Ever since becoming a bride, I've learned that many people see an engagement ring as an open invitation to share their opinions on weddings — regardless of whether or not you ask them. Shortly after I got engaged, my fiancé Michael and I were featured in a popular column on a well-known wedding website. We were still in that phase where we were bubbling over with joy, unable to keep all of the thoughts about our upcoming wedding from pouring out of our mouths. So when we found out that our love story had been chosen to be featured, we were beyond excited to have it documented and share it with friends and family.
When the story was published, I pulled up the website with anticipation, read through the article and clicked through our slideshow of photos, smiling the entire time...until I scrolled down to the comments section. I was shocked by the number of cruel and spiteful messages that strangers had posted, wishing divorce on us and making bets on how long our marriage would last. I promptly closed my laptop, walked away and never breathed a word of its existence to anyone.
Looking back, I can see how outsiders would love to hate us: Michael and I were college sweethearts, and our wedding will take place on Valentine's Day in the same venue where I had my dance recitals growing up. Okay, easy targets for cynics who instinctively roll their eyes at cheesy love stories. I chalked it up to a learning experience that taught me to grow thicker skin, a lesson that has continued to help me throughout my wedding planning process.
Photo Credit: Upstate Photographers
Offline, we also encountered guests who felt the need to judge every detail of a wedding as if they were critics with a weekly column. The word "tacky" often gets thrown around. You posted your engagement photos on Facebook? That's tacky. You registered for untraditional items, such as bicycles and a down payment on a house? That's tacky. The bar is closed during the dinner hour? That's tacky. You're using pre-printed labels on the invitations? You guessed it...that's tacky.
To others, this may seem like harmless dinner conversation fodder, but it strikes me as being hurtful and bitter. Until you're on the receiving end of those whispers, it's impossible to understand how much pressure brides are facing, especially by today's standards.
You may not worry about what Great Aunt Mary or your crazy neighbor from down the street thinks, but what do you do if your mom loathes your bridesmaid dresses or your maid of honor confides that she's not thrilled about your winter wedding? How do you deal with that one difficult bridesmaid who sends snarky email responses or your grandma lecturing that you ordered too much food when you should be spending that money on a house?
You have two options: 1. You can take everyone’s comments to heart, try to make changes to please everyone, and drive yourself crazy; or 2. Realize that no matter what you choose, there will always be someone who thinks or says, "Well, I wouldn't have picked that," and instead of trying to please them, make choices based on what is best for you and your fiancé. I'm hoping that you'll choose Option 2, although I understand that's easier said than done.
When the people-pleasing route seems like the easier way to go, here's how to clear all of the negative comments from your mind:
1. Have a wedding vision and stick to it.
I can’t tell you how many times having a wedding theme has saved me from driving myself crazy while trying to make a decision. Our wedding theme is a modern take on The Great Gatsby with touches of 1920s glitz and glamour. We're getting married on Feb. 14, and although Michael and I definitely didn't want a Valentine's Day-themed wedding, we also felt like we couldn't ignore the date.
Ultimately, I decided to acknowledge V-Day with pops of pink throughout the wedding, such as in the bouquets and desserts, but to stick with my gut and have navy blue and silver as our main color palette. In particular, the decision to have marine blue bridesmaid dresses to complement the jewel tones of the 1920s — as opposed to blush pink ones for Saint Valentine — took an enormous weight off my shoulders. This may sound simple enough, but I arrived at that decision after months of second-guessing and self-doubt because of trolls trying to push more red and pink on me!
Having a wedding theme helps guide choices and create a cohesive look and feel for your big day. You don't necessarily need to have a specific, crazy-unique vision; it could be something as broad as "garden party" or "romantic beach destination." Keep a Pinterest board with photos that match the tone you're aiming for and look through it whenever you need inspiration or get stuck.
2. Keep a trusted person on speed dial.
When facing a decision, it's in my nature to discuss it with everybody around me to get their advice. However, I learned the hard way that when it comes to wedding planning, getting too many people involved will only leave you more confused than when you started. Instead, find one person to bounce ideas off of — someone who will gently tell you when you may need a break. For some brides, this may be their maid of honor, their mother, or someone completely removed from the wedding, such as a co-worker.
For me, this person is my fiancé. I often tease Michael about being a "groomzilla" because of his level of involvement in the wedding planning, but to be honest, I truly admire his self-assurance. He never second-guesses our choices or lets others' comments rattle him. He talks me off the ledge and gives me sound, practical advice when I'm drowning in wedding dos and don'ts. Find someone who you trust to give you an unbiased opinion when you really need it.
Photo Credit: Upstate Photographers
3. Turn to your fellow brides.
Chances are there are brides who are going through the same exact thing as you right now and others who have lived to tell the tale. Reach out to them on blogs, message boards and Twitter chats to vent, joke, and learn from their experiences.
My new favorite Twitter chat is #BridalBabble, which is hosted every Wednesday at 4 p.m. EST. This past week, the discussion revolved around wedding stress — what causes you the most stress, how you deal with it and what constitutes "bridezilla" behavior. I'm currently working on a wedding weekend timeline, which is proving to be difficult, and just tweeting that it was stressing me out and seeing other brides reply who are going through the same thing immediately made me feel better.
It can be tough to talk about wedding-related topics with friends who aren't also going through it because they don't understand. And sometimes, I feel bad about bending Michael's ear about every detail after a long day of work. Therefore, the online bridal community has served as a nice outlet for me.
4. Find your stress relief.
Discover your favorite way to unwind, whether it's taking yoga, curling up with the new Emily Giffin novel, watching a Real Housewives of Orange County marathon on Bravo, polishing up your hands with a manicure or treating yourself to two-for-one margaritas and guacamole at your favorite Mexican joint (we won't judge!).
Laugh. Feel the warm sun on your face. Cuddle. You need an escape from the wedding world because getting annoyed or stressed out doesn't hurt anyone but yourself. It's important to allot relaxation time now, not just on the honeymoon, in order to avoid bridal burnout.
5. Focus on the big picture.
Weddings are personal and should reflect the taste and individuality of the bride and groom. This means that not one person in attendance would do his or her own wedding the same exact way — and why would you want anyone to? After you walk down the aisle with your father, you'll be walking back up the aisle with your groom.
From this day forward, it's the two of you against the world. You're a team. Partners. Everything you face will be together. Focus on what makes you and your fiancé happy, and look ahead to the life you’ll share together. Once you do that, all the annoying chatter will seem so much less important. This has been my main mechanism for dealing with wedding trolls. I've learned to let unsolicited suggestions roll off my back because as Michael often reminds me, no one else's opinions matter. I'm focusing on getting our marriage off to a good start, which really only concerns the two of us.
Photo Credit: Dana Cama Photography
When it comes to the important, close people involved in our wedding, I've made a consistent effort to remember that they have a lot of other exciting, interesting things going on in their lives that don't involve our "I dos," and acknowledging that helps everyone feel appreciated. I want to celebrate all of their large and small successes along the way, and I know that, in return, they will be happy to do the same on our special day.
Have you had any experience with wedding trolls? How do you deal with them? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
P.S. Have an interesting wedding planning story to share? Apply to become a real bride blogger here ►