Brooke & Brian

Two wedding graduates in a row? What have you guys done to deserve such a treat? Well, first there was last week’s awesomeness, and then there was the fact that we have had two weeks with ZERO wedding graduates, and I just want to roll around in wedding awesomeness… and am pretty sure you guys do to, am I right?

So, I’m really excited about Brooke’s post, because it gives us a chance to discuss the ‘My wedding changed me’, ‘my wedding didn’t change me’ phenomenon. I’ve been pretty clear… my wedding day changed me (and that actually was not the fun bit). But that doesn’t happen for everyone. In the comments a few weeks ago, we started discussing this and someone said, “Well didn’t you already feel married in your heart before your wedding day?” and my eyes bulged out of my head, because what? No, I totally did not already feel married in my heart. For us marriage was about a huge Jewish and legal ritual, and not something that could happen in our hearts. And then someone asked me “Well wasn’t the day you decided to spend forever together a big deal?” And I realized, no, it totally wasn’t (though I did feel puke-y and overwhelmed when we got engaged). David and I had known each other for a decade before we started dating, so the day I decided to marry him was the day I kissed him (no joke). So. For me the wedding day had a good reason to feel big, and for some of you, that big moment happens in other unexpected ways. So I’m thrilled to have Brooke share her super articulate perspective (and her f*cking beautiful wedding). So lets do this thing:

When Brian asked me to be his wife, I cried and he got teary and then we laughed as we walked around the park in giddy silliness with the idea that soon we would call each other husband and wife.  I found myself completely in awe of this commitment that we had made to one another.

At the restaurant where we had dinner that night, the couple sitting at the table beside us was celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary.  I had never given anniversaries that much consideration, but suddenly I was amazed that these two people (and people all around us) had committed themselves to one another and had done what they needed to do to make their marriages work.  The whole idea of marriage was suddenly so real to me.

Then I read all about Meg and the other APW graduates having similar magical, sparkly, this-is-bigger-than-us feelings on their wedding days.  I realized that this was what had happened to me on our engagement.  I could hardly wait to experience more of the feel-good goodness on June 19th, 2010.

June 19th came around, but the same feeling did not come my way.  At the end of the day, I felt like I had missed out on something big and important and now I would never get another chance to get it back because my one and only wedding day was over.

Thankfully, with a few months of perspective now on my side, I can see the bigness of that day in minds’ eye and feel it in my gut.  When I think of our wedding day, I see this giant sea of faces smiling at us – at our love, at our relationship.  I feel Brian holding my hand at the altar as we joined the congregation in singing a hymn.  And, I smile because I think of him singing beside me in this have no fear, just go ahead and belt it out way of his.  My brain has literally tinted every memory of that day with a surreal glow of both happiness and rightness.  So, I may have been too present on the day of my wedding to appreciate the love that surrounded me and the enormity of our actions, but now I can see that it was there all along and I have the pleasure of enjoying it each and every time that I think back to that day.

So, my advice to wedding undergraduates – If you don’t recognize a specific magical moment on your wedding day, it is okay.  You have not failed.  Maybe your entire day will be so subtly full of love that you just have to wait a few weeks or months for all of that goodness to accumulate in your post-wedding brain.

If all of the wedding planning would have been up to me, I would have had Brian and I whisked away from the ceremony in a 1968 Mustang.  I imagined us using those brief moments between the ceremony and reception as our time to stop and spend a few quiet moments together as we tried to absorb the momentousness of the occasion.

Alas, Brian had a different idea.  He was strongly in favor of renting a limousine to drive us around town for an hour.  As there seemed to be very few wedding-related things on which he had much of an opinion, I figured we better go with his plan for our post-wedding getaway.  The limo was booked and, as the months passed, I slowly grew to like this idea of having some time to relax with our friends and celebrate what had just happened – without the pressure of playing host and hostess to the rest of our guests.

Then we received our confirmation phone call from the limo company.  We learned that instead of the black Cadillac Escalade limousine, that we had requested, we would be traveling around town in a black and orange Harley Davidson pickup limousine.  I came very close to freaking out.  Brian called them back to see if we could pretty-please have a different vehicle.  The verdict: Harley Davidson or bust.

I was worried that people would think that we had specifically chosen this less-than-attractive vehicle.  I was concerned that it would ruin all of the carefully planned aesthetics of the day.  I just kept thinking back to the pretty Mustang that could have been ours.  Yep.  I pretty much freaked out.  Thankfully, perspective found its way to me and I decided that I should be grateful that the ugliness of our getaway vehicle was my biggest concern.  Seriously. That hour of driving around town with our closest friends, some good party music, champagne and a few beers was one of the best hours of the entire day.  Everyone was on a post-ceremony high and the giant-sized limo even allowed us to include Brian’s sisters, who were not part of the official wedding party.  The fun factor was further upped when the driver let us stop on a downtown street to do a Chinese fire drill.

When the limo dropped us off at the reception hall, we did get a few (great!) snapshots of the wedding party lined up in front of it.  Then, the wedding party made their way inside as Brian and I took ten minutes to sit on a curb a block away and enjoy a bit of alone time before we made our grand entrance.

While wedding planning I placed unfounded pressure on myself to find a dress on the first day I shopped.  That didn’t happen, but I did buy one on the second day (thanks to the still unfounded, yet mounting pressure).  I thought the dress pretty and relatively flattering.  I was proud of myself for having that task out of the way. I picked the dress up from the bridal shop a few weeks later.  That was when the worrying started.  Aaaahhh!!  What had I done?  Why had I purchased a dress that I wasn’t in love with?  I called the shop, but they would not accept returns or even do an exchange.  My mom had paid for the dress and, while it was not exorbitantly priced, it was at the top end of what I felt comfortable spending.  I felt like there was no way for me to just go out and buy another dress and eat the cost of the first one.  Also, for really no good reason, I felt that I couldn’t tell my mom that I didn’t love the dress.  Actually, I was afraid to say anything to anyone.  I didn’t want to sound like a b*tchy girl that couldn’t be happy with the pretty dress that her mother had so graciously purchased for her.

After MUCH worrying and the working up of MANY alternate schemes, I made a trip to the mall and looked through the racks of prom dresses.  I tried on a few and then – lo and behold! – a dress that made me feel pretty and happy and sexy and it was less than $100! I still couldn’t take my “real” dress back and I was still hesitant to tell my mom that I wasn’t in love with it, so I decided that I could be a girl with two wedding dresses.  I would wear the “real” wedding dress during the ceremony and change into my “fun” dress before the reception. I kept the second dress a secret and totally enjoyed all of the shocked faces when I emerged in my party dress. I did end up quite happy with my first dress, but I am so, so glad that I took the plunge and bought the second one.  The short dress was not heavy or hot.  I didn’t worry about getting beer spilled on me and, most importantly, I felt great about myself while I was wearing it.

Weddings are good because they give you an excuse to pull all of the people that you love into one place.  Weddings are bad because you will have very little time with the individuals that attend.  I worried a lot about all of the people that I greeted in the receiving line, but with whom I didn’t find time to have a personal conversation.  These people had made the effort to be there with us and for us and had given us gifts, for Pete’s sake!  Surely I could have found a moment to give them an extra “hello.”  I was upset with myself for dancing and spending time with the people that I see all the time instead of with those that had traveled long distances or those that I hadn’t seen for a number of years.

Six weeks after our wedding, we drove a bit over four hours to attend my cousin’s wedding.  I talked with my cousin for all of two minutes and to his new wife for about thirty seconds.  And guess what.  I didn’t care a bit.  I was just happy to see them happy and glad that they were enjoying their day.  So, I decided that I would no longer allow myself to feel guilty about the people that I hadn’t spent time with at my own wedding.

Photos by: Holly and Jared and by family/friends.

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  • Phew, that’s good to hear! I always worry that I won’t have magical moments in the right places.

    And good for you for taking the plunge on the second dress.

    • meg

      Also, again, “magical moments” are probably a myth. I had transformative moments (and not in all the right places). That felt gritty and hard and huge and crazy…. NOT happy and magical. Then the party was really f*cking fun. But again… not magical. I will repeat this a billion times till y’all hear what I’m actually saying, which is not what anyone wants me to say, exactly ;)

      • That’s exactly what I needed to hear post-wedding! Because I DIDN”T have a magical day–I mean, it was a fun day, and a moving day, but it was also a really freaking hard day– and, thanks to you, I’ve accepted that. It’s okay, and it doesn’t mean my marriage is doomed! :)

        • meg

          No. I think it probably means your normal. Lord, the wedding was wonderful, but I wouldn’t do it again for anything.

          • Morgan

            Heh. When people asked how the wedding went, my standard reply was, “It was wonderful! And I will never get married ever again.”

  • “Weddings are good because they give you an excuse to pull all of the people that you love into one place. Weddings are bad because you will have very little time with the individuals that attend.”

    I’ve been feeling this, exactly, ever since the wedding day. People put SO MUCH effort into getting there and all I did was chat with them for 10 minutes?? This is why weddings are crazy things… you’re surrounded by people that love you, and for that one day there’s no need for you to show them that you love them too– they already know it. But it’s definitely a hard thing to deal with as you go through it!

    This may be one of my favorite wedding grad posts ever– so much wisdom in there. And I love love LOVE the two dresses!! Just gorgeous.

    • Trisha

      I had the same experience with feeling like I didn’t have nearly enough time to spend with the friends & family that had traveled to be there, or we don’t see very often. Many of them are already married though, so I got a lot of smiles and knowing looks when I said things like “I really want to spend some more time with you, but there’s Uncle Come-from-Arizona, so I need to go say hi. I’ll be back.” I didn’t realize it, but they knew that I probably wouldn’t be back. And they didn’t care. As Brooke & Caitlin both said, they were just happy to be there.

    • I had a similar feeling of guilt after our wedding. There were some family friends I didn’t even say hello to! The days and weeks after, I was desperately wishing we had done a receiving line, or had told the band to hold off on the first dance until we had had a chance to go around to all the tables… but alas, I think almost everyone understands, and is just so happy to be there celebrating with you.

      • Yeah, pre-wedding I was all “receiving lines are lame”… and post-wedding I was wailing “why oh WHY didn’t we do a receiving line???” Oh, the things you learn as a bride… :)

        • I’ve been debating the receiving line for the last couple of days. I’m torn between “it feels stilted and lame” and “but it will ensure I get to say hi to every person.” Interesting to hear you wish you had one. Makes me lean a little more toward having one myself.

          • Richelle

            One suggestion from this grad — if you decide to do a receiving line get some photos of your guests coming through. We didn’t mention anything like this to our photographer because it seemed obvious to us, and we ended up with hardly any pictures of our beloved guests. People filing along would be a good chance for your photographer to get people.

          • I’ve walked through my share of receiving lines and it is always so incredibly awkward if I’m not close with the family of the couple. I never know what to do or say and the parents are always throwing me a side eye like “Who is this? We paid X to feed you and we don’t even effing know you!”

            Ok, maybe I’m projecting a little bit, but that’s always how it feels to me.

          • meg

            We definitely would have done one… my parents still speak super fondly of theirs. Greeting people while the cathedral bells pealed for them on Nob Hill in San Francisco was one of the high points of their wedding, ans suspect one of the fonder memories of their life. (And they had 300 guests, so if they can greet that many people you can manage yours!) Just have you guys and family though, no one needs to formally great the bridal party.

            We’re just Jewish, so we did a Yichud, and couldn’t do a receiving line. We made the choice to party really hard, and not spend our time formally going from table to table. We talked to almost everyone, either as they came up to us, or as we went and found them, but missed a few of my parents friends. I wish we hadn’t missed them, but I am glad I spent the wedding partying and not engaged in formal chit-chat. Everything is a bit of a trade off, and I’m fine with ours.

          • Jules

            We had the best of both worlds– we greeted our guests as they arrived to the church! We got to be sure that we saw and actually spoke to everyone without making everyone queue up in this big long, boring line.
            Plus, it gave us something to do before the ceremony other than just sit around and be bored and anxious. (It also slightly scandalized some guests, which was just a delightful bonus!)
            Seriously one of my favorite decisions that we made.

          • ddayporter

            we didn’t do a receiving line, and I don’t really regret not doing one but I do kind of wish I had more meaningful moments with some of our guests. we had planned to go around to the tables during dinner and chat with everyone, and that happened, but unexpectedly our photog turned it into a photo op and made people get up and pose with us, and then it just became this thing that we did at all the tables. didn’t actually talk to people that much! in the end I’m glad for those pictures since we didn’t make everyone get into a big group picture (sigh), but I wish I had gone back to a couple of those tables to visit with some people.

          • We didn’t do one. I also hate being a guest in one (once it took 90 minutes to get everyone in!) so I refused to do one at our wedding. It worked out alright for us thought because we had an English afternoon tea reception with just too few chairs that people were always swapping and moving around ;) The downside was that I became one of those brides who never gets to eat which I swore I would never be… but every time I made my way towards the damn table someone would intercept me to say hi!

          • angela

            As we have to days long wedding, we did kind of a greeting line in the second day, when the people get down from the bus that drove them to the party….but was an informal line, i mean, we don´t do it with our parents, we were just the two of us….and was quite caotic, but nevertheless, great at the end….we also have photos of those moments, and are quite real and pretty at the same time….

          • Ruth

            We didn’t do this, but several of my friends have requested that the congregation remain seated after the couple’s recessional. Then, the bride and groom came back in and dismissed rows personally so that they got to say hi to each person in the aisle. It took some time, but at least everyone had a place to sit and chat while they waited for the happy couple to arrive at their row.

        • Amandover

          Our plan to is to make it both meaningful and brief by having a “blessing ritual” during the ceremony which will look a lot like Communion, but involve people coming up to give us their blessing while musicians play and sing, then going back to their seats. Don’t know if this would work for everyone, but I’m optimistic!

      • M

        I went to my cousin’s wedding, traveling 6 hours after my college graduation etc… anyway, I hardly talked to them but I was so excited to be there spending time with my family and witnessing their wedding ceremony. I remember being amazed/happy that my cousin could find time to dance with me when she was clearly so busy! So, those few minutes may mean more than you think!

    • Megan

      My boyfriend and I have been together for over 11 years and have been discussing getting married for nearly a year. One of the things we care about most for a wedding is being able to spend meaningful time with all of our friends. It makes me feel much better knowing that this is an issue other people worry about too. I know everyone says it isn’t possible to spend that kind of time with friends and family, but is there really no alternative? Brooke, I think your limo idea was fantastic!

      • lou

        what people quite often do in australia and nz (not sure if this is common in the states?) is to have another gathering the day after the wedding. some sort of brunch/barbeque at someone’s house where the majority of the guests will gather again and you can have a bit more of a relaxed time catching up with people.

        we are doing this when we get married in january. the day after the wedding also coincides with our nieces 3rd birthday party so all the kids who we aren’t invited to the actual wedding can come along and have a kids day/catch up with people.

        i think this has taken a lot of the pressure of ‘must spend time with EVERYONE on the wedding day’ off as i know there’s a whole other day to do that.

        • JEM

          We’re kinda planning on doing this but backwards. We will be getting married on a Sunday but are planning on doing a BBQ the Saturday beforehand. Wedding Weekend!!!

        • This is a great idea! We hosted brunch for all our out-of-town guests which ended up being around 40 which is a LOT of scrambled eggs and our wee little cafetieres were struggling to keep up with the coffee orders! Also getting up at 9am to start the preparations after a 4am end to the party was tough, but getting to spend some relaxed quality time hours together with dear friends who’s travelled a long way was really priceless.

      • Meghan, there are some ways to avoid it. We did a welcome BBQ at a park on Thursday, a casual rehearsal dinner so that all family and wedding party could be there, an after-rehearsal dinner party at a local bar, and a champagne toast Saturday before the wedding with all my girlfriends (bridal party or not). So I do feel fortunate to have seen some family and friends so much during the weekend, but other friends and family could only come for the wedding itself, and we didn’t do a great job of talking to those people.. to much time on the dance floor!

      • sophia

        This was something that we were concerned about as well. We wound up renting a giant house on a lake for the whole weekend (thursday-monday) which allowed family and young single (broke) out of town guests to stay Friday and Saturday nights. We had extended family come for the rehearsal dinner (we ordered take out and ate at the house and asked people to bring drinks and dessert) and for a casual BBQ sunday which was potluck style (so it wasn’t an additional expense). Our venue would up costing about what the “wedding” venues around here charge for 5 hours. The down side is that since it wasn’t a wedding venue, we were on out own in terms of handling a lot of the logistics since the owners didn’t know how to help. After the fact, I LOVE that we we did things this way because i really feel that I got to spend quality time with people and my friends and family got to meet each other and form new friendships.

      • Michele

        I think one of the easiest (yet hardest) ways to ensure that you spend good, quality time with your guests is to limit your guest list to only those people who know you best and love you most (and vice versa).

        It’s easy, because it’s the most obvious. Fewer people = more time for each of them. But it’s hard because there are often great expectations placed upon couples to celebrate and share the day with loads of family members who don’t actually play a significant role in their lives, or friends of their parents, or old friends you’ve fallen out of touch with, or any number of other people.

        • C

          It’s also hard because some of us still have long lists of nearests and dearests! We just don’t usually bring them together in one place….

    • Over a year later and I *still* wish I’d had more time to talk to everyone at our wedding. But I think Brooke makes a fantastic point: I know that, when I go to weddings, I’m just happy to be there in support of my friend(s)/relative(s), even if I only get to give them a quick hug & say congrats. And I know that’s how everyone felt at our wedding – they’ve told me. Time to let it go, eh? :)

      • ddayporter

        wanted to give an extra exactly!

    • Totally hear this. Also, have two stories to share about it:

      When I graduated (high school? college? How do I not remember which one this was?) and had a party to celebrate, I remember bouncing around from person to person–and there were only 1/4 as many people there as will be at my wedding–and barely talking to anyone and barely talking to everyone. It was great, but I definitely felt like I was playing hostess and wished I could have had deeper conversations with people, and continued the conversations I got pulled away from to say hello or goodbye to somebody else. Not sure if there are any lessons in it, but there it is.

      I went to a friend’s wedding a couple of years ago. She definitely didn’t have time to talk to me (there were a few quick hello’s between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding, and definitely some dancing, but it’s not like we could have some long amazing catch-up session). And I’m not complaining at all! Just explaining that I’ve been on the other side of that. And you know what? I had a wonderful time. I saw other mutual friends that I don’t get to see that much, and got a lot of time to catch up with all of them. So that part was wonderful, and fun. And just getting to be there to hear the toasts and share the joy really is wonderful.

      So ladies, don’t fret. And do, especially if you write them yourselves, make sure that people can hear your vows. Because they’re some of the most beautiful words you’ll say all day, and they’re like the toasts but they’re your own.

    • meg

      People are really happy just to be there celebrating with you. And honestly, we spent most of the time partying with our friends, and I have memories of spending time with all of them that day. People that meant a lot to us we grabbed a really meaningful few minutes with, we really did. I think that was the great part about the wedding – it was a meaningful day, which meant even five minutes with someone felt like a meaningful five minutes, or a swing around the dance floor that I’ll remember forever, or a hug I’ll always hold close to my heart.

  • This is absolutely beautiful ( I had to stop at the photos and go back up to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating and there WERE two awesome dresses!)! and so wise. I appreciate the reminder to feel what you feel and then let our wonderful brains do the rest (I’m a psych nerd, kay?).

    This whole post just wrapped me up in a huge ball of happy!

    Between this one saying “don’t sweat it if you don’t see everyone” and the last one saying “don’t let yourself get guilty about people helping” this week has addressed the majority of my wedding hangups!

  • Love.

    That church is so beautiful, what a perfect space to get married in. Good for you for finding a way to keep your mom happy and still be true to what you really wanted – this compromise business is tricky. Also – love your glasses!


  • Ali

    I love the bridesmaid’s dresses!

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who doubts things and questions myself. Every wedding planning decision I’ve made has come with a lingering doubt in my mind that I should’ve done it differently.

    I’m waiting for that wedding zen, when I just know everything will be fine & I get to enjoy myself!

  • faith

    So great to hear your perspective, thank you for sharing! I’ve been thinking about the pressures we put on ourseleves to really “feel” our wedding day. It really is something we stress ourselves out over, don’t we have enough to stress over?

    You wedding looked like fun…love that limo!

    • lou

      i know right?! one thing i am thinking about with my upcoming wedding is the pressure for it to be transporting, magical, life-changing. many of the wedding re-caps (not necessarily just on this site) i have read talk about that moment on the day when you feel all this magic and i have been a bit scared. like, what if it doesn’t happen?! what if i have a perfectly lovely day but i don’t feel what everyone else talks about. this post has just let me breathe a little easier. so thank you!

      • meg

        NOT MAGIC. Re-read my intro and my first comment. GRITTY, HARD. And you might not have that (and that might make you lucky).

        Here is my real advice: just show up. Fully, fully, show up emotionally and be willing to feel what you feel, however unexpected. Every time you try to stress or pull yourself out of it, try to snap back. It’s hard, it’s like meditation, but it means you experience it. That’ shouldn’t stress you out…. if you’re stressing out, slap yourself back to the real-ness of it all :)

        • Tracy

          So here’s my question. I fully accept that my wedding day isn’t going to be the happiest day of my life, and frankly, that’s kind of a relief – pretty hard to think that your happiest day will have already come and gone with so much life and marriage ahead. But, a lot of people do say that the day felt just full of love, whether it changed you or not. For me, I’m really afraid that my emotions will be running so high that I will be super sensitive, and my finance or someone will say something that will hurt my feelings and I’ll end up feeling sad and apart, rather than basking in all the love. Does this happen to people?

          • meg

            I think it does. I made a really conscious choice to let things go that day. It’s a wedding, it’s stressful, people are going to behave like ass-hats. So when it happened I just said, TODAY, I have to let this go, TODAY I have to get back to what’s really happening here. Any other day I could be pissed off. Today I’m letting it go. It was really really really hard, but it was also really worth it.

            Every single moment of your wedding day, you are given a choice about how you experience it and engage with it. You have to keep choosing to stay present and letting things go. And if you get caught up in being hurt, you can take a deep breath and choose to move on. You have tomorrow to deal with that hurt, you can let it go for the day. That’s my best advice. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying it can be done.

          • Morgan

            My mom? Did some stuff that really hurt me, leading up to and on the wedding day. I started to bitch about it in the car on the way to pictures, and my sister humoured me for a bit, and then told me to just And she was right. It was hard – very hard – to pull myself back to the present and the happiness. It was much easier when the pictures were done, because for us then it was dinner and then the wedding and then the party, and it’s so MUCH easier to let the love in when you’re surrounded by happy people. Also, then I could make sure than I had other people (and a few drinks) between me and anything mean she could say.

            So – yes, someone can do something to make you sad, but you have the strength to choose not to let it get to you right then. (Doesn’t mean you can’t be hurt by it later, though.) Also – you’re the bride – a build in excuse to remove yourself from any uncomfortable conversation you don’t want to have. “Hmm, you think my dress is ugly? How… interesting. Oh, gosh, there is my aunt Mary – I much go talk to her right this second!”

          • Arachna


            And for me this was in part because during the planning I “let it go” all the time. I was a very stressless bride, I was not detail oriented, I was accomadating to the nth degree, I did not have the conversation and support I wanted from certain key people but didn’t really mind because “as long as they are there and happy for me on the wedding day!” I only cried once during wedding planning and it was because my alterations lady was a total witch that half ruined my dress. Seriously, I did not find wedding planning hard.

            But my wedding expectations were all about other people, I wanted/needed them to be happy and there for me. But, uh, certain people were tired and stressed and so overcome by their own emotions that they couldn’t make space to talk to me or express their enjoyment the way I wanted/needed them to. Multiple people. If I think about it too much I dissolve in tears and anger. I’ve cried 30x as much post wedding as pre.

            Now I realize that I didn’t make space for people for whom this was an important life changing event to have their own emotional reactions. I expected that because I didn’t make the planning hard on anyone and wasn’t demanding that the day itself could be all about me . With everyone happy. Everyone isn’t going to be happy. Focus on the good. Make space to get what you want before the wedding. And make space for people to not be where you want them to be emotionally. As long as you are where you need to be. Don’t let it be all about other people.

            The good news is that when I look at photos today I smile. And my husband was perfect.

          • I was a little worried about that because I can be a little high-strung when center of attention. I had my meltdown right after the rehearsal, so my advice would be that IF you feel like you could boil over go ahead and do it after the rehearsal and maybe that will dissapate some of the emotion/tensio/whathaveyou.

          • Meghan- me too on the post-rehearsal breakdown! Good advice :)

          • margiemive

            Huh what? I am not sure what you mean by that but personally, I was soooo grateful for our rehearsal. Two things happened:

            1) I forgot our cue and ended up sitting in a room with my bridesmaids for like, fifteen minutes. Probably was kind of a pain for everyone else but it was this wonderful cocoon with my some of my favorite women. I wouldn’t have traded that moment for anything. This was pure serendipity, but anyway, I associate it with my memories of the rehearsal.

            2) Going through the ceremony helped EVERYONE relax on the day of. The muscle memory was a huge thing. Everyone knew their cue and what they had to do. Our officiant took the whole rehearsal thing really seriously and it was so helpful.

          • ka

            @ Arachna
            “And make space for people to not be where you want them to be emotionally.”

            Ahhh, thanks for reminding us of this. It is soo true, and would so be my wedding day downfall.

    • I’m working really hard to think of the wedding in very simple terms, to not expect much so that I won’t be pressured or disappointed. I’m sure that I have sneaky desires that will grab me, but I’m trying to be proactive.

  • Great post! The bridesmaids’ dresses are beautiful, especially next to the yellow flowers. I experienced those guilty feelings too on our wedding day. For me I think the guilt was one way that my OVERwhelming-appreciation (for having everyone in one place, for people traveling so far, for all the love and support) manifested itself.

    p.s. The Harley limo might’ve not been what you ordered but it’s pretty sweet. Plus, every wedding needs a horrifying-but-ultimately-not-affecting mistake that makes for a good story!!!

  • Whitney

    Are you a Lincoln bride?!!! Totally recognized the NRC building right next to the Chiptole in the Chinese firedrill photo. Yay. And I felt the same way on my wedding day–I didn’t have that specific magical moment. I’ve had two friends get married since and ask me for advice, and that’s what I told them I learned most. It’s OK to feel how you feel and you don’t have to be excited or nervous or having certain feelings just because people are asking if you are. And in that sense, it’s also OK to have that magical feeling, but no matter what, just own whatever you feel.

    • Maureen

      I was going to ask this too! I thought I was hallucinating it until the firedrill picture. And Brooke, I got married on May 28th, 2010! Oh, the planning horror stoies we could have shared! Where was your reception? LOVED this post! You echoed so many of my own thoughts and feelings. Congrats. Looked so beautiful!

      • Wasn’t it a great summer to get married? Our reception was at the Wick Alumni Center. Where was yours?

    • I am a Lincoln bride! :)

  • Shelly

    “At the end of the day, I felt like I had missed out on something big and important and now I would never get another chance to get it back because my one and only wedding day was over. Thankfully, with a few months of perspective now on my side, I can see the bigness of that day in minds’ eye and feel it in my gut.”

    Brooke, I’m so thankful for your insight! I have been married less than 2 months and have been trying to collect my thoughts on what did – or rather, didn’t – happen on our wedding day. It’s hard to not feel like I did something wrong that I didn’t have this transcendent moment, and it is so helpful to hear others speak to similar experiences. But yet there were still these moments that yeah, were wonderful, full of love, or just plain hilarious. And the sum of those moments is, as you say, “the bigness of that day.”

    • Jules

      I need to say “exactly” to this; clicking the little button is not enough.
      Exactly, exactly, exactly, exactly.

  • Chelsea

    I got really excited when I read this, because we had the same wedding date :) Yay June 19!

  • Amazing! I totally feel the same way — missed out on something big, and (for me) I felt like I had done something wrong, wasn’t present, wasn’t blah blah blah. And then I had the same realization about 6 months out… So, yay for talking about it!

    Also, I love what you wrote about guests. I’ve felt immensely guilty that we didn’t have more time to talk to and sit with our guests who came from all over the country to be with us. We were also [ahem] lucky to be the first out of our group to be married and so far the only still a year later, thus we haven’t had the chance to experience another wedding, so your words feel wonderful.

    • meg

      Oh you ladies! The part of my wedding when I wasn’t experancing something big was the part that was really fun, and felt really present in a chill way. I kind of think you win :) The life chaging bit feels like vomiting up your soul in front of a crowd. Yeah. That much fun. I wouldn’t be too sad you didn’t experance that… you’ll have those moments in other parts of your life, I’m sure.

      • Nicole

        I’m really excited that you think we win (and there’s really, truly no sarcasm here). I think because of words like magical, it often feels as if I missed something… So yeah, thank you.

        I so do love this community.

        • meg

          NOT MAGICAL. What did I say? ;)

          • Nicole

            I know, I know!

            Not magical! But, while you don’t use it, other places do throw around that word and when it’s kind of pressed on a person (ahem, me)….

  • Michele

    I’m one of those former brides who did not experience a transcendent moment on her wedding day – mighty, magical, gritty, hard or otherwise. It was a fantastic day full of love and joy and family and friendship and hugs and tears and BBQ and booze and dancing and karaoke after parties…

    But it was not transcendental or transformative.

    My marriage, on the other hand? All of those things on any given day.

  • Julianna

    Thanks for your wise words, Brooke. I am still processing things one month later and it is great to have the affirmation about how normal all of these feelings are, or lack of feelings, or unexpected feelings, etc. I don’t have words yet to describe my own, so I especially appreciated being able to nod my head along with basically your entire post :) For me it’s especially the aftermath that’s been weird – I spent most of my wedding day feeling like it was a dream, or a dress rehearsal, and am still having a hard time believing/remembering it’s real, it actually happened, it’s over, etc. Not as weird now as it was that first week right after, but still lingering a bit.
    Any other we’ve-been-dating-forever-and-already-lived-together people have similar difficulties adjusting to the fact that this “big life change” was in fact not much of a change at all?

    • meg

      I’d love for you to write about that! Nothing changed day to day in our life, other than money management, but for us things did change, little by little. More than a year in, I can say being married feels different from dating for me, but I know it’s not that way for everyone (and it doesn’t happen all at once).

      • Julianna

        I think your point about “over time” is spot-on. We had the same combining of finances change which is a really big one but also kind of a ‘creeps up on you with its bigness’ one, I think… I guess a lot of married life is that way, in that if you’re not physically moving right after the wedding, the changes are not so much “overnight” as they are long-term. I guess since so many people have said “being married feels different” I mistakenly interpreted that to mean “being married will feel different as soon as you’re married” and then had some weird expectation/letdown emotions to process as a result.

        Now of course, next week, when we spend our first holiday together ever, I might be feeling a little more change. I’ll let you know! (I do still owe you a “holidays” post, too)

        • meg

          Well, now is the time for a holidays post.

    • Melissa

      Ugh! People keep asking me how it feels to be married. It’s a trite question, first of all, and it mostly comes from unmarried or recently engaged people, and I don’t have an answer. It feels the same. They look at me sideways like something’s wrong with my marriage. No, it’s the same, but the same is pretty damn good. It was so good before we got married, in fact, that’s why we decided TO GET MARRIED.

  • Maggsfriend

    First time commenting because this post spoke to me! There’s so much pressure for your wedding day to be the BEST DAY OF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, NO MATTER WHAT, and all I can think about is that it’s a few hours and a big party, but what really matters is the relationship and the commitment you are making to your spouse. I am one of those people who already “feel” married because I live with and own a house with my fiancee, so it’s nice to hear from someone who didn’t have lightning strike them on their wedding day, but still felt all the love surrounding them.

    • meg

      DUDE. Our wedding day wasn’t close to the best day of my whole life (thank god). It was in important day, and a fun day, and a day about love and support and crazy/ crazy-wonderful family. But so many other days have been better already, just a year plus in.

      I think that’s what I’m saying. Show up. Let the day be what it is, don’t require more from it. And then move on. What’s next is richer, even when it’s hard.

      • We should talk about that – because I’m 5 months into the marriage (almost 8 years into the relationship) and while these last 5 months have been great they have been some of the hardest we’ve had so far. After 8 years, that was shocking to me. I’m still trying to grapple with the why of it and I think it’s very much connected with the expectations we’re discussing here.

        • meg

          Wait, which expectations?

          I do know that the newlywed phase is really really hard for a lot of people, I wasn’t implying otherwise. I just think there is a richness and depth to it that’s pretty amazing. Life does not end after the wedding… it gets, richer, if not easier. I’d argue that, at least. Higher stakes.

          • I totally agree. What I mean about expectations is a lot of people are talking about that expectation that your wedding will be magical and transcendent and then for some people it isn’t and they feel frustrated and confused and like they did something wrong (which is insane and unfair).

            I think maybe without realizing it I brought similar expectations to the marriage and now it’s turning out that the first year isn’t full of light and sparkles and that newlywed glow. Not that there haven’t been moments of that. But this is where all of my gritty, ugly-crying, wanting to throw up moments have happened. Magical? No. Rich? Hell Yes. It’s been a hell of a growth spurt and I’m in it to win it.

          • meg

            I think the interesting thing is that the women who had similar life changing wedding experiences to me are the ones who most often feel like they screwed it up. Because they think “It’s going to be sparkles and butterflies” and then there they are feeling like they are throwing up their soul in front of a crowd, and they are like “Oh, this is not what I signed up for.” Which is why I think hoping for a glittery moment is problematic. If you have a transformational moment, it may be really painful. And if you don’t have one, it may just be as simple as being really fun.

            So yes, I’m with you. I think maybe you’re having some of the hard growing bits now. We had some newlywed bliss, but I think that was a direct result of having some really rough transformative stuff happen at the wedding. It’s like going on a roller coaster. It’s scary and hard, and then if you survive it, it’s a total high. So watch out for a high once you guys get through this bit, Maybe (I hope!)

      • “Show up. Let the day be what it is, don’t require more from it. And then move on. What’s next is richer, even when it’s hard.”

        I’m getting married in two days (two days!!!) and this is now my official wedding mantra. Thanks Meg!

  • tupelohoney

    Brooke, thank you so much for this post. Beautiful. Of all the graduate posts I’ve read this is the one that best reflects how I was/am feeling. I got married 5 weeks ago and I’m just now beginning to “forgive” myself for dancing too much- yep, seriously, for dancing too much. Like you said about the limo, if my biggest concern was that I danced my face off, it couldn’t have been that bad! And about not having enough time to spend a lot of time talking to people, I’ve recently realized that it was also (and maybe even more) about our family and friends talking to *each other*.

    PS, the first picture is amazing!

    • Julianna

      ditto on the dancing too much. I stressed out in the middle of it, worried that the non-dancers weren’t having fun, and we should be mingling to talk to them. My husband kindly reminded me that my one job for the night was to have fun *myself* and to stop worrying about everyone else’s fun level. Of course the guilt lingers, but it is a great reminder, like you said – if my main concern is I maybe had too much fun, well…. lol

    • meg

      NEVER feel guilty for dancing your face off.

      I mean, that’s how I know our wedding was good.

      • My family has always judged weddings on the quality of the dance party. And yes I sad judged. Don’t throw anything at me.

      • Melissa

        I didn’t dance enough, and I regret that!

    • Veronica

      I was also feeling really guilty about dancing my face off!! About halfway through, I stopped dancing to mingle when my cousin , who got married a few years ago, pulled me aside and said, “What are you doing here? If you want to go dance, then dance! You’re the bride; people will be able to find you if they want to talk to you.”

      It was the best advice I got through the whole wedding process. And good news–they all managed to find me and even better, they danced with me!

  • Love the bit about how you actually felt powerful entering-the-world-in-a-new-way, awe at commitment feelings when you got engaged. I didn’t (I certainly felt giddy and excited and all of that), but my fiance keeps talking about the engagement being the thing. Like ok, it’s all said and done. And I’m reeling from that, because sure, I said yes, but I had 10 seconds to do it in and I’m still processing the full meaning of such a decision. Currently the engagement part is the vomit-up-my-soul bit, hopefully reaching transcendence at some point along the way.

    But I just really love the image of seeing these wonderful commitments. Beautiful.

  • Christina

    This might have been said already – but the magical moments being during the engagement was totally my experience as well. They did not happen for me on the day of the wedding. I tried to tamper those magical feelings down while engaged because I wanted to “save” them for the wedding day. Seriously? I didn’t even really realize it until later. But while I was writing my vows i got that feeling, planning the music and imagining dancing I got that feeling, and I tried to squash them. I would tell anyone that those MIGHT be the only moments, so savor them.

  • So much good advice here. One of the most important things I’ve learned reading this website over the last years is that there is no one way important moments are *supposed* to feel. Part of the way the WIC preys on brides is by feeding them this idea that a wedding is supposed to be the special-est most magical day of your life and ok, maybe you don’t feel that way YET but if you just buy this ________ (dress, shoes, tiara, $14k floral package), you will! Oh wait, you still don’t? Well don’t worry – you can keep shopping until you do.

    Authenticity in weddings is about acknowledging our feelings whether or not they fit into the mold of what is *correct*. If that means that your wedding isn’t the happiest day of your life? So be it. The worst thing we can do is make ourselves (and each other) feel inferior for having differing reactions to such a major life event which is why a post like this is so very important.

    Thanks Brooke and congratulations!

    • meg


  • Michele

    It’s kind of bumming me out to read the comments from brides who are hoping for/expecting their wedding day to be transcendental, or even worse – fearing that it won’t be.

    Because the thing is – it might be, and it might not be, but whether it is or isn’t is largely out of our control. No amount of planning will achieve this goal and no amount of making mistakes will undermine it, because it’s not in the details or the time line or the budget. I can’t help but feel that when it comes to something like this – the more one wants it, the more elusive it is and the more unrecognizable it is when it DOES occur. Does that make sense? It’s almost as if by looking for something, one loses their ability to see it.

    The best any of us can do is to be present, and open ourselves to everything the day has to offer – the love, the joy, the tears, the hugs, the likelihood that not everything will go as planned, and most of all, the infinite possibilities that exist on the other side .

    THAT’S transcendence.

    • meg

      Yes. That’s what I’m saying. I got life changing, but it felt nothing like I’d expected or planned for, and frankly, felt like something I never want to feel again ;) So you really need to stop looking and just start feeling whatever you feel. The thing that made our wedding day wonderful for me is that I was just very present, feeling all the super suprising emotions. You can even see that in the pictures, like, wow, she’s really in it.

      Being in-it wasn’t magical or easy, and it felt like NOTHING I hoped for, but it was enough.

      Maybe I’m lucky, as a BFA in experamental theatre, I spent three intense years training in how to be present, and how gritty that is and painful that can be. And maybe I got my money’s worth on my wedding day (ha). But I swear to god, you can show up and feel it, whatever it ends up being, without all that borderline bullsh*t training ;) And once you feel it, I think you’ll be ready to move on.

      • I was just thinking last week about how my theatre training also taught me about being present and open to experiencing unexpected things. I had read a NYT article about happiness and mind-wandering, that made me think about it all:

        But I hadn’t even realized (until you said this) that this was quite possibly one of the factors that helped me know how to make myself stay present in the moment on our wedding day, even when I was experiencing a slew of emotions I had not expected to experience and (some of which) I would never have wanted to experience on my wedding day. Interesting…. :)

  • I love the part about weddings being good because they give you an excuse to pull all of the people you love into one place. I’ve lived in six (!) cities as an adult, and I have amazing friends from each and every one of those cities, and I can’t wait to have them all in the same place for my wedding – mainly so they can (finally) all meet each other! And yet I’m completely paranoid that I won’t have time for all of them…even though I’m having a ‘destination’ wedding and it will be more of a wedding weekend than a wedding day…but still! After spending hours addressing my ‘Save the Date’ cards this past weekend, I realize that I’m inviting way too many people to possibly get quality time with in just a weekend, so I’m ridiculously happy to hear that you don’t feel guilty about not spending a ton of time with each and every guest – I’m going to try to be zen about the whole thing and not worry!

    • meg

      And remember, weddings happen in real life, so some of the people you love and want dearly to come won’t be able to. AND IT WILL STILL BE OK (though you can cry about it when you find out). They love you, and you’ll get to re-live your wedding with them over drinks, telling them all about it.

  • One of the funny stories from our engagement involved me confusing a poor old man. He had asked me if I was nervous. Honestly, I wasn’t. And that’s where his confusion started. He tried to explain his question better by saying that I was getting ready to make this huge decision to spend the rest of my life with my now husband. Well that didn’t make sense to me. So I explained back that I’d already made that decision when he asked me to marry him and I’d said yes. Decision made. Now we were just following through on that decision. The old man left still confused.

    Our wedding was a big moment. But getting engaged was what changed the course our relationship was on. The wedding was just a natural spot along that new course.

  • This reminds me so much of Anne’s Lamott’s Operating Instructions. She writes about all the bullsh** that women dote motherhood up to being, and really, how she found it quite devastating (my word, not hers) and maddening and so, so tragic. How hard the whole damn thing is/was and how no body talks about the hard stuff. Like you can dust bust that shi* away. Which makes me angry just thinking about it.

    Why do our emotions have to be trivialized into feeling happy, elated, or spontaneously combustible all the time? It’s so 1984. (The book, not the year.) Things sometimes suck so hard, it makes me want to tear each of my toes off one by one. And why does our society not let us be that angry, sad, depressed? Why is there a pill, a therapist or a one-liner whose job it is to lift our spirits?

    So thank you, Brooke and Meg and community, for allowing us to feel–and validating us for feeling–however the hell we end up feeling. Eff the happy joyous crap and just show up to the feelings that manifest–elated or otherwise. (Can someone remind me I said this say, August 19th?)

  • thank you all for your kind words! i am so glad to hear that some of my experiences have encouraged others and given way to LOTS of discussions!

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  • Alexandra

    Congrats! So much awesome. ;D