about my shoes?” “You mean those godawful blue shoes you plan on wearing?”), and it was hard to talk to friends because they all seemed so busy, and I REALLY wanted to avoid being THAT girl that talks about her wedding all the time.

    And when people weren’t RSVPing (though most people came, only TWO sent RSVPs back), I definitely felt like it was a big waste of time and money and why even bother since obviously no one cares? I mean, I’m doing this mostly for them anyway, right? I don’t need a silly wedding to prove I love my husband.

    But I wasn’t. I was doing it for me because even if no one came, I still wanted to put on a white dress and carry a bouquet and marry my man. And every time I thought about cancelling everything and just heading to the courthouse, I thought about how depressed I’d feel at not having any of the people I love there to share that moment with me. And yes, I missed the bachelorette party and the bridal shower and the rest, but hey, I was getting married, not DYING. Don’t let the WIC determine what parties you can have and when. Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean you can’t go out dancing with your girlfriends later (wearing a tiara and pink plastic vagina headbands, if that’s your thing) or invite the women of your family for a post-wedding bridal shower tea party, or whatever floats your boat.

    In the end pretty much everyone came to our wedding (which was as small as yours), everyone was ecstatic, and though I felt really lonely for pretty much the whole eight months of our engagement and like no one gave a crap about it, the sense of community I felt in the days just before and after (and during!) our wedding totally made up for it.

    What I’m trying to say is:
    1. Being lonely has nothing to do with your same-sex marriage. Don’t feel like all hetero marriages are nonstop festivals of joy and enthusiasm, because mine definitely wasn’t.

    2. I think the wedding day will prove to you that people DO care and are totally in support of you and your union. Sometimes people just got their own sh*t going on and they forget to let you know that they’re excited and they care. But they will let you know eventually, I promise.

    3. Whenever you start to feel like you’re “missing out” on some necessary community-bonding event, remember that you’re also missing out on the drama, conflicts, and opinions that come with other people getting involved in your wedding.

    I hope this helps. You’re not alone, and all of APW is REALLY EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!

    • Kara

      Yes, wow. Especially #1.

      [Also, one of the things that I really wanted to do was a brunch with all the in-town-from-somewhere-else aunts and cousins and grandmas and girlfriends before the wedding insanity hit — and no one was really equipped to do for me on a weekday/work day]. So…I made an executive decision to host one myself at my apartment. And it was wonderful. And all my aunts kicked me out of the kitchen after all.]

    • “I felt like I couldn’t talk to my mom about things because she always had an opinion about something (“Mom, can we talk about my shoes?” “You mean those godawful blue shoes you plan on wearing?”), and it was hard to talk to friends because they all seemed so busy, and I REALLY wanted to avoid being THAT girl that talks about her wedding all the time.”

      Yes. This, a thousand times.

      The people who have showed the most interest, and who have actually wanted to hold a conversation about what our plans are, are the groomsmen. Go figure.

  • This post speaks volumes to me. I am still struggling with the disappointment of isolation during our wedding planning four months after our wedding. We got married young – I’m 19, he’s 23 – and we’re both in transitional parts of our lives, especially in terms of our community. We didn’t have any of the traditional parties, and I found myself feeling more alone than I ever had before. I experienced panic at times while reading the overwhelming amount of APW stories about communities coming together to plan and party – if everyone on APW has community, why don’t I?!
    I hope that you can find closure with your situation, Anon. I think it will come with perspective and time.

    • Wedding Graduate Post in the making, maybe?

      We definitely need more of the Without A Community variety – not instead of the more common Community stories, just in addition to.

    • meg

      Everyone on APW does not have a community (or a perfect one… actually… probably almost no one has a perfect one). In fact, lots of people have written about it (though to be sure, you guys should send in more stories). But I think it’s pretty human to focus on the things we think we’re missing in other people’s stories.

      Also, some of the APW stories are really just “It turned out ok in the end. It was what it needed to be.” And don’t discount that. It can be true, even in deep imperfection.

      IN FACT. I’m not going to point to the particular post, because it’s not my business to. But! I know we had a recent wedding post where the couple talked about how loved they felt in the end. I happen to know that couple had HUGE problems with feeling like people they loved didn’t support them at all during the planning, had a really hard time, and tons and tons of tears were shed. That didn’t mean the resulting wedding wasn’t beautiful and full of love. In fact, it’s possible all those tears cleared the way for something extra wonderful. Sometimes it’s the hard mourning of what we don’t have, which finally allows us to see what we do have in a way we’ve never experienced.

    • p.

      You aren’t alone. I also didn’t have the whole “community coming together” feeling at my wedding and I felt a little let down after my wedding as well. But I think what may go unsaid in some wedding graduate posts is that there are always positives and negatives, but most of us choose to focus on something positive — and for many people, that positive thing is community-feeling. If possible, I’d encourage you to consider what was great about your wedding and focus on that — maybe it is how you felt that day, or that you loved your dress, or that people showed up for your wedding, even if they didn’t give you that feeling of a unified community or throw you the traditional parties.

      • Focusing on the positives and glossing over the negatives can be a big part of it. After the fact, even while acknowledging disappointment and hurt feelings about certain aspects, most people do generally want to concentrate on all the good that came out of their wedding. Who wants to remember their wedding as a bad experience, right? But that focus sometimes makes it easy to forget that we’re not alone in the yucky stuff.

  • Gigi59

    First, Anon – congratulations on your marriage. As Sara said above, it is the most important aspect of the day. We had many parallels to your situation when we were planning our wedding. Our closest family & friends are not in our city (or even state). While we had many friends from work and the neighborhood, there weren’t the ones we wanted to share the kind of intimate wedding planning with. So we planned by ourselves, and saved some things that were important to us to share with our nearest & dearest on the last couple of days when they came to town for the wedding. For example, I was intent on doing my own flowers because the flowers were the BIG thing for me. So I saved making bouquets & centerpieces until I could share that with my very favorite people the day before the wedding. Also – know that your real friends will want to help when they can. Save some things even if it means a huge DIY bash just days before the wedding. You’ll make tons of good memories.

    The other thing I’d like to say to you revolves around the paranoia about people not taking your wedding seriously. We are also a same sex couple and for many years have lived with the knowledge that most of my wife’s family did not consider us a “real” couple (something they have said out loud to us). The best thing I can say to you is that the people who come to witness your marriage and help you celebrate your wedding are the ones that truly care about you and you have to try to not worry about the others. Like me, you may have important family members or friends who chose not to attend and you will go through a grieving process for that. And if that happens, I’m truly sorry – it sucks. But I came to understand that if I want those people to accept me as I am, I have to accept them as they are, too. I wish it was an easier process, but sometimes it’s just not. Please don’t let that diminish your joy at getting married. As has been said before many times on APW, your wedding day will be exactly what it was supposed to be even if that isn’t exactly what you thought or wished it would be. And it will be wonderful because you’ll be married.

    Also, I’m assuming you are in a state where same sex marriage is not currently legal. When you have the chance to be married legally, go ahead and plan another whole wedding. Many of our friends have done that and you’d be surprised at how many people will show up again to celebrate with you. And maybe even some of the people who didn’t acknowledge the first wedding will come to the second. Sorry for the long reply… Have a wonderful wedding day!

  • Holly

    I’m in a similar predicament. I had a child early and I have been a single mom for a long time. When most girls my age were out drinking and partying, I was going to college and working full time while taking care of a small kid. I had way more responsibilities. I just haven’t made that many close friends and a big portion of that is that my peer group and I don’t have a lot in common. I don’t live near my family either. My mother stopped talking to her family years ago (so she does not want them there). So, my portion of the guest list is very tiny. I’m hoping most people can come, but I’m not holding my breath. I understand it’s lonely, but I also look at how far I’ve come and how much I’ve done for myself and my son. I am picky about who I spend time with and I value the people I call friends and family. I do feel lucky that my fiancé’s family has taken me in as their own.

    For me all the prep is exciting because I get to watch mindless tv shows that I’ve never seen before. I also get to work with my future husband on some amazing ideas and see them come to life. It’s almost like birthing – including the mess sometimes. Also, our wedding setup and everything will be a surprise to most of the people going. My spouse and I will first announce to the world we’re crazy about each other and promise to be each others’ rock. Then we throw an almost upside-down-reverse-crazy surprise party since no one knows the details.

    This post was really encouraging for me. I think that it was great that Anon voiced this. My first marriage (11 years ago) was quick. I missed out on my first bachelorette party, and any housewarming parties, and even an engagement party (and considered a divorce party but that seemed silly). Now that I’m older and out of that scene I don’t really want a crazy night drinking and I don’t feel the need to act like I lost my brain. ;) Anon, you might miss these things now, but years from now you might not. There are ways of making up these things, or creating your own new traditions. Maybe on your anniversary (1st, 5th, 20th…) you could throw a huge shindig and you could have your (new and old) support people there. Maybe your next milestone birthday (or heck even a half birthday or non-birthday day) you go all crazy with some friends. A wedding doesn’t have to be your only excuse to party.* Also, I wanted to point out that your marriage is comprised of you and your spouse, not you and what everyone else thinks. I know that makes me sound like a defiant teenager but it’s the truth. Big hugs to you.

    (*There’s also the option to just go to a bar and announce that you two are getting married – generally that causes people to buy drinks for you and that’s a different kind of community. Ha.)

    • meg


      We got some pretty serious whisky bought for us in small towns in Scotland when word got out that we were on our honeymoon. Just saying…. that’s community I’ll take!

      • Indeed! Bar people (assuming one is a bar person oneself) are a great insta-community. Despite our wedding being almost 3 months ago, any time we run into someone we know at a bar and do the whole “what’s new with you?” spiel, “um, we got married recently” is almost always met with “THAT’S AWESOME! SHOTS!” and then random bar regulars also being happy for us and buying us a round.

        Celebrate your marriage whenever, wherever. I know it doesn’t help with the pervasive feeling of disappointment for the upcoming wedding, but spontaneous celebration might be a good temporary salve.

      • Ha! We had PBRs bought for us in a little hole in the wall bar in the middle of nowhere Idaho on our way home from our wedding. It was awesome. :-)

  • Lethe

    Anon, congratulations on your marriage! When my wife and I were planning our wedding I went through something a bit like this. My friends are scattered across the US and my family was, shall we say, not entirely supportive. #1 thing I learned was: *ask for what you need.* It can’t magically create a group of selfless, supportive buddies right in your town, but it can help you feel more supported and connected, and sometimes people will surprise you! Ask a not-so-close friend who likes weddings to do a skype consult on some decorations; invite a bunch of buddies to a pinterest board for hair accessories; text one of those people back with “can I call you tonight to get your opinion on our menu?,” etc. Some of my close friends disappointed me, but some of my more distant friends shocked me with their willingness to help out and their enthusiasm when I clearly asked them for what I needed.

    • amiga

      Yeah I would agree…don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and ask for input/help/support from people who are not super close. I hated having to ask anyone to do anything (I wanted them to read my mind), but I did for some things, and I was surprised how much some random people wanted to be involved in our wedding but didn’t know what or how to offer.

      I’ve been on the other side too–a not-so-close friend got married recently, and I had thought of offering to help out with a certain aspect of the wedding, but as I did not know her super well I assumed she had closer friends who were on top of it and I did not want to butt in. But a few weeks later she asked me to help with that exact thing, and I was really happy because she was someone that I cared about and wanted to support (and wanted to be closer friends with) even though I had not known her as well previously.

      • meg

        Exactly. As much as I was shocked and hurt by which people close to me that I assumed would be SUPER supportive were not, I was shocked and delighted by people I didn’t know that well that stepped up in huge ways. You often can’t predict… and those people who step up sometimes become new close friends. I guess, in everything, balance? (Even if the good is just balancing out the super sucky sometimes…)

  • rys

    Feeling lonely and isolated is really, really hard but I want to echo others in urging you, to the extent possible, to disentangle current life circumstance (new in town) from your marriage. I’m also wondering if there are ways you might be able to reach out to your sister and friends to engage them. Maybe your sister isn’t a wedding person, but that doesn’t mean she might not want to help YOU. If her life is crazy right now, are there things you can do to make her life easier and thus give her more time with you (if she’s in the middle of big exams, send a gift certificate for meals/coffee; if she’s emotionally exhausted from other crap in her life, perhaps a massage or another treat would be relaxing; if she’s busy with kids, can you pay for a babysitter/mother’s helper for a few hours).

    Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed by work and life and feel like I don’t have time for others, it’s actually because I feel like no one has had time for me, and thus I need to conserve what limited time/energy I do have for self-care rather than expend it on people whom I feel (emphasis on perception!) like haven’t been caring for me. In this case, someone clearly and tangibly reaching out to me would really alter the dynamic — I would feel more generous with the limited resources I do have for that person (whether this type of emotional economy is fair, I realize, is questionable but it does reflect how I’ve felt, especially as someone who hates asking for help.) I wish there were someone who could play with role for you, but in the meantime, perhaps there is a way to gather in your sister and a couple other friends, scattered though they may be?

    • Liz

      Excellent point Rys and reminds me of something staff-member-Emily said: it could be that Anon’s sister DOES have time and energy to help, but doesn’t know that Anon needs some emotional support.

      • rys

        Communicating the need for support is often really important, especially when someone is generally very self-sufficient. I’ve often wanted people to reach out to me, thinking it was obvious I needed some support or aid, only to learn that people just assumed I was doing fine because a) I usually have my life together and b) even when I don’t, I tend not to convey that messiness to others, verbally or otherwise.

        Also without know the circumstances, it’s also possible that someone going through a difficult period would welcome the opportunity to be distracted by talking to someone else about their life and goings-on, rather than discussing the crap they’re facing. So even if her sister is deep in a challenging segment of life, perhaps talking about Anon’s wedding would be fun, enjoyable, and take the focus off of her challenges.

    • Sian

      On this note, I know I personally have a hard time when I want something from someone and only really want it to happen in an organic, “because they want to”, mind-read-y way. In the last year or so I’ve really had to work on forcing things to happen myself and pulling those I want involved along for the ride – maybe in an ideal world I’d have “movie friends” that would rent a beach house and buy me a cake for my milestone birthday, or something, for example – but sadly, I don’t. I do, however, have friends that will buy me gin and give me birthday hugs, and will gladly come along to the beach house and eat the cake if I organise it all myself.

      Similarly to you, my mother has (a lot of) brothers and sisters, and she’s probably the most invested in the family, and she’s also the most well-off. She recently organised a sibling holiday away at the coast, and part of that meant actually paying for several of her siblings’ plane fares because they couldn’t afford it or weren’t as invested as she was in putting that money into the holiday. For her, it was more important that they have their time together than wasting time feeling blue that they didn’t want it as much as she did.

      Your sister might have her own stuff going on and not be much of a wedding person, but to me it sounds like her being around is something that’s really important to you. So, for instance, she might not want to fly to you and go dress shopping (just an example) of her own volition, or she might say she’s got too much going on to help you with X, etc. I’ve found with my own siblings especially, it’s remarkable how easy it is to get them to do something I want to do if I suck it up and ‘bribe’ them. i.e. “It’s so important for me that you’re at my fitting/cake testing/weekend where we just watch cheesy movies together and reminisce. I’ve been feeling really lonely lately and you’re my best friend and I miss you sista! How about I fly you here and pay for us to get massages and manicures – it sounds like we could both use it.” Yes, this might be stretching your own budget. Yes, in an ideal world she’d want to come anyway and pay for her own massages. Yes, it means bluntly TELLING her that you are feeling lonely and NEED her support and planning everything yourself. But at the end of the day, people aren’t perfect, and you will get way more out of doing it than you will lose. Anyway, that’s just how I’ve been learning to approach things, but obviously what works for me and my family won’t work for everyone.

  • Hlockhart

    I think we can over-stress the idea that the wedding is about the community because we’re all anxious not to act like jerks on “our day.” I will always be grateful to the friends and family who did so much for our wedding, but I didn’t feel the wedding was about my community–as Liz says, the wedding was about my marriage. I was very happy to celebrate with my people, but what really mattered was the promises I made to my partner.

    Of course, people who do feel strongly that the wedding is about the community can also feel that what really matters is the marriage. But if your wedding isn’t the community event you think it should be (as long as you’re not a jerk, which doesn’t seem likely), that’s fine too.

    • Another Meg

      I think both Liz and HLOCKHART are spot-on. I actually had a longer response to this, but everyone posting have pretty much said it. Either the community comes through and hooray, or they don’t but you’re still married at the end of the day, so. HOORAY.

      I know this is different because you have the added element that your marriage is not strictly street legal. Screw the laws. They suck. Even when it’s defined by law and on paper and everything, how well a marriage lasts is really all about how the parties involved view it. In terms of quality and longevity, you and your partner make it a marriage.

      That said, planning alone for something you’re excited about can be really hard. If you happen to be anywhere near St. Louis, my email address is meg.morrissey at gmail dot com.

  • Daynya

    I feel your pain, lady. We just got married, and the whole time, I was waiting for this huge build up of community support. Our family and a good chunk of friends are far away, but I still thought it was all going to go down like I was imagining. It did not. No one offered to throw us bridal showers or bachelor parties, or engagement parties, or come over to help with decorations, and not many people asked about the wedding. Some did, because they know that I was planning it, but not because they wanted to help. A few DID want to help, but I just didn’t know what to tell them. Eventually, I vented to an already married friend about how I felt a little lonely, and was sad about not having any sort of pre-wedding gatherings. SO, she immediately whipped up a girls dinner with just a couple of local friends, and the effort was so heart warming. It was one week before the wedding, and only because I spoke up about it. So don’t be afraid to do that if this is something that is important to you. If I learned anything over the last year and a half of wedding planning, it was that I had some growing to do. So being uncomfortable, and doing things I wouldn’t normally do, those were what helped to propel me forward to the finish line. And now I have the wisdom to do the same thing for any friends who may get married, should they need me.

    • Liz

      Exactly, Dayna! I’m so glad it worked out for you in the end. Lots of times folks just assume that there are people who have roles and are handling things, but really would love to throw you a party.

  • Katie

    Even amidst bachelorette parties and showers (yes, plural, I was quite blessed), I felt very lonely. Nobody seemed to want to hear about details, and they especially didn’t want to hear about my fears, concerns, challenges associated with getting married. I know it can be a very lonely time, and I hope that you at least have your partner through it all.

    • meg

      Yes to this. Some of my loneliest moments in wedding planning were the moments where I was most surrounded by people. Funny, the same holds true in pregnancy… and probably most major life transitions. It’s not that we need PEOPLE around us, it’s that we need people who really listen. The latter can be really hard to find.

  • mep

    Hey Anon,
    I’m in a somewhat similar situation, having moved across the country and away from my support system to be with my fiancee as he pursues a PhD. I don’t have any friends of my own here and am often lonely in general, and super lonely when it comes to wedding planning. At one point it was so little fun that I was crying on the phone to my mother, who thought that I was telling her I didn’t want to get married at all! Not having these traditional activities happen is really hard and makes me feel so so alone, but all I’ve done so far is try to focus on the traditional ones I CAN have with just my partner. So, even though it felt a little greedy, we made a big day out of registering. That’s something lots of other people do and we got to do it too!

    I have no advice to offer, just a big hug and a hope that somehow you’ll end up with a wedding planning experience that you can look back on fondly. And even if you (or we both) don’t, at least we’ll end up married (and your marriage IS real, no matter what anyone says) to the person we love. It will work out! Things will be okay!

  • Bethany

    I think a lot of good advice has already been given, but I want to echo the sentiment of reaching out. It’s really hard when you already feel lonely, but try to remember that people do not know how you are feeling or what you need unless you tell/ask them. (I find this is helpful advice to remember with any relationship, at any time!) It’s easy to assume (at least for me) that people know when I’m struggling or need help – and that’s just not often not the case. During my wedding planning, I found that it was often people that I wasn’t super close to who wanted to hear all about my plans – it was a way to connect with them that I wouldn’t ordinarily.

    So, those friends who texted you? Text them, call them, whatever. They’ll probably feel delighted that you want to talk to to them about such an important event in your life!

    Congratulations on your marriage!

  • Stacy

    Hugs friend.
    I can relate since I also find myself in the same stage of transition even as I am closer to home than I have been in seven years. Since I am only in the “pre-engaged & living-in-sin” stage I don’t yet have all the pressure of needing a community for the wedding. But sometime when picturing our wedding I dread a scene where I have two bridesmaids to my BFs seven groomsmen.

    Maybe in the future APW could really be a place to facilitate a stronger online community since it appears this is not an uncommon problem. A place where we can really get to know one another and vocally champion each other’s weddings and relationships. A place where I can offer to help DIT invitations for a bride across the country or throw a wedding shower for someone I met on APW.

    • meg

      I think APW tends to be that place as much as an online space can be :) You guys do it beautifully and unexpectedly all the time. That said, our stated mission is to encourage all of us to take the idea of online community and use it to strengthen our offline communities and relationships. Because in the end, online community just speaks to us in a whisper of what we need in our day to day lives. I’m not implying that working to build offline community is easy or instant, it’s not. But APW’s online community has been the slow hard work of five years of my life, and I hope it encourages all of us to do that work in our real lives too. It has for me.

  • Jannell McConnell

    Yeah, the idea of reaching out and asking for what you need is a good one, I think… in life, not just in weddings. Sometimes, friends just need to be told what is needed.

    I am in grad school, and a friend who had recently finished the program and was still teaching here really nicely asked me how I felt about the idea of throwing a bridal shower (even though I wasn’t a bridesmaid) because all her bridesmaids were either out of town/too busy/not interested and she was kind of sad about it. I love an excuse to throw a party (!), so I said of course, grabbed a few fellow grad student friends, and we had a great time putting the party together for her. I just assumed she had other people doing that kind of thing, so I didn’t offer, but as soon as she asked for what she needed, I was more than happy to help out, and had a great time doing it.

    If she hadn’t asked, though, I wouldn’t have offered – not because I didn’t want to help, just because I didn’t know she needed it. Since then, I’ve tried to become more conscious about reaching out to people (brides, new moms to be, etc) in the middle of planning big transition events, even if I’m not part of their bridal party/ a long time friend, because I no longer assume someone else is taking care of things. Sometimes, someone else ISN’T taking care of things, and the offer to chip in is much appreciated. You just never know.

    Also, one more note – my friends are all scattered across the country, which means that, for the past couple of weddings in the group, we’ve gotten ii to town a few days early and thrown a combo shower/bachelorette party the Thursday before the wedding, done DIY help the Friday before, and then the wedding on Saturday. Yes, it would be nice if we could be there through the whole process for each other, but we can’t, so we do the best we can and pack it all in last minute! And it works for us. There’s nothing that says the parties/support can’t happen right before the wedding, when your guests DO get in to town – just makes for one big wedding weekend!

  • a lot of this sounds very familiar, and, while feeling isolated is not a particularly gay thing, it *does* have an effect on some of the particular bits (and especially on perceptions).

    for us, community was totally what our wedding was about (oh yeah, and getting married). our marriage isn’t legal, and neither of us are religious, so community was the pillar of the wedding that we were left with, which made it, i think, harder to swallow the disappointments that came from our community. that doesn’t change what you’re feeling, of course, but i think it is useful to recognize that the importance you place on it may be higher.

    we also tended to over-worry about whether our disappointments were because it was a gay wedding. which was nuts, because i have never, ever worried about people’s perceptions about my being gay before – but weddings are weighty, and the whole gay marriage thing is so *big* that sometimes it gets in your head against your will.

    but also, yes, there were totally people who didn’t think our wedding was real. however (and this is important), we knew who they were long before any talk of marriage, they didn’t come, and that is okay (seriously, don’t have people at your wedding who don’t believe in your marriage!). what is not okay is that we totally knew beforehand who *did* believe in our marriage, and we let that creeping fear talk us into thinking that maybe they didn’t. in fact, there are a million more mundane reasons that people disappoint us, and we wasted a lot of time second-guessing that.

    another thing that affected how our particular community related to the wedding was that no one had done this before. that can, of course, be true for anyone’s community, but for us it was directly related to our gay community. at the time, we didn’t have any married gay friends (apparently we started something, though – and we did have some married straight friends – and we have gay friends who have been in committed relationships for ages), so i think people had no idea how to be excited about it (i didn’t). moreover, i think many people in our queer activist community were afraid to be excited about *our* gay marriage, because they are not excited, *politically*, about gay marriage (again, i struggled with the same thing).

    which brings us to a more universal point: i was completely afraid to be excited about out wedding (though i was totally stoked about our marriage, and i *was* excited about the wedding), so i don’t think many people knew that i was excited, so they weren’t excited either. i mean, if i didn’t think it was a big deal, it must not be a big deal, right? or, alternately, if i didn’t think it was a big deal, it might freak me out to be all “omg! wedding! dish!” at me, yeah?

    so…that’s my personal story, in retrospect, about being all freaked out about not having a solid community during our wedding planning. i don’t know how much, if any, of that is similar or helpful, but here’s hoping.

    and, one last thing – at our wedding, our community kicked ass. it was like palpable love, and it was so cool. and that was the point, not whether our people are the kind of people who think to throw us parties, or even the kind of people who say they’re going to throw us parties and then don’t. (and…i totally root for inviting friends you’ve drifted away from – i had five college friends, some of whom i hadn’t talked to in years, who came to our wedding, and it was so much fun. i basically decided to invite people who i *love*, whether or not i am exactly friends with them. which felt a little weird, but was totally worth it, because it turns out they love me too…even if we suck at phone calls and still don’t keep up after the wedding either. obviously not actually telling you who to invite, though, =)

    sorry this is pages long.

    here’s hoping that it works out well for you at your wedding – but even if it doesn’t…well, i *loved* our wedding, but being married is *so much cooler*.

    • Abby

      I’d second that we as gay women don’t have a clear narrative for how to ask about a wedding, or how to bring up our own. When my first gay friends got married, I had no idea if I should ask detailed questions about their plans. Now that I’m engaged (to a lady) , I’m finding that my gay friends do not ask me questions about it. Sometimes I think that we are trying so hard to be not too over the top with weddings (as lesbians, and for many straight women, as feminists) that we seem disinterested or even unsupportive. In short: as young lesbians getting married, we’re still blazing the trails. Exciting and scary all at once, isn’t it?

  • Liz

    Oh dear! I just want to give you a big hug! I felt the same way several times during our long-ish engagement, I think because my husband and I are introverts who aren’t really “bridal party of 6-20” close to our friends… that just isn’t us, even though that’s what all the weddings in movies and pretty blogs (excepting APW) are. A few things that helped:

    1) having a coworker (a non-close friend is good for this) planning a wedding at the same time. We met up for lunch or dinner every few months and dished on wedding planning. Bonus: I found it much easier to complain to someone who wasn’t a guest. If you don’t have a co-worker you could look for someone in your area on offbeat bride or weddingbee…

    2) Getting over the idea that I needed anything in our wedding that had to be forced. In the end, we had a bridal party of 2 – our (sibling) witnesses. Bonus: we were able to involve our parents and other siblings more because of that, which was really important to us.

    3) Not going whole-hog on the DIY. None of this advice will help you make 1000 tissue paper flowers in a giggly evening with a glass of wine and a glue gun…

    Good luck and congratulations!!

  • Class of 1980

    I think we should start calling it “The Template” … the preset concept of what elements make up a real wedding.

    The Template is the cause of a lot of dissatisfaction. Should you be missing one of the predetermined elements, you will feel your wedding is a lesser wedding. Then again, you might have extra elements that don’t fit The Template, but you will likely feel that as a burden instead of a plus.

    It’s not the lack of a wedding party or that it’s a same-sex wedding. It’s simple loneliness brought on by a move across country. The Template is making the loneliness even more of a focus.

    I bet your guests will turn out to be very enthusiastic when you actually see them at your wedding, but in the meantime, tell your sister you miss her. That way, you are not blaming her, but appealing to her heart. Even if she doesn’t talk about your wedding, you can still talk.

  • Midwest Melissa

    This post really resonated with me. Hugs to you, letter-writer!

    I did not have an engagement party or any bridal showers, mainly because not only was there no one to host but there wasn’t really anyone to attend except the same very small crew who would have hosted. This brought on feelings I did not expect — I was grieving a family I never had — those large, uber-connected families where there are tons of aunts and cousins to do things like this. My relatives all live far away, and I only have two cousins who I don’t know well. Both cousins declined to come to the wedding, which hurt. Somehow I got it into my head that aunts are the ones who are supposed to host bridal showers. In the midst of the stress of wedding planning, there was a strange patch of longing for aunts who loved me and lived nearby and were really great party planners.

    What I want to tell you is that, the day of the event, all of these complex feelings drop away and you are just happy, and everyone who is there is happy too. It will feel like the people who were meant to be there are the ones who are there. It will feel bigger than you.

    • “there wasn’t really anyone to attend except the same very small crew who would have hosted”

      My best friend offered to throw me a shower, and I kind of hemmed and hawed around the idea and finally ended up not going ahead with it, in large part because of that reason. My circle of friends is fairly small, and while my husband’s family is large and there are lots of relatives I could have invited there, my relationship with my extended family is somewhat fraught and they wouldn’t have been invited. The idea of having a small bridal shower with only a few people who I was truly close to was harder for me than the idea of not having one at all.

  • Cassandra

    I can so very much relate. We’re getting married in the town my fiance lives in now for school, where he has some friends, but not many that I know or am close to at all. None of my 2 or 3 friends in my town can afford to go down. My best friend moved to Europe and probably won’t be able to come. Our wedding will probably have 5 guests – my parents, his mom and grandmother, and our child. Not exactly the community-driven events that are all over blogs (including APW) – it’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out on something. It’s hard to cope with, because I’m not bothered by not having a great big wedding, but I’m grieving not having the friends and community that other people have that seems to be so integral to their weddings. A lot of the advice above has been about reaching out to people, but in case you’re in the same place as me, and you really don’t have anyone to reach out to, just wanted to let you know you’re not alone.

    • meg

      Also, super important to remember when you’re looking at weddings on blogs (APW included), you’re judging your insides based on someone else’s outsides. We’ve had tons of people write about loneliness, problems with family, not loving their wedding, etc. We also work to have people write about how things often turn out ok in the end, even if ok isn’t perfect (because wedding media tends to sell fear and crisis). But, the real truth is, we can run posts about the hard stuff three times a week (and sometimes we do… ha), and you’re still going to look at pictures of people smiling at their wedding and assume it was this great community driven event where everything ended up just right. But you know what? That bride might have cried herself to sleep the night before over none of her bridesmaids really supporting her that day. That elopement that seems idillic and intiment may have happened because their parents were not supportive of the marriage and refused to come (and sometimes around here, you’ll actually see that in the text!). So you have to let go of comparing pretty outsides to your messy insides. We all have messy insides.

      • Class of 1980

        This reminds me … not an example of community, but an example of appearances being deceiving …

        A couple of years ago, I saw online photos of a wedding reception held in a horse barn. The whole thing was done with the highest degree of big budget sophistication and was unique to say the least. The photography was gorgeous.

        Several months later this same wedding was featured on TV. They showed the prep work and it was utter chaos on all fronts. The best part was watching the planners frantically trying to figure out how to keep the horses from leaning over their stalls and biting the guests or eating the food.

        Hilarious and the vibe was sooooo different than the photos.

      • Cassandra

        I’m not so much referring to all the pretty that gets put up on blogs and the ‘just right’ weddings – but literally the stories about how their sisters and friends all got together to do the flowers, their aunties baked the cake, their best friend’s mama helped make their dress, etc. I’m not sure it qualifies as an assumption when people are spelling that out so clearly and eloquently.

        I don’t personally compare my wedding to all the lovely pretty pictures because I’m actually pretty happy with how my itty bitty wedding might end up looking, but it’s more when wedding grads come back and literally say all the wonderful things about their communities coming together for their weddings… When people are quite literally talking about their communities bringing it all together, it’s hard not to reflect on the fact that some of us don’t have that, you know? Maybe I’m not expressing myself clearly. Y’all do a really good job at showing that sometimes things go wrong and couples or brides are lonely in the process or things get messy (and really, with all the emotions flying around this kind of life transition, it’s no wonder it can get messy). And y’all also do a wonderful job at showing that communities can come together in so many lovely ways, unexpectedly.

        (Hope your mat leave is going well!)

        • Kelly

          I think there’s also an element of people seeing and remember the positives and the final outcome. Just because someone comments that her mom made her dress(“it was so beautiful, just what I wanted, it meant so much to me to have my mom involved…”) doesn’t mean she and her mom didn’t fight about the material, the timeline for completion, the fit, etc.

          Reflecting on my wedding, there are a lot of things I was thrilled with on the day of, that caused a lot of stress and tears beforehand- I’m not sure I would always mention the stress in a graduate post- it would depend on the theme/topic. APW posts a lot of the hard stuff, but they want to have positive stories too!

  • AnotherCourtney

    I wanted to re-iterate that the loneliness you’re feeling is not because your friends don’t care about you or because you’re having a same-sex wedding or (especially) because you’re doing anything wrong. It’s one of those realities of wedding planning that no one really talks about.

    I moved to another state (with my boyfriend) before we got engaged, and while I’d been there long enough to make friends, they weren’t the nearest-and-dearest that I left behind in my old city. Going back home for “wedding planning weekends” gave me a big sense of community, but the vast majority of my relatively short engagement was lonely. I remember thinking several times “Is this really what being engaged feels like?” and I decided that yes, it is. Because you’re going through a very huge personal experience, and even though people love you and care about you and want the best for you, there’s only one other person who’s going through that same experience with you. So, know that you’ll be loved on your wedding day, by your spouse and the family and friends who are able to be there, and get through the time between now and then knowing that you’re not feeling anything out of the ordinary.

    And call your sister! I was the first of my sisters to get married, so they were going through a new experience, too – they were gaining a sibling! Even if you don’t see her all that often, that’s kind of a big deal, and she might be exited about that part of it, too.

  • meg

    I just wanted to just weigh in from maternity leave with a hug. Liz nailed it, but I wanted to commiserate. We got engaged six months after moving across the country, and in a lot of ways it was lonely. We’d started to make some new friends, but we were in transition. We’d left a lot of our support behind, and I’d left a decade’s worth of friends… many of whom couldn’t make it to the wedding. I suspect that’s part of the reason I started APW actually. I’ve always dealt with my feelings in writing, I wanted a little more of a community… and while the current huge APW resulted eventually, in those early days, it just got me a handful of girlfriends around the globe going through similar things.

    OH! And. I’ll also say that as hard as the lead up to our wedding was, it turned out our wedding was a community event. Not because we had a perfect community at the time, but because the people who showed up made the perfect community for that day. The hugely emotional ceremony sort of knitted everyone together in the way we needed for that moment. The key players in our life were there (family), some new friends were there (some of who we’re close to now, some of whom we’re not), a few old friends were there (ditto), and it all sort of worked out, for witnessing the vows. So don’t rule out the fact that a wedding day can turn out to be what you need, even if the lead up is a bit shit.

    I guess the only thing I’d add to Liz’s answer (other than underlining the fact that really, most of us have been through this at one point or another, even if we don’t really talk about it), is that time often levels things out. Now, having a baby in the Bay Area 5 years after we got engaged, we have a really solid community. And those girlfriends all over the globe that I made in my early months of blogging are now my rock solid, super important support, as I go through another life changing event. That doesn’t make any of what happened with the wedding easier, but it does make me grateful.

    So hugs. I’ve cried myself to sleep over this. Lots.

  • AM

    I so feel all of this! We have 150 people invited to our wedding but I feel like I can barely string two people together to help me with centerpieces. And my sole bridal party person is on the other side of the country, so, while I’m so happy he’ll be there for us on the day of the wedding, there’s not a lot of day-to-day support.

    I read the other day that mid-late-twenties is the hardest time to make/keep friends — and I’m sure many of us are in that place. People are moving away for jobs, grad school, babies, etc. — it’s hard to keep a stable, geographically-present support system at this age, from what I can tell.

    Really, anyone who needs help support in the SF Bay Area, let me know.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Let me add a facially different but emotionally similar experience: My family, with whom I’m close, lives just across town. That’s a mother (and father) and two sisters. But my peer-friends are all over the country. Locally, I’m closest to the little old ladies at church. And my future husband and I have felt isolated throughout the planning process nonetheless.

    My mother got sick for several months of our engagement, and I was expressly told not to ask for wedding-planning help from her. She got better, and promptly left the continent to see my sister, who spent a good chunk of my engagement in Singapore. My baby sister was just a teenager without a driver’s license, and I didn’t have a car, so while she’s a great DIYer, we couldn’t connect. The little old ladies at church were more excited than we allowed each other to let on, but no one knew how to show it.

    Once my mother and sister got home, Mom talked about throwing a bridal shower. I told her, honestly, I didn’t care one way or another, but, “Look at the calendar. We have to make the decision tonight, or it’s not going to happen. There’s only so many weekends left.” We decided, no shower. While Mom was away, Dad skipped the cake tasting on his own birthday to work alone at their cabin. It took a year of asking multiple times to get my parents’ help with the guest list, and they still both didn’t take it seriously enough to avoid awkwardly forgetting people and information.

    I’ve learned that my mother doesn’t communicate well by e-mail (Every e-mail, no matter how pedestrian, will contain all-caps or exclamation points.). None of my family works well with spreadsheets. And people plan even your wedding on their own timetables.

    Because, a couple weeks after Mom and I decided “no shower” the little old ladies at church came through and put one together in 2 weeks. More people attended the shower that day than attended Mass, and lots of women came or sent gifts who can’t attend the wedding.

    And Mom pulled some strings and got her colleague to rearrange his schedule so he could DJ, months after the planning guides say you should book a DJ, and even though he already had patients booked that day. [Our DJ is literally Dr. Gee, and he’ll likely be assisted by a general surgeon.] And just today she’s allowing her father to be bored/uncomfortable for a few hours so she can attend the rehearsal.

    Before this, I was, following all the advice above, prepared to ask another married woman to attend, even though that woman wouldn’t be able to attend the dinner, so I’d have an experienced woman’s eyes there. Because, let’s face it, the people involved in your wedding love you, perhaps most on your wedding day. And where there’s deep love, the jots and tittles of etiquette go out the window.

    Do I wish that Mom would have skipped some of my baby sister’s soccer games so I could have more than 2 wedding-planning afternoons with her? Yes. But I try to focus on what I do have, especially in the last few weeks of planning where so many people have “stepped up.” Also, I set my expectations really low. We have 0 DIY, for example.

  • Amber

    We were also alone for our wedding. Just moved from his home country and not living near any friends or family.

    It was tough to hear about other friends having bridal showers where people were flying in specifically for them. One friend even got two! Even though I feel like they’re total present grabs, it does suck when it seems no one wants to do something nice like that for you. (Unfortunately I feel that even if I did live near friends or family, no one would have wanted to do that for us/me anyway, so there’s that.)

    You’ll love your small wedding where you get to actually talk to people who are there. We also couldn’t have invited 100 people if we wanted to, so had our 35 that was mainly family and a few friends.

  • I want to chime in because this hits home for me, but I’m not sure how to do so without just rambling.

    I tell myself that we wanted to elope, and we *did*, but looking back, I think not having a community was a huge reason that we decided to just get married alone. Maybe we felt like we didn’t have any other option? We’d recently moved cross country to a small town where we (still) know no one. ALL of our time is consumed with running a small business. My closest college friendship crashed and burned a few years ago, and in the fallout everyone picked sides. Since I didn’t air my business, almost everyone defaulted to the other side. Outside of my family and my husband’s family, I’d admit to having maybe… one friend? I guess I felt like having a small wedding was admission of failure. We couldn’t invite 100 people even if we wanted to. So we just avoided it all together and didn’t have a wedding at all. I definitely spent a lot of time thinking about how I didn’t want a wedding party. But maybe if I’m honest, I didn’t “want” a wedding party because I don’t have anyone to be in that wedding party.

    I guess I’m just saying you’re not alone. And I absolutely don’t think you’re experiencing this because your wedding is somehow less “real” than any other. I’m a woman who married a man and I had all the money in the world at my disposal for our wedding – and despite that “normalness” I still couldn’t get it together to have the wedding we were “supposed” to have. In the end, eloping was a way to make our wedding feel special for us and it got us married, which is the real goal at hand. I think if we’d chosen to have a wedding, it would have reminded me of all the ways I’m failing in not having enough friends. I also agree with the notion that there’s no strict limit to when/how you can celebrate. Since we eloped, we often discuss having a bigger party on our 1 year anniversary. Maybe we’ll feel more ready for it then. Or we won’t and we’ll move on.

    I think its our job to do our best to embrace the version of Things that we can realistically have, when we can have it. I spent some time mourning the friends I didn’t have to help and the ring I didn’t get, but embracing our reality, right now, is what got us married in the end. In my opinion, it’s better to do it now, then way you can, than spend a year worrying about all these Things that can never be.

    • Cassandra

      “I tell myself that we wanted to elope, and we *did*, but looking back, I think not having a community was a huge reason that we decided to just get married alone.”

      Oh my goodness, yes – this is, if I am honest with myself, the main reason we wanted to elope so badly. In the end, we’ve decided to include our parents/grandmother, and maybe a couple of my SO’s friends who are in the area, but I think part of me is still so unsettled about the decision to expand our wedding, even just this little bit, because I do feel as you say that it’s a reminder of failing with regard to friends. You put exactly how I’ve been feeling into words.

  • Disappointment and loneliness do happen at big points in life. I recently bemoaned my lack of girlfriends in a blog post, only to have a friend reach out to me and literally say, “Hey, let’s be really good friend now, k?” and it worked! We started spending more time together and it was really great. The whole asking for what you need thing really works. It seems obvious when you say it, but I know when you’re in the loneliness pit, it seems futile. Hang in there!

    So I just want to put this out there, too… One of my favorite things about APW is that when you feel like you have no community, you can find community here! It makes me a little teary (I’m a bit of a sap…) to see all the support. Especially Lynn offering help… you’re so sweet! Anon, I hope you feel All The Love. :)

  • hampton

    Zoe touched on this, and likely some of the other commenters did too, but I’ll say it again. Sometimes you just have to learn to ask for what you need. Like, really explicitly. That can be an incredibly awkward thing to do (I know it is for me!) but with Anon having mentioned feeling the potential resentful feelings bubbling up, I think you may need to get proactive here. Your HS/college friends may have assumed that you’ve got a community of “life right now” friends helping you navigate the wedding and all the emotional transitions that go along with it, and assume that their support isn’t as crucial to you right now because of that. (Sidebar – If you say that you’ve outgrown some of these friends, one thing to consider is that they may not know how to navigate watching you through this next step of life either… if they feel like you’ve outgrown the relationship already, how much more distance will there be between you once you are hitched? Texting and saying “got your STD, so excited for you!” may be the only way they know how to bridge the gap.) The bottom line is you can’t expect your friends and fam (or really, anybody) to know what you need if you don’t tell them. Even when we feel like it should be RIDICULOUSLY obvious, the people we love aren’t always as intuitive as we expect them to be.

  • Lonely Hearts Club

    I felt the same way during my planning process. Getting engaged and planning a wedding is one of those events that can throw your life into sharp relief. I was excited about getting married and I loved our little wedding, but I was happy when it was over and I wasn’t constantly reminded that my partner and I are an island right now. I love my husband but I don’t love this period of my life.

    I moved here over two years ago and I haven’t made any real friends in my new town. I met my fiance here so most of my long-distance friends didn’t even meet him until the wedding. I was cautious about reaching out to several close friends because they had just been through bad break-ups. From my own experience, I know that a wedding can be an alienating experience. I felt like some of my married friends drew a line around themselves after their weddings, and I didn’t want my heartbroken friends to feel that way. I knew they couldn’t offer their best selves to me right then. Our friendships, already tested by distance, were more important to me than feeling supported during my engagement. From my married friends, now on their way to having babies, I got a bit of a been-there-done-that vibe. We didn’t have a bridal party and no one offered to throw us a party. No one made speeches or spontaneous toasts. No one tied tin cans to our bumper. I tried very hard to fend off resentment and self-pity and I mostly succeeded. But you know, when you’re lonely, you’re lonely, even on your wedding day.

    If I could do it all again, i would still probably plan things on my own and accept responsibility for my isolation. I don’t think the advice you’re getting to reach out and ask for help is bad, but for me, I think it would have ended in tears. I felt extra fragile so I protected myself from disappointment. I didn’t necessarily need a community to get married, but I do need one just as a person living my life. With the wedding behind me and more time (and money) on my hands, I have scheduled trips to visit friends on my own. Without the pressure and cultural baggage of a wedding, I’m trying to invest more energy in building and maintaining relationships outside my marriage.

    I am trying to trust that not everything in my life will be aligned at the same time. My friendships have been stronger in the past and I know they will be stronger again some day (soon, I hope!).

    Anon, I hope that you and your partner feel supported and celebrated on your wedding day, even if you feel isolated until then. Good luck (to both of us) building a community together with your partner over the long haul!

  • This one hits home for me too.

    I’m going to be one of the last of my friends to get married and I feel as though there is no excitement or enthusiasm left for me. My really close friend got married five years ago and is now having a baby. I think when it’s my turn to get married, no one is going to care.

    • Umpteenth Sarah

      First, hugs.
      But! You miiight be surprised at the reaction from your friends! I got married on the earlier side of things (for my social group) and there is NOTHING I would want more than to have more weddings to go to/support/attend etc. Weddings. People love them, even as they age.

      • Thanks! I hope you’re right :)

  • Mrs May

    Aw, I am also half of a lady/lady couple and I feel you. We had a teeny wedding- smaller than yours- by choice. It was awesome! We did not have the pre-parties, either. We faced the fact that we are kind of shy and introverted, and also, building a really solid community takes time. I was never the popular kid and that stuff doesn’t come easy- although I do care about it.
    I just wanted to tell you, you’ll find out things about yourself and her in the context of your marriage that make it Okay that it’s not Perfect. You have a lifetime to find all your people. Your marriage is really important- most of all to both of you. But, to me too! How glad I am to know you exist! And to your baby community too. You do count.
    You can’t force having 200 besties or 8 bridesmaids, but it doesn’t make you less! Perhaps this marriage will be an awesome starting point for your community-finding. For me it has been.

  • Lisa

    Hey Anon,
    First of all, I totally know what you’re going through. We moved across the country a year ago and between grad school and working full time I haven’t been able to make many friends here yet. I do have some girlfriends to talk to about wedding things, but they are scattered all around the country. In addition, my mom isn’t very supportive of our impending marriage, so I can’t go to her for help or support.

    Other commenters have pretty thoroughly addressed ways to seek support within your existing cirles, so I wanted to suggest something else. One thing I’ve found really helpful is the “Tribe,” a private online community through Off-Beat Bride (hope it’s not poor form to hock another blog on an APW thread!). Whether want to gush, rant, or get advice there are literally thousands of supportive people (mostly women) who you can interact with. And you can write about every last detail of your dress search or DIY centerpieces and know that the people reading it are actually interested in all of it. I’ve also seen brides on the Tribe arrange real life meetings if they are in the same city.

  • Elaine

    This post made me want to cry. I got married under somewhat different circumstances, but shared the lack of a sense of community around my wedding. I met my now-husband just a few months after getting out of a broken engagement and moving to a new city. Through that break-up and subsequent move, I ended up losing, or at least becoming much less close with, most of my friends, which was extremely painful. The process of wedding planning very much put a spotlight on this for me. We also didn’t have a bridal party, and had under 40 people at our wedding. However, our intimate wedding ended up rocking in a lot of ways. We didn’t spend time feeling like we had to entertain people, and were able to spend the weekend enjoying each other and just a few friends and family members, many of whom we hadn’t seen in years. And ultimately, when I was walking down the aisle and saw the faces of people who’d been important to us in different ways, at different parts of our lives, as lonely as I’d felt at times during the planning process, I felt almost overwhelmed by the love. So please don’t think your wedding is doomed to feel lonely and crappy, just because the journey sometimes might. Good luck!!

  • hilary

    i so needed to read this! my fiance and i are both in college, and while i have a few close friends from high school, my fiance switched schools so many times that nothing has stuck the same. neither of us made any friends in college. we still aren’t sure about the bridal party because the only candidates for groomsmen are my two brothers (he is an only child, and no close cousins). but i don’t think we want a bridal party that ends up being focused on me (even if my brothers are friends with him!). our community is small and supportive is there but not solidly voiced. this post helps so much, and i am reaffirmed that all we need to get married is ourselves! marriage is the goal and what comes together will be more than enough!

  • hey! I just want to say congratulations on your engagement! ok, so we don’t know each other and I won’t be there to help you celebrate, but still I hope you have a wonderful day and a long and happy marriage.

  • Christine

    First, thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I’m currently living on the other side of the world (Thailand) and recently got engaged. I’m American and my partner is South African and it’s been a headache and a half trying to figure out when, where and how to get married. This is the first post I’ve seen where someone has honestly spoken about how lonely it can be making such a big decision with little or no support network nearby (or at all).

    I think what has kept me from really being too upset about it is knowing that I’m where I am (in life and on the map) because this is where life took me, it was a decision I made that led me to the person I love the most, and who loves me back. You’re where you are because you chose to be there with the person you love. It might not be perfect, but it’s YOU.

    I think all the responses are a clear sign – you might feel lonely, but you’re not alone. Reach out, you might be surprised.
    Most of all, congratulations!!!

  • My wedding is in 23 days and I have completely felt this same way! This whole wedding has been completely lonely and a bit depressing (especially when vendors or others make comments about the typical “wedding activities” that we aren’t doing).

    I moved to New Zealand earlier this year as my fiance has been living and working here for a few years (he had the better job and opportunities, so decision was made that I would move). Because of immigration proceedings, I wasn’t able to work until recently and my social life was pretty limited (depending on one income for a while limits that along with wedding costs). So my hope for making at least 5 friends hasn’t quite happened. I’ve met people but none that I have really wanted to invite to the wedding as it’s our special day.

    And then with planning, haven’t had anyone to really share some of the excitement and frustrations with. Thought I had made a friend that I could, but turned out unless it was something about her, she couldn’t care less. Even got turned off asking for help from people we do know when a response was “I couldn’t be bothered”. So have tried asking for help (not sure if some of it’s just cultural or not). And it’s hard because I did move away from a good community of friends but just couldn’t do a wedding there due to financial and immigration considerations. Gets to the point knowing that those we spend the wedding with are people we like but not those we care most about because they can’t come this far. If we hadn’t already paid for most of it all, I think we would just run to the registrar and forget the rest.

    It’s really hard, but at the end of it all, I am with the one I love and I do have lots of love being sent to me via emails, etc from far off. Plus I’ve learned to keep asking myself if the stuff that is making me lonely really matters (having the parties, shopping, excitement over a dress, not having many of our good friends/family there, etc) in the end. Which talking to my mom and other ladies who have been married for 20+ years, they all say they can’t quite recall those events or that they have had so many wonderful experiences over the years with loved ones, etc that the actual wedding isn’t the only good experience to be had.

    We will have years to be able to have more parties and with many we meet along the way. But we have each other, and that’s the most important thing. Especially since both of us have been through some hard times and relationships and has taken us a long time to finally find someone. So treasure who you do have with you and just enjoy your day. Don’t worry about whether it’s legal or not. It’s a celebration to just enjoy your love for each other and to express that love and share that with however many people you feel like sharing it with. If it’s only a few or hundreds, I don’t think that changes the feeling behind the love and commitment. And congratulations! I honestly believe the more same sex couples that have ceremonies that the fact that these couples are committed and stay together will become more visible and seen as commonplace (which tends to lead to things being more widely accepted and laws changed). So I think you and your fiance are among those trailblazers!!! So hold your head high and don’t let anyone give you even a hint that your wedding isn’t special (if they do, they aren’t worth it anyway)!

    • Sarina

      Hey Suzanne, what part of NZ are you in? I’m in Wellington, but all of my family is in Northland, and all my high school/university friends are in other parts of NZ or in Australia. I’ve met a few friends since moving to Wellington, but they all moved away!!! I’m really struggling with the wedding planning at the moment, we still tossing up which part of the country to get married in :/

      Let me know if you want someone to talk to someone in the same country as you about planning stuff. :)

      • Hey Sarina,
        I’m up in Auckland. Always good to have someone to talk to =) When are you guys getting married? Email is suz519 at live dot com. More than welcome to contact me there :) Never realized how stressful wedding planning can be and not really having many to talk to about it just makes it so much worse! Just wish I would have stumbled upon more of the online community earlier!

    • Moving is hard. Immigration is a huge challenge and emotionally difficult. Doing BOTH of those at the same time as wedding planning….whoa. Hang in there.

  • Shalyn

    Thank you for your post, Anon. I’d like to share with you the wise words of a friend. Last week, I was exhausted, lonely and emoting all over the place about how isolating, weird, and sometimes-downright-icky wedding planning can be. (Sexism, discrimination, assumptions, expectations for/delusions of grandeur, um hello?) Then, I apologized and excused any future erratic behavior, promising to return to my even-keeled self after the wedding. My friend told me to stop apologizing for my feelings about my wedding. She said I could feel however I wanted, but shouldn’t apologize to anyone about it. So, don’t beat yourself up, okay? Things will go wrong. It’s okay to mourn your lack of support, and do it without feeling bad or letting anyone impose their point of view on you. Just leave a little room in your heart to be surprised and happy when things go unexpectedly right.

    Secondly. This advice-dispensing friend of mine, on whom I am just shamelessly hurling all of my wedding anxiety, did not start out a dear friend; more of a, really-nice-lets-get-to-know-each-other-better friend. Feeling dislocated from my community when I first got engaged, I sheepishly asked for her help one day, and she has since morphed into a life-saving wedding guru. And other people? They {temporarily, for various reasons} suck. Shit happens.

    Ask for what you need. People shed friends in big, life-changing events, but also find new ones to hang their worries and joys on. Such is life! And thank you again for your honest post, for us lonely brides & grooms out there.

  • sal

    Boy do I feel this one. I am with you Anon. I am one half of a hetero couple, I feel you 100% on the isolation issue. My fiance and I have felt completely alone in all our wedding stuff for three main reasons:
    1) We are both very introverted and actively dislike asking for AND receiving help from other people
    2) Both of our families live extremely far away from us, and in my case, I grew up extremely far away from my entire family, so I am not even emotionally close to them
    3) We are an “older” couple (early 30s) but most of our friends are our age and older, and single — wedding excitement is practically non-existent and/or painful for a lot of our friends

    There is literally no friend for me to turn to, or for my fiance — we turn to each other, and in some cases, we try to ask our mothers to do tiny things where they can. But while do have friends, they have mainly withdrawn themselves from us (I understand why — I did the same thing to my engaged friends) so while I have friends I may be able to hang out with and grab drinks with, on the wedding front I feel completely alone. I know even the topic of my engagement makes most of my friends uncomfortable, so I never bring it up and nobody ever asks.

    I see all these posts all over the internet about “rely on your community!” and it just drives home the feelings I had growing up, mourning for the extended family I never got to know (and never will — them living on other continents means visits are really not an option), and makes my fiance and I feel even more isolated. In our case, we don’t have the excuse of being newcomers to our area.

    To make it all worse, I guess, is that I actually kind of hate weddings. We are having a small wedding both by necessity but also by design, and man, I hated weddings before and REALLY hate them now. My fiance and I really are dying to get this thing over with, hoping we can resume normal life afterwards and not feel like pariahs.

  • Krissy

    Maybe my story will make some people pity me and as a result they will feel better :). I am moving from Europe to the US, still during the visa process. Once I get there, we have 90 days to get married, but we need to do it asap, because I need to apply for the work permit asap.

    I lived outside of my home country for a few years now (UK and US, where I met my future husband). I have literally no friends in my home country at the moment. I do have maybe 3. And another 2 abroad, that’s about it. My brother is dead, my father is old and he’s not going to fly to the US for the wedding, and I can’t stand my sister. Now the best part: my mom passed away this year, so I can’t even do any of the mother daughter stuff with her. And, damn, I am jealous when some of you talk about your mothers criticizing your shoes. I would give a lot so I could hear my mom criticize something. (She did manage to criticize my 3 color wedding rings at least, luckily)

    I am a nerd so I didn’t manage to make friends in the US when I was studying abroad there, or at least I have not met anyone I want to invite to my wedding.

    Now, my fiance’s parents don’t speak to each other (like, really) so we are not inviting them. My bf’s friends are all in another town. So the number of guests in our wedding will be 0. I am not even daring to think about any pre wedding parties. To make matters worse, any time I get slightly excited about anything connected with the wedding, like the dress for example, my fiance says he does’t really care about the dress. He means well, I am supposedly pretty no matter what yadda yadda. But he’s only making things worse.

    I always wanted to have a private wedding, but sometimes I feel like this is a bit much.

    On the bright side, I do appreciate I will be legally married, and I feel for same sex couples. It is unfair that some idiots in the government have the right to define the relationships in your family for you. In the UK, I met a British guy who married an American from Texas. And I almost exclaimed: ‘This is awesome, you can get a visa and move to the US, like I am going to!’. Nah, the federal government doesn’t recognize gay marriage…It is ridiculous.

    But despite all this, I am looking forward to getting married to the man I love. I know I will end up shopping for the wedding dress with him, because he is my only friend there and he is my best friend in the world. He will hopefully get over the not caring about the dress bit, and we can make a fun trip to the stores out of it. And after the whole wedding thing is done, we’re going to get burgers and beer in the local bar.

    • Burgers and beer can sweeten any day! He cares about the dress, but just needs to look deeper inside to show more interest about it. Ask specific questions.

  • For a wedding, keep a sense of open communication with your bride/groom. If you feel that the answers you are receiving are generic, confront him/her about it. Ideally you only want one wedding to plan so be as detailed as possible about all communication. If you feel that the bridal party is too small or are afraid of a small turnout , then don’t rush into the wedding, set the date back a few extra months. It may seem long, but time does fly ! I’ve worked with many brides and grooms as a Boston wedding dj and tell them all to both be involved in everything. Even if one wants to take a smaller role in something they should know what is going on.