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Post Wedding Depression: Yes, It’s Real

Weddings are beautiful and ridiculous and a waste of money and worth every penny spent. Over the last year I obsessed about the details of my nuptials, but like many girls who grew up on Barbies and Sweet Valley Twins, I had been planning my wedding day in the back of my mind since I was a flower girl at the age of four.

My friend, who also got married this year, made a great point to me about her non-planning wedding planning – if she cared about any one detail too much then she’d be looking for that to go right and noticing if it went wrong, and would be disappointed on her wedding day which is supposed to be the happiest day of her life… so she decided to just let it be.

I, on the other hand, spent what equated to pretty much a full-time job interviewing photographers, musicians, venues, florists, makeup artists, et al. I didn’t hire a planner because I knew I’d drive them crazy and still end up doing all the planning myself.

In the end, there were things that went right on my wedding day, and a lot that went wrong. Being an OCD type, I get caught up in the negatives — my $7000 dress didn’t fit because the dress store couldn’t figure out how to alter it correctly (after five very nerve-wracking minutes we managed to get it zipped, only to have my back fat pouring out everywhere, even though the chest area was still loose) or how my photographer didn’t really direct any of the pictures to make sure that my husband and I looked our best… even though he did get some good pictures and I’m sure anyone without such a critical eye would think they’re great. And my mother and I got into a giant fight but we’ll save the details of that for another post when I’m far enough out to relive it in writing.

Regardless of how the day went, now when I think of my wedding day (especially due to how much it cost) I want to be filled with nothing but joy. But being as I’m such a curmudgeon I feel so sad thinking about the wedding day. In completely narcissistic fashion, I’m sad that after losing 30 pounds and spending too much on a dress I still look like a hot mess (or at least not as good as I wanted to look) and I don’t have one picture of my man and I that I really love.

So I try to tell myself that weddings aren’t about me and it’s great that my husband had an absolutely wonderful time at our wedding (I planned the shit out of that thing so it perfectly met with something I knew he would like, down to the dress I picked, the way I had my hair done, the music played by the band, the venue, et al) and I admit at the moment in between the chaos and fights and melting in the 90 degree heat that there were moments I wish I could relive over and over again for the rest of my life – like the ceremony, which Mr. HECC and I custom wrote/edited ourselves with his uncle who officiated, which almost killed our bridal party (standing up in the heat for about 45 minutes when it was supposed to only be 30) and just how perfectly us it was while still entertaining our guests… or our first dance, when the live band started playing the song different than we expected it to be played, but we managed to look at each other and in our eyes say “we got this” and we did, and with our four left feet we rocked the dance floor… or when my sister gave her very heartfelt toast, or when at the end of the night finally a group of friends were on the dance floor and the band was just doing their thing and I think there were moments in there when I was geniunely happy. I try to stop and think about those moments because they did exist and you can see in the pictures of me walking down the aisle with the most god-awful smile that clearly it was the happiest day of my life.

But post-wedding depression is real. It’s not really about the wedding. It’s about that phase of one’s life being over. Even though I’m nearly 33 and most certainly a woman, a wedding is that one last moment when – at least in American culture – you can be a girl again, for one last time.  There are no more reasons today to get dressed up except someone else’s wedding, and even then it’s rare you’d wear a gown or invest so much in looking good via hired help and a designer dress (unless you’re a Kardashian.) We spent so much on weddings because no matter how much wealth we have, we spend that amount which is still more than we should be spending (unless you get married at city hall) but part of the allure of this is that you get to forget about money for a little while and just splurge and celebrate and be bold and beautiful and celebrate and…

Ok, maybe that isn’t what a wedding is about – but with Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings and every single wedding in film you have a bride who looks absolutely incredible and a groom who looks equally charming and it’s their day to be the best they’ll ever be – in love, in fashion, in their last bow to their youth, no matter how old they are. It’s that final epic event before the sunsets on the whimsy of life and moves on to – the rest of it. That looming cloud of adulthood which has already seeped into everyday life but now is all there is – no more weddings to plan, only responsibility, saving for retirement, earning an income, having a family, saving for children that you’ll never quite be able to afford, being chained down to – gasp – being a damn grown up.

All of this, I know, is beyond silly. It’s nearly tragic. It’s embarrassing. But it is what it is. The feeling of sadness, a sense of mourning for the end of that phase of my life, whatever it was – no more planning, no more expectations or directing this one epic day – just, back to melancholy without a moment in sight to break apart the thickly-packed quicksand of tomorrow and the next day and the next. If there was anxiety leading up to the wedding, there’s emptiness departing from it. I’m married, which is all sorts of great – and my man is a wonderful human being and I love him dearly – I just don’t know how to be married – how to be post wedding. I have to be and I can put it out of my mind but when I think back to it I want for it to all have been a dress rehearsal and to still be waiting for opening night, as I’ve given notes following the curtain call, and we’re ready for a great premiere – the show must go on. Just without an audience. Just without a stage. Just with less future and more past, with nothing to look forward to, and needing desperately to figure out how to find happiness in the status quo – because good life is the healthy, non-complicated status quo. If you have that, you’re in the .0000000000000000000000000001% of humanity that is safe and healthy and well fed and fine. AND you had a huge high-priced wedding to boot. So why aren’t you happy?

When will you be happy?

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2 comments

  1. sanctuary says:

    sounds like run-of-the-mill depression and anxiety, just that it’s happening after what you believed would be a life-changing event that wasn’t

    1. Joy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Yea, good point. I have run-of-the-mill depression and anxiety so it’s more of the same old. I think it was a good event and in a few years I can look back on it fondly.

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