A Wedding on Your Terms

On Wedding Day Joy

October 29, 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.

If you’re reading this, chances are very good that you’ve been called a bride for months and months. But here is a newsflash: you’re not a bride. Not yet, anyway.

For most of us, the liminal state of bride-dom lasts for about ten hours. It’s long enough to put on the dress, say the vows, transform yourself from a single person to part of a brand new family, and then party like it’s going out of style. And then it’s over, and that’s a good thing. So the question is, how do we take those ten hours and experience them to their fullest? How do we get what we need out of this liminal state, and move forward with minimal regrets and a lifetime of memories?

In short: you need to really show up emotionally, let go of all the planning you worked so hard on, and embrace imperfection.

That sounds gauzy and hippy-zen and impossible, right? Well, it’s really none of those things. So, without further ado, here are the things you should know about your wedding day that no one will ever tell you. (Except, um, I’m telling you, so you win.)

Your wedding day might not feel like you expect it to feel.

After reading tons of wedding magazines and zillions of wedding blogs, it’s hard not to have an idea of how your wedding day is going to feel. The thing is, that idea might be dead wrong.

First, I think we all hope our wedding day is going to feel pretty and chic. The one problem with this plan is that you can’t feel pretty, because pretty isn’t an emotion. Trouble! As my husband warned me before the wedding, it’s really important to differentiate between how wedding pictures look and how your wedding day will feel. Our wedding pictures look dreamy and beautiful, and for that I’m grateful. Our wedding ceremony, on the other hand, felt really gritty and raw. And that was okay. There was plenty of time for joy at the party, and in the weeks of bliss to come.

So on the day itself, do everything you can to resist classifying your wedding day emotions as right or wrong. Maybe, like me, your life will change hard and fast, in a moment of intensity. Maybe you’ll ride a wave of joy, but just feel like you threw an awesome party, nothing life changing. Maybe you’ll be so overwhelmed that you’ll weep for hours. Maybe it will be something totally different. Whatever you feel, let yourself feel it. It may not be at all what you expected, and that may be a blessing.

Your family is crazy, and that’s okay.

I know, right? You’re sitting here reading this, thinking, “My family isn’t crazy, my family is lovely! And besides, it’s my wedding day so they’ll be on their best behavior.” Well, sort of. Your family probably is lovely (mine is), but you know how everyone acts in high stress situations? You know how your mom freaks out on Christmas Day about having the table set just right, and you have the brother who’s super delightful but slightly socially awkward in large groups, and you have the two uncles that don’t really get along that well after the four whiskies they always insist on having? Yeah. That stuff is going to happen on your wedding day, because weddings are stressful. But here is the thing: it doesn’t have to matter.

Being a bride has certain perks, and one of those perks is being given a free pass to not give a sh*t. If your mom starts freaking out while you’re getting ready, have a sister or a best friend who’s tasked with pulling her aside and telling her to breathe. If your uncles start fighting with each other after their fourth glass of whisky, you have permission to just turn and walk away.

You’re not going to be able to make everyone happy, and that’s fine. For ten hours of your life, your job is to protect your own experience. Your job is to refuse to get emotionally involved when people get stressed, and to just walk away and let it go. It’s tricky, but it only lasts for a few short hours. Tomorrow you can get totally pissed at your mom when she’s acting a fool, but for today, it’s not your problem.

What happens next is so much richer.

Because planning a wedding is a giddy mix of beautiful things, mixed with a serious dose of pain in the ass, it’s easy to get focused on This One Day We Spent So Much Time And Money Planning. But that day is not the point. Your marriage is the point. So as your wedding day approaches, remember that this too shall pass. And what you’ll be left with is your marriage, which is infinitely more beautiful than the most stunning wedding dress in the world.

My wedding day? It was one of the great joys of my life. But the happiest day of my life? That was probably a lazy honeymoon day with my husband, drinking whiskey and looking at castles. Or maybe it was just any old lazy Sunday, reading The New York Times, lounging around the house… and oh yeah, not planning a wedding.

So congratulations. Not on this beautiful wedding you planned, but on making it to the other side. Welcome.

For more wedding advice, visit Meg’s blog or check out A Practical Wedding, available from Amazon or an independent bookstore near you.

  • sbanghart

    Sheena Lewis from BeautifulAgainBridal says:

    What a true story... a wedding/union/marriage celebration is something that is important to do, to share with family and friends... but when it's all said and done, the best moments of your life will come when you and your partner are alone, feet up on each other on the couch, talking about the day's events and sharing an intimate moment.

    8 years ago

  • angelafouraker

    Angela Fouraker says:

    Thank you for this. I am getting married in 11 days and I am actively going to try and let go and just have as good a time as I possibly can on my wedding day and to not worry about every little thing. (A very difficult task for me, a worrier by nature). I was great to have that re-iterated in this post.

    8 years ago

  • HandiworkinGirls

    HandiworkinGirls from HandiworkinGirls says:

    Very thought provoking!

    8 years ago

  • jroggenkamp

    Ann Roggenkamp says:

    In all the weddings I have been through as a bridesmaid and witnessed, this is probably one of the best articles I have ever read about the true experiences and expectations through this one day. I am always alarmed when looking at brides that focus so much on the one day. I'm left wondering have they put just as much energy in the planning of the marriage part?

    8 years ago

  • mytwoangelboys

    Sally Mitchell says:

    I think the luckiest thing that ever happened for us was having to change the date of our wedding and have 6 weeks to plan and do everything. My husband (of 10 years) and I were engaged and in the early stages of planning when I discovered I was pregnant and due 2 weeks after our decided wedding day, we had to choose beween leaving the date the same, putting it off indefinately, or my husbands idea 'lets get married in 6 weeks when I'm home back from work again'. In short, we didn't have the time to stress over details or even find our ideal options, and the result? A totally stress free wedding day which was the most memorable celebration with 120 of our friends and family.

    8 years ago

  • CommitMe

    Saara Reidsema from CommitMe says:

    Great article! My wedding memories are a complete blur from lack of sleep. Thank goodness there are a lot of photos to help jog my memory!!

    8 years ago

  • Ridgevales

    Lindsay from SweetThreesBoutique says:

    So true and I appreciate this article a ton!!! It really is so important to step back, take a breath, and realize what this day really is all about! And, the day passes so quickly, that really, what you remember is the joy of planning (so make it joyful)!

    8 years ago

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique says:

    My wedding happened abruptly, from our decision to marry to the actual wedding day was maybe a month and a half. In some ways i resented how quickly and stressful the time constraint became but on that day, everything became suddenly surreal and surprisingly serene. An unexpected sense of peace eased me throughout the day and my focus narrowed on our commitment to each other which felt unmistakably right. The time went quickly, being a bride was great, but the lasting commitment to a union is something so much more than a wedding and a day. Embrace it. xo

    8 years ago

  • thevicagirl

    VaLon Frandsen from thevicagirl says:

    I love it, such great advice. When I go traveling I don't like to plan too much or else I get disappointed. I think that I may have to take this approach when it comes to my wedding as well. Nice tips.

    8 years ago

  • WintergreenDesign

    Christa Cunningham from WintergreenDesign says:

    Great article... and the information is very true.

    8 years ago

  • handandheritage

    DueAmici from handandheritage says:

    Awesome advice- loved this article

    8 years ago

  • Cailjordan

    Cail Jordan says:

    The way you feel and the way you hope to feel are super different. Sometimes we're taught that expectations should be huge but then they don't match up to reality and it's a rare woman who can specifically point that out. Excellent article.

    8 years ago

  • red8586

    Julie Endres Braun says:

    Thank you for putting this in perspective. We are getting married in 30 days and I just said to my fh, we need to be planning our honeymoon and all of our energy has been going into this one day.. time to rethink things. Thank you for the perfect timing, etsy..

    8 years ago

  • dwagonfwy

    dwagonfwy says:

    Sounds great. Thanks for the advice! During this planning process its really hard not to get caught up in making everyone happy - but we should get what we want as a couple. Not what others want or think we should want! And despite your relaxation, you still got wonderful photos! Now there is a lesson in that.

    8 years ago

  • nicolanis

    Michelle from FoamyFactory says:

    Very realistic article! liked it very much. We can relate it not only to weddings, but for many aspects of our life. Great! Thanks!

    8 years ago

  • foxegurl266

    foxegurl266 says:

    Excellent article. I couldn't agree more. I loved that on my wedding day, I had a wonderful maid of honor who stepped in to whisk the drama away (like when the bridesmaids got sick and had to get a ride home in a taxi). It was my day and she made sure I enjoyed it.

    8 years ago

  • JasmineLund

    Hannah Jasmine Tucker from TheMiddleButton says:

    I LOVE that last bit. I want to read it over and over. So many people say to focus on "the day" or "the dress", and it drives me nuts.... so that bit of sanity was very refreshing, and I'm sure I'll come back to read it a few times when I plan my own wedding.

    8 years ago

  • pennybrownbridal

    Rachel White from PennyBrownBridal says:

    Such a beautiful article, the one you love is important and smiles all round!

    8 years ago

  • Pixie2428

    Doris C. from SewBeautifulbyDC says:

    Congratulations on figuring out and sharing with everyone, the beautiful ingredients of a perfect wedding. My husband and I were married in my parents back yard. We only had five weeks to put it all together. My new wedding dress cost under one hundred dollars, my husband wore a suit that was in his closet. I felt lovely and he looked very handsome. The maid of honor wore her favorite dress and the best man wore his favorite suit. ( We didn't know what colors they had on until they showed up for the ceremony. ) All our family and close friends attended. We celebrated until past midnight, everyone danced until they dropped. We had a relaxing one week honeymoon at the New Jersey Shore and afterwards we came home to fully experience the true meaning of a marriage. There are many more ingredients to add to the list of a beautiful wedding, we should give all the new couples the gift of discovering the spices on their own.

    8 years ago

  • StayArtisan

    J.K. Ramirez from HudsonBlueArtisans says:

    Congratulations, may you enjoy many years toghether.

    8 years ago

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger says:

    Love the advice.....My daughter is getting married this year...Want to enjoy every second on it.....Memories for a lifetime... :)

    8 years ago

  • nutshellcards

    Stephen Bushnik from NutshellCards says:

    Wonderful advice! Don't forget to keep the groom engaged with sweet nothings throughout the day ;) um...in a nutshell. https://www.etsy.com/listing/118402881/wedding-day-cards-for-couples-10pk-of

    8 years ago

  • HeidieWithAnE

    Heidie from HeidieWithAnE says:

    So glad to have read this! I'm getting married in 4 days! :)

    7 years ago

  • harrietstigner

    Harriet Stigner says:

    It's just sunk I'm engaged and i'm already addicted to wedding blogs but I'm planning on re reading this feature regularly until the big day. Looking forward to the other side! Thank you.

    7 years ago

  • Isadorabridal

    Isadorabridal from Isadorabridal says:

    wonderful article, very true, great advice!

    7 years ago

  • jearly83

    Joy Early says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! My wedding is 13 days away and this was an eye opener. Letting it go is going to be my new goal. Thanks again!

    7 years ago

  • susiehewett

    Susie Hewett from ECoMEcreative says:

    Thank you for this 27 days till the wedding is really helpful have just taken a deep breathe and let it all go.

    7 years ago

  • scl32

    LeMaitre says:

    This article says so much. My wedding is less than a month away and I am beginning to wonder how I will feel on that day -- how it truly feels to be a bride and to actually experience the day you've planned. Planning has been at points fun, stressful, annoying, mundane and exciting - for both my fiance and I. Although we have felt differently throughout the planning process, the end result has always been the same: we are best friends, love each other and will continue spending our days together. I have come to realize that ultimately what it's about is getting the important people in your life together to witness the loving bond you have together as a couple, and to celebrate that bond. It's not about what decorations are on the tables, color themes, cake cutting or first dances. It's about family and friends driving and flying across the country, across the world, to come together for you as a couple as you exchange your vows with one another -- and celebrating the heck out of a few hours. After reading the article I realized it was written by the same author as "A Practical Wedding"; this book has been extremely helpful in putting things into perspective. I have carried it around for months and keep reading and re-reading portions of it -- I highly recommend it.

    7 years ago

  • barbie3014

    Kristin Close says:

    My wedding is in 12 days (but who's counting?!) and this article was a breath of fresh air. Thank you!!!!!!

    7 years ago

  • MyDistinctDesigns

    Sherry Snider from MyDistinctDesigns says:

    wonderful article.

    7 years ago

  • marianovini

    Maria Petrovna says:

    Lace dress looks light! http://stylebride.com.ua/katalog/svadebnye-platya

    5 years ago