This is a whirlwind. You have just told the person you (hopefully) love that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. You want to be in it for the long haul, the fights, the joys, the unpredictable experiences. Everything. They are the only person you want to do this with.
And so you shout it from the rooftops! You call your parents and your best friends. You post it on Facebook because this kind of joy cannot be contained.
Just as you and your sweetheart begin to have that first conversation, “So, how are we going to do this? Will we have a wedding?” people’s opinions will come out of the wood work. People care what you choose- what kind of wedding, the food, the atmosphere, the music, your colors, who’s invited. When you choose to have a wedding they will care about all of it. Some of these opinions you have asked for. Some you are grateful for. Some you really did not want. Some come with the awkward realization that they are basically saying they wildly disagree with your choices. To some you will say thank you and to others you will tell to back off. Regardless from the very beginning you may feel incredibly overwhelmed. This will subside at some point but never go away. You are not alone! Many before you have felt this way and many will again.
If you are not the kind of person who enjoys all the attention of a wedding, I do not recommend it. It wasn’t something I really thought about in the beginning of planning but as the day approached I was a ball of nerves about it. Being the center of attention, having everyone come to me for decisions or even just checking on me had my shoulders up around my ears. The day of it ended up being absolutely fine but I was a wreck on many occasions leading up to it.
Resources for anyone experiencing this struggle and planning a wedding:
This website showcases weddings that are both over the top and low budget. They show traditional gatherings and ones you would be terrified (or now inspired?) to put together yourself- a self-catered community barbecue wedding, fancy elopements or international destination weddings. Each wedding talks about what was and wasn’t worth the worry. That isn’t why I liked the site though. It’s the essays. There are a variety of essays talking about people who loved their weddings (encouragement), people who hated their weddings and the process of putting it together despite being in very happy relationships (comfort) and people who called off their weddings to elope or put together an alternative because they couldn’t handle the stress (reassurance as I wasn’t there… yet).
I also struggled a lot with the gender role expectations that seemed to unfold with being engaged. Expectations that I should be a bridezilla, that my other half would just be expected to show up, that becoming a wife and taking his name would somehow go against feminism- these were all issues that really grated at me during the process, but A Practical Wedding had forums that addressed all these issues. I took comfort in that.
Other Engaged or Recently Married People:
Not all people in this category apply as a good resource but for most of them the stress of their wedding is recent enough for them to be very kind to you. They are willing to listen to your stress because they understand how it consumes your life. I was fortunate to have two kind people share with me their budgets and spreadsheets which helped me get started. I was also one of five women at my work to get engaged within a short time frame and it was incredibly nice to discuss what the others were doing with their plans. I felt like we were all going through a sort self-induced.. I don’t want to say hell… gauntlet together. I felt crazy for choosing this but at least I wasn’t the only one.
Saying “Back Off” (in the nicest way possible):
This is a great resource. It took me a while to find my voice but eventually I was able to say, “This is what we want. This is who we are.” I couldn’t do it all the time and I didn’t always do it in the nicest way possible but when I found the ability to express that someone’s suggestion just wasn’t us, it was immensely helpful. I just wish I could have done it sooner.
But don’t worry, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it. Just make sure you want it…
My Experience Planning a Wedding Part Two: Why I’m Glad I Did It And Why It Was Totally Worth It