The Day I Realized It’s OK to Want a Wedding

bride holding wedding bouquet and displaying engagement ring

I do not like weddings. In fact, I like to say that I hate weddings, in the same way that I hate bell peppers (they contaminate everything they touch), any kind of animal-derived protein (vegetarian since I could hide meat under my plate) and Jar Jar Binks (it’s just so easy).

My big, huge, giant secret is that I am lying. I actually love weddings, and what I hate is the veneer placed around the wedding – which often obscures or completely obliterates the meaning, love and happiness that could be encompassed in that supposed “happiest” day.

It was a long road to reach this point, but I’m here to say it: “My name is Mallory, and I want a wedding.”

I’ve learned my wedding porn lesson; I avoid bridal magazines at all costs these days. Once, I almost booked a venue that I didn’t even like, only because it seemed like the thing to do. I tried on dozens of wedding dresses and I even bought a few (three), but I returned or sold them all within a few days of each purchase. I tried to fit into the traditional mold, and then I tried to fit into the indie mold. First, I was not doing enough do-it-yourself, but then it was too much. I started getting the judgment faces and comments from acquaintances when I told them about my plans – either it was too cheap or too fancy, too mainstream or too liberal. I lost myself in the swirl of ideas, and the wedding is supposed to be about me, right? *sarcasm alert*

As a result, I said f*ck it. I spent hours and hours trying to convince my fiancé that eloping was the safest and most cost-effective choice. (Truthfully, it is the most cost-effective, and we are poor graduate students, but darn his desire to have our families present.) He is right, though, and he calmed me down. I put it all aside for a few months; we put the planning on hold. There was no date, and the engagement was set to be a few years long (after five years of dating, which garnered a whole additional set of judging commentary – that’s another story). I finally let myself be at peace.

It was in this lovely unassigned time where I finally found my own voice.

I remembered who I am and what I love. I love my fiancé, and we are getting married, and that day is our wedding day. Because we had no date and no timeline, I was able to talk through everything with him. We figured out what was important and what we did not care about; we also found out that our families were just happy to be invited at all. In the charming calm of our non-planning phase, I actually found myself happy when I thought about our wedding.

My fiancé and I demolished all rules and tradition, but then we started to build our wedding from scratch. The wedding became a template for our lives together and reflective of our current relationship; we took each stressor (money, guests, drama, dancing in public omg shoot me now), cut it our or down to size, and then layered our own values on top to create a day that isn’t about a party. It is about the day after, and the week after that, and all the years to come.

I know it has been said before, but I want to say it again: the wedding day is a single day in an entire life. It does not have to be fancy or simple or anything other than a trip to the courthouse. It can be an indie-diy-vintage-o-ganza or the most traditionally sweet ceremony in the world. The cake can be dry and the caterers can ruin the food; sh*t, caterers are not even necessary. Family and friends may start drama or be perfectly well behaved (dare to dream). We are all free to let our weddings and our marriages be what they need to be. That is it. That’s the magic that I discovered. Earth-shattering.

Now I’m planning again, a term I use loosely, since the “plan” roughly involves making food for about 30 people and booking an officiant for a backyard ceremony. Instead of an uncertain date in the future, August 7th is the day. I’m having a wedding, but more importantly, I’m having a marriage. I’m happy about both of them.

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  • Before we got engaged, we had lots of discussions about what we wanted and didn’t want in a wedding. We talked about venue ideas, flowers, who we wanted to stand up with us, and alcohol (the important things, right?). And I was so thankful to have that time to just discuss with my future-fiance before letting our families/friends at our ideas. That time without actual pressure is really important, I think, and you’ve just reinforced why.

    PS Also a long-time veggie!

    • m

      Oh yeah, can someone talk about marrying a non-vegetarian and fighting for your right to serve a veggie dish at your wedding? When I mentioned the possibility of tofu everyone freaked out “but we want it to be something that everyone might try, we don’t want to scare the non-vegetarians away from it.” umm no they can eat their beef or duck and be happy with those two choices.

      ok sorry, rant over!

      • Mallory

        I feel you totally. My fiance is totally cool with my diet (and I with his), but the family often looks at some of my food choices with confusion.

        I am doing a big compromise. I am making all of the me-friendly food to ensure dietary guidelines are met (I’m nearly vegan). For example, I’m making the cake, part regular carrot, part vegan cake in a flavor tbd.

        I am having meat (ordered from a locally owned business), but there will be a preponderance of veggie dishes (all appetizers, most main dishes are veggie or vegan). If people complain, my sister suggested using the garden hose to hush them up. :D

        • m

          Its cool you are able to make the food! Our venue does all of the catering, but they do use local/organic/cage-free/all that stuff meat, which made me feel better about all of it!

          I have been to a lot of weddings where the food I could eat was limited, which I was ok with, but its hard to drink without eating much, so I definitely wanted to create a different situation at my own wedding. After all those experiences, I even wanted to make the veggie main dish vegan, even though we don’t know that anyone who is coming is vegan, but just in case.

      • OR, they can nibble on what they do like, be grateful for the damn free food and then get a burger on the way home.

        I mean, for Pete’s sake…no one will starve. And tofu is not the devil! (Occasionally, if it’s cooked all gross. Or in a tofu turducken.)

        • m

          haha, I’m enjoying the idea of mini-tofu turkey’s sitting on the buffet table at my wedding. I’ll probably have wedding nightmares about it.

        • Vanessa

          I am a long-time vegetarian having a pig roast wedding. It’s a cheap and kitchy way to serve everyone a delicious meal that is in-theme with our wedding- and they’ll be an equally delish veggie option for me and any veggie guest. Although I love food and love to eat, I figure I’ll be so busy spreading around the love I’ll hardly have time to sit down for the meal of my life anyway.

          Some things in the wedding are for you, and some are for other people. The pig will be local and organic, and the roaster a small business owner. My man eats meat, and so do many of my guests- so why not?

          • Another Alice

            Ooh! We’re also doing a pig roast! We’re getting the pig from our regular meat stall at the farmer’s market and we’re not sure who’s roasting it yet, but we’ll find someone. Is your roaster bringing the spit or are you renting that separately?

      • Cass

        I am a vegetarian and my fiance is not a vegetarian (but a very good sport). At first everyone asked if I was having an all-vegetarian wedding, like they were almost excited about something really different.
        But we ended up going for a brunch menu. The only meat on the menu is carved ham. We are having vegetarian quiches, fruit, muffins, scrambled eggs, etc. So I can eat almost everything we’re serving, save for the ham. But after all the rest of the food, who will have room on their plates?!

      • We’re doing an entirely vegan menu because that’s what is important to us and that’s what we want to spend our money on. No one else in either of our families are vegan. I’m sure people will be “upset” (it took my mom a good 6 months to get used to the idea) but I figure if people are hungry when they leave there’s a burger king down the road!

  • m

    “Jar Jar Binks (it’s just so easy).”

    Thanks for the early morning laugh and the wise words!

  • Jo

    You’re hilarious and awesome! And YES to reclaiming it and to not freaking if it’s not everything you dreamed (but it being okay to dream anyway!).

  • When we got engaged, I wasn’t sure I wanted a wedding at all. I just didn’t see myself as the wedding type. But after some deep thought I realized I did want one. I wanted an opportunity to bring all of our loved ones together in the same place and celebrate with them. I wanted our community involved. However, there were many times during the planning process where I just wanted to throw in the towel and elope. But I’m so glad I stuck it out. It was a really great day full of joy and love, much fun and laughter.

  • ElfPuddle

    Amen to wanting a wedding! Of course, at the moment, I’m wanting the annulment over with so that I can plan one, and do wonderful things like set a freaking date.
    But I do know all about staying away from wedding porn (which, sometimes, means APW, since I’ve never seen a post here that didn’t make me wish I could have a wedding).

  • clampers

    “We took each stressor and cut it out or down to size.”

    Good philosophy! That’s kind of what we did too. Neither of us wanted the big sit-down dinner or to dance in front of everyone. So we cut the dinner down to size and cut the dancing out completely. We didn’t want a bunch of people there (or a bunch of family drama), so we cut the guest list down to size. Consequently the money part was cut down as well.

    I like your idea of starting from scratch. You guys are smart.

    • We didn’t have any dancing either. And it was just fine with everyone. Although we did go out dancing with some friends that night.

      • clampers

        Oooh that’s a great idea! Don’t get me wrong–I love to dance…just don’t want to do it in front of a bunch of people. Your’s is a good compromise. :)

        • Since it was in the afternoon, and outdoors, dancing seemed a little out of place. Add in the threat of rain, and well, all of the family there, and it just seemed like the better option. One of my favorite memories from the day is friends who normally doesn’t dance rocking out with us, and enjoying themselves. I don’t think they would have at the wedding itself, but in the darker club, with a drink in hand they had a blast. totally worth it.

    • Class of 1980

      And there’s the odd situation where you yourself LOVE dancing, but come from a family that doesn’t dance. You might wish your family was different, but that’s your reality.

      In a case like that, sometimes eliminating dancing makes the day more authentic and comfortable for your family.

      • Sarah

        That was my situation. I’m a dancer, my dad dances, the rest of my family (and my husband’s family) does not.

        So, we had music, but no “dancing” … those that wanted to could, but there was no dancefloor.

        I made sure to dance with the people I wanted to, but no one felt pressured. It worked out for everyone.

  • MALLORY, DUDE. This is Rachael from college.

    A) HI
    C) You are getting married a day after me.
    D) I feel you.

    • Mallory

      OMG! That is so exciting. I love that you read APW too!

  • How refreshing.

    And Mallory, please tell me that you have a blog. Or are starting one. I’d love to read more of you.

    • Mallory

      Kinda sorta, but not really. ;)

    • It’s I don’t know if it is kosher to post that. Feel free to delete if it is…

      There’s almost nothing on it. I get distracted by medical school.

      • Awesome. I’m looking forward to reading it later!

      • FH is a med student also…the fact that you have time to do ANY blogging of crafting in addition to wedding planning+med school blows my mind. Props!

        • Haha, thanks. I have to save some me-time for my own sanity.

  • Hypothetical Sarah

    “I tried to fit into the traditional mold, and then I tried to fit into the indie mold…. I lost myself in the swirl of ideas, and the wedding is supposed to be about me, right? *sarcasm alert*”

    That’s almost exactly what I said in my first-ever email to Meg. Reading APW flipped me from glossy WIC visions to more indie, DIY-type ones. But then I realized that I was just exchanging one proscribed vision for another, and I started having a wedding identity crisis.

    I said all this to the boy in an email and he replied, “The wedding does not define us as a couple either now or in the future. It’s an event that deserves some attention but not too much.” It took me a few minutes to process that and not object… but he’s right. It’d be nice for the details to reflect us as a couple. But, give us our family and friends, give us a rabbi and a chuppah, and we could have the wedding now in a parking lot. Like you said, the wedding is a single day in an entire life — and an entire marriage.

    Also, I secretly really enjoy making straight-faced, completely sarcastic comments to wedding vendors about how this is My Special Day and “all about me” and watching them agree.

    • “But then I realized that I was just exchanging one proscribed vision for another, and I started having a wedding identity crisis.”

      Oh, I feel this and the entire above post so much. It was a revelation for me: who knew that the DIY, vintage, quirky wedding could still be wrapped up in the same bullshit as the WIC-style wedding?! Once I figured that out I also began to accept that I wanted a wedding, it was ok that I did, and I should just do what feels right. Also, that I just don’t care enough to make it perfect.

      • Giving up on “perfect” or, well, anything more than “it works well enough” was so, so freeing.

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        Totally agree. I realized that I couldn’t stand the expectations and glossiness of a WIC wedding, but I’m a get-dressed-up, heels and skirt girl who loves her huge family and hundred best friends. We also had a lot of $$ to spend. There’s nothing “indie” or DIY about my lifestyle so we ended up with something that looks a little WIC-y but felt very true to us.

        About half the people who came commented about how unique it was (teal birdcage veil? So you! Uneven wedding party?! How modern!!) and the other half was surprised it was so old-fashioned (You used traditional vows? Your dad walked you down the aisle? How quaint!!) We decided that probably means we did it just right – we’re not traditional in a lot of ways, but we also aren’t rebellious just for the sake of being rebellious.

        • Class of 1980

          Good for you! Being rebellious only for the sake of being rebellious is … boring.

          And that’s coming from someone who’s rebellious about anything and everything that doesn’t make sense!

        • msditz

          Okay, I’m glad its not just me. I was so worried about getting a limo because in “indie” world (whatever that even means) that is just soooooooooo traditional. Sooooooo unnecessary. Sooooooo uncool Suuuuuch a waste of money.
          But, hey! A limo is a really easy way to get us from the church to the ceremony. And when else do you get to ride in a limo (besides prom, which isn’t as fun because the drinking is illegal)?
          Remembering that the day is about YOU as a couple and nothing else and what works best for you is a constant battle. We have the money to spend, so we are spending it. But we are also aware of what we want and need and are picking and choosing accordingly. And that is all that matters.

      • The BIC (blogging industrial complex) is just as strong as the WIC. Same animal, different color…

    • meg

      “The wedding does not define us as a couple either now or in the future. It’s an event that deserves some attention but not too much.” You know what’s funny? That’s exactly what we’re talking about tomorrow.

      This whole thing is a funny problem to work at, because I’m trying to empower you guys to make your own choices, and that has to be something that’s powered from within, not without. So all we can really do is provide inspiration, and hope that it inspires you to do your own thing, right? But it’s never not going to be a struggle, I think… that’s the point, and that’s the powerful part.

    • Of course it’s all about you! That’s what the bride wants to hear! ;) Love that you do that…I don’t think I could keep a straight face!

    • Carla

      “Also, I secretly really enjoy making straight-faced, completely sarcastic comments to wedding vendors about how this is My Special Day and “all about me” and watching them agree.”

      Aww, that doesn’t seem like a good way to find vendors you want to work with.

  • Yes! My fiance and I have gone back and forth many times over whether to have a ~wedding~ or not, and we even booked a venue and a date that we had to cancel (both being poor graduate students, ourselves). We vacillated between wanting to elope and wanting a big party for friends and family (and sometimes we wanted both). We also called off our engagement for a few months to give ourselves some time to breathe and focus on each other and figure out what we even wanted from our wedding without every question being a loaded question, and it helped so much. Now we’re getting married August 5th (good weekend!!) and we are both so excited! Once we got our heads on straight individually and as a couple, the wedding planning process became about a million times easier.


  • Very glad to see this post. I think for a lot of practical brides, there’s a lot of guilt that comes with having a wedding. It’s expensive, it can produce a lot of waste, and it can reinforce a lot of outdated stereotypes. But I think there’s also a lot to be said for having a wedding–and, in particular a wedding specific to you, your fiance, and your family. I love Mallory saying: “We are all free to let our weddings and our marriages be what they need to be.” We’re a generation that can really define our wedding and marriages, and hopefully both will be way better off because of that.

  • I LOVED this post! I love this: “darn his desire to have our families present.” For us, that was so much of what having a wedding was *about*. It was about the marriage, and we kept realizing (you know, every time we were like, “Do you want to just scrap this whole thing? We could go to city hall tomorrow.”) that our families will always be a part of our lives, and thus part of our marriage, blah blah blah.

    Thanks for the reminder to find your own voice; I know I needed to hear that (and did, here) several times during my wedding planning. Good luck with yours!

  • Elisabeth

    YES! Thank you thank you thank you. Exactly x 100.

    I’ve been going through this same thought process (albeit with a rapidly-growing frequently-kicking fetus inside). Part of me just wants to go to a courthouse, part of me wants a tiny celebratory wedding-like shindig, part of me wants to elope. (My amazing fiance is tolerant of all my rollercoaster phases and is happy with whatever I end up wanting.) I’ve never wanted a wedding and struggle with finding a way to celebrate our partnership that isn’t too weddingy, isn’t too complicated, reflects us as a couple, doesn’t break the bank, and is our own event.

    After feeling like (according to society) I SHOULD get married before the baby comes (in June), I’m finally pulling away from that and realizing that I WANT to get married before the baby comes. Not because I doubt my fiance/babydaddy, or our relationship. But because I want to. (He does too.)

    So after months of thought and deliberation and total paralyzing indecision, we decided to elope (but I do have a question- is it eloping if we plan it a few months in advance?) with a few friends as witnesses, and then have a small family/friends shindig later this year so that our families can join us in celebrating our family and newborn and partnership.

    Such a great feeling of clarity and calm once you finally realize what you want and that it’s ok to want it, and reject the rest.

    • Class of 1980

      Sounds like a destination wedding. ;)

  • Thank you – this is such a good post.

    I didn’t like weddings either, or, at least, the wedding porn ones, and we are also poor graduate students. However, I hadn’t really been to many weddings so we (inadvertently at times) built ours from scratch as well (and as far as they let you in England – no legal outdoor weddings!). But from the other side, you are completely right – the wedding is just one day in an entire lifetime, it’s a drop in the ocean really. Six months on the wedding day itself rarely crosses my mind. It was wonderful and it reflected many things about us but it did not define us. Our marriage does and actually, I don’t know whether anyone else has experienced this, but the days after the wedding – catching the train to the south coast, watching waves on a pebbly beach, just being quiet with each other, they’re the moments I return to over and over again, and they are what make me smile. But without the wedding I wonder whether I would treasure those lovely quiet times? It was like the days after your final exams when you feel that you have accomplished something big and real, and it’s why I too wanted a wedding in the end and don’t regret it for a second.

    • Mallory

      “[…] the days after the wedding – catching the train to the south coast, watching waves on a pebbly beach, just being quiet with each other, they’re the moments I return to over and over again, and they are what make me smile.”

      I love that. Lovely.

  • This is such a great metaphor for so many aspects in life. It seems as though we are expected to fit into a mold from the cradle to the grave. Ugh! It’s why I despise labels so much. The jock, the nerd, the granola, the career woman, the DIY bride, the stay-at-home mom. Enough already! Maybe we wanna be a “l’il bit of this and a l’il bit of that.” What a concept!

    Molds are so last millennium. Good for you!

  • I think that we would be friends because so much of what you wrote and felt made me nod my head and smile.

    And I agree with Kerry, above, that you need to share your blog with us.

  • You know what, sometimes I feel like it is so gauche to say so, but I freaking love weddings. I love other people’s weddings. (I am a sappy sapfest and cry like a baby every time.) I loved my wedding. I just…. love them. I love marriage, too, but I totally love weddings. No shame in saying so, I think. They are happy moments to celebrate love and family and they give us moments of joy in a world that can be pretty ugly at times.

    Congratulations, Mallory! I’m sure your wedding will be wonderful.

    • meg

      I do too (clearly) ;)

    • Class of 1980

      I’ve been known to say I hated weddings when I was young. Sometimes I even said it right in the middle of one. That requires explanation.

      I always loved the actual ceremonies. That was my favorite part because most of them are full of heart.

      The parts I hated was the extraneous stuff people load their weddings with because it’s expected; not because they want to. Some of the accumulated “traditions” of a wedding day feel more like a check list of events that are supposed to be ticked off.

      I like a celebration that’s beautiful, but with room for spontaneous behavior. I don’t think I’m alone.

    • Me too. Meeee tooooo.

    • Me too. Even when I wasn’t sure I wanted my own wedding, it never diminished my love of other people’s weddings. I have never been to a wedding I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and I’ve been to all kinds. They just don’t get old for me.

      I could do without most bridal showers, though.

  • Another Alice

    Thank you, thank you! I really needed to read this post right about now. I’ve gone through a lot of the same feelings you describe – second guessing why I want a wedding, a dress, a venue, or any of the other parts that may or may not make up our “special day”. I’m still working towards the zen you describe (or aim for?) but I wanted to say that you’ve inspired me to hope that I’ll come to terms with having a wedding before the day arrives. I’m also struggling with feeling like I’m not the kind of girl who has a big wedding, after years of thinking I’d learned to be whatever kind of girl I want to be. The engagement process has turned out to some sort of emotional master-cleanse, with me working through all the old injuries/resentments, difficult times, and other emotional journeys that I thought were in my past…

    • Mallory

      For me, it is a daily process of finding and accepting that contentment. I have to remind myself about the things I’ve learned, but once it all clicked, that peace definitely comes more easily and helps me judge what I really find important (versus what I simply find fancy).

      • Another Alice

        I’ve been finding little clicks along the way, but no all-encompassing one. I’ve learned to listen to what elements I feel completely unconflicted about, like not having matching bridesmaid dreses (DONE), and be happy that those are easy things to decide, and put the real effort into the bits I keep going back and forth on, like what the heck *I’m* going to wear, or who’s going to marry us two former Christians (current agnostic/atheists) with still-religious families.

        I also had an elopement moment which I brilliantly facebooked about… my future FIL was the first commenter with a big “Don’t you dare!”, which really made me realize how much this wedding is going to be a nice thing for others as well as for us.

        • hoppy bunny

          Ooo, I did the same thing, but I managed to drop the E word at my sister’s rehearsal dinner. Maybe not the classiest timing, but it sort of just tumbled out of my mouth. I am looking forward to a wedding, but DANG if I don’t sometimes wish I could just elope instead.

  • Yes, exactly. I was rather surprised to find that I wanted a wedding. I didn’t want a traditional wedding. I also didn’t want to spend the entire time up until our wedding cutting out paper birds to make garlands (which I thought about) or cooking mountains of fancy food (which I’m no good at.) We ended up with a small intimate beach wedding, and a huge potluck. *gasp* And it was perfect.

  • Holly

    I agree and feel the same way as so much of this!
    -“I lost myself in the swirl of ideas, and the wedding is supposed to be about me, right? *sarcasm alert*”
    -“Truthfully, it is the most cost-effective, and we are poor graduate students, but darn his desire to have our families present.”
    Love it, love it.

    My further wedding problems come in that any actual decision making, any actual steps taken in the planning leave me paralyzed in anxiety and fear and awfulness. Damn it, I DO want a wedding! But the building it from the ground up, cutting down on all the tough stuff seems to elude me. Thanks for the shot of hopefulness in my day.

  • hoppy bunny

    Oh hai, I think we may be the same person!

    Taking a planning break put me into the closest approximation of wedding zen I can think of. My engagement hiatus just ended last week when, almost a year after agreeing we should get hitched, we set our date (for reals excited over here).

    “It was in this lovely unassigned time where I finally found my own voice.”

    Hear hear! I am afraid to look at pretty pretty pictures anymore–it’s like they’ll contaminate my vision of my own wedding with sparkle lust or something–but I risk it for APW because the wisdom more than makes up for my pining gazes when I see cakes covered in marzipan mushrooms.

    Super-duper congratulations to you and your future Mr! And thanks for the post–it feels sometimes like we (he & I) move at a snail’s pace, but seeing someone else happy to take the time to breathe in, breathe out, and reflect lets me know that I am not alone in needing more time to make it feel right for us. It is really comforting.

  • Phoebe

    I thought I was the only one! I hate bell peppers and they DO contaminate everything! Sorry I don’t have much to say about the main subject of your piece (I can only relate on the bell peppers currently) but thanks for sharing :)

    • I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?! Even if the pepper was sitting on top of a salad, but was removed, I still know it was there. They are pure evil.

  • Jillian

    I’m going through a lot of these emotions right now, so thank you for sharing this. When we first got engaged, I got caught up in the planning. As in, EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE PLANNED RIGHT THIS SECOND. I never really took time to think about exactly what we wanted for a wedding or what that day would mean for us. Plus, we don’t have a date set yet since we’re waiting for him to graduate law school.
    It finally took my best friend to say “Bro. chill. You don’t have to do any of this now. Just enjoy being engaged.” for me to realize that this time (the pre-wedding) is really important. So I completely get where you’re coming from about taking time to figure out what you want without the pressure of planning.

  • Melodious

    As a second-time bride marrying an older (for WIC purposes) first-time groom, I really wanted to elope. But he also insisted on having our friends and families present, so that idea was out the window. So I started planning a wedding. For HIM. But then it turned into planning a wedding for US. I bought a dress. A friend helped me make a brooch bouquet. Another friend crocheted a shrug to wear over my strapless dress. Yet another friend is making a cake topper for us. Now it’s shaping up to be a wedding for everyone, friends and family included.

    And really, secretly, that’s what I wanted all along.

  • Good for you, Mallory! It looks like you will have your ideal wedding & marriage. I can’t wait for the wedding grad post :-)

  • Amen to all of this!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this poignant and honest post. After freaking out last month when I thought perhaps we were making the wrong decisions on our venues/location because, even though they mean a lot to us and from the moment we saw them there was nothing more “us,” they might cost more than a strong indie bride should be spending or that people would be offended there will be no beef option for the dinner. And, I found myself both liking the idea of hopping on a quick flight to Las Vegas (we live in Cali) and paying a visit to the Little White Chapel for 55 bucks, as well as slapping myself in the face and saying “um, who are you??” Because I suddenly realized that I don’t really care about linen colors or what dress I find; I found my best friend, and that’s what is important. And as Mallory mentioned, once I stopped freaking out about what we should be having/what people expect/what everybody else tells you, I found my wedding zen. Not to say I’m still not thinking about all the things we have to do to throw a party unique and true to us, but I’m relishing these details instead of dwelling on whether it’s right or wrong; if it’s us then it’s right ,and it will be what it will be.

    I am continually inspired and reminded by APW brides/graduates/writers because amidst wedding overexposure they remind me what truly matters: a wedding is a celebration of all the days which has led up to it and all the amazing days that will follow. It is not a single day, but the culmination and anticipation of many special and ordinary days.

    Congratulations to you and your fiance on all the special and ordinary days up until now, and much love and happiness to you both in all the days to come (including August 7th).

  • Em

    Ooo, I love this post.
    I love the point about taking it and making it your own. I never really had much care for having a wedding, or a marriage, till I met my fiance… So we’re going through the process now even though it’s still so far off, and we’re doing exactly this- we’re figuring out the important bits and working with them. We decided recently to drop the guest-list by two thirds and I feel so much happier with this decision than I had been about having 90 people come…
    I never wanted my Dad to walk me down the aisle, either, believing I can’t be ‘given away’ – I’m nobody’s to give… but then my Dad and I have become a lot closer lately, and I love him, and he’s awesome, and I DO want him to walk me down the aisle- just without the giving away part. And maybe we won’t do it exactly like this… maybe it’ll change… but it’ll be changing to become something meaningful and important to us, rather than what somebody else may have done, or what somebody says we -should- do… And I think that’s so important.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it could not have come at a better time! I just had (am having) a similar experience, and it’s nice to hear that so many other people are feeling the same way.

    We’ve been engaged for a year and a half, and as soon as we starting planning (about 4 months ago), it got out of hand. Too much wedding porn + not enough money (according to WIC) + 1 stressed out 3rd year law student + 1 overbearing father-in-law to be = Disaster. It’s a long story, but the future hubby was the one who ended up so stressed out that he just wanted to elope. It was funny because that prompted a response from me that I was surprised to hear myself say, “I want a wedding.”

    It was strange because I had said from the beginning that I didn’t want to plan the wedding, in fact, eloping would be fabulous, I just wanted to show up and get married, eat, drink, and dance- but then I got caught up in all of it and I couldn’t stop planning, I couldn’t let go of anything. We needed to have this, we needed to have that, you can’t do that at a wedding, you must do this at a wedding…. So when things went haywire (and boy did they ever), we had to reevaluate everything, Thank God that happened. I would have ended up with a guest list of 175 (!!!) and a wedding that did not reflect me or him in any way. When the sh*t hit the fan I asked him, “Who are we planning this wedding for? Not me, I never wanted a wedding like this.” (Note: he is doing most of the planning because I can’t with school/bar/living a few hundred miles away- this has been a life lesson in itself about “letting go”) As it turned out though, I did want a wedding (just not that one). It’s been really tough to own that. We didn’t take a break from planning exactly, but we did scrap everything and start over because despite it all I did (deep down) want a day to celebrate us with our family and our friends.

    Now, the guest list is under 100 (only close family and friends), the ceremony and reception is in his brother’s backyard, and I couldn’t be more excited. There have been (and will continue to be) people who don’t get it or don’t like it, but we get it and we like it, and that’s enough. It has finally become something that is meaningful to us. To echo what you said, it’s just one day in an entire life. Thank you.

    • Oh, I hear you. I have boards coming up this summer (in July) and the wedding in August.

      I’m glad that you have been able to focus on what is important to you!

  • Cory

    I LOVE this post! I have always always always said I did not want a wedding…then I got engaged and realized eloping just did not feel right. Thank you for putting all of the turmoil and emotion my fiance and I were feeling into beautiful, coherent words.

  • Thank you for posting. I am getting married next Friday 9 days from now. DH insists on saying we are not having a wedding, we are getting married at church, signing the marriage license, and having dinner with 50 friends and family at the country club near the church. That’s more than enough. No invitations were sent. No Music No decorations. Just God and Love! Uniting my little family, my love our son and God. This gives me Peace!

  • Mihaela

    Mallory, I can totally relate to a bunch of what you said…especially the part about attempting to convince my fiance that we should consider an elopement. My reasons (aside from the money issue) are a little different; I’ve never wanted a wedding. To be perfectly clear, I want to be married, but I don’t want a wedding. Not a courthouse wedding. Not an intimate family gathering. Not anything I’ve come across yet, or been able to think of thus far.

    Like you mentioned, my fiance and I are talking a lot about how we can build something from scratch, and I’m still on the road to figuring out what that is. And, speaking of earth-shattering, does anyone else feel like weddings are not treated with enough, well, gravity sometimes? Even though people make decisions to get married every single day, I want to remember how mind-blowing that commitment is. And, if we have guests, I want them to remember that, too. It’s an occasion of maddening joy, but it’s also very weighty and momentous.

  • Rebekah

    This was perfect. This was honest as honest can be and it is what my heart needed to read today. I am so proud of you and so happy for you and your fiance being able to choose a marriage and a wedding.

    Now, if you feel up to it, I’d *love* to hear more about the judging commentary on your five years of dating, seeing as how I’m in a similar boat right now.

    All the best!

  • Erin

    Mallory (and everyone in a similar boat), thanks for this! I’m getting married that same weekend (August 6th)…and my fiance and I have been vacillating since probably the day after we got engaged about weddings and eloping. It’s not so much the planning part as it is the planning part while working full time and being in grad school part time – there are dead German philosophers to read and papers to write and more to do at work than seems possible, and I’m supposed to care about flowers? I also took a long time to decide that I’d be okay with being married, and then that I specifically wanted to be married to this particular guy. We just keep telling ourselves that a wedding is a good excuse to get everyone we care about in one place for a party – and really, after the ceremony part, that’s what it will be (I hope!).

    It’s been really interesting to watch how both of us pick out the details that matter to one or of both of us – I never would have dreamed that he’d care about not seeing my dress til the ceremony (or having a ceremony in the first place), but there it is; and as much as I don’t care about rings, I really want to have wedding pictures of our parents and grandparents at our reception. One of the hardest parts has been negotiating the way each of our families operates, and trying to make sure everyone’s more or less pleased with the way things turn out, while staying as simple and casual as we’d like things to be. I tend to panic when either of our mothers asks a question I don’t have an answer for or wants something we’re not going to do, and luckily my fiance has been wonderful at talking me through my moment of panic and then into a solution. Reading APW helps so much too!

  • Elaine

    Hello all, I’m so glad to have come across this forum. I am getting married to my fiance next April and am trying to come to terms with the ‘wedding’ and all its social baggage. I vacillate between being really excited about the wedding and feeling embarrassed because I’m making a big deal of it, even though we’re trying to have as modest a one as possible. Glad to hear that others are feeling these conflicting feelings too!