So, you’re getting married! Congratulations. Your ordinarily desolate email inbox is full of contracts and proposals. Your drives are spent listening to potential wedding songs. Your brain has been inundated with constant visions of what the day will feel like, look like, smell like. I bet everyone who has congratulated you has told you some version of, “It’s your day; just do what makes you happy.” Or maybe they said, “Weddings are so expensive. We just eloped and spent the money on a house.” It seems everyone has some token of advice or insight, but I’m here to fill you in on a few things no one told me.
1. You’re going to feel every single emotion—not just the happy ones.
Despite everyone saying the wedding day flies by, my wedding morning was the longest morning of my life. Hours felt like days as I moseyed around the house drinking mimosas and watching my loved ones have their hair and makeup done. I felt a deep sense of relaxation and peace. Then, suddenly, a dread set in. Small, minor, to be expected things started to go wrong, and a fear about how my wedding day expectations may have set me up for failure arose. Suddenly I felt panicky and anxious, and tears welled up in my eyes. Then, the best wedding photographer in the world (shoutout to AbiQ baby) pulled me to a window, put my hands against it and reminded me to breathe and just feel the present moment.
Shortly thereafter, the go-go-go set in. Get in the dress. Get on the shoes. Get the photos. Get the flowers. Get the garter. Grab your vows. Get into the car. At that point, all feelings stop temporarily and a numbness sets in. By far, the most intense moment of the day was the minute prior to walking down the aisle. The most insane rush of adrenaline and overwhelm hit me like a freight train. I remember shaking and wondering if I could even pick up my feet to walk. Then suddenly your feet meet the end of the aisle and BOOM—there is so much to look at. Husband. Decor. Omg that looks perfect. Omg that looks awful. Wow, I haven’t seen my aunt in 10 years. OMG stop looking around you should be looking at the groom! You’re off to the races—and yes, just as they say, it’s a blur from there on out.
Except you WILL remember the feelings. Yes, you will be elated to marry your person. You will be excited to have all your favorite people in one room. You will be in a general state of euphoria. Yet you will also feel disappointment about the moments that didn’t go as planned. You will feel frustration at your inability to talk to any one guest for more than a few minutes. After the wedding, you will think, What was the point of having all these people I love in one room when I hardly got to talk to most of them? You will feel anxious to hurry past all the formalities so you can actually enjoy your party. You will also feel sad that the event has come and, just as quickly, it will go.
Ready for the real kicker? These emotions don’t just happen day of. I experienced them for weeks. The day after the wedding was just a full on cry fest—a complete release of every bottled up emotion felt through the whole process. Then, every time you replay the day in your mind, the same or new emotions emerge. At dinner about a week into our honeymoon, I could not fight back tears after remembering a certain wedding moment. I became a blubbery mess at a Michelin star establishment. I suppose all of this feeling serves a purpose in reminding you just how significant of a decision you and your person made.
2. You’re going to learn about the people you love
People will surprise you, some for better and some for worse. You probably already know that you care more about your wedding day than anyone else does. But some of the people who are expected to pretend to care won’t. And others, who you would never have relied on, will blow you away. At the end of the day, planning a wedding is a true lesson of who is genuinely in your corner as a cheerleader for YOU and who will only support you when it aligns with their own personal agenda.
3. You don’t actually like everything you think you like
Your wedding won’t please everyone, INCLUDING YOURSELF. That wedding dress silhouette you always dreamed of wearing? It looks bad on you. That invite you mailed out? It’s ugly. The flower you thought you loved? It doesn’t look right. And so on. Luckily, if you’re as much of an analyzer as I am, you will discover many of these things pre-wedding. But certainly, some will slip through the cracks, and that’s okay!
4.… And it’s not going to look like your vision
Additionally, the more time you’ve spent dreaming up the big day, the more off you will be. What’s that quote? Oh, expectations set you up for disappointment. And BOY, DO THEY. Look, somehow nothing about my day was what I imagined. I imagined a warm cocktail hour with the personalized corn hole set we bought. I imagined looking like a damn masterpiece, without a single hair out of place. I imagined a warm walk around the venue at sunset for photos. Instead, it was POURING. My hair completely fell out before the end of the ceremony. There was no view, no sunset, and by dinnertime I had a nice layer of mud between my toes. And let me tell you, it was disappointing. It took me a few weeks to shake the “perfect” day I had imagined and fully appreciate the perfect day that it was. Also, I don’t believe this was solely because we had unexpected weather. No matter what, the vision I dreamt up existed solely in my head and could have never exactly been. I promise eventually the excitement of the tangible memory formed far outweighs the expectation.
5. You won’t taste the food
This goes along with number one. As in, it’s got to be related to intense rush of emotion and adrenaline. We had a build your own taco situation for dinner at our wedding, and I was so excited to have the carnitas that made me fall in love with carnitas again on our wedding night. To my surprise, my entire plate tasted like absolutely nothing. At first I wondered if the food was just bland, but it wasn’t. The plate of leftovers I ate the following taste was AMAZING. So yes, definitely ask your caterer to make you a plate of late night/next day leftovers.
6. You won’t remember it all
And it will be the simple, unexpected, and unplanned moments you remember the most vividly. So don’t place too much weight on any one thing. It probably won’t be the memory you’re returning to months and years later.
7. You WILL feel different after
I spent 10 years with Alex prior to getting married, four of which we lived together. I thought there was no way marriage would change anything about our relationship, but during our honeymoon, we both agreed our relationship feels entirely different. A sense of security and definitiveness accompanies marriage, and it’s ironically freeing and so, so comforting.
Prior to my wedding, everyone told me to remember to slow down and take it all in. As a dissociative person in general, I knew this would be a challenge for me. No matter how much I tried to do so, the wedding day was its own. By that I mean it had a timeline of its own. It had an emotional life of its own. None of it could be controlled or calculated, kind of like the real love it stands to celebrate. That is the special part. At the end of it all, that is what you’ll walk away cherishing.