He Said No to a Wedding

This week, we’ve been exploring the idea of “Why a wedding?” Or as is the case today, “Why not a wedding?” Because sometimes, you need a wedding, even when you’re courthouse people, to validate your relationship when your country won’t legally do the right thing. Sometimes, you need to run off and get married among dinosaur bones to figure out what marriage means anyway. And sometimes, now is just not the time. Today’s post is from Sara. Sara invented the term wedding dropout, she fell in love and had a baby, she got engaged, she threw me a book party in Denver. And now she’s not getting married right now. Even though she planned a whole wedding in an afternoon. Which is sort of hard. But also sort of funny (God bless Sara). Let’s discuss.

APW Book Tour Denver Moodeous Photography (9)

He said NO to a wedding.

I should preface this by saying that I’m not angry by any means. Our lives are all about being practical and taking the time to do things we want the way we want. Unfortunately, that means my amazing spontaneous ideas (PS. I can coordinate a wedding in an afternoon, apparently. No joke.) are really a thing of my single girl past.

I had it all planned. A wedding in a beautiful pavilion in my favorite park with a gourmet food truck reception and frolicking in grass! So fun! And perfect for a family with a eight-month-old crazy crawler. Perfect. I patted myself on the back over this one. I had nailed it. It would be true to our lifestyles, to our budget (less than $1,500) and we’d have so much fun.

But I never took the time to consider or consult that groom guy.


Full story: I did email him earlier in the day and say I wanted to get married. I also added a second email saying, “No wedding, let’s just get married.”

I stand by the adage that as a woman I have the right to change my mind as often as I change my clothes. And I did just that between sending him that email at 10am and having the wedding all planned by 4pm.

Now, I have to admit, I have two very close friends getting married in opulent weddings later this year. So maybe, just maybe (a big maybe) I was getting a touch of wedding fever. Or I just wanted to feel pretty, or I wanted to feel special. Sometimes it’s hard to feel special when your baby is spitting in your face and your biggest accomplishment for the day is avoiding a poop disaster during a squirmy diaper change.

And having a family is f*cking awesome, but it’s also sorta exhausting at times. And it takes a lot of work and dedication and sh*t like that. Again, awesome, but with all the work some days, when I go to bed at seven p.m., I don’t feel special, or pretty, or glamorous or anything other than so happy Duncan is asleep so I can sleep.

There it is. Does a wedding actually make you feel pretty and special, or is that just crap I read on the Kn*t back in the day? See, the thing here is an internal struggle between wanting to feed that part of me that says “me, me, me—I wanna be pretty!” and being a good partner and wifey and momma and all those other roles I play.

Plus we agreed on waiting until it makes sense financially for us, and with a looming furlough and rising rent, Duncan eating us out of house and home and OMG they just opened an H&M in Denver. (Yes, I know the obvious. Quiet, please…)

So Mike said no wedding. Right now. Even though I want to feel pretty, even though I want to feel special, even though I spent a whole afternoon carefully (ha) planning the cheapest, most fun wedding of all time, he said no.


I suppose what he wants for a wedding matters as well, and I need to continue to work on reconciling my independent streak with my new roles in a functional partnership. He says the three years we’re waiting will fly by. Still, lame. But I understand. And I accept 2015 as the year we’ll get married. *Winces.* That is so far from now. How am I going to feel pretty and special in the meantime?

Um, if anyone needs, I’m headed to H&M.

*Definition: interj. Used to express repudiation. Feel free to adopt it into your vocab.

Photo of Sara’s adorable shoes, by Kristy of Moodeous Photography in Denver

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  • “How am I going to feel pretty and special in the meantime?”

    By sharing more of your wisdom with us and then let us make you feel all good?

    I love your posts, Sara. May you find the best H&M sale items ever :)

  • Weddings can feel like an absolute validation of being pretty, loved, chosen and special. In the face of PBS Kids reruns, dirty diapers and wondering if you should make your own organic baby food, wanting a day that’s all about how lovely things can be and not having to actively negotiate the rules of your relationship for 24 hours is SO understandable. We should get a wedding day every year actually. If it weren’t for the crap that can come along with it, how awesome would *that* be? We can dress up all day long and the only thing expected of us would be to dance and drink champagne and everyone would tell us how pretty and lucky we are and how they wish us the best in our life.

    • Stephanie

      This is why I have big fancy costume birthday parties :) (and by “fancy” I mean potluck, but with booze and dancing)

    • I had a friend who said her plan was to host an annual “wedding party” cocktail hour, where her and all her lady friends would get dressed up in their wedding dresses, drink champagne, and hang out in their loveliness.

      I am FOR it.

      • Emily

        This is an awesome idea.

  • I feel ya on this topic! I know it’s going to happen, but waiting it out is tough. Here’s to hoping the time flies by :)

  • Sara B

    Sara! we had a baby really early in our relationship too (so early we weren’t really sure what the future was going to be). Not shortly after that though, we knew it was The Real Deal. I moved to another country to reunite our baby family, and we dealt with the When’s The Wedding questions for years. Now with our almost 3 year old, he finally asked and in 2013, it’ll be our time :) From one mom to another, you are going to be happy you waited until your son is more independent/lower maitenance, bc on your wedding day, you def don’t want to worry who is going to be smelling your kids butt all day bc there is no way you are getting poop on that dress. 2015 will be here before you know it!!!

    • Josephine

      LOL. That is good advice right there!

  • I’m over a year away from our wedding, and sometimes I think that I might be done with this website. Sometimes I skim and sometimes I click on something else entirely in my Reader.

    Then a post like this one pops up, and it pulls me back.

    I love this. I love that this little post, with no resolution and which essentially ends in a question mark, has the weight to balance out all of the other beautiful essays on APW. I love that APW has the guts to throw in a “no” into the mix among the “yes-ing” and allow it to be something other thatn a perfect, pretty “no.”

    I think Sara nailed the sentiment in the simplicity: “…lame. Still, I understand.” I think many of us readers are in that particular moment right now, regarding weddings or kids or houses or jobs or loving or liking or something else altogether. Very cool.

  • Aurélie

    Well, IMHO, identifying what makes you feel like having a wedding right now (feeling pretty and special apparently) is a very good first step. Now, you can focus on making that happen outside of a wedding and I’m absolutely sure that your super-coordinator self will be able to organize week-ends away and date nights and spa appointments within a low budget in a flash.

    When I had my last “OMG-I-want-a-wedding-right-now” bout and it was clearly not meant to happen right now, I thought about it hard and finally understood I wanted to DIY et DIT day and night. So, since that realization, I’m cross-titching, scrapping, baking and knitting like a mad woman, alone or with my mom and sis and it’s incredibly satisfying. And while there’s no sewing of a wedding dress in the near future, I like to think that, when the time comes, we’ll be prepared to take on the huge DIT wedding tasks! :)

    I hope you’ll be able to find your inner prettiness and specialness outside of a wedding dress very fast (and you still can think that you’ve got three years to learn how to do your own make up for the D-day or something, so, it’s still useful somehow…)!

    • Exactly! I’m volunteering now with an organization that works with kiddos to promote the love of language. And trying to go to the gym. And I got a haircut! – So much of the pull is finding balance and satisfaction. You nailed it with your comment. I’m also coming to terms with all these roles I play and sometimes that means fighting off guilt for doing things solely for myself. But that’s a whole different Anderson. (Yeah, Meg, I’m going with the silver fox!)

  • msditz

    This is exactly why we keep coming back to APW day after day. It is the only website out there that recognizes how to be a practical person in the face of OMG OVER THE TOP INSANITY. But…it also recognizes that we are human beings, and I dunno…maybe sometimes we want to be over the top. Because we are human. And that is okay.
    Thank you for being a normal human being and reminding everyone that we all are too.

  • Tamara Van Horn

    Sara, I have been saving my inaugural trip to 16th St. H&M…you’ll have to point me in the right direction!

    As a graduate student, so many of your sentiments resonated with me. I planned the same type of wedding, in about as much time, and luckily, the boy agreed and it was sort of cost-efficient for us…but it was MAINLY because I’d had too many months of feeling gross and ugly to go another summer without my day of PRETTY!

    Thank you for this post- just, thanks.

  • MDBethann

    Maybe that is why our ancestors used to create hope chests – to get through the waiting process with something to DO, like making sheets and dresses and pretty things to decorate her new home. You sound like an extremely creative person Sara and I hope you can find a wonderful outlet for all of your creative energies to help you through the waiting.

  • Jo

    I’m SERIOUSLY struggling with the “whether to have a wedding” question.

    I used to feel that I never wanted to get married. This is not to be confused with never wanting to be permanently committed. I just have a problem with how “marriage” is defined in our society, particularly that it’s a construct that many people feel is such a big deal that its benefits should be denied to a significant portion of the population. I just don’t feel comfortable getting excited about joining into this sort of exclusive institution.

    I also hate the “WIC” (as it’s used on APW). I hate that the “happily ever after” scene at the end of movies is the wedding, not the marriage. I hate that the wedding industry encourages people to forfeit their financial futures to live up to expectations to have their one “big day”. And I don’t want to condone any of this.

    My partner and I have a non-religious relationship in which we’ve evolved to where we are, and we feel that we’re already married. We approach our life with that assumption, and we refer to each other as husband and wife. Many of our friends and family accept this. In our state we qualify as “Common Law”, so we have legal standing. So I want to downplay the act of signing a piece of paper that gives my partner and I a more secure shortcut to legal/financial/medical benefits.


    But I like celebrations! And I DO think that my friends and family are important.

    So I’m struggling with how to go forward. My partner has put the ball in my court. He doesn’t have the same ideological objections and wants to be married, he doesn’t want a big wedding, but he’s willing to support whatever direction I want to go.

    Anyway, I just wanted to vent for a moment. I think we’ve come up with a good middle ground, and I know that whichever way we go will not be 100% right (and probably not even 80% right). But it’s exhausting right now.

    • Jo

      I guess what I’m asking the ether is:

      Does the fact that we don’t want to mark a moment in time as the moment we become married mean we don’t get to bring people together to celebrate that we’ve found each other?

      Can we celebrate with friends separately from family?

      How do I convince my parents to respect this approach? They feel that we can’t celebrate if we don’t wed. And they don’t see how we could have separate celebrations because you can only get wed once.

      And the biggest question: Should I just make an ideological stand and answer the question I began with (“whether or not to have a wedding”) by not having one?

      • This is a huge personal issue for you obviously and I feel ill prepared to offer advice…but that’s never stopped me before.

        It seems like the issue is what to call the celebration (how often do we get hung up on the words?). If you feel strongly about not marrying then don’t. If you’d only be doing it to fulfill a societal norm it’s going to piss you off and make you all resenty later.

        But just because you aren’t celebrating a moment that you became legally wed doesn’t mean you can’t throw a party to celebrate your love and commitment. You can do anything you want. BUT, I don’t think you can convince your parents of anything they don’t want to believe or aren’t ready to handle. Trying to will make you crazy and probably drive you further apart. Have your 2 parties for friends and family. You have someone to share your life with and you should be shooting off fireworks and handing out jellybeans over that! Let your family see that you are happy and that your commitment is real and they will jump on board when they are ready.

        • Jo

          Thanks Contessa,

          I’m feeling more confident and comfortable right now, and your words are a nice boost.

          Ii think it’s going to take some time, but my parents will understand. The tougher part is dealing with all of the extended family and friends who think that by depriving them of being a part of what they think is important I’m telling them that they’re not important to me. It’s just stressful. I wish other people wouldn’t be so judgemental I guess.

          And, of course, I need to find a way to articulate my feelings without offending other people. Because I do love weddings and am fully on board with celebrating everyone else’s. To each their own, right?

          There have been a few APW posts about mourning the wedding you didn’t have. I know that whatever direction we go, I will mourn what we didn’t choose. I’m at peace with that, but it doesn’t make the tough moments go away.

          • The best armor you can have for this situation of dealing with your friends and family is to talk to your partner, come up with a plan that makes the both of you happy and doesn’t mindfully hurt anyone’s feelings and then present your plan as a done deal that makes you both happy. I have found that if you’re wishy-washy about what you want to do, everyone will rush in with advice and opinion and “help”.

            Also to keep in your back pocket: you can always change your mind and get legally married later. Or you could have a commitment ceremony every year for the rest of your lives. You will mourn whatever choices you didn’t pick but this choice doesn’t have to mean the end of coices either!

            I am friends with an older lesbian couple who have had at least 3 “weddings” that I know of. They had a commitment ceremony before it was legal to wed, they went to Massachusetts to legally marry there as soon as it was available even though they don’t live there and then (I’m pretty sure) they just got married again in NY because they DO live there. No matter what anyone tells you – there are NO rules for this kind of thing.

            Hugs :)

      • “How am I going to feel pretty and special in the meantime?”

        It is great that you realize that’s what you want, and let me tell you something, from mother to mother: You deserve to feel pretty and special every day of your life, so it is important that you find a way to incorporate the woman you were into the mother you have become. For your sanity, for your happiness, for your well being.
        And, trust me, I KNOW how hard it is! When my twins were 18 months I came to the same realization, except I didn’t have a wedding to plan because, well, I was already married. So I had to start a process of rediscovering who I was, who I had become, to integrate my old and my new self. So: nurture yourself, buy a dress, make something fun for Valentine’s day, throw a “pre-wedding”party every year until 2015 even if it’s with only 4 friends,drink champagne, celebrate YOU! Those things are not opposed to being a good partner or a good parent.

      • Jo, I am in a really similar situation. My partner and I are common law married with basically all the legal rights, and have been for ages. But we are getting married. I can only explain how it works for me:

        First of all, like you said, we get to bring people together to celebrate the fact that we found each other. In that way it’s less a beginning of something and more an acknowledgment of something.

        Secondly, as our lives became more entwined and committed over the years, a lot of implicit promises were made. I want that chance to make the promises explicit – say them to him, in front of our people.

        So I don’t expect it will change anything about our relationship, but there are still good reasons for doing it .

  • faith

    As someone who waited a relatively short time (6 months) for a specific date for our wedding (and then planned it in 2!), I can, in a very small way relate to you, Sara. It is hard to wait for the man you love to just simply give you the go-ahead when you could have it all done and gotten yourselves down the aisle already! I struggled with the fact that I was right and I felt that HE was wrong. And very well could have been. The thing is, now it doesn’t matter at all.

  • Lea

    Sara I love that you could identify reasons why you wanted a wedding NOW beyond just getting married to your loved one. A lot of mine and my boyfriends’ friends are jokingly asking us about when we’re finally going to get married, so they can be bridesmaids/ groomsmen/ etc and I finally realized it’s because they want to feel honored too, and they want to have a lavish party. So I’m going to throw birthday parties this year!

    Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and take in the wonderfulness that your relationship (and family) have right now, and I think you’re doing that. And I think your partner is being very forward thinking and that is also good for a relationship.

    PS- love that you don’t have an H on your name either!

  • First, *hugs.* I know that everyone is saying “yay! you guys made the right decision for you at this time!”

    But there’s a little voice inside me going “I feel where you’re coming from. With the needing to feel pretty and special because you’re giving and giving of yourself. And there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.” Hubby and I haven’t had kids yet or decided on trying to having kids yet because we fully admit that we’re not ready to be that unselfish at this time. (Among other reasons.) And your afternoon-planned wedding sounds awesome.

    Maybe 2015 is just a deadline, rather than a timeline… You never know what will happen before then. :)

  • Laura

    Dude. Burlesque or pinup photo shoot. I’ve done them twice and I live off the high of feeling special and beautiful every time I look at them.

  • Karen

    I hope those of you who are waiting for a wedding, regardless of the reason, have seriously considered drawing up a healthcare power of attorney, financial power of attorney, last will and testament, and if you own property together, have made sure that both of your names are on the deed or title. While waiting until you have the money or some other event to happen first, please know that in the eyes of the state couples without these documents are legal strangers under the law. If something happens to either of you, your significant other will not be recognized as your next of kin, regardless of how long you’ve been together. Something to think about.

    • The lawyer that I am is saying YES! to all of this

  • Angela

    “reconciling my independent streak with my new roles in a functional partnership” is something I am also working on. Well, I’ve been working on it for a few years now, and suspect that really is a big struggle for many of us. Thanks for putting it so eloquently.

  • pixie_moxie

    “and I need to continue to work on reconciling my independent streak with my new roles in a functional partnership.”


    definition of me learning how to be married. Thank you for putting it in words

  • Sara,

    1) We need to get you a “red dress”: http://thebloggess.com/2010/05/the-traveling-red-dress/ (with photoshoot???!!)

    2) And we really should do an APW girls sparkly shoes and champagne Sunday (or something). There are clearly enough of us kicking around based on the amazing book tour attendance!

  • April

    OMG!!!!!!!!!! I feel your pain! I am in wedding hell! One of my friends got married last year and this year 3 more weddings will take place! Yet all I keep hearing is wait, be patient, give us time to save so we can pay cash for everything. Yet he still wants to get me a ring that would cost more than the wedding=( How do you wait when you are surrounded by wedding planning?? Yet your groom is determined to not even propse until he gets you a pricey ring that you don’t even need?! I give him credit for wanting to get me a ring as nice (well almost) as his mother’s but seriously we can’t afford a 2 carat solitaire and I DON’T NEED IT!! To make matters worse, we have everything planned from location down to possible decoration but he won’t let me finalize anything like if the location has availability for the month we want to get married in. I think that’s super important! I keep trying to tell him that even if he gets me the ring and everything goes great we can still be SOL if the place isn’t available (which it isn’t… I checked). Can someone help me wait/ be more patient? I need to get some one else’s opinion/ view on this to help me wait…