One thing wedding professionals and enthusiasts don’t like to tell you, is that sometimes, your wedding sucks.
When I say this, I’m not referring to a situation where you had a wedding and your family, friends, or loved ones didn’t like it. Oh, no. That I can work with. That I can put a positive and defiant spin on. I’m referring to your feelings about your wedding.
Sometimes, despite their best efforts, one can end up feeling very disappointed in how their wedding turned out.
I want to preface everything I’m about to say with this: It’s okay to feel that way. Your feelings are valid, even if they’re awful feelings. Even if you feel guilty about feeling them. If you were disappointed with your wedding, then those feelings are real and legitimate and there for a reason.
I was originally planning on making this a single post, but I think the issue is big and complicated enough to warrant a pair of posts. Because dealing with negative feelings is (to oversimplify it) a two-fold process: Identifying where those feelings are coming from and why you’re experiencing them, and identifying & executing the best way for you to process those feelings.
So, why was your wedding a disapointment for you? There may be many reasons why… or there may just be one really substantial reason. These may include, but are not limited to:
Conflict with loved ones: There may have been a lot of drama within your family and/or friend group that made the wedding very complicated.
Absent loved ones: Maybe someone you love very dearly has passed away, and you’re grieving their absence at one of the most important milestones of your life. Maybe someone (or several someones) weren’t able to make it to your wedding because of illness, work, school, legal issues, scheduling conflicts, or personal problems. Maybe you had to downsize your guest list, and you’re missing all of the people you originally invited.
Your wedding didn’t feel like you: A lot of spouses-to-be are pressured into making decisions about their wedding to please their families. This can create a wedding that doesn’t truly feel like your wedding, but their wedding. When we make choices for other people and not for ourselves, we often feel unsatisfied, disappointed, and sad about the results. The wedding may not have been what you wanted, or what you envisioned or fantasized about. You may have made so many compromises that your wedding ultimately didn’t feel like the one you wanted… just a pieced-together substitute for the “real thing”.
Anticlimactic ending: We often build weddings up so much in our minds that we can feel disappointed when there isn’t an “Aha!” moment at the end. When you don’t “feel” married, or like your relationship is more “official”, then you might be left wondering what it was all for. We might look forward to a certain satisfaction so much that when the feeling doesn’t arrive, the empty spot where it should be is instead filled with disappointment.
You didn’t start by asking why: When you go through the process of planning a wedding without really thinking critically about it, or without asking yourself what you really want,you usually just end up going with the template that’s pushed on you (the very rigid, purist, expensive template). When this happens, you can arrive at the finish line having checked all of the boxes, but still feeling not quite right. Was this how it was “supposed to” feel? This wasn’t the feeling that was advertised to me. This wasn’t how being a newlywed was marketed. Where is the fulfillment?
You’re questioning your relationship: Maybe it isn’t about the wedding itself… maybe it’s about the marriage. Maybe you’re questioning if you made the right decision marrying your partner(s), or whether the vows you made were appropriate or realistic for you.
You’re too stressed: Weddings are STRESSFUL. Maybe you’re too worried about how much you spent on the wedding to actually enjoy it. Maybe you’re worried about the cost of the honeymoon. Maybe between time commitments, getting everything in order, worrying about other people, and travelling, you didn’t get the chance to actually enjoy what was intended to be a sacred and special day. Maybe you’re still dealing with the stress hangover. Maybe during the process of planning and executing your wedding, damage was done to some relationships and you need to deal with the fallout.
It’s very easy to wave your hand and say “the expectations were just too high”. But that’s too vague and too reductive. Of course the expecations and reality didn’t match up… that’s exactly where disappointment comes from. We feel disappointed when our expectations aren’t met. But what were the expectations? Why were they set where they were, and how did it come to pass that they weren’t met? There are so many variables that it’s impossible to reduce such a personal and complex issue to “they expected too much”.
Moreover, the act of saying “the expectations were too high” directly assumes blame on the individuals with the expectations, regardless of any external factors or circumstances. Perhaps the expectations were unreasonably high… or perhaps they were perfectly reasonable. If the latter is true, then what would the remedy to the situation be? To hold cynically low expectations? To avoid having any expectations at all, ever? That’s not reasonable, healthy, or productive.
Regardless of why your wedding was disappointing, I return to the statement I made earlier: Your disappointment is valid. Your disappointment is real. Your disappointment is okay. Your disappointment may even be a learning tool- don’t be afraid to sit with it.