Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
52

The Eight Truths About Weddings (That No One Ever Tells You)

Once you decide to have a wedding, there are many, many things to read: etiquette guides, Dos and Don'ts, planning checklists, vendor guides, “inspiration boards,” disaster stories, angry bridesmaid rants ("bitch made me wear PURPLE SHOES!"), even socio-political screeds about the cultural irrelevance of the whole thing. All of these are nice, and all of them are utterly useless.

If you're the one getting married—which I am, in three months, while also attending eight other weddings in as many months due to a hyper-marital zeitgeist (that, as of July 24th, includes New York gays!! Welcome to the madness!!)—a mysterious stupor befalls you. The tales of "bridal nervous breakdowns” have become ingrained in pop culture, "ingrained” meaning “anything that gets its own reality show.” Such breakdowns do happen, and they're hardly gender-specific, but these displays of emotional gangrene fail to get at the heart of the nuptial plight.

So where does one go to find a guide to the true sources of wedding-angst? One resource is the wedding industry, that fondant tower of chintzy madness that exists to suck your wallet and self-esteem out through multiple orifices. The industry gets plenty of flack, mostly for its organza-wrapped obfuscation of anything important. But all this hating is silly. Yes, the wedding industry will crack open your skull and pour in gallons of raspberry-hazelnut ganache, and then send you a bill for $15,000. But that's its job. It's absurd to expect people in the industry to tell you the truth about weddings. They're there for one purpose: to sell you shit. Calling them manipulative capitalist assholes (ahem, Rebecca Mead) isn’t solving the problem; it’s simply blaming the addiction on the dealer.

The truth about weddings was once something we all figured out for ourselves as we made our way across the glurpy morass of the engagement tar fields. Until now! Here is your look into the things no one ever tells you about weddings (but are nonetheless true).

1. WEDDINGS ARE EMOTIONAL RECKONINGS.
Have you dealt with your issues? I’m not talking about a few months in therapy and the occasional Xanax on a bad day—I’m talking about really digging in, sitting under the Bodhi tree, and dealing with all the nasty icky hurts and fears and angers that have burned your face and clamped your guts since you were five. If you have never once taken a hard look at what really triggers you emotionally, and figured out a way to release that trigger, you're in for a shock. Because ALL of your submerged emotions will rear their Gorgon heads during the process of planning a wedding. Prepare to be confronted.

First, there’s your family. Ahh, family. The one group with perma-instant access to every emotional trigger in your psyche ("Of course your mother knows how to push all your buttons!" a matriarch once told me. 'She created them!!"). Do you still resent your mom for that "Honey, your thighs don’t need that ice cream!" comment in 8th grade? Clinging to the last vestiges of anger at your dad for never kissing you goodnight or reading your term papers? Secretly seethe at your brother for moving far away and leaving you to deal with the full brunt of your parents' needs? Lucky you! You're going to experience all of it again, since each of these people will be intimately involved in your Big Megaspecial Day (whether you invite them or not). If you do not give up any and all familial anger, it will seize you in its talons and tear out your liver at least once a day, Prometheus style. You will find yourself shrieking over the fact that your mom disapproves of your choice of chair covers ("You never liked my clothes in junior high!!! Wail Sob!”) or that your dad suggested "Psychokiller" as a father-daughter dance ("You spent my childhood in the office and now this!!"). Any unresolved issue, annoyance or pin in the side that you’ve had since, well, birth will now be a part of your daily life. And we haven’t even gotten to the fact that you may be asking them for money!

Then there’s the invite list, which is basically a socially condoned form of friendship slaughter. Every minor dig and insult will rise from the depths of your consciousness when it comes time for the guest-list-culling. Who will be invited to the biggest public transition of your life? Are you really going to invite that wench who texted your ex for six months after you broke up? Or that assclown who hasn't picked up a bar tab since, oh, college? If you’re someone who holds grudges, your invite list will dwindle like an oak tree showered in acid. The girl who said your engagement ring was "cute"? DEATH. The guy who ruined the ending of “Game of Thrones” on purpose just to fuck with you? OFF THE LIST.

Plus you have everyone’s OPINIONS—those are some of the biggest hurdles to navigate. Every friend will have views and needs to lob your way: this one doesn't like the bachelor party date since it conflicts with his annual fishing trip, that one thinks it's outrageous that your bridal shower is in another town, and don’t even get them started on the hotel you chose for the bridal party. And then when they attend your actual wedding, it is a fundamental law that they will comment on how they would have done it differently "had it been MY wedding." Well, yes, asshole, but it is not your wedding, and you have not subsisted on cabbage and rice for months so you could pay for that open bar you're currently guzzling. (See? There's that anger again! Damn.)

But before you begin your process of wreaking vengeance, remember just one thing: your wedding is not an opportunity to dole out justice to everyone who’s pissed you off in the last decade. In fact, that's the furthest thing from its purpose. If you wield your wedding like a samurai sword, it's pretty much guaranteed that you'll do the same with other big events in your life. And die alone.

2. THIS EMOTIONAL RECKONING INCLUDES YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER.
Everything you don't absolutely adore about this magical human you've pledged yourself to is going to now manifest itself in wild screechy detail. You will fight about things you didn’t even register during those blissful days of moonlit walks and Sunday afternoon sex. Eventually, you will have to face a stunning reality: The person you are marrying is exactly who she/he is, and will never be anyone else. Not now, and not once you're married. Whether that's a beatific thing or a source of night terrors all depends on you. (Note that I didn't say it depends on your partner. If you don't like what you're marrying, then it's on you to either get over it or call it off. Sorry!!)

All your interactions will be weighed with a new gravity. When you do fight, it's fighting as a COUPLE THAT WILL BE MARRIED. Those things that were mere annoyances are now albatrosses draping your shoulders for eternity. (Seriously, it's no coincidence that Coleridge’s Mariner ranted to a wedding guest).

The good news: Your incentive to get over these fights is sky high, since you've committed to this person and put down a venue deposit and changed your Facebook status and introduced him/her to your grandmother. So after a while, it can all fade into "Well, it's all part of the package—and I guess his videogame habit is better than hookers n' blow!"

3. IT ALSO INCLUDES YOURSELF.
Your head can become a scary place in the months before your wedding. Any insecurity that has made its home nestled in your gray matter? You will come face to face with it now. Am I pretty enough to be getting married? Why is everyone in every wedding picture so much prettier? Will all the people I care about judge me as I walk down the aisle? Am I rich enough to be marrying this person? Am I rich enough to be marrying at ALL? Aren't I supposed to have paid off my student loans by now? What if I can't be the provider I want to be? Will it shred my masculinity like a 2010 Super Bowl ad? Will my partner start to resent me not pulling my weight? Can we afford this wedding? What if I get fired, and can't make the next catering payment? What if no one says yes to our invitations, since they all secretly hate us? What if too many people say yes, and we have to pay for them all? What if I lose sleep over our wedding budget and start to look haggard and my betrothed starts having second thoughts like, "Why am I binding myself to this haggard-looking worrywart anyway" and what if he/she leaves me and then I'm out of a catering deposit and out of a job and I'll have to return all these presents and my grandmother will pity me and everyone will mention my name in hushed tones at parties and I'll shut myself away until I die of infected bedsores and WHAT IF WHAT IF WHAT IF AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then you have a drink.

4. YOUR WEDDING WILL MAKE YOU FACE EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE, EVEN IF THAT'S A PERSON YOU PREFER TO HIDE MOST OF THE TIME.
Wedding planning will give you a funny little window into who you really are in life. Not who you think you are, not who you say you are, but who you are.

"But I'm so down-to-earth!" you say. "I'm the furthest thing from psycho about these things! I don't even subscribe to any of that antiquated bourgeois nonsense!" Maybe so—but maybe not. Get a few months into the planning process and see. Are you obsessive and controlling about every last detail? Overwhelmed by the whole thing? Laissez-faire to the point of doing nothing (and waiting for someone to bail you out)? Projecting false calm whilst mortgaging your organs to pay for the surf-and-turf entrée and Herrera gown? The ways in which you navigate these choices—not what you tell yourself about them—are some of the clearest indications you'll ever get of what's going on in the personal universe you call life.

And I don't mean the choice between peacock blue centerpieces and turquoise (although even those small choices will eventually come to mean something to you too, but more on that later). No, I’m talking the laborious internal decisions that govern the big picture. When it comes down to it, how big a deal is this wedding—not the marriage, the wedding—in your personal narrative? How much of your identity and self-esteem are you basing on this one event? How much are you focused, either consciously or unconsciously, on being someone who adores/despises being the center of attention? (Hint: they’re basically the same thing.) What portion of your emotional needs are you expecting this wedding to fulfill?

We're smart people. We all know what the answers to these questions SHOULD be. But trafficking in "should be"s won't do you much good when you're dissolving into sobs, supposedly over a turquoise bouquet that you REALLY THOUGHT should have been peacock.

5. THE REAL STRESS OF WEDDING PLANNING IS THINKING EVERYTHING MEANS SOMETHING.
We humans are remarkably good at ascribing meaning. If he doesn't call you back after a fantastic date, then it must mean that you're a complete dud of humanity who is destined to grow old alone. If you don't get that new job, it must mean that you're a mentally inferior troglodyte with nothing to offer the world.

Nowhere does the Mental Meaning Machine work as much overtime as during wedding preparations. It starts from the initial proposal: if the ring is not expensive enough to buy six orphans on the Siberian black-market, then it means you are stuck with a cheap bastard and your life is inferior to that of every rock-sporting wife. (Gays, please, renounce this practice.) From then on, every choice you make about your wedding, from cummerbund colors to china patterns, somehow brims over with alleged meaning about things like "who you are as a couple" and "what kind of life you'll have."

Ultimately, we all know this is foolish: Does it mean something if you pick the New Testament reading over the Yeats poem? Does it mean something if you serve the halibut instead of the chicken roulade? Of course not. But try telling that to the stream of brides pouring into the Plaza Ballroom for this year's Wedding Mega-Expo.

And alas, ascribing all this meaning is exhausting and, inevitably, disappointing. Getting your write-up in the Times wedding announcements doesn't mean that your marriage will be perfect, and having the latest Vera Wang hardly means your wedding will be the most blissful day on Earth. Rather, it simply means that you won't be able to eat. For realz, Elizabethan corsets much?

6. IT IS EASY TO DEVELOP VERY BAD FINANCIAL HABITS WHILE PLANNING A WEDDING (OR VERY GOOD ONES).
Even if you opt for the most frugal of wedding receptions, the cash issue will come up. Paying for a wedding can be like wearing a hair shirt—after a while, writing a four-figure check (or five-figure, or six-, all depending on your level of insanity) stops feeling like flesh-scouring pain.

The fact is that money (or rather, its scarcity) is a reality for everyone, and that reality shifts once you have to weigh the large, emotion-laden purchases that accompany weddings. Unless you're a hedge fund manager, in which case fuck you, and go get a job that's useful to society (but invite me to your wedding! I like Dom Perignon fountains as much as the next gal!).

Still, for those who make it through the dark tunnel of wedding spending, you can look forward to one bright, beautiful moment: The day after your wedding. On that day, you get to choose if you ever lay another cent of your hard-earned (or inherited—no judgments) cash on damask tablecloths or Waterford goblets. And all those Excel-spreadsheeting skills you've acquired can be used to budget your future finances. Or not. But at least it's up to you, and not your mother-in-law with her 80-person guest list.

Just promise me this: For the love of all that is remotely holy in this world, do NOT go into major debt to pay for your wedding. Which is what I say about law school, but no one ever listens to me.

7. YOU WILL LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE THAT WILL NEVER REALLY BE USEFUL AGAIN (EXCEPT WHEN DISCUSSING OTHER PEOPLE'S WEDDINGS).
We know a lot of words—we sit on the Internet all day, we can't help but live in a word-driven world. But exotic, bizarre words like “chivari” and “shantung” and “Asscher” had never been in my vocabulary before now. These days, I spend more time swimming in them than I’d ever admit to my therapist. Don’t fight the small battles: Embrace the wedding-speak and fold it into your lexicon, at least until the last gift check has been cashed. And know that when everyone nods after a wedding planner announces, “We’ll just highlight the centerpieces with pinspots and up-lighting!” no one else knows what the fuck she’s talking about either.

8. THE THINGS NO ONE SAYS ARE IMPORTANT ARE IN FACT THE MOST IMPORTANT.
Two words: Premarital counseling. It is perhaps the most vital thing you can do before marching down the aisle. It doesn’t matter if your love is so all-powerful it can superglue glaciers, you need to talk about the changes that are about to envelop your day-to-day lives. As a couple, you must sit down in a room not filled with cakes and hors d'oeuvres samplers and ask the squirmy, uncomfortable questions that no one ever really wants to ask: Who's going to pay the ConEd bill? Who's going to unload the dishwasher 99% of the time? Who's going to initiate sex when we're both bone-tired and haven't done it in a week? How strongly do we each feel about fidelity? What religion (if any) do we want to impart to our children? And how can we set ourselves up with the ability to keep discussing these things in the future? Because they will come up.

This crap—these thorny, excruciating conversations—is THE crap. It is the only reality. The ribbon-clad roses and monogrammed key chains and signature cocktails are not. Messy conversations are what you are signing up for, and what you will bump up against regularly for the remainder of your lives together. They are the gateway to a fulfilling and joyous relationship. And I can absolutely 100,000% guarantee you that not a single tux tailor or band singer or wedding planner or overbearing third cousin will ever tell you this. But your divorce lawyer certainly will.

One final note: If you think I exempt myself from these rules, I assure you I do not. I have fallen into each and every sinkhole described here. Just ask my saintly fiancé, who somehow still wants to marry me.



Melissa Lafsky, The Awl's Horror Chick, is getting married this Halloween weekend. There will be blood.

52 Comments / Post A Comment

Mike Lewis@twitter (#16,375)

Great article. I got married last year and couldn't agree more to this.

stinapag (#10,293)

@Mike Lewis@twitter I'm getting married in April, and I agree wholeheartedly.

cherrispryte (#444)

OH GOD THE VIRUS IS CONTAGIOUS.

Edith Zimmerman (#5,210)

@cherrispryte I hear it's fatal.

Rosebud (#4,107)

@cherrispryte I'm sick of hearing about weddings!

cherrispryte (#444)

@Edith Zimmerman isn't everything, eventually?

nomorecrackpipes (#8,243)

I know what 'vellum' is because of my wedding. That's it.

riotnrrd (#840)

I know what 'vellum' is because of D&D (1st edition 4 lyfe). (I will never know the touch of a woman.)

Brunhilde (#1,225)

I know what 'vellum' is because of drafting classes in high school. It's a bitch to draw on.

becky@twitter (#14,213)

one word: elope.

dearheart (#4,203)

@becky@twitter Another word (sometimes two): courthouse.

I don't think I am cut out for big shebangs, as just reading this made me feel overwhelmed and dry heave-y. Hats off to those of you who are, though. Have an open bar and I promise to stick to the registry.

srs (#15,773)

@becky@twitter Yes! I've always said that I want a marriage, not a wedding. I'm a super girly-girl in many ways, but everything about weddings just stress me out. I was so relieved to find out that my bf feels the same. Plus, as an added bonus, an elopement will allow us to completely sidestep the whole religion thing.

becky@twitter (#14,213)

@srs and, instant honeymoon!

Bobby Womack (#4,074)

I definitely agree on the value of pre-marital counseling. We asked a family friend to officiate for us, and he was happy to as long as we agreed to take a test and talk the whole thing over with a counselor. He's a noted public speaker, and he gives everyone this contingency, apparently.

We happily agreed: the test was an online, 90-minute dealy with tons of questions. We took it separately and didn't talk about it, and when we met with the counselor, he had our results and some interesting charts and statistics. For us, it showed that we were well-balanced in the ways we thought we were, and we might have difficulties in one particular area that we already knew about (finances – I could kindly be described as frugal, and my wife isn't a shopaholic, but she ain't cheap, either).

I imagine that for couples who rush in to marriage quickly, taking a test like that and talking frankly with a third party about what can sometimes be uncomfortable topics could go a long way towards uncovering what might be serious problems down the line.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Meanwhile, at Splitsider, they're breaking down the finale of Seinfeld's seventh season.

iantenna (#5,160)

this was too stressful for me to even finish reading. you need to CHIIIIIILLL. fuck a china pattern, paper plates. fuck an expensive reception hall, try a backyard. and fuck a stuffy caterer, two words: TACO TRUCK. add booze and a band that has never even heard the words "corporate event" but can rock buck owens or wilson pickett at the drop of a hat and you're in business. but, please, most of all, JUST CHILL.

becky@twitter (#14,213)

@iantenna a taco truck AND wilson pickett? marry me.

DrFeelGood (#14,494)

@iantenna I love this "oh just fucking RELAX" kind of response to wedding bonanza, since in essence it is just as extreme as the Bridezilla route. In my own wedding a couple of years ago, I got so f'ing sick of this "oh I'm only going to spend like $200 dollars on my wedding" shtick. My marriage license/officiant cost more than that. I would have been taken out at daybreak and shot if I tried to have my wedding in my Mother's backyard, and it probably would have been more complicated than going the "corporate" route since last time I checked, my Mom doesn't have tables and chairs for 50, or a PA system or all the other shit you need for a large event. Weddings, however you slice it (yes yours would be a couple of g's, at least), are expensive, and who gives a fuck how you do it, especially if you have the money and wherewithal to do it however you want.

iantenna (#5,160)

@DrFeelGood do whatever the fuck you want with your wedding, absolutely. spend as much or as little as you can get away with. the problem is FREAKING OUT ABOUT IT, whatever way you go. it's gonna cost a lot of money, for sure. but if that's stressing you out, calmly consider what you could reasonably leave out. there are going to be things that parents will require, roll with it (I GOT MARRIED IN A GODDAMN CATHOLIC CHURCH, FOR FUCK'S SAKE). do what you want, do what your bridge/groom wants, do what your parents want. if there are conflicts, work it out. all i'm saying is, if you're worried about what flowers should go on the tables, or what your creepy uncle is gonna say to your cute friends, just say "fuck it". you're hardly gonna remember what happened the next day, anyhow.

LondonLee (#922)

@iantenna We said "fuck it" to all that shit too and hired the top of the Empire State Building for our wedding (only $500!) which was doubly-good because you're only allowed 10 guests up there, that also solved the "who to invite" problem.

DrFeelGood (#14,494)

@iantenna Alright, I'm with you on the letting go part, but easier said than done I guess. It's like puberty – everyone tells you about it but then you don't really know what it's going to be like until you go through it. So the "oh you should do xyz" comments that everyone always says, I find useless, since it's going to be so different for everyone.

Bittersweet (#765)

@LondonLee: Sounds awesome. But I guarantee you that if my husband and I had done that, it would've just opened a giant can of worms on the "who to invite" problem. (See family section in #1, above.)

maddieD (#9,798)

@iantenna YES! I already have my taco truck picked out and a friend who is ordained in the Church of Universal Life. Now all I need is a backyard, a crapload of booze, an assortment of local musicians, and someone to marry. What the fuck else do you need?

stinapag (#10,293)

@iantenna My wedding is this and pretty much the above post applies to it too.

oeditrix (#10,234)

@iantenna Yeah, but some people are going to freak out either way, because getting married is a big life change. I think it's more about personality type than about the wedding itself. Some people manage stress by obsessing over details. This can lead to the occasional breakdown, sure, but it also keeps them mentally busy. As a neurotic person, I know I'm going to be waking up in the middle of the night stressed out either way, so having a bunch of details to fuss over actually helps.

DrFeelGood (#14,494)

This just in: People spend too much money/time/emotion on weddings, hand wringing ensues. Story at 11.

Your dad sounds pretty cool.

Horror Chick (#1,677)

@Butterscotch Stalin He is, in fact, awesome.

keanesian (#1,116)

Heh. Bone-tired. I think that's a word I will use again!

julebsorry (#5,783)

I navigated wedding financial pitfalls by secretly charging things to my parent's credit card (I wrote down the number at some point and hid it). Either they were too polite to ever mention it or thought that the other spouse must have charged the items, they never asked me about it.

Guess the wedding showed my true, evil self…bwahahaha.

While I'm all for premarital counseling, if you haven't already discussed religion, fidelity or finances then perhaps you shouldn't be getting married. Any responsible, serious couple would have had these conversations a long time ago.

flossy (#1,402)

@Jennifer Patterson@twitter

Indeed.

iantenna (#5,160)

@Jennifer Patterson@twitter not to sound too old-fashioned but HOW THE FUCK IS FIDELITY EVEN A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION?

Villa (#2,985)

@Jennifer Patterson@twitter @iantenna Some people want to make a lifelong commitment with one person that includes threesomes or an occasional domantrix to scratch a BSDM itch. I think that's fine, but you should have that figured out before picking out china or whatever.

hockeymom (#143)

@iantenna CO-SIGN ON FIDELITY. If we ever have a conversation about that, I guarantee it will be just prior to someone getting a frying pan upside the head.

Jasons_Johnson (#3,341)

I would agree with most of what's posted above. However, I am a firm believer that any counseling that involves you filling out a questionnaire is coming from a lackluster counselor. Everything in and out of their heads about your relationship needs to be done through talking.

There is an old saying that divorce happens over three main subjects – money, kids, and sex. The above article just extrapolated that into several paragraphs. In short, if you disagree about money, kids, and sex, don't get married. If you agree on all three you are on the right start.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Jasons_Johnson I don't really agree about the questionnaire thing. A questionnaire by itself is obviously not going to get the job done, but I think it's a great way to get a lot of information out in the open in a short period of time, for further discussion with the counselor. Otherwise you could waste a huge amount of time while he goes through a long checklist of things you could have precooked.

werewolfbarmitzvah (#16,402)

This post makes me feel so, so insufferably smug about having eloped, you have no idea. Nearly as smug as those who do not own TVs.

flossy (#1,402)

This piece freely conflates "marriage" with "wedding." The only advice of any consequence is item number 8, which really has nothing to do with weddings except that a couple should have 'asked the uncomfortable questions' a LONG time before picking out a caterer.

KenWheaton (#401)

This post was longer than my wedding and my marriage combined.

Phil Koesterer (#2,708)

Woof.

lbf (#2,343)

I'm sorry to call bullshit on this, but I got married a month ago and NOTHING up here applies to us. Eighty people in my parents' yard, the best and least elaborate caterer possible, lots of booze, and a good friend, the bride and I took turns DJing. It certainly wasn't a "classic" wedding, but it wasn't cheap, or QUIRKY!!! either. We just talked a lot (as a couple, and with our families and friends) about what we thought we wanted, settled on someething and did it.
Conclusion: are you neurotic? If not, get the fuck married and you'll have a blast.

PS: Oh yeah, the counseling? Fuck that, the person was we got referred to was completely useless, always taking my wife's side to the point it made her embarassed and we stopped going.

Chill out. Get married in Spain.

allyzay (#321)

I kinda think this article should've been written by someone who has actually completed the having a wedding process and not someone in the dead center of the having a wedding process, but I am sticky about my experts in that fashion. You can't really impart the "truths about weddings" when you haven't even finished having one. It's kind of like imparting the truth about sex to your friends when you're still 13.

Horror Chick (#1,677)

@allyzay Ha – fair point. I promise to write a follow-up in November (assuming anyone can stomach more of this)

Sean Maloney (#4,038)

You know what diffuses wedding tension? Making everybody wear costumes and having the reception at a really low-key bar. Seriously, outside of the fact that I was an hour late because the prosthetic forehead took longer to apply than expected (I was Frankenstein, the Missus was The Bride, obvs) everything went real wavy gravy. Well, my eyelids were glued shut so I couldn't see where I was going, but other than that it was more or less hassle free. Oh, and don't invite the conservative relatives, cuz they're no fun anyway.

oeditrix (#10,234)

The "finding out what you're really like" thing struck a chord with me. I too thought I was too cool to care about my wedding and that I would somehow magically have the cheapest, most relaxed wedding imaginable. Then I learned that the reason I am a DIY person is NOT because I'm so chill, but in fact because I like to have control over how everything looks. So yeah, I am lovingly handcrafting everything myself, and yeah, it's pretty stressful, but ultimately I enjoy it, even though I know it's just a stupid wedding.

Sometimes I feel a little jealous of those awesome couples who felt comfortable blowing it all off and eloping together, but at the end of the day, I love throwing fancy parties, and this is the only time in my life that I'll get to do it, so . . . . I'm just giving myself permission to care, even if it means having the occasional breakdown over the centerpieces.

ample pie (#16,622)

I just had a wedding in late May. A traditional-ish (the -ish because it was a mixed-culture affair so we incorporated bits from both sides), country-club, not-cheap wedding.

Since I'm on the other side, here's one of the positives:

I was blown away by how people responded to my wedding. As in really, really touched. I received gifts from friends of my parents that I barely know wishing me well. One of my old college roommates flew all the way across the country for basically one day to be there. One of my mother's oldest friends offered to throw me a shower as soon as she knew I was engaged. It was amazing to realize how many people loved and cared about me – not just my now-husband, but by all the people in my life who reached out to me in some way. (I'm trying to spread the goodwill in the future by being the same kind of awesome well-wisher.)

Also, it really helped to remember that as long as we had the officiant and each other, we still had a wedding. Everything else was icing on the proverbial cake, even if it was really fantastic.

That said, I realize that I'm quite ridiculously privileged because I could afford the wedding I wanted, and that plays a huge part in reducing stress. (My major stressors were: My biggest stressors were a) seriously why does no one in the wedding industry return emails? I'm basically writing an email that says HI I'D LIKE TO SPEND A BUNCH OF MONEY WITH YOUR BUSINESS and they don't respond, and b) also why do most wedding-industry people make appointments between 9 and 5 on weekdays? I didn't quit my job to plan my wedding, exactly.)

Also please don't think there's any kind of wedding you have to have. I looked at so many blog posts of DIY chic weddings with gorgeous handcrafted details and loved them, but I probably would have had a nervous breakdown trying to do my centerpieces or come up with a cute way to display escort cards. I was better off working overtime and paying someone else to do that. You're right when you say you figure out what kind of person (or at least micro-manager, party-planner, or social engineer) that you are when you plan something like this.

One more thing: seriously, the ceremony counts for something. And I don't just mean the big commitment-to-each-other part of it, or the legal part of it, or the religious/spiritual part of it. I mean that it's so, so worth it to have a ceremony that you love, be it something completely original or something well-established. If you have to cut elsewhere in your budget to have an officiant you love or a ceremony that you want, do it. The actual text of my wedding ceremony is something I hold truly dear, and it was worth every penny we paid (and more!).

hfhiggins (#17,174)

Great piece. I love it when someone lifts the veil, so to speak, and shows what's really on the other side. Adrian Tomine's short comic collection "Scenes From an Impending Marriage" makes similarly humorous observations about what happens when you enter the world of wedding planning.

After vaguely trying to plan some sort of semi-traditional ceremony, I became overwhelmed with nausea and anxiety (see "Weddings are Emotional Reckonings") and my fiance and I went in the completely opposite direction. We had a family-only ceremony with seven guests (his parents, my mom and a couple of cool aunts and uncles) at the Chicago Cultural Center, where it costs a whopping $10 to get hitched. Then we all went and had an amazing sushi lunch. It was perfect.

These are the only truths: People are going to judge you no matter what route you take. Either they're pissed that they have to fly halfway across the country to see you exchange vows or they're miffed that they weren't invited. The one thing that you have to remember is that in spite of this, no one really gives as much of a crap about your wedding as you do, and any feelings they have — ill or well-wishing — are insignificant compared to their own personal concerns.

Everyone is consumed by their own personal drama, but mistakenly believes that the rest of the world is, too.

opinions galore (#13,766)

Weddings are easy. Marriage is hard.

137986053@twitter (#246,218)

Number 5 is probably the most important, great article. Creating a wish list takes a lot of stress of the wedding, I wish I had the opportunity to create a wish list when I got married! http://www.wishweddinglist.co.uk

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