This Isn’t Your Last Chance

I was smiling at the joy and beauty in a Wordless Wedding post when the thought crept into my head: “That’s what I wanted my wedding to be like.” I’ve noticed this more and more as time stretches away from our wedding day. Seeing other people’s outfits and ceremonies and yes, even flower arrangements on Pinterest, makes me wonder if I should have done something differently. They had the sunshine I wanted—why did it have to rain in August on my day? (Potentially something to do with getting married in the Lake District in England.) That is just the sort of venue I had in mind, before reality set in and we booked the village hall. That hen party looks so fun, I wish I had organised that!

Scrutinising these feelings has made me realise that this is the fantasy I had unconsciously embraced about weddings: that your wedding day is your only chance. The worry I had about getting the right pictures that looked amazing was only partly to do with the fact that I wanted nice pictures, and mainly because I felt this was my only chance to get those lovely pictures. It didn’t actually bother me that we used the village hall as our venue, except for the feeling that I’d missed my chance to spend a day in a stately home or gorgeous forest clearing. And the hen party—well, that was me thinking I’d missed my chance to feel certain feelings, as if it was the one evening when I could feel loved and supported by my friends.

But of course, having a wedding where we actually get married is far more important than organising the ultimate wish fulfilment parade. The reason we didn’t exchange vows on a mountain top and serve individual hand crafted pavlovas and give out handmade favours and personalise absolutely everything was because, frankly, we wanted to get married, and we didn’t want to wait a hundred years until the stars aligned and we had an astronomical bank balance to spend on all these things at once. (Note: If you are able to do this, that is awesome, so please go ahead and then post some pictures!) We also wanted our family and friends, including elderly people and those with health problems, to be able to attend and enjoy themselves.

I want to encourage those of you who are planning a wedding, or who perhaps regret a decision you made: although there are things about my wedding day that I would like to change, now I’m married my overwhelming feeling is of relief! It wasn’t the “perfect” day, but it was great; and now the planning is over, we’ve done it and we can move on.

And the fact is that my wedding didn’t have to fulfil every dream I’ve ever had because I have the rest of my life to do those things. Me and my husband can throw other parties, save up for different nice clothes, have a photo shoot if we want snazzy pictures of ourselves, and travel to amazing places anyway; we haven’t missed the last chance. We could renew our vows and have another wedding, or exchange meaningful thoughts in a beautiful place. This is our “happy ever after,” and we can use this time to pursue our dreams. We didn’t wave goodbye to our last chance to have fun when our wedding day was over. So when you’re making choices, don’t worry: this isn’t your last chance.

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  • Elizabeth

    I’m getting married this Saturday. Reading this post is exactly what I needed, in this moment.. We are having a simple wedding, and I keep hearing whispers around me encouraging me to spend more, do more at the last minute because “it’s the only time you’ll get to do this.”

    Thanks for the sanity!

    • Moe

      Congratulations! I’m getting married this Saturday too, in a backyard!!

      *high five*

      • Elizabeth

        Your day will be beautiful!

  • Naomi

    I would like to exactly this whole post- it is so true! There are parts that, five months on from my wedding, I am still replanning in my head, things that I wish hadn’t happened so close to my wedding, including family bereavements, but they did. Slowly I am accepting my wedding as it was, taking the compliments that came our way about what a lovely day it was, and framing my memories happily. Our day was joyful, if imperfect in places, and although it went by far too quickly. But, it is the start of opportunities, or the continuation of them, and not the end. There will be other joyful gatherings with family and friends, other days where I will feel beautiful and loved and blessed to have wonderful people in my life. And other days where I can show my husband my love in numerous large and small ways every day for the rest of our lives together. Thank you for reminding me that this is the case!

    Oh, and the lake district in a village hall sounds like a pretty perfect wedding to me, notwithstanding the rain.

    • Amanda L.

      Ah, Naomi! I’m 13 months past my wedding and I am still replanning it in my head, kicking myself for decisions I made (or didn’t make). But this post is heaven sent, especially because just yesterday I had this thought:

      I have lived over 13,500 days. My wedding was ONE of them. Granted, it was a big one, and there were a LOT of societal expectations surrounding it. But as of this moment, I refuse to let any regrets about it tarnish any of my remaining (hopefully thousands) of days.

  • LALA

    I got married in a tiny, private ceremony in my parents’ home after Christmas (and I do mean tiny – only my three siblings, our parents, and a friend who officiated were present other than myself and the groom, of course). In the last month or so I’ve been regretting a couple of choices, mostly though that I let myself be bullied into changing something that had been very important to me for the sake of keeping the peace. This piece was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Thank you!

  • “ultimate wish-fulfilling parade” — that is the perfect way to describe that idea.

    It’s hard sometimes to not look back and think of what I’d like to “fix” about my wedding … but then, I bet ladies with unlimited budget and no limitations on their options look back and think the same. We’ve been sold this idea of “perfect,” when really what we should be concerned with is what matters most to us. Did I have the fun, laid-back celebration with my family and friends I wanted? Yes. And barbecue/pie/80s music? Yes. Then, mission accomplished.

    • That was my favorite phrase too, though I completely love this whole post. I really worried that after the wedding, I’d regret everything we couldn’t or didn’t do and have a lot of envy when I see different and beautiful weddings. But yes, mostly it’s relief that we had a fantastic wedding and now I can just appreciate weddings without trying to figure out what I would and wouldn’t want to emulate for my own. The whole part of my brain that was devoted for all of those years to wedding ideas is free now! And we’re married and it’s great. I’m already stealing decor ideas from Wordless Weddings for our upcoming housewarming cook out.

  • Denzi

    YES. Man, I still find myself using Pinterest to round up fancy wedding rings and bridesmaid dresses and ethereal party decorations, a year and a half into my marriage, and sometimes I feel a little bit batty doing it.

    But when I take a step back, I waaaaaant a lot of rings but not more than my ring set, and I waaaaaaant an ethereal princess-y magical party, but not actually with all my husband’s extended family there. I don’t actually waaaaaant a different wedding, I just want ALL the pretty wedding stuff in other parts of my life.

    I have NINE OTHER FINGERS to wear all those fashion-forward indie rings on. Maybe not all at the same time. :-P

    • I was pinning things for months before we were engaged. Throughout that pre-engagement period I was incredibly sad whenever I looked at my wedding board- we were having serious discussions, and I was wondering if we would ever get engaged/married. And if we didn’t, when would I ever fill a glass pitcher with gorgeous looking sangria? When would I make miniature donuts to serve with small cups of coffee and hot chocolate? When would I wear earrings with so many rhinestones that they look like the stars themselves? I was complaining to a friend, and she changed my world with four words- “Just have a party!”

      Looking back, I don’t want to make miniature donuts for my wedding, and rhinestone earrings are definitely not what the day is about. But having a party every few months is a fun way to indulge in my Pinterest finds, and all the fantasies I’ve had. Besides, who wants the wedding to be the only day you do something out of the ordinary?


        I loved the creativity of planning the event, doing the crafts and invitations, building everything around a theme.

        My husband knows this brings great joy to me and he is game for a massive party thrown once a year. In fact, it’s become a tradition and something all of our friends look forward to all year long. So far we’ve done a classic Holiday Cocktail and then a Spooktacular Halloween Soiree (for the Boo-tiful people) which included 60 kilos of dry ice thrown into a swimming pool, a chandelier, and epic homemade costumes with TONS of rhinestones and a DJ. Next year we’re going to do a Christmas in Casablanca party with throw pillows, a room transformed into a Moroccan tent, Sheesha water pipes, Lebanese food and belly dancers. I don’t know what I’ll wear, but we’ll do the invitations to be kind of WWII Casablanca…(can you say fascinator and red lipstick and great pictures?).

        If it’s a Hen Party you are after, just start up a “boozy book club” (reading the book is optional)…

        So YES YES YES… Just Have a Party! And/or do all that other stuff piecemeal…

        • ElisabethJoanne

          So much of the bad feelings about weddings – the uncertainty before, the regret after – comes down to weddings being the ONLY parties people seem to throw these days.

        • I totally want to come to one of your parties!

      • Elemjay

        We have a big halloween party every year for the last 10 years with some good friends – like 300 people big. My wedding only had 120 people at it’s biggest point so this regularly exercises my sociability muscles. I also arguably spend just as much work on planning my costume on a yearly basis as I did for the wedding.

        Of course it’s not the same as a wedding – e.g. cross-generational wedding guests or deep emotional reactions or delicious dinners – but it is SO much cheaper and really fun and ticks many of other wedding planning boxes. You do NOT just have one chance to be the centre of attention and plan a massive party for sure!

    • Emily

      Ha! I’m guilty of this. I have a “Borrowed and Blue” board, and Ian and I are celebrating our third anniversary soon.

    • Moe

      Not sure if this is helpful or more enabling, but I’m pinning for my friends upcoming weddings now. I get plan the perfect 1920s speakeasy wedding AND a rustic vintage apple orchard inspired affair.


      • I’m pinning my wedding, too. The glass pitcher full of sangria will happen after – when we host our first ever gathering at home. If I can swing it, we’ll do it relay race weekend, though that may be unwise.. what with having to run a marathon relay and all. After?

  • SarahToo

    This is a super helpful post and a great reminder that we don’t have to fall for that story of our wedding day being THE apogee of our life (as a desireable/ fulfilled/ beloved, gorgeous and glamorous woman). I love what Naomi wrote about “framing my memories happily”. It’s so easy to dwell on the imperfections instead of what went right, and to yearn for something flawless (and most likely unachievable) instead of being satisfied with something great but with a few bumps and goof-ups (have pity on those of us who experienced full-on disasters). As time passes I’m learning to let go of the things that bug me a bit about our wedding and focus on what went well…after all, most everything that really mattered went amazingly well. And the things that didn’t? I suspect that I’m the only one who was bothered by them.

  • Lovely post — and I’m salivating at the mention of the Lake District! I would give my bottom dollar to be married at a village hall in England (so sayeth the anglophile American, haha).

  • Spot on. I think the “This is your last chance!” narrative is the most insidious of the WIC sales pitches. Once you believe it’s your “last chance,” you’re much more apt to go overboard on each and every last item you can just in case you never do them again. It just constantly reinforces all the other narratives surrounding weddings- if you don’t want a ballgown, you might buy one anyway because “this is my last chance to ever wear a big princess dress, and what if somewhere down the road I regret not taking this one chance to wear one?!” and on and on.

    Sure, there are some events or circumstances unique to a wedding, but it’s up to practical ladies like ourselves to parse those out, rather than panic at our “last chance” happening at the very start of our married lives.

    • Class of 1980

      This is such an excellent post and I couldn’t agree more.

      Miss Manners wrote that she thought the reason weddings had gotten so over-the-top, was because people didn’t entertain as much. This lack of opportunity led people to invest too much in one event.

      There is the unreal pressure to not only plan something Detailed! and Extraordinary! and Unique!, but to also maintain your health so you look “perfect” that day. Yet, it’s a challenge to remain calm and healthy when so much is riding on one day!

      This is fun?

      At least when you entertain, the whole thing is more lighthearted. If your party doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, there’s always another one to look forward to. And you get to change up themes, location, clothes, decorations, food, drink, and music!

      • I think the same idea goes for beyond the pretty details, too. When this is your Last Chance, there’s pressure to make everything exceedingly Meaningful, too. As though if you don’t plan the perfect bachelorette party, you missed your last chance to hang out with all your girlfriends- what, because they won’t agree to spend time together unless there’s the obligation of the wedding?? Or you have to have this huge bonding experience with your mother while choosing a dress- because you’ll never have a special moment together ever again??

        Just like you can throw another party to have the pretty details, you can create meaning in your life and with your loved ones in countless ways. Weddings are important events, but they are not the Last important event you’ll ever have.

  • irene

    I needed to read this post today, so much, so thank you for writing, and thank you editors for scheduling it! Really needed a shame blaster refresher for all the questions of why we are not having X, Y or Z. Either it’s not a tradition we are choosing to embrace, or it’s not in the budget, and even if it’s “our last/only chance!!”.

  • Granola

    This is a great post and really spot-on advice. It’s also hard to walk the razor’s edge between “These are the things I learned by having this experience.” and “I regret all of these choices I made.”

    So far, I’m trying to let past-me off the hook, because I know she did the best she could, but also appreciate the lessons that did come through. Lessons about when to stick up for things that are important to you and how, and realizing that there will always be another good option, so no need to rush into something out of fear of missing out. Our wedding was awesome, but there is a bit of “If I’d known then what I know now….” Much like all of life, probably.

  • LW

    As someone who eloped and has since attended many weddings, I used to have sad feelings of “I wish we had done this/that differently”. However, now that it has been 3 years, I rarely feel that anymore and just feel happy that we got married how we did without all the other stuff.
    I think a big part of it is that I have used the “just have a party” route to check off a lot of the things I would have wanted to do at a wedding. Mind you, they are mostly the pretty things like bunting and letterpress cards and colourful flags and photobook guest books, but it has been a great way to do those pretty, creative things I would have wanted to do for my wedding but didn’t. Throwing a baby shower, wedding shower, birthday, taco night, whatever, is a great excuse to do the pretty things.
    Love the post.

  • This is so liberating.

    I love being a hostess, and I am always itching to throw parties. And throw them we do. But still I tell myself, no, you cannot decorate, you cannot carefully craft a themed playlist, you cannot make it into a thing.

    Well, why the hell not?

    Casual get togethers are lovely, but I am finding a date on the calendar and I’m going to plan that Swanky Mad Men-esque cocktail party I’ve been daydreaming about.

    • Exactly! All of my friends are a bit more casual, so it’s hard for me to put together decorations, menus and playlists without seeming “over the top,” but perhaps it’s time to stop feeling bad for enjoying putting themes together! I don’t have friends who would enjoy a cocktail party- are you doing anything for entertainment? So I’ve started planning themed parties around the activities we enjoy doing. Video Game Night with +1 Mushroom styled cupcakes- yep. Movie nights with themed decorations- sure! Dinner parties that turn my living room into Mexico to go along with the food- someone get me a sombrero!

      Time for us to start hosting those awesome things we want to do and opinions be darned!

      • The cocktails are the entertainment! I got the idea from a lady who made a comment on a post here on APW about dates/dating ideas. She said that she and her husband spent an evening inventing cocktails and various mixed drinks, and then rating each one.

        My husband and I love to cook, and have been dying to try making some infusions and fancy simple syrups. We’re going to put together a bar with loads of garnishes and fancy homemade mixers and plenty of alcohol, and have each guest (it will be a small group) invent their own cocktail (mocktail and virgin cocktails also welcome/encouraged!). The group will taste and judge–I plan to make up little scoring cards. Some classic Rat Pack tunes, guests encouraged to wear their favorite party dress/tie, and some snazzy art deco decoration touches, and voila! We’ll encourage guests to eat a robust meal before hand, and provide plenty of hearty appetizers to munch on.

        It’s not the kind of thing all my friends would be into, but for the group I have in mind it should go over like, well, gangbusters. :)

        I also desperately want to throw a holiday Elf-viewing brunch, and serve the World’s Best Cup of Coffee, the four food groups (candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup), etc. etc. etc.

        • Moe

          I’m going to send you my info, invite me please. :)

          If going ‘over the top’ makes you happy do it. This is coming from the girl wearing leopard print wedding shoes, because white satin-y shoes just are not Over The Top enough for me.

        • Ooh, I am so stealing this idea! How fun!

      • I am totally OTT at times, and it’s a quality my friends (and husband) love about me. Embrace who you are and SHINE baby SHINE!

    • Cass

      I think if you make it a thing most of your guests will think “Look at all that hard work she put into this, what a great party!”
      Part of a party is about having fun your guests will likely enjoy, but some planned things like the music, food and decorations are usually the things people enjoy. Planned activities? Depends on your crowd I guess, but it doesn’t hurt to try a planned activity then have it break down into unstructured fun.

      So “Well, why the hell not?” indeed.

  • RIP Margaret Thatcher

    Thanks for writing this. There’s so much stress surrounding wedding planning when you think of it as the First, Last and Only Chance. It’s kind of nice to think that maybe it can just be a day.

  • Elaine

    Yes! I have a lot of friends who have gotten married in the two years since my husband and I have. It’s easy to get sad and harp on the fact that our wedding was not the stuff of my dreams due to very low budget, family drama, an ailing parent who could have never made it to that picturesque ceremony on a river bank. But then I remember, these are the circumstances under which we fell in love. Our wedding was us, ya know? And, there will be many more opportunities for beautiful things in our lives.

  • Love, love, love this post. SO TRUE. And, you know what…. it is kind of an excuse to throw another party! I am planning our 10 year anniversary now (it is still a couple years away) and I am enjoying every moment of it. Your tastes change through marriage. Might as well celebrate big throughout your marriage instead of just in the beginning!

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  • I want to “exactly” this entire article. I loved our wedding, but I would’ve loved to have had a whole bunch of different weddings. A winter wedding, an outdoor wedding, an elopement in Paris, a small wedding at a great restaurant, a girly wedding full of sparkles and peonies, etc. I’ll never get to have these weddings, but I will get to throw lots of parties in the future. So maybe I’ll throw a glittery, Paris-themed birthday party for myself, or an outdoor baby shower, or have a winter-y party for my December-born husband. Maybe our wedding will be the biggest party we ever throw, but it isn’t the only party we’ll ever throw.

  • Kirsten

    What amazing perspective!! Thank you!!

  • There’s a part of one aspect of my culture that everyone cliche-ly says is “the best two years of your life.” I’m okay saying that right after those particular two years end. But two years later if you are still saying it you’ve kind of forgotten to live. The best two years of your life should be your last two years.

    Sure, our wedding was the best wedding we’ll ever throw, but if it’s still the best party, or the best day, years later, I think we’ve done something wrong.

    I love paper lanterns but they weren’t exactly right for our wedding. So we’re using them for a party we’re throwing next month. And it’s going to be the best party with paper lanterns we’ve ever thrown. :)

  • Cass

    Yes, yes yes! on having other parties. You can be creative and cool, DIY or not, and have love and support from your friends and family – whenever you want.

    And if I might add, a private party at home is so much less stressful than coordinating a wedding (that comes with all its cultural baggage – for better or worse).
    For me, I thought of my wedding as “just the beginning”. After my wedding, my creative juices & party planning desire went full tilt and I have so much fun organizing and hosting parties again and again.

  • Novem

    Thank you for this post. It’s that time in my life when a lot of my friends are getting married, and I definitely feel wedding envy and think about what I could have done differently at our wedding. BUT, I’m really glad that the planning is done, we’re married, and of course, there will be other parties when I’ll get to put on a fun dress, dance, and hang out with cool people.

  • Moe

    “frankly, we wanted to get married, and we didn’t want to wait a hundred years until the stars aligned and we had an astronomical bank balance to spend on all these things at once”


    I eloped in Las Vegas last summer because as my husband said it “there will never be a perfect time to get married, maybe we should just do it now” He was unemployed, a recent grad and newly homeless and living with his mom because his roommate skipped out on him without notice. I was newly employed and trying to get back on my feet after 2 years of under-employment. I was also caring for my elderly parent before she went into assisted living.

    We were the marriage that should not have happened if you were using any kind of sound judgment. But we did it anyways and somehow have managed to put a wedding together too. Our families will get to witness us take vows once more and there will be tacos.

    It’s not the sleek modern minimal hipster art gallery wedding I wanted. Who am I kidding? My family is loud and likes to dance. We are better suited to dancing outside, eating tacos and drinking sangria anyways.

    • KC

      There is sometimes a huge difference between what we feel like we’re supposed to want (or what we’d want if everyone coming was magically different) and what we *actually* want, given the way things are. The way things are is not always a compromise – sometimes you actually kind of don’t *want* a pony. (hello, needing to house and clean up after and exercise said pony all the time – being able to go out to your back yard and PONY is a great dream, but the full package is not necessarily a great reality for everyone)

      And, of course, you can have a sleek modern minimal hipster art gallery birthday (or anniversary, or “just because”) party sometime, if you really want to, with the people who would fit that dream, too…

      And hooray for tacos and dancing and sangria – that sounds FUN. :-)

      • And sometimes you really do want a pony, so you get one for your 40th birthday. As evidenced by the pony that lives down the street. But most people? Don’t really want a pony in the backyard.

        • KC

          NO WAY! That is awesome. I totally approve of someone wanting a pony so much that they get it for their 40th birthday.

          I guess I think it’s a really important skill to separate when you are:
          a) fantasizing about having a pony and ignoring the accompanying fertilizer or
          b) thinking you’re supposed to want to have a pony, vs.
          c) really do want a pony, all the way

          (and 40th birthday? That *really* proves you can have awesome and slightly-offbeat events that are not weddings!)

  • Hazel

    Original poster here, just wanted to thank everyone for their lovely comments and thoughts! I’m excited about some of the awesome parties being planned :)

  • LZ

    I love the idea of doing spectacular pictures more than once! Does anyone have any great ideas of a way to talk to a photographer about doing something like this, or any ideas on what to do?

    I don’t want to do “just couples photos” (not that there is anything wrong with that!), and would love some ideas on what to do for a photo shoot to make it fun and special, without being wedding photos….

    • Carrie

      How about talking to a photographer about photographing you at some kind of event? Like, photographing a party you throw at home (fancy or casual), or a family reunion/holiday, or something like that?

      If you’ve got the money to pay for the shoot, I think plenty of photographers would have lots of fun doing something like that. Event photography is an established Thing That People Do, but most event photography tends to be large events, like corporate dinners or charity balls, that kind of thing. I think many photographers would have fun photographing a smaller, more intimate event, like a cocktail party or a backyard family BBQ. (I’m married to a photographer and I’m pretty sure he’d love to be hired for that kind of shoot!)

      I think the “event” structure of a wedding can lead to some interesting and emotionally meaningful photos — genuine stuff is happening, and the photos are capturing that. But weddings aren’t the only kinds of events out there!

      You could also have a “couple” portrait shoot, but do it at, like, a street festival — some setting where you’re doing something other than just being photographed. That gives the opportunity for some photojournalistic/documentary shots that could be fun. Still essentially an event going on!

      • LZ

        Love these ideas! Thank you so much for the reply! :)

  • This is pretty much the whole m.o. of my blog. I feel like there is a lot out there in the internet and our culture about weddings and showers, or parties for kids, but not so many fun elaborate parties for adults not getting married or about to have babies.

    Parties are awesome.

    My wedding was really nice, but it wasn’t perfect. And it wasn’t the wedding I would have thrown if it were just me with nobody else’s preferences involved. And there was a lot of parties it wasn’t. But my 30th birthday Golden Age of Hollywood party had only me, no husband to consider, no parents, no expectations. And it was way more perfect (but still not 100%, but maybe the next party will fix those….and have new problems.)

    And yet I still have wedding regrets and things I wish I’d done…I guess i am still working on it too.

  • Emilie

    Ahhhh…. Pinterest. Whenever we make a decision, I delete ALL pins that conflict with that decision.
    We decide to have a brunch wedding: I delete all non-brunch food and beverage from my wedding board.
    We book a church for the ceremony: all pictures of outdoor and non-church ceremonies disappear, nomatter how beautiful they are.
    We put down a deposit for a golf course reception: all pins of museum an loft wedding receptions go away.
    ….and so on….

    It’s helped me a lot to put those other beautiful things to the back of my brain for future events, instead of torturing myself with a constant reminder of the wedding I’m NOT having.

    You can’t have all the weddings.

    • Moe

      “You can’t have all the weddings.”

      This needs to posted as a Pinterest pin.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      It started on APW, with a photo of Mills College, then there was Old St. Hilary’s, but I will forever use wedding blogs to research beautiful churches I want to visit.

  • Charis

    This post is sooo true!
    I blame the internet, sometimes I have to ask myself, if I hadn’t seen any wedding blogs, then what would I be planning for my wedding? Would I be happy with just carnations if I hadn’t seen ranunculus etc?!
    I’m going to try on a second-hand dress this week, I tried it on in a shop in a different size before I lost some weight and now someone in my area is selling it a size down for a third of the cost.
    It looked nice on, but I’m not sure it’s THE dress, and every time I go on Pinterest and I see a beautiful bride in a beautiful dress I compare it to it… not good! It’s not like I’d ever be able to afford a lovely Claire Pettibone gown anyway.
    I think practical me just has to say, actually, I will probably never find THE dress. There will always be nicer dresses out there. A nice dress, a bargain of a dress, a dress I like and looks nice on me, is good enough.
    And money I’ll save will be spent very wisely somewhere else!!! (Like on wine. Or ice cream. Yum!)

  • With a slightly different approach to this topic, I’d like to offer that all of those Wordless Wedding photos that are lusted over also had less-than-perfect moments. Almost any wedding can look hip and edgy when the photos are edited and spun correctly. One of my favorite sayings (slightly modified to suit the occasion), “Don’t compare your wedding insides to anyone else’s wedding outsides.”

    The same goes for your post-wedding life. I had a friend many years ago who had an abusive husband and equally abusive teenaged stepdaughters. However, if you went into her living room and saw the artfully posed family photos. anyone would have thought they were the Waltons of Venice, Florida. No kidding–those pics gave me the warm fuzzies every time I saw them–as long as I ignored the reality of her life.

    And of course I’m not saying that the Wordless Weddings here aren’t wonderful, because we all know how fab they are! But don’t use them as a comparative tool where your own wedding seemingly comes up short! T’aint so!

  • Oh, I feel like the only one who’s thinking, “Yeah, but…”

    I love the idea of do-overs, and “just have a party.” But at the same time, I try to be more-or-less frugal, and we did get some financial help with our wedding. So I look at the stuff I want to do again, or would have done differently, and I wonder —

    (note: I don’t intend any of these questions as a judgement to people who can and do pull them off! Good for you! It’s 100% my mental block in my life!)

    How can I justify renting a hall and a DJ and a florist and a caterer and a super-awesome baker for a no-occasion party?

    How can I justify buying an awesome, overpriced dress that I’ll never wear again, for a no-occasion party?

    How can I justify having professionally made invitations for a no-occasion party, especially since without the sentimental value of a wedding, they’ll all just get thrown away?

    How can I justify the frivolous, self-indulgent timesink of gathering awesome quotes about love, writing them on paper ribbons, and disbursing them everywhere?

    How can I justify the clutter of obtaining a ridiculous number of classic board games and using them as combination centerpiece/icebreakers?

    What right do I have to ask my mother to make me a beautiful accessory, like she did my veil?

    And when so many of my friends and relatives couldn’t/wouldn’t attend my freaking *wedding*, how can I expect them to drop everything and come to a “just for the heck of it” party?

    I wish I could get in the kind of mindset of “just have a party,” but I can’t seem to shake the high-stakes-ness of it!

    • I think you bring up some good points. I don’t have any easy answers, but I think it comes down to making choices based on what you most value and your budget…and then trying to make peace with the rest… (which might involve an anniversary photo shoot or similar compromise…)

    • N

      I think you can justify doing all of these things precisely because of that — It’s a do-over! :-)

      But if you feel still weird about getting all out for something that is a no-occassion party, maybe try to get all of those elements in a toned-down version? And maybe call it, an appreciation party of sorts?

  • N

    This is sage advice. I am getting married in a month, and while for the most part I am happy that at least I have most of the elements of my wedding squared away, I still haven’t had that sense of contentment in them. Maybe it’s because I am still visiting Pinterest and drooling over other people’s wedding details (can’t help it… so addicting). I am still looking for things that will make my wedding perfect because I will never be able to do it again.

    I remember one morning when I was trying to make pinwheels as props for my engagement session photoshoot, when I just broke down because for the life of me I REALLY DON’T HAVE TIME to do such things (this was in a workday by the way, and I am moonlighting as a crazy crafter it seems on top of the one million things I do wedding related or otherwise). My fiance just threw away the glue gun (bad ass move), gave me a hug, and told me that we can use the pinwheels for our first born’s birthday party. It doesn’t have to be now.

    One of the many reasons why I am marrying him — he just puts things in perspective. :-)

  • April

    LOVE this. And ever since my not-perfect-but-super-fun-wedding 3+ years ago I’ve told myself on several occasions, “That’s NOT the last party we’ll ever throw.” Turns out we know how to host kick-a$$ holiday parties, Mad Men premiere cocktail hours, boozy brunches with make-your-own-mimosa bars and impromptu potluck dinners with our neighbors. And there’s so much more ahead to celebrate and enjoy.

    But: I will shamelessly admit that I daydream about wearing a stunningly chic pantsuit for our 5-year vow renenwal in Paris, France. ;-)

  • Delta

    Good article. A great way to live out those event fantasies if you’re a natural planner is to organise parties for your friends – things like bridal showers and couples’ baby shower picnics. These don’t have to be expensive either, and are always appreciated.