For Better or For Worse

Last weekend I went shopping with one of my best friends for a wedding gown. I thought that it would be a fun, casual thing: a leisurely brunch with some wine, followed by moseying in to a couple small boutiques where we’d rifle through dresses and maybe try a couple on. I had no real expectations other than that.

Apparently, that’s not how wedding dress shopping is supposed to go.

Most of the places we went to had large parties filling the shops. Brides arrived with their entire wedding party and family in tow. I didn’t realize you needed to make an appointment for dress shopping — no one told me! I don’t have any siblings nor do I have a cadre of married lady friends to tell me how these things work. Everything about the experience just screamed “you’re doing it wrong!”

Which is kind of how this whole thing has been for me. To be honest, I’ve started writing this post no less than three times, but have chickened out. I’ve been finding it difficult to put into words all the different thoughts and emotions that come along with this territory. I didn’t want to talk about wedding planning in a way that would make it seem like my weird experiences have anything to do with me or my fiance, because that’s not the case. And I also don’t want anyone to think that my thoughts equate to me casting judgement on anyone else. As I’ve learned, this wedding planning business is extraordinarily personal.

But there I was flipping through racks of sample dresses that I found to be unappealing both aesthetically and hygienically. I felt frustrated and just so turned off by the entire thing. We grow up as little girls expecting our weddings to go a certain way, but I’m finding the reality is far different, and I wish people would talk about it. The amount of pressure…it’s nuts!

All my friends and family know me to be someone who is extremely organized, detail oriented, and decisive. So in talking to people about my wedding, I’m encountering all these expectations of me and what I will or won’t do. I’ve been told “Oh, your wedding is going to be INSANE” by several friends and relatives. Pressure.

But the reality is, what I want for my wedding is probably different than what I might plan for another person’s party, or a dinner, or whatever. I talk to friends and family and when I don’t have a clear vision for this or that — what my invitations will look like, my floral arrangements, my dress — I can hear the surprise in their voice. Because I’m supposed to. Pressure.

Then, when you’re working with vendors — the bridal sales associates, the venue sales teams, whoever — everything is so emotionally driven. This is obvious, of course, but for me, it’s tough. The expectation is that I’ll be emotional too, bubbly with happiness and the desire to share a romantic story that will make ’em gasp and sigh. Pressure.

But I just can’t. That’s not who I am, and I don’t like the feeling of having to present my story to be judged as sufficiently romantic or “perfect” enough. It’s perfect to me. And that’s enough.

People keep telling me that if I’m feeling overwhelmed with everything (I am) that I should just take a step back and remember what this is all about and what it’s all for. That stresses me out even more, mostly because that doesn’t make sense. If the whole purpose of this thing is to celebrate my love and commitment to another person, we already do that privately. I don’t like the feeling of having to prove anything to anyone, like it’s a competition.

There’s no right way to plan these things, obviously, but sometimes it feels like we’re set up to think there is. I keep having to remind myself of that. It’s all just a construct, every last bit of it, but it’s tough when you’re standing in a bridal salon with other brides who are laughing it up and drinking Champagne like it’s the best day of their lives.

I know that I can find a way to own this process and make it personal and heartfelt and everything I imagined it would be. But I think it’ll just take me some more time to figure out what that might look like.

I suspect I’m not alone in this. Right?

{Image Credits: Style Me Pretty}


Leave a Comment


  1. 2.23.12
    Ashley said:

    You are absolutely not alone on this. The planning process has been very difficult/overwhelming for me as well (just blogged about it yesterday!). When these decisions are your own, they have much more weight to them. Anyway, I hear you and hang in there!

    {This City Girl}

  2. 2.23.12
    Becca said:

    You are not alone! I got married in August and I have to say – I felt everything you are feeling. I think the best advice someone gave me is not to worry about what everyone else things as it’s your wedding! I know it is much harder to do this though.

  3. 2.23.12
    Jess said:

    Aside: Some of my favorite bloggers have been writing with what I feel is more truthfulness lately. I think readers often get a sense that bloggers only highlight the best of what’s going on without really discussing the real life concerns and worries. Posts like this really make a person more relatable, which I appreciate!

    It seems easy to get stressed out about wedding planning. I’m not in that boat, but it seems reasonable that picking your “top 3” for your wedding (or something similar) and focusing on those crucial elements are important. It’s not possible to do it all, especially not right away.

    You might be interested in this post I read yesterday, called Stop Asking Questions. I found it very poignant (and worthwhile).

    Good luck! Hang in there – it will all work out in the end.

  4. 2.23.12

    You’re definitely not alone. Definitely not. In all honesty, I still have a physical reaction when I think about “that time in my life.” Sounds kinda sad, but it’s so true. As creatives, we put such an extraordinary amount of pressure on ourselves, and it’s just not worth it. I wish I had some wise words for you that you haven’t already heard, love. I know Eric’s support was monumental for maintaining my sanity….Keep having conversations with Joe, and you’ll figure out what’s right for you. oxoxox

  5. 2.23.12

    there’s a saying here in italy that says, “no matter what you do, someone’s going to have an opinion about it.” you just continue to plan your wedding the way you want it to be, ask for help and take one thing at a time. if there’s anything i’ve learned in these beginning stages of planning mine, it’s that we’ll never be able to plan the “perfect” day. so we might as well just try to enjoy the process, for better or for worse!

  6. 2.23.12
    Christine B. said:

    I have to reiterate what Jess said, it is so nice to get a personal, “real” perspective lately from some of my favorite bloggers. It shows that you too are human and although you give us fun and pretty things to read about/look at, you are like us and have real life situations.

    Although I’ve yet to plan a wedding for myself, what you are feeling is how I picture myself feeling one day. And what I think I hear you describing is the separation of a “wedding” and a “marriage.” I have seen far too many giddy, excited brides-to-be that had a perfectly planned “party” and day, but who have hardly had the perfect marriage.

    I think your focus is completely on target. You love your partner and want to spend your life with him. You are setting aside a special day to make a commitment publicly with those you love. THAT is the important part. Of course everyone likes a party, but you can have a party any day and for almost any occassion. Keep your focus where it is – plan a day that will accentuate the love you already have and celebrate every day. It’s the days after the wedding that count, when no one is eating, drinking, or dancing. :)

  7. 2.23.12
    Rachel said:

    As someone who tends to get stressed out by planning events and parties, I totally understand your situation and the pressure. And I agree—I hate thinking something is a competition when it shouldn’t be (like a wedding, which is supposed to be a happy, exciting, and very personal day).

    When you feel overwhelmed, I would just remind yourself how lucky you are to have found someone who loves you and makes you happy. I’ve been in two very serious relationships in my life and am now single. I worry constantly that I won’t ever find that person who wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

    I’m sure things are overwhelming right now simply because you’re in the very beginning of the planning process. But hopefully once you get into the swing of things (and remind yourself that your future husband is really the only thing that matters:), you will feel less overwhelmed with wedding pressure!

    I have a feeling that everything will work out!

  8. 2.23.12
    Emily said:

    You are absolutely not alone! I didn’t have a lot of experience going to weddings so I found many elements of the wedding planning process, including dress shopping, to be so different than I expected. I started to feel like just a number and not a special bride! I went dress shopping with two girlfriends and I valued the fun and intimate time and that it wasn’t a huge hoopla like you see on Say Yes to The Dress (so much pressure)!

    The biggest lesson I learned was that it was okay to buck tradition and expectations. Our wedding was still traditional, but in the way WE wanted. Don’t worry, things will start to fall into place and you’ll find your wedding stride! :)

  9. 2.23.12

    I loved this post. While I haven’t gone through it myself, I have seen others go through it and it’s a nightmare! My sister ended up getting hers off the rack at Tibi and it was stunning!

  10. 2.23.12
    Mere said:

    Amazing post. It is sooo refreshing and encouraging to hear and know that other brides are having similar feelings and reactions to the wedding planning process. I think the more that we all share about the reality of the process, the more we can all work to claim the process and experience it uniquely for ourselves and in the context of our unique relationships. Thank you so much for sharing your experience so candidly and thoughtfully. You Rock.

  11. 2.23.12
    Kate {domestikatedlife} said:

    I hear you! There’s so much added pressure being a blogger — everyone has extra high expectations. I say do what makes you and your fiance happy — in the end it’s all about you two!

  12. 2.23.12
    Kathryn said:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I feel exactly the same way at the moment trying to plan my wedding.

    Everyone around me is being lovely and trying to be supportive but I can’t be bubbly and enthusiastic when I seem to be failing miserably at making decisions like centre pieces and how I’m going to feed everyone.

    Getting married is so important to me and my partner and it’s time that I focussed on that part and starting the rest of my life with the man I love rather than crying over spreadsheets!

  13. 2.23.12

    You’re not alone!

    Honestly, I found the whole process to be ridiculous. What other time will you ever try on a dress that doesn’t fit you, secure it with binder clips, and then parade around in front of people and be expected to decide that you want one of your own for a large sum of money. Then, it will arrive several months from now and if you don’t like it, too bad, it’s not returnable. I was lucky to buy a sample off the rack from the previous season, and just be done with it.

    I was excited about wedding planning for exactly 8 weeks, then grew tired of vendors being unresponsive and not seeing lots of local options within my (small) budget. It’s fun deciding things like color scheme, but less romantic to search for affordable forks and wine glasses, or a cheap way to print the marvelous program idea in your head.

    Don’t let it stress you out, and don’t feel obligated to make your special day a blog topic and Pinterest bonanza because the internet is curious. We can wait. :)

  14. 2.23.12
    Alexandra said:

    Wow. That is a lot of pressure. I’ve never heard of whole bridal parties and the bride’s family joining them to look for a dress. And I’m married. I went alone with one friend of mine. It felt right.

    And I focused on doing things that felt personal to us for our wedding, which takes a lot of work and sorting (especially if you’re from different backgrounds, like my husband and I are).

    There is a ton of pressure, unfortunately. It’s your first big expression of yourself as a married couple, and that can mean two (or more) entirely different backgrounds merging. There is tons of room to offend one side or the other, one potential guest or another.

    It’s much easier to say than to hear but being engaged and planning a wedding is a really wonderful time, if you can try to be yourself and fight off the pressure as much as possible. But it still is really fraught, unfortunately. I guess what matters is that you’ll look back on the day with the fondest of memories. And ultimately, as long as you and your groom are happy with all of it, that IS the most important thing. It’s YOUR day, not that of the ladies selling dresses, etc.

    Enjoy it as much as you can. But don’t put any more pressure on yourself. The whole thing is more important to you than to anyone else. And that’s how it should be.

    Rock on!

  15. 2.23.12

    I know what you mean about wedding dress shopping! I did the same thing, going to stores without knowing that you needed an appointment. I expected the experience to be really fun, after all I love shopping, but it was just the opposite. I was feeling really discouraged by the whole dress thing when a friend recommended I take a different route. I ended up getting my dress custom made, by a WONDERFUL designer in Vancouver -

    I went and met with the designer in a beautiful studio space, with dresses hung everywhere and her dog hanging out with us the whole time. We talked about styles, options, fabrics, etc, and then she made sketches for me to choose from. I ended up LOVING my dress, and had the best time designing it. The best part? It was cheaper than any of the dresses I liked in a store.
    Good luck!

  16. 2.23.12

    Oh, dear. I work at a Bridal Boutique on weekends, and I can completely understand why you feel this way. The process can be extremely overwhelming, and I’m so sorry that your experience wasn’t what you expected! A little tip: if at all possible, try to go dress shopping during the week. The weekends are an absolute madhouse, with 4 brides all trying to look at themselves in same mirror, while large parties stand around them. I think if you go during a week day you’ll have a much calmer, low key experience.

    Working in a bridal shop has definitely made me feel like if half the brides took the marriage as seriously as they took their wedding dress shopping, our divorce rate would be a lot lower! I’m not saying wedding planning aand dress shopping is not a special and important time, but obviously, it’s easy to lose yourself in it. At the end of the day, you have to do whats best for YOU and distance yourself from all of the typical expectations and find out what your OWN are. A friend of mine and her husband went to Greece and eloped, and though I’m sure she caught some flack from her family, it was just what she wanted. Just do what makes you happy, and everyone will be happy for you :).

    Sending you lots of love!

    -Caitlin @ Reverie to Reality

  17. 2.23.12

    Victoria! I want to send you a hug through the internet while reading this post. I can sense your anxiety…and yes…it is TOTALLY normal. But I’m so sorry that you are feeling so much pressure :-(

    Prior to becoming a psych, I co-owned an event + wedding planning company for almost 7 years, planned literally hundreds of weddings…and behind almost every single one of them was a bride (and groom) who often felt overwhelmed, lost in the process and confused as to what the focus of the day really should be (well, until they hired me of course :-) ) So what you are feeling is TOTALLY normal! Although I’m not sure if that makes it easier knowing that.

    I guess I would just say to take a step back and re-look at the whole process. Start with the building the foundation (date, venue, guest list, budget, etc.) and then slowly start with putting together the framework and walls (dress, color scheme, design concept, etc) and THEN once the house is built you can decorate (menu + wine, cake design, little touches, etc.).

    But that is just my quick take! If that doesn’t work, I say sneak away to Napa (like we did!) and pour another glass of wine! :)
    XO – Marion
    PS – Sorry for the long comment!

  18. 2.23.12
    Victoria said:

    I feel extremely similar. I love planning things, but when it comes to planning my wedding I feel so paralyzed. I think it is important to focus on one thing at a time and to keep your most important elements your most important elements, just because you are working on, for example, the favors doesn’t mean it needs to be a big deal if you don’t really care about them. But I’m still trying to figure it out too! (I’ve been engaged 2.5 months and I only just secured the location and have done nothing else!)
    My goal is to plan a responsible wedding and I feel like I’m already failing because I’m feeling overwhelmed, worried, and frustrated about it. I mean I can’t even decide on a color scheme or how I want the event to feel! I don’t know how to translate my relationship into a wedding event.
    Good luck and take your time! You have nobody’s expectations to meet except you and your fiance’s.

    • 2.23.12
      vmacandcheese said:

      “I don’t know how to translate my relationship into a wedding event.” Apparently our first names are not all we have in common. Thank you!

  19. 2.23.12
    Bonnie said:

    Consider arming yourself with some responses to these loaded questions and situations:

    “Why do you ask?”
    “We haven’t decided about that yet and I’ve been assured that we have plenty of time.”
    “I hope everyone will be as happy as I will be on the big day because we are doing…”
    “Isn’t it great how lots of people have different wedding traditions?”
    “There are so many kinds of perfect!”

    And just let it drop. You can be really polite to people without buying into their expectations or even judging their choices.

  20. 2.23.12
    jillian said:

    you’re absolutley not alone in the redic stress that comes with planning a wedding. our big day is in 5 months and after a few breakdowns before the holidays i decided to take a break from planning. there IS a LOT of pressure, from friends, family, and thing get even tougher in the blog world where people think you have great taste and then “just KNOW” you’ll have the BEST wedding. whoa pressure… and crazy expectations! pinterest doesnt help either.. i find myself overwhelmed with all the options, all of the ideas. sometimes it takes my fiance (who is NOT into big weddings) to bring it back down to reality. it’s one day. a day you get to celebrate with friends and family. it’s suppose to be a fun day and it’ll go by SO SO FAST. so dont spend months agonizing over every single little detail. get the major things done (set reasonable timelines/goals.. one big thing per month?) so you dont drive yourself crazy with wedding deadlines. and try your best to have fun. i know for me once i found our designer for our invitations EVERYTHING else fell into place. that was a huge thing for me and to be excited about those silly invitations (and all the other printed material) made me feel at peace. savor those sorts of victories. and don’t forget to enjoy being engaged. best of luck! xo

  21. 2.23.12
    Samantha said:

    You are definitely not alone on this one. It literally took me 8 months to figure out what we were doing for our wedding – looking up and down the coast of California (even Mexico!). I never felt completely comfortable with any choice, pulling away from the whole planning process at times. But finally it all just clicked – I let go of the ‘pressures’ I felt to have a traditional wedding, like all the other weddings I have been to and what everyone expected of me. I found a beautiful location close to home and from there everything came together. I could not have been more pleased with the day and it was just so perfectly ‘us’. I still have guests, over 2 years later, say that it was the best wedding they have ever been to.

    So just focus on you and your fiance and what is special and meaningful to you both. Forget the formalities and expectations that don’t speak to you as a couple. After my wedding, I turned my career from event planning to wedding planning and now I can say from experience that the best weddings are the ones where you can feel the love between the couple, which then extends to their families and friends. Everything else is just there to support it.

    Good luck with everything. And just know that it will all work itself out.


  22. 2.23.12
    Genevieve said:

    Oh my Gosh. This is exactly how I feel. I started to take Valium whenever the pressure gets to me because the planning process is insane and all I do is doubt myself and every idea or thought I had, which I never do in my “real life”.

    This whole process is insane and talking about the pressure and how hard it is is brave. And the part about “remembering what it is about” and feeling that you do that every day is spot on.

    I just keep telling myself that it is about us, and you can’t please everyone. But I can try to please us.

  23. 2.23.12
    Natalie said:

    What a great post, Victoria. My dress shopping experience wasn’t exactly what I was expecting either. After watching shows like “Say Yes to the Dress,” I expected it to be a really exciting process and that I would get emotional and giddy when I found “the one.” That didn’t happen. I really wasn’t emotion AT ALL. I went to at least 4 different places and by then, I was wondering if something was wrong with me. The second place I went to (Bella Bridesmaid) had dresses that were much closer to what I was envisioning. I found a dress I really liked there, but wasn’t convinced it was the one. After going to two other more traditional bridal salons and really not liking anything I tried on, all I could think of was the dress at Bella Bridesmaid. I found another place that had it and once I tried it on, I FINALLY knew that it was the right one…thank goodness because it was way under budget I had for a dress. I the the best approach is to take only the people who you really want to be there even if it’s one person. Whatever you feel is right is best.

    I feel like that’s the thing about wedding planning – it’s so individual. There may be certain ways things are typically done, but if it’s not right for you then do it in a way that is. What one person may love another may hate. It’s definitely overwhelming. I appreciate when people try to help and give suggestions, but I tend to like things so simple that I constantly find myself thinking “We don’t need all that. I don’t want all that.” I love what you said about your story being perfect to you and how that’s enough. It’s incredibly refreshing. I almost dread when people ask about the engagement story – not because I don’t want to share it, but because it might not live up to their expectations. I’m definitely getting to the point where I just don’t care anymore. Posting about it was actually a huge help. What makes proposals and weddings special isn’t how elaborate they are, it’s how personal they are to the couple (or at least that’s my opinion).

    What’s kept the process fun for me is mostly just being SO excited to dance for hours (that’s pretty much all I care about) and trying to keep things fun. I think remembering that it’s just a day also helps minimize the pressure. Yes, it’s your wedding day, but, like you said, you already celebrate your love and commitment privately so, really, it is JUST another day. I’m trying to not take things too seriously. If I fall on my face or spill cake on my dress or do a really ugly cry as I walk down the aisle, well it will make for a good story and some interesting pictures.

    You will eventually find what’s right for you guys. And I think when it does actually feel right, that’s when you aren’t worried about fulfilling expectations anymore – because you’re happy with your decisions! Good luck! We should get together soon and chat about all this chaos. :)

  24. 2.23.12

    Oh Victoria, I am so sad to hear you putting so much pressure on yourself! Trust me, no one thinks anything more than they care about you, have the utmost respect for you, and therefore they will all have a fantastic time at your wedding!

    But I guess it is a lot more difficult these days in a world of infinite inspiration and possibilities. Take a step back, go back to magazines, tear out stuff. Or on Pinterest, print stuff out or it’s less overwhelming. Make appointments at salons that have a number of designers, but go in with an idea of the style you want. Try a few that maybe you didn’t expect. You may be surprised!

    One last suggestion: I know that you (and all of us bloggers) are thinking that you’ll have to share your photos with the world. Maybe take that pressure off right now and consider NOT sharing the photos. Put the focus back on the experience and the day. And because I know you are like me, I’m going to tell you this now: you won’t fail. So let go of that fear right now! There’s no failure in getting married to your best friend!

  25. 2.23.12

    This made me so sad! And I’m not going to say this whole process shouldn’t be stressful or pressure, because at times it comes from all sides and even the calmest of people can’t ward it off.

    I remember my first appointment at a bridal salon and I was dreading it. I knew I would be going in with my sister and a girlfriend, and I would feel pressured. Which I did. I hated it so much. I knew I couldn’t afford those dresses and the whole process wasn’t any fun. I was not “that” girl to come with everyone she knew and oooh and aaah over dresses.

    One day during work a co-worker suggested we go check out a designer dress sample sale. I went, I looked, I almost walked out and then ended up buying my dress then and there. Without my mom, my sister and every aunt, cousin, friend, bridesmaid. I took my dress to my office with me and that was it.

    The process is different for everyone. The “Wedding Industrial Complex” WIC makes you think you have to fit some sort of mold. And everyone has an opinion. An idea of who you are and what you’re wedding should look like.

    You’ll figure it out. And I know I’ve told you to just keep perspective and remember what it’s all about. But what it’s about to you. So if that means it’s just you and your man, then so be it.

    It’s one day in your life. And don’t get me wrong, it was a magical day for me, but there will be many other magical days in life that will come and go. So work towards the memory you want to remember.

  26. 2.23.12
    Ana said:

    Hi Victoria! So… I am not engaged,(but still wanted to comment). Though my SO and I talk about it often, we’ve hesitated mostly because planning a wedding sounds like the most stressful process ever. Inevitably I get worried that we won’t do it well / right / won’t fulfill whatever people’s expectations are and I just wish we could skip the wedding and get to the marriage part, which obvs is not the point.

    Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading (or devouring) blog entries at – I’m guessing you’ve already visited them, but if not, I’d highly recommend! It’s a great community of women encouraging each other to do whatever feels right for them. Keep us posted!

  27. 2.23.12
    Kate said:

    Girl…I was EXACTLY where you are 3 years ago. After getting engaged I flew home to NYC to start discussing the planning process with my mom. From the get go I was miserable. We couldn’t even decide on a state to hold the wedding in. We live in CA, Sam’s parents are in FL and my family and friends are NY…no matter what we chose, a big chunk of people would have to travel. I also had no idea that you have to make an appointment to shop for a wedding dress so when I waltzed in to Vera Wang on Madison Ave they all but laughed me out of there. This continued on for about 6 months until I completely lost it and refused to keep planning (I also felt that people would see this as a reflection of our relationship when in fact it had nothing to do with it) At the end of that year we had planned a vacation to a small island off of Maui, last minute we had the idea to just get married there, barefoot on the beach. I picked out a dress 2 weeks before the date (off the rack mind you). the hotel made all the arrangements, we invited our parents who were quite miffed at first but afterwards we all agreed that this was the best decision. I’m not saying that running away is the best way to deal with wedding planning but I can honestly tell you that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. All our friends told us they wished they did the same thing. If you ever need to vent or have a any question let me know, I know EXACTLY what you are going through right now. :)
    <3 Kate

  28. 2.23.12

    I can so relate to this. I love wedding stuff and everything, but it made it picking it for myself harder rather than easier. And I definitely felt a lot of pressure from others. I my friends and family knew me as someone who was creative and loved design so I felt like they expected a lot from me. It was also hard because I was the first to get married of my friends, and they would say these ridiculous things that were not realistic about what they wanted for their eventual weddings during the process, which frustrated me and made me feel bad for not having what they wanted and for not wanting what they wanted all at the same time. It’s tough! I hope you’ll keep posting about it, I’d love to read more about your experience!

  29. 2.23.12

    I couldn’t agree more (as it seems many others can too) the overhyped and overstocked dirty dresses lining the racks of these so called ’boutique’ stores, I found it off putting, if I am going to spend a few thousand dollars on a dress it wouldn’t hurt to keep it bagged up. I ended up keeping it local in my town, she takes good care of her gowns, extremely talented dress maker who does the alterations herself and knows her stuff! thats the experience I was looking for and bought my dress there without hesitation.

  30. 2.23.12

    I definitely don’t think you’re alone and I’m so glad you wrote this post! I’m sure there are many many people who can relate to everything you’re saying.

    I know that it’s big and scary and you seem like the type of person to want to please everyone – but just keep in mind that this is YOUR day. Nobody else matters. Nothing else matters. This is for you and Joe and that’s it. You only get to do it once so enjoy every moment! No matter what happens, it will be beautiful (even if you stand there with makeup streaming down your face while wearing a paper bag). Don’t loose sight of that!

    And I agree – there should be some manual out there. I didn’t know that you needed to book an appointment to try on a dress either…

  31. 2.23.12
    ellen said:

    So it seems like all this planning stuff is getting you down…so don’t do it!

    I come from a huge, Catholic, Asian family (if that doesn’t spell trouble, I don’t know what does), as does my fiancee. Between both our families, there’s no such thing as a small wedding…until ours. We decided to have an immediate family-only ceremony, and compromised with my parents to have them host a traditional banquet later down the road.

    For the ceremony, we have no more than 30 people at a small NYC church, and the rest of the weekend will be group meals at our favorite restaurants. It’s already turned into a small circus (we would have opted for a civil ceremony), but we couldn’t imagine how much worse a ‘normal-sized’ wedding would have been.

    Just do what feels right to you, and don’t be afraid to question conventional thinking (my ‘maid of honor’ is my brother, and my fiancee’s is his sister!). Good luck and thanks for writing this post.

  32. 2.23.12

    Oh Victoria, you are not alone at all my dear. I’m a wedding planner and I too had frustrations and issues with the industry. Those big dress salons that are commercial, are not for everyone, and for many take away the intimate experience, the special experience and make it more of a show. Everyone is in your corner and will be cheering you on wether we see your photos or not. As long as you are happy on your day, that is all that matters. It is intimate, so try your hardest not to compare or judge, just like the the 30 things to stop doing quote at the beginning of the year, do it for you and no one else. No pressure, because this is yours an no one elses. Ignore the noise and enjoy the celebration.

    Now when it comes to unresponsive vendors, or not knowing next steps, I’d be happy to walk you through. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you about dress appointments! But yes, I wish the experience to be your own. However you want it! I can help find salons that will allow you to experience dress shopping how you envisioned. I can literally go on forever, but I’ll spare your comment section, but know these feelings are normal, it’s understanding the process and making your own that you can figure out. I will help you. Let’s have a video chat and wine and discuss! xoxox

  33. 2.23.12

    I’m so glad to see you write about this subject! I’m currently planning my wedding as well and I keep on being flooded with mixed emotions about the whole thing, but I don’t have mixed emotions about spending the rest of my life with my soon-to-be hubby. It’s all the pressure and hoopla associated with this 1 day. I especially have a hard time when I think about the amount of money I’m going to end up spending, it just seems a little ridiculous and unnecessary. It’s nice to hear someone else voice their concerns on this subject.


  34. 2.23.12
    Katherine said:

    Oh, yes, you’re not alone! There’s no rule saying you have to buy a $5000 dress from a snooty bridal boutique. None whatsoever. I have one friend who bought a bridesmaid dress in her favorite color off the rack. Other people have bought vintage dresses and taken them to a tailor. I got mine by mail order (I had tried it on at a small shop near my house so I knew I liked it but they didn’t have it in my size – just as well, because it was cheaper online!)

    There’s a whole monster bridal industry but at the end of the day, it’s YOUR (and your husband’s) day. You can make it what you want it to be. It helped me to think of it as an excuse to have a fun party. :-)

  35. 2.23.12
    Nnenna said:

    First of all, this post is so refreshing! Your voice comes across so clearly and is so relatable. I can’t pretend to know anything about weddings since I’m not at that stage yet, so I can only echo everyone else and wish you all the best with your wedding planning! I feel certain that you will figure out the best way to do it for YOU and that everything will be splendid :)

  36. 2.23.12
    viv said:

    Planning a wedding is hard, time consuming and very stressful. I’m also an only child and didn’t really know what to do or where to start. I felt the pressure from friends and family, everyone really! But you have to forget about everyone and think what will make you and him happy. Whether it be a 10 person wedding or 400 it needs to make you happy. The best advise I received during the process was not to rush into any decision and take time to enjoy being engaged to the love of your life!

  37. 2.23.12

    I found this article from a Pinterest pin but I wanted to comment. This pressure is how I felt while planning my wedding. But for me, it manifested into me being overwhelmed and disorganized or even straight up rebelling against planning at all which made it all worse. After some time to think about it all after the wedding, I tried to make something I wished I had – an app that would just tell me what to do. Hey, what can I say? I’m an engineer to the core. Listen, no matter what, your wedding is going to be great! Do what feels right and feels like the authentic you. If you follow you gut, your family and guests will know they are at *your* wedding and that’s what it’s all about anyway — everyone coming together to celebrate you and your love for each other. Best of luck! :)

  38. 2.23.12

    Victoria, I’ve been engaged for all of 6 days and can already relate. I’ve been very surprised by my feelings this week. Happy–definitely, but also unbelievably emotional, teary and lethargic. I relate to you a lot and I think it’s interesting that we have both gotten engaged around the same time and also dated our guys for 9 years, which definitely adds an element of expectation, I think. I’m already learning how to drown out some of the external noise and just focus on what really counts. Thanks for the real talk, girl.

  39. 2.23.12

    I read every word of this post and then all of the comments. I can totally relate. I am the first of any of my friends to get married so it’s all a huge learning process. I’ve learned to try and do things because I like them, not because they are “what you’re supposed to do” and even with a conscious attempt at that.. I find myself doing things “because I’m supposed to” ie.. menu cards :)

    Luckily yt is very helpful about bringing me back to reality and reminding me that this day is just a day where we get to celebrate our marriage with all of our family and friends.

    I didn’t have a crying moment in a wedding dress store – and still don’t get choked up when I put on my dress. I probably had more of an emotional attachment to the cake ! Everyone is different, every couple is different, every wedding is different, and just like marriage .. its never going to be perfect. It just going to be the best you can make it at this time in your life..

    and I’m sure it will be pretty close to perfect in the end. Thanks for being real. It’s refreshing.

  40. 2.23.12


    I’m a new reader to your blog and have already been so impressed by the few posts I have read.

    On this topic, I know exacty how you feel. I got engaged 2+ years ago and married this past summer. I spent the first 5 months of my engagement begging my fiancé to have our wedding be 30 of our closest friends and family at a ceremony and dinner reception. I didnt win the battle, but we compromised on a 90 person wedding on a Sunday afternoon this past July.

    it’s so easy to get caught up on what you “should” do. just remember, there are no “shoulds.” I bought my wedding dress with my best friend one day after work. neither my mom, sister, or entire bridal party was there.

    all you can do is stay true to the way you want things done since there will be no shortage of people offering their opinions.

    best of luck! in the end, everything turns out just right. just try to remember that when you’re stressing :)


  41. 2.24.12
    Caitlin said:

    I could NOT agree with you more!!

    I’ve had quite a few friends who are engaged or married (and I’m pretty young, just 24), and in the past few years it has made me swear of marriage all together. It’s all a show, and the money it costs is ridiculous!! I hate to be all “non conformist” because I’m not, I just feel like weddings have become really consumerist like so many things in this country, and you’re right, that’s not what it’s abut at all.

    I do have a couple positive things to say – Ive been to two weddings where I felt really moved by the love between the bride and groom, and where it really was a celebration of this relationship. One was an expensive traditional wedding, and one was very inexpensive, where the bride and groom put everything together themselves. Both were absolutely stunning, because the real quality of your wedding will come from the love that you both share, and no amount of planning, napkin, or flower ordering will make this any more real. I’m sure in the end you will be able to have the wedding of your dreams, because it sounds like you and your fiancé have something very special, and on your special day, everyone will know that.

    Best of luck!!

  42. 2.24.12
    Nina said:

    Hi Victoria,

    Totally understand how you feel. My fiance and I are currently planning our wedding too (our big day’s in August). There is no right way to plan a wedding, and I was as confused when I went bridal shopping. We live in London but our families live all over the world, and instead of having a group of ladies with me when I went bridal shopping, I opted to go alone. I received a fair bit of stares when I was in the stores, and yes, I saw many other bridal parties laughing it up while sipping champagne. But hey, I walked out of there knowing what I wanted (and a little tipsy!) whereas all the other brides were completely confused cause every single friend there had an opinion on what looks good on her.

    It was very overwhelming when we first started planning, but my fiance and I make it a point to make every decision together. Planning a destination wedding made it so much more stressful but we tackled it as a work project. People have commented about how we’ve approached the whole planning process, as in their minds, it’s not romantic or emotional enough, but oh well, at least we can say within 2 months, we’ve locked everything down and are pretty much just waiting for the big day now.

    In the end, all that matters is how both of you feel and want the night to be. Do your own thing, and don’t compromise. What my fiance and I stuck to is that we want the night to represent us, and most importantly, have fun. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Just take your time, and bit by bit, you’ll get there (believe me – I never ever thought of getting married, so when we got engaged and had to start planning, I didn’t even know where to find a bridal store or what was needed for a wedding, but I eventually got there!). It will all be fine, because it’s about you & your fiance, no one else.

    x Nina

  43. 2.24.12
    Jessie Rhodes said:

    Thank you for your post. The process has been difficult for me as well. I am also a detail orientated and quite organized person. I feel pressure too! The personality trait is wonderful but it comes along with HIGH expectations. I am definitely learning not to people please and to pick things that my future husband and I like. I went to my first dress appointment last night and said no to the dresses!

  44. 2.24.12

    I don’t quite know how to put into words what I’m feeling after reading this, but know that I know exactly how you feel. My heart hurts for you because I think back on my own planning process and it wasn’t easy, or that fun.
    I wanted to do things privately and with Matt – not with a grandiose group. People seemed to think that since they didn’t SEE those excited and loving experiences that we didn’t have them. They seemed to question our love because they weren’t seeing us swoon over each appointment to the caterer.
    In my mind, our love (and your love too) is so great and so personal and private that it surpassed the planning. It surpassed a wedding, even. Not one person I talked to understood this and it sat like a lump in my chest until after the wedding was over.

    I’m so glad you’re getting it out there. I hope people will understand better and the pressure and expectations will subside so that you don’t carry it with you.

  45. 2.24.12
    Dani said:

    Meg and Team Practical from helped me stay sane and focused throughout the wedding planning process. Everytime I felt like I “had” to have/do/say/be something, that web community would remind me that all i “had” to do was get married. The rest of it is just pretty fluff. Cjeck out the site if you ever need a sanity break. it definitely helped me.

  46. 2.24.12

    I got married at 23. Most of my friends still aren’t married so I really didn’t have many people to turn to for help. No pinterest, no blogs. I knew from the very beginning I wasn’t going to be one of those brides who needed everything to be ‘perfect’. I wanted to wear a dress I could be comfortable dancing in and most of all, I wanted my guests and I to have a blast.

    It’s all too overwhelming, the only real advice I can give is, as in real life, be yourselves!

  47. 2.24.12
    alyson said:

    you’re definitely not alone. I’ve been married now for nearly 8 years (married at 24) so i can’t say i’m in the same boat except to say that I think you are so far ahead of the game by knowing/feeling all of this. I was young, and had been really no weddings that I let others do most of the planning. partially because I didn’t live near the area and partially since we weren’t paying i guess i felt like i should others make more decisions. I sometimes tell my husband how much differently i would have done things, particularly with hiring a different photographer and standing my ground more on my wedding dress. MY dress. I want to have a 10 year celebration just so I cna pick another dress — well and mostly so we can capture some incredible photos of family and friends together. hoping you can enjoy the process, and feel confident in what you want this to be… whatever your vision morphs into, grand or intimate. I’ll join via skype. :)

  48. 2.25.12
    Carrie said:

    You are so not alone…believe me. I work in the wedding industry and I constantly, I repeat, constantly have to tell myself that what really matters in the end of all of the wonderful fluff, flutters and personal details is an incredible commitment that the couple makes. That commitment is not for the weak of heart. It is such a wonderful, fragile, beautiful, amazing feat therefore I love putting my hand in todo whatever I can to encourage and inspire in the process toward that beautiful commitment. When I was planning my wedding 7 years ago some wise older woman said this when I was freaking out…”Honey, just remember at the end of the day you walk away man and wife, together and that is all that matters.” You got this girl! Cmoe

  49. 2.25.12
    Amy Wing said:

    Isn’t amazing the amount of pressure we put on ourselves over something that is supposed to be about the celebration of a relationship. It has become so much more than that, but in reality it doesn’t have to be. I hope you find some peace in the process and that, above all, you’re able to enjoy yourself and the day that is about you and your soon-to-be husband!

    I read this amazing post awhile back and thought you might enjoy it:


  50. 2.27.12

    Every time one of my friend’s gets engaged I think “thank God my wedding is said and over.” I don’t think there is anything remotely fun about wedding planning. I may sound like a grinch, but the competition, the money, etc. is enough to drive anyone crazy. I wish I had some advice. The best thing I did was have a short engagement so the process was over with quick. Good luck to you Victoria!

    • 2.27.12
      vmacandcheese said:

      Thanks, darling. I’m trying to speed up this engagement length too so we can get this over and done with before years end. Kind of a double edged sword, but worth it!

  51. 2.28.12
    Shannon said:

    Goodness gracious. Thank you so much for this post. I needed it. I got engaged last May to a wonderful Frenchman, we had a date set for May this year, the place picked out in France, then realized how expensive everything was going to be. We ended up canceling our deposit on the place and starting from ground zero in planning – NYC (where we live) vs France vs other possible destinations… and the size of the guest list has been a nightmare and caused many disagreements/negotiations (I prefer super small -25-30, but he wanted 80 people). And then EVERYONE felt that they needed to share their opinions, which was distressing. I should also mention the fact that my wedding dress shopping wasn’t a blast either, thanks to some thoughtless and outspoken girlfriends. It has been difficult to NOT get wrapped up in the fact because NOTHING has been turned out the way we wanted it to, and think that maybe there is something wrong with US. At the end of the day, we have settled on a smaller-scale wedding in NYC for September and put a deposit on the last place I ever thought we’d end up at – but that’s what we can afford for the amount people coming. Long story short, this is just one day and one event, like the others have said. I treated myself to a dress that I really wanted but was more expensive than I wanted to spend, but I guess it makes up for the fact that I can’t have anything else I wanted LOL. At this point I am so burned out, I can’t even be bothered to send a save the date unless it’s via email, or care to think of what an invitation should look like, I don’t care if people don’t like the food or the fact that we are just going to a restaurant and will not have a DJ… I just want to get past this and move on!

    Do yourself a favor and try not to share too many details with too many people, maybe even go dress shopping by yourself to narrow some choices down – then bring 1-2 friends to help, don’t let others’ expectations drive your choices or worry about whether or not they will have fun, and try to have date nights where wedding talk is banned for the evening!

  52. 3.4.12

    Yes! I know exactly what you mean. When I got engaged the whole “pressure” thing happened to me too. I had several people say “Oh YOU’RE getting married? I can’t wait to see what you’re doing with that wedding.” Pressure. “It’s you, it’s going to be so amazing.” Pressure. And so instead of going with my gut instincts on what I think feels right for me, I find myself second guessing my decisions. Is my dress beautiful enough and going to wow everyone for what they think I should be wearing? I’ve never said it outloud because I feel like it sounds insane to even have the thought (but I totally have.)

    Long comment short, thank you for sharing and know that you are absolutely not alone in feeling this way. Unfortunately, weddings can somehow take on a life of their own and people have crazy expectations for you and I’m not sure why. At the end of the day, it’s going to be just you and your husband so do what’s right for you guys and forget about everyone else and all that pressure :)

  53. 4.24.12

    This is probably why I will have a really small wedding, or none at all. It’s about the marriage, not the wedding itself. Focus on you, and what you want to do — not what everyone else wants.

  54. 1.7.16
    Emily said:

    I realize this post is SUPER old and you probably won’t read this comment, but I had to say: I re-read this post recently and was so relieved to hear from someone that feels the same way I do. Most specifically, the frustration when people say “just take a step back and remember what it’s all for!!!” or “do whatever YOU want!” (which most of your commenters did, haha). My fiance and I are SO sick of people saying that! If it really was just about us, we would have eloped a long time ago. We don’t need to stand up in front our friends and family to say how much we love each other (we say that every day already) — the wedding really is for everyone else.

    Similarly, our families think it’s comforting to say “even simple weddings are fun! Just keep it easy!” without realizing that even simplicity (which is what we’re going for) is hard. It would be EASIER to hire a fancy florist instead of ordering/arranging candles and simple flowers myself. It would be EASIER to have a big caterer and an expensive venue. It would be EASIER if I had a crazy mother-in-law who planned it all for me. Even a simple, “all-about-you” wedding still needs to be planned out, down to the last detail. Telling us that we’re “stressing too much” just makes us feel MORE stressed….like you said, everything about wedding planning feels like “You’re doing it wrong!!!!”

    Anyways, I wanted to say thank you for writing this. I am 100% with you. It’s SO refreshing to hear that somebody else understands exactly what we’re going through.

    • 1.7.16

      Hi Emily,

      All the comments come through into one place, so I can see ’em regardless of post date — thank you so much for writing! I feel for you, I really do. Someone I know recently got engaged and she said the best advice she’d been given so far was from someone who said something to the effect of, “Just enjoy every second of being engaged, because you’re married forever (hopefully) but only a fiancee for a short amount of time.” I thought to myself (after my eyes rolled into the back of my head), “Ugh, for real????” It seems to me that if it’s really about getting married and being together and forming the new family unit, then prolonging it is just for the wedding planning, right? Let’s be honest. I think a lot of women have anticipated the whole wedding planning/engagement stage for so long that when they’re in it and realize it kind of sucks, they need these trite reminders to reconcile the incongruence between the daydream and the reality. As a culture, we’ve placed so much pressure around what it’s supposed to look like that few want to talk about what a negative experience it can be when you’re in the moment. A very wise woman once told me it’s called an “engagement” for a reason — you’re grappling with entering a new phase in life, balancing ridiculous family requests, all these emotional things, then you have to add planning an event on top of it. The worst.

      Ok, now it sounds like I hated my wedding. But I didn’t! Which leads me to: if I can offer a few words of encouragement from the other side of the planning and the actual wedding, my husband always says that he had the best time at our wedding — more than he thought he would, he likes to tell people. I won’t add to the pile of annoying comments by saying “It was all worth it!” but I will say even with all the anxiety and headaches, we did have a great time. I won’t be planning a party of that scale again any time soon, but it was sure fun in the moment.

      One piece of advice I will offer because only one person told me this and I kind of disregarded it: if you can, make a plan to spend as much time as you can with your husband at the wedding reception. Joe and I ended up spending much of the night apart, catching up with old friends, trying to make our individual families feel comfortable, etc., and as a result, there are very few photos of us together at the reception — though there are a lot of random ones of me dancing with a margarita in a wedding dress. I do wish we had more spontaneous/candid shots of us together, and even more than that, wish we had more shared experiences from the party itself. Best advice I could give.

      Wishing you all the best! Hang in there.