I Hated My Wedding Day, but I Love My Marriage


bride standing alone

I am going to take a second here and say something that might sound melodramatic, but that I mean wholeheartedly: my wedding day was one of the worst days of my life. And because this isn’t something you’ll often hear online, I have been spending a lot (a lot) of time thinking about how to write about what I’m feeling.

I have been daydreaming about my wedding for as long as I can remember (really). As soon as Pinterest became a thing, I started really fleshing it out: my dress, my bridesmaids (with pin-up inspired dresses, of course), the papel picado, the little Amor Eterno Calavera wedding cake toppers. After I met my partner, M, I got even more into it—if I closed my eyes hard enough, I could even picture his eyes softening as I walked toward him down the aisle.

Not to say he’s perfect; we have our differences, and have had our fair share of arguments. Sometimes he drives me nuts, even, but I knew (and still know) that he was the first man to enter my life that I couldn’t live without. When we met, we had beautiful, long conversations. We still talk about everything: politics, reality TV, books. He can really hold his own with my friends, and is really good at math (which I find beyond sexy).

A few years after meeting, we were madly in love and tiptoeing around The Ring Conversation (you know: what kind, what size is your ring finger, etc.). We were running six miles a day together, and were following the traditional path of courtship that many a Mexican parent would approve.

And then boom: like a ton of bricks, a positive pregnancy test fell in our laps. At first, my parents were ecstatic that they were going to be grandparents despite the fact that I had been diagnosed with PCOS years prior. Then, the socio-cultural reality hit them: What would people say about me being pregnant and unmarried? Despite the fact that we were two grown-ass adults, building careers with great paying jobs, and the fact that we loved each other ferociously and had created a life (who we chose to bring into the world!) out of that love, we still somehow, someway managed to piss people off.

My parents refused to let me move in with him without being married. In retrospect, it was an intense period of growth and change for all of us. My parents had been so used to their daughter following a neat path that made them proud. So when they discovered that their daughter was in fact human, and made mistakes, and loved outside the lines—well, that terrified them.

The solution? We got married—and fast. It was rushed, it was harried, it was nothing like what I imagined. Our mothers fought; my grandmother fainted shortly after our ceremony; I was missing so many people that I wanted by my side on my special day.

It probably comes as no surprise that I have since grown critical of the Wedding Industrial Complex, and am largely outspoken about the cultural expectations placed on us by our families through decades of patriarchy, colonization, and capitalism. It turns out that when you defy expectations, especially cultural ones, it can be a groundbreaking, earth-shattering experience.

And yet, change can be so beautiful, and is so important.

I love my culture; I am proud of my heritage; I love my parents; I love many of the values I was raised with. Though I am still learning how to navigate it all myself, I encourage you to do what is right for you and your family. I’ve learned that you need to create your own family, your own traditions—whatever those look like.

And you know what else I’ve learned? That having an awful wedding day doesn’t mean that you’ll have an awful marriage—in my experience, it’s the opposite. I would be lying if I said that our first year of marriage was not hard. It really, really was. I’m happy to report, though, that this year has only made us stronger, and better together. We are still very much in love; our daughter is healthy, intelligent, and wonderful; and we are setting goals as a family and crushing the shit out of them.

I would not change anything about my life. I love my husband, I love my daughter, and though I did not love my wedding, I do love my marriage. So here’s to two years of marriage—may the rest be just as beautiful and defiant.


The Info:

Photo: Vivian Chen

Esperanza

I am a Chicana feminist, activist, and writer. My work can be found on nationally renown sites like Fusion and Adios Barbie. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of protecting the rights of women, youth, people of color, and other marginalized communities. You can find my intimate explorations of the complexities of feminism, motherhood, and the beauty of my culture over on my blog.

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  • lindsay

    Yes, I totally feel you 100% on this. I didn’t like my wedding day but my marriage has been great. My spouse’s parents (mom really) was Not OK with us living together, so we got engaged. They weren’t ok with us living together while engaged but not married, so we sped up the wedding and got married within 3-4 months of getting engaged. I couldn’t afford to live by myself, and I’m just starting to come to terms with the fact that we basically got married because of economic and family pressures. We’ve been married 7 years and it’s been worth it, but I still am slightly resentful that our important decision was co-opted by someone else. Anyway – I understand where you’re coming from so thank you for writing this.

    • toomanybooks

      Don’t you just love how movies & TV act like the hardest part of living alone as a woman is zipping or unzipping your dress…. instead of, say, paying rent

    • EF

      yeah, i agree and recognise a lot of those feelings too, lindsay. for my partner and me, a big goal for us is to have a kick-ass 5 year anniversary party (or…maybe more years, unsure, we’re 2 in) that includes the stuff from the wedding we would have done, having the option. just thinking about having options and throwing parties in the future is enough for us for now!

  • NotMotherTheresa

    I completely feel you on this! My wedding day was…okay. My family and best friends were there by my side. I looked pretty in my dress. Our venues were meaningful. I think everyone had a nice time. Nothing went horribly wrong. By the same token, though, it wasn’t the magical party I’d always imagined–it turns out, weddings don’t magically transform flawed family members into beacons of love and support, nor do they waive boring practical issues, like friends who can’t take the time off work to come. This meant that our guest list was smaller than what I’d pictured back when I fantasized about The Perfect Wedding, and not all of our guests were quite as delightful as the smiling guests I see featured in wedding blogs. There were a lot of really awkward moments, and once the dinner was over, about 3/4 of our guests went ahead and left.
    At the time, I felt like the only person in the world who didn’t have The Perfect, Magical Wedding Day. After all, that’s all anyone talks about on social media. In reality, though? I’ve come to realize most weddings are more like mine was, and that’s okay. I mean, it’s wonderful to have a wonderful wedding, but life is long and complicated. There will be many other opportunities to magical, wonderful days.

    • sofar

      OMG we had a big leave-early crowd, too!

      It made me vow to stay til the end ON THE DANCE FLOOR at every wedding I attend in the future, and I have done that so far.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        That’s not a bad goal to have!

      • Linzenberg

        Husband and I were wrist-deep in making the wedding rounds of our friends and family circles when we realized we had somehow landed on the “first ones on, last ones off” way of life. He has no sense of rhythm and can’t dance worth a damn (signature move: firmly planting his feet, then grasping my hands at shoulder-height and pushing them back and forth in a doggy-paddle gesture), but he’s always so proud that he’s almost always the first male guest on the dance floor and asks if I noticed. It’s adorable.

        • sofar

          Your husband sounds adorable and an asset to any wedding dance floor.

          • Linzenberg

            I’m biased, but yes. Yes, he is. :-D

      • NotMotherTheresa

        You are my new hero! I am in the same boat–I’m not a big dancer at all, but after my wedding, I am bound and determined to my part to give my fellow brides the dance party they paid for!

        • sofar

          I am bound and determined to my part to give my fellow brides the dance party they paid for!

          This!This!This!

          • Kara

            Yup! I got food poisoning at a wedding (or maybe it was just the I’m older and can’t handle rich food anymore–it wasn’t alcohol related, as I only had 2 glasses of red wine all night…with plenty of food), and I kept puking and coming back to dance. I even had to run back inside right before a sparkler exit so I could puke (I ran past the bride and groom).

            You better believe I’m going to do my best to dance all night long!

          • sofar

            Best. Wedding. Guest. Ever.

    • stephanie

      I feel like there was a sharp uptick in the number of people who leave weddings early in 2013ish, and it’s continued since then. I still can’t figure out WHY, but I definitely know that the earlier weddings I worked at (2008-2012ish) definitely didn’t have people leaving in big numbers the way later weddings did.

      • Eenie

        Did people start cutting the cake before dinner?

        • stephanie

          I wonder? I definitely saw an increase in pushing the couple to cut the cake early so people can go home, and sometimes it would be like, 5:30pm.

          • Eenie

            Even though not everyone follows or knows about the cake cutting etiquette (you’re not supposed to leave until it’s cut), I could see moving it up earlier in the evening means people don’t stay to get a piece, or all the “events” seem over and if you don’t know anyone/haven’t gotten in the reception mood you call it a day because of an early flight or whatever excuse you have in your head. It’s a theory.

          • sofar

            Yes, with people living more spread out, early flights may be a huge reason people leave weddings early. You’re not just able to flop into your own bed and nurse your hangover the next day. You have to get up at 5am to get to the airport.

            Another theory: Today’s society is focused more on the individual instead of family and community (again, perhaps because we live more spread out). Focusing on your individual needs and “self care” is all well and good. But 15 years ago, if I had wanted to leave my cousin’s wedding at 9pm to “get a good night’s sleep,” so I could “keep my work-out schedule on track,” all my relatives would have been like “Wtf is wrong with you, your COUSIN just got MARRIED.”

          • Sara

            I always figured people didn’t want to overstay their welcome and get out before they were kicked out so the bridal party could leave easier. A lot of the weddings I’ve been to where we left a little early, a lot of us ended up at the same bar and hanging out. But maybe that’s just the people I know.

          • Amy March

            Yassssss. People have changed their priorities for feeling comfortable versus feeling a part of the group so much.

          • toomanybooks

            I think for me, leaving “early” would be because I’m super full and tired and need to unzip my party dress immediately. That said, I feel like I’ve stayed pretty late at weddings that I’ve left while they were still going strong, like 11pm at the earliest.

      • sofar

        Interesting! I’ve noticed that, too. I assumed it was because my peers are all having kids and therefore leaving earlier. But now that I think about it more, I’ve noticed older folks and childless younger folks leaving earlier, too. It’s a multi-generational wedding exodus.

      • MrsRalphWaldo

        We had a lot of early leavers and it bummed me out, but I just assumed it was because we had a Sunday wedding. I didn’t realize it was an issue for other people too.

        • Yeah, a Sunday wedding is hard to stay late at. I managed to stay at the one Sunday wedding I went to until 9 but then I just had to leave to get stuff for wok ready. (It was a local wedding. But if it was one where I had to spend the night out of town and missed work the next day anyway, I would have tried harder to stay).

          • MrsRalphWaldo

            We thought having it on a holiday weekend at least partially negated the fact that it was on a Sunday, but we still have piles of s’mores ingredients piled up from over-estimating the later crowd.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        That is so weird!!!! I’d just chalked mine up to having lots of guests who either didn’t drink or who lived too far away for a cab but too close to justify a hotel, but now I’m really intrigued and wondering what’s behind this phenomenon!

      • Henri

        I left a mid-summer wedding early (and felt terrible about it later).

        Though, in my case, it was because it was 90+ degrees out (and soooooo humid), no air conditioning in the venue, and rowdy dudes kept changing the playlist (yet somehow I heard one Paul Simon song 5 times) so there was never a consistent flow on the dance floor (also outside in aforementioned heat). Had I not just been wiped out from the heat/running around all day, I think things would’ve been different, since I’ve stayed to the bitter end at every other wedding.

        • Amy March

          Oh you left a wedding early because they had a wedding outside with inappropriate temperature control? No one saw that coming.

          • Henri

            I felt badly for them because the venue was *supposed* to have AC, it just was 100% not working at all.

      • DetectiveMunch

        Leaving early seems to also be impacted by the sheer number of events that lead up to the wedding. While I don’t think the number of “formal”/”official” wedding events has increased, I think the number of informal, casual ones have. And typically they aren’t seen as “events” but just those little meet & greet & chat it up moments: “oh come have a drink with x and y! let’s grab coffee and chat with z and friends! oh come meet aunt K, she’s so up your alley!” All these small events in the days leading up to the wedding can really deplete some people’s social reserves. They truly want to do all the things because it’s so rare to have so many awesome people they care about in one place, but by the time it’s the night of the wedding, people are just tapped out.

        • AP

          I think you’re on to something. For one of the last weddings I attended, I was also invited to the rehearsal dinner as a close out-of-town friend of the bride. The rehearsal dinner was awesome: it was a full-on family and friends karaoke party at a blues/bbq restaurant. There were speeches, favors, decorations, open bar, and I got to catch up with our whole friend group. It felt like a wedding reception. And by the next night I was worn out. The wedding itself was huge, very formal, and I was seated at a table full of strangers at the reception. Half my table cleared out almost immediately after dinner. There was a dance party, but the dance area was a totally separate room from the dinner area. While we were dancing they cleared out all the tables and chairs, leaving nowhere to sit and take a break between songs. My husband and I stayed until the end, but we said later that the rehearsal dinner had felt like any of the more casual weddings we’d been to, and we’d enjoyed it a lot more. Plus there was also an engagement party and multiple showers in the months leading up that I couldn’t attend. I think if I’d participated in every event, by the time of the wedding I would have been completely tapped out.

        • What counts as leaving early? I was in my cousin’s wedding last summer and arrived a couple days before to help with prep. We had activities all day on the day of the wedding. Ceremony was at 6:30 with dinner, dancing, etc. after. I left around 10:30 because by that time I was exhausted but technically the festivities extended until 11:30 I believe. Is that leaving early? IDK I would assume people go to bed at a certain point and the hardcore dancers/partiers hang around. Doesn’t offend me. I anticipate it for my own wedding this summer.

      • MDBethann

        I’m wondering if any of it has to do with couples with small children at home and babysitters to relieve? Or just kids to take home to bed? Babysitters at night can be expensive, so a long day away with a wedding and long reception is rough for parents.

    • Her Lindsayship

      This is my fear for our wedding. The dining room we’re using for dinner fits a max of 60 people, so our guest list is more limited than I would have hoped for. There are so many people that we *need* to invite from my mom’s huge family, and I don’t think most of them will stay for the dance party reception. Which is fine, it’s just… There’s a lot of time, energy, thought, and money poured into this party. I think we started planning based on the type of party we would love to go to, but now we have to deal with the fact that that’s not necessarily the kind of party everyone else in our lives would love. And if they don’t love it, I for one am definitely going to be disappointed.

      • NolaJael

        I think having an inclusive, intergenerational playlist helps with this. If you need some of the olds to be on the dance floor to reach critical mass, then it helps to lure them out with stuff that makes their feet happy. We played a lot of Motown at my super small wedding but the boomers loved it!

        • AP

          One of my all-time favorite memories is watching my grandpa (probably 70 at the time) dancing his ass off to “Shout” at my cousin’s wedding. My great uncle will dance to anything Elvis or disco. Music selection is KEY for getting people on the dance floor!

        • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

          That’s how our Spotify playlist was- loads of people came out to the dance floor for Sam Cooke and ABBA, and we made a conscious decision to have a variety that we loved!

      • NotMotherTheresa

        I mean, if it’s any consolation at all, my wedding reception was still fun, even if it wasn’t the epic dance party I’d hoped for. Having so many people leave early made for a much more intimate experience among those who did stay, and it allowed everyone to just let their hair down and be themselves. It wasn’t as wild and exciting as the party I’d pictured in my head, but there were a lot of great conversations and laughter, and all of those guests who stayed late ended up making a bunch of new friends. So even though it was a little disappointing to have spent so much time and money planning this epic, wild party only to end up with twenty guests standing around together making jokes about their boring jobs, at the end of the day, my guests actually had a really great time. Sure enough, it came down to a case of our wedding ultimately being the kind of party everyone else in our lives loved…so, not what I had in mind, and not what I spent a small fortune trying to create, but the guests all enjoyed themselves.

        • Her Lindsayship

          This is very comforting to hear. And a good point… The small group that I predict will stay till the end are people I love to be with that will probably never all be together in a room again. Maybe that’s worth all the planning.

    • Katharine Parker

      Is wedding leaving regional? I live in the Midwest, and I was going over food timing with the catering person, and she was emphasizing how late night snacks only need to be for roughly half your guests, since not everyone wants more food at 10pm and by then some people have left. But I grew up on the East Coast, and I feel like a lot more weddings there were paced in such a way that leaving early was almost impossible–like, there would be dancing and toasts in between each course, so dessert wouldn’t be served until 10:00 or later. I never enjoyed that schedule, but it did mean that most people stayed until late.

      I’m a “can’t-leave-the-party-must-keep-the-party-going” person, so I never leave early, but this makes me wonder if there are regional cues.

      • Amy March

        I’m used to that schedule and love it. Why sit at a table just waiting to be served when I could be dancing? But then again I also think dinner at 5 is bananas so . . .

        • Katharine Parker

          I dislike being interrupted in my dance flow, so I prefer the keep the dancing going once it starts. I understand the idea of it (as you say, you’re not sitting at a table waiting, but rather you can be dancing!), but in practice at weddings I’ve gone to it results in super long breaks between courses so that dinner isn’t over until nearly the end of the night.

          (I also dislike 5pm dinner, but I really love late night snacks, and you need a break after dinner for those to make sense. So dinner at 6:30 or 7 works, even if it’s a little earlier than I would eat at home.)

          • Amy March

            I like breaking up the dancing in part because I think it encourages more people to get moving. I often find that the music between salad and main course is more classic stuff, and by post cake cutting it’s moved into Bieber and Rhianna.

      • Jess

        Resident Midwesterner here. I have never seen courses spaced out so far. If toasts and special dances happen during the meal, they usually happen while people are eating what was just placed in front of them. It’s not usually a time for general dancing, just for the father-daughter type dances.

        I’m not against the idea though!

      • Sara

        I guess I’ve only been to Midwest weddings because I’ve never heard of that kind of spacing. Most I’ve been to have cocktail hour, entrances by bridal party, food served and speeches while eating, special dances/cake cutting, then dance party. And dance party is where people start slowly leaving. I’ve only been to one or two weddings where we were there til it was ‘officially’ over.

        • MDBethann

          I’ve only been to PA, NJ, and MD weddings and they’ve all been like that too – cocktail hour, bridal party enters, meal & speeches, special dances, cake, then dance party. The “East Coast” wedding with dancing between courses is new to me. Maybe it’s either a southern thing or a NY/New England thing?

      • Jessica

        We were hemmed in by the venue’s schedule, so we did 4pm ceremony, 5pm cocktail hour, 6pm entrances, 6:30pm dinner seating, 7pm toasts, followed by pie and the first dances. I know the people who had little kids liked that–they could see everything and have their kiddos doing cute dance moves for a photo, but could still get them out and to bed at a late-but-reasonable time. My friends are all huge into dance parties and we were on the floor until we were kicked out.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        I live in the south, and we don’t really have a ton of weddings with multi-course meals here, so that probably plays a role! Also, since it’s the bible belt, brides and grooms usually plan the cake cutting so that it occurs before the bulk of the dancing takes place, so that nobody’s 95 year old great aunt gets her panties in a bunch about all of the drinking and dancing.
        For lucky couples, that means 10% of the guests leave early, and the other 90% stay for a rocking party. In our case, the ratio just didn’t turn out quite that favorably.

      • NolaJael

        For me it would depend up on if the wedding was local or not. If I traveled to a wedding, then I’m going to get my money’s worth and dance until I get kicked out. But if it’s in town, then we probably drove ourselves (meaning someone has to DD) and I can sleep in my own bed that night, so I probably won’t stay until the bitter end.

      • California wedding (although I’ve mostly been to Midwest weddings). People start to leave after the cake cutting. In my experience, grandparents and older relatives like to leave pretty soon after the cake cutting and other people start to trickle out. Depending on what time the wedding ends at, I often leave early, too. But we never leave until after the cake has been cut, and usually pretty late after that. We often leave my husband’s friends’ weddings before the very end because (1) so loud and crowded (2) they have a tendency to go until midnight instead of a reasonable time like 10pm (3) we have had to drive for the last couple of them–and the weather has been iffy for the last few also so we wanted to beat the storm. (Although it’s always a struggle to convince my husband to leave early)

        • But also I get really tired at weddings in general. I tried to convince my husband that we should leave OUR wedding early because I was very tired too.

        • Katharine Parker

          “they have a tendency to go until midnight instead of a reasonable time like 10pm”

          I’ve always considered a wedding ending at 10pm to be unreasonably early! You can’t please everyone :)

          • I think midnight is fine as long as I don’t have to stay that late! Or expecting people like my paternal grandparents to stay that late. Or if there are places to hang out where you can talk without having to yell over the music. (Also, honestly, I would be totally up for a midnight ending to a family wedding but not one where I know only a few people there).

            But also, these are all Catholic weddings, so they are all starting at 2pm at the latest. I’ve heard that other weddings often have a later start time, which would make midnight a lot easier to handle, I think.

      • Ooh, I love regional wedding differences. Our caterer is pushing us to pay to serve more people in the evening that for the wedding breakfast, not less. In the UK most people stay to the end, and you have evening guests as well (usually coworkers you’d go drinking with after work but wouldn’t invite to your birthday). A wedding is an all day event here, so ceremonies are often before lunch (1 hour), then hor d’oerves and champagne during photos (1-2 hours), then the wedding breakfast (starters, main, dessert, 2 hours minimum), then speeches (1+ hour even when you try to keep it short!), then cake cutting (genuinely short), then dancing (with bonus evening guests) and a buffet or food truck for evening food (5+ hours). So you’re talking around 12 hours at most weddings, with two meals. And most people stick it out until at least half way through the dancing. Parents with young kids are the most likely to leave early; the elderly can usually be found still grooving away when the DJ packs up.

        • Katharine Parker

          I love regional differences, too! British weddings are so different, and it is fascinating. In the US, evening guests are not a thing, and the late night snacks I’m referring to are just snacks and are completely optional, served at 9:30 or 10 pm. I’ve seen people do milk and cookies, sliders, tacos, little sandwiches, soft pretzels… They’re just a little bite for people who are drunk, basically.

  • sofar

    Our wedding was, by most accounts, a Really Good Wedding.

    I hated it. I didn’t want it. We did everything to make our families happy (and partly because my family needed a big party after a deeply tragic couple of years), and somehow nobody was really happy.

    My husband and I were annoyed at each other in the weeks before and annoyed with each other the day of. You can tell we are pissed at each other in some of the photos.

    While it was great to see people I loved, I didn’t have much fun.

    Marriage, though, has been GREAT. The best part? Attending OTHER people’s weddings. We get to whisper, “Thank god we never have to do this again” at each other. And have an extra cupcake/drink at the bar and be like, “LOL remember when we had to pay for all this shit? Let’s never do it again.”

    • AP

      Yuuuuuup. I didn’t want it, either. My husband wanted it until we were knee deep in planning and family drama, and then he was like, “Oh, now I get it.”

      I wanted to marry him, though! Small price to pay, in the grand scheme of things:)

      • Jessica

        YEP. Same. And then he got pulled into a bunch of out-of-town training in the 2 months leading up to the wedding (including one that was 2 week before the wedding and lasted until 3 days before the wedding THAT WAS FUN), so my wonderful egalitarian planning plan just evaporated and I was doing a bigger wedding than I wanted because he was so gung-ho 9 months before.

        I really ended up liking our wedding and having a lot of fun, but boy was the planning and preparing stressful.

        • AP

          Oh lord, yes. My husband and I were *both* overwhelmed by work on top of wedding planning but because his took him out of town, the majority of the responsibilities fell to me. So my self-care went to complete shit, and I spent the first several months as a newlywed clawing my life back from the grips of anxiety. My husband is wonderful. The ceremony was beautiful. The cake was delicious. Everything else, and everyone else, I could have done without.

          • Jessica

            Yeah. I could have done with just a relaxed buffet dinner and a big ol’ dance party with wine and Wisco beer. But alas.

          • Arie

            “I spent the first several months as a newleywed clawing my life back from the grips of anxiety”

            Welp, that’s a great summary of the last 4 months of my life! Glad I’m not alone!

      • Eenie

        Yes!! After all deposits were paid my now husband admitted that we should have just eloped.

        • emmers

          My husband and I both agree if we remarried, we’d have a courthouse/restaurant after style tiny wedding.

        • LadyJanee

          Same! We were addressing invitations and agreed that if we ever got married again we would elope. Although that would have been a whole lot of other drama from my mum…

      • Becky

        SAME. We’ve got less than 4 months until our wedding (thankfully) and the family drama seems to get worse, not better. And now my FH is like “Yeah we should’ve just eloped.” *facepalm*

      • sofar

        My husband wanted it until we were knee deep in planning and family drama, and then he was like, “Oh, now I get it.”

        About six months out, my husband was like, “I never in my wildest dreams thought planning a wedding could be so awful.”

        And I was like, “Really??? I told you it would be awful six months ago and you didn’t believe me.”

        • AP

          I can’t ‘exactly’ this enough!

        • toomanybooks

          Ugh I actually love stories where there’s a moment when the guy actually has to face how hard wedding planning is and has a huge moment of realization that his fiancée was right all along

        • NolaJael

          My grandfather had four daughters and offered each of them $10,000 to elope. My parents got married in 1979, so that’s like $35,000 today!!! Not one of them took him up on it.

          • AtHomeInWA

            Does spending the money on a family vacation count? What if *surprise* an officiant just happens to be there with a wedding license and you’re wearing a white dress?

          • NolaJael

            OMG, I genuinely tried to get my husband to agree to a surprise wedding (have everyone over for a BBQ and surprise! actually you’re here to watch us get hitched). He did not bite. But think of all the superfluous crap that’s eliminated that way!

          • Amy March

            Please don’t “surprise” people with a wedding. Incredibly hurtful to anyone who couldn’t make the family vacation or who wanted to actually be ready to celebrate you with enthusiasm.

          • lamarsh

            This reminds me of the season finale of Girls Season 1 where Shoshanna freaks out because she wore white to Jessa’s surprise wedding. But generally agree that you shouldn’t surprise your guests with a wedding — people will be upset.

          • S

            Where I’m from in Australia, surprise weddings are becoming more and more common and they’re always very well received. I have yet to hear any push-back from anyone, including my fairly traditional mother who thinks they’re a great idea! I agree that I would be devastated to miss the wedding of someone dear to me because I thought it was “just” a party, but the surprise weddings I’ve heard about here have all been framed around another important event – a 30th, a baby shower, etc. Things the important people close to you show up for. I wouldn’t miss those events for anyone whose wedding I would be devastated to miss, unless there were extreme circumstances, and if there were extreme circumstances, I probably couldn’t make a wedding on that date either. Obviously you’d clue in anyone very close to you if they couldn’t make it just in case it being a wedding changed things, and all surprise weddings I’ve heard about the couple have informed immediate family, and anyone close who would have to fly in. If anyone else is hurt, my feeling is kind of….that’s life and weddings for ya! Who says those people who are hurt were even people that would have been invited to a small wedding?

          • AtHomeInWA

            Right? You make sure your sister and mom will be there. The third cousins?, You can share the video with them next time you visit.

          • Kari

            I agree with this analysis, I’ve worked quite a few surprise weddings in Sydney and country Nsw, and they always go down really well. If there’s some people you can’t get married without then you clue them in, of course! Maybe it’s something about the informality of our culture but I think surprise weddings can be lovely. The most common scenario I’ve seen is an engagement party turned wedding.

          • Natalie

            I see your point, but I think it works better for people whose family and friend circle all live close by. Sure, for a friend in town I would not miss those other important
            parties, but I now live across the country from many of my closest friends. I can’t afford and don’t have the time or energy to fly to every 30th birthday party or baby shower – right now my friends are having baby showers & 30th
            birthday parties & dissertation defenses approximately every 3 weeks. But I have and will make every single wedding. I’d be really hurt and sad if I missed a close friend’s wedding because she didn’t tell me it was a wedding.

          • Kat

            I have mixed feelings about surprise weddings based on personal experience. My boyfriends uncle and his (now) husband invited us to his military retirement party, but it was in NYC and right after Easter/Passover so we’d been away from home for a few weekends in a row anyway, so we ultimately decided to miss it and try to plan a trip to visit them later when we had more vacation days to enjoy ourselves. Well, SURPRISE, it was actually their wedding. There were a lot of hurt feeling on my bf’s side of the family when they found out. Ultimately we were just thrilled that they were married, and his new husband wrote us all a very sweet and apologetic email. But I do wish we’d known the gravity of the occasion because we definitely would have made arrangements to be there. I think YMMV on the surprise wedding thing. Know your crowd, and if you really want someone to be there, consider telling them the real plans.

      • Sarah

        3.5 weeks out, and this is my fiance. I didn’t want it because I knew how much work it was and how making decisions is really hard for my fiance. Sure having a big wedding is something I dreamed about, but I knew it wasn’t worth the stress for me. It’s not that he always dreamed of a big wedding, he just hasn’t really thought about weddings much and just assumed that’s what he would have because that’s the kind of weddings he has seen.

        So we went into this and he was team big wedding and I was team tiny wedding (like 10 people) at a resort. I gave in, but this planning process has been terrible as I have had to pull him through this whole process. “I don’t care which of these 3 venues we pick, but you need to choose one because they are filling up” “How many invitations do I need to order- what is you guest list” and on an on. It’s been super painful for both of us.

        Planning a wedding isn’t hard. It’s an event. My day-job is much more complicated. It is dealing with all the people around which is the difficult part.

        • Brynna

          I am going through the exact same thing. I told him I would have preferred a courthouse situation. He didn’t want that. Now I’m stuck planning this huge event and he’s not participating because he’s busy with work (we both work full-time). Every decision bottlenecks with him. I am loving this post because I’m FEELING IT.

          • Jessica

            This is something I hear from a lot of women who have recently/are in the process of planning a wedding–the dude needs to be “nagged.”

            WHY???

          • Brynna

            At one point, he told me that he didn’t care about any of the wedding details because weddings are a “girl thing.” You can imagine the heated discussion* that surrounded that little comment!

            * heated discussion = pure, blind rage

          • Jessica

            If he had enough preference to do a big wedding versus a courthouse wedding then it is not a “girl” thing. I’m glad you (hopefully) straightened him out.

          • S

            I have heard this over and over and over and over again – that so many men in opposite-sex relationships want the big wedding, their partner isn’t feeling it, they get their way but then suddenly weddings are a “girl thing” when the girl in question wasn’t the one who wanted one in the first place, and she now has to do all the work. I see these stories everywhere and I would love APW to cover this phenomenon in some way – maybe a collection of stories or a “It happened to me” style warning story or SOMETHING where every single lady whose is trying to explain to her dude about weddings can just link him to this article like, “If you do this to me I will kill you in your sleep, for real.” Could even be from a sheepish groom’s perspective! I know that APW can’t publish stuff like this unless they’re sent it….but gosh, I’m just imagining how truly useful a post like that could be.

          • CMT

            YES! I would love to see that from the sheepish groom’s perspective.

          • nosio

            Not exactly what you’re looking for, but I saw this on Modern Love a while back and reading it was weirdly, delightfully cathartic:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/fashion/01love.html

          • S

            Haha, this was a great read! I feel like I would have liked a bit more of a come-to-Jesus moment when he realises how crap it is that women who probably don’t care about this stuff either are usually the ones organising it, rather than the way he’s framed it, but I think an astute reader still gets the picture. A good little wink at how much emotional labour women are expected to perform, too.

          • Kat

            In the Modern Love podcast Jon Cho reads this and it is delightful!

          • Ashley Meredith

            I second this. Maybe there could be an open thread soliciting these stories? With a, “hey, tell us if you’re willing for your story to be compiled and published in a future post?”

          • OMG YESSSSSSS.

        • Diverkat

          Oh goodness, are you actually me? This feels like I wrote it. Or could have!

          We are 2.5 weeks out, family dramas are increasing exponentially on his side (mine are all flying in the week before, so that drama shoe will drop later), and this past Sunday the whole “we should have eloped” conversation happened. Um, yeah, that’s why I SUGGESTED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. But, he’s an only child, and I’m the only daughter, so there’s a lot of reasons to have a wedding with other people there.

          Whoever said the wedding was about the couple was full of shit. It should be, but it isn’t.

          That said, I really hope your day is awesome – despite the dramas, we are getting really excited because this will be the only time in the history of ever that we will get all our loved ones together like this, and in the end that’s what matters – not whether or not we have enough balloons, Future-MIL.

    • Anon for Now

      Ugh. This. I really hated my wedding. Like hated it hated it. I couldn’t even look at any of the pictures until a year plus after the wedding when my husband surprised me by framing some of them. Even then, I looked at them and cried sad tears. It was so devastating in part because only a few people really know what a shit show the wedding and its aftermath was. Everyone else just saw happy, shiny, wedding day.

      I do love my husband, though. I am very glad we ended up married.

      However, I now hate pretty much all weddings and wedding-related anything. It all feels very painful. We have more or less turned down every wedding invitation that has come our way in the three years we have been married. We are just over it.

      But, PLUS SIDE! You can love your spouse and have a happy marriage even if your wedding was a giant wreck.

      • sofar

        So glad I’m not the only one experiencing wedding-photo avoidance. My photographer was all like, “Hey, pick out your favorite photos so I can assemble the album included in your package,” and I was all, “UGH DO I HAVE TO.”

        My mom was all poised to post all of the photos on FB, and I asked her not to because I did not want my page plastered with them and have to deal with all the *likes* and comments about an event I didn’t even want to think about.

        And I ABSOLUTELY feel you about how the “shiny happy” wedding hides the shitshow underneath.

        • Jess

          I had a great time at my wedding, and am still avoiding the wedding-photo situation.

      • scw

        it is such a bummer that your wedding is such a bad memory you are still turning down invitations (although hey it’s way better than still loving weddings but hating your spouse!). I’m really sorry you feel this way.

    • scw

      I wanted it, mostly loved my wedding, and STILL say to my husband regularly “thank god we never have to do this again”

    • macrain

      “You can tell we are pissed at each other in some of the photos.”
      i have a dear friend who got into the biggest fight of her entire relationship the morning of her wedding. We didn’t even know about it until months later, because she needed some space from the whole thing to even be able to discuss it.
      She and her husband have a wonderful marriage and probably have more fun together than any couple I know.

    • NotMotherTheresa

      Oh my goodness, yes!!!! I now LOVE attending other people’s weddings, precisely because it’s so fun to relish in the fact that I’m not the one who had to pay for it and plan it! My husband and I have joked so many times that we are never divorcing, simply because a divorce means one of us might have to plan another wedding again eventually!

    • JLily

      We both wanted to do the courthouse wedding but couldn’t find a way to easily draw a line for the guest list. I wish we would have tried harder. We had about 120 people and I feel like once you go over 50 it is a Wedding with a capital W. It’s been 6 months and I am still just like whyyy did we put ourselves through that?! I knew it would be stressful not that the stress would ruin the whole thing (it did). I was looking forward to other people’s weddings starting at about 3 weeks before mine!

  • Katie

    Ooh. That’s why I am postponing our wedding for as long as possible (even though I’ve had the dress of my dreams for over a year now) because in my head, it’s a magical party, but again, in my head it can pretty quickly turn into a logistical, emotional and financial nightmare. Nope, not ready for that.

    To LW – kudos to you for admitting the wedding day was not fun and it’s OKAY. So many people place their hopes and dreams onto their wedding day, it makes me kinda sad. What if it’s not? It’s prefectly fine to have an ok-ish wedding and still be happily married, that’s what matters the most!

  • PeaceIsTheWay

    Thank you for the touching essay and great perspective, and congrats on your baby girl! My MIL hated her own wedding, and mentioned this several times as her son and I were falling in love, getting engaged, and planning our wedding. Since she’s had a long and happy marriage, I was quite grateful for the message that a happy wedding does not equal a happy marriage. My MIL’s reason for hating her wedding was that her MIL (so, my husband’s father’s mother) took control of all planning and made 100% of the decisions, from guest list to wedding dress to bridal party colors. I feel like there is a pattern to her story, this essay, and some of the comments here: not enjoying a wedding when external pressures determine major elements, like size or timing.

  • Pingback: I Hated My Wedding Day, but I Love My Marriage | Wedding Adviser()

  • NolaJael

    Lovely and honest piece, Esperanza. I’ve often thought that for many people like me (white, educated, upper middle class) bucking traditions is almost…expected? Like it reinforces your liberal credibility within your liberal bubble to reverse gender norms, not wear white, have a non-religious ceremony, etc. Which is all well and good (I did it) but it creates a false equivalence between things that are trendy in hipster city circles with the kind of tradition breaking that is heart-wrenching and emotional and tense when played out in other social spheres and cultures. I love that she is honest about wanting to feel connection to her heritage while simultaneously feeling stifled by the pressure that didn’t allow her to fulfill her childhood wedding dreams.

  • Arie

    My hope for you, writer, is that someday you have a beautiful vowel renewal on your own terms, with your daughter as a witness, so that you can really celebrate what you’ve built.

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