So you feel like you gave in: 3 ways to bounce back from wedding planning disappointments

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You can rest assured that it's going to happen at some point during your wedding planning process: that perfect venue for your vintage submarine-themed wedding is going to fall through. You battle with your in-laws to try to keep the guestlist under 100 people, and you find yourself putting stamps on 200 invitations. Your dreams of locally-sourced, delicately spiced catering is going to be replaced by your mother's “beef or chicken” menu that reminds you of funeral food (true story!).

You're going to be frustrated. You're going to feel like you gave in to family pressure. You're going to feel disappointed and gritty and maybe even a little pissed off. Wedding planning disappointments: THEY WILL HAPPEN. Since there's no avoiding them completely, the best you can do is have your emotional toolkit ready to help you recover.

I'm here to help with that.

Practice gratitude

Make a list of all the things you are grateful for in your wedding planning process. Let's say you gave in on the flowers, your mother-in-law steamrolling your dreams of a butterfly origami bouquet and now you're going to walk down the aisle with the white roses you told yourself just weren't your style.

Let's start small with the gratitudes, and then go big.

  • Did your mother-in-law pay for them? How kind of her! (Many couples pay for weddings out of their own pockets, and isn't it nice that you have someone helping pay for yours!)
  • Are you having flowers at all? How lucky for you! (Plenty of folks skip flowers completely because they're just out of budget. Isn't it nice that you get to have flowers?)
  • Do you have an aisle to walk down? Fucking sweet! (Ooh, you have your venue booked? You're doing great!)
  • You can actually GET married? AWESOME! (Let's talk about the hundreds of thousands of couples who can't legally get married at all — aren't you lucky that you're able to?)

Obviously, the specifics will be different for every particular situation, but the idea here is to get your appreciation juices flowing. Sure, you might not be getting that bouquet you'd envisioned, but generally almost every bride has a small swarm of awesome things just waiting to be noticed and appreciated.

Savor compromise

With Offbeat Brides especially, there can be this “vision machismo” that sneaks into wedding planning, where it's YOUR VISION and YOUR VISION ALONE. There's a lot of pride around non-traditional visions, and it can be easy to start crowing about how I STUCK TO MY GUNS! and I ACHIEVED MY MOST SPECIALIST SNOWFLAKE WEDDING EVAR. As a special snowflake myself, I totally get it — but unless you're eloping, weddings are community events. And community means compromise.

Instead of being disappointed that it's not the ALL ME, ALL THE TIME show, find ways to revel in joy of finding compromises. Dad wants to walk you down the aisle, but that doesn't fit with your aerialist circus theme? What if your dad was lowered to the altar with you in an aerial hoop? Your groom wants to wear a tuxedo from his college team's colors (orange and purple!) but you were thinking more of a understated, rustic palette? Start exploring shades of rust and eggplant!

Shift your goal from getting your way all the way to finding the perfect, sweet, creative compromise. Bask in the sweet glory of finding the agreements. Anyone can create the perfect Pin board of dreamy visions for their fantasy wedding — but it takes true creativity to work with the people around you to create a reality where your community feels comfortable.

Reality check

If you've read even only a few of our real wedding profiles, you've heard brides say things like, “I wish I hadn't stressed so much.” Now, if it was really as easy as that, Offbeat Bride wouldn't exist. I know that it's easier said than done. It's like going back and telling your 13-year-old self that someday the world won't feel like it's collapsing because that cute boy saw your period stain in homeroom. Even if you suspect it might feel true someday, it's hard to find reassurance in the thick of the moment. Worse, it can feel fucking condescending to have someone cluck at you to “just calm down.”

So I won't say it. Instead, I'll let other people say it. Seriously, go read.

How have YOU recovered from wedding planning compromises and disappointments? We want to hear your success stories!

Comments on So you feel like you gave in: 3 ways to bounce back from wedding planning disappointments

  1. Thanks, I needed that, ever since I had to go from my vision of converted barn with locally sourced food to n all inclusive wedding package for budgety reasons.

  2. I had a couple of these moments too. My dad wanted to do a slide show for my husband and I during his speech, but since it was outside I wasn’t sure how that would work, roll a tv across the grass? What about blowing the power that we were already stressing? Would everyone be able to see it if it was on a tv screen? What about timing? We had our venue for a limited time and everything was on a strict schedule. I still wanted the slide show so we arranged it to play during our rehearsal dinner which took place in a room with a movie theater sized screen! Perfect! Everyone could see it and it could play as long as we liked.

    We also got really upset when we realized that there wasn’t enough money to go to this awesome sustainable resort in Costa Rica that we had planned for our honeymoon. In fact there wasn’t money to go anywhere. Turns out that my husband’s ex-mentor teacher from grad school gave us 10 free days at her condo on the local coast. It was exactly what we needed. We even were able to have friends over for a little while and a lot of the cash we got at the wedding was spent on eating out and entertainment so we didn’t have to spend a dime for our honeymoon! (and we felt like we were stimulating a more local economy) Compromising can sometimes lead to something better than you ever expected.

  3. Ariel,

    You always seem to know what I need to hear. I had been struggling with a MAJOR shift in my wedding (different state, doubled guest list, more traditional than I wanted, etc) and I was disappointed.
    “What do you mean I’m not getting married by Elvis?”
    “Why am I paying for a wedding in LA not Vegas??”

    But then I read your article and I have to remember there are so many great things for me to be grateful for:
    – my wedding moved to LA so I can have my VERY elderly family members present during my special day (a very important part of my day)
    – I’m having a more traditional mix of elements in my wedding because I want those closest to me to be comfortable
    – However my day turns out, wherever it’s held, whoever attends, whatever I wear… ultimately it will be fodder for stories, but none of it means more than the exchanging of vows between me and the Mr.
    So long as the day stays focused on us and our love and our commitment to each other, how could I NOT love “my” day???

    Again… Thanks for helping me regain my perspective Ariel
    (and for not being “fucking condescending”)

  4. and add to this list the bottom line of all bottom lines! No matter what goes wrong, no matter how different it turns out than what you had planned, at the end of the day, you’ll be MARRIED to the person you LOVE! So it’s a win no matter what.

  5. So true, so true. I generally try to live my life by the old serenity prayer (although sans “god” and “amen” because that just isn’t how I roll) and it’s super-uper-duper true in the wedding planning. There are things I can do/change and things I can’t and that’s ok because I’ll still get married and nobody’s going to starve to death if we run out of appetizers and blah, blah, blah. Battles worth fighting and battles not. Nobody’s going to forget it’s “my [OUR!] day”, even if our own personal brands of whatever aren’t plastered over every single element. I think the point about appreciating the positive is really important, too…I’m so lucky to have a found an amazing person who wants to spend his life with me, and I’m super fortunate to have incredibly supportive parents who (while sometimes driving me batshit crazy) always have my back and are easing the financial burden a great deal. Hell, the future hubs wouldn’t be getting anything in the ballpark of what he wanted if we were footing the bill for everything, because he wanted to invite soooo many people. A friendly reminder of these basic truths is always appreciated!

  6. I love the advice “savor compromise.” It’s something I don’t think anyone does enough of, in wedding planning and in daily life. By compromising, you’re getting through major life decisions like a grown-ass adult. Strike a superhero pose and relish the fact that ur doin’ it rite.

  7. I have to both agree and disagree on this one.
    While I agree that it is important to not sweat the small stuff and that compromise is a good thing I often stop and wonder when weddings went from “it’s the bride and groom’s special day” to “i need to do what is going to make every single guest comfortable and warm and fuzzy – it’s THEIR needs that matter, not mine”.
    I’m getting married, for the first time, to my best friend next year – April 2013 – and I couldn’t be more excited, but I’m already hearing how I should “do this and do that”.
    If I’m paying for the entire wedding, myself, shouldn’t I have the last word on how things are done?
    I feel that if I start getting pushed and bullied into doing things that I don’t want to do – just to make someone else feel validated – I would rather squash the whole thing and elope.
    Those who are “offering advice” are married so they have already had their special day – now it’s our turn.
    I’m sure that my thoughts would be considered “selfish” to the Off Beat masses, but it is OUR day so shouldn’t things be done OUR way?

    • I think the stakes are a little different when you’re paying for the entire wedding yourself. That was the case with my wedding, and you can bet we were less open to compromise — it was our cash on the table, so it was way more of our ideas.

      That said, as Rachel brings up below, compromise isn’t just about other people — it’s about working with YOUR PARTNER, too. As you say, it’s “our wedding,” but sometimes “our” isn’t a united front.

    • Actually, weddings went from a fun day and celebrating with everyone to “IT”S OUR DAY!!!”. And when you take it too far, then that’s where the whole “Bridezilla” cliche/stereotype/whathaveyou thing comes in to play. People forget that they invited people to come to a party, and a good host/hostess is supposed to think about their guests needs and make them comfortable and happy so they have a good time.

    • There are different types of compromise. I can give you two from my own wedding: internal and external.

      Internal- I found a number of awesome, funky venues that ended up not even making the venue shortlist because they were too pricey and/or would have required more coordination work than I could reasonably commit to. I had to let go of a major part of my wedding vision and go with a package deal at a place that does multiple weddings each week.

      External- Parties other than you and your partner want to push their ideas on you. First, try to separate overeager “idea sharing” from “idea shoving”. Second, you’re probably not the only ones attending your wedding and you will (hopefully) still be involved with these people in the future. My mom freaked out when I said I wasn’t carrying anything as I walked down the aisle. Explaining that I would be holding onto her, my father’s and stepfather’s arms when I went down the aisle and my hands would be occupied for much of the ceremony was not enough to stop a meltdown over my deviating so far from her vision of “the bridal maiden” (her words, I kid you not). So I delegated. I told her that if she wanted me to carry flowers that badly, she could make me a bouquet from coffee filters. My artist grandma (who couldn’t attend due to health) painted the flowers, they were also the centerpiece at my table and hotdamn if they weren’t a spectacular sight:

      At the end of the day, there will probably be both kinds of compromises. You pick your battles and take a lot of deep breaths to plan an awesome celebration.

      • Hot damn is right! Those “compromise flowers” are gorgeous, and again, people who loved you wanted you to have them…and made that happen. I just fail to see how that could possibly be a bad thing. Of course my mindset about my wedding is entirely different. For me the whole thing is about community. I have a small community of people that I care about, who love us, and I want to share this event with them. That’s my bottom line, that’s my theme, that’s the whole damn reason for the wedding. Otherwise, we’d have eloped to vegas already and done the deed.

    • This is kind of what I’m dealing with right now… people who are married are giving advice that I didn’t ask for. I appreciate the help and thought, but my fiance and I are paying for everything and we have a good idea of the kind of wedding we want. We have mostly been fighting his mother on a lot of things. She’s a LOT more traditional than us and has outright disapproved of some of our choices. There are a few things that I “let her have”(throwing me a bridal shower that I don’t want, basically owning half the guest list) because they seemed like pointless battles. I still feel like we’re doing us as much as we can in this situation.

      I don’t think it’s selfish for you to have a vision of what you want. And while it is a good idea to try and make sure guests are happy, it really is impossible to please everyone. For example, we’re movie buffs, so we’re doing a movie themed wedding. But we’re avoiding references from supersuper indie movies that no one else has seen even though we love them because the references would just be lost on everyone anyway.

      The best way that I’ve found to deal with unwanted wedding advice is to smile, say something like “Oh cool, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll give it some thought” and just do what you were going to do anyway. lol

  8. This was very timely. My feyonce and I have only just begun to have conversations about what we want and I’ve been a bit disappointed to learn that his wedding vision (OK well surprise #1: he has a wedding vision…THANKS A LOT, MEDIA WHO TOLD ME MY WHOLE LIFE GUYS DON’T CARE ABOUT WEDDINGS) is a LOT more traditional than mine. I think it just goes back to what we value in life and how we choose to represent those values publicly. It’s hard because I expected that any pressure I felt would be more from our families who had different ideas about what was the “right” way to have a wedding…I didn’t expect he and I would differ so much.

    I love that this post reminds us to be proud of the compromise, because you’re right — there’s a lot of pressure to be your own special snowflake. But how can you be a special snowflake when there’s another person involved?! You can’t really. So compromising and loving — not resenting — the people you care about and the wedding you have seems like a really amazing thing and I’m going to aim to be proud of that and not feel guilty about it.

    Anyway, great post! (PS I’d love to see more posts on Offbeat Bride about ending up with a way more traditional wedding than you ever imagined and being OK with that.)

    • You have no idea how happy it makes me to know I’m not the only one with this problem lol. I’d love to see an article about it at some point. Fortunately, we’ve got a 4-year engagement ahead of us to work out the compromises, and FH is at least willing to let me finish talking when I bring up things like TARDIS-shaped wedding cakes….

  9. This was exactly the article I needed to read right now! So reassuring to hear from someone who has been there, done that. Right now I’m dealing with the fact that my fiance and I have to travel to a town we despise four hours away for our wedding, when the venue we LOVE is down by us. Not to mention that the family is dead set on us having our wedding up by them, but they aren’t helping to pay for anything and won’t let us use their expansive backyard for the wedding because getting married in a church is apparently the only way to do it. Thankfully, at the end of it, as you said…I’ll be married to the most wonderful person I know!

  10. Sadly, I got roped into a “small” wedding when I wanted to elope.

    Why? Immigration, we have to look like a “real couple” and not 2 friends who signed the paperwork so I can stay in the country. Canadian gov won’t renew my work permit and it’s up in 6 months, so that’s making my fiancee and I look “suspicious” even though we have been engaged long before I got my nasty permit surprise.

    So I agreed to a small “family wedding” with a few close friends (grand total 30 people) has now become a 75 people wedding. It’s amazing how many relatives have come out of the woodwork when there’s free food and booze.

    In-Laws are paying for everything and that makes me feel like shiat. My parents haven’t paid a dime for me since I got my first job and I value my financial independence. Coming from a poorer family it’s alien to me that people just have a few thousand to drop on a wedding from outta thin air.

    This isn’t what I wanted at all :(. I’m freaking out from all the stress and the idea of getting up in front of 75 people. We had to plan everything in 3 weeks as well because my fiancee’s mom is having major hip surgery next month and can’t wait.

    • Perhaps you can approach this as an opportunity to personalize a template, rather than planning everything from scratch. Instead of staying focused on the big picture, figure out what you both want for the details. I went to a wedding whose reception kinda made me sad because the couple had handed over all planning to the bride’s mom after they “lost” the fight over wedding size. None of the details from the flowers (she’s allergic) to the huge swing band (the couple doesn’t like to dance and don’t know how to swing dance) reflected the couple’s personalities at all because they were all-or-nothing about the planning. There may be decisions that have become forgone conclusions but you can still have space invaders on the place cards or Venetian mask centerpieces, for example.

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