The Stress of Weddings

I’m getting married in 79 days. Writing that feels scary. I feel like it wasn’t too long ago that I had months to plan, but now it’s all come down to these last 79 days and suddenly I feel like each day flies by in an instant.

When I first got engaged everyone kept saying, “oh you must be so busy with the wedding” and “you’re probably so stressed out” and I kept wondering what the big deal was, it seemed so easy. We were so ahead of the game, we got engaged in June, I had my dress ordered by July and the venue booked by August, all that done with more than a year to go. There really wasn’t much to do after that—until now.


I know I’ve done a few other posts about weddings, but I can’t help having them on my mind, and in less than three months I’ll be married and I won’t obsess over them anymore, promise. I hate that I’m obsessing over this wedding at all, but it becomes a huge part of your life and for at least a few months, it occupies most of your thoughts. It had seemed so far away for so long that I can’t believe how close it is now, and it’s pure anticipation from here on out. In the next couple weeks all those final arrangements are being made and people are going to be asking me a lot of questions about things I’m not sure I know the answer to. For example, “what color would you like your chair covers”? I actually asked if I could just have the chairs without the covers, but you can’t, so I don’t really care what color they are. Details like that don’t worry me, I know all those trivial little details won’t really matter, and if they do matter to someone, I’m glad it’s not me. I’m more concerned about the weather, or nervously laughing during the ceremony, or not being able to walk in my shoes.

There is also all this stress about changing your name, I’m not sure why some women chose to keep or change their names, but needless to say it’s an incredibly personal choice. Since I am one of seven granddaughters, with no grandsons, I always thought I’d keep my last name. I like it, and it never occurred to me that I would want to change it. In spite of all that, I think I’m going for the hyphen, because I like my last name, but I like his too and it just feels right, much like the way it felt when we decided to get married in the first place. It will however involve paperwork, which brings me back to the stress.

When you’re involved in a wedding there’s a whole bunch of stuff to keep track of, and it’s not that these things are terribly hard, there are just a lot of factors working together. You have people coming from all over, you have to arrange a hotel, and transportation, and of course the guest list and seating chart. If you can afford to hire a wedding planner that’s fabulous, but if not, it can become a full-time job. While some of us can shake our heads and think, “that’s crazy, when I get married I’m doing ___ or ___”, you never really know until you start researching and planning for yourself. Trust me, these things can snowball, that’s how they work. Not to mention that even uttering the word wedding gets you charged extra on everything from flowers to music, people know there is money in weddings, and even a restrained event can cost you dearly.

People don’t seem to understand how expensive weddings are, especially in and around big cities. Getting married in Manhattan, or even the outer boroughs, can cost double what it would anywhere else. When we first got engaged I thought we’d have one of those beautiful little weddings you see in Real Simple or on Theknot.com, you know with ball jars as vases, mismatched table cloths, and everything handmade from etsy or by someones mom. I thought “we’ll be thrifty, we’ll be simple and different—do a buffet, rent a tent, it will be sweet”, and  you know what I discovered? It costs twice as much to have an event that appears laid back, quirky and handmade. Maybe if you have a lot of land, or a lot of people willing to help, you can do it on a low-budget, I’m not sure. I was shocked to see how much less expensive it is to have your wedding at a catering hall, and that’s what we chose, because I can’t spend all my time stressing about this, and I don’t want anyone else to either. It might not be a custom experience, but I’ll know that the people we’re trusting to hold our wedding have done this before and do it all the time, they know what they’re doing, and I don’t.

Getting married itself is stressful enough, all the pressure that “wedding culture” puts on to it just adds fuel to the fire. Even if you walk down to city hall and exchange vows in front of witnesses, it’s still a stressful event, because it changes your life even while things stay the same. The ceremony is deeply significant, whether you have a big party or not, that moment you exchange vows you’ve entered into something new. My name will change, all the sudden—boom, new name. I’ve seen it on facebook, and in the office, one day someone is Jane Doe and the next week she’s Jane Smith, or Jane Doe-Smith, and even though it’s the same person it denotes something has changed. In my post about my incredible bridal shower, I spoke about how the wedding craze that consumes America loses sight of what weddings and marriage are all about, I think the same thing happens when you get caught up in the planning.

I’m really excited to marry my fiancé, and I can’t wait to celebrate with all my family and friends, there will be so much mirth, so much enjoyment in just 79 days, I can’t wait. What I need is to keep telling myself that the stress will pass, and things will fall into place, it will be perfect in its imperfection. The favors won’t be elaborate or custom-made, the cake won’t be gourmet, and some people might think the ceremony is a bit different, but all that stuff doesn’t matter, because as long as all the big stuff comes together—we’ll be married at the end of the night, and that’s the least stressful part of all.

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9 Comments

Filed under acceptance

9 responses to “The Stress of Weddings

  1. lizzy

    its going to be amazing no matter what happens! as long as we get to see you in your amazing outfit and get to dance and maybe eat and drink a little(which i think you’ve got covered), then its going to be awesome! i’m so excited for it i can’t wait!!!

  2. mkz201

    Just breathe. It will all fall into place.

    Is the claddagh hand drawn? The colors are really soft and pretty.

  3. haren

    It will be uniquely yours and that’s what is important.

  4. i can certainly relate to this post. you are going to be a beautiful bride, justine! congrats to you and james! 😉

    • Justine

      Thanks Ilana, you’re even closer to the stress, but I’m sure you’re handling it very gracefully! And congrats right back at you and Sven!

  5. Jennifer

    Here are some things that add to the insanity:
    You can only get a temporary marriage license within 60 days of having your ceremony officiated. What if you wanted to get it done earlier? Nope, you can’t! It expires and you have to do it again.

    You can not legally change your name before you get married. So just in case you have time before you’re married and then you don’t have time afterward, you’re out of luck.
    During tax time, we had to file with both of our last names because I couldn’t find the time to take his name. The IRS had plenty of trouble spelling both of our names correctly together.

    So in addition to all the 53, 619 other things that will drive you crazy, marriage is also a bureaucracy.

  6. Kathy

    You are so right, “it will be perfect in its imperfections”! It will be a day for you and James to always cherish. And just think, then you have your marriage to look forward to!

  7. Carmela

    Justine, you are going to be fine. You have a great attitude about all this, and whatever happens, it will be part of the memories you’ll have. I’m sure you are going to have a fabulous wedding and reception and wonderful married life!

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