Ask AOW: Is it ok to not be in love with your wedding?

Readers, it’s been a while since we last threw the floor open to you, and when we received this email, we knew the time had come again. Mainly because she says lots of lovely things about us, and you, but also, because we’re quite sure that you guys will all have some wise words for the lovely Caroline.

Your wedding day has all sorts of emotions intrinsically tied up in it, and there is absolutely no doubt that a lot of us feel an element of anti-climax after the day; I know I did. But when there’s a sense of disappointment about your actual day, it’s a bit harder to get over. Readers – Caroline needs your sage advice:

Hello there,

Ive never written to a blog before – although that sounds a but rude as you are clearly real people and not “a blog”!  But I read AOW quite a lot in the run up to my wedding, it was so refreshing to read about normal people, normal weddings and real feelings! So, there is something I am very much hoping you can help me with.

Despite my promises to myself that I wouldn’t get wedding obsessed, I wouldn’t be a bridezilla, all that mattered were our vows, I think I did.  I got totally into the details, enjoyed the planning (except for the last week), and ended up looking forward to the fairy tale wedding where I would float around on a complete high, drink cocktails, dance and laugh and have a lovely time with all our guests.

The ceremony was exactly that – an incredible, moving, and life changing experience. We were lucky enough to be married in the crypt at St. Paul’s cathedral, it felt so full of significance amd emotion, and I will never ever forget it.

But my memories of the reception are, well, fairly mixed. I remember feeling like I was still running around organising stuff, making sure people were happy, and generally feeling vaguely stressed. Now, I’m sure this isn’t how I felt all day, and I’m rather relying on the photos to jog my memory of all the other fun bits, and after this email will be sitting down to write all my favourite bits down as a sort of effort to retrain my memory. But I feel like I need to admit to someone that, at the moment, most of the day is a blur, and the bits of the reception that aren’t don’t feel amazing – and it’s makes me feel a it sad and resentful that I didn’t have more help and regretful I didn’t ask for it, and also a bit silly that we spent all that money.  And then I feel like a complete spoilt brat for not focussing on the good bits, and shallow for wanting the “fairy tale” and not just appreciating and feeling only excitement for the next stage of life with my truly amazing husband. And now have made myself cry. Bloody hell how ridiculous.

So what you might pick up from this incomprehensible ramble is that I would dearly love to know whether any of your readers felt the same? I’m not really sure how it works but feel free to turn this into some kind of post if that’s the best way – or ignoring this ramble of an email if it makes no sense and is clearly written by a terrible and ungrateful bridezilla, as reading this back I’m not sure it really qualifies as a real problem or one that deserves more attention that a quick sharp “stop being ridiculous you silly person” or to be told its just post-wedding blues and I’ll get over it.

Thank you for reading my email, and for your amazing blog,

Caroline

Categories: Ask Anna, Ant and AOW
15 interesting thoughts on this

15 Comments

  1. Posted October 9, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    In a couple of days I think my Post is going up in the A-Z series that touches on this a little bit with regards to letting someone else be in control of the details at the reception on the day. I totally felt like this- I felt like I hadn’t finished a sentence all day and that I’d been too worried about the food coking out a bit slow to actually eat myself and so on.

    So many wedding blog posts say to take some
    Moments to just step back during the day and that’s probably because it’s normal to feel like that.

    Don’t let the resentment build up. You can’t change it now and as you say the ceremony was incredible and Maybe when you get your photos back you’ll hopefully feel better about the reception. To be honest I every now and then have huge resentment over a couple of things that happened at our wedding and that was four years ago which always makes me feel
    A bit ridiculous !!

  2. CC
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I felt exactly the same! In fact, I was going to try my hand at writing a blog about it, but I just got back from honeymoon, and I guess you beat me to it! My husband and I admitted to each other that apart from the ceremony which was amazing, it was just all a bit stressful. We wished we spent less on the wedding day and more on the honeymoon. All the wedding blogs you read are from people telling you it will be the best day in the world ever! but for us it wasnt. Time to get on with the important bit we decided, our marriage and being married!

  3. Cat B
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    How recently were you married caroline? I’m guessing fairly recently?…
    I don’t think you’re being ungrateful or bridezilla like at all. It’s really natural to dissect aspects of your wedding in the weeks and months afterwards (hence asking how recent the wedding was) and after such a huge build up to just one day, with everything so fresh in your memory, you’re bound to focus on the bits that you feel didn’t quite hit the perfection spot or that you would have done differently.

    My husband and I got married 18 months ago. I pretty much went through what you’re going through now, albeit with different specifics! For me, it was our church service. My auntie conducted it and despite being really clear with her about the type of service I wanted, she totally went off piste and at the time, and for months afterwards, it made me a bit resentful. There is a photo of me with a fixed smile on my face during the service and my eyes cast downwards. I am gripping Paul’s hand so hard my knuckles are white and his palms are probably bleeding! To me it is a reminder about how uncomfortable I felt at times during that service.

    But you know what? 18 months on and all I look back on are the wonderful bits. I can still remember tiny details but it’s the good bits my memory chooses to bring to the service. I’m now very firmly ensconced in the marriage part, the follow up to the wedding and it is truly wonderful. When our photos arrived I pored over them for months, loving them, analysing them and crying over them. I think it will definitely help when you get your photos back but don’t use them to fuel an obsession of going back over the detail. For about 6 months after our wedding I was obsessed still by reading blogs and looking at others’ weddings. Whether I knew it or not at the time I was still comparing my wedding to see if it came up to scratch and to justify my thinking that I HAD made the wrong choice for my bouquet!
    My advice would be to really focus on the photos of you and your husband during the service, the look on the faces of your families and friends. Enjoy all your photos and all your memories because there will come a time, I promise, in 6, 12, 18 months when you are left with a wonderful sense of what a happy and special day it was. When I think of our service now, it makes me smile, even that stress ridden photo! Why? Because it was the day I married the love of my love and the pieces of the day that I so thoroughly dissected in the aftermath have formed one big shiny glitterball of happiness – I have no doubt yours will too – Good Luck! xx

  4. Cat B
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    P.S. – when I said I was a bit resentful about my auntie’s service, I actually meant I was furious for several weeks afterwards, which turned in to bubbling resentment over the coming months. It didn’t ruin the day but in the immediate aftermath I felt as though the most special part of day had most definitely been tarnished. Looking back, it really, really hadn’t.

  5. Peabody_Bites
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I think this is really difficult, but you are certainly not alone as there are many people who have the same sadnesses and, I suspect, hardly anyone who doesn’t have at least a tiny part of their wedding, or their planning, which they would change given the chance or which makes them feel unhappy when it comes to mind.

    On our honeymoon, I made my husband tell me all his favourite parts of our wedding and it really helped to see it through his eyes and it also helped us create a joint narrative about it and to remember details that independently we might have forgotten. Also, discussing and remembering the detail of the day with a couple of close friends also helped because it jogged my memory into specifics and helped it not to be a blur.

    I would perhaps try to do that before the photos come back, because once you have looked at them, you can’t unlook (which sounds stupid but is actually quite important) and if you are looking at the photos feeling negative and looking for validation, then it might be difficult to see the joy and laughter and happiness which is undoubtedly in them.

    Not sure what the etiquette is for linking to other blogs (so AOW feel free to delete if this isn’t really OK) but A Practical Wedding has dealt with this issue several times now – http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/01/not-loving-your-wedding/ was the original post and you’ll see at the bottom that there are four or five other posts on the same topic. Hopefully that will make you feel less alone.

  6. Katie
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I felt the same. The only part of our wedding I really loved was the church service, the rest of the day I was on edge, having to smile for cameras, get around all the guests, and also thinking about timings, temperature of marquee etc.

    I focus on the fact that the guests all appear to have had a wonderful day, and I never enjoy my own parties anyway. The wedding part was for us, the rest of the day was putting on a party for all our loved ones.

    xx

  7. Claire
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    If it helps, I went into the ceremony wanting to bash to my Dad to death with my bouquet….
    I had booked the taxi too early and we ended up having to drive around Regent’s park about 3 times with the meter merrily ticking over all the while. My Dad chose that moment to have a go about how much it was costing (he wasn’t paying I hasten to add) and how wasteful I was being and why had I ordered the taxi so early? Etc. On my wedding day. Loving and supportive? Not exactly! I was really miffed and we were not friends as he walked me down the aisle. Is that what I remember now about the day? Absolutely not, in fact it is a funny story I tell….and one of the main lessons I learnt was – never expect people to be other than they are, even if it is your wedding.

    My point is, focus on the good and the bad will fade away. And besides, it’s just a wedding, which is such a minor thing really, in the grand scheme of your relationship.

    x

  8. Frances
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Now, I’m a few months away from getting married myself, but one thing I’ve noticed from the planning build up is that a wedding produces SO much expectation.

    Maybe it’s the time build up; maybe it’s because it’s an emotionally charged event. Maybe it’s just because there’s usually so many people involved; but I think largely because most people have some preconceived ideas about how they want the day and the time leading up to – and after – the wedding to go.

    Just a thought – but if you took away the vision of how you wanted things to go; the whole ‘plan’ for the day, would you feel the same way? I know it’s silly thinking too much about changing things now – but maybe if you addressed each negative thought that you have about your day with a positive thought, that would help to put it in perspective? We can all be so harsh on ourselves – give yourself a break.

  9. Katielase
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Caroline, first off… huge hugs to you. HUGE ONES. Second, and this is really important… this is absolutely a genuine problem and you have every right to feel the way you feel.

    There is this myth that your wedding day should be the best day of your life, that you should look back on it with a happy glow of contentment and joy, that it should be perfect and wonderful and probably viewed in your memories through a hazy soft focus mist. But, like all myths, this is a big pile of nonsense designed to make you think that the way you feel is wrong or incorrect and that feeling it makes you a bad and ungrateful person. That’s not true, no-one is perfect and it’s completely normal to feel ambivalent about your big day.

    It sounds to me like you remember the ceremony as moving and beautiful and wonderful (as I’m sure it was), so hold on to that. That is, after all, the most important thing you did that day. Accept the way you feel about your reception, because it doesn’t make you a bad person or a bridezilla, it just makes you a normal woman who got really stressed out because she cared about her wedding day and eventually found it hard to relax and enjoy it. In other words, it makes you the same as millions and millions of other women. Part of the reason you’re struggling is because you worked so hard to make your wedding day wonderful. Your husband, and all your friends and family, are lucky to have you. Get them to tell you what THEY all loved about the day, seeing it through the eyes of people who weren’t as emotionally overwhelmed as you might help.

    Otherwise, just remember that you’re completely normal. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling like this. A wedding is a huge emotional investment, whatever you feel after it is definitely reasonable and natural and perfectly okay. Promise.

    K xx

  10. Lara Blue
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I hope the above comments show you that you’re not alone, that you have a right to your feelings and that you were right to write into AOW :) I hope that you find a way to stop feeling guilty, and perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that at least you aren’t regretting the “getting married” part of the day. Hugs

  11. Sharon
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Caroline, you are so not alone, I have mentally reviewed my wedding so many times and driven myself crazy with the ‘improved’ version in my head…..and I got married well over a year ago. There are the little things that slightly annoy me, the bigger things that really irritate me and the bigger things including not inviting certain people to my new and improved wedding in my head! Claire- my dad and yours clearly went to the same father of the bride lessons….my car was late, when it arrived, my dad shot out and jumped in, asking me to lock up. Between holding my dress out of the puddles, and holding my bouquet, locking up wasn’t really an option. If I hadn’t loved my bouquet so much ( one of the elements post my wedding review that passed!) I so would have hit him with it. Special moment just me and my dad? He drove me nuts!
    Anyway I digress, I think a day full of that much emotion and time in the planning, does make you step back and think, and I am not sure if these conclusions will be of any use, but the things that have taken from W day are i am married. Sounds so obvious but I am so pleased we did it after being together 13 years I am so pleased we did it, it feels so different, I may not have loved my wedding day but I am in love with marriage. the husband and I resolved to always be amazing wedding guests from any weddings we are invited to, as you realise the effort and time the bride and groom spend and you get it more after planning your own 3) over time it gets easier. I think most people, hand on heart, would maybe change some part of their wedding but you only know how you would change it with the benefit of hindsight. Try to focus on your wonderful ceremony, that you’re a newly wed and you have a brand new marriage to build lots of fabulous memories on xxxx

  12. Posted October 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    This is all such good advice. I remember getting quite emotional with the realisation that I had on honeymoon, that it was ok for it not to have been the best day of my life. You have to let go and stop punishing yourself. I am not even sure I believe there is ever going to be a ‘best day’ in my life. Not one single day in isolation. I prefer to think of the best day of my life as a montage of small moments from my whole life, which were all perfect for different reasons. Some of those moments will definitely come from our wedding.

    2 and a bit years later I feel so differently to how I did in the weeks and months after the day. And I also see that I wasn’t not in love with it either. There were obvious highlights and some surprising ones too. The photos make me smile. Some people aren’t natural party throwers, some people don’t cope well in the spotlight, some people like planning so much that they find it hard to let go. None of this makes you a bad person, nor will it make you a bad wife or have any impact on your marriage, unless you let it. And of course you won’t, you want more out of life than that.

    I hope all these comments make you feel as loved and supported as you should. You’re not alone, x

  13. Caroline
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Oh wow – thank you all so, SO much. I kept taking sneaky peaks at everyone’s advice at work but kept getting too emotional to read it all. But having just sat down and read through it all, I already feel so much better about the way I feel (if that makes sense). It really is so kind of everyone to have taken the time to give advice and share your experiences. All the thoughts and advice handling how I feel now, knowing I won’t feel like this forever, and mostly knowing I wasn’t turning into a bit of too-late-re-planning obsessive has already made me feel so much more sane! (I got married on 18 August, so still quite recently.) Thinking of the ceremony as for us, and the reception for our family and friends, and focussing on the best bit we’re into now – the marriage, is such good advice. Also knowing (what I knew in my head but need to convince myself) that the idea of “the best day of your life” isn’t a very real one – and that when people ask “so was it the most amazing day ever” I don’t have to do a slightly fake smile and answer in a voice that somehow is two octaves higher “yes of course”. But, on reflection, I would still say yes – so far – because it was the day I married my wonderful husband. It’s also encouraging to think I probably won’t think about my wedding in this way for the Rest Of My Life. But most of all it is amazing to feel so supported, helped and loved – by people I have never met – wow. (Sorry, I’ll stop rambling now – but thank you all and AOW again!) caroline xx ps.

  14. Kate G
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    Caroline, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing and to all the wonderful ladies who posted responses as well. You are not alone, and I hope that knowing that, and having it verified that is OK to feel the way you do, is a huge help in itself while you go through the stages of acceptance to when it doesnt matter that much (this is what seems to be the case).

    Im not there yet. Our wedding was just over 6 months ago and I am still heartsore about how parts our day panned out for me .I know in the great scheme of things its not important and that in time I will get over it – but, for now, its still hard. We moved from the UK to Australia less than 6 months to our wedding, and our wedding itself was held in South Africa. Seriously, who does that? Still, lots of research, and logistics and addressing our budget realistically meant that most of it came together exactly as we wanted without too much drama. My biggest, gut-wrenchingly awful mistake, was the dress.

    I didnt find a dress in the UK, and was sure I would find one more summery and weather appropriate for our outside wedding when in Aus. By the time we got here, not only could I not find anything I liked, the one that “would do” couldnt be ordered in time. I was desperate and bought hugely expensive material and had it made by a recommended designer from the fabric provider. It cost more than double what we wanted to spend, but I was in bits about it and my wonderful fiance said just spend what you need to and we’ll make a plan.

    I had a distinctly uneasy feeling about it at the last fitting but it was the day before we flew out to SA. On the day itself, the strapless dress just would not stay up in front, and was too long so I kept tripping on it. I felt hideouos and naked and exposed and the only part of the day I actually managed to relax marginly was during the ceremony, as my back was to everyone. It tainted every part of the day for me – getting dressed (I cried), having photos taken was awful (yes, grimaces), accepting compliments (fixed, bite my lip from bawling thank yous), sitting at dinner and speeches with a fan spread across my chest, to our first dance – we LOVE to dance – when the dress did actually fall down Judy Finnegan style – which was subsequently captured in the video. I had to get out of it after I tripped spectacularly on the dance floor, (not wine induced either !) to just be able to move without fear.

    I feel so cheated out of enjoying myself on sutch a special day, and feel so guilty too. I know I am the one to blame, as I coudnt get over it on the day, and I am so angry that I couldnt . The day was so special as our families met for the first and probably only time, more than half our wedding guests had travelled from far away countries at huge expense and effort and our wedding was always supposed to be an aknowledgement and sharing of the love and support we have in our friends and family. Yet my vanity overtook all of that and I couldnt enjoy it. I wish so much I could have it back to do over!

    Will I laugh about it all one day? Actually, I dont think so. But I do know one day it wont matter. Marriage matters, memory softens and bad feelings fade. Thanks for letting me share and Caroline I hope that the perspective from everyone on here has helped you, as it has me. Knowing I am not alone, and its ok even if only in the sanctity of AOW, is a huge weight off my heart.

  15. Helen King
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I have been married three years (last wed actually) and I don’t really remember much about our wedding day save a warm glow of a feeling knowing that I married my wonderful husband. I said it then and will say it now, and it still shocks the people that I do, I know that my wedding day wasn’t the ‘best day of my life’ and I’m not ashamed. It’s not that it wasn’t a lovely day, from the general feelings of it that now remain, but I have had many lovely days, simple days, days I am so very happy for no particular reason, and just because it was my wedding day doesn’t suddenly make it the best day I have or will have. Getting married to my husband is the best thing I have done no doubt, but the wedding is just one day surrounded by huge pressure to enjoy it the most you have ever enjoyed anything ever! If that isn’t enough to put the pressure on I don’t know what is, and secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) I think many brides feel the same. As Lucy said you are not a bad person for not being madly in love with your wedding day, it is just one (sometimes stressful) day and not reflection of your marriage.
    Enjoy your wonderful future marriage, and don’t give your wedding day more significance than it deserves.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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image by Lucy Stendall Photography

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