On Becoming (And Being) A Bride

Now that all is over, all dress fittings, food tastings, and talk of flowers.  Now that I must utter the words my husband and wear a gold band, I finally feel ready to talk about a role I have felt extremely uncomfortable with: bride.

I didn’t make a good one.

People squealed a lot.  They reached for my ring finger to see it sparkle, thrust endless questions upon me about dresses, hairstyles, and centerpieces.  They gave me bridal magazines and cake platters and monogrammed napkins for a last name I never planned to take.

I couldn’t seem to match people’s enthusiasm, couldn’t seem to climb up to the pitch of anyone’s voice.  Early on in our engagement, I sat in the back seat of my parents car, because I suddenly found myself a teenager again, being driven to possible wedding venues like being dropped off at the mall, living under their budget for this strange event, and my father asked, Well what, exactly, do you want?  

I had never envisioned a wedding for myself. I was one of those girls with green-stained knees and uncombed hair trying to swing high enough to kick the leaves of a tree.  Not one with visions of lace and tiered cakes. I reached as far as I could towards a fantasy I never owned. I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be fun to just get an ice cream truck?  My mother motioned the sign of the cross.

Yes. I was a disappointing bride.

I don’t like the idea of people looking at me.  I don’t like the thought of any kind of  fuss.  I don’t believe in spending thousands of dollars on one day.  And I don’t think marriage is about cake fillings, flowers, the length of a train.

All throughout the planning for that day, nothing about it felt like us.  People were going to look at me.  A fuss would be made.  Thousands of dollars had already been spent. I had chosen a cake filling, a centerpiece, a too-long dress.  There was going to be a wedding, a real one, and I felt guilty, ungrateful, confused, and finally certain that I should have had nothing more than an ice cream truck.

As I discovered, weddings involve a lot of buts and have to’s, an endless amount of can’ts.  People told us that these decisions were up to us, that we were the bride and groom, that it would be our day.

But it wasn’t.

It was not our day. It was a day that sat under a sky everyone hoped and prayed would be blue.  It was a day when people traveled great distances and had delays and got caught in traffic and forgot that their suit pants were not on the same hanger as their jackets and were there anyway.  It was a day when people I loved told me I looked beautiful and the only reason I felt that way too was because they had come.  It was a day that was special not because we were there but because they were there or weren’t there but were thinking of us somewhere else.

It was not our day because it was never meant to be.

It can be shocking to discover that people love you.  You think you know it and then it comes at you in a way you never thought possible and you realize you had no idea what it really meant to be loved and you wonder how you will ever return it.  That’s the kind of day that is supposedly yours, the kind of day you can’t possibly claim as your own.

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22 thoughts on “On Becoming (And Being) A Bride

  1. It was not our day because it was never meant to be

    So True! A wedding is about a family as my hubby and I found out. We wanted a back yard BBQ instead of a reception. I'm glad we did it their way, just because I have so many memories of all my family pitching in on their favorite parts. Family, that's what our wedding was about and that's what we'll remember, not the fact that I had to choose, wedding colors, and centerpieces.

    Love the pics! So beautiful.

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  2. I think one of the surprising thing about weddings is how much it shows us that marriage is bigger than the couple. The people who love you want very much to witness the beginning of the mystery and encourage you to persevere in it.

    I got to have my historic theme, but had to compromise on things like a dry reception in order to honor my family. It was a good exercise in learning that love often involves setting aside our wants for the sake of others. If it's any consolation, you and your new hubby look delighted (even if less fuss would have been more your style). 🙂

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  3. I've heard the same thing from a lot of brides, especially those who weren't into the whole big, perfect wedding idea. It was about family and friends getting together for them, and even with all the stress of planning it, they loved every moment of the day. Beautiful pictures! You both look so happy. 🙂

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  4. I think it's better overall to not focus so heaving on the wedding over the marriage; I've seen people plan fantastic weddings and their marriage falls apart within a couple of years. A friend of mine who went through annullment had seen warning signs she should have heeded prior to the wedding, but everything was booked, paid for and her dream day was planned out.

    Looking back, there are things I'd changed about my own wedding; I left so much up to my mom because she wanted to run the show anyway. She wanted the wedding in my hometown with everybody and their uncle so I went with it.

    I've said if I ever have a baby, I'm not running all over for family showers to appease everyone. Did that already with the wedding. People say they're doing those things to “be nice” but a lot of it self serving.

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  5. Gorgeous photos…congratulations!

    Looking back on my own wedding, I wish I would have worried less about being a bride and more about being a wife. I had a great time with my family and friends, but I was more focused on having a day and less focused on starting a life. It sounds like your priorities were in the right place. 🙂

    Happy life together!

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  6. What I love in the pictures is that you look so happy. It shines from your faces. That's what it's about.

    And you are right. Weddings really aren't JUST about the bride and groom. It's about sharing a life-changing event with those you love.

    I think I lucked out a bit (or not, depending on how you look at it), but my mom was too busy to help me plan my wedding much. She just told me to tell her when she needed to write a check. I mean, she wanted to be, but couldn't. I was okay with that. My husband and I had our simple wedding with the embellishments we wanted, and then the day before there was a huge snow storm. So effectiviely, that meant only the people who truly, truly loved us (i.e. willing to risk life and limb on the icy streets) came. It couldn't have been more perfect. We got to visit to our heart's content with each guest and got to dance as much as we wanted . . . oh gosh, you've really got me going on here (gushing, just like you said you hate). Just so many great memories. 🙂

    Still, it sounds like you'll have those great memories, too, of being surrounded by the people you love and who love you. 🙂

    Congratulations again!

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  7. But holy crap did you make a beautiful bride!!! The happiness on both of your faces brings tears to my eyes – absolutely amazing!!!

    I'm not a huge fan of anyone's big wedding. I never wanted a wedding, either, and have a semi-binding agreement with my parents saying as much. Eloping is more than ok with me, with a few family members (maybe…) and a big party with everyone we love sometime in the future.

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  8. Wow. Wow. So you get this. And you're not supposed to get it until much later. Which is amazing and wise. Congratulations, dear one. It's not your day, but it is like everything else that is big that you have little to do with (birth, graduation, death), an occasion for people to honor you.

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  9. Another beautiful, thoughtful post — and a beautiful, beautiful you! Tyler looks so happy in that last shot, it brings tears to my eyes. My favorite photos from weddings are often of the groom and the extended family as they first see the bride, or witness everything taking place . . . so touching. xo

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  10. Just for the record… you were an amazing bride… and not disappointing at all. The very fact that you let others have that excitement and fuss over you is a testament to how modest and thoughtful you are!!

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  11. Beautiful thoughts about a beautiful day, and the meaning of that special day. I read in a book once about a wedding being an event with family and friends – because marriage is a union that we need as a society. Society needs marriages to succeed, so when everyone is involved and coming to celebrate, it is because they are essentially saying, “We believe and support this marriage, and will help it succeed.” That thought has always stuck with me, and made me see weddings much differently. Now your beautiful thoughts about the big day will be with me as well when I attend the next wedding.

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  12. I felt a lot like you did – I didn't want a “Broadway Show”. But the wedding day meant so much to me because I didn't sweat the details (too much) and instead enjoyed the company of the people I love and who love me. You captured this so well.

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  13. Too beautiful for words, Melissa! You look radiant … and it's so nice that, through it all, you weren't a Bridezilla. I think women who are so caught up in “the day” miss something completely that you were able to capture simply by being you and loving the people around you. Bravo!

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