My fiancé and I have been engaged for over two years, and due to a whole lot of reasons involving money, life changes, and generally just not being in a rush, we haven’t started planning our wedding. Since our engagement, a lot of our friends and family have also gotten engaged or married, which was really exciting at first! Now though, we are experiencing some wedding fatigue. We have been or are in the wedding parties for many of these weddings. We knew when we agreed to be in our friends’ weddings it would be a lot of time and money, but our friends have actually surprised us with the amount they’ve asked. Their expectations have exceeded what either of us expected and experienced previously. Also, most of these weddings have happened within the same year to year-and-a-half time span, so we haven’t had much of break.
Between all the engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette and bachelor parties, and actual weddings, almost every weekend this year we’ve had some wedding-related event. I’ve also been bombarded with hundreds of emails and texts about my best friend’s and sister’s wedding events. Consequently, both my fiancé and I are tired of weddings, and we still have five to go in the next seven months. It has really affected our enthusiasm for our own wedding. I’m at the point where I don’t have the energy to care about our wedding. I’d rather just get it over with so I can think about something else rather than weddings.
I love these people though, and I certainly don’t want to feel this way about their weddings. I also want to be enthusiastic about our wedding plans. With all of this happening, we’ve revisited the option of eloping—which I was all for from the beginning—but I’m afraid my fiancé has started to prefer that option because he’s burnt out. I’m also wrestling with some guilt at feeling this way about other people’s weddings and annoyance that the wedding industry has made these happy events so over-blown and inconvenient.
Obviously, we are going to participate in our friends’ and families’ weddings and have a happy face at them all, but how do we manage the wedding burnout? The amount of time and money we’ve spent on other people’s weddings has made us adamant to not do the same to our friends and family, but are we letting our feelings now overly affect our wedding decisions?
A:DEAR Wedding fatigue,
Look, if I hadn’t been there with feeling like I was giving too much of myself to other people’s weddings and not enough to myself—this column wouldn’t exist. Wedding season is real. Many of us have a time in our lives when, all of a sudden, it feels like everyone is getting married. And getting married is a big deal! And I’m hearing that you really want to celebrate your loved ones and participate with bells on, and I am totally there with you.
But when you get to the point that you are doing activities for other people’s weddings every weekend and thinking about eloping for your own, it’s time to revisit those choices. The way you manage wedding burnout, and still put on a happy face at all these weddings and associated events is to figure out your boundaries. I think this is probably going to be hard for you, and that’s totally normal. You want to go to engagement parties and showers and bachelorettes and rehearsal dinners and weddings and morning-after brunches for all kinds of reasons: you love the couple; you don’t want to treat one friend better than the others; you don’t want to miss out on friend hang-out time with the other attendees; you have a passionate commitment to tepid fun and boring afternoons, that only bridal showers can quench. The struggle is real.
In all of that commitment to everyone else, you’re losing yourself and your relationship. So first, a PSA: Your life is also important! But how do you get back to putting yourself first?
Start by assuming the best of your friends, unless you have a solid reason not to. They don’t know they are asking for too much unless you tell them, and they probably don’t want to be asking for too much! Before you agree to buy things (ya know, the necessities like a bridesmaid dress and fancy balloons for the shower and just married signs for the get away car and and and) take a moment. Breathe. Open your bank account/budget. Look at the numbers. Decide whether this fits in with your life priorities. And if it doesn’t, say no! You can do it! “Sorry, I can’t afford to do that.” “This dress is so gorgeous, but it’s too expensive for me. I’d really be more comfortable keeping this under $XXX.”
Same goes for attending wedding-related events. Look, obviously you can say no to weddings themselves, but clearly you don’t want to, and I’m not going to suggest that you should. But if every wedding you’re attending comes with an engagement party, shower, and bachelorette, that gets really expensive, in terms of both time and money, really quickly. Look at your calendar now. I know, there’s something for someone else’s wedding every weekend, but find a couple weekends where there are only lower priority events. Make plans with your fiancé to be too busy to attend on those weekends. What are you too busy doing? Spending time together living your own lives. RSVP no to those events because you are busy. (And if you’ve already RSVP’d yes, find a few events that it won’t matter too much if you change your RSVP. AKA, please don’t back out of the bachelorette weekend your four BFFs planned around your schedule, but something can come up that means you no longer can attend the bridal shower for twenty-five people hosted by the bride’s aunt.)
Or, try setting yourselves a rule. Like: “For a wedding I am in, I will attend the wedding plus two associated events; for a wedding where I am just a guest I will attend the wedding plus one extra event.” Because that is enough celebrating of someone else. Invited to five destination bachelorette parties? It’s truly okay to say that you just can’t and only go to two. People might grumble a bit, but people who are normal, decent friends do really understand that you do not have unlimited time and money.
As for your own wedding, I’m concerned that you’re mixing up your feelings about other people’s weddings with your own. It’s been a long time of being engaged without doing any wedding planning! It sounds like you’ve had a lot of good reasons for that, but after more than two years, are you still comfortable with the pace of things? Whether you go full-on big white wedding or just the two of you in Bali, maybe it’s time to revisit your ducks and see about getting them in a row. Before you make any big-picture decisions, say no to something! Anything! Start getting some practice in. Yes, the wedding industry pushes a certain model of engagement on us, but this entire website is founded on the premise that it’s perfectly okay and possible to have a nice, celebratory, practical wedding. Showing yourself that you can say no to other people also shows you that they can say no to you, because whatever wedding you ultimately decide to have will not be an imposition.
Make the decision about your wedding about the two of you. Not whether your wedding will be an annoyance, not how you’ve felt these last few years. Just make it about how you picture getting married. If you’ve seen what weddings look like and want to elope, by all means do it. But you owe it to yourself to actually figure out how to have boundaries and to give yourself some breathing room before you decide that.
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EMAIL ME: AMYMARCH [AT] APRACTICALWEDDING [DOT] COM.