We're all a little afraid and full of dreams: finding common ground with wedding planning

June 4 | Guest post by Tasha C. Ring
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Barbie and Ken atop a black and white wedding cake from Jennifer and Mark's wedding.
For the most part, the wedding mega-industry strikes me as a scam. Before planning my own wedding, I'd spent some time as a wedding industry observer, and even, very briefly, a bridal shop employee. And what I observed were many wedding industry people seemingly knowingly taking advantage of women's childhood fantasies and desire — err, obsession — to have the perfect wedding every chance they got. It rubbed me the wrong way.

No, it more than rubbed me the wrong way. I found it somewhat disturbing as a human, and quite insulting as a woman.

So when the time came for me to step into the role of bride, I tried my best to avoid the bridal shows, the wedding websites and those pesky seasonal parasites that can't help but try to project their own Dream Bride Barbie illusions on you. Okay, I may have visited a website or two (including Offbeat Bride, obviously!), but only the ones that allowed visitors to view threads without selling their souls to any of the aforementioned prenuptial pests.

I won't lie: Even with a whirlwind engagement, a small guest list and the absence of a traditional wedding reception, I had my difficult moments. I am now confident that these are impossible to avoid. I had a few tearful meltdowns, I made a handful of completely baseless accusations and I distinctly remember the words, "This is my wedding!" coming out of my mouth at least once.

But somewhere between the countless emails to vendors that revealed my Type A tendencies, the frequent rants about the ridiculous cost of everything wedding-related and my somewhat desperate attempts to avoid anything bridal, I realized there was fear. The fear that the wedding that felt right to my husband and me wouldn't be the wedding that others expected, or the wedding that even I had once envisioned. This epiphany was both wonderful and traumatic.

I realized that I needed to mourn the loss of the wedding I thought I wanted when I was 10, and have fun planning the adult celebration that was truly reflective of me and my husband and the relationship we'd worked so hard to achieve. Furthermore, I discovered that most of the two-cent'ers didn't intentionally want to annoy me with their own wedding imaginings.

The truth is, wedding big or small, off-white or Snow White, there's likely a lot of trepidation, a fair amount of tradition, and at least a little Bridezilla in each of us.

Apparently, many women — and perhaps men as well — dream about their wedding day on a very regular basis and have since buying that Dream Bride Barbie with their hard-earned allowance, many years ago. They place incredible value on the day and want it to be the biggest and best of their lives. Just as I'm entitled to a little restraint from those who may not share my path, they deserve their fairy tale wedding without the condemnation of "enlightened" people telling them that they're superficial or misguided.

The truth is, wedding big or small, off-white or Snow White, there's likely a lot of trepidation, a fair amount of tradition, and at least a little Bridezilla in each of us.

In the end, our wedding was magical — not just for the day itself, but for the mostly beautiful and befittingly less-traveled road that brought us there. All the self-analysis and sleepless nights were undoubtedly very important for our future, and perhaps even right on time. And while my husband and I didn't marry for anyone other than each other, we had been reminded how much we care about the thoughts and feelings of those who mean the most to us.

  1. I needed this. I mean REALLY needed it. Ty so much for sharing and making me feel a little better about my own fears. It's SO reassuring to know other Brides felt the same way and still came out on the other side with big smiles on their faces:)

    15 agree
  2. "I realized that I needed to mourn the loss of the wedding I thought I wanted"

    That sums up pretty much everything for me. But not only the wedding I wanted at 10, the wedding I wanted at all the phases in my life, including when I didnt want a wedding. I've learned slowly to embrace the wedding that I will have because it's the one that best combines what I want and want my soon to be husband wants. And that is awesome.

    18 agree
  3. With four months to go until our wedding, I am just entering this phase. I realised just yesterday that the reason I was so far behind on planning everything was exactly what you wrote: I was just terrified. What if it isnt perfect? What if people judge me? What if I regret not having real flowers?! Thanks for this post, it is unbelieveably helpful.

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  4. I really feel this. Coming from a country where the norm is a big Catholic wedding, with 300 of my closest friends and family, with a hotel and beef or salmon and a band and a DJ and cocktail sausages at 1am, there's a part of me terrified that my 10 person civil ceremony is not enough. That I will always feel like I missed out on the big day and being the centre of attention. But then I read something like this article and remember why that type of wedding is not for me in the first place. Not for me or my future husband (thank the universe – I'm eternally grateful we're on the same page). I do love me a big Irish wedding, but I love to attend these weddings. For my wedding, it will be small and DIY with great food and that is what is authentic to me. And these fears of somehow 'missing out'? I'd say it's just 10 year old me with a pillow case on her head having a little weepie for the barbie princess wedding that she wanted. She'll be just fine and so will my wedding.

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    • I had a small ceremony with immediate family only and a reception a month later. I was worried about missing out too, but now that it's over I would never change a thing. Every moment was fun and us. It all fit us both perfectly and since we planned it how we wanted, and not what my 10 year old self thought I wanted, it was pretty much stress free relaxed and we got to truly enjoy each other that day and just be happy.

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  5. I must be unusual / offbeat because I NEVER dreamt about my dream wedding … just about being married and living happily ever after!

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  6. So refreshing thank you. I am having a hard time with all the people telling me how my wedding should be! This site and community has helped me in so many ways to not allow myself or my future husband to be pushed around in the planning of our wedding

    2 agree
  7. I needed this very much. In the course of planning my wedding, I was horrified to learn I had a princess lodged somewhere deep in my subconscious. I really didn't think certain things were important to me. Originally, my husband to be and had planned to elope because neither one of us liked or cared about wedding traditions. However during the process of planning this, it somehow came out that I really wanted a ceremony with certain key people there. Trying to be simple and not over the top has put me time and time again up against the bridal industry's push to collect on your dreams and even insecurities as a bride. This angers me to no end. Thank you for addressing this issue. Offbeat Bride has saved my sanity through this process.

    2 agree
  8. I almost feel like I wrote this article! Everything you write is completely true. I have been engaged for only 4 weeks and I am already about to pull my hair out! Everyone seems to want to tell me what I should have for our wedding but at the end of the day it is about celebrating the love of two people and is about what reflects our personalities. THANK YOU for reminding me!!!

    1 agrees
  9. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I had a total meltdown yesterday about the fact that our wedding is costing so much money and I started to question whether or not we deserved it. That of course, led to me thinking that us not being able to afford our wedding is the universe's way of telling us that we shouldn't be getting married at all because I'm a spoiled brat. I don't have really high expectations (around 10k, we're paying for everything, DIYing, etc) but it felt like unless we got married in a cabin in the woods I was expecting too much. I have a much clearer head this morning and this post cemented that no matter what we decide, it is perfect for us because WE made the decision. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    2 agree
  10. It's really, really nice to see that I, WE, are not alone. I have been struggling with the young girl's wedding dreams, my wanting 50 people max due to my fear of being the center of attention and the now reality of about 100-110 people (and the cost associated with it). It's a constant, internal, struggle. I know that although I wanted super small, once I got down to it there were too many people I genuinely cared too much for to leave off the list. Which is leading me to save on a dress and thrift all sorts of items for decor. I love what we are working for, but sometimes you just can't help but breakdown. The wedding industry (I was an event planner for a few years) makes you believe you need all this stuff – and don't get me wrong , it's all beautiful – but you don't NEED anything but something to wear, your partner and the people you want to share your day with. The rest is extras. And although you may struggle with it until the big day comes where you finally say 'fuck it, it's too late to worry now', just know that you are not alone. And it is OK to fret, stress, cry or whine about it. Just find the people that love you the most who will listen and remind you what is really important. I have a great support system that is not afraid to tell me exactly what is on their minds, and understand my struggle all with no judgement.

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  11. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

    The thing I had most to come to terms with were my OWN expectations of the day. Not anyone else's…I got no flack from any family members on our decisions, but I struggled and struggled against myself in letting go of the formal dress, formal venue, Saturday night dinner/dance, princess/fairytale/special snowflake stuff. It sort of shocked me really. But once I gave myself some breathing room, I not only got over it, but started getting really excited for the REAL wedding that is taking shape. :)

    0 agree

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