Andee & Collin

*Andee, Human Resources & Collin, Imprintable Sales*

On APW, we tell a lot of whatever the reverse of wedding horror stories is. And that’s for one simple reason: When I was getting married, the airwaves seemed to be full of wedding day disasters (that could have been averted if the couple just spent more money), and those stories were giving me nervous breakdowns. What I really needed to hear was that if I relaxed, things would probably be more or less fine. Not perfect, but fine. But that means we don’t always spend enough time discussing not totally loving your wedding. (Do you want to write about this? Send us a post!) So Andee’s story about her wedding not being the best wedding ever is just right. It’s a great story of coming to peace with yourself, but also a story of a wedding that clearly was the best wedding ever (for them). Let’s cheer-on her self-acceptance and compliment her outfit (holy sh*t that dress…). 

“Everyone told me it was the best, most fun wedding they had been to”—I will never say those words. The fact is no one told me that our wedding was the best or most fun anything. I’ve heard people enjoyed the crab, but that’s about as far as the compliments go. And it took me a while to be totally fine with our wedding. I loved that our wedding ended with us being married, but I hated that other people didn’t love or even like our wedding. People left much earlier than I had hoped. It hurt my feelings. After the wedding was over I began to doubt all the decisions we had made about the wedding. We got married in my parents’ yard, with all homemade food and only thirty people (including us) in attendance. It wasn’t a shotgun wedding, it was more of a “the bride has mild social anxiety disorder and planning a big party isn’t her bag” wedding.

When we first got engaged I was giddy on the love and excitement and I willingly fooled myself into thinking I could do the 150-guest wedding with dancing and cake cutting and a big dress and all that jazz. When I imagined my wedding before I met Collin it was always at the courthouse. But this courthouse type of girl fell in love with a wedding type of guy. Collin was dead set against a courthouse wedding; his family has been through a great deal of loss in the past several years and they needed something to celebrate.

So I pushed forward through my doubts about my ability to do the wedding thing and continued planning. We rented a venue, booked a photographer and a DJ, sent the save-the-dates to 100+ people. And then came the great wedding meltdown of 2011. It involved lots of crying and grinding of teeth and loss of sleep—all because I was trying to fit my square self into a round wedding. It just wasn’t happening. I felt like a complete and utter failure because I hated and dreaded my own upcoming wedding.

Something was not right; inside I felt severely unbalanced. My family was extremely worried for my health and sanity. Then one day in the midst of planning melt down, Collin said we were forgetting it, forgetting the big wedding. He cared more about me than anything else, and he just wanted to marry me, and he preferred that I be sane when we did it. I burrowed into his neck and cried tears of relief mixed with tears of guilt for being unable to do what he wanted for his family. He assured me it would be OK. We called the vendors, lost our deposits and were free for the next couple of months.

We floated blissfully unattached from wedding planning. We had a date set, but that was it. It was several hazy months down the road. We went to visit my parents one weekend and Collin said we should get married there, in their yard. Done. My mom would make the food. Done. I found a dress a few weeks before the wedding. Done. We invited our family and very closest friends. Done. My dad borrowed chairs and tables from his work. Done. I ordered flowers online. Done. Everything fell into place. It wasn’t a struggle, I didn’t have to medicate myself to sleep anymore, and my in-laws were just excited we were getting married. So it was very small and very simple.

If I had been paying attention, I would have realized all along that we are simple people. Our relationship was easy and straightforward from the beginning. I didn’t have to bend and shape myself into something I really couldn’t be when I was with Collin. We just naturally fit together and we naturally fit into one another’s lives. It wasn’t a struggle, so it was natural that our wedding should be simple and natural for us. No bending and jamming.

And then we were married, in front of the people who had most impacted our lives, the most important people to us. And the people that most needed something to celebrate were there and full of joy. And my heart felt fuller than it ever had in my whole life.

Even with an immensely full heart, I struggled for seven months trying to come to grips with our wedding. Every time I read, “People told me it was the best wedding they’d ever been to,” on APW I would cringe and question our decisions and my inabiltity to pull off a bigger wedding. I worried if I had hurt people’s feelings by not inviting them. I got married successfully but the failure of not being able to do the bigger wedding still hung around.

Then my sister got married seven months after I did. She did the big wedding with all the people and it was beautiful and Mexican Fiesta themed (we are Norwegian, she just likes Cinco de Mayo). It was incredibly fun and lively, and it was perfectly suited to them as a couple. It put my post-wedding questions to bed. I couldn’t have done the big event. It wasn’t possible for me to do it without being completely miserable. I did the best I could. And I got to marry a wonderful man in front of the people that mattered the most to me. I’ve been able to let go of all that guilt and angst about my wedding not being super fun or super anything really. It was what it was and it is done and it served its purpose. Our wedding may not have been the best wedding people had ever been to but it was definitely the best wedding for us.

The Info—Photography: Tiffany Wilson (With some photos by family and friends. Final photo was taken at Andee’s sister’s wedding, which Andee describes as “what closure and acceptance look like.”) / Venue: Andee’s parents’ home

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  • Carrie

    This is exactly what I needed to read. I’m second guessing my decisions for my wedding in a similar way to the fears that you had. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one and that I don’t have to gush about my wedding for months afterwards. Thank you so much for writing this post.

    P.S. The dress is awesome.

  • Sara

    I want to second this entire post, especially the last line, probably b/c my husband and I had a very similar wedding: held in a public park, approximately 30 guests, very simple; people enjoyed themselves but left on the early side and I have no illusions that it was any kind of major event. It was, however, perfect for us, had a minimum of drama/trauma/debt, and at the end of it we were married. We all know the WIC is totally out of control, but I think one of the saddest manifestations of that is when people feel obligated to have out of control weddings. Say it with me people: “It’s not about the wedding, it’s about the marriage.” Andee, thank you for writing this very important post. Meg, thanks for bringing it to your readers.

  • Well said, per usual! And for the record, this is one my favorite weddings I’ve “been to” on APW.

    • meg

      For all that Andee didn’t think her wedding was the funniest wedding ever, for the record, Maddie was SUPER MAD she didn’t get to go to it :)

  • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

    I love this, and I the wedding lookes absolutely lovely.

    I think we are all setting ourselves up by expecting that we have to plan ‘the best wedding ever’. I just went to a beautiful, big wedding, and spent a little time afterwards feeling insecure about my smaller, simpler plans. However, one must plan (as Andee wrote) the best wedding for you.

  • carrie

    “I did the best I could.”

    Seems like that was pretty awesome, Andee. Everything was beautiful and congrats!

  • Lynn

    I struggled with all of this *before* our wedding. In our group of friends, we were the fourth couple to marry within six months (we have two more weddings to go in the next four months), and I was in a fit of anxiety about how ours would compare to those everyone had already been to. As our DIY, self-catered, outdoor-at-home-wedding came together, I was nervous. But it was the wedding we were supposed to have, and I suppose that’s all that really matters.

    • THIS. So much THIS. We are the third couple in our group to be getting married in this 12-month period (being May to May not January to January), and I wonder if some guests will compare, or how I will feel if my wedding isn’t as awesome as my friends’ weddings are (or, in the case of one, will be). I worry that our venue is too small for our guests plus dance floor and I want to dance at my wedding. I worry that my vision is too much for some people, too little for others and I worry when I want real flowers and hear how costly they are and can be.

      I want it to be the wedding we are supposed to have, and at the end of the day, I feel that all that matters is that we are married, even if we get married in jeans and baseball jerseys at the courthouse, that is all that matters to me in the end.

  • I think this hits on exactly what APW is about: none of us need to have anyone ELSE’S wedding. We just have to find a way to have the best wedding for us. (In the end, since we marry our partner, that is exactly what it is no matter what the venue or dress or decorations or guest list looks like, isn’t it?)

    And it looks like you had an amazing wedding that fit the two of you perfectly, and that dress is kickin’. Congratulations. :)

    • meg

      Also I was just thinking of the OBVIOUS this morning. Yesterday Zen wrote about being envious of people having small weddings, and today Andee is writing about dealing with the feeling she should have had a big wedding. I think, in some way, this is probably normal, and the best we can do is to normalize it so we can all stop feeling bad. I know I felt just like Zen did over our 120 person wedding, and I’m sure I would have felt just like Andee if we’d gone smaller. There is probably a huge life lesson in here about coming to terms with what you have and who you are, but big life lessons are so annoying when they’re happening to you, no?

      • BB

        It’s like the whole straight vs. curly hair debate. When you have bone straight hair all you want is curls, while those of us who wrangle with curls wish for less volume! As I struggle not to compare to others, I really need to remember to be my self and plan the wedding that works for US, not any other couple. Love your dress and wedding, Andee! I hope mine turns out that awesome!!

      • Diane

        I’ve always felt like a “growth experience” can be loosely defined as “the s&*t that’s happening to someone else”. When it’s happening to you, it mostly just looks like s&*t (at least at the time).

        • meg

          F*ck yes.

  • This is just what I needed to read. We are also simple people having a pretty simple wedding, which makes perfect sense to me most of the time. But sometimes it feels like it won’t be enough for our guests. Thanks for the reminder that we just need to be what we are. Also, I love both your wedding dress and your blue dress!

  • Anonymous

    This post perfectly describes my pre and post-wedding experience. Thank you, Andee, for articulating it so well. My husband and his family throw large, wild parties on weeknights. Their attitude is the more people and alcohol the better. These events give me, an introvert and self-concious hostess, fits of anxiety. I will always prefer small gatherings of close friends to celebrate any occasion. Unfortunately, reconciling his family’s exterversion with my family’s introversion made for some controversial wedding planning. At the end of the day, we compromised. We didn’t have the blow-out party his family would have preferred, nor the small, intimate ceremony I would have preferred. Instead, we had a beautiful, mid-sized wedding that only lasted a few hours.

    We were told by some that it was “the most fun wedding they ever attended.” I am not entirely sure I include myself in that crowd. In fact, I still experience moments of doubt regarding our wedding. In two months, just short of my two year wedding anniversary, my husband’s sister will throw the huge, crazy wedding typical of his family’s celebratory style. I hope that attending her wedding will provide me with the same clarity and self-acceptance experienced by Andee. Maybe our wedding wasn’t perfect for me or my husband as individuals, but it was the ideal blend of two very different people and their families – which may be the entire point of the wedding process.

  • katieprue

    How sad that we can’t just immediately enjoy the fact that we had a “nice” wedding, right? Like that’s unacceptable or taboo these days to say our weddings were nice, fine, just right, pleasant, other mild adjectives. Coming back from my wedding and honeymoon I felt like it wasn’t okay to say my wedding was just “nice.” It had to be fabulous funky awesometastic glittering perfection. Well, it wasn’t. Certainly the things that I remember the most are the good things, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t moments that my heart deflated like a sad little balloon. I thought people would hate me for not doing things I didn’t want to do, like bouquet tossing or garter tossing or the blasted dollar dance. I thought having 65 people in a room for over 100 would look bad. Well, I did catch major hell for not doing a dollar dance, but the number of people and who was there was just right. It all evens out and it was good for us!

    • Rosie

      What is a dollar dance? I’ve never hear of that before!

      • katieprue

        The dollar dance, I think, is a VERY midwestern tradition. The bride carries some kind of little purse, and the DJ or whomever will announce the “dollar dance” which should be one song (maybe?) but I think often it keeps going on and on for a few songs. People will come up to the bride or groom, give them a dollar (often more) to put in the purse/pockets for a dance. It’s just not something that I felt comfortable with doing.

        • Rosie

          Thanks for letting me know! I don’t think it sounds like something I would want to do either.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          Midwestern? I thought it was from certain Latin cultures.

          Regardless, like dry weddings and cash bars and B-lists, it’s one of those things that a vocal group thinks is great and an equally vocal group thinks is awful – another item for my growing list of wedding planning catch-22s.

        • Diane

          Just for the record I grew up in Milwaukee and my parents are both from Green Bay (anytime anyone wants to talk football…) and I’d never heard of a dollar dance until I read Miss Manners’ book. Anyone happen to know if it comes from a particular tradition (e.g. Italian, Greek, etc?). My family is mostly Irish and I know it would be frowned upon.

          • katieprue

            Hmm… maybe I should revise “Midwestern” to just “Kansan”? It is absolutely a thing around here! So strange where all these things may or may not come from!

          • Taylor

            *milwaukee high five*

            I never heard of it either until I found talk of it on another wedding website, usually in references to Italian or Latin weddings

          • meg

            I know it as Mexican. It’s traveled to the midwest? That’s… odd.

          • Crayfish Kate

            Odd, but I can kind of see how it happened. I’m from Michigan, and we have a TON of agricultural stuff here, from corn & soybeans to stone fruits & berries. In my area we have a huge Hispanic population, as most of them came here as migrant workers & have settled down since. Just a thought :-)

          • Crystal

            I am from northern New York and have never been to a wedding that didn’t have a dollar dance. I am reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and it is mentioned as a Lithuanian tradition, but I imagine lots of cultures have a similar tradition to get the new family “on their feet” after the wedding.

      • Edelweiss

        ooohhh the dollar dance….

        I was totally stunned the first time I saw it (at the wedding of friends of my in-laws in Pittsburgh). But I’ve seen it more often attending weddings in the area and I will say it does give the newlyweds a nice moment of 1:1 time with many of their guests.

        That being said, when we first started wedding planning the first thing I asked was to not have to do the dollar dance (although we’re totally doing the cookie table!)

        • Rachel M

          COOKIE TABLE!!!!! My California friends either look at me like I have three heads when I mention a cookie table or tell me that’s really trendy. But for me, it’s not weird or trendy, it’s normal. Until I moved west I thought every party (graduation, wedding, shower, whatever) had a cookie table overflowing with delicious little sugary bites of goodness. Apparently it’s very regional (NE Ohio/Pittsburgh, PA area). I’ll be getting married next summer at Fallingwater outside of Pittsburgh (I’m from NE Ohio) and there will most definitely be a cookie table, but I’m also saying no to the dollar dance. I loathe that ‘tradition’. I always thought that the dollar dance also came with a shot of liquor. Or is that a different one?

          • KB

            AHHH, now I TOTALLY want a cookie table!!! My fiance and I were going to do a pie table but a cookie table would be so much easier AND be tasty. This marks the second time that lightning has struck for inspiration while reading APW (#1 was Maddie’s books-as-favors thing from last week – SUCH a great idea!).

        • meg

          It’s just cultural. You never go to a Mexican-American wedding without it. It’s been done at the bulk of weddings I’ve ever been to, and I love it. I always dance with the bride for $20 :)

    • meg

      I really really think almost every wedding, even if the overall takeaway is wonderful, has moments where your heart deflates like a sad little balloon (perfect image). How could they not, with so much complicated stuff, and family, and logistics, right? For me, I just managed to give myself permission to take away the good and leave the bad, and be SO SO HAPPY that it was done, and I didn’t have to do it again. And that’s still where I stand three years out.

      That said, you should TOTALLY WRITE A POST about this.

    • KB

      Amen, sister. I think that a lot of brides/grooms fear this even when they’re NOT planning a simple wedding in that it won’t meet expectations and won’t be The Best Day of Your Life. Honestly, I really hope that my wedding isn’t The Best Day of My Life because, what, then it’s all downhill from here??? Not that I don’t hope that my wedding day will be one of the most exciting days of my life, but I kind of hope that The Best Day will be the day I publish a book or when my child is born – something that isn’t contingent on the phrase “God, I hope the florist shows up.” Anyways, I’m glad Andee posted this because I think it shows a successful wedding is one that affirms the fact that your parter is, indeed, a good egg :-)

      • katieprue

        Oh that best day of your life crap just gets to me! We left for our honeymoon the day after our wedding, and let me tell you, many of those days were easily better than the wedding because, duh: no makeup, comfier clothes, zip lining?!?! Seriously. There will be so many better days to come, and I love that Andee talks about coming to peace with your wedding because there are those moments where you just exhale deeply and think, geez, I’m so glad I did what I did and I got through it and it was the right choice for us. Done.

        • meg

          The honeymoon was better for me. Among the best days of my life ever. Fact.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        These days, I’m just hoping my wedding day is not the worst day of my life. We see our wedding as a gift to the people we love, and, while we love these people, we don’t always like them. Personality-wise, we’re the opposite of Meg, and a day spent with a bunch of high-energy people could easily give us both migraines, leading to vomiting and tears. Then there’s just the usual wedding stress of a whole day of appointments and wondering if both loved ones and near-strangers will show up on time.

        But planning the wedding has been loads of fun. Just the two of us and bunches of spreadsheets. Bliss. Seriously. We’re weird like that.

        • meg

          Oh, the wedding wasn’t the best day of my life. It was tiring. But weirdly, it was AMONG the best so far, for sure. Which I did not expect. There have been better since though.

      • meg

        Ummmmmmmm. I do not think the day my child is born is exactly going to be the best day of my life (in fact, when I was wedding planning women with kids were like “Enjoy it. Childbirth isn’t like this.” Ha!). Forget waiting for the florist, I’ll be in pain possibly waiting for needles. No thanks :)

        It’s weird. Like I said below the wedding was one of the great joys of my life, which I didn’t really expect at all. There have been better days since (though not the day my book got published, that is just a stressful day), but they all involve David now, so there you are. It tends to be a good day.

        I don’t know. Just ponderings.

        • KB

          Point taken on childbirth :-)

          I’ve thought about this more since I posted my comment and I think there’s probably another side to it all. Like, I bristle when I hear people say, “It’ll be The Best Day of Your Life” because it creates these expectations that foster wedding insanity. And then you think there’s something wrong with you when your heart deflates like a sad little balloon (I love this phrase, too!!) when really more people should be striving for what Andee writes about, an event that affirms your partnership with loved one(s) in attendance.

          But maybe it’s not “Those 24 hours were in fact the best 24 hours I have ever experienced.” For me personally, I think I’m going to reach what I call the “*&$% It Point” (or FIP for short) sometime before the salad course and just hope that it all ends up ok by midnight, when I will collapse from bone-tiredness. But maybe I’ll look back on it and actually say “OMG, it was TBDOML” because it marked the most important change in my life for the better and I’ll have more good memories than bad in any single 24 hour period.

        • MEI

          Hmm, this is interesting stuff. I was not expecting my wedding day/weekend to be the best of my life. I wanted to elope (with family) to a fun travel destination, but the husband wanted a big wedding, and we compromised somewhere in the middle (60 people in a “destination,” the mountains of Colorado). But surprisingly, and almost embarrassingly given I was sort of ambivalent about the whole thing, it turned out to be the best day of my life so far. And I’m not sad that I haven’t had a day that was that good since then — in fact, this past year has been blissful — and I’m not foreclosing the idea that I may have a better day in the future. The kind of overwhelming magical transcendent happiness I felt on that day isn’t actually the kind of sustainable happiness that a good life is made of.

          • meg

            This, I think. But also, I think having low expectations really helps. My wedding didn’t have a ton of bars it had to hurdle for me to be happy, and that let me just enjoy it for what it was (which isn’t really anything I could have quite imagined). That said, having it as a memory is enough. I’d never ever want to do it again.

        • Oh girl, having a baby is the WORST. I mean, no, it’s lovely and wonderful and you totally poop rainbows, but anyone who thinks it’s actually happy fun times is delusional or lying. Life’s best days don’t involve that many bodily fluids.

      • miriam

        I just had my first wedding anniversary and my husband was surprised when I told him that I was having a much better day than our actual wedding. I think our wedding was the best day of our lives up to that point, but celebrating our first anniversary in a much more relaxed setting with just the two of us was way better to me!

    • They do the dollar dance in Illinois, also.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for this post; it comes at the right time.

  • I’ve got nothing to add to the lovely comments above other than that by the looks on your faces, it appears that for you and Collin it was exactly the wedding that needed to happen. In a weird sort of way I’m proud of you. You did it. Just the way you needed to.

  • Maize

    Thank you for writing this post Andee! I am a courthouse girl and my fiance is a big wedding guy so we are meeting in the middle with his parents backyard but with more people then I would have chosen. I don’t like big crowds, my family is not from the US so I never had graduation parties or big birthday parties because we didnt really have any other family members here. His family on the other hand is large and celebrates everything together. Your post really put me at ease.

    Your wedding looked BEAUTIFUL and so did you. I am so happy you did things that way you two as a couple needed them to be.

  • Allison

    Considering that yesterday was the day I snapped under the stress of trying to meet everyone’s expectations, this was well-timed for me. I am about to tell my family that we’re halting the plans for a big wedding, and just want immediate family and best friends to join us for a small, simple ceremony instead. Sanity and money (but mostly sanity) may now be saved.

  • Great, great, great post.

    I’m glad you found peace.

    The wedding is just the start. You get to define your best moments.

  • Pixie_moxie

    Oh my goodness your wedding style rocks! I think we had twin wedding s right down to the pallets as flooring in the tent. Thank you for sharing! My wedding made me happy but it wasn’t a party people were telling their friends about. I am glad you have made peace, it looks like you were both very happy!

  • suzanna

    This is so fantastic. Thank you for your honesty, Andee! (And that backyard and your dress are AWESOME!)

    What this makes me think of is ALL the ways that society’s expectations make women doubt themselves. I mean, how many women have huge “best wedding ever” shindigs, and quietly look at ones like this, wishing they had done it this way?

    There are so many tiny, insidious messages that we’re doing it wrong, whatever “it” is. Thanks again to APW, for the millionth time, for talking openly and honestly about how to be happy to be a real person and live a real life. Yay!

    • Anon

      Funny, I was just describing the marketing style surrounding weddings (or my interpretation of it) to an incredulous male friend. He couldn’t believe that fear was the motivator for so many things in the WIC. The article that put me over the top was about things brides wished they had put on their registries. Too often the message is: if it isn’t the best, biggest, brightest, glitteriest… then it must be awful.

      With respect to Will Rodgers– show me a bride playing Mad Libs with the kids 3 hours before her wedding, and I’ll show you a woman having a nice day.

      • KB

        Or if it IS the best, biggest, brightest, and glitteriest, it’s still awful because why on EARTH would you ever want to do X, Y, or Z??? You’re right, fear is totally the motivator – but in the end, you could have all the money in the world and still end up “doing it wrong.”

  • “It put my post-wedding questions to bed. I couldn’t have done the big event. It wasn’t possible for me to do it without being completely miserable.”

    I’m not post-wedding yet (just got engaged last Saturday!), but this is exactly what’s going through my head right now. My friends are awesome and throw big weddings with 100+ people and thousands of dollars from their parents, because those are the sort of events they want to throw. We are both extremely introverted, only have a small core group of friends/family we see often, and start to get panic attacks even thinking about planning a big wedding, so right now it looks like a courthouse wedding + dinner and we’re both perfectly fine with that (although try telling that to the random friends from high school who start coming out of the Facebook woodwork the instant you get engaged…). Weddings shouldn’t make the happy couple miserable, and I hope we can have the strength you did to plan the wedding we actually want!

    • Diane

      CONGRATULATIONS!!!! *squeal* Have lots of fun and good luck.

  • I have a trigger phrase on APW too, but mine is “it was one of the most joyous days of my life” or anything that effect. I too am an introvert who thought she could handle the pressures of a bigger wedding but in the weeks before it, I lost my composure. I could hardly eat and I was a complete mess on the inside, right up to and including the wedding day.

    Afterward I did hear people say “it was the best wedding I’ve been to!” but it didn’t feel that way to me. I LOVE that our guests had a good time but no matter how good of a party it was, it will never be a life-changing day in THEIR lives. It was OUR wedding day and it still haunts me that I can’t recall it as one of the most joyous, or really one of the most anything, days of my life.

    We just have to find peace in the wedding we did have and accept that it might not be all the things we once thought it could be – and that that’s really ok.

  • Sarah

    “If at the end of the day you are married to the one you love, your wedding was perfect”.
    It’s what I tell clients.
    It’s what I repeated to myself when no one danced at the wedding.
    It’s what I repeated to myself when I looked at wedding pictures and thought that I could have been thinner.
    At the end of the day, my love and I were married.
    So it was the perfect wedding.

  • Damn, I want that dress. And that level of self-acceptance, it is beautiful, reassuring, and perfect. Any sources on the dress though? ;)

    • I bought it at a local second hand dress shop. Whaa, whaa. Sorry that won’t be helpful.

  • Cowboy boots and lace! Oh my goodness, I love this! It speaks to my inner Texan.

  • Oh Andee, you might not realize it but you probably just paved the way for a whole bunch of us Undergraduates who wouldn’t have loved our simple, fine, fun enough I guess, weddings to make sure we do love them, because of what you said right here:

    “Our wedding may not have been the best wedding people had ever been to but it was definitely the best wedding for us.”

    I’ll be married next month, in a ceremony I’m really excited for but worried my non-religious friends will find dry and boring, followed by a reception at a restaurant with amazing food and sangria that I’m pumped about but terrified people will overlook in light that it’s a Sunday night with an iPod for a DJ and ends at 9pm. As the day gets closer and closer the more and more depressed I’m getting about it, worried that the family who is coming in from so far away and the friends who love wild rocking parties will leave bummed out and wondering why they came out for this. My guy had a mild panic attack the other day, wondering what in the hell we’re thinking, planning a party of any sort. We’re not party people. We don’t like dancing to popular music, we don’t like mingling and being social butterflies, we don’t like loud bars or really any sort of venue where we can’t sit and quietly chit chat.

    So we picked the reception venue we did and made the choices we did because they are “us”, they are what will make us most comfortable on the day in spite of the fact that our guests might walk away with a shrug and go “well, at least they’re married” followed up hopefully with “and that food was amazeballs”. We chose what we did because it felt easy and right–for us–not for what we think our friends would prefer.

    You’ve just given me (and dozens of other couples, I’m sure) a permission slip to enjoy our wedding day anyway, even if it’s not in the top 10 of other folk’s favorite parties. And that feels so, so liberating. My heart is 30lbs lighter than it was this morning when I woke up.

    • Rosie

      Cathi, it sounds to me like you’ll have a lovely day :) I think the people coming will enjoy being there because they get to be a part of something so special, and because it will reflect you! One of my best friends likes a lot of different things to me, and if we’re doing something she wouldn’t choose but is very ‘me’ she’ll often comment that it’s nice to do something different. Try not to worry, and enjoy your awesome food!

    • meg

      Remember, people are just there to love you, and that’s all. Not for a good party, not for an entertaining service, just to love you. And those same people would be so sad if they realized you worrying about their happiness was taking away from yours right now. Just show up, be present, and let them love you. That’s it. (Like it’s that easy, right?)

      (And it’s totally ok to be an anxious mess right now. I’d argue it’s totally normal.)

  • Megan2

    “If I had been paying attention, I would have realized all along that we are simple people. Our relationship was easy and straightforward from the beginning. I didn’t have to bend and shape myself into something I really couldn’t be when I was with Collin. We just naturally fit together and we naturally fit into one another’s lives. It wasn’t a struggle, so it was natural that our wedding should be simple and natural for us. No bending and jamming.”

    THIS! 100 times, this.

    The “easiest” part of the planning has been the Man. He’s my inspiration to keep it simple, my voice of reason when I worry too hard, my light at the end of the tunnel. He makes me the better version of myself. Full of joy & acceptance, & love that is more than I thought possible.

    I’m still surprised sometimes how hard I love him, & how easy it comes. That love & wedding planning don’t need to trying too hard & full of outside expectations. Simple & easy makes it “perfect” for us.

    Congratulations on your marriage!

  • Joanna

    Seriously, love this. Consider the alternative, which happens all the time: A couple throws a wedding they are enamoured with, there are beautiful pictures taken, the details are unique and memorable…. but the marriage sucks. Believe, I’ve witnessed this phenomenon and the saddest thing is having a perfect wedding and a terrible marriage. Weddings can be boom pow incredibly fantastic, or they could be just okay. The important thing is focusing on the marriage, and that’s exactly what you did. It’s inspiring.

    • mom2adog

      Exactly, times 100. That was my first wedding. Picture perfect (or at least considering what I wanted at the time), but we separated 10 months after. Spent the next few years (!) working at it off and on, until enough was enough. We both had doubts prior to the wedding, but got so caught up in what we “should do” that we never really asked ourselves if any of it (I mean ANY of it, marriage included) was what we really wanted.

      This time around, there is no question that my FI and I want to be married. Ton of questions as to how we want to be married. The big stuff is done/decided because we only have a month to go, but I’m getting into the phase of over-analyzing and second guessing probably as a result of just being anxious to hurry up and be married already. We’re doing something very similar to the post – our backyard, primarily self-catered, 35 people. We’ve both been through enough that we want the wedding to be a part of our life, not our life revolve around it (even though that’s how I feel at the present). I really believe that even for my minor case of “OMG, this has to be perfect” we will look back on it and realize that no matter what it was perfect for us.


    • meg

      True that. I’ve been to some very beautiful, very sad weddings. All I REALLY want from a wedding is to leave sighing, “They’re so good for each other” (and to have been fed on time, not after 50 hours of photos, if it’s a meal wedding ;) Seriously, that’s really it.

      • mom2adog

        I wouldn’t say that my first wedding was sad, it really was a beautiful day. But the planning, stressing, etc disguised the fact that the marriage itself was just an all around bad idea. I have literally nothing bad to say about my wedding itself, and even with the way it ended, it still was a very happy time in my life. The junk that came after it, not so much. But, now I’m back to happy (mostly, which is all anyone can ask) times.

  • MEI

    omygosh your hair! loves. your overall style is clearly awesome.

    but also, this is one of the best things i’ve read about weddings ever, and i am promptly forwarding it to all of my engaged friends.

    but also, your hair!

  • Krista

    Great post, Andee. We had SUCH a similar wedding experience, from starting out planning a large wedding, to mild social anxiety and freaking out and cancelling vendors, to ending up with a small wedding and just being glad to be married! I also second-guessed our wedding, after the fact, comparing it to everyone else’s (in the real world and in beautiful wedding photos online!) By the time our one-year anniversary came around, I decided that enough was enough.. no more regretting wedding decisions! And it’s worked. We had the wedding we needed, and it looks like you did too. Even so, it’s hard to remember that what’s best for one couple is rarely best for all.

    Also, your photos are gorgeous, and I LOVE that you wore a cardigan!!!!! (Yeah, I did need all those exclamation marks. I’m pretty serious about cardigans.) I planned to wear one too, but in the confusion (and my own disorganization haha) of the day, I couldn’t find it when the time came! Anyways, you guys look so happy! Congratulations on your marriage AND acceptance of your wedding :)

  • Victwa

    My parents’ backyard is where we’re getting married and I think it will be lovely, but holy poop, is your parents’ backyard GORGEOUS!!! We wanted a outdoorsy venue to get married but decided that my parents’ backyard, with a patio and flowers and lawn and arbor would do, but if THAT were my parents’ backyard, we would not have ever considered anything else. Love, love, love that venue!!! Can I just go hang out there?

  • Karyn

    This is a great post, Andee, especially as someone who is getting married in just shy of 40 days. I’m actually the girl who wrote into APW for help with beginning to plan my wedding and they told me to put it into a box and JUST STOP PLANNING. Which I did and it probably saved our wedding from being the thing that made me insane.

    We started out planning a wedding for 100+ people and then I lost it – I kept having panic attacks about the number of people and how we could possibly pull this off – so in late-November I quit planning, put my wedding in a box under the bed (in my head) and didn’t take it back out until mid-January. We ended up planning a wedding for 30-40 people and I’m getting only more excited as the calendar counts down the days.

    I’ve tried to just keep things simple in terms of planning with my fiance. We don’t have colours, the linens are black and white only and there are no coloured sashes on the chairs, and we aren’t tossing my bouquet or garter – I’m thrilled about all of that. The only issue I’ve encountered that has given me real headaches is my mothers apparent issues with my shoes (the first pair I bought cost too much for one day and the second pair I bought (after returning the first) are not special enough and I will be a tacky Ukrainian). So there’s yelling sometimes, but it doesn’t last long because I stand up for myself and walk away when I can’t take it any longer.

    Our wedding may not be perfect and fancy and glittery, but it will end with us being married and we will have fun and eat delicious food (fingers crossed) and maybe even get a few people dancing to the iPod playlist we’re (still) working on. I don’t need it to be perfect, but I need to be comfortable and sane on my wedding day, so that’s the wedding we’re planning. And like everyone keeps saying: if we’re married at the end of it, then we got it exactly right.

    • meg

      We gave advice that helped somebody. HIGH FIVES ALL ROUND!

  • Jeannine

    love this post. i’ve been wrapping my head around the same paradox, that feeling that our wedding was excellent for us but disappointment that it wasn’t “the most fun wedding anyone had ever been to.” thanks for writing, andee

  • Introverts getting married! I love it. One of the biggest obstacles we’ve been having with wedding planning has been figuring out how to have a wedding that suits Bunny and my needs as introverts (well, he can handle the massive party if he has to, I can’t) and still make our loved ones happy. Especially when everyone is constantly expressing how much they can’t wait to be there/dance with us/celebrate with us which somehow makes it more stressful.

    In the end, we figure however we finally end up getting married, we’ll be MARRIED and will forgive us for not doing it the way they would have prefered.

  • Heather

    Am I late to this party Andee?
    Reading this is just what the doctor ordered, as my wedding is on its way to stretched out. I feel like the camel’s back broke long ago but someone keeps piling on the godamn straw! I am a low-key person, not at all a fan of massive social events and planning this is hard enough for me without everyone and their opinionated dog weighing in (you must have a dinner, you must have a three thousand dollar photographer or the wedding didn’t happen!) I have tried to accommodate everyone who thinks they can plan my wedding better than me, and it’s getting me nowhere joyous. These same people disapproved of my relationship since it began in high school, and it was humiliating for me trying to convince people well into my twenties with an undergraduate degree under my belt that I had a real, grown up relationship worthy of some respect and not some hormone induced mistake that stuck. I just wanted to say thank you for painting a picture of what my wedding could be if I stopped listening to people who are going to find fault no matter how much I squish myself around. My wedding, however it turns out, has my permission to be ok.

    • Diane

      Don’t know if you’ll see this, but I hope you do…

      One of my very best friends met his now-wife at a concert when we were 19. He saw her, looked at my and went, “Ohmigod, Di, I’m in love.” My first thought was “ugh not again” but he did get her number and they went out. And then they chose to go out on a second date. And then two years later when he graduated and moved 800 miles away for law school they chose to have a long distance relationship. And then a year after that she chose to go to grad school near where he was. And then they chose to move together to the town where he clerked for a judge. And then they chose to move together again. And then they finally chose to get married and more recently chose to have a child. My point is that yes, they met when we were all young in a setting more likely to produce a one night stand than a marriage, but they chose each other over and over and that’s why they got married. I have to imagine it’s the same thing with you and your future spouse — you didn’t *just* choose to get together in high school, you chose each other again and again along the way.

      • Heather

        THANKYOU! It’s so nice to have someone tell me it’s ok to have met young, I hear it rarely if at all. I feel like if you meet in college or later, people trust you to have made a grown up decision based on adequate amounts of previous experience *groan* Now that’s something I’ve heard plenty. If you’re younger you always have the chore of “defending” your relationship from well-meaning people who are concerned you haven’t done enough living since you committed to someone. I love my fiancee and we did chose to be near each other while we pursued individual dreams and careers. Now we’re choosing to get married because we’ve both found some success in our own rights. Anyway, long reply short thank you for the support and for sharing a story of someone else who made it work. And thank you for giving me a chance to get some of this clearly pent up irritation off my chest ;) Glad to have found this site!

  • Kristin

    omg, I LOVE your style. I love the dress and your hair is gorgeous! I have short hair and am not planning on growing it out much.
    I love all the simplicity. Simple is beautiful and refreshing. My sister got married in June of this year and it was everything I don’t want. Seeing something beautiful and simple makes my heart happy and helps my anxiety about planning less intense. :)

  • Andee, for the record, your wedding looks and sounds wonderful!

    This was a great post to read as I struggle with doing an cocktails/appetizers only reception in the face of everyone demanding sit-down dinner. Never in my whole life have I heard people waxing rhapsodic about wedding chicken until I said that it seemed dumb to spend an hour having dinner when we could be dancing instead.

    I envy your zen! Can you bottle any of it and sell it?

  • Mama2000

    Andee, this is a beautiful post! You are an amazing writer and I really enjoyed reading this. I’m so glad you didn’t let the wedding get in the way of a great marriage.

  • Alison

    A wedding is one day, a marriage is for life. I would prefer to elope for my upcoming wedding, but I am the only daughter and I realize that the wedding isn’t and shouldn’t always be about the bride and groom. We are having a day very, very similar to yours (except in the middle of winter (deep snow)…ona farm, let’s see how happy people are about that choice! ;) ) and I never for one minute thought of having the big wedding to satisfy anyone. Immediate family and close friends will be invited and my dad will get to walk me down the aisle. I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks about our day. It’s sad how much the media and society push you to spend money and have an extravagant over the top wedding in order to validate your marriage and even sadder how many women buy into this charade (and then comes divorce). I care about making a commitment to the man I love and building our legacy, not how much people enjoyed a party…at my expense. Your wedding looked LOVELY!

  • All things cnoisdered, this is a first class post

  • Penny

    I am a month and a half away from my wedding day. It will be 16 people in total and I’ve freaked out about nearly everything not just being not perfect, but also not pretty enough or fun enough or enough of whatever everybody thinks a wedding is supposed to be. I didn’t even send invites because it was too overwhelming. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. It’s given me the courage to move forward with my wedding and realize all I need to do is to focus on my love for my partner and celebrating that joy with people we care about.