Don’t Worry, Be Happy

My wedding day was not the happiest day of my life.

I’ve talked before about the pressure to have the right feelings. A bride is supposed to be blissfully happy on her wedding day, and declare it the best day of her life. The wedding dress is supposed to be the best thing she’s ever worn, and she’s supposed to look the most beautiful she’s ever looked. Everything comes with a superlative attached to it, according to the WIC.

Some people may feel “the most” or “the best” all day long, but I was not one of those people. Sure, my wedding day was filled with moments of joy—sometimes even transcendent joy—but it was filled with a lot of other feelings, too, some of which were unhappy feelings. I felt a lot of anxiety. Looking back, it was unfounded anxiety, but that doesn’t change the fact that I felt it. And I feel a little bad about feeling that way, which is ridiculous. I’m a human being, not a robot. I can’t control my emotions on cue, especially on a day that’s supposed to be emotional.

But the WIC tells brides that they should feel a certain way, so when I didn’t feel that way, I felt like I was doing it wrong. It was a vicious cycle that went something like this: feel anxious –> feel bad about feeling anxious –> try to calm down –> not be able to calm down –> get mad that I can’t calm down –> increase level of anxiety because now I’m anxious about being anxious.

It’s not that I wasn’t happy on our wedding day; it’s that I feel bad that I wasn’t happier. I can’t go back and make our wedding day perfect for me, and that makes me sad. I only got one shot at it, and I feel like I failed. I love Mr. T, and I love our marriage, but I didn’t big puffy hearts love our wedding every moment of the day. That’s not a feeling that’s discussed, so it makes me feel like a failure because I didn’t experience transcendent joy all day long.

So I share this post with you so that you know it’s OK to feel however you feel. If you feel transcendent joy and think your wedding day was the best day of your life, you’re not doing it wrong. If you feel panicky and nauseous, you’re not doing it wrong. If you actually vomit, well, join the club.

BLOGGER

Mrs. Treasure

Location:
Chicago
Wedding Date:
September 2012

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  1. Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 4:37 pm

    YES!!!

    I felt the same way. Why do I feel this way? Should I feel this way? How should I feel?

    When I talked to someone who was getting married about a month ago, I told her to experience the emotions of the day and let them be what they are, whatever they are.

  2. Member
    MrsKeAloha 1044 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:48 pm

    My wedding day made me cry the next day, the following week and when we got our pics back. Nerves, being tired and too many people hovering over me.
    but I now look at it with great happiness. It sounds like you moved past the emotional rollercoaster faster than I did.
    I look forward to reading the rest of your story and recaps

  3. Member
    annarborette 27 posts, Newbee @ 4:50 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! There’s definitely an expectation that your wedding will be the best of everything, but all that pressure just adds to the stress of trying to put on a major, emotional event with everyone you care about. Thank you for writing. I’ll keep this in mind when I get to my own wedding day!

  4. Member
    Mrs. Dragon 813 posts, Busy bee @ 5:13 pm

    Excellent post! Our wedding felt like an amazing thing in the moment, but there were a LOT of nerves and flubs and not-so-perfect moments within that.

    What shocked me was all the negative feelings that came AFTER the wedding — guilt, anxiety, disappointment, worry, on and on.

    I think that the further you get away from it, the more the less than stellar stuff fades away, though, and the bright and light moments start to shine through.

  5. Member
    mswizard 554 posts, Busy bee @ 5:16 pm

    YES YES YES. So much this. I didn’t feel the prettiest I ever felt on my wedding day. I own a lot of dresses that look better on me than my wedding dress did. I didn’t even cry happy tears because I never felt the kind of happiness that pushed me to that kind of reaction. In fact, I broke down in UNhappy tears at our reception because I was overwhelmed with being the center of attention and nothing was going the way I had planned (read: reception supposed to end at 11 PM, but by 8:30 the decorations were all packed and the tables bare because all the guests had left so early).

    And ever since our wedding (even to this day, over 4 months later) I have had serious post-wedding blues, because I wish I could go back and do it again knowing what I know now. But I can’t. And that’s a hard pill to swallow. Posts like this remind me that I’m not alone and that it’s okay to feel whatever I felt. Thanks for writing this :)

  6. Member
    genie 723 posts, Busy bee @ 5:27 pm

    This is so spot on. I am an anxious person by nature, so why wouldn’t I be nervous or worried on the day of my own wedding where I am the center of attention and everyone is focused on me? And unfortunately, while I was calm, I suffer from chronic bitch face, so it didn’t look like I was happy all the time. So I was happy, yes, but I was anxious and I was emotional, and I felt like I was going to vomit if I didn’t cry to let it all out. It’s just ok. It’s just a wedding, not the rest of your life, when there will be some really great moments where you will feel complete joy.

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Washington, Guest @ 6:38 pm

    This, a thousand times this. Thanks for putting words to what I’ve been feeling since our big day.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    Beth, Guest @ 6:47 pm

    Wow. This is the first post I have seen that speaks the truth (to me)…..I was one hot mess on my wedding day!!! So exhausted, so overwhelmed…so much so that it’s like I wasn’t even there. I keep telling my husband that I don’t feel married- it’s because I’m so damn busy trying to magically whisk myself back to our wedding so I can do it better…I think of all the amazing moments and then they get over shadowed with the ‘buts’ about the day. Brides need to know that, truly, just because the pictures were amazing…the ones we see on the blogs, in the magazines, all over the place- doesn’t mean that everything was perfect….weddings are incredibly magical but they are also the most prepared for, most nerve consuming, most expensive, flashes in time. You blink and it’s over….the 2 years that I spent making every single thing for our wedding and half of it never getting used (ahem). So, it kind of sucks- to be sad about it on some level. But it’s also okay, so, so OK!!! I’ll get over it- we do the best we can. And if we marry someone who we desperately love (and no that doesn’t mean unicorns and roses all the time, all the way) then hey, we rocked it…pat on the back girls, pat on the back.

  9. Member
    mtnhoney 1311 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:01 pm

    I’m sorry you felt so much pressure and anxiety on your wedding day!! you didn’t really explain why… was there thing that “went wrong” or stressful family situations?

    I felt pretty good on the day of, kept my cool even when things were running late and I was left to finish the decorating IN MY DRESS while my Mother held back the guests from entering the venue… (sigh) but in the weeks following my wedding, I had quite a few moments of wishing things had gone better, looked better, etc.

    We all go through it. Sounds like you have a better perspective on it now, and a good attitude!

  10. Member
    Magdalena 1324 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:28 pm

    When you get right down to it… it’s just another day. The sun rises, the sun sets. If the wedding day was really the happiest day of your life, well, that would be sad because it would be all down hill from there! Hopefully every bride’s happiest days lie ahead of her.

    For me it was a happy day but it felt more like a dream. Part of it was that I was a virgin on our wedding night, we hadn’t lived together before marriage, etc…I had never slept in a bed with another person before. I got a new home in a new town. Everything about being married felt new and different. Everything about my life changed! So it was kind of like there was a gauzy layer between me and my feelings. And it actually lasted for the first month or so of being married. A feeling of unreality.

    Looking back I THINK I remember feeling happy but mostly just… stupefied by adrenaline? I can’t come up with the right word for it :)

  11. Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 8:02 pm

    Such a great post! There are so many pressures on brides (and grooms) on their wedding days, the pressure for you to feel a certain way rather than just experiencing the day has always confused me.
    Our wedding day had elements that made it the best day in my life (friends, family, cake), but by no means does it mean the day was pure joy. Luckily, those less than great moments continue to fade with time.

  12. Member
    scepter 333 posts, Helper bee @ 8:46 pm

    Yes. I am so glad you posted it. I was in blissful joy until right after the rehearsal dinner, when I promptly starting freaking out. The whole day of my wedding I was trying to be nice to everyone and seem super happy, but I felt incredibly moody and bitchy. (I think thats how I react to anxiety.) I loved parts of our wedding day, but I think it is important for brides to know that for a lot of us it is going to be a normal day with a wide range of emotions.

  13. Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:29 pm

    Thank you to everyone for these comments. I was unsure whether I should post this, but I’m glad I did. Hearing your stories makes me feel so much better about my experience.

    @MrsKeAloha: I had a major breakdown when we got our photos back, too. It was actually the reason I wrote this post.

    @Mrs. Genie: The funny part is that I’m NOT an anxious person. I think that’s a big reason why I felt so off on my wedding day. I was anxious, and then confused as to why I was anxious. Also, I had the opposite of bitch face on my wedding day. I’m smiling in all the pictures, but on the inside, I didn’t feel smiley.

    @mtnhoney: No family drama or anything that went wrong. I think I was just really uncomfortable being the center of attention and playing hostess for such a huge event. Normally, I love hosting events and I’m a theatre kid/litigator, so I’m used to being the center of attention, but for some reason, this was the perfect storm.

  14. Member
    Hydra 95 posts, Worker bee @ 9:39 pm

    My day was also not perfectly happy. My Mother has severe social anxiety issues so the wedding was a major source of stress for her. As a result, we tried to minimize her involvement in things that would upset her.

    The day of, she was accidentally brought to the pre-wedding decorating and all of the hustle and bustle put her in an awful mood and many times, once she’s like that you can’t fix it for the rest of the day. When I picked her up to get our hair done and saw how she was, I lost it completely. I sobbed the entire walk back to our hotel, thinking that the whole day was going to be ruined. She didn’t really know what to do with me then – I think she was worried enough about me that it evaporated her bad mood and I slowly got her back. Though we had to go through getting her hair done with her still moody and me looking like I had been crying my eyes out, which was really awkward!

    Somehow though, that didn’t damper the rest of the day. Slowly but surely, by ceremony time I was back to feeling an annoying combination of nerves and excitement. The second I walked into the ceremony with my Dad I was hit with an incredible wave of emotion from all the love and support of our friends and family. From there on out, I was on the highest of happiness highs that I didn’t come down from until well into the next day! There were a few things that didn’t go perfectly during the reception, but they couldn’t even touch me up on my cloud.

    In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t been so upset that morning, but I can’t take it back now. I think it’s important like you said to recognize that all wedding-day feelings are legit, whether happy or not so much. Make peace with it as that part of your life story and move on to the next chapter, which is bound to be even better.

  15. Member
    lealorali 4827 posts, Honey bee @ 5:01 am

    What a great post. I think we all feel so much pressure to have “THE PERFECT DAY” and it can create so much anxiety. So nice to hear this perspective.

  16. Member
    msfairy 976 posts, Busy bee @ 7:58 am

    So glad you posted this – this resonates with me so well. I look back at my wedding day and there are parts I love – but parts I don’t. I wish I had been ‘prettier’. I just got pictures back and my photographer missed shots I wanted. I wish I got to enjoy the day more instead of being the coordinator of everyone. I wish I could have danced at certain songs when I was talking to older family friends, or been at the photo booth with friends when I was dealing with family emotions. I wish I had gone with a different dress. But overall I wish I could go back and just not care so much about the day being perfect and feeling a certain way. There is too much expectation about a perfect day, and while there are parts of the day that are absolutely perfect, it might not all be.

  17. Member
    jesij1212 34 posts, Newbee @ 10:05 am

    It’s been 4 months since our wedding and I STILL have that overwhelming feeling that I wish I could re-do it because so many things didn’t happen the way I wanted. I spent most of my day disappointed in my bridesmaids, our first look was terrible because my husband was out in the heat waiting on us for ever (see: bridesmaids), etc, etc, etc. I’m sure I will let go of these feelings eventually, but I just can’t help but think “It could have been so much better”. I keep thinking back to my walk down the aisle and locking eyes with my husband, and that helps me remember that there were some AMAZING parts of the day I would never change. Hang in there!

  18. Member
    painauchocolat 2298 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:15 pm

    I got all of my not so pretty emotions out before the wedding, thank goodness! While our wedding was as close to perfect as I could have hoped for, there will always be things to change. Like Mink suggested, I just tried to experience things through the filter of having no preconceived idea of what I was supposed to be feeling. That and I kept busy because that’s how I avoid anxious feelings!

  19. Member
    pinkfrog 1141 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:46 pm

    Planning for me was straight hell. I hate planning parties, I’m not happy being the center of attention, and we had a lot of life stuff happen that made us feel like we were a little cursed (ie, within two weeks of the wedding, his cousins’ grandmother died, our good friends’ dog died [a bigger deal than you think, I promise], another friend’s grandmother was on her death bed, our best man’s grandfather died, and DH’s uncle fell down the steps and broke his leg and couldn’t come). Plus three months before the wedding, my dad passed away- which ripped me apart. So planning was, shall we say, unfun.

    The day of went back and forth. Getting ready, fun, but once the photographer showed up, all hell broke loose. Dancing with friends, fun, running around to all the tables, not fun at all (but we got it done during dinner so we could dance and party all night. Doing tequila shots with my 85 year old grandmother, AWESOME, my shoes tearing dime-sized holes in my feet, not awesome. Sweating like a pig, decidedly not awesome. DH’s friends throwing me up in the air, awesome. Dealing with YET MORE seating chart issues because DH’s family doesn’t know what “Mr. & Mrs.” means on an invitation, not fun. And two of my BM’s (my good friend and SIL) almost got in a fistfight. That was cute.

    Overall, I loved it. I had a great time, I had a smile on my face 80% of the night, and I danced a LOT. We have a lot of people telling us it was the best wedding they ever went to, which really makes it worth it in a lot of ways, and I think it was fun because the two of us were honestly having the time of our lives. My best advice is to have a drink- and I mean A drink. It’ll loosen you up enough to forget some of what makes you nervous, without getting you falling down sloppy drunk. My mimosa was the best drink of the day- I sweat so much at the reception I was drinking consistently but I didn’t feel even a smidge drunk.

  20. Member
    mswallaby 2061 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:57 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this, this will be on my mind next weekend. Mr. W and I have talked many times about how we in no way expect this to be the “best day of our lives” – there are so, so many stressful logistics that it seems it can’t be a serene, relaxed day – but I will try to live in the moment and not worry about how I am feeling.

    I’m hoping you and Mr. T have found more joy and calm in the period since the wedding. It’s about the marriage, not the wedding, right?

  21. Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:12 pm

    I hate the pressure of it being the best day of your life. I expect it to be a fabulous, joyous day, but not THE best, that’s way too much of an expectation.
    As you pointed, it’ll just leave you a bad taste in your mouth if it indeed doesn’t turn out to be the BEST day of your life. It is ridiculous.

  22. Member
    sword 1029 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:23 pm

    so glad you posted this Mrs T!

  23. Member
    HobbyLobbyist 398 posts, Helper bee @ 9:15 pm

    Thank you for this post!

  24. Member
    Red Poppy 20 posts, Newbee @ 10:19 am

    Thank you for your honesty. I felt a little stressed on my wedding day as much as I tried to soak in the moments and enjoy. My husband and I never expected it to be the happiest day of our lives… It is just one day, after all. The wedding world is big on putting a lot of pressure on having a perfect fairy tale day.

  25. Guest Icon Guest
    replica watches, Guest @ 1:02 am

    thanks for share!

  26. Guest Icon Guest
    Kayley, Guest @ 6:38 am

    Wonderful post! There is so much hype about your wedding day being THE best day of your life. In reality, I found it overwhelming. What turned out ot be the best day was the day AFTER my wedding. It hit me that I was married the man I had crushed on for so long, whom I loved more than I thought possible. We met up with our closest family and friends at my parents’ home in the country for brunch. There was no rush, no expectations, just perfect wedded bliss.

  27. Member
    juniebug48 41 posts, Newbee @ 11:04 am

    Thank you for posting this. It adds huge importance to setting expectations. I just started planning and I can only imagine what this journey is going to be like. I’m not saying this is a downer AT ALL. I love it because it makes me feel closer to the real world and to stay chilled out about everything as much as possible. When I get wigged, I am going to think about this (and all the other gracious comments) to bring myself back to Earth. Nothing is ever ever perfect and stay in the moment. Thank you so much.

  28. Guest Icon Guest
    EllaTrickchair, Guest @ 12:07 pm

    The book “The Concious Bride” explains all the bad feelings that come with the good. When I tried to open up about the loss I felt of my single life via the Bee boards, I got a little shut down. Thankfully this book explains that you feel some loss in order to make room for your husband to become your new family.

    It also explains that brides become bridezillas when they focus their energy on the details as a way of ignoring the emotions they may be feeling. It is often easier to feel anger than sadness.

    It is a very good book detailing the rite of passage that revolves around getting married and how it is different for the bride and the groom.

  29. Guest Icon Guest
    weddingphotog, Guest @ 5:06 pm

    As a wedding photographer, I have been with many brides as they navigate their feelings on their wedding day, and there are lots of emotions! There’s usually a lot going on and many brides get stressed out, especially early in the day.

    I always tell them to try to let go of the last minute things that can’t be changed and focus on the most awesome thing about a wedding- you get to marry your favorite person AND have all of your dear friends and family with you for one day in your life. When else do you have everyone you love in one place? Maybe your funeral… sorry that’s morbid but true! You should try to just absorb it and spend time with the people you love and delegate tasks to others.

    It’s really important to plan ahead. I can’t really stress that enough. Plan it all out! Most importantly, appoint someone to deal with the last minute things that pop up! There are more than you think, and it’s important to have some people you count on to deal with them. Hiring a good day of coordinator isn’t a bad idea if you are worried about getting everything done or if you aren’t into planning logistical details.

    Here are some tips to avoid wedding day stress for you soon to be brides:
    1. Plan everything out.
    2. Make a timeline and share it with your wedding party.
    3. Stick to the timeline.
    4. Appoint people to help with last minute details.
    5. Live in the moment and try to stay relaxed.
    6. Accept that some things will not go according to plan and make the most of them.
    7. Focus on having fun with the people you love!

    That being said, I am getting married in May and am worried I am going to be anxious bride trying to make sure everyone is happy! haha I like to be the one behind the camera, and having so much attention will be weird.

  30. Guest Icon Guest
    Tamasi1, Guest @ 11:07 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I got married last year and our wedding was by all counts wonderful. Great weather, super fun reception, and lots of family and friends to share the day with. Countless people told us it was one of the best weddings they had been to. That said, I still struggle with feeling disappointed with the day. I think the fact that nothing horrible happened makes this disappointment seem even more irrational and just adds to the guilt. I had put so much time into the day to make it “perfect” that I took every little imperfection personally and thought it was a failure on my part or somehow reflected poorly on me. The planning had made me miserable and put significant stress on my relationship with my husband. Did I look pretty on my wedding day? Sure. Do I feel that I looked the prettiest I’ve ever looked? Not really. Does that bother me? Yes. I think my dress was pretty, but I wasn’t in love with it and my hair was a bit of a dud. Were the photos nice? Sure. But that doesn’t stop me from picking them apart and wondering why no one told me to un-bussle my dress for some photos. I put so much into planning our wedding to try to make it perfect, it’s hard not to feel critical or look back and pick the day (and myself) apart. I’ve spent (read: wasted) a lot of time trying to convince myself that it was the best day of my life (I mean isn’t what we are told?) But I’ve come to realize and accept (for the most part) that I’ll probably never feel that way. And it’s ok. I married my best friend. And at the end of the day, our wedding was one day. I now get to spend the rest of my life with a wonderful man, which really is the whole point. And hopefully, I never have to plan another wedding again!

  31. Member
    royalpurplebride 511 posts, Busy bee @ 2:11 pm

    I have felt this way sometimes too. I was in a terrible mood at our rehearsal. I was sad that our parents were not sitting with us. And upset when my sweetie’s best friend wouldnt get up to talk without being nudged. It was an awful, unorganized day, we were both late for the rehearsal as well. I cried all night before my wedding.
    With that out the way, I went to sleep early that night, cleared my mind and woke up feeling more refreashed. The one thing that made me sad on my wedding day was lack of support from my bridesmaids. Its like I was forcing them all to be there. They were pretty much all unhappy most of the day. And the pics I got from getting ready, my sister still has. And doesnt care to download for me. We also didnt get some other pics I wanted. And our ceremony was extremely unorganized.
    The funny thing is that, through all the craziness, lack of support from our friends and disorganization and lack of a wedding coordinator, it all worked out. When I locked eyes with my groom through the night, all the drama melted away. And when I walked through those doors at the church, and met eyes with him, I knew my heart at that moment felt truly complete. And that feeling of happiness is what the “perfect day” is truly about in my eyes.
    Thanks for sharing your honest story.

  32. Member
    call_me_ktb 106 posts, Blushing bee @ 1:54 pm

    wow, i am so with you on this. i’m late to reading this post partially because i’ve felt like this, too and therefore somewhat distanced myself from all weddingy things after the big day was over.

    i think @Miss Fairy: really said it perfectly ” I wish I got to enjoy the day more instead of being the coordinator of everyone. I wish I could have danced at certain songs when I was talking to older family friends…” I am also a relatively anxious person in everyday life. I also am very organized and somewhat controlling. I had a hand (if not THE hand) in every aspect of planning our day so what made me think I’d be able to shake it all off and totally experience a carefree day disconnected from the outcome of all my planning? not so. how could it be? of course i wanted to be sure all was well and everyone was enjoying all the details we had spent lots of time preparing! it’s almost counter intuitive if you think about it – the fact that we expect so much of ourselves leading up to the wedding day – diy and all of that – and then we’re also expected to be all like “whatevvvssss” on the day of? haha it’s nuts!

    my husband and I definitely wished we were able to let loose a little more and not worry so much about talking to every single person or coordinating anything but in reality, that’s not who we are as people. we still had a wonderful day – everyone else did, too! and i really do look back on it as one of the best days.. but not THE best.

    you are certainly not alone in your post-wedding sentiment though, fret not.

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