What if my wedding sucks?

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I recently got an email from a reader looking for help dealing with “mind-numbing paranoia and fear” about her wedding. Here's my advice:

…oh, and here's the book I mention.

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Comments on What if my wedding sucks?

  1. When my sister was getting married, my Maid of Honor mantra was “There is no way to have a perfect wedding, but there are a million ways to have a great one.” Even though it didn’t go completely according to plan, she did have a great wedding, and most importantly, she now has a great marriage.

  2. So, our wedding had many, many things that didn’t go according to plan. One of the attendants fell while walking down the aisle. Mother Nature decided to kick up her heels and blow insane amounts of wind at us, causing the arbor we were standing under to fall down (twice), sending our decorative throw pillows cartwheeling into an open field, and wrapping up the groomsmen in a throw rug. Our videographer’s camera fell down and broke, and our pastor had to stuff the communion bread in his pocket and hold onto the wine to keep them from blowing away. But we laughed, and it was a great day in spite of the things that went wrong. Just try to keep a light-hearted spirit, and make sure to keep a video camera running, so you can send any mishaps into America’s Funniest Home Videos!

    • Forgot to mention, I’ve been told a couple times that my wedding could be “tacky”. I’m now….over it! Many thanks. 🙂

  3. Ariel, it’s just so lovely to look at you and hear you speak. You have such a nice voice and happy aura. I could listen to you for hours!

  4. Great advice! =) I strongly agree with the need for a perspective shift!

  5. One of the best decisions that I made was to stop trying to have THE BEST WEDDING EVAR! and just have a wedding that was *us*. I dropped a lot of time-consuming DIY details and we ended up having a pretty normal reception (food! drinking! dancing!) and we focused on what really meant something to us — the ceremony and the music. It was the best decision we could have made. And do you know what? A lot of people told us that it WAS the best wedding ever. But not because we tried to make it that way, but because we were happy.

  6. I think this is also a symptom of having attended many weddings. I was 21 (!) when my husband and I got married, so I hadn’t really attended that many weddings at that point. I didn’t have the chance to gather “wedding intelligence” at various friends’ and family members’ weddings and decide exactly how I wanted my wedding.

    I was blissfully unaware of what others were doing for their weddings, so I just did what I liked. Yeah, there were a few minor mishaps, but it was a lovely wedding, and it was OURS. 🙂

  7. When I think back on all the weddings that went “perfectly” I can barely remember a single detail. “Disastrous” weddings, on the other hand, are way more memorable and a lot like marriage itself, I’d imagine… full of unexpected surprises, and ideally, built on a foundation of love. Thanks for posting this, Ariel. VERY inspirational. (p.s. – love the flower painting in the b/g)

  8. Oh man, you are adorable.

    And I agree completely- there is no epic fail when it comes to weddings. Providing the actual marriage happens, everything else can be coped with!
    We were pretty luck all-in-all our disasters were ssmall: my wedding cake was a heaping mess, we had friends that got so drunk they neglected to look after their children and argued with all the other guests (some of them still don’t speak 18mnths later!), and my 4 yr old son broke his leg on the bouncy castle! But even with those mishaps it was still the most perfect day of my life and I generally only remember the good bits.
    And the very best bit? I’m married!

  9. Okay, so I’ve shot more than 40 weddings in the few years, and I can tell you that these feelings of being overwhelmed happens to everyone. EVERYONE.

    My sister is a crazy smart contract attorney who closes multi-million dollar deals for big corporations; she got overwhelmed and freaked out that the theme of her wedding was “unoriginality” after the Wall Street Journal published an article about boring wedding trends and described her wedding plans- from the EXACT wedding dress with a blue sash she wore to the procession music to the white rose centerpieces. A lot of little stuff went wrong on her wedding day (someone actually found a fly in their soup) but she has one of the healthiest, most intellectually stimulating, honest marriages I’ve ever seen. They’re celebrating five years of marriage next month, and people still talk about how touching it was when my brother-in-law wept with joy during the ceremony.

    My client brides have included a brain surgeon (SHE CONFIDENTLY USES A BUZZ SAW TO OPEN PATIENTS’ HEADS, PEOPLE) who needed to take a moment to herself and breathe deeply during the frantic getting-ready part of her wedding day when the hairdresser was overbooked and an hour late. I’ve photographed to a special education teacher who is the most patient person I’ve ever met who felt majorly unnerved- and surprised at being unnerved- when the church wouldn’t allow her to pull right up to the door to avoid the driving sideways rain. Turns out the sidewalk had a drainage system underneath it and another wedding party’s limo had crashed right through it a few years ago- but no one told her that until afterwards.

    And yes… there’s me, the wedding “pro” who was cool as a cucumber until the rehearsal when I literally went digging through my purse calling out, “Perspective! Perspective, are you in there?”

    I centered myself with the mantra that nothing that wouldn’t ruin an ordinary Tuesday would upset me on our wedding day. If our dog ran away during the ceremony and got hit by a car in the parking lot? That would ruin ANY day. If my grandmother had a heat stroke or my dad threw his back out? Ditto. In the end, none of those things happened. Joel and I got some Gatorade at the end of the night and woke up exactly who we were the day before the wedding- just tired and happy from being at a big party- and married!

    Ariel’s right on with her advice. Take gentle care of yourself, focus on your partner, tackle the job hunt and wedding planning one day at a time, and trust your instincts. You’ll be great!

    • Thank you as much as Ariel. I have a super long engagement ahead of me and agree with Ariel. The longer the engagement the more likely you are to imagine all sorts of scenarios. Your anecdotes put things into that perspective you went searching for in your purse! Cheers 🙂

  10. Ariel, I can’t thank you enough for posting this. Like MB, I too have fallen prey to the occasional anxiety and paranoia that my wedding will somehow be one big disappointment, as evidenced by the fact that I had my first wedding nightmare two nights ago. But several things you said in the video have really calmed my nerves, like how it’s impossible for a wedding to fail and how if, God forbid, something goes awry, at least it will make a great story. I think this is great advice, and I am definately taking it to heart. I know these fears, for the most part, are all in my head, which is why changing my way of thinking into something more positive is going to be really important for me over the next couple months until my big day. I think your post has helped me take a step in that direction. Thanks again! As always, you rock!

  11. At first, having 2+ years to plan a wedding seemed like a good thing to my fiance and myself. But now, like you’ve explained here, I believe that there is such a thing as too much time. It becomes this lurking, looming, responsibility – it becomes heavy.
    Something that has helped me lighten the load is to spread out my creative energy over a few various projects. Some things that I’ve tried and enjoy are yoga class, gardening, rededicating myself to reading, and exploring recipes and having fun with food. I’ve found that this way, working on wedding planning is just another one of a few projects I have going on. When some little part of me inside is saying “I DON’T GIVE A FLIPPING FLAP ABOUT INVITATIONS OR SEATING CHARTS AND IF I LOOK AT ONE MORE DRESS I MAY VOMIT”, I don’t have to panic or feel guilty that I’m not feeling 100% exciting at that moment about wedding planning. Instead I can spend some time working on one of my other projects. In other words, I can avoid it for a little while, in a healthy way, and sometimes that’s just what I need. This method also gives you something else to talk to people about. Speaking as someone currently unemployed, it can be nice to have something to say other than “OMG I’m TOTALLY still GETTING MARRIED!” when you run into people and they ask “What’s new?”. Tell them about how lovely your garden is, or how good you feel after doing yoga, or how fantastic the dinner you made last night was, or how *positive adjective* your *new activity/project* is and how much you love it.
    on a side note-
    I just have to say – Ariel, your hair is beautiful, your baby is adorable, and I’m so SO excited for Offbeat Home. If you find yourself needing a hand with any parts of the Offbeat Home project – you know where to find me! 🙂

  12. When my sister got married, she was also concerned people would “Hate” her wedding because it was very small, ultra cheap (less then $1000)and there was no alcohol at her backyard reception because of issues with AA guests.
    And you know what? Thus far everyone who attended still say it was the best wedding they have been too. It was like a really pleasant family gathering where everyone looked nice. And there were mistakes on the day (like the Minister getting the grooms late mothers name wrong, erg!). But in the end we all remember the bride, in her after wedding sundress but bridal tiara still intact killing “Sabotage” on rockband while her husband proclaimed “That’s my wife!” with the biggest grin ever. THAT’S what makes a good wedding. The happy people getting married.

  13. Hooray Ariel (how adorable are you?! Very!) And all the added advice / reassurance in the comments. This came to me at a very good time..

  14. I needed to hear this today. Me and my boyfriend of 3 years have both been laid off and are wanting to get hitched. We are waiting till we both find jobs again. It is good to know that someone else is going through the same thing as me. I keep saying to myself things are going to get better and it could always be worse. right.

  15. I have to agree with everyone else, Ariel, you have a wonderful way of communicating.

    I’m not an expert, but I noticed that not a lot was mentioned in the email about the FH. I find if I’m getting overwhelmed, just talking to my partner about it smacks me down to reality pretty fast. I also agree somewhat with what you say about long engagements. But in my case, I have been engaged coming on 4 and a half years now, and to be honest I have only been thinking about the actual wedding day, for the last few months. However I’m not surrounded by other people’s weddings, which makes you compare every little detail, which I think is a big reason for feeling inadequate.
    Keep up the great work Ariel…I LOVE your site, and all the lovely people on it!

  16. Ah, I love you Ariel. Thank you, that pep talk actually did a lot of good for me. I’m also suffering from long engagement syndrome and a completely empty bank account… it’s stressing me out like crazy but what really matters for our wedding doesn’t cost a dime and you definitely helped put that back in perspective for me.

  17. Thank you a LOT for that…I have been having some of these issues so badly that I have hardly slept for the last six weeks and my doc is about to put me on Xanax. My fiance bought me the Conscious Bride yesterday, and it’s already helped; I think my stress really was relating to this, my first formal rite of passage into adulthood, and the grieving and processing I need to do for that. Thank you SO MUCH for the recommendation and the sensible advice, as always. 🙂

  18. First and (least? most) importantly, I’m so in love with your hair, Ariel.

    But secondly, I think that this issue is the heart of the offbeat versus traditional clash. While it should be easy to pick and mix old wedding traditions and wacktastial new ideas with abandon, it’s impossible to ignore the little “Well, but…” that comes whenever we’re toeing the canyon between expectation and imagination.
    Such goes reality, right? We’d all be circus performers if it were easy to jump on the “do it my way” bus.
    I feel like doubt is inevitable, and even on some level, a panic about “what will everyone think????” is unavoidable when planning an event, save to mention an event that comes with so much significance.
    The real question is… how much is it affecting you?
    Are you dreading your wedding day? Are you nervous or physically drained whenever someone mentions your wedding? Do you feel physically ill when you have to attend a cake tasting or gown fitting? Do you avoid talking about your wedding planning process because it’s so emotionally wrought? If so, it’s time to seek a counselor and really evaluate where this is coming from.
    Are you nervous that your choices would be somewhat shocking to your guests? I know it’s been discussed before, but perhaps you’ll feel better if you make it clear to them through your wedsite that your wedding will be unique. That might allay some anxiety.

  19. The more perfect you try to make your wedding, the greater the potential for disappointment.

    Your wedding is your party. Just plan for a party you will enjoy. Parties are never perfect, just enjoy the celebration. And don’t worry about others’ expectations.

    Besides, even if the wedding goes belly-up, your wedding is but a day. Your relationship and marriage are more enduring. If it really goes that bad, write it off as a dress-rehearsal and do it again some time in the future.

    I have found a great deal of stregth from the writings of Rhonda Britten, I am a huge fan. She did a lot for me in moving beyond perfectionism and fear of failure.

  20. Thank you so much for this video post. I came across this just after I sent my FH an email asking if we could scrap our 200 person wedding and instead have our friends and family over to our house for a BBQ and stick it to ’em by showing up with an officiant and getting married right there. I’m so angry that our original idea of having something simple and small has turned into this huge event with 200 ppl – of which 110 are MY family invites. No joke. I have bio and step-parents whom all have large families which drastically increases the “obligation” invites. I felt weak that I couldn’t say no to them, lame that I don’t have a “colour palette” or grand ideas for every little detail and overwhelmed that the event is now bigger than either of us.
    Thankfully, this posting has talked me off the ledge and I LOVE Jill’s idea above to focus on the ceremony and the music. Pick something to make really great and let the rest just happen.
    So thanks!

  21. Thank you so much for this! Especially the reminder that as long as you’re married to your partner at the end of the day it’s a sucsessful wedding.

    I have to admit it didn’t quite kill my desire to also have an amazing party but I think I’m going to look at the two seperately from now on; Big important issue is making sure at the end of the day we’re legally married, far less important is throwing a cool party and even though there’s more that can wrong it can’t ever be worse than some of my parties. (The new years where the same guy got thrown out 3 times, my sister was paralytic and throwing up everywhere and someone passed out in the doorway comes to mind.)

    So even if the party doesn’t go completely to plan it still hasn’t ruined the WEDDING, it’s just another crazy chaotic party with my weird family. 😀

  22. Ok. Finally got to watch this.

    All I have to say is a week or two ago I was WONDERING where your video advice had gone. I kind of love it more with tiny baby head (doesn’t that improve most things?)

  23. Outstanding advice! And as a fellow laid off bride-to-be, I can relate to what the writer was feeling. It has been hard, and completely stressful, especially if you’ve already had vendors and location lined up, just to be laid off and not know if you will then be going into a marriage with that debt. I completely agree with Ariel: If you and your significant other are MARRIED at the end of the day, you were successful. Everything else is the icing on the cake (literally and figuratively). Find someone to talk to about it, even if it’s just online. Sometimes just airing it out can calm your nerves.

  24. i have the same feeling thinking that my wedding is going to suck too. i mostly thought of this becuase i have 2 picky aunts that think buying coco chanel is cheap! after sharing a few of my ideas with my partner and my friends and other member of the family they giggle and said, ‘you so have to do that, becuase that is so you!’ it made me feel better about my wedding.
    i am a geek and love geeky things, some of things i worried about was:
    my cake, we are going to have scrabble letter spelling out our names, with a mrs and mr potato head on top.
    the shoes, i am not heel wearing person, so i went with the next best thing, converse sneakers. everyone in the wedding party is wearing them.
    the colors, i love the color purple, and so does my aunt. when she found out i was having purple she kick up a fussy and tried to make me change it. i never did!
    the wedding is what you want, not what everyone’s wants, if they think your wedding sucked, then its their problem, or as mum would say, ‘they’re just jelous, becuase they didnt think of that for thier wedding!’
    as everyone tell me, do what you want for your wedding!

  25. Great video! I’m going to bookmark this and send it to my clients when they are freaking out. My advice to nervous brides is to accept that something may go wrong, but realize that as long as they are getting married to somebody they love, nothing else really matters.

  26. We planned our wedding in 4 months, in my mom’s backyard, and kept everything as simple as possible. I wasn’t nervous at all, it just seemed like we were having a family party. Then…. the weather ended up being in the 40s! We had a tent, but the plan was to have most of the activity take place outside. Every guest I spoke to commented on how cold it was. I was crushed, I thought “great all they’re going to remember about my wedding is that they were freezing.” Because of the cold, people started to gather around the bonfire, which actually created a GREAT party atmosphere and no one felt the cold anymore. It was really unexpected and probably wouldn’t have happened if the weather was warmer.

    Just as I was starting to get into the party groove… I tripped over the wood cart and hurt my arm REALLY bad – I thought it was broken 🙁 I sobbed my way back into the house, the pain was unbearable! The decision was made (by my 2 cousins who are dentists haha) that I needed to go to the ER. NO!!!! How could this be happening? Why couldn’t I just have a nice quiet wedding?? My husband of only a few short hours had to change me (not really the sexist way to reveal my wedding undies) and help me to the car. I was leaving my reception just as the party was kicking off. Thankfully we were in a smallish town and my mom is very vocal so we were pushed through the ER in an hour or so. I didn’t break a bone, but they were pretty sure I tore a muscle. I was sent home with some vicodin, still sobbing from the pain. When we got back to our wedding most of the guests had left. There were only a few family members still standing and they were pretty wobbly. My husband and I were sober and bummed. I thought as far as weddings go… this one really sucked!

    The next day my arm was purple and blue and it swelled up to double its size. I was now the solitary guest at my very own pity party. An MRI later revealed that I had torn and shredded most of the muscles in my arm and tore the main ligament as well. My arm was in a sling for our honeymoon and hurt the whole time, which kept us from doing pretty much anything. Then came 3 months of intense physical therapy and the possiblity of surgery is still looming.

    But this isn’t a doom and gloom story… my “ruined” wedding turned out to be anything but:
    1. For months, my guests have been RAVING about what a great time they had. Some even sent notes or emails thanking us for inviting them. Any time the topic of our wedding comes up, everyone smiles as they remember it. I guess the bride and groom being there isn’t a requirement for having a good time. haha.
    2. My husband is there for better or worse and he proved it. Did I mention that he had to bathe and dress me for almost 2 weeks? He missed hanging out with all of his friends, didn’t get to party, had to calm a hysterical wife and couldn’t have been sweeter. Who needs vows. (cute moment: as we were leaving for the ER my little brother kept saying “sickness and health” he thought it was cool that it was really coming true)
    3. In the midst of my month long pitty party, I walked past a woman who had a physcial disability which limited her mobility. It made me feel really silly for being so upset about my busted arm, which would eventually heal. Compared to a life in a wheelchair – is it really such a tragedy to have a party that everyone loved, but you couldn’t completely enjoy but you still got a husband in the process?

    Did we forget some details? – Yes
    Did plans change unexpectedly? – Yes
    Was this the wedding of my dreams? – I could never have even imagined my wedding turning out like this
    Am I in love with a great man? – Absolutely

    • Thank you for posting this Emcneal! Am so sorry to hear you hurt yourself- hope it is much better now!

      Your comment really helped me get my own wedding in perspective. I had a small accident and hurt myself at our wedding and I know it’s silly but it’s been really eating away at me that I missed things on the day because of it, that things weren’t ‘perfect’. But you are so right: is it really such a tragedy to have a party that everyone loved, but you couldn’t completely enjoy but you still got a husband you love to bits in the process?

  27. Thank you so much for posting this – reminders of perspective are so needed and helpful.

    Wonderful advice stated in the best possible way!

  28. This is a good advice for many wedding topics, I forgot so many things to bring to my wedding last July and should have postponed the wedding because I had a heart situation just one month before the wedding, No matter what happens there is no such thing as a perfect wedding!! For my wedding I forgot to check to see if the lace up tie was in the bag or on my red wedding dress ended up using a white ribbon that I brought for hanging my paper lantern and other things. I also did not have the chance to wear my veil that I made because I was late to my own wedding…and the worse of all that happen was no one replyed to my wedding ivites and forgot to call everyone to see if they are coming. Only three people showed up I was so upset but do remember the weather was nice.( I did end up bringing alot of food home and then going to “honeymoon”,when we came back we were glad to have food&cake too,there waiting for us) However we had a nice time going to our weekend ” honeymoon” to a near by amusement park and glad it was all over with. Bottom line things will mess up and something will go wrong, at the end of the day you will be married and cant believe the day went by so fast. It was all for the person you love and married and that is all that really worth the time and effort into your wedding.

  29. Ariel, THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU. “MB” described what I’m going through pretty accurately…except she left out the part about nightmares. Yeah.

    Anyway, thank you for laying down a little reality on my disturbing wedding planning Saturday. This was advice I didn’t even know I needed.

    Looking forward to offbeathome.com,
    Nicole in Montana

  30. I cried listening to this advice. I just felt like you were speaking straight to me and now feel that a montrous weight has been lifted off my shoulders. EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you so very much.

  31. I really, really, really needed to see this video. We’ve started planning our wedding and I started worrying about people having a good time at the reception. I think I needed to be reminded that at the end of the day, if we’re married, it’s a success! You’ve just taken a load off of this bride’s shoulders.

  32. Great post. As far as counseling services go, the bride might consider checking out counseling centers at local colleges and universities. I work as a graduate intern, and we provide services to both students and community members free of charge. Counseling isn’t cheap, so such clinics could be great resources in and out of economic hard times.

  33. Everybody stop being anxious about your weddings – you’re making ME anxious about mine! LOL
    Seriously, seeing so many posts like this actually makes me feel like something is wrong with me for not being worried about our wedding (I am, however, wicked nervous about being someone’s wife). We booked the venue, photographer and caterer and bought the dress ($186) early, and refuse to do anything else until April (the wedding’s in June). But with everyone else worried (and friends and family asking questions about every single, minute stupid detail – why do they need to know about our plates?), I’m starting to get nervous that maybe I’m doing something wrong. Bah!
    Perhaps no more wedding blogs for me.

  34. My first wedding WAS a disaster. The (drunken) justice of the peace forgot the vows we’d written & I didn’t have another copy with me so we had a 60 second civil ceremony. (This didn’t sit so well with my parents who had flown back to the States from Asia for the occasion.) A 68 year old cousin caught the bouquet & the groom’s 18 year old brother caught the garter…picture THAT! I almost punched out the DJ…you get the idea.

    Fast forward twenty years to my current wedding planning. It would be ever-so-easy for me to have wedding nightmares but I don’t. Instead I look back @ what I learned & take comfort in knowing that my upcoming wedding will be more like controlled chaos. My goal is to not get flustered as I embrace it.

    Here’s what I learned – maybe it will help the rest of you:
    1. Yes, your wedding day is supposed to be magical – but in really it is just a ritual & celebration. The level of perfection achieved in no way reflects your love for each other or your level of commitment. Mother Nature/God/Whomever isn’t cursing you personally if things don’t go according to plan.

    2. Speaking of planning (and control issues)…Make your plan, communicate it with others & then let go. Flexibility and good humor are your best assets when a plan goes awry.
    3. Write your own ‘wedding constitution’ or vision statement. Post it prominently to help keep you focused. I strongly recommend including a ‘no-drama’ clause. We chose to share our vision statement with our guests to help set expectations for them.
    4. Remember that no matter how it turns out, (hopefully) no one will die & life goes on.

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