IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Work In The Wedding Industry And I'm Getting A Divorce

Weddings aren't always about delicious cake and releasing white doves to the tune of "You Look Wonderful Tonight," especially when your job requires you to think about your failed marriage on a regular basis.
Publish date:
June 26, 2014
weddings, divorce

When people hear about my weekend job -- a gig glamorized by the likes of a wedding-planning, headset-talking, pastel suit-wearing Jennifer Lopez -- they are immensely jealous. I mean, I get it. I was jealous of wedding planners before I started working for one, and now I'm lucky enough to regularly hold dresses that cost more than my rent while brides squat and pee mere inches from my face; listen to mothers- and fathers-in-law complain about the bride/groom/cake/world; and have the constant task of referring back to my own wedding on a weekly -- sometimes daily -- basis.

The latter probably wouldn't be as big of a problem if I weren’t in the midst of a really bitter divorce and on the verge of throwing up the cupcakes I ate for lunch every time my soon-to-be ex-husband crosses my mind. This hurts my heart not only because I really do LOVE working in the wedding industry, but also because despite all the bullshit that came only a year-and-a-half after we tied the knot, I really did love our wedding. And, at one point, I really did love him, too.

I first noticed this to be a problem (yes, a bigger problem than holding peeing brides' dresses) on a Friday evening last June, two months after I'd moved out of the house we shared, while in the backseat of a cab en route to a wedding rehearsal. My phone buzzed, but instead of the message from a demanding bride/bridesmaid/officiant that I expected, there was a grainy picture of my soon-to-be-ex snuggled up to some girl I had never seen before at a wedding we had been invited to together. Suddenly that knockoff latte from 7-Eleven wasn't such a good idea. The cab got stuffy and somehow managed to hit every pothole in the entire city AT ONCE, and the talk radio playing softly in the background amped up to a billion decibels. I had to roll the window down and gulp air.

I don't even remember walking into the venue, and to be honest, I don't remember much of the rehearsal at all. The trendy art gallery was the last place in the world I wanted to be, and yet not only did I have to somehow make it through the rehearsal without throwing up that aforementioned latte, I also had to show up and coordinate an entire wedding in heels and a smile the very next day without completely losing it.

(It was at this wedding that the bride yelled at me for having the wrong brand of baby wipes to clean the train of her dress, which remains my wackiest wedding-related story to date and is probably not my fault, despite the fact I was blacked out with sadness throughout their event.)

And then, when the couple exchanged vows and rings and pledged their undying love for one another -- moments I had always overlooked before because I was so busy coordinating reception room flips, cocktail hour musicians, and ribbon wand exits -- I cried harder than the parents of the bride. The ceremony wasn't even all that memorable, but I walked into the cocktail hour with smeared cat-eye liner and a distaste for weddings, the mystery woman in the picture, and the fact that I wasn't allowed to partake in the open bar I had helped set up.

As last year's wedding season progressed (I miraculously survived that fête and was rewarded with hundreds of leftover glow sticks at the end of the evening, so my pain was dulled by subsequent glow-stick-fueled dance parties), I had to relive the "best day of my life" on what seemed like a billion occasions. Daily, sometimes, especially when brides- and grooms-to-be were plagued with decisions that greatly affected the entire wedding day, including:

  • Should escort cards should be one per person or one per couple/family?
  • Should bridal parties be arranged by height or some other yet-to-be-determined cosmic reason?
  • Is it tacky to pre-pour champagne for guests?
  • What wrist should bridesmaids wear their gifted bracelets on?
  • Should these special order napkins should be white or ivory?

(The only answer to that first one, by the way, is BY FAMILY, because ain't nobody got time to arrange 250 escort cards in alphabetical order, even if you don't feel all heartbroken and cranky.)

When clients encounter dilemmas that are the source of never-ending wedding-related nightmares (if you've planned any kind of event, you've been there, too), they naturally ask what I did for my own nuptials, totally clueless to the fact that I haven't seen the guy I'm married to in over a year and the mystery woman I first saw via text message photo is now his live-in girlfriend.

Sure, it can be easy to smile and lie through my teeth, but there are other times I find myself wondering whether couples I send down the aisle will even stay together. I can cross “Sitting on church steps after a rehearsal with a crying bride who wants to cancel the wedding” off my bucket list, which still gives me an uneasy feeling every time I think about it. How did the smiling bride really feel on her wedding day? What happened when the dust settled?

And then, just like that, I get to work with a really cool couple. One who laughs together in our consultation meetings, talks about their common love of birdwatching/craft beer-drinking/art-making/road-tripping, and doesn't make me wonder if their marriage will someday come crashing down like mine did.

I try to forget that love and unity ever made me feel sad or frustrated or confused or anything other than immense joy and happiness. Instead I sit there, telling them about DIY elements of my wedding when they ask, and hoping that I find someone to share a cool hobby with someday, too.

Have you ever gone through a divorce/breakup/argument with the person you love, only to then feel shitty in the presence of love and happiness? Care to share any crazy wedding stories with the class?