My Wedding Was Awful — & That's What Made It Good

Photo: Kelly Benvenuto Photography.
Much to the dismay of the multi-billion-dollar wedding industry, I’m one of those women who has never dreamed of her wedding. I have conjured many (often unspeakable) fantasies about the man I will marry, a money-is-no-object honeymoon, a home of my own, and children I will conceive — but a wedding day? With a dress that costs as much as a human kidney on the black market?

No.

But when I got engaged, I have to admit I got excited about the idea of a wedding celebration — something in the fall, outdoors. It’d be small, but we’d serve brunch food, because who doesn’t like brunch food? I created, in my mind, an obnoxiously Pinterest-worthy wedding.

The problem was that we had to have the wedding where my in-laws live — a teeny-tiny town literally on the opposite side of the country from where my then-fiancé and I were living. We tried, though. My fiancé found a gorgeous, old house that was converted to a community center — but it wasn’t for rent. We tried proposing renting the grounds — but this was quickly shot down by his parents, because of the “weather.” No doubt about it, being across the country while planning a wedding was a headache. But the fact that I didn’t see eye-to-eye with any of my fiancé's family members about what the wedding should be made it a lot worse.

While looking at venues, we were sent to a poorly lit, tacky banquet hall (that could easily double up as a brothel in its down time) where the carpets hadn’t been updated since the 1980s. Unfortunately, because of convenience, my in-laws had their heart set on the venue.

The truth is, I did show enthusiasm in the beginning, but any glimmer of excitement fizzled out pretty quickly at my in-laws' insistence about the venue. With the venue came the food — which, since my wedding reception is now over, I can confirm was easily the worst food I’ve had this year. I mean, I could have catered a fast-food buffet at the reception, and it would’ve tasted better than the mess that was dished out.

It’s not just the venue, though — almost all decisions were taken away from me. The only things I had a say in were my dress and my vows. All the other decisions I made were vetoed. My man, since he hadn’t planned a wedding before this, listened to his parents, because he figured they’d know better. Everything, from the flowers to the photographer, was decided by my parents-in-law.

Almost all decisions were taken away from me. The only things I had a say in were my dress and my vows.

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I am in no way a passive person, but for some reason…I lost the reins on this one. Maybe I didn’t bother to put up a fight because I didn’t have to fork out much money for the wedding. Maybe it’s because we already had a smaller celebration with my family before the reception.

Out of the 200 guests we had at the wedding, only 20 of them were mine. I kept making disclaimers to my guests — as if to let them know that my taste is not that bad. Of course, my friends weren’t fooled. One came up to me and said, “I loved the vows, but there is no way that you planned this wedding.”

It’s funny, though; since I didn’t have a hand in planning most of the day, I also wasn’t affected when things didn’t go smoothly. I shrugged it off and said, “It wasn’t me.”

Did I have fun on the day? So much. Would I remember it for life? Definitely. Should I, in hindsight, have fought harder to make the day more “me”? Not at all. Not all fights are worth picking, and in many ways, this was my in-laws’ son’s wedding day.

Some people fight for their dream wedding. Considering my bold personality, my passivity while planning this wedding was uncharacteristic. I’m not like that at work or in my marriage. But I didn’t feel the need to fight and make the otherwise-positive relationship that I have with my in-laws a negative one. I was content to have people I love around me, and that was it.

My wedding day wasn’t magical, it wasn’t everything I’ve dreamed about, and it wasn’t mine. I wanted a marriage, and I got it. But here’s hoping I get the honeymoon I want, too.
This article originally appeared on A Practical Wedding, and is reprinted here with permission.
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