Nicole, on Not Loving Her Wedding

If you can believe it, Nicole emailed me hours BEFORE the post went up about not loving your wedding to say, she’d thought about it, and she really wanted to write her wedding graduate post about how she didn’t love her wedding. Whaaa? Yes. You guys have this truly awe inspiring group brain, and I continue to be amazed at how you ponder similar questions at similar times. Nicole wanted to stress that while she didn’t love her wedding, and has advice to share, and maybe would have made different choices if she could, she had a FUN FUN FUN time at her wedding. As I think you can see. We’re all about complicated here at APW (thank goodness for other complex smart women who make me feel sane). So. I bring you wedding graduate Nicole, with her best advice. I’d say it’s advice for weddings, but I just re-read it, and I’m pretty sure it’s great LIFE advice. Maybe the reason why weddings are such good teachers is that they need to be. They are the gateway to a new adult life, a life as a new family. A new family and a life we have to learn to care for and defend. So. With that. I bring you Nicole:
I’ve wanted to write a graduate post for future brides since I saw the first graduate post. Obviously, the first step was to get married. The next step was to feel something about my wedding that I thought I could share with y’all. And then some brilliant reader wrote in about not loving their wedding, and I realized, that’s where I am.

Let’s just say that I was a reluctant bride. I desperately wanted the courthouse wedding, but was told by many that I would truly regret not having a big party. A part of this many was my husband. Now, I’m naturally a people pleaser, so of course I would plan THE perfect wedding! And so, I followed all of the wedding magazines advices and found niches that I loved, so I wouldn’t go crazy thinking about the cost and time wasted. I spent two weeks in Indiana with my aunt creating my wedding dress. I organized 7 (different) homemade cakes and pies for the weddings, I helped make 1000 cranes for the decorations, yay flags, table runners, and cork place holders. I planned, planned, planned, but my heart wasn’t in it.Despite all that planning, two weeks before the wedding I found myself with important people not speaking to me, my wedding dress missing in the mail, having had two maids of honor walk out, 4 of the 6 groomsmen suit-less, and a pastor who had to step down. We also only had $2.34 in the bank account and had to get down to Texas from Nebraska as well as finishing paying for the wedding.

And that was when I stopped caring. And when I stopped caring, I stopped stressing, and then stuff just happened. Even as I read that sentence, I’m sure you’ll think I’m a bit off my rocker, but I’ve read that same thing from other graduates.

Yes, my wedding dress was MIA, but some friends from my graduate program and from home chipped in and helped me find the most beautiful wedding dress. Everyone ended up with clothes for the wedding. The women who replaced my maids of honor were so much more wonderful then I could have asked for.And, I had fun.
Did I love my wedding? No. I don’t think the stress that I experienced was worth it. It made me crazy, my husband miserable, and my friends worried. Was it a great party? Oh yeah! We had great friends and family there. Would I do it again? Never. Am I glad I got married? Hell yes. The other side rocks.
So, this is what I have for you.

  1. If you’re feeling crazy, drop whatever it is, and remind yourself of why you love your partner, and why you decided to do this in the first place.
  2. If you’re really wanting the courthouse shindig, then do it. Stick to your guns. That is probably the one thing which I regret the most.
  3. If you can’t do the courthouse, try to find one thing that you love for your wedding. I was dead set on writing the ceremony and having 1000 cranes. That is what held me together.
  4. Finally, it’s okay to not like how the wedding ended up, or hate the planning. Or hate both. Now we just need to start a dialogue about it.

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  • Oh gosh, thank you so much to Meg and Nicole for this post. I am so sick of hearing about how amazing wedding planning should be and how the months leading up to the day should be fun. Because it's not fun. Not all the time.
    And although we always knew we wanted something more than the courthouse, I find myself wishing that I wanted something more simple. Balancing school and a relationship is hard enough, but when you throw a wedding in there, things go bad really fast. Naturally, like Nicole, I'm a people pleaser but tips like these help me to remember what's really important and what's not. Congratulations on your wedding Nicole, and thanks for your graduate advice!

  • Anonymous

    Whoa! I cracked at the 1000 handmade cranes!

    Small at-home family weddings in the living room used to be the norm at one time in America. SOME of us probably need to return to that old idea. Besides, it's the happy medium between the big wedding and the courthouse wedding.

  • Julie

    Thank you, Nicole, for writing this.
    It was what I needed to read.

  • Planning sucks, hooray for dialogue.

  • I love her line: "Would I do it again? Never. Am I glad I got married? Hell yes. The other side rocks".

    That's exactly how I felt (and still feel!) after our wedding almost a year ago. Great post!

  • Amen! With six months to go (and 4 months behind me), I'm trying to let go of the crazy planning process that I never wanted in the first place and just let other people handle the things I don't care about. We'll still write our ceremony, make our Ipod playlist and brew our beer. We'll still keep it natural and local. That's all I care about. My mom can handle the rest.

    Thank you to Nicole, Meg and all the commentors for writing about this topic. Everyone makes me feel weird for not wanting to plan a wedding.

  • I. was. in your. shoes! I wanted a small, family and bridal party shindig at the beach. Low key, Costco platters of food, and fun. I was talked out of it by family and the man I wanted to marry. They said I would regret not having a big wedding. I thought the irony would be that I regretted the big wedding! I loved my wedding day, but I would have skipped the planning. I HATED planning. As a people pleaser, I was in a constant state of trying to please everyone. Our family writes down our highlights and lowlights every year on New Year's Eve. My lowlight of 2009 was planning the wedding. I'm not saying that to make my family or husband feel badly, it's just how I honestly feel.

  • Let's not forget too that you can have the courthouse wedding *AND* have it be glamorous or chic or beautiful or whatever other 'wedding-y' word you worry you might miss out on without a 'Wedding.' Check out these photos by an incredible photographer I know in Boston – these are actually one of my favorite sets of wedding photos out there!!

  • MrsGray

    I initially thought there was something wrong with me that I wasn't giddy and excited as I planned our wedding. But then it came time to talk to the florist about our flowers, and I got so excited. And then I got to work with my good friend on our invitations, and we had tons of fun. I realized that I was super eager to get married, but the planning process just wasn't my thing. I didn't hate planning the wedding. I wasn't miserable and I only drove my husband a little crazy, but I loved my wedding! And I love, love, love being married to my husband. Not everyone is a planner and just because it is your wedding doesn't mean you have to be over the moon about planning every. last. detail.

  • Thank you Nicole!!!


    We haven't even REALLY started planning yet but I feel myself getting pulled in 100 different directions and there's only 6 months to our wedding date.

    I've bought a floor length dress that covers my shoulder tattoos when all I really wanted was a swingy sundress.
    I'm looking at a guest list of almost 90 people when I really just want 26(including me and the man).
    I don't want the word "wedding" associated with our reception and yet I'm finding myself getting talked into a first dance, and big entrance and a DJ. ACK!!!!!
    Some of this is my mother, but also, some of this is me not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings or let down our families.

    We just bought a house so trying to work on our relationship, buy a house, renovate said house, take care of our dogs AND make our familes/ ourselves happy is starting to make my head spin!!

    Do I love my dress? YES. Do I love my family and friends? YES. But if I didn't hate Vegas so much and if I didn't have this urge to have my family present I would grab the fiance and ELOPE!

  • Anonymous

    What a relief to hear I'm not alone. He's the one who wants to make it legal, and I said yes on condition of courthouse. My parents have now committed $12k to the day and I'm stuck wearing a big poofy dress and all that other crap. I can't even say this out loud because there are 3 other engagements in the family and they're having a ball! I won't mind being married but the wedding is literally driving me crazy. And that's with awesome relatives and small amounts of drama.

  • Nicole, I'm sorry for all of the stress you went through, but I'm glad you used it in a positive light to write this post! I figured out the hard way that there is a big difference (though it may look small to self-centered people who are also involved in the wedding) between doing what matters the most to you and being a bridezilla. And I am much happier in my planning process now that I've realized that!

  • Anonymous

    I really feel for women getting married today, because the culture does demand so much more than "way back" in 1977 in a small southern town. We spent $60 and made all the dresses, including my wedding dress. I borrowed a veil. The florist took care of the flowers, including setup; the reception lady set up the cake, mints, nuts, and punch, and cleaned it up. We used word of mouth advertisement instead of invitations.
    Now, time travel ahead to 2008 when my daughter got married. Because of some circumstances and a very short engagement, we spent money and handed off most of the details to an event center owned by friends. It was a beautiful wedding with less stress than imaginable. So, lesson learned is: hand off everything you can to dependable people and that helps a lot! And just know that afterward you will look back and be glad you survived it and are married.

  • My friend and I were both planning our weddings at the same time last summer and after they were both over she said, "Aren't you so depressed now that the wedding planning is over? I feel like I lost my best friend" And I looked at her and said, "WHAT??! Are you crazy?! I love that it's over and I never have to do it again!" I loved my wedding, but Nicole is so right. "Would I do it again? Never. Am I glad I got married? Hell yes. The other side rocks".

    Best line ever. Thanks Nicole and Meg!

  • The only thing I'll miss about planning my wedding when it's over (less than six months left of planning before the big day) is the creative outlet it has provided. So, it's my goal to find other outlets for my creativity post-wedding.

    Thank you for this post, Nicole and Meg!!

  • Also, because no one mentioned it, you look HAPPY, and RADIANT, and BEAUTIFUL.
    I love reading graduate posts where things go wrong but you can't tell in the photos.

  • Meg

    Boundaries baby. You're going to hurt peoples feelings a little bit from now on, "I love you mom, but that's not the choice we're making about raising a baby." "I love you mom, but we're taking this job 500 miles away."

    So practice now. Kind but firm no's. You'll be AMAZED how well it works out in the end ;) Swear. (And of course I'm not saying not compromises. I'm saying stick to your guns on the stuff that really matters to you).

    • Annearky

      YES! YES YES YES. I cannot stress enough how important it is to learn how to do this, and not feel guilty. Kind-hearted people – women especially – are too often pressured into doing what they feel will make others happy, or pressured into doing something that others want, even if it’s not necessarily what they want, in order to keep the peace. I’ve seen it happen. Years ago, it used to be me, and I then I learned.

      It is your life. Yours. No one else’s, and you only get one. Once you learn to say no and do what is right for you, it is absolutely the most amazing, freeling, liberating feeling you will ever experience.

      The person who knows what is right for you? YOU. NO ONE ELSE.


  • Thank you for all of your fabulous comments! It really is amazing to know that you are not alone, and that everyone experiences it differently.

    @Emily: thanks for the reminder about fun, chic, courthouse weddings. So. True.

    @Allison: Kind and firm no's are a must. And, thanks for your sweet comment about not seeing the troubles. It really turned out to be a beautiful, lovely, and FUN day. And, in some ways, it is worth it. :D

  • thanks for this post Nicole! looks like a really fun day – and I have to ask, is that a toybreaker tie on your groom? I was looking at that shop for a tie for my MOH, thought I recognized that peacock pattern… anyway sweet tie! Awesome dress! I hope I look as amazingly happy in the photos from my upcoming wedding.

  • Jessica

    I love APW…it's just such a fresh look on how to stay pretty sane about weddings and not thinking "is there something wrong with me" when you don't go all gaga over the mundane details of your wedding. Personally, I don't care about that stuff. And that baffles people to no end. If someone asks me how it's going I just stare blankly back at them. 4 months left.

    Nicole, your wedding was beautiful, you were beautiful and I'm glad you came out the other side happy (even if the road there was rocky). :)

  • Nicole. Right there with you. I lost my best friend and "man" of honor during the planning process, but realized that some of my friends really do get it and step up. If I could do it again, well… that's for another day. Thank you!!!

  • I like your "it's so much better on the other side"…that statement has a lot of depth to it. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is why I'm skipping out on planning centerpieces and favors and basically all decorations and attendants. All I need are some pretty clothes, a license, a spouse and then some food and drinks – and cheesecake. Can't forget the cheesecake.

    But I honestly don't care at all what "colors" we have or what the place looks like. DIY is not for me. So I'm just not doing it. And not making my family do it for me either.

  • "And when I stopped caring, I stopped stressing, and then stuff just happened." Yes. I finally came to the realization the other day that the only people who are going to notice the millions of pieces of fabric I cut out for garlands or the little paper flowers we folded are you guys once the photos are posted. So I stopped caring about how I am going to decorate and what the bouquets are going to look like and all that other bs and now I am more excited to get married than ever!

  • Oh thank you so much for this post!

    I've been really struggling with planning our wedding and it is comforting to not be alone.

    We've decided to have a very small ceremony with our closest friends and family in a place that is meaningful to us, and then a celebration with more people a while later.

    My dress may be white, it may not be. I may make some things, I may not.

    I'm letting one word guide me: authenticity. What feels authentic to me? To my fiance? To us? To our loved ones? I'm hoping I can stick by that and avoid the wedding misery that I've been falling into until now.

  • It's been helpful for me to read the post as well as all the comments. I've had a stressful week and yesterday I nearly lost the plot all together. I genuninely love researching ideas, finding inspiration and making decisions. What I HATE is negotiating with venues, sourcing supplies, arguing about the guest list and generally all the practical stuff that's involved in organising this kind of stuff. It's nice to know I'm not the only one!

  • I am not looking forward to my wedding. I have social anxiety and the 150 of "our closest friends" isn't helping.
    I'm looking forward to my marriage to the man I love.

  • I'm sick of all the strange looks I get when I tell people I'm not excited about our wedding. Why is that the first question people ask. Are you excited about the wedding? No seriously I'm not. I've never gotten excited over spending ridiculous quantities of money that haven't resulted in a renovated home. Am I excited about being married? Hell yes. The rest of it is just stuff and it'll get done if I find the time

  • fran

    Your wedding looks so fun! And thanks for the advice. You are full of grace : )

    And on a side note to Meg, there was post a few days ago about "your wedding is not an imposition". As if on cue, my entire extended family has informed me they aren't coming to my wedding because "they can't take the children out of school in November". Thankfully I was able to reply with a tactful yet snarky "oh, we'll really miss you! i guess that means more room for my friends…"

  • thanks nicole, it's nice to read that you can not love your wedding but still have fun. that probably shouldn't be reassuring, but it is. because i'm sure i'll have fun at our wedding, i'm marrying the most amazing guy and we'll be surrounded by family and friends coming in from all over the US and 4 other countries. but is it the wedding i want? absolutely not. i would have been happy getting married in my parents living room, with immediate family only, with drinks and good food out on the patio, not the 125+ wedding at a hotel that i am having in 4 months that requires me dealing with a caterer, florist, photographer, band, and everything else (fiance finishing up med school means everything is on me).

    people look at me with such shock when i say i hate wedding planning, or that its just stressful but i'll look back and realize i had fun. because it is NOT fun, and i want to strangle the wedding industry.

    the upside is my 3 bridemaids have deemed me the 'most laid back bride ever' because i just don't care if they match, don't need them to spend tons of money for my wedding,etc. i just want to get through the day and be able to enjoy all that will come after it.

  • @D-Day: Yes! We ordered ties for the groom in those colors, and the groomsmen had them in the opposite colors. The dad's had silver and black.

    @Charlie: You said it! I loved researching, and looking at pretty pictures, but it was everything else that became way to intense for me.

    And to everyone else: thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot. Weddings are crazy crazy times whether you're in love with it all or you're not, but the other side is totally worth it. :D

  • So glad to read this post. 7 months have past and I can honestly say I HATED HATED wedding planning. The day before my wedding I had a severe panic attack right in the church!! My biggest anxiety was NOT getting married it was the wedding and pleasing everyone!! I absolutely detest planning parties so I am sure this has a lot to do with it. I certainly would not do it again but if I had to I would invite our parents and siblings to an island! Simple and I still would be as happily married as I am now without the regrets!

  • I have to say that after reading this, it is like a long deep, relazing, and much built-up exhale. It has been so difficult for me to negotiate the catastrophe of planning my wedding between my fiance's family's wishes and my own…and that is probably the biggest reason why we have been engaged for almost two years without so much as breathing a proposed wedding date. Thank you for giving me the courage to stick to my own guns :) Wonderful advice!

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  • Espy

    I wanted the white dress and family and friends party, plus some nice photos of the two of us together for our wedding day, but got pressured the other way and ended up with a disappointing registry-office wedding that I did not want. It’s not very much fun in the other direction, either.

  • Elaine Church

    Thank you Nicole! I’m reading this blog for my daughter’s wedding, but your post was a wake up call! I’ve been whining for 33 years that my wedding was so totally not what I wanted. I’m still married to a wonderful man and that’s pretty much all that matters. Did we have a lot of fun at our wedding, like Nicole? No, but really, time to be over it and hope that we do a better job for my daughter. Love the APW blog for so many reasons!

  • Sherrie

    Thank you so much for posting this! I just got married a week ago and I can’t stop bawling my eyes put or screaming every time I think back on it. I never wanted to get married in the first place (ever!) but my husband is very family oriented (read: traditional), and we’ve been together for almost a decade. I told him I wanted to use the money towards a fabulous eloping trip, he wanted a family affair. I spent 6 months chipping away at planning the whole thing while in grad school because I wanted it outside in winter (it was 78 degrees and it rained).
    I spent hours making flower arrangements that I never saw because I was so sick (I had/have a cold, and I was throwing up for about an hour from the antibiotics I was taking) that they ended up
    Having to move the tables inside without most of the decorations. Our ceremony was inside because of the rain, the music for walking down te aisle was terribly bungled, and by the time I made it downstairs after all the puking, 1/3 of the guests were leaving. No toasts, I ate by myself, and barely spent any time with the family that had flown in, my parents, nor my groom.

    All in all, it was basically the most disappointing day of my life. I would’ve much rather toyed with the “what-if” of not having a big wedding than the utter disaster that ensued from doing what everyone else thought I might someday want.

    Life lesson: listen to my gut. don’t compromise on the big stuff. Do i regret narrying him? No. However, We should’ve just eloped.

  • Sherrie

    To also add some light to the dark: I always said the only things that mattered were the dress, the cake, and the groom. Be careful what you wish for. All 3 were wonderful, however it seemed everything else crumbled to pieces. But I will say the weekend we spent away at a resort was also heavenly. Just trying to keep some perspective on that.

    Thanks, Nicole, for writing this and reminding us in- or fresh out of the trenches- that there’s always some good to find, even in a sea of $&@*.

  • Cynthia

    Thank you for this post! I agree 100%! got married one month ago, I love my husband, had fun, people had fun, but I’m still feeling I should have just followed my guts and said NO to THE big party and limit to a simple, small, nice, close family thing. It wasn’t that big, but big enough to make the emotional stress before the wedding counterbalance the “pure” happiness I was expected to be having. Anyway, I agree with the advice given, and really believe this experience taught me a huge lesson.