Two days after my business partner, Mayra, got engaged, after the good news was shared and a proper manicure was had, she had an anxiety attack and burst into tears. After eight years of working with brides, the only thing surprising about this was that it happened so soon; if I had a nickel for every bride I've seen with the post-Ring blues...
What Mayra knew, and what takes most gals a few weeks to figure out, is that once the bauble was placed on her finger and the news was made public, whatever private wedding fantasy she may have been harboring in her mind had to meet it's sworn enemy: Reality.
This battle looks different for every bride. "Lavish Wedding Dreams I've Had Since a Girl" vs. "Lack of Funds" is common. "Intimate Destination Wedding" vs. "Mom and Dad's Guest list and Power of the Purse String" is also popular. The most frequent form Reality seems to take, though, is "Harmonious, Kumbaya, Spirits" vs. "Dysfunctional Family Members" or "Angry, Divorced Parents." Money, parents, culture, religion, language, even the groom himself (and all his opinions) can all put a damper on the boundless joy that people expect from the woman who has just gotten a ring!
Whenever I see BBB (Bad Bride Behavior) either in person or on TV, nearly universally I see a woman who refused to give up the battle between wedding fantasy and reality, no matter how badly she was losing. She might be making herself miserable, stressing and fighting every step of the way, but by George, she is a bride and her wedding fantasies are going to come true!
The problem is, weddings only strengthen reality; it's a symbiotic relationship that laughs in the face of the fantasy. If you are worried about money, weddings only emphasize that worry. If your family doesn't get along, the wedding only creates more opportunities for them to interact. If your in-laws are dominating and maybe a bit overbearing, well it isn't going to go away because you're "officially" part of the family now.
Years ago, we worked with a client who came from a well-off family here in New York City. Despite being reared on parties at the Pierre, she imagined getting married outdoors, under the Brooklyn Bridge, and partying in a loft somewhere. She also must have imagined a different mother footing the bill, one who had less opinions and didn't dream of her daughter marrying at the Plaza. For months they fought bitterly: The daughter wouldn't budge on the ceremony site, the mother wouldn't stop saying it was stupid. On the day of the wedding, when the rain clouds started rolling in, the bride broke out into hives, crying "I should have listened to my mother!"
The morning of the Royal Wedding, I awoke at 3 AM for mimosas and fascinators. As Kate Middleton started her walk down the massive aisle at Westminster Abbey, I had a thought: What if she never wanted something like this? I turned to Mayra and said "Imagine if she'd always fantasized about a tiny, seaside wedding." She replied, "Well, she had to get on board with this plan quickly!"
And sometimes it's easier said than done, but so worth it in the end. Back in 2008, with the collapse of Lehman and Bear Stearns came the concurrent collapse of a lot of wedding dreams (and businesses) as well. When one of our clients lost his job, which was covering the cost of their wedding, a lot of the plans for their dream wedding had to be shelved. For a few weeks, the bride, in honesty, was moping. But one day, the phone rang and she was excited again. "We have to scale back, but the truth is, I'm still marrying this awesome guy, and ultimately that's what I'd always imagined." The wedding was fantastic, albeit more modest than originally planned, not that any of their guests noticed.
The wise woman knows that there is a wide gulf between Fantasizing About a Wedding and Actually Getting Married. It's totally OK and normal to get the blues when reality strikes and you have to let go of the wedding you imagined in your mind. Take a night trolling wedding porn (the blogs, the shows) and mourn the ideas you had in your head. But the trick to being the Happy Bride is to let go of the fantasy, and embrace the enemy! Trust me, it's easier that way.