My Wedding Nightmare Story

    The more I connect with people through growing my business, the more and more I've realized how important it is to be completely open and real about myself - not only so my clients can be comfortable with me, but so that clients can relate to and trust me. All in all, it's become easier to be an open-book by having these opportunities to be so public about my life... and let's face it: it gives people something to think about when it relates to something in their own lives. Because of that, there's no shortage of material brewing in my drafts but one thing that surprised some to learn is that I have a wedding nightmare story. And who doesn't like to read about those?! I never used to, but after experiencing and seeing how a wedding somehow opens the door for people to show their true colours, I found myself getting caught up in the "who was justified?" part of such stories. Want to know what happened to me?? Read on...

   It's a fact that my husband and I bring up every once in awhile.. and the reality is that we're fully prepared to renew our vows one day all with the intention of having a better wedding. Over the years since we got married (which was in 2011), other factors solidified this thought; for example: our best man and maid of honour were best friends of our that were married.. and are now divorced and distanced from us. But the horror was all thanks to my soon-to-be mother-in-law whom not only caused last minute changes to the whole plan, but had us scrambling to fill seats during the days leading up to the wedding. She went so far as to conclude I was being a "Bridezilla", but the truth is that she was sabotaging the wedding since the moment we announced we were planning it. In order to tell the whole story, I'll have to start at the beginning to give you the overall picture of how I not only tried to work with her, but grinned and bared it through her negativity until the moment it all exploded.

Our fave season is Fall.. which is also the season we started dating.
So one thing we knew for sure, as we started planning,
was that we wanted to have a Fall-themed wedding.

   It is only in retrospect that I'm able to say she was causing problems from the start, and it certainly wasn't from a lack of trying (to make things right) on my part. This was during the time in my life where I was starting to distance myself from my toxic family... and only through going on a family vacation - where she and I stayed up late one night in deep conversation - I was actually developing a strong relationship with my husband's mother. She confided in me about her childhood & family trauma, and through gently poking & prodding, she was actually helping me to come to terms with the necessary boundaries I had to start creating. So to say that I was valuing her opinions and including her in the wedding plans was the truth, yet somewhere along the way of doing that, she went off the deep end. It's true that in the year leading up to this, she went through a nasty divorce that saw she was the only one of his parents in our lives. And it's also true that she was working on finding her way as a secondary, yet possibly more grounded, parent to me which is why the things that she ended up doing made NO sense.

   First, she was eager to take me dress shopping. She wanted to be the one to take me to stores, sit in the dressing room and critique what I tried, and offer suggestions for colours, decor, etc. I thought that would be a great bonding experience... but that was until she told me where she was taking me. Of all places where one could/should go wedding dress shopping, she decided to take me to the mall! I hesitantly agreed, praying to myself that perhaps there was a store that had big white dresses that could be a wedding dress.. but then I was face-to-face with her shuffling me around a store that is a known source for prom dresses. I humoured her and browsed, but after seeing that there wasn't a single white dress in the store, I found myself having to made an excuse to not try on the frilly blue & red dresses she was pushing on me. Not that there's anything wrong with having a coloured dress at your wedding, but I knew that I wanted the big white dress with lace, flowery stitching, pearls - that type of dress..

Planning a wedding sounds easy... until you have to do it!
Add in the fact that I was dodging these bullets and trying to mend a relationship
with my future mother-in-law, whom I had already known for almost 7 years... big sigh.

   So it was a very trying trip, and one where nothing was accomplished. I was as polite as I could possibly be about it and said maybe another day, somewhere else, we'd find it. A couple of weeks had passed and I ended up finding a local bridal boutique that I wanted to check out, so I made the plans. Upon confirming that my maid of honour and mother would be there, she came up with reasons not to join us. I spent a couple of hours trying on dresses, all to have my heart stolen by an item on the clearance rack that was everything and more (mostly considering how it was hundreds cheaper for being the last of it's style available). It had the flowery stitching with gems on the chest & stomach, the thick, layered bottom half that screamed "I'm getting married", and a 3-4 foot-long elegant train that gracefully dragged on the floor behind me. Even with the alteration work, my beauty of a wedding dress cost me less than $650! But on breaking the news to my soon-to-be MIL, she was downright disgusted.

   It's something that I can't even begin to understand, but her comments about my dress were the beginning of the knives being stabbed into my back. In my excitement of describing the dress, her immediate reply was "honey, that's too big!". I choked on hearing that one - especially since we weren't even asking for or receiving money from her for any of the wedding expenses - and thought to myself 'OK, that's just her opinion'. But then came the kicker which began to show how she truly felt about me marrying her son; she went on to make a statement that our wedding "is just a quick ceremony and sit-down dinner" and that (after seeing our venue with us) my dress was too much for the venue. That stung, because that along with her tone and the direction the conversation was going told me that she thought we were having a quick, drive-by, shotgun style wedding... when that wasn't the case AT ALL.

One of the few photos that show my full attire on my wedding day..
but you get the idea!
Even with all the stress hanging over our shoulders, it went super smoothly.

   We didn't have a lot of money and weren't getting any help from either of our families, which meant that yes, we tried to keep the wedding as cheap as possible without comprising on the bigger picture vision we had. In the wedding venue we went with, we only rented a room that was big enough for the ceremony, dancing, and dinner, even though it meant the venue staff had to shuffle the furniture in between the services. But it's our big day - the one in which we imagine we'll only have once in our lives - and I wanted it to be as perfect as possible. We had no religious background or beliefs that dictated we be married in a church or have a super traditional ceremony, so I got creative. After us deciding that the wedding party colour would be a royal blue, I extended the offer to the parents to include the royal blue in their attire. This was the very question that ended up putting my MIL through the roof and cited an avalanche to come crashing down on me...

   It was just a little more than a month before the wedding when the cascade happened.. and it wasn't pretty. At that point, RSVPs were already in as the caterer needed the numbers, and I was working full-time while planning everything for the wedding as my husband was in another country for 4 weeks for work. So to say I had a lot on my plate is easy, but I didn't let it get to me. The MIL had a cousin working for a travel agency, so she went ahead and requested that person to come up with some honeymoon options to forward to us... and while we gave it some serious consideration, we ended up not picking any of them. As much as we appreciated the gesture, we explained that we couldn't have a honeymoon without our dog (who was special needs and therefore, we really didn't feel good about leaving in a kennel for a week). MIL held her tongue until a few days later when I formally extended the suggestion about attire... I was nice about it, even saying that if she's already bought a dress then not to worry about it, but she took that opportunity to unleash everything she didn't like about me in an email, which she CC'd to my husband, the cousin, and our wedding party!

Trying to be as cheap as possible, there were no real flowers on our wedding day.
Everything seen here was part of the wedding day, and the fact that it's all fake
just means that they'll last forever! (It's a sentiment I appreciate)

   At that point in time, harassment through email was still a debatable legality... but she exposed herself in ways that will haunt her forever, whether she likes it or not. Through a whole typed letter of multiple paragraphs, she not only said we were making too big a deal about our wedding, but said I was ungrateful and rude for turning down the honeymoon options. During the previous couple of years, I had ear issues that caused me to have unbearable vertigo that would arise out of nowhere, and because of that, I wasn't comfortable getting on a plane to travel - and so, in this email, she threatened to use her position as a Registered Nurse to have my drivers license taken away from me. She told me I was too mentally & physically ill to be marrying her son, and bottom line is that if we got married, she and all relatives wouldn't come to the wedding and would never speak to my husband again. 

   What didn't make sense to me was how in the previous year, her other son had a wedding that was 10 x bigger than what we had planned... and now, all of the sudden, our small wedding was too much for her to handle. I often wonder if it's because I didn't involve her enough, but that was all because her suggestions had my husband and I cringing when she wasn't looking. Even longer story short: My husband's relatives were blackmailed to no-show, he never heard from his mother again, and thus we had empty seats at the dining tables. All of this caused me to turn to my husband, just days before our wedding, and seriously ask him if he still wanted to marry me. Even with all that happened though, we had a joyous day of celebrations that passed by in a blur, we had NO issues during the whole day (aside from the mandatory nervousness), and we got a week-long honeymoon with our dog at a romantic cabin in the woods complete with catered meals. At the end of the day, I learned that when push comes to shove, you really can't compromise on your wedding day because years down the road, the pictures and memories are all you'll have to look back on.

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Ashley Tilson is an Intuitive Healer specializing in trauma & addictions recovery and welcoming all with spiritual curiosities. She offers private sessions, spiritual spa packages, Trauma Healing programs, and crafted goods online and in person in southeastern Ontario (Lyn). Learn more and explore her offerings on her website!

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