Why My Wedding Wasn’t the Emotional Event of the Century

The Internet made me feel like it wasn’t enough

Closeup of a white skirt

When Adam (my husband) proposed to me, my answer was, “Umm… oh… okay”. It was a Wednesday night, and we were playing Fallout. While I was yelling “GET THEM” at the TV, he got down on one knee and presented his grandmother’s ring to me. I was well aware this was not a picture perfect Instagram engagement moment, but I was pretty damn happy with it despite my stunned response. No hidden cameras, no surprise engagement party. Just us in our pajamas.

Obviously emotional moments were not our thing. They still are not.

Our Intention Was Simply Gratitude

Right away I got down to business planning a wedding. My day job as an Event Planner made creating our wedding incredibly easy. To me, the planning of this event was calculated, timed out, and organized. When I started I set an intention: gratitude. Not true love, not overwhelming emotion, and definitely not any of that “Instagram-worthy” crap blanketing the Internet. We did not want a “Pinterest wedding.” We did not want five hundred of our “closest acquaintances” or a thirty-person wedding party. I hated feeling pressure to have those perfect, candid wedding pictures. None of that was important to us. What was important to us was putting together a ceremony of two souls and two families coming together and a serious party for all of the people who made us who we have become.

And On That Day, We Laughed

We took all of our pictures before the ceremony. Our first look was not that quintessential emotional moment everyone seems to dream about. It was our moms trying to take pictures from the windows (annoying the photographer), Adam and I laughing hysterically before he even turned around, and it was pure excitement. When he finally saw me we LAUGHED. We fucking died laughing. This was what everyone was building up? I mean damn, he looked good, but I wasn’t going to cry, and neither was he. The best picture we have of this moment is me looking like a flamenco dancer (unsure why I did this). Honestly, it was anti-climatic compared to what the wedding columns and photography makes it out to be. AND I’M SO TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT. It was a typical and perfect Adam and Kate moment.

Our ceremony was everything we wanted it to be. I took a shot of whiskey with my dad before walking down the aisle. Adam and I laughed (multiple times), and our pastor was lighthearted and nurturing. No one cried (except for our dads). It wasn’t emotional; it was exciting. It was a celebration. This was the beginning of two families joining together. Adam and I were together eight years before we got married, so this wasn’t like an earth shattering change in our personal relationship with each other. It was just us letting the government know, “Hey we’re going to hang around together forever, so FYI make sure our taxes are good.”

There were no pictures of us wiping tears or staring longingly into each other’s eyes. But there are multiple pictures of me hanging on to Adam’s arm for dear life and of us laughing at each other (can you sense a theme?). There’s even a picture of me turning back when I forgot to grab my bouquet on the way out and my mother yelled at me, “Kate Elizabeth, your flowers!”

And Then, The Internet

After the wedding, the Internet made me feel like a shitty wife when I read all these posts about how emotional other weddings were. Was I defective? Were we missing some emotional component? Why didn’t I feel like crying once? It took me a good long while to realize it didn’t matter. I shouldn’t feel guilty or judged just because I chose to laugh on my wedding day. That doesn’t make my love for my husband any less valid or genuine. It just means our love language is laughter.

No Tears… And Perfection

Weddings are not about getting that perfect Instagram or Facebook moment. They aren’t about if you had a buffet or a plated dinner or a donut wall or the perfect barn wedding or whatever. And they sure as hell are not about if you did everything traditionally or pulled the whole damn thing out of your ass and called it a wedding. This is not about anything or anyone else but the two of you. If you’re emotional and will definitely cry, GREAT! If you’re like me and laugh constantly at odd times, GREAT! Just make sure you both enjoy your wedding day no matter what.

And make sure you laugh. A lot.

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  • theteenygirl

    This is great. My husband cried like a baby during this vows which took everyone by surprise, but other than that it was a day of celebration and laughing. When we got our photos back from the photographer I realized just how much laughter there really was!

  • Amy March

    Your wedding sounds super emotional. The whole post you’re talking about being overcome with emotion! It’s just excitement and happiness showing up as smiles instead of tears.

    • Exactly! I knew exactly what the author meant, but it annoys me when “emotional” is used to mean prone to crying/sentimental. Excitement and happiness are emotions too!

    • Ayla K

      Agreed! There are lots of different types of emotions, and this sounded just as powerful (and that much more perfect for you two) as a sentimental wedding.

  • Abs

    I identify with the pressure to have all the feelings. Sometimes it seems like when folks rebel against the pressure to have their wedding *look* perfect, it transmutes itself into a pressure to make the wedding *feel* perfect. “I didn’t have fancy hair and makeup but I was overwhelmed with wonderful feelings on seeing my partner and spent the whole day completely present and enveloped in a cloud of joy.”

    I spent a lot of time leading up to the wedding worried that I wouldn’t feel all the appropriate feelings, and, oddly, I was worried that that would undermine our wedding choices. On the one hand, how could I justify having a relatively simple wedding if I wasn’t compensating for the lack of favors by crying when I saw my partner? On the other, how could I justify spending any money at all if I wasn’t a living beam of nuptial joy all day long?

    In the end it was fine, not because I became a different, more present person, or somehow rose above these fears, but because it turns out that getting married and having a big party with all my friends was distracting enough that I didn’t really spend time worrying about my feelings or lack thereof. Also my partner cried, and there were photos, so he took one for the team there.

    • Ashweck

      My mil thinks my husband’s highly functioning tear ducts are the proper way to feel and that when I laugh at him for crying (not in a mean way! In a this is why I fell in love with you way) I am a bad partner.

      Feelings look like all kinds of things — there is no one right feeling for any given situation and even for the same feeling, there is no one right mode of expression!

    • sofar

      “Sometimes it seems like when folks rebel against the pressure to have their wedding *look* perfect, it transmutes itself into a pressure to make the wedding *feel* perfect.”

      This is so true and so well-put.

  • Ashweck

    My husband is a crier and I am not. There are tons of photos of him crying or looking extremely deeply in love. All the pictures of me are of my stupid big smile, my stupid big laugh.

    You don’t have to be a crier to feel deeply. No one cried at our ceremony but my husband, and everyone said it was a great ceremony — full of laughter and sincere sentiment. (The bridal party maybe laughed in unison when I tried to kiss him as soon as I got down the aisle, and again when his tears began… he even cried during the rehearsal!) It sounds like your wedding was like that and it is too bad you doubted for even a second that it was the right kind of wedding. I thought I could hold my smile to something pretty and flattering but on the day, I think you just get too overwhelmed. I’m glad you have lots of laughing pictures and hope when you look at them, instead of worrying it’s the wrong kind of feeling, you wonder what you were laughing at and remember mostly what it felt like when you got married. That’s what wedding photos are for, right?

    • Her Lindsayship

      I sliiiightly wish one of the photographers had told me to like make a serious face every now and then, although I guess no one wanted to order me to stop smiling on my wedding day. But I mean… every. single. photo. is of me with a manic eye-scrunchy grin. At least they’re authentic!

      • Ashweck

        I tell people the big take away from our wedding photos is that I’m never not making some weird face. It’s not flattering but I guess it’s real. It’s like I don’t even have eyes

      • Ashweck

        Another reply just to add that while I wish I was maybe smiling like a normal person in some photos, my husband could not be more thrilled with the fact that I look ecstatic. He loves my stupid smile, even if I don’t — I bet your husband does, too

        • Her Lindsayship

          It’s true, he’s a sucker for this face.

  • sofar

    During our first look, my husband turned around saw how much makeup I was wearing and said, “Uh…woah.”

    There were zero tears during the ceremony, but lots of laughter because our officiant killed it. And because my uncle thought it would be funny to show up in a track suit.

    My cousin had died (at age 21) a couple weeks before the wedding, so my side was emotionally numb and quiet, which is how we handle grief.

    My husband and I were in a fugue state most of the day because we were just DONE with everything.

    I’ve been to/seen photos of emotional weddings, but your people are going to react how they’re going to react.

    • Ashweck

      I love your husband’s response; it’s honest and specific to him— which is as it should be!

  • the internet doesn’t make me feel this pressure, but my family does! over thanksgiving my extended family wanted to get all sentimental over our wedding and wanted to offer all their emotional advice on being a “new wife” and i was like, uh, we’d been together for 8 years before we got married, this ain’t new. we loved celebrating with you, but my wedding wasn’t a big emotional milestone in my life.

    • LindseyM

      Hah—-My husband and I are in the same boat, having dated for 7 years before getting married. People keep trying to get all lovey dovey and call us newlyweds and give us advice, and we’ve been together longer than some of them!!!! It makes me go crazy.

    • kayceeee

      Same. Six years here. It’s like the only thing that’s really changed is that we’re now legally bound.. well, that and my last name once I get around to doing it.

  • courtneycm3

    This article makes me feel SO much better. I didn’t cry when my fiancé proposed (he did). I don’t get teary when I think of us spending the rest of our lives together. I’m just not an emotional person (…unless dogs are involved…) and when I look at how my friends, family, sister all reacted to getting engaged or to their weddings, it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. But this post was a great reminder that you don’t have to be a ball of feelings all the time!

    • Ashweck

      I’m still not convinced that “I don’t cry often” should translate to “I’m not emotional.” I think however you respond emotionally is different from how you respond somatically and the problem is that we don’t *see* emotions the same way we see physical responses to them.

      And that can be really hard to get across and make a person worry about being too robotic. But there’s a reason people say “Still waters run deep.”

  • What a great essay! We also did most I our photos before hand and I just had to feel whatever, because I was SO stressed at that point. I did cry during the vows, but I cry pretty easily. My favorite thing is how much my husband was just grinning. He’s usually so stiff, stoic, but he couldnt stop smiling, give me that over sentimental tears any day!

    • Her Lindsayship

      Aww, so sweet! We also did a first look and our photos from that might be my least faves from the day. I could tell my husband felt a lot of pressure to be visibly shattered by my beauty/overwhelmed with love for me, and these are not things my husband wears on his face. He looks nervous in the photos – they’re not bad, we look hot and all, but we should’ve chatted about expectations beforehand. I think he had seen too many of those groom-emotionally-destroyed-by-sight-of-bride examples and he assumed that’s what we were going for. Like you, I was also super stressed at that point and really not able to be present. But this was our wedding – we had to feel our own feelings for it!

      • penguin

        We had a similar experience with our first look photos – the location/position the photographer chose meant that my husband had the sun right in his eyes! So it’s just a squinty eyed photo of him on the close up. The distance pictures of us look great at least.

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  • laddibugg

    Laughing is an emotion.

  • Jan

    I felt really terrible after my wedding when people would ask, “Was it the best day of your life?” or “Wasn’t it just the most fun party you’ve ever been to?” and I would be like, “Not really.” Not because I felt like that was wrong, but because I could tell it made people uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited and very happy, but the MOST excited and the MOST happy I’ve ever been? Nah. It was a great day. Supremely above average. I felt beautiful. I love to watch the video of our vows. I’m so glad we did it. I love my husband. And it just wasn’t the best, or the most important, and certainly not the defining day of my life. [shrug emoji]

  • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

    I felt that way about so much of our wedding planning process. I never had a tearful moment dress shopping with my mom, because I had simply ordered a bunch of dresses off of Modcloth, even before we were engaged, and tried them all on before choosing my favorite of the bunch. It was very anticlimactic, but I had to remind myself that not everything had to be A Production.

  • Stephanie B.

    I totally expected to ugly-cry, at least during our vows (because while I was writing my vows, I damn sure ugly-cried). And instead, from the moment I stood in the door to walk up the aisle to my almost-husband, the only emotion I felt (and, based on photos, the only emotion I expressed) was — is there a word for “about to explode with joy with the force of a nuclear reactor”? Because that was it. That was my emotion. I was SUPER surprised I had no tears, but I was lit up like the damn sun from the moment I walked through that door. (Though apparently all the guests cried at our vows, so the emotions I felt when I was writing them were spot on; I just used up all my tears in the creative process, I guess.)

  • Liz

    This was so me! Almost every picture of me from our wedding day, my mouth is wide open mid laugh. First look, vows, dancing, cake, literally all of them: Mouth. Open. Wide. Laughing. Like I’m yelling but happy? But I love it! I didn’t cry on our wedding day because I was so full of joy it just bubbled out of me. It’s funny because I cry a LOT- like commercial with puppies make cry. But my wedding day translated into joy and zero tears but so much laughter.

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