I Wasn’t a Picture Perfect Bride

By Stephanie Sampson

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With my one-year wedding anniversary coming up, I couldn’t help but reminisce about where I was just one year ago. My engagement was chaotic. The second my husband and I got engaged I was expected to plan a dream wedding all by myself. All the women around me saw an opportunity to gawk at me and seek out my wedding plans. I never liked being the center of attention, so I felt extremely distressed.

I quickly understood why there is a show called Bridezilla’s. Once I was ready to discuss what my husband and I wanted for our big day, others felt inclined to tell me what I really wanted and what tasks are expected of me. I said that my fiancé and I wanted to meet our immediate family on a beach in Hawaii for an intimate and romantic day. Women would immediately interrupt and say that I wanted a big church wedding and that everyone can bring side dishes to help with the costs. While some of their intentions were honorable, it was difficult for me to stand up for myself and tell them that’s not what we wanted. Weddings today have turned into a circus, and the brides are expected to be the ringleaders.

According to Lifehacker, the average cost of a wedding is around $30,000 here in the United States. We were both very excited to commit our lives together, but the social expectation was weighing heavy on our hearts. We were just two young in love college kids that didn’t have $5,000 to spend on a venue or a budget that could afford to spend $30 a person on food when our guest list would have exceeded 300 people. Our families are all from the area and feelings would have been hurt if we didn’t invite them all. The worst part of all is that if someone got left off of the list, I would have been blamed since I am the bride and we live in a country where weddings are bride centric. According to the Knot Wedding Network, only 36 percent of grooms were very involved in planning their weddings.

In order to prevent chaos, my groom and I tried to split up the wedding checklist so that we wouldn’t get overwhelmed with all of the tasks that needed to be done. But once again the bridezilla in me attacked when someone pointed out that not all etiquette procedures had taken place, and once again all fingers point to the bride. I got in trouble for not having an engagement party as well as a bridal shower. Apparently it is polite to have both celebrations and not just one. I just did not want others to feel inclined to bring a gift for two parties like that. It just didn’t seem reasonable to me. Another aspect that I found unreasonable was that my husband and I had three cakes during our “wedding” celebration. One at our actual ceremony on the beach in Hawaii, one at the dinner we went to after the ceremony, and one more at a reception that my grandparents threw for us when we got back. Apparently it is an unspoken rule that everyone enjoys watching the bride and groom cut the cake, so this step cannot be left out.

I can’t recall a single time when someone asked my groom what he wanted for our big day. Not once. The enormous pressure placed on us (and especially on me as “the bride”) began affecting our home life. We began nagging each other for things that we normally wouldn’t. My spouse felt that I wanted to plan the whole event on my own since he was seeing me doing everything, and I clearly did not. I was expected to make the guest list, address the invitations, and complete the necessary paper work to change my name on bank accounts, order save the dates and invitations.

Then my mother could see that I was in distress, so she gave me a wedding planner to help get organized. I opened it up to find a big section titled, “Brides duties.” It consisted of planning a bridesmaid luncheon, the rehearsal dinner, a newspaper announcement, a marriage license, and worst one of all a prenuptial agreement. I was expected to complete all these tasks myself as well as plan for my divorce? According to the Brandon Gaille website, 46 percent of divorce attorneys noted in a recent survey that they’ve noticed a dramatic increase in the number of women who have initiated the requests for a prenup. This is due to the high number of divorces. I’m sorry but we don’t consider divorce an option for us. We agree that if we disagree about something, we are going to talk it out and fix it like adults. I felt as if we were expected to plan for failure when I saw that task. There was a small section in the planner that consisted of the groom’s tasks, but it was miniscule compared to the brides list. His duties consisted of discussing with groomsmen the plans for the bachelor party and looking at tux rentals. I wish that I had known earlier that there are groom planners for sale; we probably would have bought one. There is one at Barns & Noble that is a fairly decent one.

At each family function we attended our wedding was the center of conversation. All eyes would turn directly on me and people would ask what I have decided for the nuptials. Before I knew it I began saying “my” wedding instead of “our” wedding and each time I was in disbelief. I couldn’t believe how we had gotten here.

As a little girl, I didn’t picture the flowers, the venue, or the big princess dress. All I pictured was finding someone that accepted me for who I was, my best friend. I imagined spending countless hours with my partner and never getting tired of spending time with them. It was like no time had passed because we just had so much fun. I did find that with Cole. It’s unfortunate that we had to go through all of that stress before realizing what was best for us, because those memories of us nagging each other will always be there.

We decided to go with our first instinct and get married in Hawaii. Our wedding should be about celebrating our union and the beginning of our family. We wanted to look our best in a beautiful place surrounded by a few close family members we could spend quality time with. It was the best day of our lives, and best of all it was up to us, not just me. We got to spend quality time together celebrating, as well as have quality time with our family. We weren’t running around making sure everyone else was happy on that day. We got to focus on our moment.

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As our one-year anniversary draws near, we look forward to finally eat that top tier of one our wedding cakes that has been sitting in the back of our freezer. Many people ask if we are going on a trip or if we are going to participate in the tradition of buying something made of paper or the more modern tradition of buying a clock. We just reply that we are going to cook a nice meal, cuddle up on the couch and watch our wedding video.

I wanted to share our story with others and let them know that at the end of the day your wedding is about you and your spouse. It’s not all about the bride. If you want to get married in a church or run to the courthouse, do it. There’s no right way or wrong way to spend your special day, and I encourage you to do what makes you both happy. If there are any other brides out there that have experienced this, share your story and your advice.

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