Ask Team Practical: The Loneliest Bride

It’s Friday, and you know what that means: Alyssa’s Ask Team Practical Friday. Today’s post is about feeling isolated and alone while wedding planning, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is more common than not. No matter how much you read about best girlfriends and bridal brigades, modern wedding planning is a long (longer than it should be, if you ask me, but that’s a different post) endeavor, and it’s an individual one. And for all the moments of joy – the amazing book shower, the crazy fantastic shooting range bachelorette, there are long slogs of loneliness. I fear that what we’ve gained in personalized wedding style, we’ve lost in a community of women, grandmas and moms and mothers in law and sisters and girlfriends, pulling us through. So thank God for the virtual sisterhood, right? And with that, I give you Alyssa:

Today’s post is not only a great title for a country song, but a very common issue.  How can you be in the midst of planning an event that bonds you to someone for forever, but feel completely alone?  Here’s Kim.

Planning your wedding is supposed to be such a happy time when you’re surrounded by friends and family who will do anything to help you and support you. I’ve felt theoretically supported by everyone but I’ve also felt terribly lonely. My fiance has a million friends who will, and have already, bend over backwards for him. I have my small group of best friends, 6-7 of them, but many aren’t local, can’t offer their time to me, and are busy with other things. Don’t get me wrong, they are great friends I just can’t expect a lot from them for various reasons.

I know I made the right choices with my bridal party. These are people who have known me basically my whole life. I want them there by my side on my wedding day. And I’ve made peace with the fact that this group will probably only do just that. I’m alright not asking them to go above and beyond, delineating between wedding party duties and helping me with the wedding duties. I know these tasks don’t have to be done by the same group of people.

My mom called me this past weekend to talk about my bridal shower and at the end of our conversation I just sat and cried. I wish she didn’t have to plan the whole thing, I wish I had the typical bridal party of like 6 best friends who still see each other every week and have girl’s nights, who were there for me to do wedding stuff whenever I needed them. But I don’t. I love my bridal party but they just aren’t typical in that way. The reality is that we’ve all grown up and moved apart and moved on. Maybe I’m mourning that. I worry that all of my acquaintances and lady-friends-through-my-fiance who I invite to the showers and bachelorette party won’t show up. That it will be lame, unattended, and it will make me feel awful.

I guess I’m feeling lonely because I have been, and am going to continue to do a lot of the bridey things by myself. I’m planning my own bachelorette, my own showers (in MA and NJ), and just pray that everyone I invite shows up. I’ve always been a person who does things by myself because then they are done correctly and by my own terms. But, to my own fault, it does make me feel alienated and alone a lot of the time. I’m ok with this in my everyday life and my work life, but I don’t want to be a bridal island. I need support and encouragement and enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong, my fiance is my biggest cheerleader. He’s my best friend and best thing in my life. But I feel even lonelier when he says he’ll take care of everything. Like I’m even sadder and more pathetic for it somehow. That I’ll get married and only have him in my life, no friends left, and I would have done that to myself.

I know this is heavy. You and the whole APW community tackles issues that actually matter, like this one, so I hope to not burden you but just reach out for advice. Thanks for listening.

You know, Kim, what’s funny is that you’re definitely not alone in feeling like a lonely bride.  Lauren mentioned this, and several readers made remarks about how being The Bride turned into a more sad and solitary role than they expected.  I want to get to that, but first, do something for me.  We’re gonna have to stop with these “supposed to’s.”  They are examples of people’s experiences, but none of them are how it’s “supposed” to be.  Do not let your expectation of your wedding experience ruin the actual experience, okay sweetie?  Okay. Now.  It may seem that other brides are surrounded by lovely friends who, like Snow White’s little woodland creatures, would help them string garlands and make favors as you all sing happy songs and get ready to celebrate your joyous day. This is NOT the case.  In a realistic perfect world, you’d have friends and wedding party members who’d help you with every (or most…or ANY) aspect of your wedding and would be there for you when you needed them.  But, unfortunately, that’s not the case for you.  And I am really sorry it’s not, because I can tell it hurts.

But I can also tell you that those seemingly wonderful brides who have helpy-helperton friends who are there for them in every way, even those brides don’t have the perfect situation.  With very present friends come very present problems.  There are personality clashes, strong opinions on details that should be your decision, friends who fall down on the job even though they PROMISE it’ll be ready in time for your wedding…  For every advantage these brides have, they also have problems that you don’t at the moment.  This isn’t to make you feel bad or shame you about your feelings, it’s just to remind you to be careful romanticizing their experience – they wouldn’t mind being in your shoes sometimes, too.

I’m really proud of you because you are definitely looking on the bright side.  You know you have great friends, a wonderful fiance and a fabulous mother who are all there for you in different ways.  And you are right to mourn your loss of what you thought the wedding experience might be.  It’s one of those little deaths that you are completely allowed to experience and to grieve.  Feel it, but do not let it overtake any other happiness that you might feel right now.  Yes, your bridesmaids should be the ones who are throwing you a bridal shower.  But they are not.  And you have a mom who loves you so much she’s doing it for you, and she will probably give you something even better than they may have done.  Which is better, a shower thrown by people who are busy, far away and/or flighty, or a shower thrown by your mom who’s there, mentally present and wants to help?

And don’t think I didn’t notice this little gem.  “I’ve always been a person who does things by myself because then they are done correctly and by my own terms.”

Oooo, busted.

If you don’t want to be a bridal island, then you have to not sit under the coconut tree and stare at the sand.  You have to ASK for help, honey!  Reach out to those people who are part of your bridal brigade.  Ask them for support, encouragement and enthusiasm.  Just because they are far away doesn’t mean that your bestie can’t squee over a cute pair of shoes for your honeymoon or that your sister won’t listen to you rant about the caterer.  They are going to be the ones who can alleviate your fears about the bachelorette guest list and then plot ways to make the people who don’t show up pay for their insolence.   Honestly, your friends probably know you very well and they know that you like to do things yourself, so they might not even think to offer help.  They might be thinking, “Well, Kim has always been so put-together, I’m sure she’ll come to me if she needs help.”  How are they going to know this is the one time that you need their assistance if you don’t TELL them?  And don’t just reach out to your bridal party, talk to friends or family in the area who might be able to lend a hand or just some support with the planning process.  You’d be amazed at the amount of people who’ll be there for you if you just ask.

And if they’re not?  Well, then you’re back where you started.

But let’s talk about where you started.  Being lonely doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ALONE.  There are so many brides here on APW that feel the same thing.  Hell, Meg’s response to your email was, “Can we talk about this asap? Because I think it’s so normal and so secret. I went through this….”  That doesn’t help you when you’re planning your own bachelorette party, but knowing it’s normal and common can ease the pain overall.

And maybe it’s time to revel in this a little, shall we?  Celebrate that your bachelorette party is being thrown by the person who knows you best…YOU.  Enjoy not having to mediate fights between bridesmaids on who’s known you longest and therefore should be the one to throw you your shower.  And bask in the knowledge that you are lonely right now because you are special.  You’re the only one right now who is planning a wedding to this amazing partner you have.  You’re not alone, you’re having an experience that – while other people can help you celebrate and commiserate (*AHEM* APW….) – you are the only one going through.

As much as you feel alone?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you’re normal.  As imperfect and crazyface as this wedding planning, life-building, marriage-making business makes us, try to enjoy it.  Feel, mourn and move on from the bad parts, but really feel and enjoy the good ones.  We only do this once, tears and laughter and joy and raging included.

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  • I had 2 bridesmaids. One was great; the other was, well, useless. I hate to use that word because she’s a very dear friend of mine, but her lack of enthusiasm was draining. I realize that not everyone cares as much about your wedding as you do, but it was so gut-wrenching to realize this woman really didn’t care much at all. Or, if she did, she didn’t care enough to go out of her own way to be there for me in the ways I needed her.

    I even went so far as to ask a mutual friend for advice on how to handle it, and she gave me a lecture about how no one cares as much about Your Day as you do, and I needed to accept it, and blah blah blah. Yet, only a few months before, she specifically told me she didn’t ask this woman to be in her wedding because she knew she would be this way.

    I knew it wasn’t personal, but it felt personal to me. I had loads of other people who were enthusiastic about my wedding, but I felt so raw about this. I still haven’t talked to her about it, because I don’t know what to say without sounding petty, and the more time that passes, the worse it gets – resentment continues to fester, yet the longer it goes the more petty I think it will sound.

    In other words, don’t make my mistake. If you need their emotional support, speak up. It’s OK to want them to be committed to your day and help out with the wedding; you’re not a “bridezilla” for wanting that. If it is truly an imposition physically, emotionally, or financially for them to be there as much as you might like, that’s one thing, but it is OK to ask, and it IS OK to reiterate how much it would mean to you.

  • Liz

    lady, i had bridesmaids straight bail on responsibilities. (i’m anti-“bridal party responsibility” but let’s be honest. planning the shower is part of the deal. agreeing to pay for it, and then leaving my 17 year-old sister to foot the bill is no bueno) bridesmaids who not only didn’t come to the bachelorette party, but didn’t come to the reception dinner. and didn’t let me know til they were walking out the door of the ceremony. (don’t get me started on the bachelorette party ending at NINE PM as i sobbed into my hot chocolate)

    i think weddings really highlight the way things are versus the way things used to be, or the way you wish things were. i asked certain girls to be in the bridal party not because i was still close with them, but because i wanted to be closer. and the wedding- it doesn’t always close that gap or heal those wounds. it sometimes just more pronouncedly emphasizes the real status of relationships. which can suck.

    alyssa is so right on about being able to revel in the good while allowing ourselves a little bit of mourning for the reality of the bad. awesome post.

    • Your comment, “i asked certain girls to be in the bridal party not because i was still close with them, but because i wanted to be closer,” is so interesting Liz. My reasons are the opposite – I asked my oldest friends because it was the right choice for me. I wanted to ask new friends but felt so self conscious about weirding them out doing that. I felt that my loyalties were with my oldest buds over anything else. Interesting take!

      • Liz

        oh, kim! that’s sort of what i meant- old friends that i had drifted from. the ones that had always been there since the beginning, but that weren’t so close any more. and the wedding just… didn’t make us any closer.

        • I was thinking about doing that very same thing – asking an old friend I’ve kind of drifted apart from to be a bridesmaid – but have recently been wondering if it’s such a good idea after all. Thanks for sharing your experience. Maybe what we really need is a heart-to-heart before I try to fix it with the wedding.

          • liz

            i found it tricky because i felt like NOT asking signaled the nail in the coffin of our friendship somehow.

          • Bre


            I have a great friend who I had drifted from when I moved. I chose not to invite her to be a bridesmaid because I felt a bit uncomfortable as I thought there was a chance she would not want to “deal” with being a bridesmaid for someone she has not seen in years. After spending a year planning and too much money, the only regret I have is not inviting her to be a bridesmaid. She was so wonderful to me throughout the process and we rekindled our once very close relationship. She was unable to make it to the wedding, but was sure to visit me for my birthday just 2 weeks before the big day. My sisters did not even make it to my wedding and they WERE bridesmaids, nor did they come an visit me or show any interest in the process. Goes to show that the people you are “supposed” to have in your wedding party are not necessarily the people you “should” include. Being a bridesmaid is a great honor and I find that the woman you love and respect feel lucky to even be a part of such a great event if you give them the opportunity.

            “I’d rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven’t .”

    • This.

      After reading blogs and magazines and articles everywhere, I was excited for how the wedding was going to bring me closer to my friends. But you know, I think it’s like people hoping that having a baby will save a failing marriage – why do we think that a stressful, hugely emotional, life changing occasion is actually going to improve a relationship? If the cracks are there, all of those things may just help to expand them, and shine a huge light on to them. Your friend who’s always been a bit flaky, or the one who has always chosen other things to prioritise over you? They will not miraculously morph into a reliable, there-for-you friend, just because the W word comes into play.

      I experienced this on a much lesser scale, but it still hurt. I live in a different country to my bridesmaids, and from where the wedding took place, so I did need to rely on the two of them to help me out sometimes. The one who has no interest in weddings AT ALL and in fact has stated severla times that she can’t understand why people want to get married, and who I was expecting to drag her feet and not want to do anything wedding related, really stepped up to the mark and helped me more than I’d expected. The friend who I thought I was closer to, and is way more interested in pretty and weddings and the like, was distant, not reliable, and always making promises to do things, and not keeping them. Which hurt for the whole time up until the wedding. But now looking back (at the grand old age of a one month wedding graduate), with non bridal brain, I can see that, actually, that’s just what that friend is like in general, and the wedding just amplified it. It actually doesn’t mean we’re not as close, or that I don’t mean that much to her, it’s just being a little bit unreliable, is one of her faults, and I have several way worse faults than that, so I am not complaining.

      So after all that rambling, I think what I was trying to say is – god yes I felt lonely throughout the wedding planning, and wondered whether I’d chosen the right bridesmaids, or whether my friends just didn’t care, or whether we’d grown apart wthout me really realising, but looking back I can see that it was just them, being them, and how could I blame them for that.

      Thank you for coming out and saying it’s ok to be lonely, because you really can start to doubt yourself and your popularity, particularly if you have low confidence on that front already…

      • Well done for recognising your own faults, evaluating your friend honestly and still loving her. I like that.

    • Liz, I am so sorry you cried into your hot cocoa. I cried at my shower/party the night before the wedding too, right in the middle of opening gifts in front of everyone. Oops.

      • A-L

        Yeah, I cried at my first “bachelorette” party. I was with some folk I didn’t really know, had been told the incorrect dress code and then tried to find something to wear in my sister’s wardrobe. Problem being that my sister could pass for a model, and I, well, can’t. Love those appearance insecurities!

    • weddings “more pronouncedly emphasize the real status of relationships.”

      well said! i was just talking to a friend about what a strange experience it is to label all the people in your life when you’re engaged – bridal party, maid of honor, invited/not invited, etc. i hate all the comparison and competition and categorization. for better or worse, wedding planning has helped (forced?) me to assess my relationships honestly; not just with friends, but also parents and extended family members and the like.

      this is not what i signed up for! i just want to be married. hehe.

  • Yes yes yes yes yes yes. I felt EXACTLY the same way through my own wedding planning, from knowing that I’m a perfectionist to having the best friends who live everywhere but local to the supportive fiance whose friends seem to be so supportive…I feel like I could have written these words too. Thank you for expressing this. It is the dirty secret of the wedding planning biz, which makes it even more difficult to deal with. There are two things around this that really stand out for me when thinking about my own isolation: first, when I read the wedding magazines who told me that this would be the best time of my life with fun parties thrown in my honor left, right, and center (HA – like that ever happened)…and then second, after the reality set in and I found myself depressed, when I found this website and found people who dared to speak otherwise. I dont’ think I’ve ever felt more alone than during some of my wedding planning, and I wish I had found this community earlier on so that I could have found everyone here and screamed “I am alone!” with a bunch of others. Even now, two months after the fact, hearing your words has made me feel so much less alone, and I hope you get the feedback from this forum that supports you in feeling less alone as well.

    • Thanks Jenna. All of these comments, and the secret being OUT, has already started to make me feel better!

    • Jenna, I really like this phrase:

      “…and I wish I had found this community earlier on so that I could have found everyone here and screamed “I am alone!” with a bunch of others.”

      The perception of in-person isolation driving women towards a real, healing, and empowering online community… I think this is true for many people (myself included) and now I gotta think about this some more.

  • MeganKozi

    Wow, Kim. I thought I was reading some of my own thoughts!

    I live 1500 miles away from all of my old friends and family, and I have no female friends down here in Florida. All of the ladies I’ve met (S.O.’s of fiance’s co-workers) are younger than me, and act like it. And that green head of envy comes up when they find out I’m a stay-at-home woman and my fiance is just fine with it that way (mind you, this is not by choice. I went to Culinary school, and the restaurant entertainment industry down here took a major blow when the recession happened, as the economy down here relies heavily on tourism). This has led me to be isolated and doing all of the planning myself. I wish my mom would help, but when I asked for $500 for my dress, I was met with dead silence for two (2) days, and then no straight answer from her or my father. So, I’m done asking them for anything, and we’ll just pay for it ourselves. When she asked what we wanted for Christmas, I told her to make a donation in our names to the ASPCA.

    And while my sister, a.k.a. best friend evar, is my maid of honor, she works full-time with varying hours, so all I expected her to do was her part, and nothing more. But, I do ask her opinion on things when I can’t decide (my fiance- “Whichever honey, I trust your judgment”-couldn’t be less helpful). There are days where I have to shut the office door and just cry because, between wedding planning and the Holidays, things have been slow in progressing.

    Okay, I’m done griping. Take care of yourself Kim and keep your sanity.

    • Barbra

      You’re not in the Orlando area, are you? I’m in the market for some friends…all of mine live far away as well. :)

      • MeganKozi

        I’m actually in Ocoee.

        • Barbra

          That’s not too far–I’m in Altamonte.

    • Laura

      This is so similar to my story! I’m in grad school, also 1500 miles from my friends, family and fiance (and they’re not all in the same place, they’re just all really far away from me). I won’t be moving back to where my fiance and I will live together (and where a lot of our friends are) until 4 weeks before the wedding. Which means I probably won’t be having a shower or bachelorette party at all – the logistics are too complicated. Most of the time I feel totally cool about it and recognize that it is the result of my situation, which I chose to put myself in (no one forced me to move across the country to go to grad school – although I didn’t realize then that I would be planning a wedding while here). But sometimes I just feel really sad that I’m “missing out” on this stuff.

      It’s nice to know everyone feels this way a little sometimes.

      • Don’t give up on some sort of special girl time with your closest friends before the wedding! All my (two) bridesmaids lived far away from where I was living while wedding planning, and then I moved to another country just six weeks before our wedding, so I felt rather alone especially those last few weeks. But what we did was have girl time the night before the wedding, after the rehearsal. It was a small shower with about 8 girl friends who were in town for the wedding and it was so nice to have that time hour or two together. Maybe you can work some sort of brunch/shower/pizza night/something into the wedding weekend plans?

        • Ruth

          I did this, too. All of my friends and family lived far away from me, but not consolidated in one place to make doing a shower or a bachelorette party in another city logical. The night before the wedding we had a gathering of all the gals who had arrived in town. It was great to have old and new friends of mine meet one another. Also, a group of ten of us from college have kind of made a routine of gathering for breakfast the day of the wedding. We visit, laugh, share what has been going on in our lives since the last time we were all together, and usually end with prayer. That was one of the most special moments of the wedding weekend for me.

    • Thanks Megan. We aren’t alone. And I do feel better reading Alyssa’s advice that even if you still feel alone or are far away from loved ones and friends, that the person who is doing all the planning and knows you best is doing the most work – you!

  • E

    I’m at work, so I can’t give a lengthy response right now, but YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I am a lonely bride, too. I don’t have very many female friends, and the ones I have are either not into the whole wedding/girl time thing or else they are in other state. My family is in another state as well.

    I’m not having a bachelorette or showers, though. It’s cool of you that have taken it upon yourself to give yourself the “full bridal experience” – I am sure people will show up!

    • kireina

      Me too, lonely bride. We just moved to a new city a few months ago, so i literally know almost no one. My fiance, who was initially really excited about wedding stuff, is so completely busy with his MBA classes that I tend to hear things like, “Tell me which one you want me to like, so that I can get back to my homework.” For better or worse, one of my two best friends is getting married two months before me, and she, I, and our 3rd bestie are all in both of the weddings, which splits the focus a bit. And I’m unemployed right now, so there’s *no escape* from the wedding stuff. So, yeah, I’m with you. Planning a wedding without a community is tough, and it’s sad, and it’s lonely, and it can even be a source of shame (shouldn’t I be able to just handle this, dammit?).

      But there are others out here! You are not actually alone! You can do it! And at the end of the day, you’ll be married to a fantastic guy who loves you – and that’s what you’ll remember.

      Also, Alyssa, killing me with the Snow White references. I almost had a coffee spit-take. :)

      • Yes Kereina! Splitting the focus is a HUGE part of it that I didn’t exactly articulate in my email to APW. I just feel like I SHOULD be the center of attention here. I don’t necessarily want that, being the center of attention terrifies me, but I guess I’m just surprised and disappointed at the lack of OMGYAYWOWYOU! from all of my family and friends. There’s just so much going on with everyone else that I know that I feel like the only person truly focused on how much of a big deal getting married is is ME. I guess it’s my own unrealistic expectations that lead me to feel let down. Thank you for commenting and making me admit to this.

        • meg

          Yeahhhh… thats the expectations hitting reality thing that sucks so much. People are super excited for you getting married about twice – when you announce it, and on your wedding day. The rest of the time? Not so much. So it’s tough to reconcile with what you’ve been taught to expect (but good practice for the rest of it… people are not constantly excited through pregnancies eaither even thought it’s a HUGE transition for you.)

          • Alicia

            This is so true… I’ve now been to 3 weddings since we got married – 1 of which was a really close friend who had been my main buddy during our co-wedding planning time. and what I noticed more than anything else at these 3 weddings was how completely mellow I felt, after my own wedding where I’d felt this enormous fever pitch of emotion to just show up and be a guest at other peoples’ weddings was so calm. I was thrilled for them and of course shed a few (not-so) subtle tears during the ceremonies but realised right away how different it felt to be even a quite active participant at someone else’s wedding rather than the main event at your own.

          • Ara

            Does that apply to parents too? I have an otherwise good relationship with mine, but they just don’t seem to care. It’s been the hardest part of all of this for me. They never call. Haven’t offered to help in any way. When I call them looking for even moral support, they aren’t interested. My mom just called to cancel wedding dress shopping for when I’m home visiting for Christmas. She’s too busy planning my sibling’s birthday party. Ouch. I cried a lot after that call. My friends are fine, and I don’t expect my getting married to mean as much to them as it does to me, but I’d love to see a post on coping emotionally when your family could care less.

          • Ara — One of the APW wedding grads had a line that really stuck with me (even though it didn’t really apply in my case, it was that good, that I still think about it) about having the revelation that while she thought of the wedding planning as the first endeavor of her new baby family, her mother thought of it as the last endeavor of their mother-daughter unit. I wonder if possibly you’re experiencing the reverse?

          • Ara

            Jennifer- I remember that one, too :) I’ll have to give it a little more thought. I don’t think my expectation was that it would be a big thing we did together since we live a thousand miles apart. I guess I just figured that my otherwise close and loving family would have some small degree of interest in this big life event. They are a very family-first kind of family, so I’m just a little baffled (and hurt) that it doesn’t seem to matter to them.

          • meg

            In my experance, that applies to parents too. None of ours were over the moon about the wedding planning. They were over the moon about us finding a good partner, but the rest… not a huge huge deal to them. Which was kind of a blessing (and kind of not).

          • A-L

            ARA, I understand. My parents were actually very supportive during the planning process, though admittedly I only went to them when I knew they would feel as though it was an area of interest. But at the wedding my dad left before it was over. And we were out of there by 9:00PM (wedding was at 5:00). Ouch.

          • Exactly, exactly, exactly. I read this post a few days ago and have just been letting it percolate in my brain. With the time to think, I’ve realized that the what-we’re-taught-to-expect thing is really pretty prevalent in our society. It’s probably how the most things get sold, right? Here we are in the holiday season and it’s the same thing–I’m Jewish, and I’m quietly celebrating Hanukah with my fiance while watching these crazy Christmas ads–kids’ faces all aglow, women opening gorgeous diamond pendants from their gorgeous men, etc. etc. It’s always been something to marvel at for me–and I thought I was immune–that is, until I got engaged and started feeling lonely myself. The ideal out there of the bridesmaids dropping everything to throw you the perfect bachelorette party, to help with everything hard, and to be there every minute–well, it’s just like the Christmas ads, I think.

            Part of the loneliness for me is that my mom isn’t here to help me (I’ve posted before about how she died 5 years ago), but it’s also that my bridesmaids either live far away or live locally but have brand new babies. Fortunately my fiance is lovely and interested in being involved in wedding-related decisions. The only way he’s been annoying so far is in his lack of motivation to collect addresses so we can send out STDs! Anyway, I agree completely about the idea that we have this community so that we don’t have to feel lonely–or AS lonely. Thanks for posting this.

  • When this came up the other day, I knew it was going to come back and get its own post. Which is awesome, because as Meg wisely pointed out…it does feel a bit secret. Like everyone is sitting in their hears feeling the same, but that to admit it would be acknowledging everything isn’t perfect. Time to get out the shame blasters!

    I have been struggling with this a bit recently too, and again crystalized by bridesmaid drama, or perhaps not drama but simply apathy. All of my friends are completey lovely, but I jsut wonder if there will even be a bachelorette sometimes. But again, like Kim said…most of the time I am doing things my own way, to get them done right. So part of it, I’m sure, is my own doing. And part of it could be that I have been engaged a long time, and the wedding is still 9 months away, so who really cares but me right now? I feel like maybe I should be more patient sometimes.

    But at least now I have a place to talk about it, so no more secrets.

    • I’m glad to hear this Jenn. I take full ownership for my high expectations and propensity to just do things myself and not ask for help. That’s all on me, for sure. It makes me wonder though, if I wasn’t anal or a perfectionist like that, would my experience be totally different? Would I feel lonely? Would I even care?

      • Completely. I feel the same way about surprise birthday parties – I somehow feel like my personality has prevented me from ever being on the surprise end of a surprise party (although that may be ridiculous.) and I have always wondered if perhaps I was just a little less strong in my opinions…but then I wouldn’t be me. So at a certain level, I guess I shouldn’t waste time worrying about it :) Although I really would love a surprise party one of these days.

      • meg

        Yes, you would. It would be a little different, but you’d still probably feel lonley. I’m not really anal and perfectionist, and I did ask for lots of help… and I still cried buckets. That doesn’t let you off the hook for asking for help, but maybe is helpful to know.

    • Jenn, I’m right there with you. I live far away from everyone, and, though they complain very regularly about how I don’t include them, almost no one seems to take the initiative to get involved (no responses to my emails, etc.). When I read about these amazing weddings on here (and elsewhere), where everyone magically pitches in and the community builds a beautiful wedding, it’s discouraging when I can’t even get people to respond to happy, isn’t-this-pretty emails (case in point: my bridal shower this winter that’s just turned into an un-wedding-related holiday party). You’re not alone in your loneliness or frustration, and, you’re right, talking about it does make it better.

      • Nina

        Oh I just had to respond and say I’m so sorry your party is being taken over and I totally hear you on the lack of response when you try to get people involved. I tried to include my friends that are far away through occasional emails (not massive group things, just simple emails to a couple of friends) and didn’t get much in replies so I stopped. People are busy, I get that, but it’s disheartening.

      • meg

        Hey Katy-
        So it’s still possible to have a love and community filled wedding, I swear to it. I, like everyone, had a lot of people not wanting to help, and not responding to emails. But when it came down to it, people mostly pulled together in the ways we really needed. So. It happens, more or less. It’s just sometimes a 9th hour thing. People can’t sustain wedding excitement is the thing.

        • Meg speaks the truth here. The lonely-planning followed by surprise community pulling together was so exactly my experience that my entire grad post became about that.

      • Alicia

        I think you’ll find yourself really surprised by people later. I was in another country from my 3 bridesmaids and got nary a response to several ‘hey would you like to wear this’ type emails, let alone helping with the many hours of crafting etc. And believe me, I was feeling pretty crappy and sad about it for months… But in the 2 days before the wedding these ladies were so unbelievably fabulous and fun and supportive, so they weren’t sewing bunting with me but they still did a great job of making sure I was well hydrated in between margaritas and wasn’t running around like a total lunatic. Everyone has their moments, I promise.

  • YES YES! Now, get out of my head, Kim!

    I’m one of the last of my friends to marry. I’ve relocated to DC while most of the college friends are in New England and my two high school friends are in NY and OR and my sister is in Toronto and my parents go between Florida and NY. I have friends in DC, but they are not quite my best of all friends. They are friends that I’ve had for six years, who have seen this part of my life, but know little about the “Me before DC”. And it’s hard to think of relying on them during the planning process for some reason.

    I realize, often, how much different this experience would be if it was happening closer to my friends and/or family. If it was happening at a point in time when most of my friends were getting married…I remember the gushing and oohing and ahhing that took place for all of them, but I feel, in a way, we’ve all moved on. There is no more gushing for weddings, it’s now a gushing for babies or newer, bigger houses, or huge promotions at work.

    It’s a different dynamic. It’s taken a lot of time and energy to take the gobs of thoughts that are rushing through my brain about all of this and come out with the conclusion that it’s our wedding. It’s our engagement. And it will be what I make of it. (Duh! Right?!) It might not be what I imagined, but when it all comes down to it, what I imagined my life at 30 would be is no where NEAR what my life at 30 is.

    And, when it all boils down, my life right now is fantastic. And probably exactly as it should be…for better or worse.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I think what it boils down to, as this sinks in and I read all these comments, is that the only people who can fully appreciate and celebrate and make as big a deal as you’d hoped for throughout your whole engagement and wedding planning process is you and your fiance. And we do so I’m ok with that.

      • Exactly!

        And there are many times that I look at my fiance and say “Yay us! We’re engaged and we’re going to get married and we’re planning our wedding!!” and I literally jump up and down with joy. He gets it, though he laughs at me (and sometimes tells me to settle down).

        But he’s the only one on Earth who knows what it feels like to be engaged to me, and I’m the only one who knows what it feels like to be engaged to him. No one else, not even my best of friends, could celebrate this experience with me the way he can.

    • Anne

      Wow, Adria, I could have written this. Even down to the relocating to DC with the high school and college friends back up in New England and being one of the last to get married. Maybe we should be friends? I, too, didn’t feel right asking my DC friends of 5 years to be bridesmaids or relying on them for the planning process, because even though they’re the ones who are here for me (literally and emotionally) on a day to day basis, they still feel new and like they don’t know me as well as my long-term friends from back home. Also, I feel like there’s a lot of the “it’s not cool to care about your wedding” social pressure with this group.

      And my New England friends and bridesmaids (who cared about and for the most part enjoyed planning their weddings) have moved on from weddings…several of them are having babies this year, everyone’s buying houses, getting new jobs, getting promotions, finishing residency…and of course, we’ve all had that summer by now where we went to 10 different weddings and it was stressful and we were broke and we felt like we saw it all. It’s just hard to have the same enthusiasm that we did when we were 25 and it was the very first wedding. Even I’ve had trouble finding that enthusiasm, and it’s MY wedding!

      Still, I’m lucky. I have a planner, so I don’t need much other than emotional support from my friends, and my sister (MOH), who I’ve kind of had an up and down relationship with, has stepped up in a huge way and we’ve actually gotten a lot closer. And my mom hosted bridal showers for 3 of my bridesmaids, so their moms are taking that on in a huge way. And I’ve had a lot of wonderful moments of sharing the excitement from expected and unexpected sources.

      I think part of the loneliness comes from the fact that no matter where you and your friends are in the marriage process, there are barriers to sustained excitement about each other’s weddings. Single friends often either just not that into weddings yet or dying to have their own wedding and happy/sad for you because they’re not there yet and they want to be. Married friends are often over the wedding thing and onto the house buying or baby thing. Engaged friends are often preoccupied with their own weddings. The use of often instead of always is intentional.

      • Ex.Act.Ly.

        And yes, we should be friends :)

  • I’m sorry you’re dealing with this honey, but you are so not alone! My feelings of aloneness keep creeping up on me and sneak out in unexpected ways. It’s been a rough time and I’ve got many months to go… One of the things that’s helped me is to read The Conscious Bride by Sherly Nissinen, it’s really helped me see how common all the feelings other than pure bliss really are!

    Good luck with it all!

    • I will look that book up Sarah, thank you!

    • Just chiming in with more praise for Sheryl (now/nee Sheryl Paul… the book cover says one thing; Amazon’s author link says another). One thing that she, and others, really drive home is that sometimes it’s the expecting a certain thing that makes us so sad that it isn’t there.

      So we have all of these expectations coming from the media, from the WIC, from the rose-colored-glasses version of events that we get from even our best friends sometimes. That makes us expect some perfect, blissful engagement and planning process (because we know we’re not the *other* kind of bride, the kind known for their angry, selfish outbursts on reality TV, and clearly there are only the two kinds of brides in the world). And when it’s not perfect and blissful we feel disappointed. And then we feel ashamed about it, like it’s our own fault that we’re not happy.

      Well, it’s not our fault. But we do have the power to change how we feel about it all. First, we have the knowledge (now at least, thanks to this amazing community on APW and to women like Sheryl) that it’s totally normal to feel lonely, for any number of reasons. And then, we also have all these amazing things in our lives. It really helps (and this is suggested in the book, I think) to take some time every day to think about the wonderful things we do have. We have those friends who, despite being busy, and far away, are still our friends. We have our mothers helping us with all of this planning. We have our health. We have our wonderful fiances who we’re going to commit to in marriage, and that’s huge! We have our futures! We have APW! We have our health! OMG I feel better already (I’m still practicing this whole ‘think about what I do have thing’ myself).

      Even the friggin Buddha teaches that it’s desire that makes us unhappy. Focus on what you have and are grateful for. And don’t feel guilty of being ungrateful! Just let yourself feel what you feel, and try to do this work to help yourself feel better.

      • meg

        She’s also an APW sponsor ladies, and offers a e-course for emotional wedding prep (see the ad on the sidebar and the link the the directory). That might REALLY be worth looking into.

  • Cass

    I’m lucky enough to have some very helpful local relatives, but none of them are my wedding party. The wedding party is all so far-flung, needing at least one plane ticket to even come to the wedding. I’ve been feeling like I’ve had to import or hire my closest friends and family.
    It’s nice to have help, but it’s lonely to not have the helpers you always dreamed you’d have.

  • Reading this really helped today :) You are definitely not alone. I live in a different part of the country from most of my friends and family and while they are happy to help it just isn’t that easy when they aren’t near by. To top that I am working crazy hours and travelling all over the place for work so getting time to work out what I need people to do is really hard too. I love reading the wedding blogs about how everyone helped out and women who would put wonder woman to shame. That just isn’t my reality and sometime it makes me feel like a bit of a f*** up. I’ve spent half of the week worrying about getting everything done and the other half (thanks to all the sensible advice on here :) ) telling myself that it doesn’t matter – what matters is that we will be married whether everything is perfect or not and that has to matter more.
    Hope things get better for you soon.

  • Jess

    Thank you for this post! I felt very similarly to Kim, and had not read a whole bunch about these kinds of feelings on the wedding-o-sphere.

    My husband did not have a shortage of close friends that he would have wanted to have as groomsmen. In the past few years, he has been the best man or man of honor (for a female friend) in THREE weddings. Not even just one of the groomsmen, but the freaking best man! On the other hand, I did not have a whole bunch of close friends that I felt comfortable asking to be bridesmaids. I only had one friend that I wanted to ask to be a bridesmaid, and I knew it would make me hella self-conscious to have one person standing up for me if he had 3+. I thought it would just highlight the fact that I did not have as many close close friends as I wished I did. So we ended up just having one best man and one maid of honor each, and I made sure to tell his friends who would have otherwise been groomsmen that they could blame me….or thank me for not having to rent a tux!

    I did most of my weddingy things alone, like buying a dress and going to fittings. My family lives a few hours away, and my maid of honor a) is not the kind of person who is into weddings at all, and b) lives two timezones away. I also felt kind of bad at first about not getting to do all of the traditional girly weddingy events, like showers and bachelorette parties, but you know what? In the moment it ended up not mattering nearly as much as I thought it would.

    Also, one of my friends who lives closer to me (not my MOH) threw me a small bachelorette party, which was awesome and unexpected and touching. I also invited a bunch of female friends to get ready with me, which was also great. I was happy to see some of my friends step up and help me the weekend of the wedding, when I had not asked them to (because, like you, I hate asking people to help and tend to do things myself before asking).

    Kim, I hope that you will have the same experience in the end of being touched by someone who helps or acknowledges you in an unexpected way—because even if you don’t think it will happen, it just might.

    • Aly

      I was in the same boat on the fiance having more people ready to be in the wedding party than me. He initially told me “I need at least four on my side” and I said “uh….I can think of four people, max, for my side.” Which would have worked out perfectly except then my two best friends from college couldn’t make it, and I felt very uncomfortable thinking of other people to stand up with me…I felt like they’d just be fillers. So we decided to have a small bridal party of two each (I told him to tell his friends to blame me if they were insulted for not being in it), which is fine, but it sometimes makes me feel terrible that I won’t have a group of best friends with me on the day. Like everyone is going to look at our wedding party and think “geez, doesn’t she have any friends? What a lame-o.” Which is, of course, completely ridiculous, but it gets into my head sometimes…..its bad.

      I’ve got to get rid of those “supposed to’s” in my head-stop thinking “but I’m supposed to have so many girl friends I can’t limit by bridal party, not the other way around!” This post came at a great time…thanks APW!

      • Katelyn

        Yep, he is the social butterfly of the two of us, and I’m kind of a homebody sometimes. I’m very good friends with many of his friends, though, so it helps my social circle, but not my potential bridesmaid list.

        Not having the typical number or type of friends (aka female) is one of those issues with me that runs deep and really hurts sometimes. I know logically, I’m not a girly-girl and I have interests that tend to skew more masculine (video games, movies, math). But then I see Sex and the City and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and my female coworkers bonding so easily, and it’s really tough to not feel the shame.

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        I’ve seen a bunch of comments about not having the same number of close friends as your future spouse. I totally get why this is shame-inducing (though, it really shouldn’t be).

        After being a maid of honor three times, I really only wanted my one sister to stand up with me at our wedding. Husband has three brothers and the first thing he said was, please don’t make be choose between my brothers. So we didn’t. I had one bridesmaid and he had 3 groomsmen. It felt right for us.

        Here’s my suggestions on getting past the feeling that you are less loved than your partner – One, remember that every relationship is different and your one bff probably has a deeper relationship with you than your partner’s 5 must-have pals have with him. Two, “filler” friends will just be extra people to wrangle and won’t add to the joy of your day (and they’ll probably know they’re fillers and be less into the whole experience). Three, if the visual upsets you, upset the visual. Have your 2 and his 6 stand in a semi-circle behind you, all mixed up. Put everyone on one side and your celebrant on the other with you two in the middle. Have his top two and your two stand in the traditional formation and put two extras on each side a little behind.

        Just work it out – if your support group works for you in your regular life, don’t hate yourself because they don’t seem to fit the wedding mold.

    • Thanks Jess. I hear that. It’s like everything right down to the number of people up on that altar (or whatever space) determines your self worth and awesomeness in front of all of your guests somehow. I’ve spent so much wasted time fretting over his endless friends and my shortage of people to ask too. And for what? Who the hell will notice that kind of thing during the ceremony? And will they really judge me for it?

      Thank you for reminding me that unexpected things happen every day and not to overlook the joy in those.

    • Amy

      My husband basically told me that he was asking (or had already asked) his nine best friends to be in our wedding as soon as he proposed. I had three girls in mind that I knew I wanted to be in my wedding. Then it seemed so unbalanced, that I asked my four best girl friends from my current city/life. Then we were up to seven. The week before the wedding my best friend from grad school surprised me by saying she was able to come all the way from overseas and I thought, “what the heck!” and made her a bridesmaid too. I still had one less than my husband, but I felt sort of like I had to defend myself for having TOO many bridesmaids. I wanted to say “I’m not the kind of girl that needs eight bridesmaids, I swear!” I did everything I could to appear low-maintenance, letting them wear different dresses of their choosing, letting them get their hair done or do it themselves, letting them wear their own shoes, etc. Too bad that I had to feel shame about that. I guess we feel judged no matter what huh?

  • A-L

    I understand where a lot of this post is coming from. Our closest friends all live out of town, and so does most of our family (including our bridal party of 2 people). So wedding planning was definitely a solitary affair for the most part. But I would e-mail and have phone conversations with my MOH, and even had a trip out to see her. I just thought that many modern traditions like showers & bachelorette parties would not be in my future.

    But when the wedding weekend came everyone came out in full force. They threw me a surprise shower with a nice group going out afterwards for a semi-bachelorette. People baked cookies & cupcakes, helped with the setup, packed & moved my fiance, and did so many other wonderful things to make the wedding go off swimmingly. The aloneness (I don’t want to say loneliness) was nonexistent, it disappeared. And the wedding was totally worth it.

  • Shelly

    Kim, I definitely feel you – and have to second Alyssa’s advice to vocalize the things that you want from your bridesmaids. During the planning process I kept pretending that I was SUPER-BRIDE and that I didn’t need any support, but it left me feeling so alone. My friends weren’t NOT encouraging, but they definitely didn’t have any idea about when I was stressed or needed help because I never shared.

    Do yourself a favor and be a little vulnerable. And the other thing I learned is that if you open up to them about your needs, you might discover that your friends need you too, and even though you are far apart, even though you are planning for a huge event, I’m sure that you can support them too.

    • Overall I think I feel that way in life – SUPER GIRL, not letting anyone in to my insecurities and weaknesses until it’s way to late. It’s not so tough to admit you need help but to not be able to accept not doing it all yourself. I need a huge lesson in vulnerability in all aspects of life. Thank you for the reminder.

      • DIDI

        I recently learned that insecurities and weaknesses are what makes us human. Ask around, seriously, I think you’ll find that no one actually expects you to perfect. If only I had know that during wedding planning :)

  • Faith

    “We’re gonna have to stop with these “supposed to’s.” They are examples of people’s experiences, but none of them are how it’s “supposed” to be.”

    Okay, that’s as far as I got and I had to comment that I was thinking this SAME thing all week, Alissa. I’m 100% for the elimination of the phrase.

    Okay, back to reading!

    • Faith

      And I’m sorry for spelling your name wrong…I think I typed too fast. I’m a dummy.


  • zoe

    It is OK to have a small bridal brigrade/party/whathaveyou. I had two of my besties from high school and one v. close friend from college. (I spent a lot of time feeling bad that I didn’t have a college “group” of friends. Instead, there are the people I was close with freshman year, the people I was close with sophomore year, and the people I was close with jr and senior years.) I know that makes me sound like a flake, but people leave, graduate, and really, I was very much finding myself.

    So anyway, I felt bad that I didn’t have this huge group of girls who all knew each other. But I had three freaking amazing women. Since there’s no ‘group,’ I felt awkward having a shower, so it was mostly family + these three. Bachelorette was super low key, but it involved ALL of my favorite things and lots of giggling.

    On the weekend and day of the wedding, they were the most supportive, loving rockstars I could have ever, EVER dreamed of or asked for and I hope I can do the same for them some day, whether at their weddings, or some other life event. There were multiple times when I looked around, and felt so overwhelmed by their generosity and fun and thought “these are the best people in the world and they are my people.”

    It’s like all these other aspects of wedding planning (I had a Sunday afternoon wedding, not a Saturday blowout that I was supposed to have. I had a bluegrass band, so there was no rocking dance party that I was supposed to have. etc etc etc but it was MINE) I think the difference is that when it comes to friends, it’s the ultimate reflection on who we are.This is all to say that I hear this frusteration. And that I felt bad for about 5 seconds that I didn’t have what I thought I was supposed to have. But what I had, I wouldn’t change for the world.

    • This comment rocks Zoe, thank you. I need to take my 5 seconds, waste it on feeling bad, and MOVE ON.

  • Amy

    Meg made a great point about not trying to do everything by yourself, and asking for help when you need it.
    While I did have one “super-bridesmaid” as my husband dubbed her, a lot of the other girls I asked were busy, or simply unable to help in the ways I expected them too. And that was ok in the end, because on the day of they were super amazing and exactly what I needed. One of the greatest gifts those otherwise busy bridesmaids gave me was the weekly check-in phone call where I told them all about cute shoes/family drama/etc. and we just caught up. On occasions I just sobbed on the phone about how the wedding was a disaster. And they talked me off the ledge and calmed me down. Granted, this would have been nicer to do in person with a bucket of wine, but don’t discount the value of those types of conversations to help you feel connected to your bridal party.
    And what is up with the bridal magazines telling us that you need to take your entire bridal posse to like every.single.vendor.meeting? It was bad enough just having to deal with my mom sometimes.

    • So true, thank you Amy! :)

  • JEM


    I blog-stalked you and saw that you live in Boston. According to this post, Boston APW ladies meet up regularly. So, you have an instant group of sane, been-there-done-that, I-get-it!!!, ladies that I am almost certain you can relate to. And I say that because I’ve met up with the DC APW ladies and they just rock (and are sassy to boot).

    • Dianne

      Jem – you are awesome! And you got me thinking … are there any APW ladies in the Southern California Inland Empire area – Riverside and San Bernardino counties (achem – Meg’s hometown!)? I know there is a group that has done the book club meet-ups in LA, but I’d love to meet some fabulous APWers closer to home. Or even – what about Orange County?

    • You know Jem, you’re so right. I need to get out of my comfort zone and do something like this. Thanks for kicking me in the butt where I needed it :)

      • JEM


  • angela

    oh kim, i know exactly what you’re dealing with. i’m lonely too.

    like you, i’ve got my “closest” friends (a small group) in the wedding party, and since i’m a very independent and practical-minded kinda chick (and very anti-bridezilla), i’ve been doing my best to prevent the wedding from taking over anyone’s lives. i know everyone’s busy – the last thing i’d want to do is hurt a friendship over the demands of wedding planning. so instead, it’s been made to be kinda insignificant to everyone except my fam and fiance. i know it’s my own fault (i know alyssa, i know) and then comes the shame factor of “hey, i’m the lowest maintenance bride ever, so why can’t anyone appreciate it and at least pretend to care?” – and then i feel guilty for feeling that way. bad cycle.

    as the first of my group of friends to get engaged and start wedding planning, i’ve tried to be extremely sensitive to the fact that friends can have mixed emotions when it comes to a friend’s wedding – and it does hurt that the whole planning process has been met with hesitation on a few of my friends’ parts, like when my sister and mom and 1 bridesmaid out of the whole wedding party came to look at dresses, but i’ve been trying not to take it personally.

    thanks alyssa for the awesome advice for girls like me – asking is step 1. i’m telling myself that i’m going to work on it as we get thicker into the prep part.

    • ha, exactly this! I tried so very hard to be anti-bridezilla, but that just created a cycle of hurt and then guilt!

    • Lethe

      This is a very good point – helping with your wedding may bring up deeper issues for some of your friends (like how they feel about where their own relationships are going, their own worries or insecurities about weddings, etc). It’s easy to take it personally when people behave weirdly around your wedding-planning, so it’s important to remember that it’s quite likely it has NOTHING to do with how much they care about you.

    • Nina

      This post and the comments really struck a raw nerve with me. I too felt very alone during the wedding planning. My mom lives on a different continent and isn’t super excited about weddings, my closest friends live really far away, and even the ones who don’t are super busy. I was the first to get married so they didn’t really understand how overwhelming it can be. But I’m not sure any of this was the real problem, I think I was the problem.

      Like someone mentioned earlier in the comments, I think it comes down to cultural chatter again: the cultural chatter about bridesmaids is always one of an undercurrent of resentment. Every stereotype paints bridesmaids as the victims of ugly dresses, too many demands and expenses, and inane bridal chatter. So it only made sense that like with the rest of wedding planning, I took it upon myself to be the absolute OPPOSITE of the typical bride. This meant I didn’t ask for much of anything and I felt alone. I realize now I was essentially shamed out of asking for help.

    • Anon

      I did this. In order to not take over anyone’s lives with my own Big Event, I down played my wedding planning. My married girlfriends were waaaaay past weddings (and waaaaay into babies) and my single girlfriends were, well, single. I couldn’t get the married ones excited if I tried, and I didn’t want to brag/wave it in the face of my single girls (who very much wanted to be in my place, especially those who had been dating their SO longer than I had been mine). So what did I do? “Oh, planning is no biggie, I’ve got everything under control. Now, tell me about YOUR life.” I wish I had have embraced my special engagement time more. Don’t get me wrong – in the comfort of our own home, my fiance & I were celebrating like mad. But out in public? I down played it. And I was lonely at times.

  • Thanks for posting this Alyssa and that you for your advice. I’m so lucky to have this wonderful community to help me through this time, to confirm that I’m not crazy, and to not be afraid to say those things I need to hear. You’re so right that my friends and family expect me to come to them. And I’m trying. I’m slowly allowing myself to ask for that kind of help. It’s a control thing, I know it. But it’s getting better. Thanks for giving me the confidence and the reality check!

  • shorty j

    for what it’s worth, I don’t buy into the idea that being a bridesmaid is a job with major pretedermined responsibilities and expectations. The people standing up for us in our wedding are doing exactly that–standing up for us. If they want to do anything else, great! But I just spent like 9 months writing resumes and job-hunting, and I ain’t starting over again! haha. I mean, everyone has to do what’s right for them, and for me, I’ve found that this is the most effective way to go about it. Plus, at least with the people in my life, they’re much more inclined to help out when I’m not telling them that they HAVE to. :P

    But I’m ending up fighting loneliness in other ways. The big thing is that everyone I know who has gotten married in the past few years has either eloped or had a tiny wedding or had their big wedding paid for by their parents. We are doing none of those things, and it makes it really hard to talk about because a lot of my friends just can’t relate–I’ll be talking about decorating and they’ll immediately suggest that I do X, Y and Z, except that costs 2 grand and I’ve got $500 for decorations. And my best friend/maid of honor isn’t married but desperately wants to be, so every time I talk about wedding stuff with her, I feel like a complete jerk (not at ALL her fault) because she’s still waiting for her dude to get himself together after five years. So sometimes even trying to TALK about this stuff is hard.

    • Right, I’ve totally accepted the separation of those duties, for sure.

    • Lee G.

      Don’t worry about talking to your friend about wedding stuff. If she’s like me, she will still want you to be excited and enthusiastic about your wedding, even if she is a teeny bit jealous. Because she’s not jealous of you, just the experience.

      However, then if she is jealous and it shows, I guess then yes, it would be hard to talk to her.

      Hmmm… not very good advice but the best I can do! Just for me personally, any time I hear about other people’s weddings/marriages, I think, how exciting! And when’s it my turn?

  • Jen

    Dude. Duuuuuuude. Back up 12 hours and there I am, bawling my eyes out on the bed next to my finace, telling him that I’m not sure anyone will “show up” for me. I mean, I know they will. But sometimes it is very hard (and scary!) to trust that other people are as excited about your wedding as you are.

    So many people have offered to help, but I’m not really sure what to tell them. I don’t want a herd of people at the dress shopping experience… is it too much to ask someone to figure out how to make the chairs look good? I feel like I’m not so great at dissecting the tasks at hand!

    • Aww, I’m sorry! Right, but what can you do? You can just hope and pray and that’s it!

    • Katelyn

      When I get asked to help with wedding stuff, it helps to ask for “ideas”. So if you need chair dressings, ask someone to research a few options. Giving entire responsibility isn’t just harder for you to handle, it’s also harder on the person. But if they do a lot of the legwork and you can choose something they suggest, you’ve cut out 85% of the work while still involving people.

      • Jen

        Katelyn, GREAT feedback. In light of this thread, I emailed a couple close friends to get a coffee on Sunday and chat about wedding stuff… I am definitely going to be asking them for ideas. Thanks for YOUR good idea. :)

    • Anon

      The night before my wedding, when I was bawling my eyes out due to exhaustion, emotions and excitement, after asking for the umpteenth time what she could do for me, my (very wise) MIL said to me “It’s more work to delegate than it is to just do it yourself, right? We’re out of here.” I pulled myself together and completed the last few wedding tasks.

      What’s with us Type A Overachievers that we can’t just let go? Trust someone else will do it just as well – if not better! – than we can do it? I really wish I had just let go in those hours before the wedding, because they haunt me. I cried instead of laughing, and I regret that.

  • KP

    So not alone in feeling this way. I’m struggling with this too.

  • Arachna

    Hmm. I sympathize with the pain and hurt but I have to say I think a lot of these expectations are entirely unrealistic. Reasonable because that’s what we see in the magazines and tv and blogs but not reality.

    You have 6-7 best friends! Geez… who has that many? I’ve had two once in my life and my life felt full to bursting. That’s no small thing. At my wedding I had a maid of honor, my sister. Period. And it was perfect. My husband had a best man, who was amazing.

    I didn’t have a shower and I’m not rare or an exception.

    Look, the only people who throw showers and bachelorette parties are people who a. know about all this stuff – I am 100% sure my mom still doesn’t know what a shower is, b. like this stuff and let’s be honest probably are into the WIC and c. have time. And if you are surrounded by these people hurrah! enjoy! (though many will complain instead)

    I know APW stresses the community aspect of wedding and there definitely is one. But. It’s not really a community event, it’s your event. Your party to celebrate you marrying your man. No one else necessarily has a big part in that.

    And if having the wedding is going to make you feel lonely – have you thought about eloping/city halling? That is explicitly only about you and the marriage and a lot simpler. I wish we had done that.

    • Thank you for this reality check. It’s just that these wacky ideas get in our heads and we can’t shake them until someone calls us out for acting totally out of line. I appreciate your honesty in this comment. I’m trying to bring my expectations back down to earth.

      • Arachna

        *Hugs* (If wanted).

        I appreciate you took that comment in the spirit it is intended. In no way do I mean that you’re somehow a bad person for having these expectations or that you are at fault in this. It’s not a matter of fault. It’s a matter of tv life =! real life. But damn does tv get everywhere. It’s a structural problem not an individual one. Most people do not have all those things we are taught to expect, they just don’t.

        They are many people who just don’t have friends. That is a real problem IMO that needs to be solved by proactive seeking out of friendships (I’m working on it myself) but is not really connected to weddings. If you are happy with your life in the general course of things have the wedding that fits your life instead of trying to make your life fit someone else’s idea of wedding. Ask your family members, especially elder generations about what their weddings were like, I bet you’ll see a wide variety of experiences.

        But I think you’re going to be just fine, juuust fine because you’re thinking about it and trying.

        But I wish we didn’t do this to women in our society.

      • Katharine

        Can I put in a comment from the other side? I’ve been a bridesmaid three times, and before that started happening, I’d hardly been to any weddings–like maybe one or two. The first time someone asked me to be a bridesmaid, I was completely ignorant of what the WIC-imposed bridal party “responsibilities” were, or that I had to do stuff other than show up in a prearranged dress and be supportive in general. I didn’t even know what a bridal shower was, and I had no idea that planning a wedding could involve so many vendor meetings, crafty projects, research, decisions about necklines and flower placement, etc. If you don’t watch a lot of TV or romantic comedies and don’t go to a lot of weddings, these issues and “responsibilities” are not intuitive–at all. Reading wedding magazines might make it seem like this stuff is common cultural knowledge, but it often isn’t–and most people have no idea how much work it is to plan a wedding until they’re actually doing it.

        My first two times as a bridesmaid, I was long-distance from the bride. These girls had a mom and a sister, respectively, who were spearheading most of the girly planning, and I was almost completely absent from it. I helped a lot during the wedding weekends themselves, and I’d have been happy to do more if I’d been asked–but I wasn’t. Everyone seemed to assume that because I was far away and busy, I didn’t want to be bothered. And (the first time especially) I didn’t know to volunteer help, because, as I’ve said, I had no idea how much work was going on behind the scenes or the kinds of things I could help with.

        The third time was still mostly long distance, but by then I had a better understanding of how involved wedding planning could get, so I was able to offer targeted and specific suggestions of how I could help. I ended up making the bride’s dress, singing in the ceremony and at the reception, coming to a vendor meeting when I happened to be in town, and helping throw a shower. The help I offered was gratefully accepted (especially the dress part!), but I’m sure I would have ended up doing less if I hadn’t volunteered. I only knew what to volunteer because I’d already done it twice before and finally started to understand how difficult the planning process is, and where my specific skills would be appreciated.

        That said, I didn’t have the kind of relationship with any of these three bride friends where we would talk about weddings, gush over pictures of shoes or dresses, have Actively Girly Bonding Time Complete With Cosmos, or any of the other stuff that I’ve now learned is the cultural assumption about bridal parties. I had strong, loving relationships with them as individuals, and I honored them as I best knew how–by being generally supportive and, later, by offering specific help appropriate to my own talents. It would have felt strange and untrue to the dynamic of the relationship to have become a lot more squealy and girl-bondy than ever before as soon as the Wedding word appeared–and, for a long time, I honestly had no idea that I could have been doing more.

        I don’t mean for this to devalue the feeling of isolation, which I’m sure is very real. The wedding industry can be an undermining beast, and planning a wedding is WAY more work than it appears. But I wouldn’t assume that the feeling of isolation means that the people around you don’t love you enough or are letting you down–sometimes they just need to be asked for help, and other times you need to try to separate your true relationship with them from what the world tells you the relationship should be. Maybe those first two brides still secretly resent me for not rising to the Girly Challenge, but if so, I’ll never know–they both ended up happily married and the dynamic of our relationship is much the same as it ever was.

        • I totally agree with this. I have gotten way better at being a supportive friend to people planning a wedding because I realized how hard it is as I have gotten older and seen more friends get married, and they have talked with me about their process. And now that I have been through it myself first-hand, I feel like I actually know how to be helpful, instead of just making wild guesses.

    • Kate

      This is a great perspective. Kim, why not ditch the showers? It’s awkward throwing a party that’s about yourself getting presents anyway. There doesn’t have to be a traditional shower/bachelorette to have fun girly time pre-wedding . . . maybe you could visit a friend who lives in another city for a spa day, or have some female coworkers over for drinks and movies. The plus is that traditionally, you can’t invite people to showers who aren’t getting invited to the wedding, but there’s no such rule for low-key bachelorette type events. My friend has no close girls in her city anymore so when she was getting married, she came to my city and we went dancing with some of my female friends, who fussed over her. Wishing you the best, it’s tough to feel things aren’t what you hoped for.

      • meg

        Dude. I had two showers. One was casual and fun and unexpected and awesome, the other? Well, I wouldn’t do it if I was givena do-over. And my shooting party bachlorette? I asked a awesome friend who was NOT in the wedding, but was local and a go-getter if she’d like to throw it, and then told her exactly what I wanted. She was honored and rocked it. BUT. I got what I wanted because A) I didn’t depend on my wedding party to do it (it never would have happened then) B) I was super pro-active and C) I told them exactly what I wanted, and then let them do it on their own.

        So yeah. Those things are things you can skip, or things you can basically plan yourself, if needed.

        • *nods*
          Say what you want. I haven’t had my bachelorette yet (coming up in January) but I have been super clear about what I want – my guy friends to be invited for part of it (they are my friends too!), beer, nachos, karaoke. Otherwise, I said, go nuts! Whatever you like! But these are the things that were really important to me. That way they can plan some surprise parts (like dressing me in god knows what if they want to) and I can relax about it.

        • I had 2 showers and a bachelorette as well. I was going to do no showers (because C and I didn’t want to register for a ton of stuff, and because I didn’t want to impose that on my ‘maids), but I soon realized the shower was not about me and more about my MIL and her sisters who were dyyyyyying to throw a shower. My mom, then, thought it would be a good idea to throw one in her town (they’re 4.5 hours apart), and it got taken over almost completely by her two best friends (who did a PHENOMENAL job, by the way). I ended up having a wonderful time at both.

          For my bachelorette, I told my Good BM I wanted to do a casual dinner with some of my girlfriends at my fave Mexican restaurant, and I wanted to drink margaritas and not worry about driving. She took that and my requested guest list and ran with it. It was such a fantastic night. However, note of advice: after Mexican and tequila, we went to the local biergarten (which I also love). Beer and tequila are a baaaaad combo. Bad bad bad. All of us were really in rough shape the next day …

      • peanut

        exactly what I was thinking. The shower/bachelorette stuff is NOT required to have a wedding, and if your circumstances don’t permit and you’re gonna stress out about people not being excited or showing up, just don’t do it. Instead of planning your own shower and bachelorette party, why not have a bunch of people over for mimosas and 80s music, or meet up at a bar, or something low-key just to get your peeps together? If people want to bring you gifts, then that’s great, but it’s just a lot less stress on you.

  • ellabynight

    I felt this way, too, while I was planning my wedding. I was the first of my friends to get married and planning the wedding made me feel very isolated from everyone else. Even though I knew I should just ask for help, I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because even hinting to my friends that I wished they were more involved felt accusatory.

    I think, in general, it’s difficult for women to ask for what they want (because they’re taught to sacrifice and not “impose” on others), so asking your friends to step up in any situation can feel impossible. And particularly *because* they’re your friends and you’re mindful of their time, you don’t want to bother them.

    This all seems to be compounded by the wedding culture. Women are taught to be terrified of being the dreaded bridezilla and it seems like any request or decision a bride makes (no matter how reasonable) puts her in that category. And any request for someone else’s time and input seems to be the biggest of bridezilla impositions–how *dare* she demand my time! And energy! And money! Doesn’t she know that the world doesn’t revolve around her? That this day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to her?!

    Of course, real friends should be happy to give you their time and energy, but even if they do, the cultural conversation seems to say that they’ll secretly resent you for it. It’s all really frustrating and it helps encourage brides to keep quiet about their experiences—especially when they’re lonely. That’s why it’s really great that there are spaces like APW where women can share their experiences and have conversations society discourages.

  • Kim, I could exactly your whole comment! And add in a long distance fiance. I got engaged while in law school, but ended up asking high school and college friends to be in my bridal party. With my bridal party scattered around the country, my family on an opposite coast, and my fiance four hours away, I did much of our wedding planning alone, or via email. While I had a very large and great group of law school girlfriends surrounding me, I felt bad asking them for help since they weren’t necessarily in the bridal party. My loneliest point was when I was planning my own bachelorette party, and only two bridesmaids could come (the rest, for very good reasons, couldn’t make the trek). I wished, too, that I my closest group of girlfriends all lived in the same place. But you know what? I had an amazing bachelorette weekend, thanks to other friends who flew in (just for me!) and all of my law school ladies who went above and beyond that weekend. It was a special weekend too, because I was able to spend time with a lot of friends who I wouldn’t get to see much on the wedding weekend itself. I think my advice, looking back, is to not be afraid to reach out to your local acquaintances. You’ll be surprised how much they want to help and the friendships that develop. Also, I know I am super lucky to have amazing friends, even if I don’t get to see them that much. And, if you plan stuff yourself, you get to do exactly what you want (and I got to share my law school town with a bunch of friends)!

    • That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing!

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      I had kind of a similar experience being geographically far from all my old friends, but I did end up getting a lot of help from a local girlfriend.

      She was my only close friend who didn’t know me before Husband, and she was kind of the most excited for our wedding. She thought we were such a great couple and she had no old single-girl days to mourn the passing of. She wasn’t a bridesmaid (not even a top 5 contender), but she was there and it was the big thing going on in my life and she was really happy to pitch in. I repaid all her kindness by giving her *no* responsibilities on the wedding day – I just let her enjoy the fruits of our labors. It was really nice and I’m glad I let myself rely on her so much because it made a lot of stuff much easier for me.

  • Sept Bride

    It’s not just the planning.

    Although I was surrounded by love, friendship, and support on my wedding day, I look back on it as one of the loneliest times of my life. And that makes me incredibly sad. I had a MOH who was there for some things and bailed on others. I had a mother and a mother-in-law who were absolutely wonderful. I had an entire brigade of family and friends who were ready to step in with a hand to hold, a glass of champagne, or a back to carry what needed to be done. Most of all, I had a loving, adoring, supportive new husband who is my world. But. But, I still felt alone. Alone in my emotions – the love and happiness, and the small grief for the road not taken, alone in my stress, and alone in my bride-ful-ness.

    I guiltily mentioned this to my mother a few weeks after the wedding, and instead of being offended or dismissive as I guessed she might be, she just said, “I think a lot of brides feel that way. I know I did.” We talked a lot about this concept at the recent DC APW Book Club, and I was surprised to hear my thoughts echoed so consistently around our little group. Women with lots of bridesmaids felt alone. Women who spent the entire day with their husbands felt alone. Women who had been bridesmaids even admitted that they felt distanced from their bride friends on the friend’s wedding day. There is something about being a bride, we concluded, that sets you apart on the day you least want to be set apart. There is an aura, an expectation… an alone-ness.

    I don’t have any brilliant solutions to this problem or advice to women who have not yet walked that lonely walk from the father to the husband/wife (figuratively), but perhaps just this: expect that you will be held apart. Prepare for it if possible. Accept. A few months past my own wedding, I am still going through the grieving process for that single girl, and I think recognizing and coming to terms with that bridal loneliness is all part of that same process.

    • I’m a little teary at your comment! Thank you for such wise, and REAL, advice. I really do appreciate it.

      • Sept Bride

        Thank you. I feel bad writing things like this, and I certainly feel guily for feeling them (didn’t we have a whole post about shame???), but this is what I wish I had known.

        APW is worth it’s weight in gold for exactly this type of exchange – real women saying the things we all think and are afraid to say.

    • merryf

      THIS. Almost 6 months past my own wedding, where I felt so so alone, I still can’t shake it.

      Wedding planning was the loneliest time of my life. I was a mid-life bride, and I don’t have many friends from college (more than 20 years ago) that I keep in touch with beyond holiday cards. Certainly none who were invited to my wedding. I have very few friends at this point in my life — and the majority of them have children and I’m not in that place. The women in my life who I feel close to are cousins who live all over the U.S., and are much younger (by like 15 years) than I am. So, i didn’t have a bridal party. I didn’t have a bachelorette party, nor a bridal shower. My fiance and my best friend and I did all the planning. It was a committee of three. My mother was zero interested in anything. In fact, she had a hard time even listening on the telephone for more than 90 seconds before changing the subject. I did what we all say here — I asked a cousin for help with a small project that involved finding children’s coloring pages online. 2 weeks before my wedding she emailed to say she wasn’t going to do it because her “nanny was on vacation.” The one person who volunteered to help me is an older cousin who is a nurse, who offered to take my sick father from the venue back to the hotel during the reception.

      My wedding day just reinforced that while I am the sort of person who will call up someone and say, How can I help you, I’m coming over to do blah blah, I don’t have those sort of people in my life. I was sad.

      I wish I had had the guts to come on here and say “I’m so alone, I feel so overwhelmed by no one caring.” I know APW’ers would’ve helped me. So I’m saying it to you. You’re not alone.

      • Merryf, I am so so sorry that this was your experience. I wish I had been a guest at your wedding so I could have tried to find a way to help somehow. I hope over time you are able to heal from the disappointment and thank you for sharing so honestly because I know women sharing like this is really helping other women in the same situation….

  • Leona

    Let me just put this out there: If there is any bride in the state of North Carolina feeling this way, you just say the word to me and I will drive ANYWHERE to show up excited and helpful in whatever way you need.

    I feel your pain, Kim. I’m in this awkward period in life where most of my friends are still in undergraduate school, not in serious relationships and therefore uninterested in wedding-type things, living far away, or male and completely grossed out by the words “dress shopping.” I had exactly five close female friends, three of whom I made bridesmaids, and two of whom turned out to be supportive in any way.

    I was given two bridal showers by my fiance’s family and I planned one on my own for my home-church community. Very few people came to the church shower because my mom forgot to put the announcement in the paper/church bulletin. I planned my own bachelorette party but by the time it rolled around, I was so tired from planning the wedding all by myself that I only invited my close friends, only two of whom showed up.

    Here’s the deal, though. People may or may not choose to be as supportive or fun as you’d like them to be. Maybe only a few people show up to your shower/s and you feel completely disappointed and maybe you even feel like a failure. You’re not. You can’t control how other people will respond to your invitations but I think you always want to give people the chance to surprise you. It’s important that you don’t let this get to you. As monumental as these plans seem now, after the wedding, your friends will still be your friends no matter how much or little they participated and there will be other moments in life when they rise to meet your expectations. Don’t let those expectations and these feelings diminish your love for those friends, though, because these times pass. I think it’s totally okay to be pissed or hurt if you need it. Go ahead and smash something.

    For me, no matter how something went over with the showers or parties, I just tried to feel grateful and present. Prime example, for my bachelorette party, I kinda had a feeling that very few girls would come so I just chose something that I would enjoy with anyone, even if only one person showed up or even if I had to take my fiance with me and just have a date. We went to dinner and a ballet and what wound up happening was Friend A and I sat for a very long time in bar afterward with Friend B listening to her cry about her problems with her boyfriend. Instead of a lot of eye-rolling, Friend A and I stepped up and gave her hugs and helped her work through the issues in her head and when I left, I didn’t feel robbed of an experience at all. I just felt happy to be there when a friend needed me, like it was life as usual and not a wedding celebration. I think there’s something to balancing your wedding-sized expectations with the reality of real life that keeps happening whether you’re getting married or not, as Alyssa has suggested.

    • You’re such a sweetie.

  • TNM

    I feel like I need to add the perspective of the crappy bridesmaid – which I think I was in younger days – because it might alleviate some feelings of abandonment. For those friends who have not yet gotten married, sometimes they just *don’t get it.* They don’t know what goes into planning a wedding, the catering, the venue rules, the logistics, the need to obsess about ribbon colors from time to time, not to mention the family stress and relationship stress. I know I didn’t get it in my mid-late twenties when I was asked to be a bridesmaid as my friends started getting married. I had a foggy idea that I had to wear a bridesmaid’s dress and maybe go dress shopping but that was about it. But I didn’t help much because I literally didn’t even know that I *could* help or how exactly a wedding even “needed” help. Now I might have been particularly clueless, but I think my point boils down to: ASK for help before you give up on your friends and acquaintances. And in fact, before you ask for help, tell them (at least the singletons) how you are feeling, how it’s overwhelming, how the logistics are difficult, so they can get a sense of things. So it doesn’t just feel bizarre when you tell them that you need 130 hand-crafted placecards or want a 90 minute conversation about dahlias v. peonies. Believe me, if they get what is going on, they might very well want to help. I still feel guilty about how silly and useless I was as a bridemaid in weddings years and years ago.
    A formerly flaky friend

    • Right, I’m trying to find the line between some of my ladies “not getting it” or just being apathetic, too far away, or too wrapped up in their own lives to help too much. But asking needs to absolutely be in my repertoire going forward. Thank you!

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      Okay this is a really really good point, thanks so much for sharing it.

      I’ve been a MOH three times and every time I’m shocked by the behavior of at least one of the other bridesmaids. I can’t believe the bride is friends with her because she’s so flaky/unreliable/self-involved. But! I have a big family full of older cousins and I’d been witness to the inside story on bunches of weddings by the time I was 20. Possibly these other girls had not and that was what was missing.

      I think I’m going to make it my personal mission to educate my younger cousins and friends on what wedding planning is like for the bride and how to be a really supportive friend, even if you have limited resources.

    • peanut

      OMG I was the WORST bridesmaid during the wedding of my first friend to get married. I had just started grad school so I was super broke and annoyed that I had to pay for a bunch of what seemed to me as superfluous shit, and I just didn’t see what all the hoopla was about (2 showers? bachelorette? engagement party? I have to make a SCRAPBOOK PAGE??!!!) I was single and fabulous at the time, and I just thought my friend was being a Diva. Oh, and I also complained profusely to the MOH. But you know what, when the actual wedding week came around, I realized how happy and in love she was, and I really stepped up my game. People who aren’t in wedding-mode or who have never experienced it really cannot understand the intensity of the engagement period, you know?

    • This is totally true. I was not as good of a bridesmaid (or potential bridesmaid) as I should have been, esp to my cousin, and I feel bad about that. After having a REALLY crappy BM (and I hope I wasn’t ever that bad, but it’s hard to say – I might have treaded that line), I now GET IT. I hope I have an opportunity to make up for it/pay it forward to another bride one day, if not as a BM, then in another fashion.

  • Kassy

    I have been dealing with this as well. Three of my four bridesmaids are local, but that does not mean they’re necessarily present. Or that they automatically know what I need from them. I have one that’s kind of hands-off because her aesthetics are so different from mine (I actually appreciate that she has recognized this and kept her mouth shut when she thinks something I’ve picked is butt-ugly, not complaining!). One is a mom of three, so I recognize that my wedding is so not at the top of her priority list, and that is fine. And one repeats the constant mantra “I will do/wear/make whatever you want me to. It’s YOUR wedding,” which is great, but sometimes I want an OPINION! My best friend and maid of honor is half the country away, and doing all this without her just makes me miss her more. My fiance is so stressed about how we’re going to PAY for everything, that I can’t really use him as a sounding board. I have to do all the research and have a well-reasoned plan for things before I bring them up with him to avoid the gut-wrench “OMG, how much is that going to cost?” response.

    In addition, thinking about who to invite and therefore, who will share our special day with us, makes me think about all the people I’ve lost. I woke up in the middle of the night last week, couldn’t get back to sleep, and ended up sobbing in bed while thinking about my grandma, who died more than 12 years ago. And then there are the friends who have left voluntarily, who didn’t agree with some choice I made and chose to end the friendship rather than work through it. I mourn all these people on a daily basis now.

    But as my fiance pointed out yesterday when I was feeling depressed about the sparse attendance I expect of my birthday party, we have each other now. No matter what else happens, I have a partner who will love and support me the rest of our days. And there is great comfort in that.

    I usually hate chirpy “look on the bright side” advice, but it actually does help me to look at the people who ARE in my life and feel gratitude for them, rather than obsess over the loss of others or the feeling that somehow these people aren’t enough. I have a few absolutely golden friends, which is a thousand times better than a whole gaggle of people who don’t really care about me.

    It helps me to read APW and know that I’m not alone in my wedding-planning experience, and I hope it helps you, too, Kim!

    • Thanks for all of your thoughts here Kassy. I’m working on being more positive in general in life right now anyways. This is one very important exercise in that journey I think!

    • Morgan

      I found that preparing for the wedding really highlighted who was absent – dead relatives and lost friends loomed really large sometimes. You’re not alone. (Not that knowing that makes it sucks much less.)

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        My husband felt this a lot more than I did. He ended up scrapping the first version of his guest list because he’s fallen out of touch with so many people on it. He was really depressed about it at first until I reminded him of all the new friends we ought to be inviting. He didn’t think he was really that close with them, but I pointed out that he sees them all pretty often and they call him for advice. He started to feel a lot better when he realized he was discounting those friendships just because they were kind of new.

    • kireina

      “And one repeats the constant mantra “I will do/wear/make whatever you want me to. It’s YOUR wedding,” which is great, but sometimes I want an OPINION!”

      Oh, so, so, so, SOO exactly this.

  • cartascartas

    i don’t think i’ve ever commented on a apw post before, but today i just had to. this is exactly how i feel. even though i had the opportunity to go dress shopping with my mom, i couldn’t find anything when she was visiting, so i had to go buy my dress all by myself. i just relocated to a new city–a city that is also new to my fiance–and i know he is as lonely as i am. he moved here for me, so i feel guilty about his loneliness as well as for feeling lonely myself. this of course makes me feel even more lonely. does that even make sense? i’ve always had a lot of friends and although i have moved several times, it never took me long to make connections. turns out a male dominated workplace when you’re in your mid-twenties–in a city where nobody plans to stay long–is a much more difficult place to make friends than school ever was.

    that is not to say that my friends have not been good about a ton of things–they are enthusiastic and offer their opinions when i share things with them via email or phone. however, without their physical presence, especially when my family is over 3000 miles away–i feel the burden of the whole wedding rests on my shoulders, only. this is not to say that my fiance has not been supportive and enthusiastic as well–but i’ve always had an excellent female support network, and it’s just not the same. who’s gonna help pick out the accessories for my dress if i have no friends here, and my fiance can’t see my dress? it seems trivial, but it’s the details that make things for me. and i miss my sisterhood.

    • I know. I think the general consensus is that it’s ok to mourn those things. That there’s no other way to really move on from that disappointment then to let yourself be upset and accept that things can’t really go back to how they once were. Hang in there! :)

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      I feel you on this – my job requires me to relocate pretty frequently and I’m an engineer working in a manufacturing plant – it’s a boys club. When I was planning my wedding I had a lot of male friends who actually tried to be really helpful. They asked a lot how things were going and listened to me bitch about my family. Don’t sell the boys short, they might not all have an opinion about centerpieces, but they are just as willing to be a sounding wall.

      On the other hand, female companionship is always a welcome relief. I can’t say that I’ve found a magic bullet for that, I still struggle with it. Just know you’re not the only one.

      As always, DM me on twitter @abby_wan_kenobi to swap depressing stories. And funny ones too.

      • My guy friends also have been really, REALLY great. Whereas my girl friends have been a mixed bag – some totally supportive, some judgmental as hell, some just not present whatsoever – my guy friends have been uniformly incredible. They have listened to me compare tulle to lace, stress about difficult family relationships, supported our low-budget wedding dreams, given me advice about iPod DJing (from the perspective of a professional DJ) and generally been all the support I could ever ask or expect from them. It hasn’t taken away from the sadness I’ve experienced from not getting the kind of solid support I wanted from the womenfolks, but it has tempered it a lot.

  • I found the lonely side of engagement didn’t stem from friends not getting involved or coming to parties, even though from a Mythical Engagement Wonderfulness perspective, my bridal bonding would have been somewhere between lame and nonexistent. (Partly because my expectations on that front had been set to laid-back low based on previous experience with friends’ and relatives’ weddings.)

    For me, the lonely side was much more related to the pending birth of the baby family, and realizing that a lot of my personal boundaries needed to shift, that some things that used to feel okay to talk about with girlfriends or family members now felt off-limits because it wasn’t just a matter of my privacy, but our privacy, or things that once were hypothetical conversational fodder now were no longer hypothetical and thus a bigger deal to talk about than normal drinks-after-work. I think going through that transition was actually pretty important. So the part of Kim’s letter that stuck out to me was her worry “That I’ll get married and only have him in my life, no friends left, and I would have done that to myself.” It’s a very tricky area, for me anyway, because it’s not as if I or my friends or our friendships have changed just because I went and got married, but the framework those friendships exist in has changed, and not always in ways that are easy to put a finger on. But it’s more than just everyone getting older and having lives that are too busy for the sort of bonding hanging-out we had when we were younger, and friendships taking a different shape (because that one I’ve gone through already).

    • Yeah I’m definitely having a hard time accepting those shifting frameworks. Not really having to had deal with anything like this before I feel ill equipped. And when that happens I kind of just take up residence in my own isolation and work it out by myself.

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      “realizing that a lot of my personal boundaries needed to shift, that some things that used to feel okay to talk about with girlfriends or family members now felt off-limits because it wasn’t just a matter of my privacy, but our privacy”

      This. This is something I’ve really struggled with. Sometimes I’ll start having a convo (especially with other married women) and it will turn into some kind of bitching or whining about husbands and I have to stop myself. I have *no* complaints about my husband or our life together, but it’s really difficult to have a conversation with someone that doesn’t play out like a sitcom where the women complain about the men. What I do have are things I’m trying to work through and it’s really hard to talk about without feeling like I’m opening our lives up too much or just playing the part of the hassled wife.

      • cartascartas

        I can definitively relate to the “now felt off-limits because it wasn’t just a matter of my privacy, but our privacy” idea and “What I do have are things I’m trying to work through and it’s really hard to talk about without feeling like I’m opening our lives up too much or just playing the part of the hassled wife.”

        Perhalps it should not surprise me, but I’ve found myself SO FIERCELY PROTECTIVE of my soon-to-be-born baby family. Except we also just moved in together (with a few months to go ’til the wedding) so it feels like I’m in labor already. I don’t mean that it’s painful–more that my baby family exists in a liminal stage. It’s a lonely process because only I can deal with my part of it, but also because I’ve become so protective of it I don’t want to expose it to criticism, or pain, or lack of privacy, or hurt. I talked about missing the sisterhood for the pre-wedding process, but I guess I am also mourning the necessary changes and adjustments in the pre-marriage one–even as I embrace and actively protect them.

        • abby_wan_kenobi

          I’m on board with this. I do feel protective, and there are certain things that I’m afraid to talk about, even with my sister because we’re still feeling out the boundaries. I’m afraid that Husband will be upset about me discussing things outside of our baby family, but it feels really weird to just ask him about it – “Hey, I’m feeling really strange about how we’re making the decision to buy a house. Do you care if I talk to my mom about it?” Before, I would just ask him how he felt about me discussing our sex life with my girlfriends, but now it feels…. different.

          Being married is totally weird. Thanks for being here APW!

          • Morgan

            I was with an ex boyfriend for a long time, and shared our problems with *everyone*. There were a lot of them, and turning them in to funny stories made it easier for me not to claw my skin off when things were bad. (Seriously, I’d sit though his family meals or fights and would be figuring out how to get a laugh out of it later.)

            One of the first things I noticed with my husband as things were getting serious was that my desire to tell ANYONE ANYTHING was about nil. It was such a strange feeling for me. It took something that shook me pretty badly before I would even talk to my bff about the inner workings of our relationship, and that was basically a one-off, because I needed perspective pretty badly. I’m still surprised just how protective of us I am.

  • K

    Yep. I have amazing friends, who were amazing bridesmaids, but because we live in all different parts of the country, they were only marginally involved in the planning. Yes, we shared enthusiastic emails and they were always super receptive to me bouncing ideas off them, but most of the big things I had to do on my own. Additionally, my mom also lives two states away, and while we did our best to share in those moments together, I had to do a lot of the footwork on my own first. Example: dress shopping. My mom and bridesmaids saw all my contenders via email,’and my mom did come visit for a few days and we “went dress shopping” but by that time I had already
    Chosen the dress on my own after visiting several shops completely alone. I still laugh a little regarding the looks of pity I got at a few dress shops when They saw i was shopping alone (and it was even worse when another engaged friend who’s bridal party/family was far away also and I went dress shopping together. She and I had a blast and actually picked the dress we both ended up wearing that day, but the salon ladies really didnt know what to do with us….I mean, TWO brides?!? Aren’t we supposed to be battling it out for attention/the spotlight? BS. In the end I took solace in a lot of my solo bride endeavors. I have a ton

    • K

      *Of local girl friends who would have totally been down to come with me, but I felt Odd asking them to do so when they weren’t in the bridal party. In the end i think it made my decision making process a lot more streamlined.’my husband was always there to weigh in on most everything else, and for the uber ~bride-y~ things, I mostly made prett quick decisions that I stuck with.

  • Lee G.

    This post made me think of my sister. She’s planning her wedding far away from all her family. It’s just my other sister and I in the wedding party and we’re spread out across the country. She hasn’t really filled us in on much of the details, so I think I’ll start pestering her more! :)

    • Yay! I’m sure she’ll be relieved and happy for that.


    “My mom called me this past weekend to talk about my bridal shower and at the end of our conversation I just sat and cried. I wish she didn’t have to plan the whole thing, I wish I had the typical bridal party of like 6 best friends who still see each other every week and have girl’s nights, who were there for me to do wedding stuff whenever I needed them.”

    Kim, sounds like your Mom wants to get involved, so in this one aspect I would run with it! We’re the first of both of our fams to get married, so the “who’s *supposed* to throw what” aspect is more than a bit unclear for most of us. Therefore my Mom and FMIL have really taken over bridal shower planning because that’s what they want to do and my bridal party has decided just to toss in a few suggestions (I think, I’m not sure whats going on behind the scenes because I was the opposite of you and made it clear in the beginning I wanted absolutely no part in planning the shower, partly because if it didn’t happen, I really wouldn’t be heartbroken).

    On that note, maybe make a list of what is important to your entire wedding experience, as in what events you want and what exactly you want them to include. Then communicate to your bridal party and closest family know the top things that are important to you. You might find out that one of them secretly always wanted to help with this or just get them in the wedding spirit. Even if no one comes around then, just hang in there! Sounds like you got a super guy to enjoy married life with!

    • So true, thank you so much :)

  • pippip
    You think you’re on Woody’s train, and if you had a gaggle of local girlfriends you’d be partying on Sharon Stone’s.

    Most of us have had the sensation that there is another, better, prettier, happier train headed down a parallel track just barely out of reach. At least that’s the feeling I’ve got deep down whenever I start a sentence like “I wish I had…” (Hell, that insecurity that if we had the right ticket we’d have a happier path is what half of advertising plays on…the joke is that there is no other train.)

    There’s nothing wrong with feelings…I just sometimes have to remind myself that feelings aren’t always the truth. I’m sure you’re an awesome person, regardless of whether you’ve got a troupe of local girls or not. I mean, what would you say to a single friend who felt she was a lesser person because she was single? You’d express empathy…and then tell her to stfu, because her value is not measured by who’s she coupled with. Similarly, you’re no less of a person just b/c your loving mom is planning your bridal shower.

    • A great analogy! Thank you for the kind and wise words.

  • Oh my goodness, stop hitting home with me. Between this and the edited stories post the other day, I can’t take it!

    I’ve been having not-so-quiet stressing because while my fiancee has a few very close friends, I have more of a circle of acquaintances who I have over once a month and love to spend time with, but not someone I could call sobbing at 3am. It’s been a serious source of anxiety for me and a self-esteem/shame-blaster issue (if I were better, clearly I would have closer friends!). Sometimes the hardest part of planning a wedding is that it’s not just about you, it’s about your relationships and how both parties see that relationship.

    I’m overly worried about stepping on toes, I think, but I also tend to minimize my needs to please others, which is what makes having an event all about you and your partner hard. I mean, I can’t hide behind her ALL of the time.

    • Carbon Girl

      Christina you are so not the only one. This is exactly how I feel “but not someone I could call sobbing at 3am. It’s been a serious source of anxiety for me and a self-esteem/shame-blaster issue (if I were better, clearly I would have closer friends!). ” I am beginning to feel that perhaps those really close friends are not as common as movies/TV/books would lead you to believe. I have had some like that but then they moved or I moved, and now I feel pretty alone with just a lot of acquaintances. I think in today’s world where everyone moves so much this is really common.

  • Carbon Girl

    This post described my experience pretty accurately. My grandma planned my shower. My bridesmaids were spread out all over the country. I had no close girlfriends in FL to share wedding stuff with. I kind of felt like the friend who planned my bachelorette party did so out of pity since there was no one else to plan it. Reading all the bridal brigade stories here on APW made me pretty sad and sometimes it still does. I am a lot like the poster though, liking to feel as if I can do everything myself. I hate to ask for help because I am so scared of imposing on other people and also secretly scared that they will say no and I will feel rejected. Thanks so much ladies for bringing this subject up.

  • Laura

    It’s crazy how few times a topic like this gets discussed and how prominent it is amongst brides. I mean, look at the comments. The proof is in the APW pudding.

    We went through a lot of the same stuff. We dealt with emotionally distant parents; annoyed parents who refused to help out of resentment for not getting what they wanted out of the wedding; friends who were jealous and therefore reluctant to help; siblings who didn’t even want us to get married. And although the wedding day was the day I felt the most loved ever in my life, the process leading up to it was lonely. It’s tough when you don’t have the things you think you’re “supposed” to have in the wedding planning process. Neither mother wanted to throw a shower and one of his friends didn’t want to help host his bachelor party because he wasn’t included in the wedding party. Those aren’t things we thought we’d have to deal with, but like the post says, it’s best just to forget the things you think you’re supposed to have. One the plus side, we got to see people who we didn’t expect to be a huge help come through in a giant way. And in the end, most of it didn’t matter because the wedding day was the happiest day for us. All lonely feelings were put aside and we were just able to enjoy the presence of our family and friends.

    • cartascartas

      so true! :)

  • Hmm, how about leaking the date and location of your batchelorettes and then all local Team APW members can gatecrash… ;)

    • JEM

      AH! This idea is awesome! I literally jumped up from my chair at work!

  • I’m feeling this. Partly I’m happy because I don’t want a *huge* deal, I can be shy. But all of my friends and most of my family live thousands of miles away. Yes, this is my choice, and I’m working to make my own place here, but he lives where he grew up and all of his friends and family are here. There’s a lot of loneliness and fear involved.

    Thank god for APW and Alyssa and Kim and Meg and everyone else!

  • LPC

    I love you Alyssa:).

  • H

    This posted really resonated with this former bride… I felt overwhelmed and alone when planning my wedding, largely because I am not that close to my mother and I don’t have any supertight BFFs (other than my now-husband). Somehow I knew it would happen, so I braced for it by only asking my sister to be an attendant, and then telling all of my other friends when I needed help. My oldest friends are all on the other coast. Very few of my current circle of friends are married (and most don’t intend to get married). . . so I relied heavily on APW for discussions and advice (lurking!). In the end, my friends rose above and beyond my expectations but I think it was because I was open and honest about feeling overwhelmed. And, my intended was there every step of the way. He went with me to pick out the fabric for my dress – and there were other bridal parties on Fabric Row staring at us – but it worked out well (he has great taste!). I didn’t have a shower. My long distance friends had a modest bachelorette party for me in my hometown on the other coast, which I flew to. Many of them couldn’t make it to the wedding. My sister and her husband did everything I asked but were fairly absorbed with their own family issues – fertility treatments – something which can be as emotional as a wedding, it turns out. My intended’s best man made the centerpieces with him (I was banished to a supervisory role only), and his friends helped me finish gocco-ing the invitations. In the end I was overwhelmed by their love and support, which came in unexpected ways – but getting there took a lot of me letting go, and cultivating self-awareness.

    There’s more than one way to get married and be a bride. The hardest part is figuring out what’s right for you. So, be honest and ask for help!

  • Ash

    I just finally reached out to my oldest friend, who is also planning a wedding, telling her I was lonely. She did not commiserate, telling me “This is a joyous occasion.” Yes it is. It’s also a huge mental, spiritual, emotional adjustment. Not to mention it is bringing up all my baggage, to the point where I feel like I’m wearing it!

    • JEM

      I am willing to bet she’s scared to admit she’s feeling some of the same things you are because, in her mind, it may equal cold feet. We know this isn’t true, however, it is uncomfortable to question the underlying feelings of why you aren’t feeling “the norm” of this “joyous occasion.” In the long run, I believe you will learn about yourself and your relationship by drilling down and thinking about these things.

  • LBD

    Oh I hear you, I hear you loud and clear on the loneliness.

    I suffer from anxiety problems, so chose my bridal party based on the people I know who could most help calm me down on the day of the wedding. Unfortunately, these people don’t live close by either. I have some good friends out here, but I’m not yet entirely comfortable being my full self with them yet. The other thing about my local friends is that they are pretty anti-wedding. Whenever I talk about my stress, they are all, “Why don’t you just elope?” or “Why don’t you just cut that part out?” I feel I always have to justify my choices to them, so I don’t feel comfortable asking them for help either.

    My faraway friends have been much much better in this regard, but let me tell you, the time difference is a real pain in the butt when it comes to trying to talk to people easily when you need them.

    My mom has never been supportive of my fiance and I’s relationship for religious reasons, so I don’t have her interest or support either. It’s a blessing and a curse. I want her to care because she’s my MOM, but I knew if she did care I’d also be having to fight with her wishes which would be a lot different than mine.

    Part of it is, I wanted people to be really excited about the wedding, and well, I felt like no one was. I dunno, maybe because we’ve been together for so long people just kind of expected it to happen eventually? That made me, and makes me feel really lonely. Yet feel selfish at the same time: why should anyone else have to care that I’m getting married? Why should anyone have to help? I know that’s the shame talking, but I can’t make it go away.

    I’ve been relying a bunch on my aunt out here, who is wonderful, and has been kind of a surrogate mom for me for many years. Even then, I feel guilt about asking for her help, because I feel all, she has her own real sons to worry about.

    I don’t know, I feel you. I had all these rosy visions of weddings in a bygone age where all the women lived down the street from each other and didn’t have tons of other life responsibilities of their own and so the all totally just did everything together. Maybe that still happens for some people, I don’t know, but I’m thinking in our generation the-good-friends-scattered-to-the-winds is probably now much more of the norm. And we’re frequently getting married later, or heck not marrying right out of high school, so we have school and stressful jobs to balance too.

    • Nina

      If your aunt enjoys weddings and only has sons, do NOT feel bad for accepting her support with your wedding. Most mothers of the groom do not get to play a large role in the wedding planning and can feel left out – I know my mother in law tried her hardest to stay of the wedding planning even though I actually wanted her help! Anyway, you might be giving your aunt a wonderful experience she might otherwise not have.

    • Jo

      I don’t know if this experience translates to everyone, but the best way to get closer with new friends is to open up, share a need, a concern, a vulnerability. That’s the only way to start finding out what they, and your friendship, is really made of.

  • So glad to see this post. I feel guilty whenever I want to talk about the wedding and plans, because it seems self-centered. But then if I don’t get to chat about them with friends/family/the bridal brigade at all, I feel like I missed out a little on the pre-wedding process. For women who are very Practical Wedding-minded, it’s an odd place to be in. You don’t want to feel like all you can think about/talk about is the wedding, but you also want to experience some of the fun and thrill that comes along with being engaged.

    That said, I know I’m the kind of person who has trouble asking for help, and I’m sure a lot of other people here are the same. I think it’s good to contact people with very specific jobs that you know they can probably help with. Most people (even your best friends) might not think you have anything they need help with right now unless you actually say it.

  • Thank you for talking about this feeling! This post and all of the comments are really making me breathe easier. I have my two sisters and friend I’ve known for a very long time as my bridal party, but the sisters are 18 and 16 and the friend is living on another continent, so it’s been kind of a lonely planning road thus far. At first I was so excited “With only three ladies it will be so intimate! So meaningful!”, but then last week I started looking at it as “I only have one lady friend?” cue sad trombone.
    This post and discussion remind me that if all else fails and I’m having a bad day and want to cheer up, or if I’m having a great day and want to pass along good vibes there’s this community here at APW!
    Thank you for sharing Kim and opening up this dialogue!

    • kireina

      I love that your sad instrument is a trombone. :)

  • Cassandra

    I needed to see this today. The boy and I are preplanning (mostly we don’t want to deal with the hassle of telling everyone yet but also because we’re probably moving next year) and it hit me the other day that we’ll be doing all of it with no one else. I love that he is interested and wants to have a say in things, but at the end of the day, he’s not going to help me go shopping for a dress, or make neat centrepieces, or do any of the ‘fun’ stuff. My mother (who doesn’t believe in weddings) lives halfway across the country; I have no sisters, and my sister-in-law and I are barely acquaintances. I have *one* best friend (in a different province) – and really the very few other female friends are scattered here and there and I haven’t seen most of them in two years. I’m starting to think I should wait a couple more years until my daughter is a teenager and can be enlisted for help :p I sometimes get a little… not jealous, exactly, but surprised and sad, when I see APW grad posts about how the couple’s friends all came together to help set up and do these things. It always makes me think “How do people really have that? Lucky them.”

    It’s hard to see past that stuff – what you don’t have. I often feel lonely in my everyday life, too, and the idea that you expressed – ” That I’ll get married and only have him in my life, no friends left, and I would have done that to myself” – is something I feel on a daily basis. I wonder sometimes if I hadn’t met him right after I moved to this city, would I have made more girl friends? Would it better? And the answer is, probably not. Try to remember what you *do* have – your fiance, your mother, your 6 or 7 best friends scattered across the country – and rework your expectations and hopes about what wedding planning “should” be like, because there is no “should”. Alyssa is right about the grieving for what you had hoped for – giving yourself time to be sad that it won’t be what you’d hoped it really does free up your spirit and your mind to be at peace with what it is.

    • Well, if he is game, why not have him shop for a dress with you or make centerpieces or help figure out the invites? I always thought I would shop for a dress with girlfriends, but it ended up being my parents and my now-husband. NEVER would have planned it that way, but it was just right in the time and that’s just how it happened. Plus, I love that we got to chose the dress that he (and I) thought I looked best in. So…maybe it would be fun to do some of those things with him?

    • Vmed

      Uh, I totally wanted my husband elect’s opinions on the dress and…. it got old quick.

      (I’m also a lone bride, family’s far, have made a few new friends in Gradtown but the ladies I would shop with are several timezones away)

      He is my main support and also, just doesn’t care about plenty of aesthetic aspects. To the point where he was like, I can’t help you find a dress. So I bought a sample in a feverish haze just to be done with it…. one I feel perfectly meh about. Maybe not the best move.

      But hey, we’re all just figuring this out as we go along. I say, cut yourself a break!

  • I wonder if my comment would be of any value to Kim. Last year, I was the #1 superstar bridesmaid for a very close friend’s wedding. I felt super lonely sometimes.

    There were three other bridesmaids–sister of the bride who was a recent law school grad studying for the bar, sister of the groom who was a recent college grad who lived 150 miles away, and a good college friend who worked for a family business that was crashing-and-burning. So yeah, I was the live-five-blocks-away, financially stable, detail-oriented and dependable bridesmaid. And let me just tell you, being that person was emotionally and financially draining. At times, I just wanted to scream. But after months of slow to no responsiveness, I started to tell myself that everyone is doing what they can, the best way they know how. Sometimes that meant some people were contributing nothing.

    After the initial resentment, I reached out to my own support network, and they lifted me up. I was there for the bride as much as I could be, and I drew boundaries when I was feeling overwhelmed. In the last few months before the wedding, we threw “DIY wedding” dinners, where family and friends came out to socialize and help. Those are some of my best memories.

    There are a lot of considerations with bridal party selection, and really most wedding details. It is important to choose from your heart. Shield yourself from negativity. And really, relish in the awesome-ness of being inspired enough to commit to someone for a lifetime.Best wishes!

    • This did help, thank you!

      • You are very welcome. I am glad I could be of help.

  • Lauren

    This. Yes. I had two women in my bridal party, one my younger sister who was in college several hours away, dirt poor, and dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, and the other my best friend from high school, also an hour away, and very busy with her senior year of a difficult major. When I was stressed, I could call and talk to them, but neither of them had any frame of reference for how I was feeling, and so I ended up doing a lot of my crying alone. My bachelorette (lame to begin with) was ruined my my sister’s pregnancy moodiness and I ended up calling my mother and demanding that she come and pick her up- which she refused to do, because my mother is not the most understanding person either. Most of the fun DIY things I wanted to do got dropped because there was no one to help me with them, and as a result, we spent way more money than we should of, which added to the guilt because my mother refused to let me pay anything or be concerned about costs (until she ran out of money and we unexpectedly had to handle all last minute expenses, of course).

    My wedding was beautiful, but I still, six months later, feel that lack of community, because it wasn’t the wedding I wanted, and I feel like that’s because I didn’t have any support or help. I’m still struggling with reconciling myself to the fact that it was what it was, and it won’t be happening again, so I should move past it. I married the man I love and want to spend my life with, and that should be good enough… and it is, as long as I don’t think about the wedding. Our marriage is awesome. Our wedding… makes me cry.

    • Sarah

      Oh, sweetie. ::hugs::

      I know what you mean about not having the wedding you wanted. We were immensely disappointed in ours … not that it wasn’t lovely, because it was. It was beautiful. And totally full of love. But the fact that it was the first wedding in both our families in … oh … 15 years, and that our families are pretty boring? Yah. Lovely day … devoid of the passion and goofiness we know so well in OUR life. There were moments we worked it in (I have a slew of silly photos, taken by my best friend while the professional photog was off doing something else) and I’ll be forever grateful. But the rocking, dance-off, joy-filled party so many seem to have? Yah, sadly, not us.

      I can’t say that it gets better … because no amount of time is going to make you like something you didn’t like. But, in my experience, time has allowed me to accept it. Does it still make me sad? Oh yes. But I’m not crying about it anymore. Until that day comes for you … ::tight hugs::

      And this: “Most of the fun DIY things I wanted to do got dropped because there was no one to help me with them, and as a result, we spent way more money than we should of, which added to the guilt because my mother refused to let me pay anything or be concerned about costs (until she ran out of money and we unexpectedly had to handle all last minute expenses, of course). ”

      I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. Whenever we tried to discuss our budget, we were told (by my mother) to “not worry about it, we’ll take care of it.” Which is insanely frustrating when I know they have limits, and I don’t want to burden them. But then to show up a week before the wedding, realize money ran out and we were never told (at least they didn’t go in debt) … so, so difficult. Luckily, we had money put aside with plans to furnish our home, so we didn’t go into debt too much. And really, the money was not a big deal. It’s not that we couldn’t afford it, it was that we’d been told not to plan for it … and so we hadn’t. So, in the end, we’re still not completely furnished, but we gained a HUGE lesson on always planning for the unexpected.

  • Marina

    There is NO WAY the experience you refer to as “typical” is ACTUALLY typical. No way. I think of all the people in my life, especially all the young women, and I can think of MAYBE one or two who have a large group of close girlfriends who get together regularly. That’s not life, that’s Sex And The City.

    I almost think that “alone” feeling is entirely separate from how many friends you have involved in the wedding planning. Because as a bride-to-be, you are alone. I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about being a bride-to-be and a bride as a transition, as my own Hero’s Journey. In every ritualized transition, there has to be a period of alone-ness. Solitude, fasting, visions, that sort of thing. I don’t think it’s an accident that those activities show up in transition rituals–I think it’s because those things are integral to the transition. You can’t get away from alone-ness, because feeling alone is necessary to be able to transition. Our culture has this whole thing about how transitions are always wonderful (adulthood, weddings, parenthood, retirement…) and that is REALLY just not the case. Transition is death and rebirth, and death is painful. This is a GOOD thing, not a problem.

    I want to ask you: what are the feelings you would get from the perfect community you describe? How did you expect to feel and how are your feelings different from that? I hear some worries from you about being different than other people; what do YOU want? What kind of support helps YOU be your best self?

    Your community is the way it is because you are the way you are. To have a different community, you’d have to be a different person. You may end up deciding that you want to be the kind of person who has half a dozen girlfriends who all live near each other and have weekly girls’ nights, and this may be a catalyst for changing your life to create that. But there’s no reason you should be that person if you don’t want to be.

    • Arachna

      Yes, This!

    • JEM

      You gave me chills. Awesome note on the rituals of transition.

      • I agree with Jem, thoughtful and moving. Thank you.

    • LOVE this. Especially the Hero’s Journey. And the catalyst for thinking about the life you want and working towards that…

    • meg


    • Melissa


  • Christen

    Must admit, I failed to read all the comments.

    However, this post was DEAD ON. I’m not having a bridal shower, which is my fault. Because in the beginning all the girls were so far away. Now they’re not, or at least the LunchBox Brigade Leader isn’t. And she can pull people together like WHOA. But, because I had said in the beginning I didn’t want one because it was too much of a hassle, I feel like an asshat for going back on it. So I won’t. But I secretly do want one.

    I am having a bachelorette once we get to Hawaii, but it’s mainly a way for ALL the girls to get to know each other.

    I was so happy when LBBL moved back, because it’s been a very, very lonely road. A painfully lonely road. And now she’s moving again. Not too far, but still far enough for it to be scary. And she’s the only girl around that I hang out with. So, it’s back to doing it with me, myself and I. It’s a good thing I’m an only child and used to doing things by myself, because otherwise I think it would be a helluva lot more depressing for me. Aussie’s mom is helping A LOT, but she’s in Australia. So, I guess in my own little corner of the bridal universe it’s lonelier than it actually is. I just wish there were more … instantaneous contact, versus strictly through the Interwebz and over time zones of difference. But it is what it is. And I’m getting by. I’ve learned that because so much of it is what I’m doing, it’s going to be that much more for me to be proud of in the end. And that makes me smile.

    • JEM

      Bottom line: if you want one, tell someone. And you can explain EXACTLY the way you did in this post and they should get it.

      (and PS, I should probably take my own advice…I have to remember to also be better at letting others know my expectations rather than just being sad/angry/frustrated when they can’t read my mind to magically KNOW my expectations.)

    • Maybe you want to consider telling your friend you really would like a shower or some event to celebrate your upcoming marriage. It is OKAY to change your mind. I am learning to be better speaking up for what I need and what my expectations are (probably because of the APW community). I still need lots of work on it, but I am getting better. :) The worst is wanting something (but not telling anyone while continuing to hope someone will magically know what you want and then do it for you)…but then they don’t and you feel disappointed. It’s like being disappointed twice as much. So I am learning this unvoiced expectations and hopes and dreams are not really fair to myself (or the other person either).

    • Lindsay


      I totally agree that you have every right to change your mind about a shower and no one will think you’re crazy AT ALL. It sounds like you can enlist LBBL to help and get what you want. Also, I think you might be writing your bachelorette off too quickly. Yes it’s a way for everyone to get to know each other, but you are the common thread between them and the reason they are all showing up. Have a great time!

  • I think this issue is also heightened in the indie/budget wedding world as lots of things are: ‘we got our friend to bake this’ and ‘I got my friend to sew this’ and ‘our other friends just happen to be caterers/wedding planners/musicians and did the whole thing for us’. It can make you feel even more alone if you just don’t have those kinds of connections.

    • Liz

      that’s what was bizarre about my wedding.

      it was very DIT- people pitching in to make and do a ton.

      but sometimes, it only take that CERTAIN person that you really had hoped would come/care/show some effort to make you feel “alone.”

      • Oh, Liz, this is so true. It’s been hard for me to realise that I have actually had HEAPS of support from people (IF I ask for it) but that I feel unsupported because two of the people I wished would support me most, haven’t been giving the kind of support that I really wanted. But also I think I have to realise that that’s just because they are who they are – it’s not that they’re not doing anything, their actions just reflect who they are and where they are at right now.

    • Amy

      That is such a good point, and something that really made me feel kind of inadequate during the planning process. I had one super-duper talented bridesmaid who helped me do some of the paper stuff, but other than that I had friends who worked crazy hours and simply could not do wedding-y stuff with me.

  • Jen M

    I remember my BFF went through similar feelings when she got married. Her mom and sister were flaky and I was the only one of her bridesmaids in town and she was living in Germany alone for most of her wedding planning. So she was facing crazy isolation on many levels. but when she did get home she carried it with her. and she is also a i-will-do-it-myself-or-it-will-get-screwed-up person (no judgement, I’m the same way) I remember calling her one day and she was hand writing the invites to her bridal shower alone at Starbucks and crying. I was like PUT. THE. PEN. DOWN. I called a buddy of mine who didn’t know her too well and we had a Starbucks intervention and took the stuff away from her and did them ourselves.
    The point to my rambling story is that you absolutely HAVE to ask for help. It’s easy to unintentionally isolate yourself and then feel lonely. You would be amazed at the number of people who, even if they aren’t your BFF, will be more than happy to help. I was literally sitting on my hands waiting for my BFF to give me something to do. But she rarely would ask. I know I have a fear of inconveniencing people or obligating them into something they don’t want to do. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and lonely you just gotta suck it up and ask. I think you’ll be amazed at who steps up. And this doesn’t just apply to wedding planning this applies to life. for reals.

  • I feel this post for an entirely different reason. I am older and this is my second wedding, which introduces a whole host of negativity from our well-meaning friends and family.

    Early on in our planning, we agreed that we didn’t want to have a traditional wedding party, and I find that as a result, I feel like I can’t really ask (or expect) anyone to do any of the things that would normally be done: showers, bachelorette party, crafting parties, etc.. Every now and again, someone surprises me and asks to pitch in, and I swear I get so excited that I do a little bounce in my seat. I have always had difficulty asking people for help, and I do spend an inordinate amount of time wishing that friends or relatives would somehow magically *know* that I need/want them to join me. While intellectually I realize that no one can be expected to read my mind, I still *want* them to try, which is ridiculous but true.

    • Arachna

      I really don’t think it’s “what would normally be done” as in I’ve never seen it in real life, only in blogs. Not that it doesn’t sound nice and probably happens occasionally but it really and truly is not the default.

      • I don’t know … in the circles where I grew up and live, showers, bachelorette parties and things of that sort are pretty much de rigor, but this wedding is different because we don’t have a wedding party and the wedding does not mark the moment when we’re establishing our household (we’ve already got a house jammed with stuff), so the traditional reasons for a shower are not present.

        The funny thing (for me, at least) is that I really don’t like showers, and yet, I still like the idea that someone wants to throw one, which is a different (and emotional) matter altogether.

        • I feel the same way about showers… I’m not really into them and we don’t need any more stuff, but I kinda wish someone wanted to throw one anyways…? Sigh.

          • Jo

            Why don’t you have a bridal lunch instead of a shower? Make it an event, not a gift thing. I bet it would be more fun, anyway.

  • This is literally exactly how I feel. It seems like I’m doing most of the planning on my own and don’t really know how to ask my bridal party for help. Even though I know they want to help, it really comes down to I don’t know how to ask them. And it is lonely. It’s fulfilling to know in a way when the wedding comes around that I did all this but it seems like it should be WE did this as a community or something.
    Not to mention many of my bridesmaids are in other states…and everyone seems to have their own lives to take care of that I don’t want to interfere with for the wedding that is consuming my life. I don’t want to be a bother. Then there is the shyness that gets in the way too.
    Thank goodness for online communities like this one right here that keep me motivated and feeling strangely distantly supported.

    • Morgan

      Miss Alix- I totally agree with you. I am having the same feelings as Kim, but for different reasons.

      Even though my bridesmaids are spread throughout the country, they’ve all been supportive and interested when I send out pictures of dresses, venues, etc (even some other girlfriends who aren’t in the party!). But if one of them asked me right now, “What can I do right now to help and relieve your stress?” I wouldn’t have a clue what to say. Granted, I’m still in the early phases of planning (we don’t have a venue or date yet), so maybe this will change when it gets to details. But how am I supposed to say “Can you help me not freak out about the fact that after seeing 10 venues, I’m really not jumping up and down about any of them?” Basically, I want things to be “perfect” (and by this I mean, perfect for my fiance and I, not perfect as defined by the WIC), but I still don’t know what that means. And that makes me feel alone. When my MOH’s (I have 2) ask me if I’ve chosen a venue yet or which dress I like the best from the ones I’ve seen, I feel alone in the not knowing. If that makes sense…

      Also, this exactly- “But I feel even lonelier when he says he’ll take care of everything. Like I’m even sadder and more pathetic for it somehow.” My fiance has been great and when I say I don’t know how to choose a venue, he starts making spreadsheets. Which is amazing. But makes me feel like I should be able to do this myself, right? I pride myself on being so rational when it comes to everything else- why can’t I make a decision based on calculated pros and cons, instead of getting hung up on whether a place “feels” right?

      This was probably off topic, but I guess the lonely feelings are mutual even if the source isn’t the same.

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        I understand what you’re going through. Because of the geographic distance between me and the location of our wedding, I had to book a venue on pics and my mom’s review. When I finally got to see it myself 2 months later I completely wigged out because it didn’t feel like “our” place. My mom and sis were kind of giving me the tour and they were all excited about the details “and the aisle will come up here and we’ll put flowers over there”. I just could. not. see. it.

        I burst into tears and had to go sit by myself for a little while. I gave myself a pep talk and asked my mom and sis not to make any suggestions or plans and I spent about 30 minutes getting to know the place from my own perspective. It took another 3 months or so before I really felt positive about the venue.

        I think the fact is that unless you get married in your home church or your backyard, it’s almost impossible to have strong emotions about a venue. You have no connection to it. Kind of like picking out a dress, you just have to close your eyes and decide if it’s something you can make work and then commit to it. You can make it your own, but it won’t feel like your wedding spot until your wedding is actually happening in it.

        • Yes. I wish someone had said that to me about venues before. I looked at loads of ‘wedding venues’ and found it very hard to feel anything about them. I thought maybe I was doing it wrong? But we’ve actually booked a place I walk through everyday on my way to work and now everyday I feel a little excited and a little calmer and I hope that after the wedding I will still get a bit of that magic as I walk to work.

        • Hmm, these comments made me realize that I don’t think I saw the venue in person until literally the day before the wedding. Huh, I guess that is super weird. I saw photos my husband took and agreed to it, but we really had no other options, and thankfully it was not ugly looking, though a very unusual place where I think it is likely we have been the only couple to get married thgere. (A school.) But I could visualize it from the photos, so it worked out fine. Thankfully. Even though I didn’t have some big emotional connection to the space.

  • Leona

    “1. I want to tell them things about the wedding.
    2. I tell them.
    3. I get verbally attacked for any number of things I’m clearly doing wrong or insensitively or whatever.
    4. I stop telling them things, ’cause being emotionally bodyslammed is awful.
    5. They get upset that they don’t know things about the wedding.”

    The swirling cycle of death! I went through the same exact thing with my family. At one point, my mom swooped in on me with a list of suggestions that would make the wedding cheaper. I tore up the paper, throw it in the air, cried out in a horrible bawling sound, and pronounced that I was not getting married and everyone could go f*ck themselves.

    • All. The. Time. ALL THE TIME. This has been my last 7 months of family stuff. I am so ready for the engagement to be over and the marriage to begin! But at the same time, dealing with the cycle and the boundary figuring out that needed to happen so I didn’t spend every day in tears? SO worth doing before babies (if we have them). That’s what I tell myself about it – if the family is this invested in your wedding, just think how invested they’ll be in their grandchildren! So, yep. Setting boundaries so you don’t get steamrollered for your opinions? Painful but worth it.

  • These stories break my heart.

    I think this idea of the close group of bridesmaid girlfriends who are always willing to help and throw great parties to celebrate you is something that is very rare these days. I think it used to be more common years ago when people tended to get married much younger and live in the same town they grew up in. Being surrounded by community is just easier when people don’t really move around. But these days people move. LOTS. I have moved part way across the US and half way around the world to other countries multiple times in my life as I try to follow my dreams. Unfortunately, the close friends from one place then become long-distance friends and sometimes the dynamics change. Sometimes friendships fade, sometimes they actually grow stronger despite the distance. These long-distance dynamics make wedding planning hard for many people.

    But….for those people who live far away from close friends and family or who don’t have the support network they wish they did, I would encourage you to look outside the normal suspects (bridal party) to try to create a little community of local people around you during the planning. My mom and two bridesmaids lived far away (one bridesmaid has two kids and the MOH was going through a serious illness/death in her family) so the whole experience was altered by that reality. So, I stayed in touch with them by phone and email, of course, but I learned to look for additional support in unexpected places. Two of my co-workers (one of whom was male!) became close confidants about shoe selection and fonts and what foods for the dessert reception, etc, because these were “little things” I could not always go into detail with my bridesmaids and made perfect break and lunch time conversation with these friends at work who were interested, available, good at this type of aesthetic stuff, and gave the feedback I desperately wanted. I mean, sometimes you just REALLY NEED to hear someone tell you that YES Freebooter does look really nice with Monotype Corsiva and you are not crazy for wanting two fonts on your invite even though other key players in your fiancé’s family think it looks weird to mix fonts.

    I bought wedding jewelry by myself, then showed it to the guy theatre friend I happened to be meeting up with right after I went shopping, and he was awesome at oohing and aahing just when I needed someone there in that moment to share that experience with. And my invites…well we made them ourselves, but my fiancé was in another country when it was time to put them together, so I sent an email to a group of 15 or so people in my circle of local friends and just said I would love help. (And this email definitely included some people who were not my closest friends!) And a small group showed up on two or three different nights for an assembly line approach to dealing with these invites, and those people who cheerfully showed up to help were not the people I would have expected to be the ones to show. The group included two guy friends (one from work, even!), a former teenager from the youth group I worked with and her mom, and another friend. My shower the night before the wedding ended up being thrown by a very new friend at her home in my new town where I had just moved, because my MOH was unable to come to the wedding at the last minute. And this new friend so generously stepped up to meet the need (she wrangled one of her friends whom I had only met once to help her).. At the wedding, when no bridesmaids, family, or my brand-new husband were with me when I needed to bustle my dress to go to the reception, I grabbed a two friends that happened to be standing there at the moment (a girl friend and her husband) and asked for help, and they got me through it with humor. So all this to say…..sometimes help and support can come from the most unlikely places and be exactly what you need. But….I think it definitely takes a shift in thinking to look for it in these unexpected relationships and a willingness to ask for it. For some people this might be easier (I was okay with it because I am a very open person, and also a director, so I am used to organizing groups of people and then telling them what to do, haha.) Obviously, this is probably MUCH harder for more introverted people to do, but I think there are lots of surprising people in our lives who will really help out when they know there is a need, and that is a pretty beautiful thing to experience, if even just once.

    • Nina

      I’m honestly inspired by your story – I’m the absolute opposite of this and really admire the ability to put yourself out there. I honestly think I’m just afraid of hearing ‘no’. And sometimes I suppose you will hear no, but you have to master the art of paying attention to the yes’s more.

      I’m going to work on this – thank you.

      • Hi Nina! If it makes you feel any better I don’t really remember “No’s,” but I think that had to do with the way I worded the requests.For example, in that email I said I needed help and explained the task and time and asked people to let me know if they were interested and available. So….the people that would have said “no” just never replied. :) And then there were a couple of people that couldn’t help then, but specifically asked if there was some other way they could help at another time, and you can bet I found a small task that worked for them! :) But those people that never acknowledged that I asked them for help? Or the close two friends that didn’t even bother to RSVP to the evite for my bridal shower– or even acknowledge that they had been invited? Well…what can you do? I just tried to let it go and count on those I could count on, co-workers, friends of friends…whoever ended up being there to support me in whichever ways they could, and that ended up getting us through just fine. Thankfully.

    • Brenda H

      Totally random: as a graphic designer I say Monotype Corsiva and Freebooter actually play along together quite well. I also say this as the girl helping a dear friend with her save the dates that ended up having me hand-tweak some of the font since she liked it but the various letters didn’t ‘play well with others’. ;)

      Freebooter looks like a good one though, thanks for pointing it out! I will have to add it to my collection.

      • Haha! Thanks for the positive feedback! :) Yes, that combo became my compromise between my desire to use two very different fonts for contrast and some other people’s desire to use only one font for the entire thing. I felt like these looked like “cousins” and the small, pretty details in Freebooter were enough to give me the “umph” I wanted on our names. :)

        • I just used Freebooter too! With another font, totally used two fonts for the invitations :D

    • A-L

      You seem to be doing really well with harnessing the goodwill of your community to help get wedding stuff done. Are all of these people invited to your wedding? That was one of my biggest hindrances. I didn’t really feel comfortable asking people to help me for an event to which they were not invited, and except for the few family members who live here, pretty nobody in-town was invited to keep the wedding small. Though I did get some last minute help putting together the table numbers & place cards by some students and a coworker during a break at work. They loved the idea of helping with a wedding, and they were happy to focus on something not school related.

      • A-L,

        (Sorry for a long-winded reply. I guess I am pretty much incapable of brevity.)

        Hmmm, good point. I do think the people I asked to help were invited to the wedding. However, some (half or more) of those people on the email were definitely people who I knew would not be coming to the wedding because the wedding was in another country (Canada, where my husband is from). (I *hated* that dilemma of trying to figure out if I should invite people when I figured they couldn’t/wouldn’t come internationally, but then just decided to stop worrying about it and invite who I would be excited about if they decided to come. Anyhow.)

        Is your wedding in the city where your friends are or some other city far away? If it is far away and small, I think the dynamics would be easier. But regardless of location, what if you just were honest with the group of local friends and explained the that you are having a really small wedding (and/or out-of-town wedding) but you really need help and would love to share the planning experience with anyone that was interested, but there is no pressure at all. That you just wanted to put it out there because you really like them and think they are fun to be around, even if it’s sitting around talking while taping things together.

        I know if I was one of your friends (and hadn’t expected to be invited to the wedding anyways because I knew your situation), I would be game to come to an invitation making night or jewelry shopping trip or whatever, if I knew you needed help. Especially after going through wedding planning. I mean, I don’t even know you but would come help you if we lived in the same city, just because I know what it is like now!

        So maybe a few of your local non-invited friends would be game? You could even list specific things that you need help with so they could see if anything they like or are good at might be able to help you. I mean….if you have friends who love baking/flowers/sewing/whatever, maybe they just would have fun with you while also doing things they enjoy? And you could bribe them with offers of pizza or pasta or brownies. Free food sometimes does wonders. :)

        Long (but related) story alert of when I was glad I took a risk and just asked for help:

        Two weeks after I moved to another country (6 weeks before our wedding), I made a new friend in my new city. A week or two after we met, I realized she would probably be one of my closest friends in that city, so I emailed her and said I knew it was last minute but I was glad we had become friends and I wanted to invite her to come to the wedding, if she was available and wanted to. (It was 3 hours away and dessert reception, so super easy to add somebody.) She said she’d think about it and also mentioned she might have a day she could help with something wedding-related, if I needed help.

        So I asked her to go look for a veil with me and she agreed. To my new friend’s shock, she had fun looking for a veil with me (she was not a fan of weddings or girly stuff), and I found I really NEEDED her as the voice of reason to tell me I should spend the money and just buy the veil I liked instead of attempting to make my own veil the week before the wedding (with no experience).

        While having tea after, I got a call from my then-fiancé, who was off touring with a show in my home country. He said that he had been trying to reach me and told me my best friend/MOH’s father had died. It was horrible and I felt so far away from my best friend and incapable of doing anything to be there for her. And all I can say is that I am so deeply thankful my new friend was there with me. That night was an important night in our friendship and set the tone for openness. And had I not asked this brand new friend, I would have been alone in a brand-new foreign country when I got that call.

        So…all that to say that sometimes asking new or casual friends to help with the most odd requests can result in unexpectedly meaningful experiences and the deepening of the friendship. And if you ask by honestly explaining the situation with a sincere spirit, no guilt trip if they decline, and much thankfulness, I know I wouldn’t mind that I wasn’t invited and got asked to help. I guess there are other people that would feel the same Maybe some APW ladies living in the same area would be game to exchange labor and glue gunning skills with each other? :)

        (Again, so sorry for the novel. Maybe I just could have said that last bit instead. Oops.)

        • Oops. Sorry….obviously you have already had the wedding, but maybe these comments are helpful to anyone trying to figure out the same stuff. Glad you got some cheerful helpers though!

        • A-L

          Hi Jenny,

          Thanks for your reply! If I was still planning a wedding it would definitely have been something to think about. We had a little over 60 guests, and about 5 of them (not including dates) were not related to us. So it wasn’t super-tiny, but if we started invited local friends and such then our families would have wanted to invite more people and then our co-workers would have needed to be invited (because some of them are friends, and the staffs are too small to invite some but not all). We would have had about an extra hundred people just by trying to really invite a few friends. Which to us was not worth it.

          Anyway, hopefully your answer will be helpful to others!

  • Oie! So I’ve been reading APW for the past few months, some post give me chills or make me smile, but these past two days (this post and the guest post on Snippet & Ink) have made me down right sob. Seriously! And I’m not a weepy person.

    Kim, I know others have said it, but you seriously read my mind. I am feeling alone and didn’t even know how to formulate the emotion. I have some lovely, wonderful friends who will be amazing on the wedding day and the days leading up to it, but right now they are all focused on other things. To make it more challenging none of them really know each other. In fact two of them have never met, so how I can I expect them to team up to plan a bridal shower? My sister, also in my bridal party, is very excited but at 18 she isn’t always dependable. My mom, so not a bridal woman. She went dress shopping with me, and paid for the dress, but there were no tears or gushing. And when I push her to be involved or ask her opinion her response, she says “it’s your wedding, not mine. Why do you care what I think?” Which feels like her getting me back for telling her to “stay the h*ll out of my life” when i was a teenager.

    So, what I’m trying to say is, it’s lonely. And no matter how “together” we appear not having a community to share it with sucks, really sucks. It doesn’t matter if we did it to ourselves, or are to afraid to ask for help. I don’t have any great advice on how to “fix” it or to at least feel better about it. Other then to know that planning is planning, and the people who stand by you on your wedding day will hopefully be there to support you from that day on. Because while you are committing to spend the rest of your life with your partner, by doing it in front of your community you are asking them to hold you and your partner accountable and support you in the commitment you are making and that is the really important thing.

    • hoppy bunny

      “To make it more challenging none of them really know each other. In fact two of them have never met, so how I can I expect them to team up to plan a bridal shower?”

      Guess what? I totally planned my sister’s bachelorette party long distance. And I did it by having one of her friends help me out using email and the phone–did I mention that I don’t know ANY of my sister’s friends? I had never met this girl, but I knew she loved my sis and wanted to help. And the cool thing: we both knew my sister in different ways, so she knew one thing HAD to be ‘this way’ and I knew something else HAD to be ‘that way.’ The party turned out to be incredible. And I still talk to this girl–we got along really well and had a great time getting to know each other through the party-planning-process. It was awesome to meet a new wonderful person, and I think most people who want to plan a party for you would have fun seeing a side of you they’d never known by collaborating with a new future friend :)

      • You know the funny thing is my partner and I did the exact same thing for her sister and it turned out wonderful. I have to remember that the thing that brings all of these people together is their love and support of my partner and me. Thanks for that reminder :)

  • hoppy bunny

    Absolutely 100% identify with you there. All my bridesmaids are far away. And when I say ‘all of my bridesmaids’ I mean all three of my friends from high school and college that I still mostly keep in touch with plus my sister. I am shy and it is hard for me to make new friends. Acquaintances are easy, but real friendship feels so elusive sometimes.

    And it sucks, but my family is also pretty far away, and sometimes even they acting weird on the phone when I start talking about my ideas for the wedding. I don’t think it’s strange to want to talk about it, especially since there are basically no off-limits topics in my family, but when my ideas are met with silence at the other end of the line I have to wonder what is going on in their minds :P It’s sucky, but I know it’s not just me—they acted weird about my sister’s wedding too. At least I can talk to my sister and squee over stuff, but it does feel a little sad to have such a small circle of people I can talk with.

    Chin up sistah. Maybe it feels lonely in real life, but at APW you know we got your back. This is just a perfect example of why we need an APW forum.

  • Emily

    You know, something that occurs to me reading this letter and all the responses from lonely brides — there’s sort of a baseline level of what “friendship” means. Sure, it is probably unreasonable to expect bridesmaids living on the other side of the country to plan and execute showers and bachelorette parties. But it’s not even remotely unreasonable to call up your far-flung friends and say, “Hey, I’m feeling kind of lonely and sad in all this wedding planning. Can we talk?”

    This is sort of a touchy subject for me, because I’ve been in the situation of being told that I’m not being supportive enough because I’m not actively involved in putting a wedding together (I’ve been alternately poor and in grad school and then buried in work for going on a decade now). But one thing I am always there for is a chat. I might not be able to fly out to go dress shopping or arrive a week before the wedding to help with last minute details, but you bet your ass that if my friend calls me for a pep talk or a bitch session or just to feel like she’s not alone in this, I’m there. To me, that what friendship means, and anyone who can’t deliver there doesn’t make the cut for me. No matter how busy or distant I am, if a friend reaches out like that, I find time to talk or write a long email.

    And sometimes the bridal brigade doesn’t know that what you really need is emotional support. The WIC and its pernicious ways aren’t just working their magic on brides — the rest of the bridal party gets sucked in. You can walk around feeling like Bad Bridesmaid because you still haven’t gotten your dress fitted and you don’t know if you’ll be able to make the Vegas bachelorette excursion. Letting your friends know that while that stuff matters to you, what really matters is the meat of your friendship, which has nothing to do with wedding apparel or events. Getting a call/email from the bride that’s just an honest statement of her feelings and fears can be a relief, because then you get the chance to just be a friend for a moment instead of a wedding worker bee.

    • Kim

      “Getting a call/email from the bride that’s just an honest statement of her feelings and fears can be a relief, because then you get the chance to just be a friend for a moment instead of a wedding worker bee.”

      I definitely relate to this. I chose not to have bridesmaids b/c I just wanted my friends around me that day. My friends, not my selected bridesmaids. It’s a really important day, but it’s also just one day of many in a long friendship. Wear what you want, spend some time getting ready together like it’s prom night, and party your *ss off like you normally would. No fuss, no muss, just the girls.

  • Barbara

    I felt the same way during my wedding! I didn’t realize how much I had distanced myself from my friends over the years. Moving across country several times, school, work, and just everyday stuff that exhausts and makes it so hard at the end of the day to pick up the phone and call a friend–all of that left me feeling so disconnected from the people I love. It also left them feeling disconnected from me. It was hard to know how involved they wanted to be!
    But it was also a wake-up call. My wedding saved my friendships! It reminded me of what is important in all of my relationships–not just with my husband, but also my mom and dad, my sisters, my friends.
    Alyssa’s right–you should reach out and share yourself with everyone. Those moments on the phone, the emails you get from far away friends in response they all add up to make each of them feel more involved and you more connected on the day of your wedding, at each of your showers, and in the future.

  • Faith

    I think one thing I am trying to do is to keep the expectations realistic. I’m happy when others actually come through and help us…but we don’t DEPEND on any of it.
    Like someone said earlier, the indie bridal community makes us feel bad if we don’t have that supportive group around us…but it really is okay to not to have that. We’re not slighted by thse fact, it’s just the truth.

  • Kim

    I think it’s important to remember that the bridesmaids aren’t the only ones that can be by your side for the wedding planning. I didn’t have BMs, so I when I wanted a little help shopping for something or trying out ideas, I’d send out an email to a few friends and see who was interested. Sometimes I went solo, sometimes I had more help than I bargained for. It was kind of amazing to me b/c some people actually *like* wedding planning, so there tended to be a girlfriend lying around who wanted to come see me in my dress for a fitting or who wanted to help me look for cake ideas online during a boring day at work (b/c I couldn’t have cared a bit about that cake…)

  • charli

    Totally a (former) lonely bride here. My Extremely Close Giant Southern Extended Family that first oohed and ahhed with me over my engagement decided 4 months before the wedding that none of them were coming. I have no idea what made them refuse to travel; my aunts had offered to do the flowers and decorating, so it was an emotional as well as logistical loss. Frankly i cried everyday after I found out and it never got better and still isn’t. Mostly I feel sorry for my mother, that her family just wasn’t there for her : (

    At the wedding, we asked the groomsmen to not seat people on sides according to relationship because i didn’t want to see only 10 people on my side. Technically his friends and family are now my friends and family, and they really helped to get me down the aisle smiling. As for my family? Dead to me. Sad, but … I dunno. I just can’t forgive them.

  • TheArchaeologist

    I only had my sister in my “bridal party” and she was 19 and in college so planning any kind of party was really not an option. Luckily I made 2 really awesome friends within the last year and they planned a bachelorette party for me without me asking and it was awesome!

    I was lonely on the wedding day when it was just me and my sister getting ready together, I didn’t have the gaggle of girlfriends around me. In a way though I am more thankful that I wasn’t disappointed by people who I might have tried to lean on and they weren’t there you know?

    During the whole planning process I got a bit of advice, and I know that it has been said here before but in all honesty, you might be going through this life milestone and your life is changing in big ways, but to your bridesmaids or friends it’s just another week, month, day for them filled with their own responsibilities and as happy or excited they are for you, it’s you (and your fiance) alone who are making this transition at that moment in time. It sounds cynical and who knows, there may be people that surprise you along the way, and those people are the friends worth keeping around :)

  • There’s some nostalgia for a golden past of great community and bonding in many of the comments, and I’m not convinced that was all that common in the good ol’ days, either. As extremely anecdotal examples, I know that my mother and at least one of my aunts had no bridal shower (and no bachelorette party, I don’t think those became A Thing until well after their time), which possibly was unusual, but I still think probably the bridal shower has not been as universal a tradition as we’re led to believe. The involvement of their good friends in the wedding planning was pretty much zilch (my mother’s maid of honor, who was her college friend and my dad’s sister, came over to the house so my grandmother could measure her for her dress, and from what I’ve been told, that was the extent of the pre-wedding activities). Their really close friends were involved in the wedding by…coming to the wedding.

    And the thing was, the wedding planning was also pretty close to zilch other than a few things that really have to be done by just the couple and/or parents, like figuring out the guest list. As Meg mentioned in the intro, weddings were much less personalized than most of us aim for these days — in my mother’s case, both ceremony and reception venue were pretty much predetermined (because of course the wedding was going to be in the bride’s family’s church, duh, and so of course the reception would be at the country club down the street) and things like flowers, cake, and such pretty much just came along for the ride. Similarly for my aunt, except it was the church ladies all pitching in to loan their glassware and tablecloths and make punch for the basement reception, and it all went smoothly because everyone knew their roles and had the routine down pat after doing it for a dozen other weddings that year, and if any of the brides fussed that their wedding was going to look just like the other weddings, my aunt wasn’t among them. Also, since these were typically shorter engagements than couples have these days, such cookie-cutter-ish weddings could come together pretty quickly. It’s not really what most people want these days, but I think it was part and parcel of that nostalgic group effort.

    Which isn’t to say that the Super Bridal Brigade and Community of Awesomeness that helps the bride figure out her wedding and squeal over the cake design is entirely mythical, but I suspect the current version may be a bit entwined with current preferences (or industry dictates) to have things be all about Representing the Special Bride (or Representing the Special Couple and Their Unique Love), and to have lots of associated events in addition to the wedding itself, for which additional input and effort, and poring over of inspiration photos, is needed.

    • meg

      Yes. And you know what? You can still have an old school wedding. How, you ask? Call your mamma (or some other woman in your life) and tell her you’re getting married next month (or next week), and city hall. Your not picky, but can she help you with a few things like flowers and a simple cake? That’s what an old school wedding was like. For better or worse.

      • Alice

        But didn’t an old-school wedding intrinsically have a community because the bride was probably still living at home? I grew up with sisters, and now planning a wedding 1,000 miles away is lonely without my circle of little women (for better or for worse) despite regular phone calls with my mom, who is really supportive. I can’t help but think that an old-school wedding would be more community-based just because you stayed at home, your community was probably the same community that it was when you were 12, and certainly none of your friends moved across the country.

        So I would say there is a nostalgia for that. But would I give up my career in NYC for a sense of community with my family in Kentucky? Ummm. No.

    • Heather G.

      Yes. I totally agree with you. I have often wondered how there got to be so much stuff surrounding weddings: bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal, wedding, etc, etc. As a 6-time bridesmaid, it can be really, really overwhelming. As other people have mentioned, I have also been a student for most of these events. My lack of participation has never been about how much I care for the person and her special day. It is usually about not enough resources (i.e., time and/or money).

      When I was a younger bridesmaid, I just did it (and used my credit card liberally!), but as I’ve gotten older, I have been better about saying exactly what I can do and expressing my support in other ways. For example, I was not able to attend a combined bridal-bachelorette party for a dear, dear friend, but I wrote a letter for her to open along with her gifts.

      At first I felt shame (ha!) that I couldn’t go, but traveling for the bridal when I was saving for the destination wedding was just not realistic. I’ve also had to decline wedding invites for the same reason. But believe me, I was not always so good at being open and honest. I would either just go along begrudgingly or avoid it. Yikes!

      Anyway, I agree with your anecdotal comments about the nostalgia for the “good ol days” when everyone came together for the special day(s). I’m not so sure that really existed.

  • Jo

    No time to read the (presumably all fabulous) comments, ’cause I’m on a work deadline, but I HAD to respond and say two things:
    1) Yes. Ditto. So hard to plan a wedding when you live far from family and besties, and said family and besties are out living their lives with little time for helping. Despite the fact that they love you so much and care so much, it is damn hard to carry the weight of this huge momentous decision/transformation you are undergoing, as well as planning a major event that is supposed to be (ha ha, catch that one?) beautiful, meaningful, fun, and smooth. The loneliness cannot be denied. Asking for help is the only way I know to even try to stem the tide of overwhelmed… and even that only goes so far.
    2) The amazing thing about being pushed out on a metaphorical raft to plan your wedding is that you get to grow, as a person and (hopefully) with your intended. You get to find out amazing things about yourself and each other – what you care deeply about, what you are good at, what you don’t care about, how you manage big situations, etc. And at the end of it all, it truly is only you that can walk across that stage/altar/beach to say “I do.” So it sort of ends up making sense that you have to pour your heart and soul into getting there, and nobody can do that work for you. (Ooh, this gives me chills to write about, it’s just so true.) As we know, the things worth doing are often very hard work.

    And with that, back to my other important task.

    Oh, P.S. Weddings can really shift your perspective of (and often behavior toward) the relationships in your life. They did mine. It is important to think this aspect through – are you happy with your non-marital relationships? Are you doing what you need to do to keep them functioning the way you want? Are you communicating enough about your needs for the relationship and allowing the people you care about opportunities to communicate about theirs? Because at the end of the day, your wedding IS about you and the people you have in your life, and maintaining those relationships in good stead is probably the most important thing to do during wedding time, aside from marrying your best friend. My mantra to myself pre-wedding was, “Focus on the people,” and it saved me a lot of agony and gaffes.

    Ok, sorry for the novel. (Although it looks like we’re all highly invested in this topic…)

    • Sept Bride

      I absolutely agree that weddings shift your perspective on relationships – in all kinds of ways. There were women at my wedding that I thought of as just guests. Treasured guests, but they weren’t my Maid of Honor or my sister or whatever. Some of these women stepped forward at the most unlikely times to provided the most un-asked for, unanticipated comforts and assistance. These are now the women who I think of as some of the closest to my heart. Simply because they gave without being asked, and in doing so showed me love and support that I treasure.

  • You are not alone. I definitely had moments of loneliness, but I highly suspect that the wedding will feel anything but.

  • Wow! Thank you so so much for this post. I am in the beginning stages of planning but chose bridesmaids (and I believe made the right choice) who are all very far away (a terrible side effect of growing up and having amazingly talented friends who get fabulous jobs all over the place!) I was starting to have these feelings, but couldn’t put it into words but you hit it right on the head. And the advice is also right on. I have great friends who are right here that I know would help if I just ASKED (why did I not think of that myself). I watched many of my friends plan weddings right after college when we were all still close and now feel like I am missing part of what they had, but you are so right. I have something they don’t have and that is just as much an important powerful gift. Thank you so so much for this awesome post!

  • Mallory

    I’m still in the beginning of the planning process so haven’t really needed or expected much up til now so I don’t know how I’ll react to all this but I think when it comes down to it you will be the ONLY bride at your wedding. I think it’d be weird if you didn’t feel alone to some extent. You’ll likely have friends and family who can commiserate about their wedding days, but ultimately you’ll be the only one experiencing it in the here and now and that’s so scary.

    Like many people here I’ll be planning a wedding in a different state than my nearests and dearests so I know that will be hard for me. As many have mentioned here I will try to remember the importance of communicating your desires and expectations(assuming their realistic) to those involved because you can’t blame them for not living up to something they don’t even know about.

    • Mallory

      Oops, I need a footnote on my comment! Just wanted to include our lovely gay brides who won’t be the only bride at their wedding. But the sentiment still applies as I’m sure even both brides will experience the day very differently and won’t be able to completely relate to their partner.

  • EZ

    This is exactly the kind of thing I needed to read today. Even though I’m no where near the engagement/wedding/marriage stage (we just settled into living together!) I’ve been feeling that general sense of loneliness especially because all of sudden become “that girl” whose (local) friends are all dudes. Dudes I totally love, but sometimes I miss my ladies! It seems like it’s harder to make new friends than to date (and I KNOW how hard dating is) because there aren’t any “rules” (as misguided as a lot of dating rules are, at least there’s something, you know?) And it seems as though everyone already has their “best friend” so it’s very lonely when you’ve moved or started a new job or realized that your main female friend was actually a horribly manipulative and vindictive person who resents your current happiness. Not that I know what that’s like :-P
    I think we have really high expectations of friends and friendship, especially when it comes to weddings and it can be really isolating to look at wedding magazines, websites, etc and see everyone with their huge bridal party of BFFs. Not to mention Sex and the City. I don’t really know if I have a solution – I’m still trying to find cool girls to hang out with – but I completely understand.

  • I think one thing that helped me come to terms with Lonely Bride Syndrome post-wedding was to recognize that it’s okay for different people to be there for you at different points in your life. My three bridesmaids were pretty absent during the planning period, but they’d been there for me at other moments in my life when I’d vitally needed them and that needed to be enough for me. Maybe they’ll be there for me when I need them again in the future… or maybe I’ll turn to the coworkers who helped me stuff invitations and pick shoes and invitations, or maybe I’ll go to the women friends who weren’t in my bridal party but showed up for me during the planning. It’s really easy to feel unloved if bridesmaids aren’t there the way we want them to be, but I think the flipside of that perspective for me was to see the other people who pitched in and feel grateful/loved that I had a community beyond just these three women.

  • Anne

    One more thought about the comment that it seems like guys often have a million friends who are willing to bend over backward for them: when it comes to weddings, most grooms aren’t asking for nearly the same level of sustained enthusiasm from their groomsmen or other friends as most brides are. It’s pretty much just the bachelor party and the wedding itself…and let’s face it, it’s a lot easier for most people to get psyched up about spending money to go party for a weekend or an evening than it is for them to get psyched to host and pay for a party for your friend’s mom’s friends and female relatives where the main event is watching someone open presents for a few hours. Also, most grooms want to talk a lot less about the wedding to their friends than most brides do. All in all, it just seems like there are fewer opportunities for the groom’s friends to let him down (not that it doesn’t happen), and that they set his friends up for success by being relatively fun or at least less stressful or inconvenient or expensive than the opportunities for a bridesmaid or female friend to be involved in a friend’s wedding.

  • Kristin

    Yes. I so needed to hear all this. I’m also stuggling with feeling alone. With both our families and most of our friends living out of state, I’ve ended up doing a lot of things myself. For the most part, I’m happy to have creative control, but engagement hasn’t been the endless stream of parties and dress fittings and cake tastings that popular culture led me to expect. And I don’t even necessarily WANT those things…just maybe the excitement and bonding that they entail. I know I’m at least partially responsible for the isolation. I don’t bring up the wedding to friends much because I don’t want to be *that girl* who’s too into her wedding. I try so hard to act like it’s no big deal because I want to seem like a laid back bride, and then I’m hurt when no one acts excited. The thing is, it IS a big deal. So, weekend project: open my mouth and ask for help and/or encouragement.

    So, thanks Kim, and everyone. It’s clear from all these comments that I’m far from alone.

  • Alicia

    One thing I’d REALLY recommend to any and all of you living far and away from your buddies/bridesmaids/inner circle is to have a big night out in situ before the wedding. We got married on Cape Cod and on the thursday night before the saturday wedding we had a big girls/boys night out (though it was more mixed than that as there were some ‘boys’ who joined the girls and vice versa). It was completely hilarious and allowed my sister and bridesmaids who live really far away from me to host and organise something and step up whereas because of time/money they couldn’t travel and host something where I live beforehand.

    It was neither very ‘bachelorette-party’ like nor much like a ‘wedding shower’ (what is a wedding shower by the way? this is not a tradition I knew anything about and still don’t) – we got pizza, got a bit silly and then we all met up at a dive bar and played foozball and had impromptu dance parties. It was, frankly, one of my favorite bits of the whole wedding weekend.

    Sounds like many of us live fabulous international, long-distance lives – I really felt like this was a great way of still having fun with my extended group of girls without feeling sad that they weren’t all near me during the planning process.

    • JESS

      We are doing exactly the same thing at our wedding next year. We live in NYC but we are British and the wedding will be in the UK. So we are having a good old booze up the night before the wedding and getting to see more of the friends we don’t see often enough. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, we are really looking forward to ours!

      • Alicia

        Funny! we live in the UK (I’m American, he’s British) so we’re swapping places…

  • LOMO in OR

    Ummmm…there are not enough *EXACTLY* buttons in all the world for how much I agree with your comments Kim.


  • JESS

    As I bridesmaid I was contacted by the bride a week before the wedding *by text* telling me I had to coordinate the entire wedding for her on the day. No ask, just ‘this is what you will be doing’. This wasn’t exactly ‘can you pick up the cake’, or ‘make sure all the presents are rounded up at the end of the night’. I was so upset. I agonized over whether to bring it up with her, and in the end decided not to. I was there for the bride on the wedding day, but I honestly couldn’t bring myself to speak to her for literally months afterwards. I was so hurt by this presumption that ‘I am the bride therefore I don’t need to ask nicely for someone to help me I can just demand it of them’. Now that I am getting married the thought of asking my bridesmaids to do more than be there for me on the day, attend my bacherlorette (I don’t want a shower- people are spending enough money getting to the wedding, and a I don’t need new cutlery) and perhaps have fun helping to decorate the marquee is just anathema to me.

    I chose these people to be my bridesmaids because I want to honor them, not demand things of them. But Kim I would suggest that doing things like reaching out to your friends and asking them to check out the shoes you are thinking of buying online, asking them to help you prepare on the wedding day, attending your shower are the exact opposite of the above incident. They are about *including* the people who you have chosen to honor. I also find it really difficult to request help and think that people don’t want to be bothered by helping. But if my friend above had asked me to help her stuff her invitation envelopes or make decorations over wine and cheese I’d have been there in a shot! Perhaps just think of the fun things that people will also enjoy doing and start there with your asks… and think about it as being inclusive, not as bothering them. I am lucky enough to have an amazing sister who really wants to help, but she lives 3000 miles away. When I visit her and my mum at Christmas I will be bringing name cards for us to stamp up together, recipes to look over, and home craft decorations to make. Maybe when you visit one of your bridal party you could do the same sort of thing.. a good glass of wine and you will be away!

  • I just wanted to throw out another “you’re not alone!” My two sisters were my maid of honor and bridesmaid, which made things simple–no debating over which friend(s) to ask or who’s going to feel left out. But neither of my sisters had *any* interest in helping with any of the planning. They were all excited about picking the dress they’d wear, and after that they pretty much disappeared. The only reason my fiancee and I ended up having a bridal shower was that her sister (her matron of honor) went to all kinds of trouble to fly across the country and throw one for us. My mom finally pitched in and helped with some of the shower planning after a (admittedly rather immature on my part) tearful conversation where I whined something along the lines of “someone actually cares enough about us to throw a shower, and now you’re trying to prevent it” (long story…) Anyway, after multiple times where I sent emails to my sisters (asking for opinions on invites, sending them a detailed schedule for the weekend, etc.) and got no reply, I was pretty annoyed. I’m not going to lie–by mid-week before our wedding I was feeling pretty bitter and thinking things like “well I hope they at least show up and pay SOME attention to me on Saturday”. Seriously, last-minute wedding stress: not my finest moment.

    But you know what? I got to the rehearsal on Friday night, and they were there and ready to help. And it turned out that they’d helped my mom with some of the really cute decorations for the rehearsal dinner. And on Saturday, we had a lot of fun getting our hair done together. And my two sisters, who had declared ahead of time that my corset back dress was going to be my mom’s problem, got me laced up all by themselves. And other than their downright refusal to help me navigate the bathroom in my dress (thank goodness for good friends!), they were there for me that day, and that was fantastic. In fact, until I started reading this post, I had completely forgotten that I was ever even annoyed with them (fortunately, even having been reminded of it, I’m waaay over it now). So maybe your bridal party hasn’t turned out to be what you expected, but you still might find they will be there for you in different ways. And you also might find that some of your friends who you didn’t ask to be in your bridal party will still be more than happy to help and support you in whatever ways they can.

  • I am definitely feeling you, Kim. Like many of the other commenters, I’ve recently moved to a new city (to start law school) and I’ve made a few good friends but I don’t have that mythical Sex And The City girl-posse. It’s also my first time living with just my fiance and no other roommates, so I am feeling even more isolated. I love living with him and it’s great not having to put on pants to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but I really miss that built-in automatic friend group. I don’t have much to say about it except that I agree, it kinda sucks.

  • Class of 1980

    Yeah to what Alyssa said.

    Honestly, when I remember my girlfriends who got married early, back at a time when everyone lived in the same town, I know most brides handled a lot of the details on their own. So it’s not just that people live so far apart now.

    Most of the bridesmaids help happened on the day of the wedding.

    I think we watch too many movies that make it seem like there’s one way things are supposed to happen. Don’t allow your joy to be stolen by preconceived ideas.

    • Ooooh. I totally need to memorize this and then repeat it as a mantra:
      “Don’t allow your joy to be stolen by preconceived ideas.”

  • amy

    This really resonated with me in so many ways that I had to “run” down here to comment.
    I’ll just share one thought though: I’m applauding you, Kim. Nearly everything I thought to say, either Alyssa & surely any number of APWers has already said. But, allow me to give you a shout-out! for feeling lonely is one of the toughest things to admit. I’m a long-time reader and admirer of this awesome community and an aspiring counselor (learning about theories like the “funnel of emotions” & such) in graduate school, YET, I can barely admit how lonely I have felt or feel in life. So bravo (I accidentally typed “e” but how appropriate, right?) to you!

    • kireina

      And an extra kudos for responding to so many of the comments! :)

  • Ariel

    Thank you SO MUCH for this discussion. The worst thing about being a lonely bride is not feeling like I have anyone to talk to about how it feels to be in this position.
    I too have been feeling so isolated in my wedding planning, having friends who are too busy/far away/not as close as I thought they were. Up until just now I’ve been feeling like there was something wrong with me, that it was due to some character flaw of my own that I didn’t have the close group of girlfriends who deeply care about my search for the perfect pair of wedding shoes, or to commiserate with me over my finance’s terrible taste in centerpieces.
    I don’t feel like I have anyone in my life who is close enough to ask to be my bridesmaids, so we’ve decided not to have a wedding party at all, even though my partner has several people who he wanted to be groomsmen. It makes me feel sad, but I’m trying to not let my sorrow over relationships that I don’t have overshadow the fact that I do have one relationship that is so wonderful that I want to spend the rest of my life with this person- which is the whole point of this wedding in the first place, right?
    It helps me so much to hear that I’m not alone in this lonely bride boat.

  • Laura

    I definitely sympathize and felt many of the same feelings in planning my wedding to my now-husband. None of my bridesmaids or close family members live in the same city as we do, so we did the vast majority of the planning on our own. Then, about four months before the wedding, there was a fire in the house we were renting in. I was a student at the time and was getting ready for exams when we suddenly had to move out of our apartment, try to rescue what of our possessions we could and replace the rest. That, combined with the pressure and stress of wedding planning made it an incredibly sad and lonely time.

    But I am happy to say that while I may have felt somewhat isolated for a lot of the planning, that all changed the weekend of our wedding. Being surrounded by friends and family who were enthusiastic and helpful for those few final days made all the difference, and I felt an incredible sense of community on our wedding day.

    So Kim, I understand your feelings but I also really hope that as the day gets closer, things start to change and you get to experience the joy of sharing the wedding with the people you love.

  • Jo

    One more thought, now that I’ve actually read all the comments:

    Planning the wedding is the obvious hard part, but there’s also the “preparing for marriage” part that, for me at least, was just beyond anything I had ever experienced before. And what I longed for most in those months leading up to the wedding was conversations with married women about what marriage meant, how to do it well, and all that. I have accepted and released the disappointments of people not stepping up to help or support me during our engagement, but the thing that still baffles me is how lonely it was to walk the journey of getting married. Maybe for those of you who have close married friends around you, or who grew up in a happy married home, this isn’t such a big deal. But for me, who’s seen more weddings (and subsequent divorces) in my immediate family than long-term marriages, this transition was very difficult to figure out alone.

    Again, I think the silver lining is that it has made my husband and I really work it all out together. But, I feel like the learning curve on marital commitment would have been a lot smoother with some wise married ladies to talk to back then.

    • Marina


      I appreciated so much my one co-worker who said, “Congratulations–marriage is great” rather than “Congratulations, what rings/flowers/dress/venue/blah de blah are you having?” Just that one little comment focusing on marriage, not the wedding, was so unusual it really made an impression on me.

  • Melissa

    Oh, man. Boy do I hear you. I didn’t have a bridal shower because no one threw me one and I didn’t have the guts to throw myself one. Yeah, yeah, pity party time. I didn’t have a bridal party either, and my mother and two closet friends live on the opposite coast. It just really hurt, still hurts, that no one even thought I’d want one or thought to mention it or express sadness that they couldn’t come to something like that due to distance. And my friends in my current city… let’s just call them friendly acquaintances. My ‘best’ friend was in a wedding two weeks after my own for a girl who lives near her. She was all over that wedding, planning and attending a bridal shower, generally wrangling people to and fro. I just felt so snubbed by everyone. My other close friend got ready with me before the reception, which was nice, but I then had to go put together crap at the venue and she declined to help. My mother never offered to lift a finger and my dad, my well-meaning dad, his help was more of a hindrance. But at least he wanted to help! My husband and I went and set up place cards and lit tea lights and set out wedding favors ourselves at the venue while everyone else had cocktails outside. Yeah, I’m not bitter at all!

  • Irene

    This is the most random comment ever, and I swear I’m not the one selling it… but in case any lonely brides out there are lacking in girls to bring awesome things to their attention:

    I was just looking on etsy for christmas presents and came across the cutest cake topper I’ve possibly ever seen, all day-of-the-dead style. Since I already got married (plus could not have jammed a cake topper on top of my croquembouche) I thought I’d share with y’all:

    This is more related to the post… I work in a bridal salon and have seen the good and bad of being a lonely bride while dress shopping. So often the people that a bride brings with her are not actually supportive at all, and the more people she brings the worse it tends to be. It’s always a bit heartbreaking when I see someone’s friends crush her love for a dress or, even worse, when they convince her into a decision she’s not ready for or happy with. I think this is true in many aspects of wedding planning. Having lots of women voicing strong opinions can be a wonderful thing, but it can also sometimes be a wonderful thing to stand strong and independent and alone.

  • amy

    It’s funny this whole wedding thing, you feel like it’s going to be this great big celebration with all the people you love. My mother and I have had a strange relationship due to her depression since my childhood, but we had become closer in recent years, now she and my father seem distant. They know my fiance and like him and were happy when we were engaged, but now they never ask about the plans for the wedding or seem to show any interest when I mention it. I feel hurt and disappointed by this, I keep telling myself that I need to readjust my expectations of how they are going to behave and not let it upset me but it does hurt.
    This is compounded by the fact that I am only 26 and the first within my group of friends to marry, many of them are still single and I feel guilty when I bring up our wedding, sadly some friends behave differently around me now.
    Who knew there would be so many emotional pitfalls!
    A piece of advice I was given once was (not verbatim! They were much more succinct than me!)
    “Try not to let other people’s negative emotions or behaviour affect you, it is their baggage, it is for them to deal with, it is not you, it is them”
    Wise words but hard to hold on to at times….

  • Julie

    ” I’ve always been a person who does things by myself because then they are done correctly and by my own terms. But, to my own fault, it does make me feel alienated and alone a lot of the time. I’m ok with this in my everyday life and my work life…”

    I do this to myself, too.

    This is my second marriage, and the simple fact of the matter is, I AM alone. My parents have been deceased for several years, and my sister lives several hundred miles away.

    It’s been difficult, at times. Although my sister and I are close (and close in age), we are at opposite ends of things, family-wise. My children are nearly grown and gone, and she has a one-year old, so it is understandably hard for her to get too excited.

    My work partner, to whom I would squee, is going through an extremely difficult time in her relationship. I will not rub my happiness in her face.

    So, I celebrate the things I find with my fiance, and if it’s something I truly can’t contain my excitement about, I will share with a group of friends I’ve acquired online.

    But I understand. There are times when I’m excited, dammit, and I want to share. There are times when I wish I had a group of girlfriends to go do things with. But I don’t, and it’s okay. All I can do is offer you a hug and let you know you are not alone.

  • Jane

    Sorry to be the lone dissenting voice here, but I really don’t understand why feeling lonely while planning your wedding is any big surprise–or even something that needs to be attended to. It’s your wedding, right? Repeat after me. YOUR wedding. So, no, your friends aren’t going to be able to share the same kind of excitement. It’s not happening to them. It’s not their lives. Rather than looking to other people for affirmation, or expecting the people around you to mirror your interest and excitement, know that your own happiness must ultimately come from within.

    Perhaps this post is evidence, once again, of the large cultural and psychological differences between people who marry early and people who marry late. It seems to me that, in many cases, people who marry young have something of an umbilical attachment to their friends and family. They’re still in the post-college communal phase, they still go out with the girls every weekend, and they still feel the need to share/text/tweet every minute detail of their lives. So when they don’t get constant affirmation for completing every little milestone of wedding planning, they are devastated. Since they’ve spend their entire lives being the center of attention, they don’t understand why people don’t drop everything for them.

    I’m a different type of person. Because I am older and just now getting married, I’ve already done the emotional work of separating from my family and friends. I moved four times in my twenties. I didn’t have a consistent group of friends that circled the wagon around me every time I needed support. Rather than lamenting my loneliness, I cultivated my personality and interests. And because this was in the days before extensive internet networking, I didn’t even have the capability to tweet, blog, or status update all of my friends on every little thought that flitted through my head. Moreover, I spent my twenties working with people who were much less fortunate than I was (and much less fortunate than most people in this community, I’m guessing), so perhaps I’m just not used to this degree of entitlement. Do I have a lonely life? Maybe by some people’s standards. (Though I don’t think so.) But ironically, I feel much more independent, fulfilled, and well-adjusted than many of my younger peers. And my wedding planning? I guess I never thought about it as “lonely” before–I’m doing everything myself, but I’m having a total blast. Again, I guess it’s just a matter of expectations. I don’t expect any of my friends to swoop in and squee about something that, at the end of the day, is about me, not them.

    I think that this epidemic of loneliness is an outgrowth of our culture’s increased obsession with perfection. And evidence of narcissism. When you’ve been told all your life that you’re wonderful and terrific, and when your entire youth has centered around building an online presence and broadcasting all of your emotions to the world, I guess it’s just tough to face the reality that no, not everyone cares about your own life as much as you do.

    In the end, I think people here just need to lighten up. Being able to do these things–wedding planning, networking, talking to people, talking to a supportive mother–means that you are very, very fortunate. When I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself, I think about the people I worked with–people who could never dream of having weddings, engagement rings, receptions, houses, and honeymoons. These are all signs of extreme privilege, so enjoy them but don’t take them for granted. I don’t mean to come across as pious, but seriously. It’s bizarre to me that this community attempts to normalize a vision of wedding and marriage that is not even CLOSE to reality for the majority of people in the world. Perhaps we could all stand to be a little more self-reflexive about our privilege? I don’t know.

    Like I said, I’m just concentrating on having a blast.

  • Saskia

    I know how you feel! My situation was a little different but still left me feeling lonely in a way. My best friend/bridesmaid was super helpful but actually ended up taking over. I was trying so hard to “let go” and not worry about the details but in the end I felt slightly disconnected from my own wedding. My girlfriend had her heart in the right place but she is a totally organised control freak and she didn’t get that I *wanted* to be involved with things like decorating the venue and that my mum felt left out when she was shooed out of the kitchen when trying to help with the food. She worked so hard at the bbq reception making sure all the food was placed perfectly etc that I hardly even spoke to her and there doesn’t seem to be a single photo of her and I just relaxing together! I really need *her* to ask for help and not worry about the details so much and not do everything herself. I was so focused on not doing that but I just transferred it to her and it’s left me feeling a little hollow and separated from my wedding and guilty that she did so much….

  • Lisa

    Wow. Well I appreciate this post and just sat here reading every comment, and the fact that I’ve been a passenger in car that has been sitting on a freeway off ramp for over an HOUR waiting to exit and drive thru sone kind of Christmas spectacular has nothing to do with it. THANK YOU INTERWEBS!!!!

    I’m a first time bride at 44, and between distances, deceased parents, elderly grandparents, distance andbudget constraints necessitating a small wedding, I’ve needed to do all of it myself and often felt guilty about talking about it to any family who I could get to listen so I haven’t. Sigh. My long distance MOH ( I only decided on even having one after hearing the planner talk about waiting before the ceremony in the “bride’s vestibule” which I thought I’d probably throw up and pee in if left alone) is super lovely, if far away, but even the couple of female friends I thought would be into the deal and could come can’t or won’t or whatever and that is a weird disappointment.

    Anyways, thanks for this.

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  • Melissa

    To bring it back ’round to the-grass-is-always-greener land, my very divorced parents have stepped up in a huge way helping with my wedding. Not just financially, but emotionally, logistically, aesthetically, they’re really coming through. Don’t think for a minute that I take this for granted, because I know it’s really hard for them.

    Cue beginning of massive toe-stepping and jealousy and hurt feelings on who is more needed or appreciated. I’m trying my best to keep everyone in the loop even though certain tasks have been designated to certain parents. No matter how open I try to be, it seems that my mom/sister-MOH/father feels left out – usually of things I had no idea they were remotely interested in:
    Sister: You never tell me anything about how your wedding is coming along.
    Me: That’s cause when I mention it, you never ask. I’m trying to be sensitive to what you want to know.
    Sister: Well, why should I ask? I don’t care about weddings. At all.
    Me: ??!!??

    A post on the difficulty of well-intentioned but easily hurt divorced parents and reeling siblings would do me some good.

    • anonymous

      agreed. divorced parents bring all sorts of areas to be navigated … a few off the top of my head include budget (!), choreography/people placement, and saying “this isn’t important” but meaning “it’s extremely important and you should know it.” Meg, contact me, and I’ll have more to say….

  • Allison

    When I first started planning my wedding, I completely felt lonely. I guess I didn’t understand how my friends and family weren’t completely excited. There was part of me that felt like creaming, “Come on guys….its me…the one who said she would never get married….and now I am doing it….its a big deal”. I obsessed over details and felt really stressed about finding the “perfect” everything. But then I found this site and decided to chillax.

    I have to say that I have turned a corner. I decided a few months ago that I would do everything I could to appreciate my three brdesmaids instead of wishing they were different. My sister (MOH) is much younger than me and could seriously care less about the decorations. But, she has been the should I cry on when I stress about our not-so-perfect family. Just a few days ago she said “Allie, don’t stress about mom. I got your back.” She may not be tying little bows, but she will be that buffer I need.

    I also really wanted a shower but didn’t want to seem pushy or selfish…so I just flat out asked my bff to help me. She asks for my advice more than I’d like, but I am trying to remember that it is only because she wants me to be happy and knows I can be hard to please.

    Finally, my fiances sister has been pretty much out of the picture. Yet, she is the only one of us three that has actually been married so I am confident she will step up on the actual day.

    Basically, I have tried to just focus on the good stuff and not stress about the imperfect stuff. I have also sent electronic save the dates so people can respond with encouraging tidbits. That has helped me feel like this is all worth it.

    At the end of the day, my wedding is MY WEDDING…with the real people who I love who aren’t perfect. I know that they will be enough because they are enough!!!

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  • Katie

    I know that I’m a little behind on this post and all of the comments, but I just discovered APW this week! Anyway, I just want to say thank you thank you thank you. I am in a nearly identical situation and have been feeling so alone throughout my wedding planning. My attendants live in Virginia, NYC, DC, New Jersey, and Tennessee and I live in Maine, so my originally envisioned support system is just not there. My mother travels for work so some stuff she can’t even help me with and my future mother in law is a flight attendant. So, needless to say, a lot falls on my shoulders.
    I have recently stopped getting upset and just BREATHING. Reminding myself that all of these important people in my life have their own lives and saying to myself “this is my wedding….my day to pronounce my love for Ben and his for me, nothing else.” Breaking it down to the true reasons of why we wanted to get married in the first place really helps me not stress about parties and decorations and all the other stuff that can get in the way.
    I am so happy to know that I’m not the only bride in this situation, and to know that there is a group of people here at APW who understand and will listen and encourage. Thanks again and cheers!

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  • Carrie

    Thank you all for the validation! I am also in Olrando and am planning my wedding with my fiance’. We are very happy and have decided to do a destination wedding, just the 2 of us, since both our families are up north, in different states. I’ve been a bridesmaid so many times that the movie 27 dresses could’ve been loosely based on my life in my 20’s and early 30’s. Now it’s my turn and I decided to make it easy on my friends and family and just invite them to parties, where they live after the wedding. My fiance’ is wonderful and very supportive but I’ve still been feeling lonely lately. People who I spent months and even years helping plan showers/weddings/stagette parties for don’t even seem to have 10 minutes to hear about my exciting things via phone. I understand that they live a thousand miles away and are busy with husbands and young kids, but I feel like they really could be a little more involved than taking days to respond to my calls and then responding by text. To top it off, I received an invitation today to a family members baby shower, during my wedding/honeymoon. I just felt totally unrecognized. I hope I’m not sounding demanding, but a little acknowledgment would be really nice.

  • Patty

    Wow.. what is this blog.. its AMAZING. I dont know how i just happened to find it. I’m going through the exact same thing. Just really sad, and extremely lonely. Everything you said was exactly how I feel, great friends, great family.. just have never been in the limelight before. I’ve always the been the one taking the backseat or helping a friend shine. I think its actually really difficult for my friends to adjust to this.. lol it seems like they don’t know what to do. My maid of honor (who i was the maid of honor at her weddng) showed up 2 hours late to my engagement because they were pregaming and curling her hair. Shes a great person, but she still didnt understand why I was so upset. She just didnt realize its my time now and she’s supposed to be there for me like I was there for her. It was all extremely weird. They’re just out of their comfort zone. Kim I feel like you being independent all these years has something to do with that… I can tell you 100% I bet you never made something about yourself.. I can tell by your post you usually just said hey .. I’m very capable I’ll just handle situations as they come and everyone is used to that.. you not making a big deal about yourself. I’ve thought this through and I spoke to my maid of honor..after a bunch of crying.. just saying hey.. I was disappointed.. that word is enough for someone to realize how you feel.. rather than causing a huge fuss. :) you’re mom is awesome and I wish you the best.. i’m sure your day will be WONDERFUL.. and it will be the happiest day. Just let go, and show them you need them/want them to be there.

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  • Jalondra

    It is good to hear this, because I feel extremely lonely. The reasons why are more complicated; our families really want to help, but I was getting so frustrated with how people reacted to my Practical Wedding and non-traditional ideas that I decided to keep things to myself. My local best friend is kind of depressed about not being in a relationship or finding a husband so I don’t want to overwhelm her with too much wedding talk and my other best friend is out of town and it feels like we’re growing apart, which also makes me sad. That’s the only person I really would like to have by my side through all this. I picked my older sister as my maid of honor because I thought she’d be hurt if I didn’t but she has a high-stress, hypersenstive personality and a fixed idea of what she thinks it should be so I don’t really feel like involving her that much. My fiance is not very helpful. I don’t know what to expect as it gets closer. So its been hard. But its good to know that I am not necessarily alone in these feelings, because I have never heard a bride talk about them before.

  • Anne

    Thank you so much for your letter. I’ve become very accepting of my own situation now. But it really bothered me when I first got engaged and it still bothers me now if I think about it too much. I searched the internet for a while looking for an article like this a few months ago, thank you for making me feel… a little less alone.