Bride spins out of control selecting Save the Date photos

January 25 | Guest post by Ericka Kreutz
Timeless Save the Date Cards from Minted
Timeless Save the Date Cards from Minted

So, I'm getting married. Like, ring on finger. Like, picked a date. Like, getting magazines delivered monthly to my door, reserving room blocks, and picking out "my colors."

It's all a lot of input and should-haves and should-buys and not long after I said yes to a man, I was saying yes to websites, and wedding favors, and steak or chicken, and extra tents, and a whole lot of material things to make the one non-material thing in my life look really pretty in yellow ribbon and daisies.

And, although the semi-addicted online shopper in me enjoys parts of this exploration, it does become a glitter and bubbles-filled tornado after awhile. And I was spinning out of control.

It happened one late night while I was searching Save-the-Date postcards…

A simple task, and one that I was delighted to do. As I surfed, I found myself specifically attracted to those cards that had photos of the to-be-married couples in them. You know the ones: The couples are multi-ethnic. They probably live in Brooklyn. Or Portland. Or Prague. They met at an art supply store. Or at a mutual friend's dinner party on the lower east side. They have good skin and bright teeth and they look so damn happy.

I fell in love with a certain template so I double-clicked on the slick photo not expecting a new window to pop up. The website asked me to upload my own personal picture. Of me and my fiancé. A photo of us — fresh-faced, with blown out hair, in mid-laugh, after eating an eggs benedict brunch with sixteen of our closest friends in a quiet restaurant on a cobble-stoned street. We look intoxicated from the mimosas and the calorie-free blue corn muffins and with each other. We look so… damn… happy.

Well, I've got to tell you, there is no such picture of my fiancé and me. And believe me, I've searched. We're both geeks. And freaks. And hams. We have cavities. And allergies. And I would never wear heels on a cobble-stoned street.

But maybe I need to? Maybe I need to look like I'm beyond ecstatic, like those girls on those blissed-out wedding blogs. Maybe I need to scream and shout and giggle a lot. Because that is what those brides do on TLC. They are out of their minds in love. (And boy, can they say yes to a dress.)

But I don't look like those girls. And I certainly don't feel like they do. And although my fiancé and I have been together for seven years there is not one photo in our database where I am not about to eat something. Or about to complain about the blister on my toe. Or about to get a zit. There is not one picture of us looking longingly at each other. Or about to kiss. Or frolicking in some tall grass meadow somewhere. It just doesn't exist.

And that is where my tornado touched down.

I do not look like other brides: therefore I am not meant to be a bride. I do not act like other brides: therefore I am not ready to be married. And of course, we are not in love, because what we look like together does not match what these shiny people in sepia tones look like. At all.

And that is when the knot in my stomach took over surfing TheKnot.com. I suffered a sugar-crash from all the fluffy white marshmallow mass emails selling me the perfect cake topper and I made a decision to detox. And drink seltzer. And hide under the covers. And have a big long talk with myself.

The thing is, getting married is a big deal. It's a ginormous deal. And while cutting a deal with the DJ is great and all, it is really about the deal I am making with another human being. The deal says: I take you, for who you are, forever. And even scarier than that, as I came to realize, is that it is saying: you are taking me. As I am. As I am not. As I will be. Someday.

It is saying: I will let you take care of me. I will let you in. As my partner. As my companion. As my backseat driver. It is allowing someone into my groggy morning rituals, my yo-yo dieting, and all the various self-created tornados in my head.

We don't look like other couples. And we never will. In our pictures we are making silly faces. Or drinking beer. Or playing games. We are coffees, and instant oatmeal, and asthma inhalers, and mouth guards, and clipping coupons, and too much TV, and too much popcorn, and talking to each other twenty-two times a day. And sharing everything.

I still don't know what love looks like. Or what it's supposed to look like. But I know what my love looks like: It looks like a used couch that squeaks. It looks like a fourteen-dollar bottle of wine bought on splurge. There is a candle lit. And music in the background. And I am not wearing any makeup. Or shoes. Or pretenses.

And we are talking. And we are listening. And we are making suggestions on how to live a fuller life. And how to be a better person. And how nothing and everything matters. And we are teasing each other. And we are laughing. And I am so… damn… happy.

  1. "We don't look like other couples. And we never will. In our pictures we are making silly faces. Or drinking beer. Or playing games. We are coffees, and instant oatmeal, and asthma inhalers, and mouth guards, and clipping coupons, and too much TV, and too much popcorn, and talking to each other twenty-two times a day. And sharing everything."
    This is me and my partner exactly!
    What a great and well-stated post. :)

    34 agree
    • I was going to say, the last three paragraphs are so wonderfully familiar to me. It's definitely a beautiful love!

      7 agree
  2. OMG.. I teared up reading this!! I hate that WE don't have many actually pics of US together at all!! BUT, when I read this, I could actually see all the good times and the fun and the goofiness, and your right, it looks nothing like those pictures. But we are happy, and that is truly what matters!

    15 agree
    • I've had the same experience… I actually couldn't find a photo to post on our wedsite. Searching through my hard drive, I found exactly three photos of the two of us together, after a nearly 6-year relationship. Two of those photos were poory-lit flash photos taken at family barbecues in the middle of summer, with sweaty faces and all. The other photo was at his brother's wedding, where we're standing next to each other with those frozen "Oh Lord, do we really have to pose for another photo" smiles on our faces.

      Yeah, it kind of bums me out that there aren't many pictures of the two of us together. But I can smile at the photos I've taken of him cuddling with our cat taking a nap on the sofa, or the pictures he's snapped of me as I pose like an idiot with the crazy food I'm about to eat. I'm kind of the default "family photographer", so it's not often that we have someone else to take photos of the two of us. However, the photos we've taken of each other in our daily lives say a lot more about us, I think.

      15 agree
      • I want to click "THIS!" but I don't think it could truly convey my feelings towards your post. So I'm typing it out as a statement:

        THIS!

        1 agrees
      • THIS A MILLION TIMES OVER!

        We had a family party, hosted by us a couple days ago and I have hundreds of photos of him, and my mother has a hundred of me, but only one of us together out of the thousands of photos taken. Its nutso.

        0 agree
      • Yep, we have approximately 7 photos of us together from our 15 year relationship. Most of them were taken while we were still in high school (graduation, prom, etc.), so they're out. That leaves about 3. And they're pretty underwhelming. When we go on vacation, we take pictures of each other, since we are too paranoid to trust somebody to not run off with our phones if we ask them for a photo.

        0 agree
  3. I have exactly one "respectable" photo of me and my fiance and while it is nice, and we both look nice, and happy, and yadda yadda I still kind of prefer the photos in which i am laughing and have a red face or one of us is sticking our tongue out or licking the other's face and where there is beer and chips and that weird forced smile my fiance does in photos where he looks like he's either about to eat whoever's behind the camera or run for the hills and that photo of us dubbed "Meatloaf and his girlfriend".
    So thanks, for this. I kind of needed to be reminded I don't need to worry about the "respectable" wedding photos because whatever's happening in them, it will be us and happy and he'll probably be eating and i'll be snorting and giggling like a loon because I can.

    3 agree
  4. I wear female buddy holly glasses, and would wear flip flops year around. I wear just eyeliner and carmex. I always have one zit. My future husband and I are geeky. And we are nothing like the couples in the magazines, or the couples in the galleries for the photographers we're looking into. But we are so in love, it makes people sick. And we make faces about it. And then I use my inhaler from laughing too hard and cannot catch my breath.

    Your post here, almost brought a tear to my eye, and let me know, I am not alone on this quest of planning, being a little quirky, and having a slight meltdown about it at one point. :)

    15 agree
  5. :standing and clapping and whistling wildly: BRAVA!!!! BRAVA!!!! Wonderful, simply wonderful writing. Well said. And don't worry about looking like those other couples. Worry about BEING who the two of you ARE. Cause that, my friend, that is truly awesome.

    5 agree
  6. Thank you for putting that nameless feeling I've been having into words and eloquently I may add.
    I've been struggling with all the people who can't understand why I'm not jazzed out of my pants about my wedding and assume things because of it. I'm excited about being married, not about all the stuff I'm "supposed" to have at my wedding.
    This was just what I needed to clear my planning blues!

    2 agree
  7. I loved reading this. Thank you.
    And, I may take two lines of it for my vows:
    "I take you, for who you are, forever."
    and
    "I will let you take care of me. I will let you in. As my partner. As my companion. As my backseat driver."

    7 agree
  8. Thank you, and I love you! Sincerely. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now.
    I am newly engaged, and my finance and I are incredibly happy and in love. We're also both goofy, and fat, and awkward. Even pictures of us in Paris, at the beautiful sites, would never work on those "Save the Date" cards or for engagement photos.
    And the part about the friends, too. We have very few close friends, and those we have live several states away since we moved last year. I get so inspired, and then extremely sad when I read the blogs and see the pictures of all the friends being super-involved in the wedding plans. Especially here on OBB, where there are lots of GREAT ideas and stories about cool things friends did for the weddings. Well, we don't have that kind of life, but instead of letting the websites make me feel bad, I need to step away, look at the love of my life, and say, "It's you and me, Babe".

    10 agree
    • I feel your pain… all our friends and family are hundreds of miles away during this planning process. At first I was ready to give up the plans of doing an actual ceremony and reception but I finally had the epiphany that this is about me and my mister.

      The people in our life are still involved. We do tons of things over the phone, email, skype, iChat, etc. The people who reach out and put up with the challenges of helping us plan our wedding across the miles are doing so because they love us and the want to make our day awesome!

      Near or far they'll find a way to help… :)

      3 agree
    • Me and my guy are the same. We don't have a lot of really good friends and I feel like maybe I'm not going to have a great wedding when I look at all the wedding on this site. But I really like what you said. Because even though we want our family and friends to be there to celebrate with us on this huge day in our lives, it really is about the two of us. So thank you for your post. I needed to hear (or read) that. :)

      3 agree
  9. This article stopped me from having that exact same breakdown. Thank you so much!

    0 agree
  10. My future-husband and I have one single photograph of the two of us taken in the last 2 or 3 years, and it was only because we were on vacation and someone else held the camera (and it's pretty terrible, for the record; we were fresh off a long bus ride after the second flight of the day and travel-weary). I don't think I have any pictures of him without at least one of our two dogs, and the focus of those pictures is always the dog, not him. We don't take pictures when we go out with friends; there's no cute photo anywhere of the two of us, his arm slung over my shoulders as we sit in a bar and laugh at our best friend's jokes, or frolicking about a meadow peppered with wildflowers with a picnic set-up lingering in the background. And I think that reading your post has made me realize that there are other real couples out there like us, with little photographic record of some kind of existence, and that it's okay. Our relationship isn't inferior or less valid because we don't have albums crammed in bookshelves full of the two of us. Thank you for writing this!

    1 agrees
  11. This is my very favorite article I've ever read on Offbeat Bride.

    My wedding is just over two weeks away. I've been asked "Are you excited?!?!!" more times than I can count. And while I am excited, thrilled really, I'm not TLC excited. I'm not fairy tale excited. Because I'm not a "princess bride," and I wasn't looking to be.

    My future husband and I have a Sunday kind of love. The kind where you don't talk while driving, but hold hands. The kind where he sets out an extra bowl for my Cheerios. The kind with bed head and fleece pajama pants and the Muppet show.

    Cheers to celebrating YOUR love, however it may manifest, in a way that feels like you. People will know it when they see it – they just don't know what they're looking for yet.

    31 agree
  12. I love you for this. I actually do. You, like so many others on OBB, put in to words the way I feel about our wedding. The fact that it's about the MARRIAGE – about the two of us spending our life together and promising every bit of ourselves to each other.
    Incidentally, my favourite photo of us was taken with a cameraphone on a windy cliff in Arbroath, Scotland. I'm wearing no make-up, my hair's a mess and I have a double chin from smiling and Dr M is kissing my cheek. We both look RUBBISH but incredibly happy despite the fact that we were kind of going through some stuff at the time. It shows that despite everythiny just being together was enough.

    2 agree
  13. I thought I had escaped the wedding madness until I read this article. I may not be flipping out over centerpieces and chair covers, but I still have this idea in my head of what my fiance and I should look like, and how we should feel throughout this process. We are very different from that idea! And that is ok! Hello, perspective. Nice to see you again.

    3 agree
  14. Brilliant article! We didn't send out save the date cards (not done here in Germany) but I have to admit that I felt like I had missed out on something. I got the same feeling when (even on OBB) I saw engagement photos, parties and showers. Those things are all great but whether we have them or not does not change the validity of the marriage.

    Also: you're a ham? As in ham radio ham? My future husband is a ham and he's trying to rope me in :D

    0 agree
  15. I was this bride and I went through the exact same feelings. Especially the "I'm not meant to be a bride" feelings because I don't fit the traditional mold in the magazines, looks, personality, or wedding style. But then I realized that out of the people I know, the geeks like me are the ones still together. Because maybe, instead of concentrating on these things we finally give up and see the beauty of our love for what it really is.

    1 agrees
  16. Wow, I really needed this. I'm only two weeks into planning and feeling like I should give up all together because I can't be "them" – whoever the hell that is:)

    1 agrees
  17. There is no right or wrong "picture" of love. Everyone is different and every couple expresses it in different ways!

    I had a friend say "if we don't have a reception DINNER, it just wouldn't feel like a real wedding." Not even though you've said your vows? Not even if you get MARRIED that day?

    Ontop of making this type of 'one-size-fits-all' brand of wedding today, the wedding industry convinces us that it's the WEDDING that's important – what about the MARRAIGE?
    They project this idea of THE Bride or THE Groom. But, with 7billion on the planet, what is normal? Not that, I don't believe.

    Go get 'em – in your own way!

    2 agree
  18. This is a great post! It makes me love my partner even more, and happy other people experience the same anxiety over not being a regular bride.

    We're a saturday night curled up on the couch in lounge pants eating cheetos. We're getting up in the morning to walk the dog and letting the other sleep in, and making the other walk the dog late that same night because I am afraid of the dark. We're letting the dishes pile up in the sink and complaining about co-workers. We have a real love, and no air brushed photos.

    5 agree
  19. This is so spot on! I am at the beginning stages of planning and trying to make everything like it is "supposed to be" is exhausting. Thank you for the slap in the face and an eye-opening taste of reality. I love my fiance more than words can explain, and I love that he takes me for what I am, frumpy business and all.

    1 agrees
  20. As a plus-sized woman, I've never felt like I could ever, possibly look like the YOUR PICTURE HERE save the dates. Like I could look like a bride.
    I tried so hard to imagine it, but all of those crazy-in-love couples on cobblestone streets–they're thin.
    The whole wedding industry is filled with images of brides who are tattoo-free, who are blemish-free, who have awesome teeth and who are SVELTE.
    I thought a lot about hiring an engagement photographer while I was engaged, but I kept stopping in my tracks. I felt embarrassed to even pick up the phone because I wasn't cute enough.
    So I could never have STD's with our picture on them, because none of our photos were hi-res. I could never participate because I was afraid of my body, afraid of my face, afraid of being myself.
    Even as a self-proclaimed Offbeat Bride, I was buying into the notion that a wedding looks a certain way.
    I'm still not THERE, but I know that if I'm ever in the arena again, I'm going to leap. I'm going to leap and be full of laughter and show off my snaggle tooth and let my friends and loved ones marvel at my double chin and I'm going to be HAPPY.

    13 agree
  21. This is definitely my favorite post yet…I had the same panicky feeling and starting to get to the feeling this blog post describes… We have been waiting to get our engagement pictures taken because we'd like to lose some weight…and I spend nights worrying that my wedding will never look as perfect as all of these other wedding blogs. More recently, I'm become comfortable in the fact that our wedding day, wedding outfits, and married life are never going to be perfect…which is perfectly fine because we aren't perfect either. I'm just hopeful that I feel happy and thankful and grateful for it all…

    Thank you for keeping us all grounded. :)

    2 agree
  22. I totally know how you feel. I actually have very few pictures of my fiance and I despite having been together almost 10 years. I always feel like "why would I take a picture of us sitting in bed watching anime?" I try to avoid too much of the standard wedding planning fare for the reason that we're two nerds in love who look like obvious nerds. Who knows if those perfect looking people eating brunch might go home and secretly play World of Warcraft, but they don't look it, so I can't relate. Our wedding won't look like the magazine pictures and the typical wedding blogs, but I'll be damned if our wedding won't be a glorious train wreck of everything that makes him and me, us.

    1 agrees
  23. Hilarious, beautiful, and TRUE! So well done. I laughed out loud (okay… cackled) at "And of course, we are not in love, because what we look like together does not match what these shiny people in sepia tones look like. At all." GAHHH this is why I can't be on Facebook! It drives me bonkers! Because yeah, that's not our bag, either.

    1 agrees
  24. Beautifully written post! I think so many of us have been there – I had this idea that I would suddenly get invisalign before the wedding (I've thought about it before, but never had the $$). I had a frightening thought – Oh my god, my teeth will be crooked in my wedding photos! I can't have that – brides have perfect smiles! After coming to terms with the fact that I'd have to choose between getting invisalign or having a honeymoon, I realized what crap it was to be so concerned over something like that.

    A side note: I think very few people have amazing photos with our fiances – and that's why people have engagement photo shoots!

    3 agree
  25. Your love sounds a lot like mine, except I get the wine to myself since he doesn't drink.

    0 agree
  26. As so many others have said, this saved me from having the exact same meltdown. So glad I stumbled across this article. Thank you for sharing!

    0 agree
  27. THIS!!!! Seriously it's like 4am (well closer to 5ish maybe now) my tummy's upset and I popped on for some random blog reading to help my brain get back into sleep mode… when I found THIS. I fell in love with every word, it's sooooo true! I think it even made my upset tummy feel a wee bit better LOL. This has been bookmarked for future reads because THIS is something I need to read to remind me that my love doesn't look like a postcard, but it does look like The Hubs and I, and we are also Really Freaking Happy!
    Sending oodles of hugs your way.. Now I'm off to hopefully sleep :P

    1 agrees
  28. thank you, thank you! Have been offered a free engagemet shoot but its freaking me out all the theming and worrying about double chins etc, some of the best moments I've had with my partner wont always look 'picure perfect' on camera. Way too many photos are taken these days and can take away from living in the moment. Thanks again

    1 agrees
  29. This is the best, truest, most important post I have ever seen on any wedding blog.

    After being depressed about not looking like the brides on wedding blogs and obsessing about getting my athletic body to look like the size 2 girls in photos, it hit me. Are all brides white, skinny and have perfect teeth?
    No!

    And just like that, I stopped looking at blogs except OBB.

    1 agrees
  30. this was a "hitting the nail on the head" article for me, while im not engaged yet its in the post so to speak, this coupled with the 1 thing i took away from the second SATC movie is to write your own rules for love, its not a cookie cut out, sitcom, 1 size fits all love. its a long distance relationship with skype dates and creating awesome moments when we are together love. but the "wedding planning" is already giving me an ulcer, i need perspective in an article like this to help me breath again. thank you for writing this :)

    0 agree
  31. Complete Amazingness. Our pics consist of evidence of blue frosting fights and making crazy (blue) faces to each other, my feet with all the pens and water bottles he has stuck between my toes, just cuz. Pictures of him eating dinner, fork in one hand, Xbox controller in the other because he just can't stop Skyrim. We are total geeks, and that's that. And I wouldn't have it any other way. So yea, totally identifying with this rad article!!

    0 agree
  32. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I went to a bridal shop yesterday to try on a Bridesmaid's gown for my friend's wedding and had my first "I'm not like the brides on TV" moment. The sample bridesmaid's gown didn't fit. It was then I thought "How will any bridal gowns fit me if this sample Bridesmaid's gown doesn't?!" I got so upset over the thought that I won't look like all those girls on all those bridal blogs I read incessantly. I had a freak-out and it felt terrible. I'm so so happy right now, I shouldn't be feeling terrible about how I look.

    Thanks for bringing me back down to earth and for putting things into perspective. This is exactly what I needed and I'm still crying from how deeply your words touched me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    2 agree
  33. As a fellow writer and bride-to-be, I have to commend you for this brilliant post! Emotional, authentic, empowering…thanks for sharing your journey of accepting and embracing genuinely, perfectly imperfect love.

    1 agrees

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