Ask Team Practical: Wedding Regrets

I was with my partner for over five years when we decided to get married. Being the impulsive person I am, I said f*** it, let’s do it next month. I sent out invitations to aunts and cousins with a disclaimer saying that we understood it was Thanksgiving time and short notice, so there would be no hard feelings if people couldn’t make it. We had a small, immediate-family-only ceremony. This part was great.

The following weekend, we had a larger (but still small at only fifty people) reception. The reception was awkward as hell. It was mostly my family from eight or so hours away. People sort of talked and mingled, but mostly just sat and waited for the food to show up. The food was late. Ninety percent of the people left early. My dad tried to force people to make speeches. We had our first dance and it was so painfully awkward we stopped early.

Part of me says that it’s fine and I’m overreacting based on ingrained assumptions of what weddings are “supposed to be.” Part of me says that I’m a shitty person for throwing a weird, awkward wedding that people obviously didn’t enjoy but felt obligated to come to. I don’t want ANY of these feelings. I want to feel like the things I read where people say, “It was the happiest day of my life, I felt surrounded by love and joy, all the little details didn’t matter at all in the end.” I don’t feel like that. I think back to that reception/party and cringe.

So, how do you come to terms with a wedding day that feels more like of an embarrassing memory than a beautiful day filled with familial love?



My fiancé and I know that we don’t want a large or particularly traditional wedding, but even the “alternative wedding” resources online don’t feel quite relevant to our situation. My fiancé is shy, and while I’m not, I am definitely an introvert. Neither of us is crazy about being the center of the show, or about baring our souls in public (or hamming it up), even among our close friends and family. My fiancé is mortified by the idea of reading vows aloud (or even having a ceremony), dancing, or doing essentially any performance-based wedding activities. We want our day to feel personal and laid-back, but we’re not very artsy or aesthetically talented, so a lot of the design-focused DIY advice out there doesn’t feel right either.

All that said, I’m worried that if we completely go with our temptation to be laid-back, a-traditional, comfortable, unstructured, and never be the center of attention, we’ll end up basically pretending that it’s not a wedding, and not even have a very fun party to boot. I want us to be comfortable and have fun, but still organize things in a way that make it not just like every other day and not boring and frumpy for our guests. Any advice?


Dear both of my Anons,

I paired your questions together because, whether you realize it or not, I really think you’re both hoping that I’ll be able to tell you the impossible. How do you turn awkward embarrassments into glittering happy memories? How do you avoid making wedding day decisions that you might later regret?

Damned if I know.

Here’s the deal, guys. We’re all told that the wedding day is at least “the most important day” of our lives if not “the best day” of our lives. Neither of those is necessarily true. And even if it does turn out to be one of the more important singular days you’ll experience, that doesn’t guarantee it’ll be one of the best. Luckily, the one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. It can still be an important day, even if it utterly and absolutely sucks. It can still be an important day even if it doesn’t even “feel” like a wedding at all.

We’re led to believe that this one day is IT. It’s our one and only chance to have some special, magical experience with your spouse and/or family and/or friends. And in that moment, we have this checklist of things we’re supposed to experience—like feeling like the most beautiful woman in the room, or this near palpable showering of love from our community. 1) Even with the best planning, it doesn’t always work that way, and 2) luckily, this isn’t “IT.” If you miss out on this moment, the rest of your life will be dotted with glittering special times that might even be more special or more important than your wedding day. Gasp.

AND, they might not even be the ones you expect.

There are lots and lots of experiences that are supposed to be magical, monumental, game-changing seconds in our lives. But, you know, I had a really shitty first kiss. Honestly, it still makes me cringe. And other folks don’t have the sparkly engagement story that’s expected, or the anticipated response to name changing or whatever else. Those moments that are supposed to be like the movies let us down sometimes. But, usually there are other sneak attack moments that are better than we could have imagined.

To my first friend, try to get yourself to a place where you feel okay saying out loud, “I hated my wedding,” and not feeling like you need to cushion that statement with, “Weeell, the details don’t matter, at least I’m married…” No, girl! Your wedding SUCKED. It sucked. Feeling that way is not a reflection on you, and you know, the fact that it really did suck is not a reflection on you, either. Own that your wedding was awful. I’m not kidding. The ideal situation here isn’t to gloss over and change your negative feelings into positive. It’s to process your feelings to the point that when people ask about your wedding, you can tell them just how terrible it was and then laugh about some of the things that went wrong. Because, you know what will probably happen? They’ll share something terrible about their wedding back (I’m looking at you, commenters—back me up here). And little by little, talking about it and laughing about it and commiserating really does heal that memory. It doesn’t fix it, no. But it’ll help you heal from it, I swear. It’s insane how much less terrible things are when you say them out loud.

I talked a little bit about how to process what you’re feeling over here, and one of the things I suggest is to replace that memory. What did you miss out on that you’d hoped for? A big, jolly, belly-laughing, room-shaking, family-and-friends-everywhere sort of party? There are still more reasons to have parties! Birthdays and housewarmings and anniversaries, for starters. Shoot, I’d go to a party celebrating Tax Day if there was food and music. If what you need is to have a moment where you love on your community and they love on you—there’s still time! Parties will still happen. (But it could just possibly be that your family is really awkward—no judgment, I’m there with you—and no matter what you do or how well you host, you’ll round out the night wondering, “What the hell?!”)

My second friend, I’m going to ask you something similar. What are you afraid you’ll miss in your wedding? You already listed the components that make you feel uncomfortable. Which are the ones that you’ll be sorry without? Which will make it feel “like a wedding” to you? I’m going to be frank, I’ve been to a bunch of weddings, and at each of them it wasn’t the speeches or the garter toss that made them feel wedding-y. But I guess it all depends on what you’re hoping for out of the thing.

The one caution I would add is I agree that it’s a great idea to not step into the limelight if it makes you uncomfortable. But, being the bride at a wedding is like being the birthday girl at the party. Even if you’re not center stage, everyone is there because they love you. And that loving on you, while a little awkward even for those of us who are less shy, also feels pretty awesome. So, sure, skip the vows. Maybe have a short ceremony where someone says a few words about marriage and someone else sings a nice song while you sit in the front row with the guests. Nix all of the garters and bouquets and cake cutting things. But realize that your friends want to love on you and celebrate you and that can be just as lovely as it is sort of squirmy and awkward. I’d even go so far to say it’s what makes the day wedding-y.

It’s impossible for me to tell you how to avoid regretting your wedding choices—both of you. But luckily, it’s not the only chance you get at a big, special, important day.


Team Practical, did you have any wedding regrets? If you’re not yet married, how do you confidently make decisions to avoid regret?

Photo: Gabriel Harber.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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  • This. I hated my wedding, and everyone who went (except for my husband, who agrees with me) keeps talking about how they loved it. I don’t want to be a jerk to people who love and support me, but I can’t change the way I feel, either. It is so good to know that I’m not the only one, and that it’s okay.

    One of the things I love about APW is that it gives permission to feel the things I’m feeling, whether or not I need permission. Thank you.

    • louloop

      All my life I’ve been an extrovert who thought I loved parties….until I met my husband and I felt able to ‘be’ myself so realised that I’ve been faking it all along! When it came to getting married we wanted to elope but my mother pulled a guilt trip on me and so we compromised. A civil registry office wedding in our home town’s ugly 60’s building that could only offer us a Tuesday. Just me, hubby and a witness each, it was akward as hell despite having the minimum words required by uk law. An akward walk across the road to our hotel & cocktail bar with a tiny gathering of 20 people awkwardly throwing confetti at us followed by a few akward group photos taken with an iphone. But once at the bar everyone started to relax and despite the universal ‘his friends at one end and my friends at other end of the bar’ situation, it was lovely. By the end of the evening (3pm til 6pm) everyone except myself was drunk (I’m 5 months pregnant) and nobody felt akward anymore….except me, who wanted to go to bed exhausted!
      I think weddings are always akward…and I kind of hate them but also love them…I loved ours and don’t regret a thing except not serving food to stop the drunkeness! It will always be a bit cringe worthy in my mind but life just is sometimes! We will look back and laugh at it. I already am and it was only two days ago :-)

  • CHW

    Liz, as always, your advice rocks.

    I think I’m already regretting not asking my big sister to be one of my Best Ladies. She’s great, I love her very much, but we’re totally chalk and cheese and ultimately, not as close as the three dear friends I have asked.
    She said to me the other day that she doesn’t want to be the only one at the wedding without a role and I really want to find a way of involving her in the day (and the lead-up) without her feeling like I’m giving her something to do because she’s asked me and I felt I had to find her a role… I don’t even know if that makes sense. But any advice would be hugely appreciated!!

    • efletch

      Do have a reading or a song that she could do as part of your ceremony? Could she do a special big sister toast? If you are not having a religious ceremony could she act as your officiant?
      I have a lot of special ladies in my life, so I know how challenging this can be, so I asked some to be bridesmaids, some are singing, one is my Master of Ceremonies/Officiant. I call them the bridal crew so that they are all included.

    • Ann

      While I’m not your sister, I can offer something from the perspective of the ‘big sister who wants to be a part of a younger sibling’s wedding’. My little brother is getting married soon and he ‘saved’ the role of reader for the three of us. However, there are two readings. One of us will certainly end up doing the Mass intentions. And since I’m trying to be mature about it and haven’t made a big production, I’m counting on that person being me. Deep down, I’m hurt though. While I’m fine not being in the wedding party itself (I’m much older than the bride and her friends), I feel like I have a lot more tangible skills (and frankly, wedding party experiences, hello-27 Dresses is my life!) that could help on their big day than standing at a podium and saying “We pray for the church…”

      Sorry – that got long. Point is that you know your sister best. She probably understands that you’re having a small party and how close you are with your friends. But I totally get the ‘want to have a role’ thing. It’s a big day, and she wants to be there for you! Find something that fits ‘her’. Is she good with kids? Maybe have her head up a ‘kids corner’ of activities for kids to do at the reception. She doesn’t have to babysit, but organize and set up coloring books, stickers, etc. Is she the crafty type? Maybe enlist her to do a creative something for your guest book (then her talents will always be something you will showcase after the big day). Is she good with people? It’s always good to have someone who knows people be responsible for organizing the photos. Give her a list of who you need for what photo and leave it up to her to round everyone up so the photos (especially group photos) go efficiently. Is she a detail person? Have her be your personal attendant. Leave it up to her to get things transported from one place to the next, ie your overnight bag to your hotel room, brunch to the salon where they’re getting their hair/makeup done, the gifts from the reception venue, bridesmaid’s last-minute-items from the church to the hotel, distribute the flowers to the correct loved ones as they arrive at the wedding…

      One thing that’s really helped me feel included in past weddings (and this is so trivial) is to invite her to have her hair done with the rest of you. My sisters-in-law both invited me along when I was just dating their brother. It really made me feel like they wanted me to be a part of their day/family.

      Good Luck!

    • One of my biggest wedding regrets (and we all have more than one!) is not asking my cousin to be a bridesmaid. I didn’t, in part, because she was a bridesmaid in a wedding 2 days after mine on the other side of the state, and I didn’t want to stress her out, but also because we hadn’t been as close as we once were. I was in her wedding, but her wedding party was very large and her wedding itself was about 3x bigger than mine. These were the rationalizations I used, when really since she was *coming to my wedding anyway* and the other ancillary costs were minimal (my mom and her friends paid for my shower, and the bachelorette party was just dinner & drinks split among all the attendees, which she was one of them … in short, she didn’t spend any less money or time on my wedding NOT being a bridesmaid).

      In some ways, it worked out – we hadn’t planned on doing much for our ceremony, but because I wanted a role for my cousin, I made her a reader, which meant I needed a reading. And then I decided to hire a bagpiper. Then C decided we should write our own intentions. (They weren’t really vows, per se, but you get the idea.) The reading I found, less than a week before, was Whitman’s Song of the Open Road, which was so perfect for both of us I nearly teared up when I found it. We wouldn’t have done most of this had it not been for my carelessness of not asking her to be a bridesmaid. In many ways, her role is more honored in my heart because it made us have a more meaningful and touching ceremony than we had originally planned.

      But, still, I should have asked her to be a bridesmaid.

    • Liz

      This post on honoring loved ones and this open thread might help!

      But also- I know a lot of people champion small wedding parties for the lack of drama and stress, but I really loved having a larger wedding party than planned. I originally wanted family only, period, no stress no hassle. And then found that I had other important people I really, really wanted to honor. There were logistic struggles as a result (six handmade clutch purses to buy instead of 2! six schedules to plan around!) but I did not regret tacking on the extra loved ones. Not trying to pressure you if you’re happy with your decision (different strokes!), just offering another perspective that I don’t think is often voiced.

      • CHW

        Wowzers! Thank you all so much for your replies. I was away on a big family holiday (including my sister!!) when that open thread was put up! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you guys rock. Lots of great ideas, and I’ve resolved to be more inclusive during the planning so we get some proper sister-time. Thanks APW!!

    • Emily

      My sister and I are not very close, and she was not in my wedding party. I had asked her if she wanted to be involved in some other way, perhaps to do a reading, and she declined (not out of meanness, she is just an intensely awkward and introverted person and didn’t want to be “on stage” at all). Right after the ceremony, when we headed with our officiant to a private room to sign the marriage license, I asked my maid of honor to go grab my sister and bring her along to sign as a witness. It felt really good to both of us that she was able to be a permanent part of the day in a very private and low-key way.

  • Anon For This

    If you can imagine it, I had a bit of both experiences. I married the shyest man on the planet, so we planned a destination wedding for two. Then nature disposed of our plan and our wedding ended up awkward.

    We were supposed to get married on a white pillared porch overlooking a gorgeous beach in the Florida Panhandle. A hurricane destroyed the place a couple of days before we were due to travel there. I had figured that even if it was just the two of us, it should be special. I had chosen a florist, a minister, a photographer, a caterer, and we were staying/getting married at a dreamy cottage on the beach. All those details went “Poof” in one afternoon with the news of the hurricane.

    We canceled everything and went on vacation instead, since I was expected to be off work anyway. Nearly everything that could go wrong on that vacation went wrong. Then we came home and said “Now what?” There was an envelope with a congratulatory check in it from my aunt and uncle, and we still weren’t married.

    We just had to get it done. So, a month later, we booked a luxury hotel for the weekend in our town and got married in our room. The weather was cold and gray, which made getting married outside by the gardens/pool untenable. Having the ceremony in that room felt awkward – especially when the bed (however pretty) was just a few feet from where we stood for our vows. (A friend later joked “What did you do? Say your vows and jump into bed?”)

    We were dressed up with literally no place to go. I still cringe when I think about it. Even having an upscale in-room dinner and wedding cake didn’t clear the awkwardness. I technically had the same bouquet that was planned for Florida, but without a photo to show the florist, the flowers were beautiful, but the form was all wrong. Same with the cake. The details just didn’t transfer well.

    We were at such loose ends after dinner, that we changed clothes and bummed around the hotel, wandering into a play area where we played pool. I don’t even know how to play pool.

    The only positive was that I didn’t have to worry anymore about planning and that was wonderful. After that, I honestly didn’t think about weddings anymore. We ended up getting divorced five years later, but it had nothing to do with the wedding of course. Since the marriage didn’t work out, I still cringe thinking about the wedding. But when we were still married, oddly, I didn’t think about the wedding much or even lament what happened. While we were married, we laughed about it.

    I guess it means that marital happiness can trump anything your crazy wedding dishes out.


      I have serious sympathy pangs reading about your experience. I’m so sorry. Thanks for sharing, though – I hope this will help the OP!


        Thanks. I’m alright, really. It just means I look for other things to make me happy.

        I hope it helps the OP too.

    • Marta

      Thank you for sharing! I am the OP and it does help a lot.



  • Bethany

    There were a couple of big regrets about my wedding that I still cringe about (I haven’t yet owned them really.)

    The first was an out-of-towner post-rehearsal dinner meet-up at a local bar that I used to enjoy. But on a Friday night in a crowded space (not dedicated to our gathering) trying to have conversations with older relatives? Total fail. And some of them had even driven an hour out of their way to come. I so wish I had planned that better. And sadly, now that I have that bar associated with that memory, I’ve avoided it ever since. :/

    The second is that I wish I had done more to honor my mother at my wedding. My dad (they’re divorced) seemed a little perturbed at the idea of sharing walking down the aisle duties so I walked alone with him. Then with the father daughter dance if was like he got all the limelight. My mom and I worked hard together to decorate the wedding but I wish I had figured out some better ways to honor during the wedding. Plus I didn’t get any photos of just me and her so I regret that too. I’m making up for it now though, getting lots of pictures of her and I and my kids.

    I’ll work on owning it but it’s hard (whine). Thanks for the advice.

    • Eek! Bethany, reading your comment has thrown my night-before-the-wedding plan into major relief. After our rehearsal dinner with immediate family, we were planning to invite out-of-town guests to meet us at a local bar for a meet and greet. Because my fiance’s entire family is coming from several states away, we figured it would be a nice way for me to formally meet some of them — most for the first time, including his grandmother! — before the wedding day itself, when I’ll be . . . you know, getting married and such.

      And now I’m thinking . . . that’s not going to be the best setting. Why didn’t this occur to me before now? A busy Saturday night with loud, drunk people . . . not exactly the intimate experience we’d be going for. Honestly, it was my guy’s suggestion, and I liked that he was planning something . . . but I wonder if I should ask everyone to meet us at a local Panera instead? Coffee, pastries, low-key and much quieter. Plus, it’s right down the street from their hotel!

      Okay. Thank you, thank you.

      • Laura C

        I’ve been to a night-before gathering at a bar where the couple had reserved part of the bar. Not even like a private room, more just an area with a couple booths and some room to stand around. Worked great. So I think it can be done, in some bars at least.

        • True, and a good point — though most of these attendees will be older or elderly, and this place is . . . well, one step above a dive bar. Totally fine for the bridal party (woo!), but I can’t see it working well for extended family.

        • Copper

          or a wine bar maybe, if you area has them? They tend to be lower key, lower volume.

      • We got people together in our apartment! Had wine and cheese and crackers. It was really nice.

      • We did a Sat night party at a bar the night before our wedding and it was wonderful! So it can definitely work. Out helps to pick a big place, I think, so it doesn’t feel too crowded

      • VAL

        We are planning to do the same type of gathering the night before our wedding, and settled on a hotel bar for our location. We had originally thought about using a neighboring Irish pub, but then thought better of it after checking it out on a Friday night. The hotel bar is large, and a bit more expensive than other options in terms of drinks, but I think it will be quieter and easily accessible to the guests staying there.

    • Liz

      Oh no! Go back to that bar!! It’ll sting the first few times, but eventually I’d think you could replace the memory, right?

    • Sam

      Wow, thank you for this comment. I’m sad for you that you feel sad about these things, but I’m also very thankful that you are sharing your words of wisdom. Had I not read them, I think I would have had a similar experience at my wedding in a few months.

      I hope you can find comfort in the fact that planning a wedding is tough when you’ve never done it before — people who aren’t a-holes will recognize that — and get yourself back to that bar to reclaim the memory.

      I also really appreciate your point about including your mother during the wedding. Based on your experience, do you have any ideas about how to honor one’s mother during the wedding? (I know this topic came up briefly in the recent APW open thread about complicated family situations, but I still haven’t found a solution that seems fitting.) Similar to your experience, my father would not be happy sharing the walking-down-the-aisle duty. I’m often frustrated by the very limited role that tradition allows for our mothers in our weddings. What do you think you would have done differently?

      • LILY

        I have been thinking about this so much lately! What I’ve come up with is, while my father and I walk down the aisle, when we reach where my mother and future MIL are sitting, I am going to stop and give them each a big hug. Some people might not like that it ‘chops up’ the aisle-walking, but it was important to me to acknowledge how important these two women are! Wedding is in 9 days, so I’ll let you know how it goes :)

        • Sam

          I love that idea! So simple, yet I’ve never really seen it done. Thank you!!

        • I stopped to give my mom a hug and a kiss near the end of my walk down the aisle. I really wanted her to acknowledged in some way (since she wasn’t going to be part of the walk too), and that was a really good way to do it for me. I also danced with my mom a lot during the reception – not as a formal dance or anything but just because we both like to dance; so even though she didn’t have a special spotlight dance like my dad did, there are totally still pictures of us dancing together at the reception and they’re really fun ones.

      • K down under

        My mum gave a speech at the reception as well as dad, and was generally all-round awesome :)

  • “And little by little, talking about it and laughing about it and commiserating really does heal that memory. It doesn’t fix it, no. But it’ll help you heal from it, I swear. It’s insane how much less terrible things are when you say them out loud.” THIS!!!

    Because of the way things shook out with our nontraditional mixed gender wedding party, two people who are more “my” friends gave toasts (one to me, one to us as a couple) and no one who is more my husband’s friend did. And I didn’t have a dance with my dad, because I was trying to get a “family dance” going but didn’t give folks enough warning to figure it out. I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and plunge into a regret/guilt/shame spiral over both.

    The good news is that there have been other big, special, important days since, just like Liz says, and hopefully there will be more in the future! We had toasts for my husband’s 30th and I’m planning to drag my dad out on the dance floor at the next family wedding.

    Super solid advice.

    • Sarah N.

      We had an awesome wedding but a super-awkward engagement. When I was engaged, the engagement story was THE THING that bugged me, that haunted me. APW helped me get over it and learn to laugh about it. Healing is a process.

      As for big days?
      Before our wedding: the day we got together (in high school), my first day at college, my last YEAR of college, the day we moved in together, the days we stood around laughing and making pizza in our kitchen.

      After the wedding: our one week anniversary dinner during our honeymoon, learning I had been accepted to Harvard, meeting Guster as part of my job, my first day at seminary, bringing our dog home for the first time, my first time preaching to a congregation, my first time doing a pastoral visit at the hospital, my first time preaching in my home church, an day hiking and then sitting by the lake in Romania.

      I loved our wedding, and I still cringe a little at our engagement story, but what’s better than all of that is the life we’re building together.

  • I really agree with the idea that some unplanned moments in life can really blow you away and end up “more special” than the ones that are supposed to be special.

    I’m just wondering…like what? I tried to come up with a short list of things that have happened or could happen in someone’s life that might be as important or more so, or as good or more so, than my wedding.

    For me, there could be:

    – The moment B and I finally got together after 8 years of madcap screw ups that really weren’t fun at the time
    – The road trip I took with my best girlfriend from Houston to Washington DC. We ended up arguing horribly, but it came out OK and was otherwise a great trip.
    – (Eventually) when I finally get my Master’s degree
    – I guess college graduation, but that sucked. My great uncle died on the same day after being on life support for awhile, which basically ruined the whole thing. All my relatives were in town (great uncle lived nearby my college city) but none – not a one except parents and grandparents – actually came to any graduation related event (most of my uncles went to my younger sister’s graduation 8 years later).
    – My first two weeks in India
    – When I finally realized I *liked* Taiwan (my first six months were pretty horrible) and I was actually going to stay and make a go of long-terming it here (but that wasn’t any given moment or even compact span of time).

    I guess for others there could be:

    – getting a PhD (unlikely for me, we’ll see)
    – having a baby (but that’s supposed to be one of the standard-movie-life-script ones)
    – buying a dream house
    – finally getting the job of your dreams, Working Girl style
    – first day of owning your own business/opening your own company

    But that’s not a very long list, and it would be highly unique for each person.

    I’m curious then about others. What “unexpected moments” in your life equaled or surpassed the “standard” or expected ones in terms of being “the best” or “the most important”? I feel like this sort of thing isn’t explored enough, it’s usually just a quick line about how it’s possible to have such moments. Could use some follow-up, no?

    • Laura C

      I think they don’t have to be big deal things. That New Year’s party that wasn’t really a dancing party but dancing broke out for just a few minutes and it felt like floating. The day A and I were sitting home on the couch giggling about something and I looked at him and said “if they’d told me having a boyfriend was this much fun, I’d have done it sooner, but everyone always said ‘relationships are work.'” That time a year after my friend died, when I’d been thinking back on a particularly wonderful day of singing with her and our group of friends feeling a special grief that we’d never have that day back, and then a slightly different group of friends had an equally amazing evening of singing and it was this revelation that even though I wouldn’t have the same day, there’d be others that were just as good, if different.

    • I think of trips I’ve taken, other parties I’ve been to or hosted, the first time Raj told me he loved me, finishing my first half marathon, and when I go to visit my nieces and they run up to hug-tackle me. Next month, I’ll get to meet up with Raj when his ship pulls into port and, after having been apart for a few months, I’m definitely looking forward to that more than I was to our wedding day. I loved our wedding, but I even if it was the best day of my life (I’m not sure it was) I like to think there are even better days to come, whether those are big things like the births of our (as yet hypothetical) kids or smaller things that are still special and meaningful.

    • Have you guys seen this thing going around about Richard Dietsch asking people to share a photo of the single greatest moment in their lives? Surprisingly few of them are from people’s wedding days, which is telling, I think.

      Maybe we could have an open thread about Moments In People’s Lives That Were Greater Than Their Weddings, because I have a feeling even people who loved their wedding have experienced wonderful things that have rivaled, if not surpassed, the joy they felt on their “special day”.

    • meg

      My honeymoon, being on the coast of Italy, my book launch, eating lunch on a beach in Greece (we can see why we prioritize travel around here), and yeah. having a baby. The day I had a baby blew the wedding out of the water, and the wedding was a very very good day.

    • Liz

      I haven’t known how important moments were til I looked back on them fondly later and realized, “Oh wow. That really was a special time.”

      For what it’s worth, beginnings haven’t seemed to hold as much weight as I think they’re “supposed to.” I remember a few things about the night I met Josh, but there are so many other dating-time memories that override and outweigh that night. I remember moments about giving birth, but holy crap there are days since that stand out so much more clearly and have so much more significance to the relationship with my son. I remember the day I started my own business, but I more sharply and emotionally remember other markers throughout the course of that business.

      Beginnings are important but they’re just that- the BEGINNING, you know?

    • Sarah N.

      We had an awesome wedding but a super-awkward engagement. When I was engaged, the engagement story was THE THING that bugged me, that haunted me. APW helped me get over it and learn to laugh about it. Healing is a process.

      As for big days?
      Before our wedding: the day we got together (in high school), my first day at college, my last YEAR of college, the day we moved in together, the days we stood around laughing and making pizza in our kitchen.

      After the wedding: our one week anniversary dinner during our honeymoon, learning I had been accepted to Harvard, meeting Guster as part of my job, my first day at seminary, bringing our dog home for the first time, my first time preaching to a congregation, my first time doing a pastoral visit at the hospital, my first time preaching in my home church, an day hiking and then sitting by the lake in Romania.

      I loved our wedding, and I still cringe a little at our engagement story, but what’s better than all of that is the life we’re building together.

    • For me things that could easily rival getting married (which was a fantastic day) include:

      – the first vacation my husband and I took together
      – the first time we said “I love you”
      – the first time I held my newborn nephew
      – when we moved into our first home together
      – when my then-fiancé graduated from college
      – random parties that we’ve thrown and enjoyed
      – every anniversary we’ve ever had

      Sometimes the moments aren’t what you expect. I didn’t expect meeting my nephew to be as big as my wedding – I mean he’s not even my kid – but man that moment slayed me as much as getting married did. It doesn’t need to be big, cultural script moments but rather the ones that touch your soul.

  • To the second Anonymous question – have you considered doing a Mormon style ceremony? I am pretty sure (emphasis on pretty) that in Mormon tradition only the bride and groom enter the church for their ceremony. Perhaps you could do something similar? Your ceremony/service/whathaveyou could just be you, your partner, and the officiant.

    • Anon

      My BFF is LDS and her wedding was just the two of them in the temple. The whole wedding waited outside for them to triumphantly walk out and I gotta admit it was almost more celebratory that way. They came out hand in hand, grinning like cheshire cats, we took pictures, everyone congratulated the two of them one by one and we all drove to their reception site for food and cake. At the reception they chose to do a simple, pretty casual ring-exchange and neither of them said more than a couple words to the other. It really was an introverts dream I gotta say. And it still felt like a wedding! It was really lovely.

    • Sabrina

      Growing up in Utah, I know all about mormon weddings. The reason why it is generally only bride and groom that go into the temple(which is very different from just a mormon church), is because only people who have what is called a “temple recommend” are allowed in the temple. Which means they sit down with their Bishop (kinda like a priest or reverend) and have an interview to make sure they are living “the word of wisdom” and “the law of chastity” are a member of the church in good standing ( wearing their garments, paying tithing, taking the sacrament, fasting on the first sunday of every month ect.) Which is why in Utah it is very common to only get an invite to the reception. The receiving line is very important in that community, so you end up being the center of attention still, but on a one on one basis.

      Sorry, it’s not all that pertinent but I think those sorts of rules and rituals are fascinating! My FH teases me all the time because I will go on rants about this sort of thing any time the LDS church comes up.

  • Anonymous

    I tell people openly and honestly that I hated my wedding. I don’t feel bad about it – why should I? It was mine, it was crappy and I’m glad it’s over. The one thing I always make sure I add after telling people I hated my wedding, was how much I love being married. Because for all the stories we read here on APW about other brides who didn’t like their weddings, I never hear anyone say they’re sorry about the marriage part. The wedding was one day, my marriage will hopefully be the rest of my life. In the long run, I lucked out. Not every newly wed gets to be as happy as I am. Not every wife who adored her wedding, ends up loving her marriage. I won. I got the best of it – a great husband.

  • Hmmmm. I felt like mine was perfect.

    I didn’t love being the center of attention so I felt a little nervous about that, but I focused on how much I loved everyone who came and how much they loved me.

    I’m glad that we did a mendhi party beforehand, which was a chance to hang out with our friends and family in a more low key way the day before the wedding. Less pressure that way.

    The only things I regret are: 1) we only got through about half of the playlist that I worked hard on and 2) even though we did a lot of events to see people who were in town there were still some who got short changed on our attention.

    Wish I could be more help!

  • Laura C

    “We’re led to believe that this one day is IT. It’s our one and only chance to have some special, magical experience with your spouse and/or family and/or friends. And in that moment, we have this checklist of things we’re supposed to experience—like feeling like the most beautiful woman in the room, or this near palpable showering of love from our community.”

    This is one of the things that most pisses me off about a lot of WIC rhetoric about the wedding as the most special day of your — the bride’s — life. It always comes across to me like they think women’s lives are so pathetic that this is the one chance to feel loved and beautiful and get our way. And probably there are women who don’t get those feelings routinely in their lives. But having one day of total overkill is not the answer to that! That’s kind of a tangential point to these questions, but I guess where it connects is this: not letting the wedding be the one and only day you think you should be feeling all this stuff, or notice if you do feel it.

    My wedding won’t arrive for a while and maybe I’ll love it in the end, but in the planning stage I’m definitely in the not loving my wedding camp. I find it interesting. I have hopes it’ll be fun. I have hopes it’ll be a wonderful day in my fiance’s life, because his joy is infectious and his love of weddings is the reason we’re going big. But for myself, I don’t need to feel like a princess or like Cinderella (talk about encapsulating the “your life sucks except for this one day” feel) or like it’s the best day of my life and my one chance in the spotlight. And I figure, if I don’t need it to be the best day of my life, there’s less of the kind of pressure that could turn it into feeling like the worst day of my life in the end.

  • Nikki

    This article came at the perfect time.

    I recently decided to cancel my wedding. It was going to be very small anyways, and due to other, larger circumstances, we’re just not going to do anything. It isn’t the same as being disappointed with the wedding, but the feeling of disappointment is SO huge in my chest right now.

    I think the advice here remains really relevant. As a couple, we’re having so many more wonderful moments that are really important to us. We’re also opening ourselves up for a lifetime of other amazing events where we can celebrate without the pressure of it being our wedding.

    It’s still a hard pill to swallow, but I think every bit of perspective helps, including this article today.

    • Anon

      I would so give you a big hug right now Nikki. As someone who has also had to pull the plug on their wedding due to family conflicts I am right there with you. Painfully disappointed, but decided. There is nothing worse than returning your plans to “wedding limbo” and just…not planning anymore. Especially if you enjoyed the planning at all or were looking forward to that wedding. It’s tough. Big hugs.

      • Nikki

        All hugs happily accepted :)

        And yea, painful but decided is exactly where we’re at now. Here’s to hoping it ends up being worth giving up the dream to build even more adventurous ones for both of us!

    • Erin

      That must have been a very tough decision, I’m sorry you had to make it. But you are owning it and being (what sounds like) a responsible adult and being realistic, and while that sometimes doesn’t feel very good emotionally it’s something you can be proud of. You can always plan something later when circumstances allow, just to get everyone together. Hope all goes well.

  • Melise

    First anon – I just want to back you up on your awkward first dance. After watching a few first dances and then having our own, I’ve come to the conclusion that special dances are just awkward for everyone. Our first dance was alright because we were basically just singing along the whole time and it was only 2 minutes long, but father-daughter was super awkward. We both wished the dj had cut it off around 1 minute in. And I always feel awkward watching people’s dances too. I think the only exception to this for me is if there’s a choreographed dance in place of the typical stand and sway, but there was absolutely no way I was going to learn a dance in addition to planning a wedding. So, awkward first dance? You are definitely not alone.

    • Breezyred

      As someone watching, I think all first dances and parent/child dances just seem long and awkward. I don’t know how many times I have seen the bride or groom mouth, “I didn’t realize this song was this long… is it over yet?” I skipped it entirely in my own wedding. Our band opened up the dance floor by inviting my spouse and I to the floor and then nearly immediately after inviting people to join in. I don’t even remember the song, but I remember that moment as being fun and fast. I didn’t have time to get anxious, annoyed, or impatient.

      • Shira

        I wanted a first dance with my husband, but I knew the whole spotlight on us thing would start feeling awkward very quickly. So I told a few of my closest friends in advance (and reminded them again right before the dance): “please just get on the dance floor after around 30 seconds of our solo dancing. Don’t let us dwindle there”. And it worked. No DJ announcements necessary. And other guests took the cue from them, so within a few minutes, the dance floor was full.

    • Glen

      We ended up doing a choreographed dance and loved it. We had taken dance lessons at the community college about 3 months before our wedding, decided we needed a refresher about 2 weeks before, and went to Arthur Miller. They pushed for a choreographed dance (great dance instructors, but they were *extremely* pushy), and we figured there was always the option not to do that at the wedding. What we discovered was that focusing on the steps alleviated the awkwardness for us (neither of us is keen on being the center of attention).

      The best piece of advice they gave us was not to have any dance longer than 2-3 minutes — find a spot in the music in that timeframe where it can just fade out and end the dance there. Worked great for our first dance. We didn’t do any of the other dances except for a wedding party dance, and our DJ invited all our guests to join in after the first 2 minutes.

      • MDBethann

        That’s pretty much what we did last year sans-Arthur Miller. We found a Billy Joel song we liked (he and the Beatles are the only artists we both like; our music tastes are very different) and then figured out that a rumba would be the best dance style for the song. We didn’t choreograph the dance per se, but we did pop the CD in several times before the wedding and dance around the house to the music, so we’d remember the right moves for the steps & turns. At the wedding, I think it was more enjoyable to watch because we weren’t just swaying back & forth on the dance floor – my DH and I did turns & spins which looked really cool to our guests. However, the whole time we were smiling & laughing to each other that our dance instructor would be having a fit because our steps were so bad (thank goodness for ballgowns that hide 2 left feet!).

      • Cheryl

        Did you mean Arthur Murray perhaps, for the dance lessons?

        FYI – Arthur Miller is the late playwright (aka the father-in-law of Daniel Day-Lewis and the ex Mr. Marilyn Monroe).

    • Joan

      Totally agree!!! The first minute of our first dance was really special and tender…and then the song…kept…going…. Seriously, anyone planning a first dance, consider a hard edit of the song to maybe 2 minutes tops! I can look back and laugh but it felt pretty darn ridiculous at the time.

  • Katherine

    I’ve toyed with the idea of submitting a post titled How to Have a Wedding and (Mostly) NOT be the Center of Attention. Only I haven’t been able to write anything post-worthy, since it was actually rather simple to pull off. Here are three things that I found helpful:

    1) We had a small wedding, where every single guest was someone I truly felt close to. Yes, the guests were still looking at me some of the time, but I think this felt different than it would have if I’d been less comfortable in my relationships with some people.

    2) We called our wedding a “dinner party with vows.” Rather than a processional, people – including us – sat at their dinner tables during the ceremony. My husband & I only went to the front when we were directly taking part in the ceremony (for the vows & the ring exchange). We had a fairly extensive ceremony, and we chose to read our vows in front because it was important to us, but I think this format is flexible. Especially because the ceremony is just an interlude in the dinner party, it could be as short as you want. I could even imagine asking someone else to read your vows to the guests, saying something like “these are the vows that X and Y said to each other privately earlier today.” Also, my father was the officiant for our ceremony (he got ordained in about 30 seconds on the Internet), and I think that having someone who knew me well be “in charge” made it easier to stick to the kind of ceremony/wedding we wanted.

    3) Dancing is totally not necessary, and there’s no need to put pressure on yourselves to dance in front of a crowd if you don’t want to. As far as I could tell, our guests had a great time without a dance floor.

    • You should definitely write that post!

    • Pamela

      I totally agree!

      My husband and I did basically the same thing, though we got married in a park first and then went across the street to a restaurant and had dinner with our 40 or so guests. We are both introverts so having a fancy choreographed reception just wasn’t us. So, we had a great dinner instead and it worked. I felt awkward since I hate hate hate being the center of attention, but it’s kind of hard to blend in and hide when you’re the woman in the big white dress!

      I do have to say that being married is WAAAAAY better than *getting* married. I loved our ceremony, and didn’t really realize that I had 40 pairs of eyes staring at me, but the dinner afterward took an effort on my part.

      • My original plan was a state park gazebo with pizza. My mom said no to that because she thought we should do more for people flying in and working hard to be at our wedding. I thought it was a good point and when she offered to pay for the new plan, that was it!

    • Kiki D

      I’ve found that not calling it a wedding is really helping keep my and others’ expectations in check–which is often so much of what this “best day ever” rhetoric is about. So we’re having a ceremony (immediate family only) and a party (for all sorts of folks) a few days later. I don’t know whether this will help with regrets later, but right now it’s really helping when I explain things to people. Saying “ceremony” and “party” makes them go “oh wait, this is different, I need to pay attention” instead of going on with their own fantasies.

      • ZoeEllen

        Absolutely – on the surface our wedding is pretty standard – Church followed by a reception. But the reception will be a laid back bbq in a village hall. So we’re calling it a ceremony and a party too. Using this terminology has really helped us to feel liberated from some of the traditions associated with ‘receptions’ that we weren’t so keen on.

    • Anna

      Yes to this – we got lucky because our families live 5000 miles apart, so it was easy to say that if the extended family of one person could not come because of distance, we would make it immediate family only plus 4 best friends (who of course, wanted and could travel) – so that kept our number down to 17, including us.

      We had a civil service at a nearby town – and the beauty of the service was that our role as bride and groom was limited to saying yes, twice. (Yes, we were the people we claimed to be, and yes, we wanted to marry the other one). It was perfect because, although overly sappy at home, we are not super cool with public emotion.

      Our reception was dinner by group effort in the backyard of rented house nearby – no dancing, no speeches. There were a few toasts, but they consisted of “congratulation – cheers!”

      Had I not been wearing the white dress, the day (and the pictures) would have simply looked, I believe, like a really fun bbq/dinner party. It was part of a whole week, however, of family togetherness and vacation in a foreign country (well, foreign for my people), and we still refer to it as one of the best weeks ever.

    • I would love to see this post, especially with pictures. :) Sometimes for me it’s just difficult to visualize a “different” way of doing things. It sounds like a lovely wedding!

  • TeaforTwo

    I have a friend who talks openly about hating her wedding, and I know that some of her friends, and definitely her mom, find it quite hurtful – a lot of people poured a great deal of time, expense and effort into helping her put together her wedding, and travelled to be there with her and her husband. I know that weddings are not impositions, but I honestly wouldn’t have given a second thought to taking time off work to fly out to be with her for her wedding, except that it feels (and I know it’s not how she means it to come across) like that doesn’t mean anything to her.

    My wedding isn’t for a few months, but from what I have seen with the weddings of friends and family, it’s important to have realistic expectations, and to have a default position of gratitude. The friend I talked to above got married many years after she would have liked to, and I think she expected the wedding to fulfill some huge need for her, and to live up to years of imagination. In contrast, another mutual friend got married two weeks before she did, and said repeatedly while planning the wedding, “this is not going to be the happiest day of my life.” I think that her way of “right-sizing” her wedding makes it a lot easier to accept every good thing that comes along that day, (particularly: loving someone so much that you get to make enormous promises to them in front of loved ones, and being loved so much that he or she does the same) without focussing on the ways that it didn’t live up to every hope and dream.

    • Anonymous

      This is tough. Basically everyone but myself and my husband loved our wedding. And they tell us that, a lot. That’s great. I know I can throw a good event, and obviously I did because I still get compliments on it 10 months later.

      But I’m not going to feel bad about hating it myself. It in no way diminishes anyone else’s work or participation, that I didn’t like it. In fact, my not liking my wedding has everything to do with me and nothing to do with anyone else.

      Maybe this is a case of not taking your friends feelings about her wedding so personally. And maybe also recognizing that for all the time and trouble you or anyone who helped her, put into the event – she put in the most. As the bride, she invested the most. And she obviously didn’t get what she wanted/needed from it. I feel her on that. Can’t you? Can you empathize with her feelings instead of taking personal offense to her feelings? I assure you, she would feel bad if she knew how her feelings affected you, I just question why she would ever need to feel even worse about something that’s so obviously already hurts her.

      • TeaforTwo

        I think that the crux of the disagreement is that I wouldn’t refer to her wedding as an “event”. It was a wedding, which unless you’re on the business side of it, is a totally different experience. No one flies across the country for the party – we get on planes to support people we love and to rejoice with them.

        Don’t get me wrong – I know that no one else’s wedding is about me or any other guests. I just think that it comes off as ungrateful to talk about hating a day when lots of people went out of their way to show their love for you. I think ti’s great to have an honest and candid conversation about the parts of a wedding that were surprising or disappointing. (“the caterers were three hours late and I was mortified and stressed out, but thank god I am married and it is over”; “I hardly got to talk to anyone, and I wish there had been more time for quiet conversation, but I’m so moved that everyone came,” etc.) I just think that shouting from the rooftops that you “hated” your wedding day is really strong language and is bound to hurt someone.

        • Liz

          You’re raising an interesting point! The women I know who have hated their weddings have never made me/the people I know feel like the fault was ours. The wrong food was served, she was in a cast, they picked a terrible venue, etc etc adding up to, “Ugh, what a disaster,” doesn’t make me feel like I wasted my time or wasn’t appreciated. I wonder what sort of things your friend is saying that come across that way?

    • Anonymous

      “but from what I have seen with the weddings of friends and family, it’s important to have realistic expectations, and to have a default position of gratitude.”

      I feel you on this and I’d like to think this is how I was for my wedding, but it feels a little judgmental to decide its the “right” way to be about weddings.

      I was extraordinarily grateful to everyone who helped with my wedding. But not everyone who got buckets of thanks from me – deserved thanks. I’ll never judge someone for not being as gracious or as grateful as I might be in their shoes, because I’m not in their shoes.

  • To the second person, there’s nothing saying you can’t throw a fun party and not do intros, or a first dance, or any of that stuff. We did the cake cutting and the first dance because we wanted to, but I was adamantly against doing the introductions or a bouquet toss (I didn’t even have a bouquet or garter, so that made that easy to nix.) You also could just have the officiant do a simple, bare bones ceremony that takes 10 minutes.

    You could also elope and have a private ceremony with a no-frills party afterward. Or no party at all.

    Once you start thinking about your wedding as a celebration and stop thinking about it as a Wedding, it is really easy to craft and customize pieces of it that you want, while cutting out the pieces that you don’t.

  • To the second anonymous, there are lots of ways to not be the center of attention. Our first dance was one of those “all married couples out to the dance floor, now just the ones who have been married more than 3 hours, now 1 year, now 5 years, etc” so the attention went to our sweet relatives and almost NO eyes were on us, as we were done after 30 seconds and in a throng of married couples. (It also made people get on the dance floor immediately, bonus!) Maybe have a ceremony where you can sit down, so people can’t really be watching your every single move? You sitting at the front of a ceremony will still feel like a wedding, but perhaps less of an exhibition. Skip formal dances, bouquet/garter toss, etc all together if you want!

  • april

    My wedding is about a month away. Earlier this month I attended the wedding of my fiance’s cousin, and at first it caused a mini panic attack. They had the most adorable, blog chic wedding you could imagine: gorgeous outdoor location, childhood photos strung from clotheslines, seating charts hanging in vintage frames strung from the trees, and adorable handmade details everywhere. It was lovely, and the only thing I could think at first was “OMG, our wedding is not going to be nearly this pretty!!!”

    Here’s the thing — the food was mediocre, all they had at the bar was two buck chuck, the bride and groom made zero effort to say hello to anyone besides their friends (that includes people *coughmeandmyfiancecough* who traveled across the country and showed up at the venue at 8am to help string all those handmade details from the trees), and the music was so loud and terrible, barely anyone used that picturesque dance floor surrounded with strings of cafe lights (so cute!). I’m really not trying to tear down their wedding. It really was lovely, and I know they put a lot of time and effort into planning it — it just wasn’t the wedding that I want, and it was really helpful for me to see that.

    My wedding is a month away and I am already regretting that it’s not outside and that there won’t be a ton of pretty handmade details (because I just don’t have the patience for crafting). But I’m hoping the good — the family traveling long distances to be with us, the beverage selections (American whiskey cocktail, thank you very much APW!), the – you know – marriage, will outweigh the bad.

    • In my opinion, if the food sucks, the wedding sucks. Good food is a MUST. I rarely remember the “pretty,” but I always remember the food and the cake. :)

      • Laura C

        You know, that’s how I feel, but then I’ve talked to someone who was like “what I cared about at my wedding was the music and the flowers.” Which blew my mind, but I guess that means when she goes to a wedding she doesn’t care about the food? So apparently it happens?

        • Rosie

          I really enjoy food in general, but when I’m out, and particularly if I’m not completely comfortable for whatever reason, I don’t eat very much or notice the food as much. When I’m at home I love good food, but I can think of a wedding where I can’t remember the food at all; I was feeling a bit awkward in what I was wearing and I didn’t know many people. But I was playing piano in the ceremony and I remember playing whilst the bride walked down the aisle!

      • Rebekah

        Okay, I get where you’re coming from in that you mean that having quality, tasty food is a very important part of an event/wedding to you, but to me that statement is coming off just a little bit harsh. Like, if I loved you or my fiance loved you enough to invite you to our wedding but we decided to have it at a venue with catering included for our sanity/budget/parents’ wishes, that you would think our wedding sucked because the food was not up to par. That would hurt my feelings. Which I’m sure is not how you intend it.

        So just…I want to make you aware that such an ultimatum, in a way, could sometimes be misconstrued. And I hope that even if you hate the food, you never say so to the bride and groom (G&G, B&B, etc).

        • MJ

          Agreed. Go to a good restaurant if you want great food. Not a wedding. Needs to be good enough so that people are comfortable, but not great.
          Our guest list is full of big city people so were not even going to try to match that. Simple and good but not great. Simple being key. Fake fancy mediocre = who are you fooling.

    • Ella

      Are you living my life? I had the EXACT same thing happen to me — we attended my fiance’s cousin’s wedding earlier this month and ours is coming up soon. She’s a wedding photographer and it was just gorgeous. It had all these personal touches without it being a “pinterest” wedding. Absolutely beautiful. And now I’m really insecure that our wedding is so different and more “fancy”, mostly because I don’t care and I made choices to appease my parents. Sigh. I know in my brain that they don’t care and they’re very non-judgmental, but I just feel like now I can’t live up to that.

  • Margaret Thatcher

    I am terrified that I am going to hate my wedding. I am terrified that no one will show up (it’s about an hour and a half from just about everyone; his family and mine live far apart and the place our friends live is farther in the third direction–our venue is in the middle of the triangle). I have been having nightmares about paying for 60 meals for no-shows, empty dance floors, and lots of empty chairs that will show up in the pictures and make me feel like no one really cares that much about me. I am worried that it will cause me to spiral into a depression (since I am prone to that) on my wedding day. I am afraid if people do come, they will stay for an hour and then leave–we have such a diverse group of people coming and we cannot please them all.

    I hear these stories about women that some of these things have happened to, and have no idea how to prevent it. I wish I could just not care, and be happy that I am getting married, but I have already poured so much time and love into this that if it goes badly, I don’t know I will not take it really, really personally and just feel like no one gives a crap that I am getting married. :(

    • I had similar fears in the run up to ours, especially on how I will handle disappointment on the day. In the end they were completely unfounded, a few minor points that I look back on weren’t quite what I wanted but on the day they stressed me out for all of 10 mins until I found someone else who loved me to distract me. It

      I think as others have said before having the expectation that not everything is going to go well helps a lot and also knowing that it is ok to feel whatever you feel. Feel it then move onto the next experience of the day. It is overwhelming but really awesome.


    • Elemjay

      Please don’t worry about this kind of doomsday scenario for your wedding! Some things will almost certainly go wrong, but that’s life – it’s most unlikely that the whole thing will be a complete disaster. Your friends and family love you and most of them will look forward to celebrating with you. I understand how stressful it is beforehand but please try not to let your worries get out of proportion….

      Wishing you the best for the wedding!

    • Maddie

      Here’s the thing people don’t tell you about your wedding: it’s possible to be really disappointed by some things and not be disappointed by the whole wedding. I’ve photographed weddings with just about every horrible thing you can imagine happen. Some small (like an iPod left at the church that had to be fetched) and some really really huge (like an immediate family member passing away months before the wedding). What I’ve learned is that it’s totally possible to compartmentalize your feelings about awful things and your feelings about the wedding holistically.

      There were plenty of things that disappointed me about my wedding. But overall? It was pretty awesome.

      Also, the further away you get from it, the more you can tell yourself it was great. Because the shitty details fade much faster than the good ones.

      • This. Would you still be planning a wedding if you knew for sure that you’d have very few guests? What if you hadn’t invited the people you’re worried won’t show up–what would show they cared about you and about your marriage? What will be the beautiful, emotional, fantastic parts of your wedding even in the worst case scenario?

      • p.

        THIS: “it’s possible to be really disappointed by some things and not be disappointed by the whole wedding”.

    • Rosie

      I’m sorry you’re feeling like this. It might help to focus on the things you can control, since you can’t control other people’s behaviour; for example, you could have a time where you and your partner have pictures taken, which is something you’ll always have to look back on. If you have a good group of friends you can dance with, you can enjoy the dancing whether or not the dance floor is packed. I know this doesn’t change the things you’re worried about, but it might help you to focus on positive moments. I hope this helps :)

    • CII

      I’m so sorry you are feeling this way. I am also in the planning process, and I have several of these same fears. It really helped me once I sent out the invitations (which I delayed and delayed because I was so afraid of getting “unable to attend” responses) because starting to see them come back with well wishes from attendees is very heartening. I noticed that a lot of your fears seem to sum from people other than you and your SO — maybe try to focus on the positives of how exciting it will be between you and your SO. The things I am most excited about mostly relate to parts of the day that involve my fiancee and I.

    • Rebekah

      I don’t know you personally, but I give a crap.

      I most assuredly give a huge, huge crap that you are getting married. I am excited for your love and commitment and that you want to celebrate it with other people. I love you just by virtue of you being you. I love your willingness to be honest about your fears.

      I hope you are able to be calm, to channel the wisdom that you need to get through it, and to realize that tons of people care that you’re getting married, even if not everyone can be there.

    • Shira

      Just so you know, your worries about people not showing up, people not getting along, people not liking it and leaving early – these are all normal worries (in my opinion) about any party you throw. And the less experience you have in party-hosting, the more anxious you’re likely to be.

      I remember getting really nervous about the first few birthday parties I had as a teenager (I hope this comparison is not offensive). It can be really nerve-racking to plan a party and think of the (dire!) social and psychological consequences – nobody came! nobody likes me! I have no friends! My friends won’t get along! Everybody will be bored and it will be awkward and I’ll hate myself for even trying.
      But luckily, these things usually work out just fine, actually, much better than fine, and the more parties you throw, the less anxiety-inducing they are.

      Hope this helps!

    • Anonymous

      I am also having all of these same fears for my wedding in two weeks. I’m at an awkward time of my life where I’m sort of drifting apart from my old group of friends, but not that close with new acquaintances yet. So everything feels a little bit forced. But, I would really just try to let go of your expectations and fears on the day of, and hopefully if you are feeling happy and having fun, other people will follow your lead.

      • Penny

        I’m finding that weddings can actually really help new friendships. After moving to a new city, my partner and I were invited to several weddings for people who we liked but weren’t really close to yet. Being invited to their weddings has really helped us to feel like these people like us and want us in their lives. We’ve become much closer friends much more quickly because we went to their weddings. So I wouldn’t feel bad about inviting people you aren’t that close to yet too your wedding, it could actually be really positive.

  • There were things about my first wedding I did not like. It was massively DIY, so I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Also, my dress was from China, and it didn’t fit quite right. Also, I really wanted to have dancing and do the first dance, and my ex husband did not want to. So we didn’t. The reception lasted like, an hour and a half, and I regret that I did not get to spend as much time with people as I wanted to. I DEFINITELY regret not having a professional photographer.

    But the marriage did not last, so my regrets do not really matter anymore, I think. I will probably get married again, and I can learn from previous mistakes.

    One thing I do NOT regret is DIY’ing the flowers. That was definitely worth it.

  • merryf

    What great, honest comments. This is a great discussion.

    So, after working my ass off for almost a year doing DIY and planning a laid-back, garden-party Sunday-lunch wedding that would make me the most comfortable, I ended up hating it. I don’t think there’s one photo of me smiling — except the one taken by a friend after the wedding was over and my new husband and I were dancing by ourselves. I too hate being the center of attention. The food was apparently marvelous and everyone appreciated the picnic-ness and casual feeling of the buffet and organic food etc. I wouldn’t know because I had zero interest in food.

    I think mostly why my wedding even now 3 years later, makes my stomach go in knots is because I was so very unhappy and upset, and I can’t separate those feelings from being there at that day. My father was going through chemo for a vicious leukemia and somewhere in my heart I knew this was not going to end well. And I was heartbroken. I think my sadness and anxiety showed through because I couldn’t control myself from worrying about him when I should’ve been a nice hostess. I also wasn’t very happy with my photographer who did a wonderful job on a friend’s wedding, and I thought we clicked, and I guess she just didn’t get “Jewish traditional laid-back funky no-dancing wedding with very sick and elderly father,” even though she promised it wouldn’t be any trouble. The posed photos are lovely and the rest just show my sadness. I don’t even look at them at all.

    I remember standing under the chuppah swaying from foot to foot thinking, if I could only just run off through those trees we could try again another day.

    The nice thing that I remember is that so many people told my mom, and my husband’s mom that it was the nicest wedding they had ever been to, because we had an ipod playlist and it was gentle and low and there was no forced dancing or an MC or anything. it was just friends who care about us getting together for lunch and good conversation. I guess that’s what I should re-frame my wedding day around.

    So it wasn’t one of the best days of my life. Know what was? Our Delayed Honeymoon/First Anniversary-moon 15 months later, climbing in the Italian Alps and laughing my head off at a trattoria and realizing at that moment that this was amazingly perfect, and that I got through my first year of marriage and death of both parents and I’m still standing.

    So I’m feeling OK.

    • MDBethann

      Hugs. I’m glad you were able to have a happy 1st anniversary after what sounds like a very rough first year of marriage. I hope your marriage continues to be a strong and healthy one, which is sounds like it is.

    • Anonforthis

      “I think mostly why my wedding even now 3 years later, makes my stomach go in knots is because I was so very unhappy and upset, and I can’t separate those feelings from being there at that day.”

      This. My mother got thoroughly wasted at the rehearsal dinner hosted at my parents’ house the night before the wedding. Like, falling-into-things-and-yelling-too-loudly-for-conversation drunk and my friends actually asked multiple times if she was okay. I spent the entire night before the wedding awake and just seething with anger because I felt like she ruined the night. I was still angry the next day because I was puffy/exhausted, she was late to the salon, she caused even more drama with my father that I just didn’t need to know about, and I was so exhausted by the end of the night, I had to skip most of my own after-party. I still haven’t confronted her about it (and probably won’t because that’s just not how my family operates), but I can’t help but think of my wedding and feel those angry/disappointed feelings, even when thinking about the things that had zero to do with her. It’s like that one thing colors my entire perspective of the day. I really hope it fades or I can laugh about it later, but for now, it just makes me sad.

      • My wedding mostly went pretty well, but there was some drama with a bridal party member that turned into tension with my in-laws who I thought absolutely loved me, and though they were admirable in their efforts to be happy and look like nothing was going on, I know that the kind of joy and warmth I had expected to get between them and me that day was affected by this situation, and I will always remember that. It exasperated my frustration at the things that didn’t happen on time or look the way that I pictured, because during the planning I often felt like certain people really didn’t believe in my ability to put my wedding together, and I had really wanted to prove them wrong. My husband’s support helped center me and get through the day mostly happy, but this drama and tension will always be associated with my wedding day and will always impact my memories of it.

  • My partner and I are both super strong introverts, and I was very upfront the entire planning process that I was going to cut everything that made us feel awkward. Because if the people the entire event is for aren’t feeling it, no one else will either.

    So there was a ceremony with vows, but it lasted 8 minutes and our spoken parts were less than 2 minutes. There was no big entrance into the reception room, we just walked in and got a glass of beer (advantage of having your wedding & reception at a brewery) after signing the official paperwork in the hallway. There was no music or dancing, no speeches, and people were still eating and talking while we cut the cake in a corner. I didn’t do a big dress shopping trip with my mother, we got ready together in our apartment that morning, and we didn’t do a rehearsal/night before dinner because the only people in the wedding party were our siblings and their only job was not to cry because then I would cry. We had 25 guests.

    Not a traditional wedding, but it was the only way we could survive that day and so there were no apologies about it–cutting so much stuff was the only “this is my wedding and I’m doing it my way because I can!” drama moment, and in the end it worked out fine.

    • p.

      My husband and I are also fairly introverted and we did many of these same things to avoid being the center of attention: a ceremony where we didn’t have to say much; no big entrance to reception area; no first dance; no head table at the reception; no cake cutting (dessert was simply put out after dinner).

      We had a processional into the ceremony and although it helped us honor people (we didn’t have a wedding party), in hindsight, I wish we had simply greeted people as they arrived. Our wedding was relatively small and non-traditional, and I think greeting people would have helped set the right tone and reminded people that the day was going to be about hanging out together, not all-eyes-on-us.

      • We were actually the last ones to arrive at our wedding, and we got to there super early–it was the one, and probably only, time where everyone of our family members and friends weren’t terribly late. So we started the day being greeted by everyone, which was fun it’s own (slightly stressful because who is “late” to their own wedding?!) way.

  • Zoe

    My experience of my wedding was totally hectic and stressful. Dinner was served an hour late, which cut dancing to a painfully short amount of time in an already short reception, my dress fell apart repeatedly, I lost my bouquet right before I was supposed to give it away, our sound system was funky, my hair fell apart into a mangled nest of bobby pins, and we couldn’t find our caterer and ended up cutting our cake awkwardly with a fork someone found for us.

    The first comment I got the next day from a guest was, “Wow! I’ve never been to such a glitch-free wedding!”

    I’ve made my peace now with most of the things that weren’t right from my perspective, and this is really just to say, don’t worry too too much about your guests. No way are they going to notice all of the things you do.

    Don’t feel comfortable doing a garter toss? Something goes totally haywire? Your guests are all there because they love you and your partner, these are not even a little bit the things they care about or even, apparently, notice.

    • Liz

      Isn’t it crazy how that works! The wrong band showed up at my wedding (!?), completely throwing off the song choices, announcements, everything everything. The cake collapsed moments before the ceremony started. Table numbers and place cards were misplaced. We didn’t hire enough hands, so there were piles of plates and crumpled napkins collecting all throughout the space. I leaned against a car just before the ceremony and smeared black car grease across the entire front of my dress.

      “What a perfect wedding!”

      • TeaforTwo

        My parents had an outdoor garden party wedding in July, and the cake collapsed during my father’s toast. If that cake hadn’t collapsed, I never would have heard one word about it, but I love that now it’s a detail I have about how the day unfolded, and it’s such a vivid one! It takes me to how hot it was that day, and I can picture a huge wedding cake falling apart behind the groom, and all of the guests gasping in horror. As a family anecdote, it beats “what a beautiful, seamless day it was.”

      • LOVE this.

        Sometimes when things go wrong, you just appreciate the opportunity for years of dramatic retelling, laugh, and keep going.

  • Four years out, the awful bits have faded and the good bits have become highlighted. There was a lot I loved about my wedding, but for months afterwards my husband and I would look at each other and say, Aren’t you glad we don’t have to get married again? Aren’t you glad we never have to plan another wedding? We still say that to each other pretty much every time someone we know gets engaged.

    But my wedding was the last major family event where my grandpa was alive and able to participate. Four years out, the most important part of my wedding feels like just the fact that my grandpa was there and so, so happy. I’m tearing up thinking about it. I mean, yes, some things still make me cringe. Some things I try to avoid thinking about. Some things I would do so very differently if I had to do it again. But it just doesn’t feel IMPORTANT the way my memory of my grandpa does.

    • Love this. Dancing with my grandfather at our wedding is one of The Big Things I’m most looking forward to. Less than three months out, the moments I’m obsessing about don’t involved centerpieces or flowers or adorable decor . . . they’re centered on the feelings I hope to experience when surrounded by so many people who love us. I want to relax and just feel really grateful.

  • Danielle

    I didn’t have a traditional wedding, primarily because every wedding I had ever been to featured a stressed out bride who was unhappy, either with how not like her dream wedding her wedding became, or because there were too many people, or whathaveyou

    I also believe that the wedding is not all about the bride. It is about two people coming together to form a union because they are the best friends who love each other deeply. We brought our closest family members along because we love them, too. All 11 people were happy to be there, and we had an amazing time. Planning took about three hours. It was not expensive.

    The only regret I have is wearing those god awful spanx under my dress.

  • Maria

    Cake-in-the-face smashing – that is the thing I would have changed.

    My dad actually advised my husband to smash the cake in my face – apparently that was the moment for my mom during their wedding when she realized she could relax and enjoy the party. However, even though I knew the rationale and I knew it was coming, it still stressed me out more than anything else that day. Not the end of the world, and a little funny in retrospect, but the idea of getting frosting on my dress and having to reapply make-up was the worst at that point in time!

  • SamiSidewinder

    You want commiserating?

    First I realized I had no plan for makeup on my face and that I suddenly cared (when I hadn’t before) and set my timeline back at least half an hour as I rushed across the street to ask the beauty place if they could rush and fit me in whammo fast for my wedding.

    No, I take that back. FIRST I forgot my headpiece and had to send my husband back to our house to get it, which put a lull in the hair appointment during which I rushed across the street in curlers.

    Because of that our first look photos were all of a few minutes in a (pretty) alley. Then the van that is picking us up can’t find us and we become even later. Also the plan for the order of pick ups gets changed which will lead to further problems down the road.

    We get to the venue, I realize I’ve forgotten the marriage certificate. My husband is trying to calm me down when I realize I’ve also forgotten the rings (because of the order of van pick up and me not being able to stop by the place I got ready to pack my own stuff). This is when I really lose it.

    I am informed that we do not have time to wait for someone to go get them because the threatening thunderstorms are no longer threatening but moving in, and at a good clip.

    So we borrow some other peoples wedding rings that mostly fit. Start our ceremony. And guess what? It starts to sprinkle. Then it starts to POUR. We all run for cover.

    Then, well I’m done complaining because we end up having the rest of the ceremony inside all huddled together with no chairs and everywhere I look I see a smiling face. I kind of liked that bit. And the rest is a blur. So it started pretty down, but ended on an up: we were married! Once we got the certificate and rings squared away…

    • TeaforTwo

      I LOVE this.

      Don’t get me wrong – I have no doubt that there was a lot of under your breath (or louder) cursing and frustration when you realized what you had forgotten, and with the rain, and I can only imagine the stress of rolling with every successive punch. But what a story!

      What I love about your story is that it isn’t just a story of things going wrong – it’s a story of people rallying around you. Forgetting your rings sounds like such a catastrophe, until you get the story for the rest of your life of how you had to borrow rings from Aunt Edna and Uncle Eddy who have been married for 45 years – rings that have already seen a lot of marriage. (Or whoever’s rings – I realize I’ve just started inventing your family lore.) And being crammed inside bu that much closer to all of your smiling loved ones, who are still just over the moon for you – I think this is a beautiful story of why we get married in front of all the people we love: so they can hold us up!

  • amber

    Speaking to the second writer, I was almost mortified at having to stand in front of people and say things. OMG! But that didn’t turn out so bad, I wrote our ceremony and we said a couple sentences that felt fairly natural for us to say. We made them funny and personal and so it felt OK. Our ceremony was like 7 minutes… so super short.

    Some things I definitely don’t regret:
    * not having speeches
    * not having a “bridal party”
    * no dancing and sure as hell no first dance, father/daughter dance
    * not walking down the aisle
    * wearing a non-white dress

    Some things I do regret:
    * spending time on decorations I didn’t notice/that didn’t seem to make a difference (so either no decorations at the ceremony,it was pretty enough, or better decorations)
    * having a bouquet (even though it was fake and is sitting on my desk right now)
    * getting my hair trimmed right before the wedding

  • Somewhere out there is a quote that goes something like this: “I want a marriage more beautiful than my wedding.” & it’s true. Not looks beautiful but love beautiful. Whether or not you loved your wedding, your marriage is the important part. Do your best to make it beautiful & honest & special.

  • Beth

    When I started reading this article and the comments I was thinking, “Weird, I don’t think anything actually did go wrong at our wedding. It was wonderful!” But now I’m remembering all the things that happened. I forgot to put on the perfume my husband gave me that I’d been thinking about for months, I forgot to put in my contacts before our first look and was mostly blind until right before we walked down the aisle, I got locked out of my hotel room by the wedding party when the photographer pulled me aside for a couple pictures before heading to the wedding, we were running about 30 minutes late through the whole night, I had a giant pimple on my chin (of course), our compostable silverware kept breaking during dinner, the bar we planned to meet at after the reception closed 15 minutes after we got there (hello getting married on a Sunday) and there was nowhere else nearby to go, I didn’t get the chance to talk to everyone as much as I would have liked, and my husband and I got locked out of our hotel room at the end of the night and had to call in the manager to come from home to let us back in.

    Out of all those things, the only two that I feel a tiny twinge of regret about are the perfume and the not getting to talk to everyone as much as I wanted. I went into it expecting something big to go wrong and when it was just the little tiny things, they rolled off my back. So this is maybe not helpful for those who already hated their wedding, for those who are worried about things going wrong, my advice it to just accept that while not every moment will be perfect, you can go into it with the attitude of making the best of it.

    And sometimes the things that go wrong make for the best memories. At my sister-in-law’s wedding, her dad’s cell phone started ringing in the middle of the ceremony and because it was a new phone, he didn’t know how to turn it off. It ended up being hilarious lifted the mood of a very emotional ceremony. Plus now we get to make fun of him about it all the time.

  • Amy

    Get busy with the business of living. Create some new amazing memories, and the regrets will sulk away on their own. I promise you that in a year, you won’t give a f#ck.

  • Del678

    A lady I know had a power outage for pretty much all of her reception… But somehow none of the noticed it… Romantic candle lit reception anyone?

  • Alexandra

    I was having a lot of anxiety about my wedding about a month ago (it’s five weeks to the big day), but I’ve since managed to calm down.

    I started noticing patterns in my thinking that would lead to all the fear in my chest:

    1. This is my BIG CHANCE to be special and impress people with how interesting and in love I am! My ONE BIG CHANCE.

    Unrealistic expectations=big anxiety.

    2. Look at how beautiful SHE is in her wedding dress in that Style Me Pretty blog! Le sigh.

    Comparison with airbrushed wedding porn=sad sad sad

    3. I’m spending WAY TOO MUCH MONEY! Ahhhhh why’d I buy those shoes?? OH NO why do we keep saying yes to all these guest list people (never mind that our number 1 priority that we set at the beginning of the planning was: people. Our policy is that if the person crosses our mind and we’ve ever done anything with them socially OR would like to do something with them socially, they’re invited)

    Budget anxiety…except we’re going to be fine. I’m really good with money and we just made the food be cheap–burgers/grill cookout, beer/wine bar so that we could afford to invite anybody.

    4. I’m totally not spending enough money! Ahhhhh this is the one time I’ll ever have an excuse to buy so many pretty things, how come I’m not using the excuse? We’re not even having favors! We’re not having professional flowers, just pineapples and plumerias gathered from the ground the day before (we live in Hawaii). Our appetizers are chips and salsa…ahhhhhhhh oh no oh no oh no.

    5. My wedding is SO RELIGIOUS! We’re super duper Christian but a lot of our families and friends are not…what if they get turned off and weirded out by all the praying and worship music and the handful of very odd, homeless/halfway home guests who we love but that don’t really make a lot of sense?

    6. I WANT TO INVITE MORE PEOPLE!!! but we’re already pretty maxed out even with our careful budgeting and policy of inviting everybody. It turns out that there are limits even when you want to be limitless.

    Anyway, I stopped worrying about it. All I can think about is how excited I am to actually be married at the end of it. A poster above said that realistic expectations and a default setting of gratitude are the key ingredients.


    • Penny

      Your wedding sounds amazing. I would love to be invited to a wedding like that. I hope you both have an awesome day.

  • olivia

    Oh man, this post is so perfectly timed for me! I got married over the weekend and, although I had a glorious time at my wedding and reception, I have been awash in regrets ever since then and really depressed. It’s been really strange: I’m not eating, barely sleeping, and obsessively ruminating about what I could have done differently. All of this is surprising because before the wedding I was such a laid-back bride and really just wanted to get the whole shebang over with so that I could get right back to normal life and stop worrying about one day, but I guess in the end all the hype about a wedding being “the BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE” got inside my head and now I’m feeling quite sad.

    Surprisingly, my biggest regret about my wedding day is (embarrassingly enough) how my hair looked. Believe me, it seems trivial to me too … but everytime I look at a photo of my wedding day I see both our happiness AND I see a hairstyle that wasn’t comfortable, wasn’t what I wanted, and was the opposite of the picture I brought in to my stylist. And I also feel all sorts of regret about not being more assertive and pushing harder to re-do it. I’m trying to think of the experience as a gift that is teaching me perspective and reminding me to keep my priorities straight (eg: marrying the right person is waaaaaaay more important than how my hair looked while doing so) but … it’s really hard to do so. Right now I’m just upset that I didn’t look how I wanted to on my wedding day, and that’s a tough pill for me to swallow.

    • It’s funny how we focus on these minutia things. I had a beautiful day but keep regretting all these really small things: I had odd-sized tables that were already at my venue and the tablecloths looked kind of sloppy on them, why didn’t I just rent standard sized tables? I forgot my garter which was so pretty, why didn’t I put it in the bag with my underwear? My food was late and some of my decor wrong because my caterer was also my day-of coordinator and was overwhelmed though she thought she could handle it, why didn’t I just ask her to step down and focus on the meal, something I thought about doing many, many times? When the reception was running late why didn’t I just let it run a half hour over, all it would have done was cut into our security deposit and I really regret not getting a few more dances and visiting longer with a few more people? Why was I so rushed in the morning I forgot to get a picture with my whole bridal party? (to get to a venue that wasn’t ready anyway). It is really hard when you spent a lot of time on an event and put so much pressure on it to let go of the things that aren’t perfect. And its especially hard if that thing is something that will show up in every picture, so you can’t even look at the pictures of moments you did love and forget about that one thing. All I can say is that it has been helpful for me to think about something good about the day every time I think about something bad about that day, and to ask my husband how he thinks I looked, he’ll say beautiful every time.

      • olivia

        “All I can say is that it has been helpful for me to think about something good about the day every time I think about something bad about that day, and to ask my husband how he thinks I looked, he’ll say beautiful every time.”

        That is an excellent idea. I have been working on trying to be more open minded in general about the photos that I’ve seen so far and realize that even if it wasn’t what I wanted, my husband thought I looked amazing and everyone who attended the wedding said they loved my hair. I don’t want anger and resentment to bubble up when I’m looking at my wedding photos in ten years, so I’m trying to reframe my memories now to have positive associations. No matter what, my wedding is in the past and I need to focus on enjoying the present (my marriage) and just forgive myself for my hair and all the other things that didn’t go quite right.

    • Beth

      Sometimes it’s the little things that seem like the biggest deals. I totally get the hair thing. I had an awful experience at my prom with absolutely hating my hair and I still have somewhat of a hard time looking at my prom pictures because it seems so glaring to me. Howeeeeeever, when I actually think back on the night, my memories don’t focus on the hair. They focus on the group of friends I was with, the lame fix-up date I ditched, and the fun we all had hanging out after the dance. Even with horrendous hair (and I highly doubt your hair could have possibly been as bad as my 2000 ‘do), I still have good memories. So I agree – focus on the good memories of your wedding, those will be the things that stick with you. And in 10-15 years, most people’s hairdo’s are going to look dated and hilarious anyway, so you’ll fit right in!

  • And it does get better with time, I promise. I was kind of depressed the week after the wedding but now, exactly four weeks out, I feel pretty good about it. I love planning things, and I am already daydreaming about anniversary parties and PhD parties and baby showers. Not as wedding do-overs, because I don’t need a do-over, but as opportunities to apply some of the lessons that I have learned about being direct and clear and realistic in my expectations, in events that won’t have the kind of external pressures and emotional demands that are placed on a wedding.

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  • Iliana

    I eloped when I was 24 and I regret it so much. The marriage lasted 5 years. Now I am engaged to a man who has been married before and has had the BIG, beautiful wedding. Naturally, he doesn’t want anything big or fancy this time. I feel like this is my chance to have the wedding I never had to the man of my dreams. This has been a constant source of stress and negativity in our relationship.

    Now I am pondering if the constant comparisons and insecurities will eventually make me cancel -yet again- our plans to get married.

    Anyone else been in the same boat?

  • Holly

    Not sure if this helps, but my parents (sort of) hated their wedding(s). I say sort of because now (35 years later – but actually even when I was younger – so like 15 years after?) they relish telling about how awful they were. It’s kind of hard to be sure if they really hated it all or if they really enjoyed how awkward everything was.

    They had a civil ceremony at City Hall and then, a few months later, had their marriage blessed with a cake and wine and punch sort of party afterwards. It seems City Hall was so NOT what they expected and they thought the marriage blessing would be better and then it was worse. So, as my mom says, “we just decided to quit, not while we were ahead, so much as before we found a new low”.

    At my parents’ courthouse ceremony, they didn’t separate the marriages from other city hall and courthouse goings on, so they had to wait for all the convicted felons to go through their sentencing hearings before they could get married. Several convicted felons apparently said some very rude things to my folks while they were waiting, which I will not repeat here, but generally involving violence, nonconsensual sex acts, and multiple curse words. There are not pictures of my folks together because they were too shy to ask anyone to take a photo of them, but they took pictures of each other in front of the courthouse. They sort of regret all of this, but they also laugh about the vulgarity and the “lonely” pictures of each other. They say things like ‘Ah, sentencing day …” and make exaggerated googly eyes at each other, like it’s the most romantic thing ever.

    The marriage blessing was in southern Arizona, in 1978, in the summer, in a building without air condition and it lasted over an hour. Mom and Dad say you could hear some of their siblings and friends saying “good GOD, when will this end?” during the blessing. Children were crying. The priest was visibly sweating – like he was in a sauna – and my Dad kept pulling on his collar and sleeves and messing with his shirt and tie (because he was HOT and sweating too) but looking so stereotypically like he didn’t want to be there that my Mom started crying and tried to pass it off as happy tears … and failed. During the party, the icing had melted off the cake so no one ate it, and someone (I forget who) fainted. My Dad’s parents, wonderful people, could tell things were going off the rails and tried vainly to keep everyone entertained by singing songs that only they knew – mostly WWII songs. My Mom’s dad got drunk and made a speech about everyone being assholes. My Mom’s mother said something to my Mom about how she was lucky my Dad married her since she was used goods (OMG seriously), and there was more, but I won’t bore you.

    They joke about torturing their families with their marriage blessing and the party from hell. As awkward as the singing was at the time – what with only my two grandparents singing songs that were several decades old and everyone staring at them like they were nuts, my parents learned all of the songs that my Dad’s parents sang because at least it was a sweet attempt to keep everyone entertained, and now the songs make them happy. And basically, my Mom talks about how my her parents were jerks and my Dad sighs, pats her shoulder and says “They really were”.

    I find these stories hilarious and laugh because that’s the way my parents tell it – as something to laugh about. But if I think about actually living it, it kind of makes me sick (and especially upset on my Mom’s behalf). I think they owned and fully felt the disappointment (and on my Mom’s part, the justifiable anger), but then they found the funny. Letter writer #1, I totally understand that it might be too soon for you to be making jokes and finding the funny, but I think if you can turn some of the awfulness and awkwardness into jokes, especially jokes you share with your husband, it will get better.

    And this is more for letter writer number 2, but do whatever you want. Something might be awkward and awful, but eventually, you can enjoy those awful things. Obviously, these are not too awful, but the things I regret? At my City Hall, there was the giant Death skeleton puppet out front, including hood – I am an awful person who did not read the signs being held by the protestors, but to be fair, I was a little distracted and anxious about making sure we hadn’t lost the license – importantly, we did not lose the license and we are totally legally married. I think my husband (ha- he’s a husband now) has a picture of the signs, I should check. I regret not getting my photo with the giant Death puppet.

    From our party celebrating our marriage, there are definitely photos of me with my short cocktail./wedding dress tucked into my Spanx (HOW LONG WAS I LIKE THAT BEFORE SOMEONE TOLD ME!!!). I regret that I spent even 5 minutes in the bathroom freaking out about that. I am still freaking out about it, mind you (HOW LONG?!?), but there, at that time, I wish I’d just fixed it and gone on with it instead of the 5 minute freak out and the awkward/failed attempt to blend into the background once I forced myself to leave the restroom. And I am trying – TRYING – to find the funny in the Spanx showing pictures now. Give me another 5 years and I think I will be able to put one of those photos in the wedding album. That I still need to make, actually.

    Sorry for the babble. I don’t mean to say anyone shouldn’t feel however they feel. And for what it is worth, I personally think hating your wedding is a time honored tradition – at least in my family – and I (almost) wish I had more to hate about mine because my parents seem to love hating theirs together.

    • Alyssa M

      Thankyou. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. I know this is four months after your comment, but if you ever see this, thankyou so much for sharing these stories. I find myself supersuper scared when I think about our wedding next fall… because I anticipate a wedding as awkward as letter writer number 2’s. But you put it in perspective better than anyone has. I’ve read about people admitting/owning hating their weddings. I’ve read Meg’s tips for introverted weddings. But your comment about choosing to find joy regardless of what happens is exactly what I needed to hear.

      You should TOTALLY write a submission about all of this. I feel like it could help a lot more people struggling with this.

  • Caitlin C

    This post might just have saved me a few months of pain. I say “might” because I’m in a pretty dark self-loathing/cookie-eating/manic place at the moment.

    My wedding just happened. Last weekend (September 14th) in Northern Colorado. The weekend of the flood. My entire wedding was cancelled, and put back together the day before the wedding. Venue evacuated, leaving all other vendors obsolete. When it all went to hell, I remained pretty calm, until people started getting mushy with me. “You DESERVE a wedding.” “It’s important to everyone”. In hind-sight, I wish I would have called it off. The toasts from my family were beautiful, but that’s the only bright side. And I’m having an impossible time trying to sort through my emotions. Everyone is telling me how much fun it was, but it was everything I didn’t want. I had my ceremony in a dim dingy old theatre (and not like a “cool” old theatre, a movie theatre style presentation room without the AC being turned on in advance to-boot!). I was sweating. I screwed up my vows. There was only a third of the guests there. There was no rehearsal so it was strange to watch. After that, I busted outside for some air, and took some pictures in the grassy area of an industrial park. Wrangling family was difficult, I was done. We were introduced into our “cookie-cutter” reception room that was one of many in the convention center across the street from the hotel. I was nervous. The food was only sort of warm. I downed three glasses of wine immediately. I maybe said “hello” to a third of my guests. I was so embarrassed. I was waiting for it to be over. I got too drunk.

    Explanation: I have already been married for almost three years prior to the disaster above. I love my husband (SO MUCH), but we got engaged without the engagement story. We threw a party and got legally married. It was a crazy party (read: drunken debauchery). I went to bed at 4 a.m.

    I’m hoping this horrible sadness will blow over, and I will be able to see all the good things, but reviewing my wedding I’m so disappointed. And I want to feel the feelings and be sad/mad/angry, but everyone around me is trying to tell me how great it was. And maybe it was, but it wasn’t to me. There I said it. It’s how I feel and I’m not sorry.

    (But don’t tell anyone….)

  • Ella

    i’m happy for this post and all the comments in it. My wedding was mortifying and i cannot think about it without cringing. I have a strong physical reaction and i don’t know how to make these feelings pass.

    i was married in august of 2010 and i cannot watch the video or talk about that day without cringing.

    My husband and i were moving to a different city 2 weeks after the wedding. At the reception, I drank too much and when my best friend/maid of honor gave her speech, i joined her on stage, hugged her and we cried and laughed. when my husband gave his speech thanking our guests, i joined him on stage, yelled at the mike and cried. I also took the mike and gave an impromptu speech with virtually no voice thanking and giving a gift to my mother and mother in law.

    After this mess, i drank some more, danced my ass off and my hair fell apart, my dress was a mess and by the time we cut the cake, I was too drunk to do it properly. I think about this even now and i die inside.

    i am mortified and i don’t know how to make it back from this. We now have a baby and when i think of seeing my husbands family and family friends that attended the wedding at my child’s celebrations, I feel exposed and embarrassed.

    lucky for me that since i married my husband, i have inherited the nightmare that is my manipulative, domineering and demanding mother-in-law.

    any ideas on how to move on from all this?