Over the course of the past two years I have planned and canceled seven different weddings, all to the same person.
I was never a girl who dreamed about or wanted a wedding day. In fact, most wedding related stuff makes me gag.
Soon enough, people started asking me about our wedding plans. That's when my anxiety started.
Soon enough, people started asking me about our wedding plans. That's when my anxiety started.
I woke up some nights sweating from sheer horror, wondering what I had just agreed to. I started having flashbacks of the tantrums my crazy mother had thrown at my sisters wedding in 1999. Of sitting alone with a whole cake at my birthday parties when only two people showed up and of the hundreds of tacky event halls and bridal suites I had toured through, while working as a performer at wedding receptions through the years.
I could just never imagine myself going down an aisle, wearing a white dress, forcing my friends to dress alike, being excited to be called Mrs, changing my last name to a man's, or forcing people to watch me dance, feed someone cake and buy me shit I registered for. It all seems like a ridiculous waste of money to put on a narcissistic show that screams "look at how in love we are!!!!" for several hours. The thought of being called a bride or anyone congratulating me for getting married makes me want to flip tables. It's not an accomplishment. A marriage isn't about a party.
It was after a month of meltdowns that I started looking online for some kind of guidance on how to do this from other women who were wedding industry haters like me. I was hard pressed to find anyone who shared my level of wedding barf. The words "special day" make my head spin. Even women on websites like Off-Beat Bride weren't even close to my level of off beat. Other women treated me like I had three heads when I mentioned hating weddings & I felt like an alien who was totally out of place in a world of aspiring brides.
Given my level of dread, I decided that the most reasonable solution to avoid making my wedding something I would be miserable at and regret forever was the following. Hire someone ordained to do a quick ceremony wherever we wanted, invite 0 people & have a nice dinner after (Heck, i'd even be fine with ordering in Chinese). This seemed like the most simple, no frills way to go. I was also willing to elope or sign the damn papers at a Starbucks with a barista witness. Clearly, I give no fucks about a wedding day.
Unfortunately my fiancé said "hell no" to all of these ideas no matter how hard I tried to convince him. City Hall was out of the question for him as well. He calls it the wedding DMV. Apparently the "special day" zombies had already eaten his brains. Trying desperately to find a compromise, I suggested meeting in the middle-eloping and sending out an announcement for a small party a few months later. He still said no, and felt the need to have an immediate small celebration with family and friends because "marriage is a public institution" and felt it is "weird and secretive" to get married in private. I personally find it weird to feel the need to proclaim your love in a room full of people, so this was not going well.
Since the whole marriage thing is about two people & not just me, I eventually caved and agreed to something that wasn't a compromise at all.
It was him getting his way 100% and me waving goodbye to my vision of a romantic ceremony for just us.
I agreed on a bare minimum ceremony with just 6 immediate family members, followed by a casual dinner at a restaurant for around thirty-five people. The date was to coincide with our ten year anniversary of being a couple.
There would be nothing traditional & nothing benefiting the wedding industry. No white dress, no aisle, no flowers, no dancing, no photographer, no cake, no bridesmaids, no rings and no white linens, mason jars or chalk boards in sight. Just lot's of good food and booze. I kept trying to convince myself that doing this would make everyone else happy, so my feelings didn't matter.
Living in NYC planning a small thing wasn't as easy as just throwing a party in our non existent back yard. I started emailing restaurant private rooms all over the city & quickly discovered that unless I called this an anniversary party I would get back these awful "special day" sales pitches that made me want to vomit. Even taking the non traditional route, the minimums for a 30 person dinner were outrageous, ranging from 5-10k. I had no intention of spending that kind of money on a three hour party. Even if someone dumped 6k on my doorstep, i'd do something useful with it like pay off student loans before ever spending that much on food and booze.
After months of searching my stress level was through the roof, considering my fiancé was the one who wanted a party and was doing zero work to help find a place to have it. After hundreds of emails and tons of frustrated tears I finally settled on something I though could work.
Our first wedding contract was for a cute building that looked like a dollhouse inside with fun couches and colorful walls everywhere. We made a website with a .WTF domain and we started planning the details, guest list, food and more. Catering this thing ourselves was turning out to be a nightmare, since the space would have made for a crowded, standing cocktail party with few tables and seats. We figured out at a certain point that we would be spending the majority of our wedding day decorating, setting up and cleaning up after. Having it all done for us would have broken our budget. I'm pretty ADHD and a terrible planner so trying to do 700 things all by myself got to be to much. One day I started crying over ordering ugly plastic forks, freaked out and canceled the whole thing.
When planning our second wedding, I decided it was a MUST to have food and drinks onsite. Having catering from several different vendors had proved to be way too much stress. I was also starting to feel guilty about asking people to travel to NYC which is very expensive. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to spend hundreds of dollars to come to this thing. We decided to move the whole event to Maine where i'm from, thinking it would be cheaper and easier. I wrote another hundred emails setting up times to look at restaurants when we visited. We found a restaurant that we thought would work and booked it as a buyout. Not being in NYC gave us that option with our budget. Soon the problems crept in. Now all of our NYC people would have to spend the time and money to go to Maine. The restaurant we booked based on loving the two tiered setup for a cocktail hour and dinner, said we couldn't have more than 10 people on the second floor at a time. It was a mutual decision to cancel this one because it was becoming a clusterfuck.
With just five months to go we planned our third wedding, back in NYC. We ate at a New Orleans style restaurant and loved the private room in the back. We did a champagne toast and I was super relieved when we signed the contract. I FINALLY thought we were done. We emailed everyone our muppets themed party save the dates. But a few weeks later when I asked my fiancé about helping pick the menu he responded with a pouty face. He told me he thought the venue was just ok, and he wasn't excited about the food or space. He wanted to keep looking. As you can imagine I nearly ripped my hair out. Keeping looking to him meant ME keeping looking. I seemed to be doing all of the work.
I finally put my foot down and said "If you actually want your party, you need to help me plan and find a new place or else we are eloping like I wanted to in the beginning. Deal?" He explained that he was feeling not excited because I kept calling it HIS party and I was having so much anxiety over doing something I really didn't want. He was right. It was making me miserable. I agreed to try to be more positive about it, as long as he helped me plan.
Our fourth wedding was planned down to the wire with ten weeks to go. We finally found a better private room that was in our budget. There was really nothing wrong with it but nothing outstanding or memorable about it. Soon I started freaking out over stupid things that I never thought i'd care about, like seating place cards, our iPod playlist and lighting. I had Pintrest rustic weddings bookmarked and actually even contemplated buying a $400 cake. What was I tuning into!?
Our RSVP cards arrived and we had just finished designing our invitations. For having promised to step up his game with helping, my fiancé was still doing nothing. He would cluelessly ask me "well what is there to do?" while I sat with a list of fifty things.
People were starting to talk about booking flights. I was hard at work adding 1,000 beads to the dark brown gown I bought off the rack for cheap, since the missing beads had made it unsellable.
Everything seemed like it should have been fine, but I wasn't fine or excited.
I woke up the day we were supposed to order invitations and cried for three hours. This had turned into something I never wanted and still didn't want. I felt like I was being dragged kicking and screaming toward this date. Sure I wanted to be married, but I still didn't want a whole event surrounding it.
When my fiancé came home from work I told him I really couldn't do this thing he wanted. I had tried so hard to brainwash myself for nearly a year to suck it up and get through it, that it was making me crazy. I didn't feel like myself anymore. He said ok, he understood.
I emailed to cancel the private room, took the freshly printed RSVP cards and tossed them in the trash. I felt exhilarated and relieved. Our family and friends were disappointed when we told them to "unsave" the date but understood.
After several conversations about how and why it meant so much to me, I finally was able to convince my fiancé to a private ceremony with one witness and a super fancy dinner for two after. Victory at last!! I tried to highlight how it doesn't matter if you have ten or one person watch you get married. You are still just as married at the end of the day. I'm also very anti PDA and feel that wedding vows are intimate and private. I could never imagine doing them with more than one person watching. Even that feels weird.
That's when we started planning our fifth & FINALLY private wedding. We paid half down to the officiant, decided on a rooftop at Sunset and were just five days from the date. I finally was getting excited. This was exactly the relaxed, no timeline kind of day I was hoping for and would cost less than $250.
But that all came crashing down when he had a freakout similar to the ones I had been having. He told me he felt really awful about getting married with no one there and he wasn't on board to do it this way. It was really important to him that he shared the day with people he cares about.
After a four hour dramatic fight and fourteen months of planning, we threw in the towel and called off the wedding completely for the time being. Instead of getting married for our ten year anniversary, we went to City Hall and registered into a legal domestic partnership.
We took a good seven months off from thinking about getting married at all and revisited the idea with a fresh pair of eyes. We both agreed to start planning an 11 year anniversary party/post wedding celebration but with a few caveats this time around.
Since the timeline issue gave me so much anxiety, we decided to do the quick rooftop ceremony with just 6 family members on a Friday and plan the party for 30 people the next night. I was still not getting my way, but was trying to overcome my wedding phobias.
After looking at several restaraunts I really liked, we found the perfect one. It had elements of every one of the places we had canceled, but was better. It was more expensive than I was ok with, but after all of the drama the year before, my fiancé said not to worry about the money.
So, we signed the contract and started planning our sixth wedding. This time we sent out physical save the date cards to invite over forty people with super serious wax seals. My family joked they would be buying flights 3 days before in case we cancelled again. I started buying all kinds of fun muppets stuff to decorate with. We revisited making our invitations that featured Statler And Waldorf muppets saying "This Is A Match Made In Hell!"
and hit the 110 day countdown mark. Though I was still doubtful and anxious about doing this party, I was trying to stay calm and make everybody else happy. It would be insane to cancel again after what had happened the year before.
Then one day I emailed a nearby hotel to see if we could get a block of eight rooms for out of town guests. I clicked to open the response email which toted the Subject line: "THE PERFECT STAY FOR YOUR PERFECT DAY!"
I felt like I got slapped in the face. I just sat there and stared at the words for ten minutes.... PERFECT DAY. .....PERFECT DAY....
It made me angry that I had spent TWO YEARS of my life turning into a person who cares about a perfect day. Though I didn't want any traditions, I was killing myself to have this anti-wedding be perfect for my standards. I had become the anti-bridezilla. There was never going to be anything off- beat enough to make me ok with doing this.
So I talked to my fiance and we cancelled our venue. Again. I started telling friends and family it was off. Again. A week went buy and I started feeling extremely guilty. I kept wondering why I couldn't just be like those bitches on The Knot who can't wait prance down the aisle and have everyone call them Mrs. Was I missing a part of my female DNA? Considering I hate shopping and have 0 desire to ever have kids it's very possible.
That's when I decided that I was going to pick up the pieces and give myself permission to be excited about having a wedding. I dusted myself off and emailed the venue to see if the day was still available. It was. I was totally going to save this stupid party.
With that, I began to plan our wedding for the seventh time. I put our website back up and we started getting ready to design invitations. But it was only two days before I started having nightmares again and clenching my jaw at night from stress. I had to tell my brain every day to just shut up and have fun. I was going to love this stupid party and put on a show about how much fun I was having-even if it took 12 glasses of wine a xanax and a joint. It was going to be fan-fuckingtastic.
Sadly, my attempt at a wedding planning high didn't last long. I hit a brick wall and could not go through with something I am so disinterested in doing. I've realized, making other people happy for a few hours is not worth 75 panic attacks or as much anxiety as this has all given me over the years.
Despite the many hours talking to my fiance about this and we sadly still cannot reach a compromise. I've thrown in the towel on the entire idea at this point. I'm emotionally exhausted and have resigned to living our Oprah/Stedman lifestyle for the foreseeable future.