Planning a wedding can be a nightmare for some people. It's amazing how quickly an event that is supposed to be about the couple can turn into a whole big production about literally everybody else. I know from experience, I actually cancelled my wedding and surprised people with a beach BBQ/wedding because planning it got to be so stressful. So when one heartbroken man asked Reddit what to do about his fiance's struggles with planning their wedding, I felt for the bride-to-be way down deep in my bones.
He explained that she had no female family members and no friends, so she had gotten fixated on the idea that she would have no bridesmaids. She's an elementary school teacher and writer who is pretty uncomfortable in social settings, so she didn't have a whole lot of chance for connecting with people. The groom has a large group of friends, but she's not so social. She was so upset that she was considering cancelling the wedding entirely! He was genuinely heartbroken that he couldn't help her feel better.
Reddit offered a few bits of advice for him. Some have been edited for clarity.
The Post That Started It AllGiphy
My fiancée and I are recently engaged and have been together since we were 18. She's not the bridezilla type but she has imagined a nice wedding.
She's not very social and has no sisters/female cousins, and as a result she has no bridesmaids. Zero. I on the other hand have a solid group of guys to be groomsmen and they're already talking bachelor party.
My fiancée won't have a bridal shower or bachelorette party, or anyone to go dress shopping with, etc. it's really bringing her down and she won't even talk about weddings. Once she said between sniffles "can't we just sign a paper at a courthouse?" But I know neither of us really want that.
I have suggested having my sisters and cousins as bridesmaids, but they don't really know her well and likely wouldn't want to. How can I help her?
Responses came pouring in pretty quickly. Lots of people struggled to understand that the bride had very literally not one single friend. Nope, not even his friends. The future groom tried to explain by telling reddit a story. Apparently, he and his future best man were talking and his best man told him "I wouldn't even have anything to write about her in my speech."
Some people were worried, other people felt that life-in-isolation reality very deeply.
A Cautionary TaleGiphy
I was in your fiancé's shoes when I got married at 22.
I didn't go to college, opting instead to work, and my high school friends were all very religious, which I no longer was. I met my first husband when I moved to a new town for work. We hit it off quickly, so I didn't really feel a need to seek out friendship elsewhere. When he proposed, I panicked a bit. I had managed to make a few friends, but they were all dudes. I ended up making my little sister my MOH.
I spent the next 10 years or so feeling shitty about the fact that I had no real friends and I had no idea how to change that since I became a SAHM with little opportunity for interaction with people other than my husband and my kids. In all honesty, this contributed greatly to the demise of my first marriage.
The core problem here is that she really needs some friends. Having a wedding party is secondary. I know it's tough to find a way, to find time, but it absolutely can be done. Does she have any hobbies like crafting, hiking, gaming? Find a group at a community website (I used meetup.com) that meets IRL on a regular basis. She might feel awkward at the first get-together, but I guarantee that after a few, she'll begin to find herself looking forward to it. Friendships take some time, but it's worth the effort!
Self Esteem IssuesGiphy
Based on what you've said about your fiancee, it sounds less like just introversion and more like self esteem issues. Why not have a long engagement (if you're going to be together for life, it doesn't really matter if you marry next year or in 3 years), and use that time to get her in therapy for self esteem and hopefully help her build up a social life? It'd be a good thing regardless of the marriage.
You've been together for six years, and your friends don't know her well enough to say a few nice things about her? That's a little worrying.
I used to be painfully shy, but my husband is outgoing and really friendly. With his encouragement, I started coming out of my shell. So, here's some ways I've made friends.
- If her main hobby is writing, I'm guessing she's also a reader. She should start going to book signings or writing workshops. This way she gets to meet people she already has something in common with, and gives her a change to practice being sociable. You can go with her for encouragement, and this way, you may end up meeting new 'couple' friends. Even if she doesn't end up talking to any of these people again, she'll have a chance to get out of her comfort zone by talking to strangers.
- Work friends... she's an elementary school teacher. This means she is around other women at work everyday. I'm guessing she takes her lunch alone, in her classroom. She should try to reach out to her coworkers by joining some of them for lunch. If she's not comfortable with approaching an established group, maybe she could see about inviting just one other shy teacher to join her for lunch.
- Your family. Your family will be her family in six months. First, you need to get your family off her back about her job. She is not a glorified babysitter. She's a college-educated teacher, helping to shape the minds of future generations. This is a position worthy of respect. And for them being so loud... maybe you have one or two quieter family members that you can invite over for dinner so they have a chance to get to know her.
If your future wife wants to make friends, she needs to reach out. She cannot sit around and complain about feeling lonely, and being too old to make friends. That is a self-fulfilling prophecy that she needs to work on breaking.
Ditch The Wedding PartyGiphy
Just throwing this out there: when my husband and I got married it was kind of a weird situation for me in that literally all my best friends were abroad and wouldn't be able to make it to the wedding, which was in my husband's small hometown. So basically all of his friends would be there but only one of mine (and a distant friend at that, although 2 of my sisters were also there). So I was in a weird bridesmaid situation. And what did my husband do? He recognized that immediately and said "I think we shouldn't have bridesmaids or groomsmen. Keep it simple, you know?" And holy shit was I thankful he said that. He could have had 10 groomsmen, and I could have rustled up 1 bridesmaid, but he chose to make it less hard/awkward/weird for me and as painless as possible because my best friends just couldn't make it.
Otherwise we had a completely standard wedding. Just no bridesmaids or groomsmen.
Honestly your fiance probably needs therapy. she seems to have social anxiety and is super insecure. I thought I was "just shy" until i got older and understood better that what i was feeling was something that required help for. It's one thing to prefer staying in, or to be a little quiet, but when you've gone through high school and college and can't name a single friend you've made there's something deeper happening. It's not as if your fiance doesn't want friends. Something inside her is preventing her from building these relationships.
Involve Her StudentsGiphy
I am similar to your fiance. Not very social, but have several very close friends. I hope to be a writer (working on that part) and was a teacher at some point. Due to my career choices, I've been forced to be social and break out of my bubble, which at some point will have to happen to her if she wants to live a semi healthy social life.
I would say you are focusing on the wrong thing. Instead of looking at the lack of bridesmaids, both of you are forgetting what she does have. 1. She has a class of students who probably love her 2. As a writer, she has the ability to be satisfied with the company of her own mind.
With these two assets, I recommend you throw her a surprise bachlorette party in her classroom. Okay it with the staff of course, but you can have a surprise party with all her students, and possibly get them to write notes to her beforehand of why she is a cool bride. She'll feel comfortable and loved. Also, while you are having your bachelor party, you can give her a surprise trip to the spa, where she could relax and be content with her mind (maybe it's just me, but I love brainstorming plots while I'm getting a massage). If you are willing to not have a wedding party, and just have your best friends be wedding guests, that might make her feel more comfortable, like she's not missing out on anything. Then you can have the traditional nice wedding without having to worry about a bridesmaids and groomsmen, but still be surrounded by people who love you guys.
BTW, I really liked one of the other suggestions that you go with her to pick the dress, pick out a handful you like, and let her go off and pick her favorite one, so it's still a surprise to you.
A Private AffairGiphy
My wife and I got married in December. The only people involved in the ceremony were us, the priest, and her sister who handed over the rings. It was a very nice, small wedding. We were both happy to not have the people there and we threw our own little party the night before with her sisters.
We had a small wedding with no attendants, and my husband and I actually walked down the aisle together. No one noticed or commented on it. I suspect that this is more about her being unsatisfied with her life, as opposed to being a wedding issue?
In the short term, focus on a smaller wedding with no attendants. In the longer term, really encourage her to go to therapy. That will help give her the tools she needs to do what it takes to get out there to make friends. It took some time in therapy for me, but I eventually got to the place where I have a strong network and I can make friends easily. I didn't realize just how depressed I was until it started to lift.
The Story Continues - Suspicions Confirmed!Giphy
Several comments pointed out how unhealthy it was that the bride-to-be had literally not one single friend and was saying things like she didn't "deserve" a wedding. The groom's family wasn't a fan of the bride, which brought up even more questions. The couple had been together for six years but the bride hadn't allowed herself to get to know any of the groom's friends or family. In the end, the main suggestions ended up being that the bride seek some counseling for her extreme social and self-esteem issues, that they don't push for the wedding to happen fast, and that she open up to at least his friends and family so that she could have some kind of social outlet other than just him.
Amazingly, he offered a sort of heartwarming update not that long after!
I read through a ton of these comments, but not all (over 1000?!) and decided to look for my fiance's box of wedding planning stuff, because I had a suspicion. Inside the box was all these magazine clippings of a big church wedding, flower ideas and stuff. And then I saw pictures of the dresses. They were all big, poofy ornate things that don't seem akin to my fiancee's style at all. But...they're similar to the dresses my sisters wore at their weddings.
It all sort of clicked for me. My fiancee probably doesn't want a church wedding or any of these fancy trimmings, she's trying to win my family's favor. The hell. I really should've noticed this earlier and gotten more involved, I know.
My fiancee flew home on Thursday to spend a few days with her dad (Father's Day weekend and all). I couldn't go because of work, so I was alone until this morning. So, real late at night, I called up my buddy Ravi (26M). Ravi's my best man, we've known each other since we were kids, split up when we went off to college, and reconnected three years ago. We moved to SC so I could join the company he works for.
I just opened up to Ravi. It was really late but he listened to me anyway, about my worries about my fiancee. He said that it was very likely that she was trying to curry favor with my family, but she probably wasn't going to admit to it easily. He said he'd talk to her.
I told him that he barely knows her. He said not to worry, and that he'd be around tomorrow evening.
My fiancee came home happy (she always is after seeing her dad) this morning. I went off to work without asking about the wedding, and she set to work on her writing (she's off for the summer). I got home early and at like 5 PM Ravi came to my house with my other good friends: Carson, Andrew, and Tim (23-30M). I know all these guys from various places and we're all a solid group. Still, this was unexpected.
Ravi came up to my fiancee and said that the guys were taking her wedding dress shopping.
We were both freaked out as hell. I had no idea this was coming, and my fiancee looked like she wanted to crawl into a hole and die. She whispered to me "they won't like me", and I urged her to just go for it. Ravi reminded her that he has sisters, Carson's been divorced, and Andrew's had his fair share of girlfriends, so they know dresses. Plus, he has a lady friend that works at a small boutique, where they'd try first.
She still didn't want to go, and then he said something like "hey, you're marrying our best friend, don't you think we should get to know you and make sure you're not a ghost or something?" (He's not great with tact). But she chuckled a little at that and gave in.
They were gone for a while and came back an hour ago. They didn't find a dress, but they looked around the stores for a while and fiancee found a style she liked (not the poofy ball gown style). They also went out for ice cream and when they walked in the door, she was joking and laughing with them all. I hadn't seen her so happy in a long time. It was amazing.
Then we all sat down together and Ravi asked her to talk to me about what's on her mind.
I still don't know how they got her to open up. She whispered that she didn't really want the big church wedding, that she wanted to wait a little while and plan a small ceremony for just the people we really care about. I was all for it, I told her not to worry about bridesmaids or anything, it could just be us. She said no, she wants her dad, the guys, and my family to be there.
Andrew, a kickass guitar player, said he'd put together a band for us. He asked my fiancee what her favorite song is, he'd figure out an arrangement. This is the kind of question she usually dodges, but she blushed a little and actually told the truth. (Panama by Van Halen if anyone cares; girl knows how to rock out). This was the real sign that she's starting to trust them. I don't think anyone knows her favorite song except me and her dad (who bought her Van Halen CD's growing up)
I told her I'd call my family and tell them the church wedding's off. If they make a big stink about it, I don't fucking care. I have my bros and my beautiful future bride. That's all the family I need.
The groom's friends stepped up, swooped in, and took the bride out! Believe it or not, they got her to come out of her shell and have a good time dress shopping and hanging out! She finally admitted she had only wanted the big church wedding because she felt it was what the groom's family expected and she wanted them to like her.
Reddit loved the progress!
She Needs HelpGiphy
Your fiancee needs some serious self confidence. Who automatically thinks that a whole bunch of people won't like them based on nothing? Why would she think they wouldn't like her? Based on your last post and this one, she needs some help. I don't say this to be mean- both she and your friends sound lovely, and it's great that you have them. That sounds like the best possible outcome. I'm really happy it turned out that way.
Pregnancy Hormones And RaviGiphy
Excuse my pregnancy hormones but I'm reading this and bawling. Damn hormones. My husband is freaking out because I'm like "Ravi...wah...wah!"
He's asking, "Who the h*ll is Ravi? And why did he make you cry?"
I'm sniffling, "He's awesome. I'm crying because he is awesome."
Now, I've got some explaining to do after my water facet stops leaking.
Those are some awesome friends you have there!
As a female that.... May be... Soon in your fiancés situation, I think you have excellent friends and you sound like an excellent guy yourself. Social and generalized anxiety are real issues for some people. I hide from meeting new people the same way as your fiancé. "They won't like me." Its hard to face a situation like this when that's how you feel. Excellent thread, thank you.
The Importance of FriendsGiphy
That's great! Glad things are working out with the wedding :) Hopefully your fiancee will use this experience to realize that people do want her around and want to get to know her and care about her. And hopefully this will show her how important friends are for support, etc.
The Same FearGiphy
This was an awesome update, I even teared up a little. I'm really happy your fiancée was able to communicate with your friends (who by the way rock!) the first post made me feel sad about her because I also have the same fear when I get married, knowing that she was able to open up like that gave me a really big smile.
Hopefully you'll be able to update us once you guys tie the knot, would love to hear about it!
I had actually been worried about how this would turn out. I had almost suggested if her mom would do it in your original post but held off because there wasn't mention of her. Then I read that mom abandoned her when she was little and my heart just broke.
I'm glad it turned out well :)
This is such a wonderful resolution to your issue. I wish all things around here ended up so well. Not only are your friends golden, but you are too for caring enough about your fiancé to really dig for the truth and work toward her happiness!
Here are a few happy tears for your future...they're on my iPhone screen, but you can have them in spirit!
"Wings And Games"Giphy
I'm a bride with no close female friends. My brother will stand next to me on my wedding day. My fiance will have his three cousin next him. I have no energy to find or even care about a last hen party, bridal tea parties, or any of that. I want wings, games, and maybe some comedy with my brother, for my last hen party
Barefoot And PerfectGiphy
Wow! This story makes me happy. You seem like a great guy and you have wonderful friends and a wonderful fiancee. I bet your family will be just fine with it. I was a tad worried about something similar, as my husband's brother had a big church wedding, as did my brother and all of my cousins. But then I realized that my (has been now for 18 years) husband's other sibs had totally gone against the grain. We had a tiny wedding in a little tiny church in the country, with just friends and immediate family. It was very casual. A couple friends brought their dogs, who were wearing bow ties, and they ended up walking down the aisle with us and wandering around the small chapel during the wedding. We were all laughing and crying at the sane time. One of my young nephews was goofing around, but it didn't detract from the ceremony at all. My husband asked his 5 year old nephew if he'd like to come up and be with us and could he possibly hold my ring? Of course he did. We did have a small reception/dance after the wedding, but we (our friends and sibs and the two of us) chose the music and DJ'D it casually. My husband wanted some James Brown and Maceo Parker, and I required The Time Warp from the RHPS. No stress, no hassles. I was barefoot. The best man got crazy drunk and it was all good. Our families were both 100% supportive of our plans. I did go wedding dress shopping with my mom, but I paid for it and found the perfect dress (for me) on a clearance rack. Score! No downpayment plan or going over budget. I just got really lucky. No fittings or tailoring. It fit perfectly. I paid for it the day I found it and picked it up the morning of the wedding after it was pressed. Though no shoes, I did want a veil and my mom insisted she buy that. We found a fantastic, perfect veil on clearance. Exactly what I wanted. Boom. We didn't spend $25,000 on a big wedding. We knew we'd either elope or do it small with just tight friends and family. It was one of the best weddings amongst all of our friends and family, we all agreed. My bridesmaid's little girl sat on my lap and ate both my wedding cake piece and hers (cheesecake, btw!) During our first dance (The Beatles Oh, Darling), the same little 4 year old wandered up to us with her teddy bear. We just picked her up.
I personally think your story deserves to be made into a movie. Though I'm not a big rom-com fan, with the right actors and director, this could truly be a great movie. Maybe your fiance could write the screenplay? What an excellent story. We would appreciate yet another update after the wedding. "Panama" may be your first dance song!
If your fiance (not sure what she writes) isn't interested in writing a screenplay, could you actually let me know? I'd love to write one based on your story, but I'd need to interview both of you and your friends, at the very least. Congrats, OP!
You're in SC.. South Carolina. You should get some tickets to music midtown (Atlanta,GA) Van Halen is one of the head liners. She'd probably really like that. Maybe plan it as a group thing and see if your friends would go and just hang out and listen to some good music! It seems like shes super happy about your friends taking the step and tbh if I were her, I would be ecstatic.
Good job, Fiance of the year.