Musings of an almost not-bride

August 5 | Guest post by mcgilllilnancy

You'll never leave where you are until you decide where you'd rather be.
Thanks to mistyr123 for adding this gem to the OBB Flickr Pool.

I won't be an Offbeat Bride soon. In fact, I won't be any kind of bride, because in a month I'll be married. And for some reason, that's making me sad. I don't want to get into the whole "you should be planning for the marriage not the wedding!" or the politics of wedding vs. marital energy/time/money expenditure. I get that, I assure you. I want to acknowledge what an important and huge part of my life and identity being a bride and having a wedding has been for me, and I'm sure for you too. I want to share this journey, and who I am and have become.

I wasn't sure how to do this wedding shit. I'm a genderqueer (and very uptight about that sort of thing, thank you) person with a male partner and when we decided to get married it was, well, different. We've been together for four years and I knew a legal license was never in the cards for me because of political beliefs. However, we felt this meant it was all the MORE important for us to symbolize our commitment to each other in some other way. Plus, seriously, my parents were willing to give me like $10,000 to have a kick-ass party. I'll be goddamned if i'm ever too politically serious to take $10,000 to throw a party, and then get a bunch of gifts. Selfish, perhaps, but true.

I'm not a bride. I'm not even sure I'm a GIRL! Can non-girls be brides? Can they have weddings, with MALE partners nonetheless? I went through all that and the usual angst of this-is-not-what-i-wanted when I dipped my finger in the wedding pool. And then, I found Offbeat Bride. Oh, heart-song! I became wedding obsessed. It wasn't a we-ee-ee-dding — it was a party! It was a bash! A family gathering! A woodland festival! It was whatever I wanted it to be and I gasped and drank in every bride's profile. I credit Offbeat Bride with helping me keep sane during the first semester of my PhD studies this fall. I got ideas, I tossed ideas, I bridal bitched, I gave offbeat advice. Sisters, I was IN the thing.

Then life got busy and the wedding backed off. Dealing with the wedding became more about save-the-date deadlines and family squibbles about some relative (though graciously, my family and in-laws have been much, much better than some). My PhD work amped up, I needed to do clinical hours, and while I still checked the latest bride profiles every day, I stopped contributing much to the Offbeat Bride Tribe and, once all the big pieces were in place, I stopped really planning the wedding much. It plugged along, and so did I.

Now that we are days, mere days, away from the wedding, I cannot help but feel a strange tension. As a friend of mine told me I was the "most intense bride" she'd ever seen, traditional or otherwise, and I wasn't quite sure if I was insulted or proud. My wedding IS intense. I'm going to rent a chainsaw in a few hours to make a project for it. It's a living, breathing entity that has grown out from me and is me. My wedding is a part of who I am, and being a bride is part of who I am now, and both of those are about to go away. Forever.

I think this is the dark side, or the reverse pay off for having a wedding that is uniquely tailored to who you are, DIYed by you and, let's just say it, birthed out of your amazing brain creativity goddess. I've done a lot for my wedding ("I" being me and my partner, I'm just being selfish). I've written and designed the entire ceremony, hand made countless items, created unique seating arrangements, filled everything with beautiful little details that are JUST. SO. US.

So why do I feel so sad?

Why, when I see ads for veils, or new ideas on Offbeat Bride, do I get the pang that those fields are closed to me now and my choices (beloved and perfect choices) have been made and are following an inevitable hurtle towards the finish line? Why do I feel a strange sense of mourning, of loss for this thing I have created, when it hasn't even come to be yet? Why does one of the happiest, and most anticipated events of my life, make me cry just to talk about it.

In some ways, a wedding is a lot like a book, or film. You get all these ideas, shop around for the perfect people, places, and things to fulfill what matches in your head, write it, design it, edit it, comfort it in it's birth pains, scream at it in hatred sometimes and eventually, you finish it. But unlike a book or a film, a wedding doesn't hang around in the ether forever (at least, not for most of us). There are pictures, videos, and memories but really, it was a one shot deal, like a shooting star, and now it's over. And it hurts. It hurts to have something that you poured your soul into, your very human spirit, which is to say your fundamental desire to create, finished. Don't get me wrong — I LOVE my wedding! I can't wait for my wedding, I can't wait to be married to my mate, and I think all of it will be wonderful. But in some ways too, it will be painful for me in ways that I can already feel, like the itch of a limb that's gone missing.

I find myself in some ways wishing I'd been MORE of a bride, treasured and licked up every moment of planning that I'll never have again. When will I ever have an enormous (hello, we're a grad student and unemployment so $10,000 = ridiculous, unheard of, outrageous sum of money) budget to just do with whatever I feel like? And everyone will acknowledge that I can do this, it's my day, and isn't this all terrific for you? And I get access to an amazing community of like minded sisters? It's a lot to give up in just one day. In some ways I'll be glad. In some ways, grieving. I'll be a happily married person, but perhaps a cautiously nostalgic bride.

Isn't it nice that our sister site Offbeat Home & Life exists, to fill the hole Offbeat Bride leaves behind?

  1. I feel this same way! I know all of this anticipation and planning and thinking is bound to end in what will be the most fabulous and anticlimactic experience of my life. It will be all over, just like that!

    After devoting everything I am to one thing that will be for such a small flash of my life, what comes next? I think I am going to understand what my mom went through with her empty nest syndrome. :)

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  2. A nostalgic bride. Such a perfect description. Wraps up the writing in the best finishing-touch bow.

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  3. I feel the same way, but to keep myself sane, I am telling myself that we can get re-married every 10 years or so and I can have all that fun planning all over again. And there will be babies to plan for in the meantime.

    Also, I love helping other people plan and execute their parties, and I have quite a few girlfriends who aren't married yet!

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  4. Beautifully, accurately written. Thank you. I completely agree… especially with the bit about the fallout of having a wedding tailored specifically to oneself and one's partner.

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  5. I'm reading The Conscious Bride at the moment. If you're three weeks out, you might not have time to check it out, but if you're further away, it's an awesome book. It was recommended to me by somebody else in the OBT, and it's been really helpful in dealing with all the transitions inherent in getting married.

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  6. I've never seen it written so concisely but you are so accurate. This is very much how I felt and actually after the wedding I felt worse again because all of it was over. I didn't know what to do with myself. I was no longer involved in planning, in lavish ideas and all that adrenaline to do with anticipation was gone.

    Funnily enough, I felt it again after I went home with my first baby. I think sometimes we build up these things so far that it's a long way back down to reality and the day-to-day grind.

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    • I feel like we do that with everything though. Graduations and babies and promotions and Firsts and Lasts and Goals and… I guess just viewing a wedding as one of those life moments in a sea of lifetime moments makes it easier to handle. I've had that "Now What?" moment after everything from finishing a deep cleaning task to a big school project to a hard-fought-for college graduation to breakups to a cross-country move. There is grief & relief, fear & excitement, tears & beers. The moment to breathe after a big change or huge accomplishment is awesome, and then we set our sights on the next thing and keep going.

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  7. So well written!!! I felt the same way when i bought a house, like after we bought one I was lost. What websites to I look at, what shows do I watch on TV? all of them changed, their was no need to log on to remax first thing every morning!

    I bet as I get more into the wedding planning process I will feel the same way. Congrats on your wedding, enjoy!

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  8. you can always have kickass anniversary parties every 10 years! my parents did that, followed by "honeymoons".

    as an added bonus, an anniversary party is all the fun of a wedding without the drama. you don't need to worry about whether or not to invite Great Aunt Barbara because there are fewer expectations and traditions to ditch!

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  9. there's a way that having a wedding is also just about planning and executing this huge party/work of art — only somehow even more personal and intense. i will say that i was hugely surprised by my wedding in ways i could have never anticipated. and the biggest surprise was how all that time and energy made for a really intense community experience — so full of love and happiness — that it's still something everyone talks about. and if there are enough of us who were there all in one place it's like — it almost becomes like a reunion. i hope you get to experience something similar!

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  10. It's kind of the day-after-Christmas letdown. Even though I think most of us are not after The.Perfect.Wedding. (whatever that is) – so much time and thought is taken up with planning and executing the entire event that it does become like an obsession…

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  11. Thank you for featuring this on OBB. I read it over on the Tribe & it was one of those few things that you don't just read about, but really relate to. I still have 14 months to go, but have been planning for over a year so there's not much left to plan. There's a sigh of relief & saddness in that statement. Luckily the day after my weddinfg happens to be my birthday(and Halloween)! Congrats on all your weddings ladies :)

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  12. I completely agree. Even though my wedding was amazing, I still read OBB and sigh about all of the wonderful ideas that I want to do and won't be able to. Just little things like fun veils and hairpieces. Basically my entire wedding was a giant craft project, and now that it's over I don't know what to do with myself. People said things like "oh, those are beautiful, you could make things like that for your friends/other people," but it's not the same. Because making things for myself is more fun. ;)

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  13. I wonder if this is why my MOH has been so enthusiastic? Well, she's an enthusiastic arts & crafts person anyway, but she's really gotten into wedding planning. She's also exactly the type to have the forethought to realise this way she gets all the fun of planning and creating, is much more likely to have time to appreciate the kick-ass party, and then she's still got her wedding to look forward to. (Which may not be that far away the way things are going with her boyfriend. :D)

    I'm currently right on the line between the 'discovered OBB, OMG this can be FUN!' phase and the stress of planning phase (hopefully with life getting busier when I hopefully get a job), and having felt exactly the same way (less the genderqueer bit) up to now I shall assume I'll feel the same through the rest of it and take note to enjoy the whole process while I can. :)

    I think part of the problem is that a wedding is one of very few things we expect to only ever do once. If you hear about an awesome vacation destination just after you've booked yours it's no big deal, you can do that next time. Not so with weddings.

    Although I'm sure a lot of the ideas could be re-used in another context (is anyone really going to object to you throwing another kick-ass party?) it's not quite the same.

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  14. Beautifully written. And I do understand– I felt this way especially when people told me, "The day goes by so fast, it will just be a blur!" I didn't want it to be a blur! I wanted to REMEMBER the day that I had spent so much time and energy planning; the first day of marriage to my husband. And guess what? I did! I still do! I've been married for over a year now, and, without the help of videographers, I remember my wedding day perfectly because I had such a blast! I hope your party is so rockin that you remember how it felt; always.

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  15. I love that you wrote this. I'm getting married in two months and this planning has been most of my life for the last 1.5 years. I've loved every moment of "O that's awesome" "How different" "I'm so glad I saw this!" This thing that has become a part of who I am will be over and I'm right with you in my sadness. I never wanted to be a bride and I never wanted a wedding. Now I'm having this super awesome party and I couldnt' be happier with my choices. Thank you for your words :)

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  16. This is beautifull and heartfelt. I thought I might be the only person who was so looking forward to the day, but at the same time sad about it's rapid approach. I'm already thinking of ways to keep some of my DIY crafts around after the wedding! I think the best we can do is try to live in the moment and enjoy it. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Hmmm…maybe I'm doing it wrong. I can't wait for this wedding crap to be over, and feel more and more burned out as the process goes on. :( It seems like every week, I think to myself, "couldn't I have just eloped??" I dunno. A wedding just feels like this huge beast that's gotten away from me.

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    • That's how I feel!! I feel like my whole life has been put on hold and I find myself thinking "I can't wait til after the wedding I can…"

      My fiancé wanted to elope but I said it wouldn't be the same without our family there! I wish I had listened to him!

      Oh well, I only have 7 weeks then I can just relax and enjoy my marriage.

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  18. My wedding's not for another 3 months, but whenever I have any free time, I ask "Can I be doing anything wedding-related?" I'm not sure what will be my default boredom killer after the wedding is over. Maybe home projects (Offbeat Home, please come soon!). I'm also going to miss my big-spending ways. I'm usually so cheap, but I've been saving for my wedding like crazy for the past two years so it's exciting for me to say "$1000 for cupcakes? Sure!" I'll miss working with wedding money. We'll see what fills my days after I'm a wife.

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  19. I'm 2 months 13 days out from the date, and I'm in hectic hell. I find myself compromising on many small things just so that I can cross them off my list. But at the same time, I don't want our wedding day to come. What will I do when I'm no longer folding book art, or designing my girls bouquets, or weighing how much medieval geek I can throw in without terrifying my poor grandmother. I honestly don't know what I'll do with myself after all the thank you cards are out, and we've processed our Tokyo honeymoon pics for the family.

    Perhaps there will be an offbeat marriage site to frequent, where I can find other ex-brides living married life as an alternative partner. There have been so many times when reading about others' strength and dedication to themselves has given me the strength to stand up to my own mother.

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  20. This article sums up exactly how I felt this past summer when I had my wedding. I planned everything myself down to the last detail. I hand made almost everything from decor to stationary as well. Then to person we hired to do our set-up really let me down and missed a bunch of details I had asked her to do. Now I wish I could go back and do the day all over again and this time have someone else, someone I can trust, take care of all those little things and make it perfect. I spent the two days after my wedding so upset about everything that was messed up that I couldn't even enjoy being married! Then I found out that no one at the wedding even noticed any of the screw-ups but me, so that made me feel a little better. But it still wasn't a good feeling knowing all my hard work wasn't shown.

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  21. I feel the same way I was soooooooooooo not into the planning process in the beginning I was anti bride anti anything The Knot related but then… Offbeat bride! My big day is about 3 weeks away and not that I have any free time with working two jobs running my Jen business's and a home but I find myself still wanting to do more DIY crafts, looking at tables apes I'm not going to do, cakes that I won't order etc bc most of my plwnning is done…I also feel like I'm forgetting to do something ?!

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