I’m Not Worried about Feeling Unhappy on My Wedding Day

bride and groom smiling at sunset

The first comment I ever posted on APW was in response to a comment by someone who expressed a sense that feelings were the new mason jars. She said blogs like Moment Junkie were worse for her than The Big Wedding Blogs because they made her feel bad about not having the right feelings.

This is blog envy gone mad! I said to myself.

I empathised because I know what it’s like. As a nerdy shut-in of a kid I knew intellectually that people had all kinds of feelings. Look at Heathcliff and Cathy, I thought. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Heck, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield‘s lives were a 24/7 feelings-fest. Unfortunately because I was so busy reading about them I had no friends, and so real feelings (which usually arise from interaction with other human beings, as opposed to secondhand feelings, which arise when you read Frederick Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot) were a mystery to me.

This was my emotional range at age thirteen:

  • Embarrassment
  • Irritation
  • Hunger

I didn’t even have any crushes from ages thirteen to eighteen. What kind of freakish teenager doesn’t have crushes? Clearly I was some kind of heartless monster.

But here’s something I’ve realised over time. It doesn’t freaking matter. Heathcliff and Cathy are made-up people! Even Elizabeth and Jessica don’t actually exist! And in real life, ordinary people have inappropriate feelings all the time. They spend hours working themselves up to an intolerable pitch of excitement over a date, and then the date happens and they’re bored the whole time. They worry about the laundry while making love to their partner. They’re consumed by envy when their BFF announces the fabulous new job they’ve got.

Granted, these are all hypothetical situations rather than ones I’ve experienced myself (personally, I avoid thinking about laundry whenever possible). But at my graduation ceremony, f’rex, I didn’t feel proud or satisfied or emotional about the three years I’d spent in the law library. I was bored with all the photo-taking, sweating in the jacket I was wearing on a boiling summer’s day, and cross because my parents had made me put on high heels and my feet hurt.

At the end of the day, I still got my degree. So I’m going to come out and say it: You don’t actually have to enjoy your wedding. It’s fine if for one reason or another—family or financial pressures—you view it as something you just have to get over with. There will be other parties to throw. And you’re going to achieve your ultimate goal—to be married to your partner—whether or not you managed to get enough artichokes to hold your place-cards, and whether or not you get a feeling of transcendence when you pronounce your vows.

I’m not saying both things are equally irrelevant—obviously transcendence is nice if you can get it—but let’s be realistic here. Artichokes you can buy; transcendence you’ve just got to wait for. If you’ve got to worry about something, choose the artichokes every time.

Better yet, don’t worry about it. Probably some of the gorgeous brides you’ve seen glowing at their grooms are secretly thinking: “The asshole forgot to wear the engraved cufflinks I got him! Asshole!” or “When this is over I’ll be able to find a quiet corner and fix this increasingly urgent wedgie issue.” Probably some of the parents weeping photogenically are crying because their kid chose artichokes over peonies for the centrepieces.

You can’t have an ideal wedding. You just have to have one that’s right for you and the people in your life. And what’s right for you might actually mean that you’ll be uncomfortable and harried most of the day. You’re hosting a huge party to mark an epic change in your life—if you have a great time doing it, that’s fab, but it’s also ok not to have a great time. As long as you get where you want to be in the end.

On my wedding days I expect to feel bored with the photo-taking, either cold in the English autumn or uncomfortably sticky in the equatorial heat, resentful about some absurd decision or other I was overridden on by an officious relative (the color of the napkins or something), hungry, and stressed.

It will still be awesome. After all that hullaballoo, I’ll be married to my favourite person. That’s worth some inappropriate feelings, isn’t it?

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Kathleen

    Zen- this is double-take, re-read, post-on-the-fridge perfect wisdom. I’ve felt over the last few months that joy is the new bunting (or mason jars or matching bridesmaids) in that your wedding isn’t complete without the overwhelming sense of joy and happiness. And you just dropkicked that (so intimidating, so massive) assumption so swiftly and easily and like it was nothing. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Carbon Girl

    Excellently said. I spent a good month after my wedding going over all the “inappropriate” feelings I had on my wedding day. Annoyance at the hair stylist, boredom/freezing with the photography, upset about the weather, and more that I honestly can’t remember now. There was plenty of joy though too and in the long run, I realized that you are just going to feel what you feel at that moment and you cannot judge your feelings.

    • meg

      Also: We ALL have wacky feelings on our wedding day. I didn’t even feel happy during our ceremony, I just felt overwhelmed. But I also felt some joy, and that’s enough for me. You just have to let the feelings show up and not judge them….

      • Overwhelmed describes my whole day. With an odd mix of zen because I accepted I couldnt fix anything that was going wrong, so I just let things happen.
        And when you look back at our wedding photos? You dont see joy. And as much as I love them, and our friends love them, I also hate them for that sometimes, possibly because I see it so often in everyone elses photos. I need to get past that – we look good when we both hate being in front of the camera, that should be enough! :)

  • Brefiks

    As I get closer to the day, I appreciate these posts more and more. It’s good to remember that we can’t “plan” our emotions and that even close relationships might go haywire. Thank you!

    • Alyssa

      Another “thank goodness it’s not just me” moment. Bless you, APW community.

  • PA

    First of all: “When this is over I’ll be able to find a quiet corner and fix this increasingly urgent wedgie issue.”

    I laughed out loud and then had to try to explain to my boss why.

    Second of all, this resonates so very, very much. Thank you. I’ve spent a lot of days in an agony of, “Am I feeling the right things? I feel like I should be feeling _____,” and a good few other days in an agony of, “Why am I feeling this? This is wrong! I should be feeling POSITIVE emotions!”

    Thank you for reminding me that worry and fear and frustration and anger and blah and doubt all sorts of other mediocre and “negative” emotions are not only NOT wrong, they are also much more universal at weddings than people admit. They don’t mean that you aren’t madly in love, and they don’t mean that the marriage is a mistake, they just mean the day (and the approach to the day) is STRESSFUL, and you are a human being who is reacting normally to stress.

    • Susie

      Haha with you on the wedgie issue! I distinctly remember trying to smile adoringly at my new husband and look blissfully happy for photographs while thinking 1) I wish it would stop raining. Thank god I put umbrellas in the car… 2) Omg I’m so frickin cold, I should have bought that faux-fur wrap after all. 3) Where is my glass of champagne? Hmmm I could murder a gin and tonic right now. And most of all, 4) My spanx have given my the most uncomfortable wedgie known to humankind!! Please please please let me go find a quiet spot to fix it!!! Then felt a little bad for not being in a state of chilled-out bliss and happiness.

      I’m pretty sure these are all normal but no-one else admits it?!

  • jordan

    This is probably the first post on APW that I have been able to relate to 100%. I could never really put into words what it was that would bother me when I would read some posts, or see lots of pretty pictures on blogs, but I get it now. I am the bride-to-be who will most likely be flustered and stressed on her wedding day. I will probably be running around at the last minute, even though I hate doing that. And I will probably get annoyed at one thing or another. See, I am not exactly known for “going with the flow.” I’ve been thinking all along that I needed to turn into a person who does go with the flow, and it’s been stressing me out already (and the wedding is 14+ months away!). But this just made the point very clear: what I feel that day will be what I feel, and there is no right or wrong. And as long as I am married to my fiancée at the end of the day, it will have all been worth it. Thank you for the insight :)

    • meg

      GET THE BOOK. Do you have the book??? I talk a lot in the book (I’ve talked a lot about it on the site too, but you’d have to dig through the archives) about how you just have to let the emotions that show up show up on your wedding day, and you can’t predict them. We talk a lot about how you should go with the flow and it’s all going to be ok in the end because that’s NOT the prevailing message in wedding media… the prevailing message is that if things are not perfect you’ll freak out, so buy more things so everything will be perfect. But our message doesn’t mean that you won’t feel some weird and negative feelings on your wedding day/ weekend. Hint: YOU TOTALLY WILL. Just hopefully, you can let them not matter that much.

    • anon

      I’m a wanna be go with the flow person.

      A work in progress. From the outset of our wedding planing I had it in my head that I would plan, plan, plan and then show up day of and relax. I think part of this comes from my design education – I had a prof who always said “Do what you can in the time that you have.” And then it’s pencils down, present what you have and own it. My husband was sure I’d be a total mess, running around perfecting everything day of and he was100% wrong. My bridesmaids wanted to take my pulse I was so calm. But this all came from 15 months of thinking, when the day is here, there is nothing more to be done but marry my man…and party!

      I think really thinking through how you want to feel on the day and what it will take to get there is important. Visioning is under rated and very powerful.

      • Joan

        “And then it’s pencils down, present what you have and own it.” I love that! I received a similar kind of message in my professional training as an educator and trainer. We would put a ton of work into planning out and preparing for each day- or weekend-long workshop and then when the time came to do it we just had to be ready for what actually happened and not stress about whether we were following “the plan.” This kind of mindset helped me tremendously throughout the planning and the day of the wedding. And, I love your point about visioning. I’ve found that my thoughts and feelings are perhaps more connected than I want them to be, but this can work in positive ways as well.

  • Good points. This is also relevant to debunk the myth that once you’re married or engaged you’ll have a ‘perfect relationship’. No more arguments, no more frustration that they’re not some fantasy person. Clearly we don’t all stop being irritating in our small and large ways when we get married. Thanks Zen!

    • My husband and I saw a trailer last week for the new Emily Blunt movie wherein one of the characters says something to the effect that their very long engagement will give them the opportunity to perfect their relationship. I said aloud “I hope that’s a joke” the same moment Jason said “What the…” and cracked up the couple sitting behind us.

      (But seriously, I really hope that line was meant to be a joke in context!)

  • Wait. Elizabeth and Jessica don’t actually exist?

    • meg

      Shhhh. KRISTY. I had to link their names because some of our staff is too young to know who they are. (Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh).

      • Wait, too young? I’m 24 (OK, almost 25) and I was the target demographic. YOU MEAN THERE ARE PEOPLE YOUNGER THAN ME?!?

        Also, did no one read Sweet Valley Twins? They were totally the tween version of Sweet Valley High.

        • Liz

          I’m with Molly on this one. I *definitely* sat in the library during recess to read Elizabeth and Jessica…

        • Maddie

          Some of us were very busy reading Dean Koontz as a teenager. Ahem. I won’t point fingers.

        • Deanne

          I’m 23, and I read them. I think I came across them in the school library.

          Also because I have an identical twin I think people thought it was funny, cute or appropriate to give me books about twins. Though my collection of Sweet Valley books was not quite so large as my collection of Babysitter’s Club books.

      • Wow. That’s….wow.

      • K

        Helpful for those of us who are too old to know who they are, too!

      • My mom wouldn’t LET me read them.

        • I got in trouble once when my mom found out I was reading one (too much kissing of boys in those books!), but after that, I would just sneak them home from the library.

  • Katielase

    This is so perfect. Thank you. I’m slightly opposite to you, have a tendency to get over-emotional, I feel the way I’m meant to feel and THEN I go overboard and feel it all TOO MUCH. For example, my graduation day ended with me curled in a ball shaking like a leaf with waves of terrifying panic, watching Over Her Dead Body through the night to try and calm down. I wouldn’t be surprised if my wedding day ends similarly, although hopefully with a better choice of film.

    And honestly, while I’d rather not panic because it isn’t enjoyable, I don’t actually care if it ruins my day, because even if I end up hysterical and panicking, I’ll be married to G. As far as I’m concerned that’s always going to be a win.

    K x

    PS: Kirsty… they totally do.

  • I get this is really really do. Apart from reading fewer books I’m probably the same person.

    I’m not saying every moment is worth having and I’m not saying every emotion I think I see is perceived correctly.

    Yet, am I missing out? I have a great husband but would my wedding day or perhaps life be better if I tried to find those emotions too?

    Should (argh the worst word ever) I try to be more? Or am I already enough?

    • DKR

      You are enough. You are always enough – who you are, what you are, how you feel – is enough. And when you forget that, have that great husband of yours remind you. I’m sure he thinks you’re enough.


    • Zen

      But how do you “try to find” emotions? I suppose my point is that you can’t really control what feelings you have. You can only control how you behave, which includes how you see things. Certainly I think one can always *be* more, but that doesn’t necessarily mean *feeling* more, but *doing* more — doing well by others, I mean.

    • RachelC

      My yoga teacher says “You do enough. You have enough. You are enough.”

      It’s my new mantra.

  • jessie

    “So I’m going to come out and say it: You don’t actually have to enjoy your wedding. It’s fine if for one reason or another—family or financial pressures—you view it as something you just have to get over with. There will be other parties to throw. And you’re going to achieve your ultimate goal—to be married to your partner—whether or not you managed to get enough artichokes to hold your place-cards, and whether or not you get a feeling of transcendence when you pronounce your vows.”


    You have no idea how good I felt reading that. A little liberated, actually. Because while we are coming out and saying things: I don’t really want a wedding. I love my parter, and I want to be with him always, and I’m fine with the idea of marriage but I don’t and never have wanted a wedding, and spent YEARS AND YEARS messed up with guilt about that. What does it mean? Does it mean I don’t love him? I’m not committed to him? We still have Issues To Sort Out? Am I the Commitmentphobe? I’ve spent months trolling wedding blogs trying to reconcile myself to this wedding that means so much to him and our families but felt so performative and insincere to me, and reading things like this help a lot. I keep worrying that I’m ruining everything with my feelings but your wise words are a reminder that feelings are as complicated as people. I love him and am in this for always, so whatever. I put on a little show, and get down to the business of being married, and then I’ll throw myself a ‘never throwing another party again’ party, because HEAVENSTOBETSYDOIHATEHOSTINGPARTIES!

    Zen, you’re awesome.

    • Chris Bergstrom

      Jessie, are you eavesdropping on my secret thoughts? “Performative and insincere” exactly describes how I felt when I thought about my wedding beforehand.

      In the moment, and afterwards, it didn’t/doesn’t feel that way, to me. But that might just be luck. I predicted I would feel “performative and insincere” at my commencement(s), and I did.

    • Zen

      Oh, I like “performative” — that is just the right word. But it’s a ritual, right, and to an extent aren’t all rituals performative? Insincerity only comes if you really have no reason for going through the motions.

  • I think the key to this is to stop believing that any of our feelings are inappropriate or “the wrong kind of feelings” to have during a wedding. Perhaps you’ll have all the feelings that you expect to have, or perhaps you won’t. Whatever they are, they are still your feelings.

    Maybe I say this because I seem to be the queen of “inappropriate” feelings in my family: laughing at funerals, being angry in church, or completely bored and uninterested while wedding dress shopping. The Good Southern Women in my family tell me that I need to work harder to “act right” in these kinds of social situations, like I did when I was young and training to be a Good Southern Woman. Those days are gone. Once I figured out that the most memorable moments in my life were the times where I had “inappropriate” feelings towards a situation, I stopped trying to fake the right ones. It’s been a good ride ever since.

    Example: when Bryan proposed, I cried. However, I also got upset, punched him in the arm, and pouted when he told the whole world that he bought the ring on eBay a few minutes later. I’m really not sure why that upset me so much at the time, but there it is.

    The moral of this short story: feel all your feelings. They’re yours, and (good or bad) they are a reflection your personality and spirit – things I think most people are trying to impart upon their wedding anyway.

  • aly

    Yes! I’m an emotional, moment hoarder. But there were plenty of annoyances that threatened to derail me on my wedding day. Most, I transcended, until the very last straw when a bunch of our friends wanted to go across the street to a bar after our reception. My dear ungroom was tipsy and wanted to go too. I was exhausted and hoping for a little romance so I was annoyed. But ever the nicey-nice, good sport, I acquiesced for “one drink.” As you might imagine, “one drink” dragged on and on. Finally, I had enough and told my partner it was time to leave. A nearby friend grabbed my arm and said something like, “Don’t go. Let’s keep dancing!” I ripped my arm away and said, curtly and shrilly, “NO, I’m tired and I’m leaving!” and yanked my partner out the door without saying goodbye to anyone, steaming all the way home. That was so not the way I imagined my wedding day ending but now I can laugh about it at least.

  • I feel like APW is preparing me for my wedding by creating a chorus of voices in my head. On my wedding day, instead of hearing the WIC mantras of “it’s your day” “the most important day of your life,” “you deserve to have everything be perfect,” I’m going to have this running internal monologue populated by people I’ve “met” here who tell me that things are going to go wrong, and that will be okay, that the way I feel is valid no matter what it is, that I should focus my attention on the people I am surrounded by, the wonderful man I am lucky to be marrying and the marriage that will still exist when this one day is over.
    I feel like I am prepared, not because I actually have a handle on all the details, but because wonderful women here have dealt with family illness, absent parents, dishonest vendors, snow in august, hand smashing elephants, depression, anxiety, discrimination and all sorts of other calamities and still come out on the other side. If they can do it, there is no reason that I can’t. I think this wedding is going to be an awesome rocking party and I am going to have a great time, but if it isn’t, I don’t have to worry, because I already know, really understand and know, that life will go on after that one day, and W and I will be married at the end of it, and that is all that matters.

    • HH

      Best. Comment. Ever.

    • L

      Ha. I took a women’s self-defense class once where there were guys in big padded suits that we got to hit as hard as we could. We were all encouraged to cheer for each other when someone was fighting, specifically yelling out certain phrases or maneuvers that we were doing. It always felt a little corny to me, but it was also kinda fun. Then our instructor told us that some women who have been attacked after taking the class and fought off their attackers said that they felt like they could they could hear their classmates cheering them on and yelling alongside them during the attack, and that made the practice a whole lot weightier and more awesome for me.

      So now I’m picturing a super-hero style fight against all the stresses and anxiety of weddings, with the bride yelling out variations of self-defense phrases reinterpreted as APW mantras and hearing a chorus of supporters echoing her words.

  • Sam

    Fantastic! I’ve been silently stalking every post on APW for about six months now, and this is the first one that I absolutely could not write respond to. Thanks for this, Zen. I do fully appreciate the affirmation of this site, and of course the beauty of marriage…but sometimes the down-to-earth, let’s-talk-about-how-my-groom-can-do-things-that-annoy-the-crap-out-of-me, a.k.a. The Wedgie Talk, is what really makes me feel like a human.

  • Lacy

    “…Obviously transcendence is nice if you can get it—but let’s be realistic here. Artichokes you can buy; transcendence you’ve just got to wait for. If you’ve got to worry about something, choose the artichokes every time.”

    Forget wedding planning, this is my new life mantra. Thank you.

    • meg

      RIGHT? Favorite line, right there. Can someone shorten it up so we can all get a tattoo of it?

      • Liz

        “Worry about the artichokes.”

      • “choose the artichokes”

    • Liz

      I want a tee shirt.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      As a highly analytical person with “a very stressful job” “with lots of responsibility,” I have learned that I’m going to obsess over SOMETHING, so much better to obsess over whether the bridesmaids’ shoes match their dresses than what my mother is REALLY thinking.

      Just this last weekend, I discovered that art – paintings, architecture, music – is great for getting your mind off of stuff. I know, “Art makes you think hard,” duh, but it was helpful to realize the goal was not to stop thinking, but to think about something that won’t make me spiral into worry or stress. So here’s to humming your processional when you’re stressed!

      • Can I add “The goal is not to stop thinking, but to think about something that won’t make me spiral into worry or stress.” to the tee shirt requests? Because, YEAH.

  • Sharon L

    This post is so great for wedding graduates like me who wondered if they felt the right things on the big day. It was so overwhelmingly emotional that day that I can’t really tell you if most of that was “good” or “bad” emotion…and I think Zen is saying the emotion itself doesn’t have to be labeled. You feel the way you do at any given moment and that’s okay. Wish I could go back and tell my just-married self that and stop agonizing over the what the right thing is to feel. Now, 6 months out I think I can say, hey, some parts sucked and I felt that they sucked. Nothing wrong with that!

    • meg

      I want to point y’all back to the book, and the million posts where I’ve said this ;) Alas, the book was not around for you, but for the still-planning-people!!! You’re going to feel what you feel, the key is to be fully present, and own it, and try not to get stuck on one feeling. Joy! Sadness! Annoyance! Joy! Awkwardness! Anger! Tears! Joy! Sadness! That’s sort of what my wedding day was like….

      • p.

        For those who want to read more about the different ways people felt on their wedding days, I bookmarked this one back in 2010: http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/09/wedding-graduates-kristen-cory/#more-5335 for the comments more than the wedding graduate post.

        In the comments of that post, Meg said something that I really love and that I still think about a lot: “Realize that when people say that weddings are transformative, they don’t mean it was fun. In my experience changing is almost never fun, it’s just worth it and important.”

      • And let’s not forget my personal favorite Meg-term, the “I’m going to f*cking kill EVERYONE” moment. Mine happened as I walked down the aisle and so many guests crowded INTO it to take pictures (with flash, grrr) that I couldn’t see my groom. For serious.

        There was still a ton of joy. But boy was I glad someone had told me that a) I might have that feeling of utter rage and b) it wouldn’t ruin the experience of the day or mean that I’d failed as a bride. Whew.

  • Courtney

    I LOVED this post! I enjoyed my wedding day, generally, but didn’t experience transcendent joy. And, I didn’t love my hair. Or, to be honest, my mom. What I really wanted was to sit in my hotel room by myself, my BFF, and play with my friend’s baby. And I was trying to “include people” but ended up stressing myself out leading up to the ceremony. But I loved spending time with just my husband (my absolute favorite parts of the day), and felt true happiness in those moments.

    • Oh my goodness Courtney, I have to second this. There were parts of the day that I was resentful of, because of some overwhelming pressure from my parents to do things A Certain Way. Or how I was forced to put my foot down on the way to the bridal suite and insist that my mother please be ready unless she wanted to be photographed in jeans. (She didn’t feel it was necessary to be fully dressed until right before the ceremony.)

      There were a lot of wonderful parts of our wedding weekend, but there were some things that were NOT the best. And that’s ok.

  • Rachel

    I really love this post. I feel so overwhelmed with everything I should be doing, thinking, and feeling. It’s not enough that I MUST HAVE these certain things at the wedding or I MUST DO these traditions, I also MUST feel certain ways about all of this. It’s just too much. Where did this idea come from that on your wedding day, you have to be happier, sweeter, and prettier than any other time in your life? My anxiety comes out swinging in large social situations – so, no, I don’t think the happiest day of my life will be when I have to stand in front of 100+ people and say intimate things to my partner.

    Now excuse me while I go back to lobbying for elopement.

  • Kaiti

    This was an excellent post! Particularly because my fiance is like this and I’m not, and we’ve tried to understand it, but not very successfully.
    I’ve understood that he feels differently in situations than I do, he’s also not always very good at explaining how he feels and I’ve had a tough time understanding that at times… Understanding that maybe he’s not feeling over-the-top-could-explode-with-excitement, or even just normal excitement, but that isn’t a bad thing; it’s just a thing, HIS thing. A small “lightbulb” moment here.

    Thanks for helping me GET it!


    Oh my word, the SANITY. Because? OF COURSE. That is the entire point.

    • meg

      GOOD parties. Less stressful ones. One’s where no one is bossing you around. Says the married lady ;)

      • EXACTLY. I had one this weekend! The wedding isn’t the be-all-and-end-all! Now let’s put all that unnecessarily wasted energy to good use on vital things like negotiating world peace or creating the perfect rum punch. ;)

  • Class of 1980

    I think this applies to all parties. Until you’re in the middle of it, you never know if you’ll just be going through the motions or really enjoying yourself.

  • “You can’t have an ideal wedding. You just have to have one that’s right for you and the people in your life.”

    YES. Yes, yes, yes. I want to make this poster-sized and hang it up over my bed.

    • Jessie

      I wish I’d known this about proposals too. I would have felt a lot better about the “mess” I made of mine.

  • I think the idea of this post applies not only to the day of, but also the the planning process, and it’s important to keep in mind.

    I get frustrated with myself sometimes for not wanting to do more planning beyond just the basics, like I should be more excited about the “stuff” and should be planning extra details that I don’t actually care about but feel like I should. It can be hard to explain to people (my mom, friends) that I don`t want or need cake or flowers or centrepieces or gifts or showers or any of about a hundred other things. And it`s ok not to care about those things, but that`s something I constantly need to remind myself.

    Although now I find myself wanting to do something with artichokes. Hummmm.

    • It’s so nice to feel not so alone in this. The person who was most excited about my finally getting engaged was a girl who works at the Chili’s near my own restaurant who came in after her shift one day and saw my ring. I think she even cried a little (for the record, I did not cry. I haven’t cried out of excitement or joy or happiness at all, which frankly makes me feel like a freak).

      I, too, am feeling so…underwhelmed by this whole wedding planning process. “Do you have your dress yet??? I WANT TO SEEEEE” people shriek at me with genuine excitement shining in their eyes, and I respond “Yeah. I don’t have pictures though,” and watch their faces fall, and look at me slightly askance. I worry that I’m not excited enough, I worry that it ~means something~, I worry that when asked about pretty much any aspect other than the “getting married that day” my response is “eh… I guess we’ll figure it out eventually.”

  • Liz

    Omg, this is exactly how I felt. I am glad we got married, but the whole wedding day was just overwhelming, and, of course, the people who normally are asshats who annoy me were even more annoying, so I spent most of the day trying to manage and not fume too much at asshats, and I felt totally guilty about it until this post.

    I think at one point I said that the wedding was just a party, and a sucky one at that. We will have better ones. Thank GOD.

  • I like it!

    I’ve had weird feelings of almost.. guilt that I was stressed on the morning of our wedding. Once the actually wedding was there, I was ridiculously happy. But I felt bad that my friends were working and I wasn’t on the morning of our wedding. I was happy during the picture time though! I’d never seen Kevin’s outfit together, and he was so cute. And we were just so happy to be together. Too much LDR!! lol. so why should i worry that i felt stressed in the morning. Love this post.

  • Lys

    I read an NYT article recently about memory erasure. Researchers claim that memories are stored as separate components and then reassembled each time you recall an event, “updated” with subsequent information. If you tamper with the recollection process, the memory disappears.

    That notion of memory could be liberating: no matter what you feel during your wedding, you don’t get to keep those memories intact, and you continually choose how to frame the experience afterward. I love love love wedding graduate posts, but I do think of them as storytelling – instructive, moving, subjectively authentic “wedding myths.”

  • perfect, wise post!

  • Lori

    Oh goodness, THANK YOU for this wise and funny post. We have a long engagement, which means that instead of DIY’ing for a year and a half like in my imagination, I instead spend a lot of time procrastinating and making decisions at the last minute when I’m up against a wall (as I do with most things, so the fantasy of becoming some crazy DIY’er was completely unrealistic). Which means I spend a lot of time watching sitcoms on Netflix because my partner wants something on the TV while she happily takes care of the DIY I don’t do. Sitcoms like The Office.

    Let me tell you: this is a bad idea.

    Because of it’s reality-show shooting and stylistic authenticity, I let myself be convinced that Jim and Pam were REAL. Like, not hallucinogenic-real, but pretty damn emotionally real. And I had to remind myself that generally people don’t fall in love at first sight with their coworkers, wait for each other for several years, and buy a wedding ring when they have their first date. (!)

    And that’s okay.

    But that piled on top of spending the past year thinking about the meaning of marriage (so we can include it on the invitation and explain what the hell we’re doing…no, it’s not legal, yes we’ll consider it a wedding anyway), and the meaning of our relationship, and oh-my-god, am I feeling for S the way Jim feels for Pam, and if not, THEN ARE HETEROSEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS REALLY BETTER?! Whew. That’s a rabbit hole that’s not worth going down.

    As my immensely practical married friend says, “You dated for 5 years. You have spent more time thinking of marrying her than having doubts about marrying her. Trust that you knew what you were doing for those 5 years.”

  • I’m going to be brave and post this publicly as me: I’ve hoped on more than several occasions that I’ll have a Crying Photo at my wedding. I’m… kind of scared I won’t. I think I’ll be disappointed if I don’t. It took all I had not to say to my photographer, when she asked about what was important to me in photos, “If I, at any point, cry, please please please get a photo of it. Preferably one where I am sweetly wiping my eye with a tissue and looking pretty, or where someone is wiping my tears for me.”

    Wow. That felt good. Embrace me, sisters!

    Anyway, then I remember that I’m me. That 98% of the posts here Meg says she cried at, I read and think “that was lovely, but why in the world would you cry?” (And I don’t mean that to be snarky! Sensitivity is lovely.) That I sometimes burst out giggling at sentimental movies because my mind defaulted to thinking about farts. That I’m pretty sure any instances of me crying in public as an adult have involved bands Conor Oberst was in and maybe a few illicit beers.

    Maybe I’ll surprise myself. But long story short, I needed this post. Thank you.

    • meg

      Um. I’m not sure if I have a crying photo at my wedding. I cried once for about 5 seconds. LITERALLY.

    • Tell your photographer that you want that if the moment happens you want a photo of it!

      You may cry or you may not, but if a photo of you crying is important, let her know that you’d like it if the opportunity presents itself. He or she can’t make the moment happen, but if they know it’s one you want documented then they can keep a special eye open for it.

      • But I feel dorky for wanting THAT, of all things! Maybe I shouldn’t. I suppose it’s no worse than wanting one of, say, your partner staring into your eyes or you laughing with your friends.

        Anyway, it’s nothing I’d force. I have teared up once or twice while perusing wedding readings, though.

    • Brave and hilarious comment! Everyone has a fantasy “thing” – thanks for sharing yours. Also “Embrace me sisters!” Can that be a new catchphrase after admitting something embarrassing or guilt-inducing – I laughed out loud :)

      • Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it! And I’m glad to have it confirmed that everyone does, in fact, have at least one weird wedding fantasy thing. I personally blame mine on the fact that I was an emo kid back in the mid-00’s. Wait, do I need to say “embrace me, sisters” again now? Ack!

  • Jamie

    Just last night I was up late, worrying, and explaining to my fiance that I’m worried.
    As our wedding plans become more complex, I worry that I will be too busy and stressed out trying to make sure everything runs smoothly that I won’t have any emotional space left to actually enjoy my wedding. There are so many little things that can go wrong, and though I fully plan to embrace the philosophy of “f*ck it” on the day, because what can you do? I don’t expect it will be that easy. So it’s nice to read this. Thank you.

    • Just a tip, because I had the same stress about not being able to run things on my wedding: LISTS. I didn’t have a day of coordinator, but I made lists for folks. Not tons. I made a list for my dad of what to pick up the morning of (luckily, we live in a small town, so it was easy to get the flowers, my dress, and some lunch). And I made a list for each of the ushers with what I was asking them to do, and I had 10 copies of the list of “what needs to be packed into boxes at the end of the night to come home from the reception.” I also recruited a few family members and several friends to take care of those lists. And then I let it all go. Somehow, it worked out.

      If you let people know how things roughly should run and then let them to do their fabulous thing, I think you’ll be happily surprised. I repeated the mantra “let them shine” over the days running up to my wedding. When we decorated the venue, folks kept asking me what to do with this or that thing. I finally said “just make it pretty — I trust you!” And they all did. People rise to the occasion when one might least expect it.

  • V

    I literally scrolled up 3 times while reading this post to confirm that (miraculously) it’s not a wedding graduate post! Zen – congratulations on your wisdom! I’ve been married for a year and a half, I’ve been reading APW for two and half… and I STILL haven’t fully accepted all my wedding day emotions!

    • Ha, I’m six months out and still haven’t accepted them all either. So glad it’s not just me! Most things I read seem to have the acceptance comes a week to a month post-wedding. I think I’m just ignoring or trying to forget the not-so-great emotions and the what-ifs and if-onlys and hoping that once they’re gone/repressed, the happiness and joy will reemerge because they’re what’s left.

  • “She said blogs like Moment Junkie were worse for her than The Big Wedding Blogs because they made her feel bad about not having the right feelings.”

    Oh, that’s the last thing we would want anybody to feel at all, especially after reading Moment Junkie. It’s fine if your emotions aren’t what is “expected” of you on your wedding day. Just go with the flow. By the end of the day, as long as you’re together, that is what matters.

  • Rachel

    Wedding grad posts are great, but even the ones which say ‘my wedding didn’t turn out the way I wanted’ usually also say ‘but it was OKAY!!’ or ‘but I felt JOY ANYWAY!!’
    My wedding wasn’t, and I didn’t. I hated my wedding, I hated planning it and I cannot explain this to anyone, especially my husband, who got really upset the one time I tried.
    I am still not OK with this – I regret not doing things differently and fighting harder for a much smaller wedding (immediate family only, $5k instead of $20k), even if that made others angry. Instead, I made a deliberate choice to preserve relationships with family and friends and have the wedding they wanted, because those relationships were important to me.
    8 months later, I still wonder whether it was worth it.

    • Zen

      Yeah, I still question myself about things I gave in on that a) cost money and involve effort, and b) mean nothing to me. I am — I think — coming down on the side of “whevs, if it makes them happy …”

      But it’s fine! You have the relationships. The relationships are what matter.

    • Exactly. I think it was worth it, but it cost a lot in money, time/stress, and for me, some relationships were actually strained at the very time they were supposed to be strengthened/solidified. Talking about family relationships here, not the marriage!

  • I do love your post. I think it’s a great point — transcendence just happens when it happens. And you can’t control the day. But . . . I also have to say that not controlling the day is what helped me find the zen.

    In the run up to my wedding, I really embraced APW. I decided that whatever wasn’t done by various due dates (in my head, not on a list) just had to be let go. I let go of lots of neat little DIYs. There was the jettison of the yarn balls a few months ahead of time followed by the “no lace in my paper bag luminaries” at two weeks out when I finally had to admit I couldn’t find the right lace doilies.

    I also took off a week before the week of my wedding (went home for Christmas and did almost nothing wedding related). And, the week of my wedding, I set limits to what I would do. I decided I’d rather have fun with my family and friends than obsess over details. And that’s how I found my wedding zen.

    I didn’t cry at my wedding, nor did I freak out. I just remember being really happy in the day. Yeah, I had a few moments where I thought “heck, I’m sitting still at my wedding watching everyone else chat and enjoy themselves. I’m not being that center of attention bride and being all social butterfly.” And then I relaxed and just went with the flow and enjoyed getting to just be a bug on the wall for a bit while all my favorite people had a ball.

    I guess this is a really long way of saying, yes, it’s okay to feel what you feel. And feeling what I felt ended up being my zen. It might not be your zen for the wedding, but it sure as heck is way better than worrying and stressing about what you’re doing and feeling.

  • Oh, oh! Started reading this a bit closer.

    It’s not all about being super happy: http://www.momentjunkie.com/2011/06/the-stress/

    MJ may have a bias towards joyful moments, and that any bias may be split between us and our submitting photographers. What we hope for is storytelling.

  • I’ve read about “not feeling the right way” at your wedding before, but for some reason, this is the post that really makes me feel ok. Thank you. Even a lot of the weddings here profess that even though so many things went wrong, they felt such joy and happiness…and I didn’t. Maybe I did for a few short moments, but definitely not when I thought I was supposed to feel them, like at the ceremony. Luckily, the marriage part has been awesome.

  • Natalie

    Wentworth’s letter to Anne!!! YES.

  • Amber

    It’s interesting because even though APW focuses on the emotions/feelings, whatever, of the wedding rather than all the tiny details/wedding porn/design, I feel really bad when I see all the great photos posted here because it’s still an ideal we didn’t “live up” to. Every Wordless Wedding, I’m reminded of how we didn’t get amazing artistic photos from our wedding and that all the people who did are clearly better because they are worthy of photos to go on a blog. We still failed because our wedding photos sucked and didn’t convey all the emotion we were supposed to have that day (and didn’t).

    • meg

      Except that’s silly, because we have a whole section of the site devoted to DIY Photography and a tutorial on doing your own photography (Part I, Part II). Yes, lots of us here got good photos, but for lots of other people photos are not a priority, and THAT’S FINE TOO. We’ve always been super clear about that. You can absolutely submit a Wedding Graduate post with any kind of photos. We’ve done everything in our power to blast away the idea of what’s “blog worthy” but you have to do some of the work on your own, and stop shaming yourself. You know what can convey the emotion (or non-emotion) you had? Your WORDS, so get writing.

      • Amber

        Photography was something that was important to us and we hired a wedding photographer who said he could do what we wanted and we ended up not getting what we were promised and wedding photos that make me cry even though we were trying to get good ones. I don’t know why you assumed it wasn’t a priority for us or that I’m interested in DIY wedding photography… (?)

        Are you kidding, why would I share wedding photos I hated with the world? I didn’t even post any on Facebook.

        Also, I’m glad the what I feel and say and contribute is silly. It certainly influences your last suggestion to write.

    • Christine

      I wonder how many of us didn’t like our wedding photos and why? Mine didn’t turn out nearly as artistic and phenomenal as I’d hoped (I hired expensive, established photographers whose style I adored, because photography was a top priority), and I hated the way I looked in them. I was so chill about hair and make-up and thought I didn’t care, but seeing the photos makes me cringe.

      Many things “didn’t go right” on my wedding day–including a bridesmaid who chose not to show up–but the thing I can’t let go of is that I am disappointed by my photos…and the way I looked. I feel superficial for feeling this way. Or perhaps I’m fixating on it to avoid the hurt of the truly nutty thing that happened. Is there anyone else out there who can relate?

      • Amber

        We made some decorations for our small, park wedding. It took a few hours and we worked together and even practiced putting them up in the park. But we didn’t get any photos of them and they didn’t have the impact I thought they would have. It’s been a long time since the wedding and I still think/wish I had planned something differently and made something that really stood out for the backdrop (and not bothered with the other decorations). I don’t know why I’m fixated on that either. I think it was a way I felt I was being really creative and innovative and it fell flat. Bleh!

        The photos thing would be really interesting. My friend had a wedding last year and she looks like a model, and had a capable (though really rude) photographer so she’s got all these amazing, beautiful photos.

  • Zen, this is amazing. Thank you.

  • Pingback: A Practical Wedding « A Pinch of Salt()

  • Sweet Valley High reference FTW. Happy to have stumbled upon your blog!

  • I just have to say, have finally found my favorite wedding blog. This was such a great post. And I guess there’s a book? I’m new here from tonight, I admit so you’ve probably addressed this a lot, but… I think I’m getting either wedding jitters or cold feet. My fiance is really starting to p** me off, not getting anything done and I’m looking at my worst version of my future where I become a miserable nag. I just can’t live like that. I don’t even see how it can be any other way right now because I’m buried in feelings like this right now. Everything has become about the wedding, yet, it should be about us and the vows and here I am wondering why I’m planning a wedding for a man who can’t send his hors d’eouvres requests in 6 days. Is this normal? Do brides just do all the planning and shut the eff up? Should I just stop asking him to do things? Or should I get on a plane?!

  • Claire

    I just read this and for me it wasn’t worth it. I still feel sick, the wedding was such a mess with his family that I wish we had never set foot in that very direction. I love him & I didn’t need to get married to feel like we were a team. We wanted to get married because We were in a loving long term relationship, & now I wish we hadn’t picked up the marriage baggage at all. What should have been a nice celebration of us (the wedding) turned into a 3 month feud within that family. His mother would call late and tell him why she didn’t want me to offend her so she was just going to tell us what she needed from the wedding. It was a laundry list of expenses and extra guests every time with a stern stance that they could not help us finance these added costs. We had a fairly decent relationship prior to her hurtful and selfish wedding freak out. People nit picked the details when we shared and told us what a hurtful selfish little witch I was when we didn’t share enough. They didn’t want to help either, just felt that great aunt whatshername that my husband couldn’t remember having ever met should have been consulted, they were super pissed when they learned that she was not invited. Now when I’m asked by these same people about the joys of my nuptuals, I honestly want to throw up. I never wanted a wedding, nor do I see why it is necessary to have one in order to get married. I still love this man with my soul, it just doesn’t feel worth while. 8(

    • Q

      I feel the same way. It was my family, and I feel pretty stupid for trusting them. First it’s just nothing positive to say, zero response when I ask for opinions or help, but jump right in with the negative. I tried to give them everything they wanted, date, venue (over 200 miles from where we live), at least half the guest list, just tons of people I’ve never met. All of my choices are either cheap or wasteful. Finally, my stepmother is the town clerk. We followed whatever she asked us to do. She gave the marriage license directly to the officiant without having us review it. We just never knew we needed to. She took it back and filed it after the wedding. When I started asking when I could receive it back, she picked a massive fight, and sent me a huge email about how selfish I was about “MY WEDDING”. My father called it “another demand”. I’d only asked when I could expect to see it at this point, I had barely asked for it at all. At this point, I really knew something was off, and I started calling local town clerks. They all told me that I could receive certified copies just as soon as the officiant gave it back to the town clerk. We received an uncertified photocopy three weeks after the wedding – turned out there was an error in my vital information, and my birthday was wrong. Instead of filing a correction, she trashed it and had the officiant sign again, and sent us another photocopy. More mistakes. She filled in some blank spots, sent it to us certified, then trashed the original, had the minister (her minister, I’m not religious, btw) sign it a third time, and sent that off to the state for filing. I knew something was off again because I had ready called the state, so I requested a copy from them. There were more mistakes in that one than any other, and still in the vital information. My husband is Australian-born, so we will go through a lengthy and expensive immigration process with background checks. Everyone knows that. I finally got to review the corrections ten days before our five month anniversary. I can’t bear to have a photo album, because the wedding wasn’t us and then I felt so betrayed. My family was pretty horrible when I was a kid, it was super sad. I planned this massive wedding because I thought it would be healing. It’s embarrassing. I got pregnant right after as well, and my parents could care less about anyone outside their selfish little world. So my kid has no American grandparents. At least I learned my lesson. I thought my family had grown and changed and really wanted to impress my husband. I wouldn’t want to expose my kids to this anyway.