The weddings that weren't

Updated Apr 15 2016
Guest post by crystalflame
Bride and guests rocking out during reception
Photo by Asteria Photography

I'm going to a wedding this weekend and I'm feeling just a little jealous.

It's been over two months since my wedding. It was everything my partner and I could have asked for, in four hours of pure awesome. The professional photos are stunning and capture how very "us" it was. The wedding I'm going to this weekend is also very representative of the bride and groom — a guitar-themed, tequila-shooting wedding.

But a guitar-themed, tequila-shooting wedding is definitely not me… so why am I having wedding envy?

I've been at odds with myself over my wedding because of a disconnect I had a hard time articulating until recently. Planning a wedding is planning two events that happen at the same time:

  • Getting married and starting your life together, and
  • Planning what might be the biggest, most amazing party you'll ever have the opportunity to throw.

My partner and I kept the "starting your life together" part in sharp focus throughout planning: we wanted to be surrounded only by people who are active parts of our lives that we know love us and support our marriage, our cheese shop reception showcased a location that's been important in our relationship, we kept the reception short so we could have a lot of alone time our first married night together, and so on.

But these decisions were directly at odds with throwing a crazy great party. Most of our friends from high school and college weren't invited. There wasn't adequate space for a dance floor or a DJ. Our venue didn't give me a blank slate to work with for decorations or a theme. We weren't there with our guests long enough to do more than eat and chat a bit. This wedding I'm attending this weekend is an open bar, live band, dancing-all-night extravaganza where two people happen to get married. Part of me wishes we had done that.

But… if I had done the crazy-party wedding, I would still have regrets.

The fact is there are 20 weddings I could have planned, and they would have all been authentic to me somehow. I'm still mourning my "Star Wars bash," my "colored-dress elopement," my "big elegant ballroom feast," my "beach destination wedding," my "skydiving vows," the "straight-off-Pinterest, purple, style-shoot-worthy glamour-fest," my "Lord of the Rings dress-up party"…

Out of all of these, I chose the "intimate, short-and-sweet, white-dress event." And I chose it because it's authentic to me AND the person I married, whereas the others would have only represented only one of us.

I'm still a little sad that a wedding is a one-time event, and that we won't ever get to get married as Han and Leia. While it didn't phase me at all on my wedding day, I'm disappointed now that our chocolates were blue instead of teal because if I only get one wedding, it should have been perfect. But I'm getting over it.

We might not have the same budget, but we can still find a way to throw a kick-ass party sometime down the road. We only got one shot to start our married life the way we wanted to, and we nailed that.

  1. Oh man, I feel you on this so hard. In some ways, this is the joy and pain of wedding media… there is just so much great inspiration out there, and there comes a certain point where you have to pick the wedding you're going to have, and then view the rest as just lovely, but not for you.

    Very much related: http://offbeatbride.com/fetishizing

  2. "The fact is there are 20 weddings I could have planned" HAH. I'm approaching our 15th anniversary early next year, & I still feel that way 🙂 The number has prob. increased over time (& esp. since finding Offbeat Bride). Plus, I've changed, he's changed, we've changed. And even at the time, there was no "one" right way to be true to "us" in just one event. We combined a few things that were important & that we could reasonably pull off. But we had to be ruthless about not incorporating every.last.thing. for time / money / crazy-making reasons.

    Currently, I'm fantasizing about a 20th anniversary vow-renewal party, aka Wedding Redo Part II Electric Bugaloo. Where I'll put in some of the things we didn't do before or we've thot of since then. Of course, we may not be able to afford it in 5 years or there could be other problems. If it doesn't happen, I won't cry. We have lots of parties, lots of times to dress up, lots of adventures. And you will too 🙂

  3. Wow, I can totally relate to this. I'm having a hard time selecting a venue for the same reason: it means saying goodbye to all of the possible weddings we could have had. If we go with the industrial venue, it means saying goodbye to the garden-party wedding. If we select the historic house, it means saying goodbye to the restaurant reception I thought I wanted. If we go with the turn-of-the-century theater…well, I wish we could, but then we'd have a tough time affording the rest of the wedding. :O)

    I really want to just PICK ONE ALREADY, but all of these possible weddings are just so beautiful (in my mind), it's difficult to give any of them up!

  4. Oh, so this. With less than three months to go, I am currently mourning my vintage wedding, my retro-fabulous-50s wedding, my literary wedding, my Princess Bride wedding, my Star Wars wedding, my Pinterest-perfect wedding, my starry wedding. . . What I am having is a modern city venue, a vintage-style dress, teapot centrepieces, 50s ceremony music, possibly a rock first dance, bridesmaids in green, traditional invitations. I worry that my wedding is too disjointed, but there's no element of it that we don't love. And the 'we' is important, because my guy wouldn't be *quite* there with a delightful vintage party full of teacups and florals. I love seeing other couples do that, though – it's right for them AND I get to live vicariously 🙂

    Even having the space to mention the weddings I'm mourning helps. Thanks again for writing this!

  5. Love this. And remember: Your day WILL be perfect because you'll have said yes to the most awesome person you know, and you get to spend the rest of your life falling even more deeply in love with them. I'd say that's success.

  6. I totally understand this. Your wedding and mine sound very similar. My husband and I were very focused on having a small intimate wedding with just those who we felt were our major supporters. We knew that having a baby was going to be expensive for us (known infertility and my husband is trans) so we opted to save our money to start a family. We had fewer than 30 people at our wedding, our reception was a brunch and everything was over by early afternoon. It was a wonderful wedding and I have great memories of it but I wish there had been a bit more of a balls out celebration of our union. The fact that my entire family accepted my spouse as part of the family felt like a huge thing and now I have moments (especially as my cousins are getting married) that I wish we would have made a bigger deal of the whole thing.

  7. I've been married going on four years, and sometimes the regret for the wedding that never was is still there. I even catch myself thinking, "Next time Todd and I get married, we should do xyz!" And then I realize that, barring a vow-renewal sometime down the road (which obviously would be a lower-key affair than our wedding day), we won't get that opportunity.

    I will say this though: there is nothing stopping you and your husband from hiring a photographer for a couple hours' photo shoot to create and capture some of those moments-that-coulda-been. We did it, and the experience and pictures were amazing.

  8. Yes! Thank you for writing this…I thought I was the only bride who felt this way! I loved (and miss) my wedding held three months ago, but I also kept thinking of all the different weddings I could have planned. I wish my husband and I could get married every year!

  9. We had a 2 day wedding – one more classic – white (crochet) dress, black suit, only family wedding and the next day – big Paris vintage wedding. He wanted a big white dress-black suit wedding, I wanted a colorful vintage dress and only family wedding. So we kinda mixed them up 🙂
    But, yeah, I still mourn my "red dress wedding", my "gothic wedding in a castle", my "eco-vegan-picnic wedding" and at least 5 more ideas that I had in the initial planning 😀
    But I don't envy the "normal" weddings we get invited too -I feel the traditional wedding dresses very uncomfortable…

  10. I really like the idea of making all the other weddings into anniversary parties. Like, the intimate just the two of us anniversary. The weekend away at a posh hotel with all our friends anniversary. The giant picnic reception on a hill anniversary. The Victorian anniversary. The lets have every type of cake we can imagine anniversary and all be terribly sick the next day.

  11. I guess many brides and grooms here on offbeatbride can understand your feelings. You just get to see so many awesome weddings that would totally work for you but you can only have one of them.
    I always cheered myself up and said: You know what? I am great at throwing parties. I can do a party with another theme any time again! For my birthday, for our anniversary, hell we can marry again at any time we want 🙂
    And I'm sure my friends would not expect me to pay for everything but have their share by doing a large potluck or something.
    Friends of mine married 3 times btw with 3 different settings. Just because they could not decide 🙂

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