What does being a bride feel like?

car seat bride
Thanks to Dave Appleby for adding this photo to the Offbeat Bride pool!
So, what do you do if you don't FEEL like a bride?

I don't know what to do; I want my man (I'm madly, head over heels in love), I want a wedding (I love parties and I love planning), but I just haven't felt like a bride…

Does anyone else go through this?

-Meghan

Hmm: loving your partner, wanting a wedding, and loving parties … sounds like you feel like a bride to me!

I think the issue here is less than you don't "feel like a bride" and more that you have some sort of preconception about what feeling like a bride is supposed to entail.

Obsession with wedding magazines? Sudden teary-eyed-ness over ring pillows? Burgeoning interest in romantic comedies? Sobbing over other people's weddings? Bursting out singing "I feel pretty!" in front of friends?

I didn't feel any of these things.

Who told you brides feel some certain way?

For me, "feeling like a bride" felt just like being myself, but maybe just a tiny bit more excited because there was a big party on the horizon and I got to dress up.

By my standards, "feeling like a bride" could include anything from dorking out over which action figures to put on your cake to scheming the bride & groom's ceremonial First Dirt Bike Scrimmage.

And for some brides like Jen Moon, yes: it DOES mean bursting into "I feel pretty," as minute 1:20 of this video clearly demonstrates.

I think the better question to ask yourself than "Why don't I feel like I think a bride should?" is "What does being a bride feel like to me?"

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  1. Freaking Awesome!!!! It is probably not going to happen at MY wedding, but I wish it could!

    2 agree
  2. I felt how Meghan phrased it for much of our wedding planning. The message (clearly not from OBB, but from family and other sources of WICness) seemed to be consistently about "The Bride", not our wedding. I felt like me – me planning something amazing and fun where there would be vows, rings and cake – but still me. It was hard to ignore the message that I should be somehow transformed into The Bride, and focus on enjoying myself planning our wedding… As ever, Ariel has succinctly phrased something I've struggled for months to articulate.

    4 agree
  3. Oh, thank you so much for this post!! I have had so many people ask me if I feel like a bride yet, or if I am going to be a Bridezilla… there are so many preconceived notions of what it is like to be an engaged woman out there!!

    3 agree
  4. Totally agree with Ariel, but I want to add this:

    You don't feel like a bride because you're NOT a bride yet. Being a bride is a transitional moment, and it lasts for just one day. On that day, *trust me* you are going to feel like a bride… even if what you feel is nothing like what your preconceived notions of bride-dom are. And I suspect you'll be able to dig back in your memory, and remember that feeling and smile for the rest of your life.

    And sometimes being engaged/ wedding planning plain old blows. If we're being honest. And YEAH, it feels like a major life transition, wonderful and hard (even if you've been with your partner forever). Something new is being born, you have to breathe, and let it come.

    9 agree
  5. Last week my friend Anne Sofie and I did some testhairdos. Cocktails were involved… The first do was pretty and what I had planned. Very nice. She wanted to try something else. A big updo which looked a lot like me notion of a bridal do but I just looked kinda goofy, I put on the veil and danced around making silly faces. And thought: "what the hell are we going to do, I look stupid when I look like a bride…"

    But….

    We tried one last do. It took ages and I was getting tired and a little drunk. But then something happened. Anne Sofie put the veil on. I looked in the mirror. And I saw a bride. Me. A bride. For the first time I felt like a bride and it became too much, so I cried a little. It is a little ridiculous, but at the time I was just overwhelmed.

    So that's what did it for me: seeing myself looking super pretty and just KNOWING this washow I was supposed to look.

    4 agree
    • this here is what I''m waiting for. The wedding is in a month, I picked up me dress yesterday and I still haven't had that moment. Could just be an amazing lak of self condfidence

  6. I felt that. And I think, for me anyway, that it was because I had no one to really share many of those "bridey" moments with. We chose not to have attendents for many reasons, but if I was to give advice to future brides, I'd suggest roping someone into being a "wedding buddy," if not an actual best wo/man. Mom lives out of town, I was/am in a new town, so my friends (busy with their own husbands and children) all lived out of town. Ordering my dress online from Target was great because it saved me a ton of money on a cute dress, but it's just not the same – pulling it out of the box and trying it on in a rush before your husband-to-be gets home from work.

    Because isn't that what "feeling like a bride" is all about – an experience with others? Your groom, your best friend when you're trying on a dress, your mom when you can't believe you like the same save-the-date/rock poster?

    3 agree
  7. I think one reason for the disconnect is that a "Bride" is a thing, an icon. Capital-B Brides are not role or a job title or even a state of being, they're a cultural touchstone, a character like Mickey Mouse. After I got engaged I was in Macy's and saw this huge porcelain sculpture of a Bride, and suddenly it hit me – my god, that was supposed to be me! More accurately, I was supposed to be it! I am going to be that Bride thing everyone's been talking about!

    But I wasn't it. I didn't have a train or a veil or even a white dress. The idea of a Bride had been entrenched in my mind by magazines and movies and friends' weddings and everything else as something white and expensive and the center of attention – and I wasn't that! There are standards and expectations to live up to, and I think it takes a while to accept yourself as a bride when you're not cut out for being a Bride.

  8. I'm so glad i found this post. I'm not alone. I have loved weddings my entire life. I couldn't wait to be engaged and plan my own special day. I've been looking forward to it for years! Now that I am finally here, I can't wait for it to be over. It seems that no matter how low key I try to be, other people force me to play the role of the bride. I don't want to be the center of attention and have everyone fussing over me. I've been more depressed than excited lately and I was feeling like such a deadbeat bride. My mom and my aunt are acting more like brides than I am. It seems like so much hype has been built up around the bride position in society that it might be impossible to fulfill.

    3 agree
    • Hey Just Love – yeah me too!! I've planned some kick-arse parties in the past (one do even had around 2500 people!) all out there, and a bit offbeat, but now it's my turn, and I'm depressed about it. All I want is something low key, and yes, a little unconventional, but somehow, with others involved it keeps coming back to what everybody else thinks a wedding/bride should be. I've started keeping all my 'bride' ideas to myself infact, just to avoid the polite 'looks' and silences. It's a real bummer. OBB has been a real saviour, just to know there are lots of others out there doing things their own way – and the joy of it shows.

      3 agree
  9. Jen's wedding is so freaking awesome! I am – literally – over the Moon xD

    On feeling like a bride:
    My partner and I just decided to get married. I not even feeling like "really" engaged yet, let alone like a bride 😉 Thanks Kate and Ariel for the recommendation, I might try that one out.

    1 agrees
  10. Excellent answer, Ariel. It's so true – the expectations and imagery that revolve around The Bride often seem to overshadow The Wedding or (sadly, as it's by far the most important aspect) The Marriage that comes after.

    I felt the same way, actually, the day I graduated with my MFA. If this is such a momentous occasion, why doesn't it feel that way? &c. I think it's kind of like asking someone "do you feel older?" on the day of their birthday: no, of course they don't. Sometimes it hits you a little at time; sometimes it hits all at once, but long after the fact. And sometimes, it never quite feels the way it's made out to be in novels, but that doesn't mean it's without meaning.

    2 agree
  11. Many of the stereotypes and traditions that people tend to associate with being a bride have always made me uncomfortable. I felt like I was being forced into a persona that is not me if I were to adopt the "bride" label. My fiance and I are very independent people who don't like being told what to think. Once we started planning things our way, I felt more comfortable with the term bride. I was still myself, I could wear a black dress and be a bride. The more we plan for our future (wedding and beyond) the less I think about the label bride and focus on how lucky I am to be able to spend the rest of my life with him. Because that is the important thing.

    1 agrees
  12. I think Hybrid hits it right on the head–sometimes we think of "Bride" as a concrete thing that we are supposed to become simply through the everyday-but-once-in-a-lifetime act of becoming engaged/getting married.

    I don't think I ever felt like that bride. Like the Bride Consciousness took residence in my headspace. But I definitely felt present and completely me when I stood in front of friends and family and said my vows with my husband.

    1 agrees
  13. I LOVED!!! this article. Finally, other ladies who feel as I do right now! My fiance & I got engaged almost 2 months ago, amid a bunch of family drama, so it was kind of brushed aside. Fall semester started at the end of August so we have been in full school-mode, so we haven't even thought about weddings or anything like that. With Brian in his senior year and me working a full-time job and being a full-time dance student with rehersals for a concert, i barely feel like a person much less a bride. In fact, the only real times I remember that we are engaged is when I either forget my ring in the bathroom or I see it in ballet. Having a date that is 2 years away doesnt help much either

    Then I think about the alternative: do I want to run out and buy every wedding mag that is on the shelves? Do I really want to start looking at table linens, napkins, and anything Martha Stewart pastes her name on? Do I want to e one of those girls who is seriously looking at dresses 2 years out and forming a diet plan? No; like we have all said, we may be brides/engaged, but we are also people with shit going on in our lives. We are both working on graduating college. We plan on moving next May to Seattle. We plan on saving for the wedding. Get off my case already, because I AM a bride.

    • Oh my gosh, you are like my life sister. When I proposed to my fiance, we were both seniors in college, and with our schedules, even after graduation, it's hard to think seriously about our wedding. But I know it will come with time, and I know that my own feelings are my own. I don't have to FEEL any particular way, because this is about me and him, not some preconceived notion.

  14. I'd be so curious to hear what Meghan thinks a bride is supposed to feel like. I know that I had that confusion myself and ultimately decided that I had enough to think about without worrying that I wasn't joyful or giggly or coquettish enough or whatever.

    I highly suggest the book "The Conscious Bride" by Sheryl Paul. I was given it by a friend when I got engaged and I've referred back to it often in the past year that I've been planning a wedding. She talks a lot about the cultural constructs, history of traditions, anthropological take on weddings, but the most relevant and reassuring part of the book are all of the first-hand accounts from other brides about the experience. And all of them talk honestly about how the process can really make you question yourself.

    Totally reassuring to know that a lot of brides (dare I say probably all) have moments of depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, etc during the whole transition. You're undergoing a major commitment and life change – nobody can decide how that's supposed to feel except for you. Just cause you aren't always puppies and roses, doesn't mean you're not ready to make a commitment to your loved one.

    2 agree
  15. I think we're too often obsessed with what we should be feeling in a certain circumstances. These obsession is the biggest on events like marriage or funeral. But it happens all the time.

    1 agrees
  16. Hey Ariel!
    I wanted to share a story with you. I'm a HUGE fan, and I'm 16. My Mom came home (we don't get along) and decided that she wanted to watch reality TV. Well, okay says I, rather reluctantly. So she turns on this show called My Fair Wedding with David Tuterra. People Got this guy, 3 weeks before their wedding, to suck the life, coolness, and creativity from their wedding! All this in the name of (and I'm quoting him here) "a modern chic classy wedding". All I wanted was to jump into the TV, grab the bride, sit her down in front of the Computer, and show her this website!
    I lovew you guys, and it would be so Epically Amazing if you all got your own TV show.

    2 agree
    • I'm watching it right now and trying not to yell at the screen "F YOU! Lollipop bouquets rock! stop ragging on them and giving her the stink eye about them!"

      Even the commercials you see these alt brides come up near him and he touches them and they turn into cookie cutter brides in boring white dresses.

      lame.

      2 agree
  17. While I don't feel like a WIC-bride, I most certainly do feel like a bride. I don't gush over strapless floaty ball gowns, I don't worry that my bridal shower will impress (I didn't expect one, but MOH insists that I have one), and I don't give a damn what my guests wear (they can show up in ripped jeans and concert Ts if they want, who cares as long as they're there). I'm more excited about starting in on boiling and shining up my baby food jars and chilling with my best guy friend at a ren faire in 2 weeks.

    • I feel the same way, being more excited about other future events of my married life too. First house, first travel, first car, first baby … it all sounds more exciting that the wedding.

  18. ' Bursting out singing "I feel pretty!" in front of friends? '
    Hehe that just made me snort 🙂

  19. I totally understand where Meghan is coming from here! With me it has to do with being in love. I kind of expected that when I was in "Let's get married and have a billion babies"-love I'd feel different. I'd change into some sort of culturally acceptable butterfly or something and there'd be these moments where I'd have a silly grin on my face and think about my boy but for the most part I was still this smart-mouthed nerd. It really threw me for a loop and I'd sit there and have these debates with myself over whether I was truly in love with him or not and how if I wasn't I should break up with him because it was mean to lead him on this way. You know what? I chose him, every time, because I'd start to think about ending it and then think "But I really like him and he's really sweet and funny" and start to get sad. So I'd decide to stay with him another month and reevaluate later and so it when for a while. Then he proposed and I said "yes" because I couldn't imagine being without him unless something dire happened.
    Now I'm having similar issues with being a bride because I'm still the same level-headed loud-mouth I've always been. I think that we get ideas in our heads from books, movies, and TV show about how a bride is supposed to look or feel and how a woman in love is supposed to look and feel and that gets stuck in our heads. So as an avid consumer of books, movies, and TV, I felt like I might not truly be in love or be a "correct" bride because I didn't feel or act the way those girls all seem to. Discounting, of course, the women from Grey's Anatomy who all were just as neurotic in love and wedding planning as they were out of it.

    1 agrees
  20. We are eloping and I will be wearing a cream skirt and top bought at Zellers (a store similar to Target in Canada). So I don't feel like "a bride", and I didn't want to. I refused to have a day where I was the center of attention. It will be just the two of us and the two legally required witnesses. I'm not "a bride", I'm "getting married". I don't want to look like a blushing bride, like a princess, or like an angel.

  21. My wedding was last weekend and I've just returned from my honeymoon so this post is timely for me.
    I remember feeling like Meghan up to and on my wedding day and I think alot of it had to do with the way people were treating me and their expectations for how a bride should feel and I was not meeting them. Asking me things like "are you nervous?" and "you must be SO busy getting things ready for the big day!" and I was like "hmm, I'm not nervous and I'm not extremely busy- is there something wrong with me?"
    But, no, there was nothing wrong with me. I was simply doing my own thing- marrying my love in a simple, small, casual, offbeat wedding and that's why I wasn't nervous or stressed-out or over-the moon- giddy like the way people think "Brides" should be.

  22. I totally understand this and feeling it at the moment. I got engaged a couple of months ago, but have not felt like a "Bride". I am not a girlie girl and the things I an excited about is the Tipi village I'm having, buying 40 fleece blankets wholesale for wedding favours (English summer + tipi + cold!), choosing wedding wellies for me and the bridemaids!! The silly things! I am not even bothered about my dress or the flowers etc etc … I don't think I'll feel like a bride until the morning when I get up, get dressed up and realise this is the day I get to marry my wonderful Chris is here.
    So if I were you don't worry about it, enjoy planning the bits you are excited about and you'll feel like a bride on the day. Until then let everyone else flap & cluck about, and just be your cool and happy self which is why some lucky guy picked you in the first place!

  23. I'm in the same place as ninja, and have been thinking a little bit about this whilst we've been away. I never felt "Bridal". I did not have the dress shopping thing (the beauty of custom made!), we made pretty much everything and didn't have much help or involvement from other people. I did get excited about stuff, but not really in a "this for our wedding would be perfect!" kind of way, but more like a "how cool would this be for our party?!" kind of way.

    On the day and the run up, I was not nervous. Or excited. In fact, I never got excited. I had a little "oh my goodness I'm about to go to my wedding!" feeling and was all a bit emotional during the ceremony, but steadied myself thinking about the amount of shared debt we already have. I felt very there, and the whole day was very us and exactly what we wanted, but weddingy? Bridal? No. Not even on the day. Best party ever? Most fun and best outfit known to mankind? Hell yes.

  24. (oops, I have rambled and needed to go into 2 comments!)

    I now also do not feel married. I feel like…. We had this great party, and an awesome holiday, and now we get back to being us, without the bizarre audience we had for a day. I wonder if I missed out on all these things – the WIC feelings sound so princessy and lovely to have. Would I have liked to have felt like bursting into “I’m so pretty”? I think I might have. But I also think it might not have been very me (which came as a surprise – weddings appear to be this huge journey of self discovery!) – and being me is something that I think I’d much rather have had than a feeling of “bride”.

  25. All interesting…all my adult life I've been ambivalent about the fuss of weddings, sometimes testy about friends who seemed to me to be Acting Like Brides, and comfortable with the idea of being the center of attention in a way that I could never and still can) imagine in my own case. I must say one nice side effect of getting engaged (& at almost 40) is that I feel retrospectively more understanding for all those (young!!) brides-to-be who were actually under a lot of pressure. I'm also grateful I'm so darn old, because I'm somewhat better at not being touchy these days. So maybe that's the bride (and the me) I'm trying to be on my best days. Understanding, focused on the joy of my relationship, and not threatened by the barrage of intimidating advice and tasks. I'm trying to think of this as a tribute to my fiance, greatest guy on earth, who's taking his own stuff (this is his 2nd marriage) in stride…plus it's just good for my soul.

    This attitude helps when well-meaning folks give you the speech that starts with "You've got to do things just the way you want" and then lead into something that sounds more like "you've got to do X." This makes me a combination of grumpy and anxious, but I'm doing myself a favor if I tell myself it's not worth getting upset about.

    Love reading this blog!

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