Rhode Island Wedding Guide

Wedding Planning

Fantasy vs. Reality

by Allison Moir-Smith, MA, of Emotionally Engaged

Since you were a little girl, you've had fantasies about what being a bride would be like.

You imagined that you'd be excited and happy, calm and peaceful, in love and romanced by your fiance, surrounded and supported by friends and family.

But now that you're here, you may be feeling some emotional upheaval. And this upheaval is made even worse because you feel guilty - guilty because you think you should be happy, calm, and in love all the time!

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Let's look at the fantasy versus the reality of being a bride.

Fantasy: Your engagement will be the happiest time of your life.
Reality: Yes, you do have many moments of sheer joy. But you have darker moments, too.
Why? Emotions are heightened during your engagement because you're leaving the identity you have always known - your identity as daughter, as single woman, as girlfriend. You're undergoing a profound transformation as you prepare to take on the new identity of wife. This process is destabilizing, and lots of "darker" feelings like sadness, fear, and anger arise. Definitely getting in the way of being happy all the time.

Fantasy: You will feel surrounded by family and friends.
Reality: Most brides who attend Emotionally Engaged workshops describe feeling distance with family and friends
Why? (Part 1) Because the identity changes you're experiencing can be so all-consuming that you don't have much interest or energy for family and friends.
Why? (Part 2) Your family and friends are also going through changes in their relationships with you. They're facing the new reality that they're losing some of their closeness to you. That hurts. And since most people aren't comfortable feeling sad, they pull away. Hence your feeling of isolation from those that are closest to you.

Fantasy: Your engagement will romance, 24-7.
Reality: Yes, this is an amazingly romantic time of life - saying "yes," choosing a ring, imagining the future stretched out before you. But it's a stressful time for relationships as well. Many engaged couples report increased conflict and less sex.
Why? Because your relationship has taken on a new seriousness, profundity, and permanence. And you're both getting used to it. Amidst all the fun and romance of planning your wedding, you're separately going through moments of terror and freak-out. Processing your feelings helps both of you make the identity shift from boyfriend and girlfriend to husband and wife. But it doesn't make for 100% romance, 100% of the time.

Is this a harsh look at being engaged? Some may think so.

But my hope is that this offers you a psychological perspective on why the reality of being a bride sometimes shatters the fantasy of it.

I also hope that this article gives you a strong sense that you're not alone in your complex feelings during your engagement. These feelings are normal, natural, and necessary as you make this transition from fiancè to wife. I wish you all the best, and know that I am here to help you through this major life transition in any way I can.

About the Author Allison Moir-Smith, MA is a psychotherapist, bridal counselor and author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Her Life. She's been featured on Today and Good Morning America and in Cosmopolitan and Elle. She offers individual bridal counseling and supportive group workshops. For more info: www.emotionallyengaged.com