Your wedding day is often described as being the ‘happiest day of your life’. I want to talk about my own experience of getting married and why I believe this isn’t always true.
I got married on 2nd July 2016. It was a beautiful day spent with our family and close friends. The sun shone for us, despite a lot of rain having been forecast, and everything went just as we had hoped it would. It was a wonderful feeling to finally be able to call my partner of 9 years my husband.
Having been engaged since Christmas Eve 2013 there had been quite a long build-up to our big day. Our family and friends were delighted that we were going to be getting married and there was a real sense of excitement. Luckily we were both in agreement about what we wanted our wedding to be like. We decided to keep it fairly low-key and to make it as personal and meaningful as we could.
We decided to get married in the Church in the village I had grown up in. Although neither of us are very religious, getting married in a Church was very important to us and our families. Unfortunately our experience of dealing with the vicar prior to the ceremony was not very positive. She was a very rude and unpleasant lady and managed to book another wedding in before ours, leaving only a half hour gap. Luckily, for us, the other couple pulled out! This vicar thankfully retired before our wedding and we actually ended up getting married by a Bishop which was something of a surprise. The Church looked stunning with an abundance of beautiful flowers.
Our wedding reception was held in the Village Hall. We hired a caterer who put on the most glorious spread of food, and we also asked one of the local pubs to provide a bar for us. A friend’s band put on a brilliant Ceilidh and our guests had so much fun trying to master the dance moves. It was a really happy day and we were delighted to see our guests enjoying themselves.
So, why wasn’t this the most happy day of my life? I’m going to explain below:
Stress – As we had decided to have a low-key wedding we ended up organising every minute detail of the day ourselves. This meant that we had to find a caterer, someone who could provide a bar, a Ceilidh band, book the venue, book the Church, make tablecloths and table decorations, organise sufficient seating for all our guests, buy our own toast drink, choose napkins, crockery and plates, etc. It may not sound a lot but because we wanted every detail to be perfect there was a lot of planning and a lot of stress! Luckily we have fantastic families who were very supportive and each took on a different role in helping us prepare for the day.
Family Members’ Expectations – As I said above, our families were incredibly supportive. However, there were times when I wished they would all just leave us alone. Everyone had their own suggestions about what we should do. My mother-in-law was concerned, I think, that our wedding wouldn’t be grand enough. “Why aren’t you providing table wine?” Because we’re not having a formal wedding breakfast. “Don’t you think it would be better if you booked the local hotel for your evening reception?” No because that’s not what we want for our day. It went on and on and on. At no point did we fall out with our families but we had to be very firm and not be swayed by them, and this was difficult.
Beautiful Bride – I am not exaggerating when I say that from the day of our engagement to the day of the wedding, I felt sick every time I thought about being ‘the bride’. I have had some issues with my weight and, while I’m not hugely obese, I have not been and am still not happy with how I look. I dreaded having to go to choose a dress in case there weren’t any I felt comfortable in. I felt embarrassed to have my hair and make-up done because I lack self-confidence and thought I could never look like other beautiful brides I had seen. I shouldn’t have felt so worried because it all turned out ok in the end. I loved my dress and felt really confident wearing it, I was able to have hair and make-up done which wasn’t too ‘out there’ but made me feel amazing. However, the worry about my appearance did cast a shadow over the run-up to our wedding and I wouldn’t describe myself as a vain person. It was just the pressure of the day getting to me.
Impact on Family – There were no major fall-outs before or during our wedding thankfully. Everyone got along with each other fine. However, my Dad was so stressed on the day of the wedding. He was being rude to everyone, including me, and he didn’t seem to want to follow any of the instructions that had been agreed prior to the day so that it ran smoothly. It turned out in the end that the emotion of giving his youngest daughter away had been too much. He had also been incredibly nervous about doing his speech. My Mum experiences high levels of anxiety and is unable to sit in crowded rooms. She had been unable to get excited about our big day because she had worried she wouldn’t be able to come into the Church. As it happens she was able to sit at the back and witness it all. I’m so glad she didn’t miss out. Then there were elderly grandparents who either couldn’t make it or could only come for part of the day. Basically, the point I am trying to make is that wedding days are not only stressful for the bride and groom but for their extended families. I feel that this is quite often overlooked.
I could go on about both the positive and negative aspects of getting married but I won’t. I am so glad that I got married and being a wife is all I had hoped it would be. I smile each time I think about our wedding day and know that it will always hold memories to be treasured. I love looking at all the photos which take me back to the day, and I look forward to sharing these with future generations of our family. However, it feels ok to admit that my wedding day wasn’t the happiest day of my life. It was an incredible rollercoaster of an experience with immense highs and horrible lows.
I wish that society could be more honest and realistic in their portrayal of what a wedding is like. I imagine that each couple who decides to tie the knot will have a similar set of challenges to my own as well, possibly, as a multitude of others. The biggest thing I learned from my own experience is this; remember why you are getting married and just try to let everything else fade into the background. It doesn’t matter if your roses don’t perfectly match the shade of cream in your colour scheme, or if Auntie Jill can’t eat cheese sandwiches, or even if it rains! Soak up the experience and let it be a firm foundation upon which you can build your marriage and new family unit.