Weddings are near unbeatable when it comes to standards of picture perfection. In how many magazines or movies or wedding blogs or Pinterest boards do you see something go wrong? Do you see awkward dance moves? Or empty chairs? Or people looking bored? Or the bride’s bra strap showing?
Wedding albums are a carefully curated selection of only the most perfect, most loving, shots. Almost leading you to believe happiness alone was what made everything so photogenic. The sun came out and the guests were beautiful and the bride’s makeup didn’t get hot and sweaty purely because of the love and the happiness and can’t you just feel the couple’s connection through the photographs?
What a horrible load of pressure. What an absolute impossibility in real life.
"I slouched in all the photos. Nobody sat in the front rows at all, so the photos show a bunch of empty plastic chairs, which looks awkward. There were no sunsets, a good friend was missing, two people no-showed entirely, and my bra strap is showing in one photo. These were just some of the things that felt very 'less than'."
This was one woman’s experience, as told on Ravishly. It’s the first time I’ve ever thought about post-wedding shame. Not shame that’s it’s over. But shame that it has happened, and it was absolutely nothing like you thought it should be.
"I know people experience some type of letdown after weddings, but mine was not because there was no more planning (I was thrilled that was over!)," the woman wrote. "Mine was all related to thinking it was just inadequate."
How devastating. But, when you browse through the carefully lighted, perfectly put-together wedding inspiration shots on Instagram and Pinterest, how utterly understandable.
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I know, I know. The argument is that the day’s happiness should outweigh the setbacks. Maybe the flowers aren’t what you’ve chosen – but that’s okay, because you’re saying your vows with the love of your life. Maybe the celebrant thought it was appropriate to turn your ceremony into an awkward stand-up routine – but that’s alright, because your best friend is right there with you, about to become your life partner.
But we never see this. We only see perfection. Our expectations are not shaped by photographs of happy-couples-in-front-of-empty-chairs. We don’t see in magazines how a best friend might not turn up and another friend might leave early. So when it happens, not only are we unprepared – we are left questioning: is my love not enough?
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The woman on Ravishly was given advice by columnist Erin Khar. She encouraged the newlywed to write a list of all the things she did enjoy about the day, and this might make hindsight kinder. She also suggested writing a list of the things she’s grateful for in her marriage and her relationship.
Predictably, she also asked the question: “are you having second thoughts about your relationship?”
Relationship issues aside, maybe it’s also time we were a little more honest and put a little less pressure on the ‘perfect’ day. Expecting your day to be filled with love and laughter and good people is one thing. Expecting it to look like an inside spread of Vogue is something else entirely.