A few weeks after I got engaged I was at the salon getting my hair did and swapping anecdotes about planning for the fabled “Big Day.” My stylist almost immediately warned me about the one terrible pitfall of the celebrations. It had nothing to do with the weird family dynamics. Or the fact that vendors are surprisingly unresponsive considering the thousands of dollars you want to throw their way. Or the glitter that will become more permanently embedded in your life than your spouse.
Nope. She insisted it was the crippling post-wedding bell blues. Apparently when the princess effect falls away and no one is willing to honor just how special you are anymore, ladies formerly known as The Bride™ turn into Sylvia Plath. I was skeptical, but as someone who slips into melancholy the moment the Christmas bells stop ringing, I could understand how coming down from a tulle-induced high could cause a bit of sadness.
Still, as the weeks between the us and the wedding began to dwindle the idea of the whole thing being over became more of a welcome release than a dreaded post-euphoric crash. No matter how simply we planned on doing this thing, my expansive and immensely close family meant we would have to accommodate a relatively sizable guest list (it also meant I would have more help than I knew what to do with the day of). Coordinating vendors, finishing day-of details and fighting with staple guns can wear on a person’s soul and the most common lament around my apartment in the final months became “are we married, yet?”
As I read this piece I began to wonder if the pre-wedding stress wasn’t necessary to put the post-wedding come-down into perspective. Coming home from the honeymoon with miles of open evenings and weekends in front of us to build a home together and revisit the idea of creative pursuits was a high much more tantalizing than having roughly 200 people tell me I was a special little flower during one whirlwind evening.
As I reflect further on the difference between the Happy Bride and the Blue Bride I realize how different it would have been if I had gone through with my first attempt at wedded bliss seven long years ago. That time was so much more about the wedding than the marriage. (I can speak with this smug married wisdom now that I’m a Mrs., right?)
Seven years ago I was ready to follow the template just to allow my fiance to be the prince for the day and I would be his princess. He was much more focused on doing the wedding the right way. It was about appearances and maintaining this facade of perfection. This idea of the fairytale wedding lays the groundwork for a fairly depressing happily ever after.
Of course, for my real wedding, we both wanted the celebration to be fun for everyone and spent a pretty penny doing it, but this wedding was very much about what we wanted and that was a marriage. Not that I need further confirmation that I was a moron at 23, but comparing and contrasting the Happy Wife I’ve become with the Blue Bride I would have been really brings it home.
Granted those differences have everything to do with the groom and very little to do with the wedding itself. I think the symptoms of the Blue Bride may be more indicative of the relationship than the wedding itself. I’m not saying any bride who feels a tinge of sadness after the day has passed is in a crappy marriage. Any major life event, especially one so charged with emotion, can trigger bouts of melancholy. It’s why a wedding is included on the Holmes and Rahne scale.
But, if you’re going from “I do” to wondering if you married the right man just because you’re surrounded by torn wrapping paper and wilting floral arrangements rather than adoring friends and family, it may be time dump some of that energy you were spending on the planning into your new marriage. I mean post-wedding blues and marital regret are two vastly different reactions to the simultaneous closing and opening of two life chapters. And one is far more concerning than something that can be cured in an afternoon of perusing home improvement Pinterest boards.
It’s really indicative of how we’re still pursuing the promise of the fairytale wedding rather than a healthy relationship. The premium we pay just to have The Big Day™ is a little terrifying when that premium consists of emotional compromises that lead you marching forward into marriage built on a foundation of white satin and bad chicken entrees.