A Wedding on Your Terms

The Bride I (Never) Wanted to Be

September 10, 2012 in
Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Meg Keene
Meg Keene

Meg Keene is the founder and executive editor of A Practical Wedding and Reclaiming Wife. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was released in January 2012.

I run an indie-wedding website, so what I’m supposed to tell you is that I grew up as a feminist tomboy who never imagined getting married. And I sort of wish I could tell you that story, because frankly, it sounds a lot cooler than the truth. The truth is, somewhere around the age of four, I discovered my parents’ wedding album on the bottom of their bookshelf and spent hours slowly paging through the photos. Not long afterwards, I announced that I never wanted to cut my hair again.

After some puzzling, my mom discovered that I thought her cathedral length wedding veil was her hair, and that you needed to have hair that dragged on the floor before you were allowed to get married. I’d done some basic calculations, and decided if I wanted hair that dragged on the floor when I was an adult, four years old was about the right time to start growing it out. And that’s not even getting into how I dedicated my first piggy bank to buying my (Glinda-the-good-witch) wedding dress, much to the horror of my feminist mother.

These are all funny stories, except I never exactly grew out of loving weddings, I just started loving them very differently, and then I got married. (My hair does not drag on the floor though, just for the record).

Past Meets Future

Which brings us to the question: how do our past thoughts about weddings influence our actual weddings, and how do they shape our planning? Among the readership of my site, I’m something of a rarity, as many women who are into no-nonsense feminist weddings never thought they’d get married. And for those of us who did imagine our wedding as children, our real life weddings have very little to do with our (rather dramatic) imaginings. And it turns out that that moment where our past meets our future can be emotional, and also unusually instructive.

I wanted more information, so I polled the hive-mind on Twitter and Facebook, and some of the most interesting answers I’d ever read poured forth. First, there were the wedding imaginers. For those of us that had fantasized about our wedding days, the dreams mostly revolved around our outfits. No surprise, given the kind of tiny girl who spends a fair amount of time thinking about weddings, our dresses were going to be HUGE and SPARKLY. Also, we were going to have veils: big ones.

The women who didn’t think about their weddings still imagined themselves in the future, but they imagined themselves as, and I quote, a princess baker president, a horse breeder, a park ranger, a hermit, a lady who lunched, and an Oscar winner. Occasionally they imagined themselves as wives, but they just skipped right over the bride part. (Which isn’t to say those of us convinced we would get married in a Glinda-the-good-witch dress weren’t equally sure we’d be president of the United States.) As for whether or not it was better to dream up your wedding in advance, well, the jury is out on that one.

Little Girl Bridal Dreams

For those of us who dreamed of our weddings as children, it seems there are two models for getting married: realizing that we are not, in fact, the same people we were at four, and throwing a wedding for the person we are now. Or, trying to live up to that castle in the sky we envisioned.

The pressure to plan your childhood dream wedding is huge. A woman who was trying to plan a wedding that reflected her real life said that, while at the bridal salon, “I said the dress [I wasn’t going to get] made me feel like a princess, and the saleslady wanted to know why I couldn’t be one.” Because on some level, the wedding industry is built around the dreams we had as children: bigger, fancier, sparkly-er.

And some let their childhood bridal dream go. One respondent commented, “As soon as we got engaged, the bride I’d imagined disappeared from my mind completely. She was just ludicrous.” For others, it was people they loved who hadn’t let go of that little girl and her plans. Someone said, “I did envision myself as a bride when I was younger. It was problematic because I was also vocal about my pint-sized musings (apparently), and those conflicted heavily with what I wanted as an adult bride. This created a lot of tension between my mom and I, for some reason.” But in the end, there was a firm consensus: “Imagining did conflict with reality, but reality was so much better.”

I’m A Bride? This Wasn’t The Plan!

For those who never imagined themselves getting married, the bridal twist of fate came with serious confusion. If you’ve never really thought about weddings, you don’t have any preconceived notions; this can be wonderfully liberating, or totally baffling. As one respondent told me, “I never imagined being married. My first wedding, I did everything society and people said I needed to or was supposed to do. I was miserable.” But another said, “I think it made planning our wedding easier! We (two brides) knew our style, but since neither one of us had any concrete life-long imaginings of what our wedding was going to look like, I think it made it easier to go with the flow and create an event that reflected both of us.”

The truth is, the ruling cultural narrative skews to those of us who imagined our weddings as kids (and assumes we are still determined to live out those dreams). Someone commented, “I always got weirded out when I read articles that began ‘You’ve been dreaming of this day since you were little…'” Another respondent said, “Sometimes I felt awkward and self-conscious during planning, due to my being so vocal about ‘never getting married.'” Finding yourself standing on the little platform in a wedding salon, surrounded by onlookers, when you never intended to be a woman getting married, can make you question how you got there and what you really believe. Arguably, this is a very good thing, and the kind of thinking all of us should be engaged in during wedding planning.

Embracing Reality, Loving Ourselves

As it turns out, the solution is simple, even if the implementation it is anything but. The (totally hippy) sign under the clock in my acupuncturist’s office sums it up best: “The only time that matters is NOW.” We can only be who we are in the moment, and if we create a wedding for a past or future version of ourselves, we’re fools. The best we can do is give a wave to our past self and tell her we love her, and give a nod to our future self and tell her we’ll be thrilled to meet her, and then get married just as we are. For me, that meant a short vintage dress that was exactly what I said I’d never want to wear. Three years later, I look back at it and grin, because that past self, she is awesome and happy. And she knows exactly who she is. Cheers to her, and the tiny four-year-old too!

  • elizabethan11

    Beth Lakin from 3UpAdventures says:

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Well put Meg. I can't wait to don my non-sparkly non-princess dress in just a few days. :-)

    11 years ago

  • essentialimages

    Kate from essentialimages says:

    Meg just always seems to rock this whole "wedding world"! I love her insight and she never fails to draw clever and wise women to her with right-on comments and life experiences. I'm one of those who skipped the "bride" dreams and went right to "wife" so I was kind amazed (as Meg notes) during the minimal amount of wedding planner I did on my way to a great marriage. It IS all about the marriage in the end.

    11 years ago

  • twoseventeen

    Hannah Rae from twoseventeen says:

    I'm in the midst of daydreaming, with a bit of concrete plannign going on, and I keep getting caught up on how I will look back and what I will remember about the day. While I firmly know and beleive that the only thing that matters is that we will be married; I'm a very visual and creative person so all the pretty does matter to me. And, "Three years later, I look back at it and grin, because that past self, she is awesome and happy. And she knows exactly who she is. Cheers to her and the tiny four-year-old too!" was exactly what I needed to hear!

    11 years ago

  • chellemitlieber

    chellemitlieber says:

    I absolutely love this post. It hits on the different moments in your life, the past, being present, and the future. Having a hard time staying present, like many individuals, this read brings back the meaning of living in the moment. I am in the pre-engagement stage and if I find any patience with waiting right now it's a miracle. Living in the moment rings true for not just your wedding day, but life in general. It's something I need to strive to do more often. An awesome "hits home" article to contemplate this afternoon. Thank you!

    11 years ago

  • sbanghart

    Sheena Lewis from BeautifulAgainBridal says:

    I never imagined my wedding when I was younger, and as I got older I was convinced I wouldn't get married... and then poof, I met the right guy, he asked me, and next thing I know we are planning a wedding... and though I was certainly no bridezilla, I cared about details more than I thought I would. In the end, I just wanted it to be a special day for my husband and I to remember... and it was :)

    11 years ago

  • SenoritaCupcake

    Senorita says:

    Meg, you've left somebody out. What about the people who really do still want those childhood dreams. Admittedly, I did not always dream of getting married in a lodge at a children's summer camp. However, that's just because I'm marrying another person, and that person isn't really the tying-the-knot-in-the -ballroom-of-Pemberley type. I am still getting married in a ridiculously sparkly dress that is not a sheath or mermaid or anything else that's supossed to match my petite size and rustic setting. While there is this wider culural narrative of following childhood dreams, I feel like that comes with a fair share of judgement in the indie world. I may be a medical student who's old enough to rent a car, but sparkly shiznit still makes me happy, so at my nuptials, sparkly shiznit will abound.

    11 years ago

  • JandM2014

    Miranda VanZeumeren says:

    My dress is covered in sparkle and makes me feel like a princess (if making you feel like a princess means making you feel awesome) I went shopping thinking I should get something simple and sweet but that's just not who I am. You shouldn't feel like you need to change yourself in either direction.

    11 years ago

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered says:

    I love this post! I never thought about getting married, so when I got engaged, I wasn't sure what to do. I certainly didn't want the traditional expense and hoopla. But that certainty ended up being a path, not a stone wall -- we did what we wanted, not what a "Wedding" and a "Reception" were supposed to be. We got married outdoors and had a barbecue and three cakes (because we couldn't pick one we liked best). It felt like an awesome party to me, not a stiff, sober, stuffy affair that cost us $25K. I was very happy with how it turned out. I don't think we could have done it better even if I had been planning it since I was 4.

    11 years ago

  • GracefullyGirly

    Kimberlee from GracefullyGirly says:

    I didn't have a ton of bridal imaginings as a child, or even an adult, for that matter. I went out to find a really simple dress but I ended up with the most perfect one that had some gorgeous sparkle, that my mom picked out. I knew it was the one even though it was so much more elaborate than the one I had envisioned. It was the beginning of me embracing the more "girly" part of myself that I had somewhat forgotten as I trudged through life. I loved nature and the outdoors and spent more time NOT dressed up than anything. I had numerous jobs that required me to get a bit dirty and stinky like white water raft guide, wilderness park ranger and backpacking guide, to name a few. When I became a teacher I cleaned up nicely but still didn't go overboard with the girly details. It was the wedding dress that sparked the new me, one I now lovingly embrace! I can now both play in the dirt but also relish in dressing up in sparkly things sometimes too. Which makes for a fun time being mom to my lovely daughter who likes both extremes and everything in between too! It's amazing how a wedding dress can bring about such change!

    11 years ago

  • kimberleeannkreation

    Kim Brooks from kimberleeannJewelry says:

    I loved planning my wedding - the dress shopping, the decorations, the blizzard we woke up to that morning....but, if I had to do it all over again I would definitely be more focused on making a day where my husband and I spent the entire time together. Gone would be the old fashioned "groom can't see the bride" and in would be breakfast together, bride & groom wedding photos before any guests arrive, I might even take the notion to greet the guests instead of a receiving line after the ceremony - now there's a thought:) Weddings are such a wonderful time in a couples life and I hope to someday see couples focusing on the entire day, a day the bride and groom will look back on and be glad they went against tradition.

    11 years ago

  • whichgoose

    Emily Suidikas from whichgoose says:

    Love this! It really speaks to all the expectations brides put on themselves for their wedding. A groom, an officiant, and some people to witness are all you need. The rest is just details.

    11 years ago

  • alitat77

    alitat77 says:

    i love your post and it reminds me so much of MY own feelings. My parents divorced when i was 4 and I never really much imagined getting married. i imagined a career... and thought that was what i needed to achieve in life to be happy... and then i found out through getting that dream that it wasn't really for me afterall. and i was a traditionalist at heart! i don't think this conflicts with my feminist views... but also, quite frankly, i would never call myself a feminist. i have grown up in a generation where anything i wanted, i could have or try to have. i haven't felt deprived... except in ONE very big area... i have deprived myself of the wedding, the cozy family home, all those things i wanted but thought were silly, frilly, cinderella fantasies. i think there's a happy medium in all this. and somewhere, someday i'll have my wedding... albeit NOT wearing one of the over the top dresses i circled endlessly as a little girl in the jcpenney's catalogs!! but, yes... i'm worthy of love and a wedding and standing in front of people i care about and saying "i loveeeee this person with my whole heart and we're gonna frickin try our damnedest to build a life together, even when things get tough." i think we're all worth that. and we don't need permission or a martha stewart wedding magazine to complete that vision.

    11 years ago

  • KPlager

    Kate Plager from BombyxBotanica says:

    I gave myself 6 months to plan my wedding, and many friends and relatives pulled together quickly to make our day special. I bought the first dress I tried on, because my mother liked it. My mother and her best friend cooked the dinner and made the wedding cake for the reception. Another friend and my brother played cellos during the ceremony. A neighbor just happened to direct a klezmer band...and another friend, who was a professional photographer, volunteered to take the memorable shots. Everything was perfect!

    11 years ago

  • Aurelas

    Christie Bradley from Aurelas says:

    I really identified with this article! When I was a little girl one of my favorite games was to dress up in my one-piece slip and carry around a bouquet of fake flowers pretending to be a bride. My Barbie dolls got married all the time. Even in middle and early high school, I knew what sort of wedding gown I wanted. It was very Marie Antoinette! However, by the time I was actually engaged and looking for a dress, I had realized that my body type just didn't look good in that sort of dress. I started looking for something for something with a look between Grecian and 30s film star instead. My parents were fine with that, but I quickly learned that the wedding industry wasn't! Everywhere I went, the shop ladies were pestering me to try on huge puffy dresses. One reason for this, of course, is that giant puffs cost more than sleek, elegant models. It really took a lot of the fun out of shopping. Eventually, though, I was able to find the perfect gown. Pretty much everyone was a bit disconcerted at the inexpensiveness of the wedding I ended up planning. I made almost all of my own decorations, including tea light holders upcycled from yogurt cups, and was up late the night before the wedding decorating. I had so much fun but was so tired! My wedding was unusual and it was cheaper than most, but it turned out really nice and I wouldn't do it any other way. The only thing I would do differently is that I would not worry so much about every little detail being perfect. A note to those planning their own weddings: you think everyone will see every little imperfection and notice each little touch you add, but the fact is that most people truly are there just to see you get married. Most will not remember the decorations or even pay attention to them while they're there. So don't stress so much, and keep it simple! And remember, the wedding is for you and your beloved, not anyone else. If you want a Monty Python sketch acted out before the ceremony, don't let anyone talk you out of it! (That was my big mistake, but if I ever renew my vows, we are having a knight on a stick horse and a page with coconuts. That is in stone).

    11 years ago

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage says:

    Interesting! I always imagined saving money with a City Hall wedding in an off-white or peach suit. Don't know how that dream is going to turn out yet.

    11 years ago

  • Ridgevales

    Lindsay from SweetThreesBoutique says:

    Great post! I ended up with a dress, and style a bit off from what I imagined...but, it was absolutely perfect! Everything, somehow, ends up the way it should. It doesnt feel like it will while you are feeling pressure to find things exactly how you picture them in your mind..but when you look back, you just smile at how it all turned out. It truly does end up being one of the happiest times in your life! ;)

    11 years ago

  • volkerwandering

    Jess from volkerwandering says:

    Great article!

    11 years ago

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm from baconsquarefarm says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog post, after attending our son's wedding a month ago I can totally appreciate what you are saying, thanks for sharing your thoughts in written form for all of us to read.

    11 years ago

  • bedouin

    Nicole from KarmaCodeOne says:

    terrific post ~ everyone's individuality inevitably shines during such an intimate celebration ~ even if the world is watching there are moments that belong only to the two of you and they are usually the ones that don't cost a dime to say ~ married for 28 years my husband stills wears his 7.50 cent silver band we bought in Berkeley calif. from a street vendor and I change mine every few years to reflect with whatever is happening in my life at the time ~

    11 years ago

  • JennasRedRhino

    Jennifer Boaro from TheCatBall says:

    I am heterosexual and I don't dwell a lot on the fantasy of princess dresses and getting married. What is important to me is equal rights, and the important issue of gay marriage is the predominant civil rights issue of this time. I support marriage for everybody.

    11 years ago

  • NaturelMistik

    Naturel Mistik from NaturelMistik says:

    Oh this is so true! I made it clear from a young age that I was "not the marrying type" and would "never have children". As I got older I discovered a small part of me harbored a somewhat secret desire to have that fantasy wedding. In hindsight, it was all about the dress and decorations - HA! I did get married (at the justice of the peace sans fantasy anything), had a child (best thing I ever did) and got divorced. Now? I am again happily single. If I ever do consider marriage, the ceremony will be simple, spontaneous and at the beach. And we'll be barefoot.

    11 years ago

  • suzanneartist

    Suzanne Urban from SmirkingGoddess says:

    I went to David's in Milford, I hate to shop, even though I wanted to get married for years, Mr. Right took quite some time to meet up with. So I found a gown for $250. on the rack, my friend and I discovered two gorgeous bridesmaid dresses for $50. each-sophisticated, beautiful cut. I guess I can say I fantasized more about whom I would end up with rather than the day we got married!

    11 years ago

  • joeyandrosi

    Rosanne MacCready says:

    I was asking my parents if I could "get married" ever since I was 3 years old and went to a wedding and was just amazed at the bride! I was told I had to have a pretty dress but I had that so that didnt put me off, then they told me I had to be a big girl, but I already was a "big girl" of 3! I did meet the perfect guy and get married last year and yes I did finally find the dress of my dreams, the huge cinderella ballgown I used to draw endlessly when I was a kid and the perfect blue flowery shoes and a lovely long veil.. It was an intimate handmade wedding with a few close friends and family and was perfect, pretty, relaxed, fun and by far the best thing I've ever done!

    11 years ago

  • recycledwares

    Nerrissa W from RecycledWares says:

    It wasn't until my teens when I started seriously dating, that I began thinking about a wedding. Mine was real simple, 10 people were there, our close friends and family. My dress was definitely non-traditional for the times, it came just below my knees and I didn't have a veil. I look at weddings now and love how they are changing, becoming more personal and intimate, and light on the budget. Just what I like.

    11 years ago

  • solocosmo

    Jessica Grundy from solocosmo says:

    I actually bought two dresses for my wedding, first I bought a fancy sparkly one on ebay with tons of beading...but when it arrived and I put it on, yes it was pretty...but it wasn't me...not even in the least. I always thought I wanted a full on wedding gown and I was so bummed everytime I put it on. A few days later I found a simple tea length 80's does 50's white dress for $40 at a thrift store. I put it on and it was beautiful!!! I knew I had the right dress, so I bought it...went home and put the first one up for sale on ebay, right where it came from!

    11 years ago

  • Sanmarcianart

    Jeska Savage from Sanmarcianart says:

    The first wedding was really about pleasing the folks, "See, I turned out alright!" White dress and the whole of the nine yards of train. Second wedding was just about us, in my favorite purple dress, in the front yard under the cottonwood tree and friends stopping by on their way to the river (with tubes, thought my Mom was going to faint). Our reception was a working party because we supplied the pa for the "Sing Out for Peace" on the courthouse lawn. Why? That's where all our friends were going to be anyway, it just seemed right.

    11 years ago

  • SuzisPillowStudio

    Suzi from ThePillowStudioShop says:

    As someone who eloped, this makes me feel better about my 7-year-old daughter's obsession with what her wedding dress will look like... she is where she is.

    11 years ago

  • messinabella

    messinabella from BandBEstate says:

    Great post!

    11 years ago

  • CelibelleQc

    Céline and Isabelle Laporte from CelibelleQc says:

    Love this post! I just realized where MY wedding dress choice came from! I never imagined myself getting married before it was actually time to do so. But I did identifie with characters from movies and books that I think would have chosen the same type of dress as the one I chose. I never realized that those stories had left their mark on who I am today.

    11 years ago

  • GreyGarden

    GreyGarden says:

    As a child I thought my wedding would be just like Maria and the Captain’s from the Sound of Music. I was obsessed with white lace and big poufy veils and often practiced my wedding march down the hallway. When my fiancé and I decided to get married last year, I felt surprisingly unsure about planning a wedding. The more I thought about putting something traditional together, the more uncomfortable I got. My fantasy wedding from my childhood just didn’t fit our personalities. We ended up having a simple courthouse ceremony. I wore a bright red and purple silk dress and carried matching flowers I arranged myself. It was a special day where we could focus on us and our future together…no fuss, no glitz. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

    11 years ago

  • bosquecarpentry

    Gabriel Montes from bosquecarpentry says:

    Facsinating, I think simple weddings are beautiful, because everyone looks happy. I keep thinking about the wedding in the movie, Il Postino. In contrast, everyone just looks nervous and a little drunk at royal weddings.

    11 years ago

  • sarahkdesigns

    Sarah from sarahkdesigns says:

    Can I declare something as an adult who doesn't quite get what's so adult about being an adult: I'm not getting married, ever... Marriage is just a tradition that doesn't mesh with who I am as a person, and I know I'm one of those individualist kinds of people. So, there's never going to be a big fancy party where I parade around in a dress in front of my relatives and friends — who I assume spent a great deal of time preening themselves to appear in photos for a subsequent album... as an adult who will never be married — I can plan this imaginary thing that's never going to happen infinitely. I want a green dress, something flowy, oh, and it will have SLEEVES, none of this strapless BS. The whole affair will be simple and fancy and weird, and definitely indoors, and definitely not in July, because I sat thru an outdoor wedding one time, and by the time the fruit flies were done having fun with our dinner... well, I found the wedding couple who kept disappearing to some air conditioned room somewhere to be a lot less charming. The swing music also wasn't helping the ambiance... Weddings are as much about the couple as they are about throwing a party for the attendees, and I'm not the biggest party girl. I think (gasp) I'm apparently a feminist, and I'm perfectly happy with my own last name and no children... different strokes for different folks. Regardless, as a child I possessed Wedding Midge and Wedding Alan (c'mon, reddish brown hair, you know who owned a lot of Barbie's friends!) and yet, I never planned my own fantasy wedding. My childhood ambitions were to be a hairdresser or a princess. There was also a princess outfit in the McCall's pattern book that I was desperately in love with. While my Mother made me all kinds of dresses, I could never convince her to make me that one. My Mother's adult dream, strangely enough, was to be a feminist. She may have had the ideas down pat, not so much the execution as she sewed us all manner of Little House on the Prairie style dresses while my father went off to work and paid the bills. Weddings are a party, with self consciousness, nervousness, awkward body issues, ideals, expectations, joy, wonder, loud music, and usually cake. I'm definitely down with the cake part, but I'll never be planning one for real. At the core, it actually just isn't who I am, or at this juncture - following the ambling trajectory of my life - who I would likely become. But if there was - then there would definitely be a lot of cake, and my ridiculous flowy green dress with sleeves, and probably some loud rock music. and weird centerpieces, and my friends and relatives would expect no less, except they already know I'm not the marrying type. I think that weddings reflect the individuals who are having them, standard fare or not. And that we cannot spend our whole lives looking back at things we declared when we were four years old as though they were filled with sparks of gospel truth. None of us really knew what income taxes or sex was back then. Trying to reconcile your current informed adult beliefs with the limited knowledge you possessed as a pre-reading declarative child probably isn't going to be all that practical.

    11 years ago

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique says:

    I am that girl who never saw myself as a bride but still knew that one day i would come to embrace it. I've been married for just over a month now and my wedding was planned and executed in under two months. I never had any expectations for a wedding so everything was new and amazing. Embracing those precious moments and feeling so much love from the ones closest to you are the real gifts one walks away with. Your story is beautiful, thank you for sharing. xo

    11 years ago

  • importeyedea

    KatrinaJayKay from ImportEyedea says:

    Wellspoke m'Lady and judging from the verbose replies, this subject hits close to home for a lot of us. Grateful thanks to you for writing this and making those of us who are less than traditional take comfort from your experience =)

    11 years ago

  • Attractive1

    Elena Fom from Attractive1 says:

    Thanks for good article and comments everybody!

    11 years ago

  • mirabellamorello

    mirabellamorello from mirabellamorello says:

    I was someone who had had some sort of identity crisis when I reached 25 and was not married yet. As it turned out, I didn't get married for another 20 years. By that time, I had basically given up on the idea of it happening at all. But what I realized was that I was so glad for all the life experience I had in that time so that I could know myself enough to have the wedding that I had probably always planned somewhere in the back of my mind. The things that had been important to me at 25 were not the same things that were important at 45. My best friend who became my husband and I had a small, but beautiful and meaningful ceremony in the garden of a house which had once belonged to President Woodrow Wilson, surrounded by 35 of our loved ones. We have some of the best friends in the world who altered my gown, took pictures of us, transported everything there, helped us set up before and take down everything after the ceremony and reception, served food, moved chairs, played music. My gown cost $99 and was a bridesmaids gown in white. I couldn't bear the idea of wearing horrible shoes that would hurt my feet and wore instead a light purple version of a shoe Puma used to make that some people thought were ballet shoes, but were actually sneakers. We had made our own wedding invitations, placecards, menus. We didn't have a moment of nerves and spent the day before shopping for used CDs with our best man who had been our friend in the record store where we met in 1985. My tastes have changed many times in all those years. I am grateful I had all that time to realize that it didn't have to take a huge budget to create this most special day in our lives.

    11 years ago

  • stockannette

    Annette from Stockannette says:

    Gorgeous photos, and very insightful writing.

    11 years ago

  • CoreandMantle

    Alayna from CoreandMantle says:

    Really cool article...not sure why living in the present moment has to be referred to as "totally hippy", but yeah, interesting thoughts...

    11 years ago

  • TheBeautyofBoredom

    Gracie from TheBeautyofBoredom says:

    That's funny that you thought the veil was the hair! When I was younger I wanted floor length hair anyway, it was maddening that all the other little girls had pretty hair and mine had to always be cut slightly above the shoulder, or shorter...and it didn't look good on me. I was finally allowed to start growing my hair out in the fifth grade. I've found that waist length is enough for me, thank you. I still keep my hair that long but I just chop it all off and donate it every 2-3 years-ish. I also wanted a chocolate cake that went to the ceiling, and a poofy dress. Now? Maybe. Who knows.

    11 years ago

  • ACakeToRemember

    Kara from ACakeToRemember says:

    I make wedding cakes, so I meet A LOT of brides. I think it's interesting that many of the people who come to me for their cakes seem to want to do something different and non-wedding-cakey, but they don't think they should. People tend to have an idea about what a wedding cake "should" be, and it's hard to get away from that. I encourage people to do what they want to do. It's their wedding, so why not? When I got married I didn't even have an official wedding cake, I did a dessert buffet instead. Do something that's unique to you, whether that means doing the white wedding cake that you've dreamed of since you were 5 yrs old, or whether that means having a wedding cake shaped like a robot. And don't apologize for it. It's your party, so do what you want to do and enjoy yourself.

    11 years ago

  • nicilaskin

    Nici Laskin from NiciLaskin says:

    My husband and I were married young compared to all of his friends , compared to the rest of the USA not so much. I was 25 when i married him. I am so glad that we did what we did. We married in front of a Judge with his parents and grandma as witnesses. That was that . We had a barbeque during the summer to celebrate that event with his family and mine . It was short and sweet and there was almost no stress involved , no planning for years , no spending money that you do not have, no debt. We are happy and content.

    11 years ago

  • lulabell1986

    Rebecca Brown says:

    Great article! First I should say, I was one of those girls who didn't want to get married. And I wasn't afraid to tell people that. Now I am a bride-to-be, and couldn't be happier. Because of how vocal I was when I was younger about marriage, when we announced our engagement several people thought it was a joke. After a while they started to realize that it wasn't a joke, and this made them think that I didn't know what I wanted for a wedding. So they started to tell me how my wedding had to be, how much I had to spend, where it had to be, the list goes on and on. For a while I listen and I started getting really stressed out wondering how we were going to afford a wedding. And then one night it hit me, this is our wedding. It was going to be how we wanted it to be and if that made everyone else mad then that was to bad. We will be married next year (2013), after 7 great years already together, and I can't wait to see what new adventures await us.

    11 years ago

  • elliestinson

    Ellie Stinson says:

    Thank you, I needed that. I will try and be kinder to myself. I will keep repeating your last paragraph, and see if I can conjer the courage to take the plunge. Xo.

    11 years ago

  • ACakeToRemember

    Kara from ACakeToRemember says:

    I feel compelled to add to my previous comments...if the big country club wedding with 250 of your closest friends is what someone wants, then they should have that. Weddings come in all shapes and sizes, and a small wedding with ten people there might not be what you want. That's okay too, it's not less "authentic" to have a big wedding if that's what you want to do! ;)

    11 years ago

  • ArtsyFlair

    Michaela Bowles from ArtsyFlair says:

    Loved the article! :)

    11 years ago

  • LuluDeux

    Katie from LuluDeuxMillinery says:

    I had no interest in a fancy/bridal dress which puzzled many of my friends because I'm an historical costumer--everyone thought we would do a period wedding. My reply? I get to play dress up any time I want, on my wedding day I just want to relax and enjoy seeing everyone!

    11 years ago

  • karankashyap

    karan kashyap says:

    Lovely article _____ :)

    11 years ago

  • PaperAffection

    Suanne from PaperAffection says:

    As a child and teen, I made a conscious effort to NOT daydream about my wedding details before I got engaged. I didn't want to set expectations or disappoint future or past me with ideas that weren't practical. And more importantly, what I dreamed up would be less important than what my fiance and I would want together. While planning my wedding for next summer, I am so glad I gave myself the opportunity to dream with my fiance now rather than making my childhood dream come true.

    11 years ago

  • missantique

    Rita from MissAntique says:

    Your writting is so engaging and amazing. I saw the beginning of this article on Etsy blog and I HAD to read it. I was one of those who hasn't dreamt of getting married with some ocasional exceptions when I saw an amazing big beige wedding dress that I was sure I was going to marry a prince (a real one) on a beach (my mother influenced me a little in dreaming with marrying european royalty) and then when I saw "legends of the fall" when Tristan marries Isabel and she is wearing a simple straight lace long dress from his mother and they are so in love. Until today that is for me the image of my wedding. My young girl and this woman agree. (and I'm definetly better with the wild love of my life than with a royal prince)

    11 years ago

  • ThePurpleHippo

    Sarah Fisher from PurpleHippoStitches says:

    I am soooo happy I stumbled upon your article. I'm getting married in two weeks and its a mix of traditional and handmade/weird. And truly a clash of family traditions and who I've become. As it gets closer, I keep having doubts about standing in front of everyone. I always dreamed of a wedding in an abstract way, but never in a real serious way. it's been liberating and maddening all at the same time. anyways, I am a hardcore feminist but I believe that that shouldn't mean sacrificing all that you are to uphold an ideal. I'm a tomboy at heart but there's nothing more fun than playing dress-up and I'm excited to wear my sparkly awesome dress! I fantasized less about my wedding but grew up playing dress-up with a box of clothes that included my mom's prom dress and that I always loved. So I guess the compromise is a low key wedding but I'm still playing dress up. I'm going to look fancy and fabulous! Because it happens once, so why not!

    11 years ago

  • DCFraulein

    Lea says:

    This was read with a nod and half smile. I most definitely identify with so much you have shared. My future thoughts never considered being a bride, but that was probably due to an extremely large family and a bounty of weddings as a result. I just "knew" how it went. When my husband and I became engaged the only thing I knew then was what I did not want, and had no idea where to begin. Our wedding became the unknown perfect. We exchanged vows at my family's home on the Chesapeake Bay, we served the beer and wine we enjoyed as a couple, danced to the tunes we cook to at home, and spent much of our evening barefoot with friends. Certainly there were some aspects that fulfilled the previous standard, but my only regret is that the size of our wedding guest list (aforementioned large family) made it difficult to spend quality time with everyone; yet, there is no one I would have not invited. Weddings really do need a whole weekend.

    11 years ago

  • Odinsdottir

    Odinsdottir from Odinsdottir says:

    Well written, and I would add this: Though I was very certain I would marry (and have children), the musings of my girlish (then teen, then young adult, then mature adult) mind were just a single person's fantasies. In the end what was actualized when I finally married was the best celebration that fit two people's sensibilities, desires, and economic circumstances. That second person, by the way, is my husband. It is funny to me how so many women speak only of their wedding day as the bride's day, as if the groom if of little consequence. I couldn't truly imagine what my wedding would be like had I married any other man. As it was my wedding was absolutely perfect. I think that had something to do with the man I married - the love of my life, my best friend.

    11 years ago

  • thevicagirl

    VaLon Frandsen from thevicagirl says:

    Good read. I never really planned as a child, but have been enjoying reading up on weddings now and planning a bit even though I have no guy in sight.

    11 years ago

  • happykathy

    Sarah Brown from happykathy says:

    No mention of elopments? We were married in Vegas, had an Elvis impersonator sing, we danced and took a limo to a gorgeous hotel. I wore a rented wedding dress, which was too big (fixed with safety pins) and he wore a red and black tux. Unconvential, but cheap, easy and memorable!

    11 years ago

  • GardenofYve

    Danielle Yve from GardenofYve says:

    I think one of the main problems in living out your childhood wedding fantasy is that you created this wedding before you even met your mate. Weddings should be about, yes, the bride, but more importantly the couple.

    11 years ago

  • worldcoincufflinks

    Maura Reynolds from worldcoincufflinks says:

    Great article, and beautifully written as well. Life gives you experiences you never thought you'd have and that is why is so fantastic.

    11 years ago

  • inturquoisesky

    asu from THEFAIRYTHINGS says:


    11 years ago

  • RiordanStudio

    Alice Riordan from RiordanStudio says:

    I love this post! HAaha, I am the bride that never thought about being a bride, that section made me laugh- because it is totally me. I loved your dress! Just gorgeous.

    11 years ago

  • StayArtisan

    J.K. Ramirez from HudsonBlueArtisans says:

    Wow. Outstanding photography.

    11 years ago

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger says:

    Wonderful post!

    11 years ago

  • LowerEast

    Megan from LowerEastDryGoods says:

    Love this post!! In the process of planning a wedding now, I've come to realize that I missed out on critical planning hours a little girl that at the time I spent creating potions and recipes with every household product I could get my hands on. I had no idea where to begin or what I wanted and everyone had the perfect venue, dress and colors. I signed up on Theknot.com at the suggestions of a few recently married friends and thought this should be easy. Soon I realized just how overwhelming it could all be and how much I did not want any of it. My first shocking decision was not going with a diamond engagement ring. Every girl I know went gasping for air when I told them the only reason why they liked diamonds was because of an amazing marketing scheme from De Beers and not because the colorless stone was that amazing. After that move I realized I didn't want to be "that" bride and I stopped going on The Knot and buying magazines. I wanted the process to be easy and fun. Its a celebration and all my fiance and I want is a great party with lots of food, good drinks and amazing people with us. Outside of a few select friends and family, we've kept all the planning secretive that way no outside influences will sway our decisions and what we want as a couple will happen. It's been tough and people are getting upset but we are happy with what we've come up with so far. The only thing easy was finding the dress. After researching the many boutiques I went to one that didn't pawn off the typical princess options and told the consultant I didn't want to feel like a bride and I had to be able to chase kittens, bunnies and bar hop in it. She laughed and in one visit managed to find me the perfect dress. The wedding industry has turned what's supposed to a special and unique moment in your life into a mass produced spectacle at times starting with your first wedding Barbie. Although so many love the result and they look beautiful with amazing weddings, I'm just happy there are other women like who want something a bit different. I was starting to feel a bit out of place...LOL

    11 years ago

  • hec1956

    Heather phillips from Silkandye says:

    I never thought I would get married. When I did, I went all pink hearts and flowers, made my own wedding gown and brides maid dresses and had a lovely wedding in the ballroom of an old mansion. Saying "I do" to someone you love changes everything!

    11 years ago

  • katietoumazou

    Katie Toumazou says:

    This is exactly what I've been working to articulate to my family since I got engaged (2 years ago now). I was that little girl with the Glenda dress (yes, exactly! and Cinderella too) who was going to ride in on a horse drawn carriage yada yada... and then I moved into a place in my life where I rejected the very idea of marriage, and with that, rejected that part of myself that wanted all of those big fluffy sparkly things. After many idealistic, feminist, social critiquing twists and turns, I found myself engaged and super excited about it. So my work has been to pick up where my little girl self left off with the planning - knowing that it wasn't what my current self wanted, but knowing that I had to honor that part of myself, love that part of myself, and in the loving of that part of myself, I am able to truly let go of what is no longer authentic to who I am now (and keep the parts that are). So here I am, planning an outdoor potluck wedding in a friend's yard, and finally feeling really GOOD about that. No need for the horse-drawn carriage, and no big poofy dress... but a little sparkle might sneak its way in :)

    10 years ago