My wedding sucked so badly that I can't even look at the photos. How do I move on? #Relationships#mental illness#relationships March 4 2019 | Catherine Clark bijouxandbits Photo by Annie Spratt Somewhere in my house, there is a CD. My spouse knows where it is, but I do not. Intentionally. This CD contains our wedding photos. I can't bear to look at them. We've been married a year, now, and I still can't look at them. You see, our wedding… Sucked. We got married, sure, but almost everything else had some sort of hitch that was never quite worked out. It even precipitated a major falling out with my mother which has turned out to be the best side effect of the whole sordid affair. I don't know how to talk about our wedding to people. I don't want to lie, but telling acquaintances or strangers that your wedding sucked is really rough, especially when there's a lot of societal guilt about weddings. The couple of times it's come up, I've gone the brutally honest then laugh it off route. It's not working for me. Not to mention ragging on our wedding feels (irrationally) like I'm badmouthing my spouse, a genuinely lovely human who manages to be sunny and encouraging all the time. Even through things that should absolutely make people explode, that spouse of mine keeps a level head and a relaxed demeanor. Magic, I tell you. Magic. Suffice to say, any time I talk about, or even think about, that massive trauma that has a societally-loaded term attached, I become a bit of a mess. So I come to you, oh lovely Internet Folx, to humbly ask your advice, on two counts: How do I talk to people about my trauma… I mean, wedding? How should I go about facing these photos? – CK Oh, CK, I feel for you. There's SO much pressure for your wedding to be something. Something amazing, life changing, monumental. When really, it's just a day to which we apply so much meaning that we're bound to be disappointed in some aspects of it. But it sounds like it was much more than that for you, and I'm so sorry. I had a somewhat related experience in (non-wedding related) disappointment where, even a year later, I'm still really unable to think about that day or lay my eyes on things related to it. So while it wasn't specifically a wedding, I can absolutely understand how seeing things related will just bring it all back. Here are my thoughts and then we'll see what our amazing readers advise in the comments: Take your time. As much as you need Maybe for a LONG time. Maybe forever. You never have to see these photos if you don't feel ready. A wedding doesn't have to hold as much meaning as we as a society apply to it. It can be one day that is just the little start to something much greater: your relationship with your positive, chill partner. There is no requirement that you have to frame those photos and have them in your home. They can become less important as time goes on, if that's what you decide. No shame or guilt required. Talk it out with someone close to you Maybe it's your partner, maybe it's a friend, maybe it's a therapist, but find someone who will listen to why it hurts so much and why it's taking a while to process. Holding it in seems like the brave thing to do, but it's clear that you're worried about burdening people with it when you should only have to focus on processing it yourself. Find that person and start the real healing without worrying about making anyone uncomfortable. And I imagine they're way less uncomfortable than you think they are. Most people would totally get exactly how much this situation would suck and could empathize. Maybe come up with a standard answer for acquaintances like, "It wasn't the greatest, but we're excited about our upcoming etc. etc." You can do your real processing with a therapist or a friend. If/when you're ready, start slowly If you do decide you're ready to start looking at those photos, start out super slowly. Maybe your partner could pick one or two photos of just you two where they know it was a nice memory. Something that wouldn't be too trigger-y and would give you a sliver of time during that day when you were happy. Just look at those photos and either put them back if you're not ready, or maybe put them out for you to look at once in a while. Make new memories and photos Maybe you end up looking at those photos and maybe you don't, but know that it isn't the end of your story. Start looking ahead to new experiences, memories, and photo albums you'll actually love. Plan a trip, a staycation, a dinner party with friends, see a show, or anything to which you can look forward and which will give you new memories in photo form. Make a good memory, get that shit printed out, hang it somewhere prominent, and know that weddings are not marriages and the former doesn't define your relationship at all. Fellow Homies: what advice do YOU have for your fellow reader? You did not fail just because your birth didn't go as planned We often think we have control over our lives -- but ultimately each of us has to grapple with that which is beyond our control. We have to learn about… Read More Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Catherine Clark Catherine Clark is Offbeat Bride's Senior Editor. In her spare time she loiters at her local library, makes art, watches movies en masse, plays video and tabletop games, poorly cooks healthy things, cuddles with her feline fur baby, and blogs at BijouxandBits.com. @enidjcoleslaw @bijouxandbits @bijouxandbits PREVIOUS It's dangerous to snack alone, take these: geeky candy gifts to perk up your nerdy pals NEXT Try not to squee too loudly when you see this newborn dressed up as a baby bear Show/Hide comments [ 44 ] Omg, I hear you! My own cringe-worthy wedding was five years ago, and I still don't look at pictures of it. I'm pretty sure my wedding dress is still in a pile on my mom's closest floor. At this point, though, the memories are bearable. Time has proven to be a great healer in that regard. At a certain point after the wedding, I decided that I couldn't keep beating myself up over it, or replaying the whole embarrassing event on an endless loop in my head. So I packed up my memories and I put them away. I needed time to just not think about it. As you pointed out, that can be easier said than done, especially when friends/coworkers are in the mood to wax romantic about their wedding days. I initially took the same tack as you – the brutally honest then laugh-it-off response – and it hurt. Eventually, I found it more helpful to deflect the conversation away from me, or just not entertain the subject. As Catherine pointed out, though, a wedding is not a marriage. And over time, my disastrous wedding day has come to mean less. It truly is just one day in a life filled with other wonderful, romantic memories. And yes, a wedding is a one-shot deal, and it would be great to have a beautiful day to look back on, but that's not what happened. There's a ton of cultural pressure to regard weddings, especially your own, in a certain way. But I've crafted a life story in which my wedding day is not a prominent part. And that's totally ok! Catherine's advice is really good, and I guess I would just reiterate her point that you should take all the time you need to process this – and do it YOUR way. Best of luck! 🙂 9 agree Reply You’re right – that bit of honesty really hurts. I’ll take the deflection concept in stride. 5 years, huh? I’ve waited that long for things, before. I can totally do that. Thank you. <3 I’m sorry your day sucked too, & I’m glad you’re enjoying the life that came out the other end Reply There are parts of my wedding that went horribly (and some pictures I can’t even look at). But at the end of the day, I got a wonderful husband out if the ordeal. Make a list good things from the day, rewrite the narrative. 4 agree Reply I’m sorry yours sucked, too. I’m glad you’re able to re-write your narrative! I’ll keep working on mine. It’s good to know I’m not alone in this. Reply I want to add a third vote in favor of deflecting. Someone asks you about a topic you don’t want to discuss, you shut that down. They say “how was your wedding?” and you say “I’m so happy we got married…my spouse did this awesome thing the other day and it reminded me that s/he’s as wonderful as I thought s/he was before we got married.” Or “it was fine, and our honeymoon was amazing. We did x and y and the best was z.” Or “it was ok. Tell me about your wedding again? What was your dress like?” Also, yes yes yes to a therapist! 19 agree Reply Thank you for the examples, that’s going to be super duper helpful. Reply Another voice for deflecting : change the subject if the conversation is light, with somebody you don't know. If it's a close friend just explain you don't want to talk about it. In my experience, a lot of the trauma we feel when sensitive subjects come up is brought on by ourselves. Most people are polite enough not to push. They will move on, conversationally, while we tend to still dwell on the subject in our minds. In these situations I like to tell myself, "Ok I can spin on this later, have a good cry, do whatever I need to do…later. But for now, I'm going to focus on X instead." Also another vote for therapy : it can be expensive but worth it. And you don't have to do it forever. Maybe a couple of sessions to get yourself over the hump, so to speak. 6 agree Reply I like that you allow for your brain to do awful things with trauma, but know how to deal with it in the moment. That’s insightful & something I will definitely take on board. Thank you so much. Reply I would encourage you to start saving up just a bit of money and renew your vows, just you and your husband and a really good photographer…. re-use your wedding clothes to make some good memories in them or just get some new ones, ones that you love (eBay, wish, thrift stores and it doesn't have to be expensive)…. use this time and have some fun, no one says you can't have a redo… create something beautiful that you love…. and if anyone asks about your wedding, then you can say "it was awful (with a laugh) but look at these pics, isn't my husband gorgeous?" 36 agree Reply What a great idea! 1 agrees Reply This was going to be my suggestion. Have a renewal then if people ask then you can say that the original wasn't how you planned but that the renewal was perfect and reaffirmed your love for your spouse. 2 agree Reply I love it! Reply Right after my wedding, my best friend and maid of honor and I had a huge falling out, it pretty much killed me. I was a wreck for about a year, and of course couldn’t even think about my wedding. Happily, a year and a half later we have reconnected and I can now look back on the wedding with happiness, but for that first year it was so painful. I 100% understand. I didn’t even think about my wedding for months after because it was so painful. I’d try to be strong for my husband and family, laughing and talking about how great everything was, but it was so painful. I have healed, but probably because my best friend and I reconciled, and now my wedding is a bright spot, 3 years later, so I don’t have any advise because mine ended well, I guess I just wanted to say I totally understand and it is so awful that what should be a happy day has such negative connotations. 2 agree Reply I’m thrilled you were able to reconnect! How wonderful! Own that happy ending! It helps more than I can say just to know that other people understand this pain. Thank you for sharing, & I hope you have a chance to shower your friend in a little extra affection sometime soon. Reply I'm so sorry. For a long time, my wedding was a painful memory. My dad died very suddenly soon afterwards, and since I was living far from home at the time, it was basically the last time I saw him. Wedding memories were tied up with Dad memories – walking behind his casket at the funeral and realizing that he'd only just walked me down an aisle; one of the wedding hymns being played at the funeral; even coming home from the funeral and seeing my wedding photos on Offbeat Bride! Time is definitely a great healer (eight years have reduced the pain to a dull ache), and finding someone to talk to helps. Some of the suggestions about focusing on your marriage instead of your wedding are excellent. Good luck! 3 agree Reply You’ve had a really rough go of things. I’m glad you got to have your dad at your wedding, even with the pain of losing him so soon afterwards. I hope your photos & memories continue to age in such a way that they become a precious bright spot when you look back on them. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be sure to try to keep the focus on my marriage. <3 Reply I definitely came here to say Wedding Redux! Time is relative, and so are weddings. Invite 5 friends, dress up, make jokes, take photos, and tell people about that wedding! Make it silly and fun, and pretend that the other one was a bad dress rehearsal! 8 agree Reply I love this take! It’s good to know that re-doing the thing wouldn’t be a ridiculous idea. Thank you! Reply I'm in the opposite boat… our wedding went almost how we planned it and I have great memories from it. The pictures though? Our photographer did so bad that I cried when I sat down to look at them. The pictures we have around our house are from our friends and family's cellphones because they were better and captured our event the way we wanted. Our photos are in a box and we pull them out occasionally for the kids, our video is just about perfect as it was filmed by some friends. Time has helped. Talking about it still makes me cry and it's almost been 10 years. 5 agree Reply Oh gosh, I’m so sorry! What a rough experience! Thank Support Networks for friends & family with decent photography apps! It sucks to hear that the photos were that bad. I’m glad your day went well, otherwise! Thank you for sharing your pain. I know it can be hard to talk about. <3 Reply I hear you! There were many things about our celebration that were wrong. I look miserable in all the photos. In fact, pointing that out and making a joke about it on stage — that I looked like Melania Trump, miserable but trying — led to a career development. A comedy club bookie who saw me do it suggested that I do a Melania Trump impression … and now that’s taken off. So what I’m saying is to talk about it. Make art about it — positive things happen :.) 3 agree Reply Make art, you say? That’s a really cool idea. I’m thrilled good things came from the badness for you! Make art. I’m going to roll that around in my brain & see what I can do with it. Thank you so much! <3 Reply I can definitely relate. Technically, my wedding went well. But just as I was heading out to get my hair done I got a call that my mother had overdosed and they were headeding to the ER. So, I was a mess. It was basically the end of any real relationship I had with my mom, who was already dying of cancer, and the day is a blur. Meanwhile, everyone always tells me my wedding was the best they were went to. So yeah. I also couldn’t look at my pictures for a long time. Sometimes I still can’t. At first when people asked I fished and repeated the things other people told me about my wedding, but now I’m brutally honest, and straight up tell people my wedding was traumatic, but my marriage is amazing. The only way I’ve really been able to cope is that I’ve promised myself a do-over. Once the pain of mom’s death has faded a little more, I’m definitely demanding a little cheapy intimate vow renewal. Which honestly I think people should do for fun every so often anyways, as our lives and friends evolve and change. I hope that helps! At least know you’re not alone, and likely there’s more people out there who were like me and fake it for public conversations like I used to. 3 agree Reply What a rough day for you. That’s a lot going on & as such, a lot to process. I wish you every bit of happiness as you heal. I hear what you’re saying about conversations with others, & I like how you’ve found a balance that works for you. It gives me a lot of hope. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. <3 1 agrees Reply Perhaps hubby and yourself could dress up in your wedding finery and then trash the fuck out of em! Lots of happy snaps of you doing joyful, messy things like diving into waves, rolling down hills or attacking each other with epic containers of your favourite deserts. Make photos that make you laugh everytime you see them. Then if anyone asks about your wedding you can always say "I pummeled him with mango cheesecake!" or "We jumped in muddy puddles with our dogs!" 7 agree Reply What a truly epic idea!! I love it! Oh man, I can’t wait to float that past the spouse… exciting! Thank you! Reply My first thought was have a do-over, renew your vows. You and your spouse are very much in love, so reclaim the bit where you declare your love and make beautiful promises to each other! Whether it's an intimate affair, a full-scale do-over, or something in the middle, redo that part. Make it what you want it to be and truly reflective of you two. Don't put pressure on yourself to face the photos. They're not going anywhere, they'll be there when and if you're ready. Forcing yourself to look at them is unlikely to change anything. As far as people's questions, try to find one thing you can say that sounds positive and lead out of the subject, whether it be that the food was great, your spouse looked incredible, you loved what you were wearing… any one detail that allows you to shift the topic 'it's funny, people raved about how great the cake was at our wedding, what flavour did you have?' And yes, yes, yes to talking to someone about it. 5 agree Reply I hear you, & I love it. Especially the finding of a singular detail. I appreciate how that can be used to sound positive, & to shift the conversation focus. Reply I definitely agree with the do-over, but I want to make sure you know that it does NOT have to be a "save your money and get a venue" kind of thing. About two months after my wedding, I had to replace my ring. I was upset about it, so when the new one came my spouse put it on my finger and said a new set of vows. Let me tell you, Gentle Reader, I felt those new, beautiful vows to the pit of my stomach and out through the ends of my toes. I got goosebumps. It was so much better than how I felt about the wedding vows, and now whenever someone asks about the wedding, I think of that feeling, and I get the grin-and-blush moment because THAT is when I think the real ritual magic happened. You can do this too. A little private moment for the two of you. Because in the end, it's about the connection between you. Lots of love. 4 agree Reply I appreciate the heck out of your beautiful moment, Lumine. That brought a little added moisture to the ol’ eyeballs. I’m going to let that thought sit with me, so I can mull over how best to act upon it. So beautiful. Thank you <3 1 agrees Reply I can relate so well. Long story short, we had our official ceremony with a small circle of family and best friends, with the plan of having the party/reception in a larger group half a year later. However, the civil wedding resulted in a huge fight with my parents, and I was a complete wreck for a long time. We had to cancel the plans for the summer wedding party and I also really struggled to talk about the day or look at photos. I also went to a therapist a few times which really helped me get perspective on the relationship with my parents, so I can recommend this to work through issues. We eventually decided to throw a summer party with all our friends a year and a half later, and it was honestly amazing. No fuss, just food and drink and music, and we had so much fun. Those are the photos I show and enjoy looking at. So if you can think of a way to have a do over, it can be just you two “eloping” and renewing your vows or a full-on party, and have photos taken there, then do it!! 2 agree Reply I hear you. I’m sorry for the relationship breakdown, & I hope it leads to better things for you. I’m glad you got your party! <3 Reply This hits so close to home. I too had an extreme falling out with my mother on my wedding day. I already knew she was a narcissist and an alcoholic but I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she would behave on my wedding day. NOPE. From an impromptu “speech” that my trauma brain has blacked from my memory to being completely racist towards my wedding planner, & ostracizing her ex family in law. Climaxed by her tearing down my decorations before it was time to clean up, with the cherry on top of “F**K YOU!” Straight in my new husbands face when he asked her to leave. Needless to say I was majorly traumatized. I stopped drinking a few weeks after the wedding because I had gotten in the habit of getting drunk and crying to strangers about how terrible my wedding was, then afterwards while sober I would still cry to my massage therapist and other unsuspecting people. I started attending therapy a few months later, to pay someone to listen to me cry, and I’ve been in therapy for about a year now. I feel a lot better. But it was a rough ride. I stopped saying how much my wedding sucked or I hated it because it was starting to hurt my husbands feelings. He thought we had a beautiful wedding, and so did our guests. My brain was just overcome by the mama drama that I couldn’t remember anything else or see past it. Honestly looking at my pictures helped me remember the good parts of the day, and reactivate those happy thoughts around my wedding. Certain things still get to me like the fact that not enough people “signed” our Polaroid guest book album so I still don’t know who all was there. And the people who DID sign ended up writing in orange highlighter for some ungodly reason. But those are the small things that I can laugh at and be only minutely bothered by. The catalyst of my moms misbehavior that lead me to therapy and sobriety is one of the best things that came from my wedding. And though I spent so much time wishing I could redo the day, I have now accepted that it happened that way for a reason. And I have a wonderful loving husband who has supported me through it all. And I have more than a few pictures that spark joy for me, I just had to be courageous enough to look at them. I wish you the best! As hokey as it may sound, another thing that helped me a lot was doing shamanic energy work around the subject. Clearing and releasing cords with my mom. But a major one was retrieving the parts of my soul that were lost when she acted the way that she did. Basically every time my mom did something triggering that day bits of my soul were like “nope I’m out of here” and retrieving those parts of myself and reliving the day in a meditative state and basically “re-writing the story” of my wedding was very cathartic for me and helped me move on. You’ve got this! Undoing trauma is hard work but it is definitely possible. 2 agree Reply Oh, Morgan! You’ve had such a rough ride! It sounds like you’re coming out of that particular patch of woods a much stronger person than when you went in. I’ve no doubt you’ve grown from your hardships. Thank you for sharing what has obviously been some life-altering experiences for you. It really helps to know I’m not alone, even as it hurts to hear others are suffering. It gives me hope that I can overcome & grow, like you & so many others. 1 agrees Reply I feel this post so much. We had terrible staff at our wedding who did NOTHING I asked them to do and NOTHING on the carefully crafted list and schedule, and our families had to jump in to help out a lot (which was exactly what my husband’s family specifically said they didn’t want to happen). I got upset, and drank a little too much, and as a result, there are a few hours of the wedding that are just a blur to me and I don’t remember much of any of it. We had DUELING PIANO PLAYERS and I don’t remember most of the music or the fun (I literally remember other people’s weddings much better than my own, which breaks my heart). I ended up crying on the drive over to our hotel after. It’s been 9 months since then and it’s taken a lot of work and time to move on. I did talk to my therapist about it, and she told me about her own wedding disaster to help me out. And I can actually look at the photos now and have several framed around our house. But it is definitely still tough and my husband never has quite understood why I felt so bad about what happened. People LOVED our wedding and some said it was their favorite one ever, which has given me some comfort, and being part of other friends’ weddings since and realizing that all weddings are stressful and have things go wrong has helped a lot. I also have tried to make good wedding memories in different ways that aren’t connected to the trauma of the day itself. I started the Sisterhood of the Traveling Veil with my wedding veil, which has been super fun, and for our anniversary, we’re going to do a photo shoot of us walking around an area of DC we love in our wedding clothes. John doesn’t really get it, but he’s trying to, and has been super supportive anyway. Our marriage is super strong and that does help a lot too. 1 agrees Reply I hear you. Oh boy. Especially with the wonderful support from the spouse, even though they can’t quite parse out what’s going on for you. I’m thrilled you have such a supportive person! The traipsing around DC sounds delightful! I hope you get a whole world of joy out of it. The sisterhood of the travelling veil sounds awesome! You should submit a write up to Offbeat; I know I’d love to hear more! Reply I think that when people ask, you can start out with something like, "oh, our wedding was kind of a nightmare, but fortunately it hasn't hurt our marriage, which is fantastic." That way you get it out in the open that things with your spouse are just dandy. You can then either go on to vent about the wedding and the issues that arose from it if you are so inclined, or if you prefer to redirect, tell them about something awesome your spouse did to reemphasize how good things are between you, or about something the two of you are planning to do together. 2 agree Reply I can absolutely appreciate the give & take of allowing that things sucked, while gently redirecting the conversation onto happier things – like how married life is going. That’s a good mindset for me to internalise. Thank you! Reply I don't know how long ago your wedding was, but what about a "redo?" Not a full on affair, but you could send out an anniversary announcement with an invite to "Redo this Sordid Affair to Replace our Ghastly Memories!" type of wording. I dunno, it depends on if you can muster up enough humor to pointedly say our wedding sucked, we'd like to make new memories, please join us for a special renewing our vows type-of-thing. Then, maybe, you could go over the pics later with new ones interspersed (this is a pic of the the WEDDING CAKE…. that should have gone more like THIS). Just some thoughts. I know its probably too early to start thinking of humor when something special became so awful, but if you can find a way to spin the memory while announcing THIS SUCKED, it might bring you some peace. Good luck. 2 agree Reply I am Absolutely going to let your ideas percolate in my brain. What brilliantly dark humour! I can see how that would be so very cathartic, & I must say, what a sassy way to do things. How brilliant. Thank you! 1 agrees Reply My husband and I like our photos, and the honeymoon. Everything else felt like a waste of time and money. The invitations were boring, a few people close to us had bad attitudes about the day, and the reception venue was 'meh'. When we mention this to people they are really shocked as though we regret getting married. I have to clarify – we LOVE being married. We regret the way our wedding was planned. But we haven't let it get us down, it happened, and we moved on. We always said though, we should have eloped and had twice the amount of time and money to spend in Europe for our honeymoon instead. *sigh* 1 agrees Reply I hear you. I totally hear you. It’s wonderful to know I’m not alone in feeling rubbish about the whole thing, & it’s really lovely hearing how people grow from this kind of disillusionment. It’s most excellent that you & your spouse love being married to each other! Long may you enjoy it! Reply I started the morning of my wedding off by crying about how bad it already was, how miserable I was and how I wished it wasn't happening. The best part of the day was my partner being there to console me, agree he wished it wasn't happening, and then help me get back together to face the world (i.e. family). We wanted to be married to each other, we didn't want that wedding though. Throughout the day so much continued to fall apart. There were bits of good, but they didn't outweigh the bad. I had originally even asked my photographer for permission to post pictures to Offbeat Bride, but after we got them, I just wanted to hide them in a drawer (and the USB stick is still in that drawer.) A bit after we first got the photos, I went through and chose the ones I deemed suitable to give to family and sent those on to them. I then hid the folder and didn't look at them again. No one knows how miserable I found the wedding to be. When asked, I said misleading half-truths, like "oh, theres some things I wish would have gone differently" or straight up pleasant lies like "it was nice" followed with some description, like "it was small, only about 20 people" or something like that where faking emotion wasn't necessary. After a while, people stopped asking altogether, so that stopped being an issue. The wedding was almost 5 years ago. I recently went and opened the folder with all the pictures, and – I kinda don't hate them? The ones I picked for family are still the most "acceptable" ones, but I'm more neutral on them. I spent more time looking at the composition of the photo, like "the black and white effect on this one looks cool!" as less on the content. There's also more acceptance for the failures I originally felt were my fault, like "those chairs we're sitting on in the ceremony are ugly and undecorated, but I was too exhausted to do decorations for them, and it was a good idea to save my energy instead. And it would have been ridiculous to spend money on nicer chairs when there were free ones from the venue and the money was better used elsewhere for our lives." Time hasn't made it good, it just made it less bad, so I could see the good bits that was obscured. 2 agree Reply This gives me such hope. You’ve had a really rough go of things, & that sucks beyond belief. It gives me such hope that my pain will ease. That perhaps those photos will be tolerable, someday. Thank you for sharing. <3 1 agrees Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.