Wedding Demons

Today’s guest post is from Samantha Strong Murphey, who aspires to be the next J.K. Rowling, but so far, every time she sits down to write her masterpiece, it comes out as a masked version of Harry Potter. Until an original idea strikes, she’ll continue working as a freelance journalist, copy editor and blogger. She graduated in communications and philosophy from Brigham Young University and has worked as a reporter and editor for the New York Daily News and Utah Valley Magazine. Now living in Atlanta, GA with her husband, Samantha is passionate about karaoke, evergreens and media literacy. Check out her blog at www.scarlettcalledscout.com.

I have wedding demons.

Like my own hell-bent ghosts of Christmas past, they follow me, haunt me, shame me. They keep me company.

The dress — cheapest one I didn’t hate — picked to prove something.

The flowers, rushed.

The cake, expensive and tasteless and who cares about cake?

The tables, sloppy vision, blah and blah.

The photographer, perfect. Just perfect. But it’s hard to forget my misplaced pickiness and bridezilla moments with her — ugly moments hovering in retrospect.

The organization at the reception, messy timing, needless waste.

I could go on. I do go on — in my head in moments of weakness, too frequent moments these past 20 months. I stew and regret and then hate myself for caring — and for still caring — and for seeing no end to the caring in sight.

If I could go back, I’d get married in February. I’d wear a fluttery, fairy-like tea-length dress, sparkly pumps, hair down, no veil, tomato red lipstick. I’d have a little bouquet, something white and fluffy-looking. I’d have a cozy little open house at the clubhouse in my parent’s neighborhood in Midway the night before. No toasts, no speeches — those could come at a low-key luncheon at some low-key restaurant the next day after the ceremony. But I would perform some well-rehearsed, over-the-top karaoke love song that night. Just me. No one else. Then we’d sit by the fire on the big stone hearth and chat with friends and family. There’d be mossy little tree stumps on the tables with our initials carved in a heart on each one. More white, fluffy flowers — peonies? Ranunculus, maybe? Ice cream cookie sandwich bar. Glitter everywhere.

But I can’t go back. And even if I could change the silly details, it wouldn’t matter in the end, because the result would be the same — I married the love of my life that day, the honest-to-goodness love of my life.

I chant that to myself when my imagination heads straight for the dead-end past of superficial wedding would-haves.

I force-feed myself mature thoughts.

The fact is, the day I got married was a bright and wonderful day at the end of a long train of dark ones. My engagement was a time of confusion for me, pain even. My wedding day — for all of its charms — was a product of that period. It felt a little messy, a little unsettling. It felt, in short, like a wedding planned by someone else. And, in short, it had been.

My wedding was planned by a girl in turmoil and experienced by a girl at peace.

And someday — hopefully someday soon — I’ll make my peace with that.

24 thoughts on “Wedding Demons

  1. i have had a very similar post-wedding experience. i consider myself a low-maintenance woman and was determined to have my wedding be a reflection of this. i may have gone too far.

    i wore my sister’s dress, which fit when i first decided to wear it, but was a little too big for me after the stress of finishing my law school second year finals two days before my wedding caused me to lose a few pounds. i wore my hair down and still tease my mom and sisters for not making me at least brush out some rough patches before the reception. they insist that they did and i didn’t receive the suggestion too kindly. i believe them, although i don’t recall any such exchange. it would have been in character though.

    i too, wish that i had had a smaller, more intimate gathering with family and close friends instead of a reception that really wasn’t very enjoyable for me. there are plenty of other details that i would change if i could go back but i think that a lot of these things aren’t obvious to a bride-to-be and there are probably many women who wish that they had done things differently. hindsight is twenty/twenty.

    but. as much as i feel small pings of regret when i look back on my wedding, i always come back to the same conclusion as you – it doesn’t matter because the end result is what really mattered and i came away from the whole experience, perfect or not, married to a man that i love and who loves me.

  2. I have no regrets about my wedding. Mostly, I think, because we ignored many social conventions and let my hudband’s and my personalities shine through. Just another benefit of just being yourself.

    But, I do remember that period (and the engagement and the first few months of marriage) as being emotionally taxing, and I don’t really look back at those days fondly.

  3. I think you’re very normal, kid. I have the same demons about Sarah’s first wedding. We blew out the bank and it was beautiful. BUT the cake still eats at me (it could have been so much better); we should have done this or that to make it better.

    Well, actually, we should have never had that wedding at all. Still hurts my heart.

    So when she married the second time, I bought her dress (second hand, but gorgeous) and we gave her $1000 and said “go for it.” There are things I wish they’d done differently.

    Weddings are from hell. One of my friends said “it’s what you have to go through to get them out of your house.”

  4. I could have written this post. Different details but same general story. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who has to remind herself that the important thing is that I married the love of my life and that I hated my bouquet enough to set it down somewhere and secretly hope it would get lost or forgotten.

  5. Very interesting thing to share. I hope you don’t mind me throwing a few things out there. I have been married 20 years, I know myself much better now.
    1. Anxiety. I didn’t know what the actual definition of anxiety was 20 years ago. I have it and it affects my life in a few different ways. I was at a Scout Auction last night. When I came home I had two things that I knew I would rehash and feel anxious about. I usually experience this after social interactions, and always about something that I should have done differently. To me, it is the cost of interacting with others and I have to pay it because I do not want to be anti-social. I’d love to say that it isn’t a big deal, but all I can say is that with my low dose medication, it is at levels that I can deal with.
    2. Wedding days are a little too hyped up for young girls. Think of that objectively. There really is no reason why what you ate or wore on one day should haunt you forever…..you don’t remember what you wore on thousands of other days in your life. Sounds like you know what was really important was starting a marriage. The rest was just a party that was not really crucial.
    3. Give yourself a break. Weddings are planned often by very young women with no experience. I just sent an email to a ward member who planned the Scout Auction event from last night. It was a success but she is a 50 year old woman with years and years of experience. She vowed to never do it again because it was a huge stress and a lot of work. I myself didn’t enjoy planning my wedding even though I had a good budget. One thing that I agonize over is my china registery. I feel I made a mistake choosing it, choosing china at all, really (but it was traditional then). I simply tell myself that I was young, what did I know about life? You don’t learn anything if you never fail. It’s ok to look back on yourself and realize that you were young and didn’t know what you were doing. You were doing your best.
    Don’t spend your life regretting such a small thing. You will get there. Keep forcefeeding yourself those “mature” thoughts.

  6. Interesting. I was thinking about this exact thing this weekend. I have wedding demons, too, and I was way to tired and stressed at my reception to be a gracious bride. I wish I could go back and keep it simple and save the money and stress. I wasted way too much of both trying to please other people and live up to expectations that were unrealistic.

  7. My story was similar and yet not. My engagement was probably one of the most truly awful periods of my life, but my wedding day was like coming into the light after so many months of darkness. It wasn’t perfect, and there are a few things I would go back and change (I would have dancing at the reception, and I’d be psychic so that I would know in advance that the chairs we rented would need covers to hide the big blue lettering on the backs!)… but it was a wonderful, magical day. The first in nearly four (now) years of wonderful, magical days. Not that there haven’t been ups and downs, but marriage has proved SO much better than what came before it…

  8. I don’t know anyone who was totally happy with all the details of their wedding day. After my first husband died and I did all over again, and it wasn’t much better….the actual day I mean. Both marriages are/were wonderful.

  9. I became a temple worker about six months after my wedding, so every Saturday I had to walk past all the brides in front of the Los Angeles Temple and re-evaluate every decision I made. Of course, *that* was the perfect veil, *those* were the perfect flowers, why hadn’t I seen that sooner? Once I wasn’t surrounded by better wedding options, the regrets went away. (I’d unsubscribe from any wedding-themed Pinterest boards right about now, if I were the OP…)

    I hated my veil. I hated that I cut my hair super short three months before my wedding, so short that my future sister-in-law (who was ten) started crying when she saw it. I hated that nobody told me to take of my Mickey Mouse watch and instead cover my tan line with a bracelet. Now I laugh at most of those things because it is just a sign of how extremely, inordinately young I was, and I look back on my younger self’s mistakes fondly. And once I had kids, I had brand-new bad decisions to second guess myself on, EVERY SINGLE DAY!! Isn’t growing up the best?

  10. Yes. I hear you. If I got married again today there are DEFINITELY things I would do differently. (My engagement was about what you described yours as being too. :)) But oh well. It’s done and over and 18 years (almost) under the bridge. SO much has happened since then that the angst of that day and the engagement that preceded it has largely passed on and been superseded new worries/things to learn about. Just like you, I’m so grateful for who I married and what we’ve gotten to experience together since our wedding day.

  11. 17 years later i’m still upset about the tablecloths, menu, my own inexperience and cluelessness and how i wish i’d invested more in the planning… but most of all that my MIL spent most of my open house on the phone with her daughter! totally missing in action, and i’m still trying to forgive and forget. i’d redo it all in a heartbeat, except the man i married :-)

  12. Chuck it. Chuck it all. I’m really serious. Some things are baggage without one iota of value. You sound like such an interesting person. Why pick up the wedding stick and whack yourself with it periodically?

    I suffered from anxiety serious enough to cause enough of what they called “breakdowns” – a couple of them in my twenties. Everything has the capacity to produce anxiety in someone. The only real anxiety is separation from God.

    There is a reason that the Lord says, cast your burdens on me. It’s because they’re dead weight. Life is a process of teaching ourselves what matters, and the sooner we learn it, the sooner we are filled with unbelievable joy!

    Chuck it. Go snuggle up with a good book or with the cute guy that wedding brought you, or have some chocolate and just STOP IT. (Thanks, Pres. Uchtdorf.) ;)

  13. My wedding demons are still with me. I ordered a dress from a modest LDS bridal website in Las Vegas (i am from Europe)and the dress was a total disappointment and the shop a total sham. The lady went out of business after my dress and never cared about the sloppy mess she sent me. Now its 4 weeks before the wedding and unless i hand out the big bucks and by a dress local which will also include major alterings to make it garment worthy – no dress in sight. The alternative is to wear my sisters wedding dress that was also worn two years ago by my sister in law.

  14. Aw. I am so glad to hear that I’m not the only one with wedding demons! What a relief! I’d do everything differently. We did a cookie cutter reception to please everyone else and nothing about it was true to us. My only consolation is that I have three daughters and I am committed to encouraging them to let their own personalities shine when their days come.

  15. I think the one thing I came away with after my wedding day was that it was a lot of fuss that was really unwarranted. I’m sure if I could go back and do things again there would be things I’d do differently. But it wasn’t long after I got married before I started thinking, Why was I so stressed about something that’s really just one day? A special day, sure, but still just one day in a life full of days. It’s been almost 17 years, and life has gone on. The details of the wedding festivities are no longer important to me. Though I am glad we got a good photographer.

  16. Samantha: Your post captures that “stuck in a rut” of a black mood that we all experience at times. Good job. You will move out of this space, and you clearly have some great gifts that you can to create your new reality. Rock on with your fabulous self.

  17. I was 33 when I got married. I was paying for it myself and I was still a virgin.

    At that moment in time, I could’ve gotten married in a gunnysack in Appalachia with “Dueling Banjos” playing on a cheap record player and I wouldn’t have cared. I just wanted to get to bed.

  18. I am currently planning my wedding and am a full time student. It has been one of the hardest semesters of my life. Thankfully, my wonderful mother has been doing so much of the work for me, but it still has been a very taxing period. Thank you Samantha, and all those who have commented, you have made me feel that this is all normal and I have nothing to worry about. My fiance is an incredible man and I am so excited to start this new chapter in our lives together. I’m just glad to know that all this stress and concern for the most ridiculous things (like finding an outfit for 6 bridesmaids with 6 drastically different body types) will not typify my marriage. Thanks again.

  19. hey, you got the photography right! And the right guy. Nothing else matters.

    I will tell you one trend that drives me nuts (not saying this happened to you). A lot of parents like to put their kids in charge of the wedding planning as part of the “growing up” process. I see their reasoning, but we get married young in the LDS culture and many brides-to-be are juggling school, new jobs etc. As a wedding photographer, I’ll tell you, brides are MUCH happier when they aren’t completely in charge of the planning and budget.

  20. As someone who has been through three weddings (to the same person), my favorite was the first. Just me, my spouse and the officiant. Fabulous!

  21. I have huge regrets over the fact that I picked very much less-than-stellar photographer. He worked with my father and I chose him because I could just pick him and be done and move on to something else. My second biggest regret was not having a bouquet when I came out of the temple. It made those pictures like super less than stellar (considering the photographer was less than stellar and all). I wasn’t really happy with my veil, and as a result, my hairstyle. I chose it because it was my cousin’s and therefore free and would save money, even though money wasn’t a huge concern.

    I did love our reception though – it was NOT in the church cultural hall and pretty much had everything I wanted. Perhaps if we would have had a better photog, we would have better photographic reminders of the reception and as a result I’d be able to totally forget the aspects I didn’t like?

    I loved my sister’s wedding, and I think that was truly when my wedding demons really started. But she was divorced 18 months later, so even her super awesome pictures were pretty pointless, right?

  22. I just did what everyone else in my area did . so wrong for my hubby especially. Made a miserable day for him which made a miserable day for me. My Dad had offered me a buy out to just have a few guests and a simple luncheon I said no because my future in-laws would have been unhappy. Wish I had said yes, my Dad understood who I was marrying more than I did. Side note: why does the family of the bride/groom use the entire ward list to send out invitations. just because we attend the same ward does not mean that I have a relationship close enough to be invited to the most personal event of your daughter’s/son’s life.

  23. Kobie,

    Skip the bridesmaid dresses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Choose a color you like and let them choose their own dresses!!! My demon is that (and I’ve seen it echoed at every family wedding since) bridesmaid dresses are never worn again because NOBODY likes them in the end, even when you find one that comes in tall and maternity and petite, etc.

    That’s what I’d change!!!!!

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