5 Ways My Wedding Was Different Than I Imagined

wedding tips for the bride, advice to the bride, wedding planning expectations, how to plan a wedding

I still can and can’t believe I am a married woman!

I always knew I was going to get married, but I can honestly say the wedding I dreamed of as a little girl could not have been more different than the reality.

The Groom

rachel ritlop eric dresdale wedding

How handsome is he? Haha!

Call it daddy issues, but I honestly never thought I would find a man as kind, generous, and patient as Eric. I sometimes feel like I am cheating life having gotten such a great guy. He listens to my rants, he challenges me to be a better person and is my perfect compliment.

During our wedding day, the videographer asked when I realized I wanted to marry him – and I couldn’t answer. I always just knew he was the one. From the first time we hung out, I couldn’t imagine my life without him… Which is probably why I basically moved in with him three weeks after the first time we hung out haha.

The Dress

rachel ritlop eric dresdale the confused millennial sarah seven

While growing up, I always imagined myself in a white version of Belle’s iconic Beauty and the Beast gown. As a little girl I would constantly sketch out my dream wedding dress. Over the years I’ve watched hours of “Say Yes to The Dress” and never in a million years thought I would end up with five wedding dresses for under $1500 (that’s an entirely different post in this series!). The dress I settled on could not have been more perfect for what I was looking for. I didn’t worry about tripping, the train getting dirty, or holding my stomach in. I could just enjoy myself, which was all I really cared about in the end.

Who Would Give Me Away

rachel ritlop eric dresdale the confused millennial sarah seven

My dad passed away when I was 19 years old. And growing up a “Gilmore Girl,” I never in a million years thought my mother wouldn’t come to my wedding, let alone not give me away. But alas, she didn’t come. Despite getting offers from my grandmother (who also did not come) and Eric’s family, I chose to walk myself down the aisle. While it was an emotional decision, and also a large part of why we had a two-year engagement (which you can read more about here), I am really happy with the decision.

I’ve had a “different” life than most people, this is something the people tell me on a monthly basis, I have taken many difficult walks through challenging times that most people can’t understand. While Eric still doesn’t understand the things I’ve been through, he always tries to and never judges. He always asked questions and never tries to give me a “quick fix band-aid” statement (does anyone else hate those as much as I do??). He lets me talk and cry until I can’t anymore. Something that no one else in my life has ever done. Marrying Eric, I truly feel like I am joining my life to a partner. He has never backed down from the darkness that comes with me. I wanted to talk myself down the aisle because it truly felt like the last walk I will ever have to do alone in life.

The Setting

rachel ritlop eric dresdale the confused millennial sarah seven

As a little girl and typically anxious Type-A person, I never thought I would have a wedding entirely outside. When I was little, I thought it would be in an outdoor ceremony and then into a ballroom. When I started searching for venues, I knew I had outgrown the traditional “ballroom” idea, but still didn’t plan on having the entire wedding outside. In fact, even when we booked our wedding, we planned on the ceremony and cocktail hour outside, then moving inside for the reception; but the space we rented ended up undergoing renovations! Which meant we moved everything outside (only twenty minutes before the reception was meant to start we made the decision to move dinner inside!). I’ll be talking more about this in another post coming up on “how to choose a great venue”.

Planning

rachel ritlop eric dresdale the confused millennial sarah seven

I remember saving Bridal magazines as a kid and always thought I would be that girl with the giant wedding binder and totally indecisive, but planning was actually surprisingly easy and stress-free! The emotional stuff with family definitely took a toll on me, but everything else came to me with ease. Which is why over the next few weeks I am going to give you all my secrets and hacks for choosing a venue, choosing groomsmen and bridesmaids gifts, strategies for coping with family and your partner while planning a wedding, how to choose a wedding dress without breaking the bank, and so much more!

Despite all the ways my wedding was different than I imagined it would be, it was absolutely perfect because it was about my husband and I joining our lives together as partners. We had so much fun through the actual planning process and truly felt like everything embodied who we are as a couple. Sometimes letting go of expecations gives us the space to make the most magical days happen.


If you have a specific question or post you would like to see in the series that I didn’t mention was coming up, let me know in the comments! I want you to plan your dream wedding with ease!


 

Planning a wedding of your own? Grab TCM’s wedding planning checklist!


Photo cred: Brooke Images

You Might Also Like

  • I feel like we are the same person!!! I thought I was going to be this bride-zilla obsessed planner but the truth is that I like making a decision and just sticking with it! Lol. You looked stunning. I loved your floral crown (P.S. I will also have a floral crown 😉 )

    • Haha i feel that way too! And yay for floral crowns! they are so fun! Are you doing mixed types of flowers or all the same?

  • Girl, you are so beautiful! I think finding the right guy is so important! I feel like when I plan my wedding in the future, it’s going to be insanely small and intimate and then have a huge cookout/ party later!

    • Agreed! We actually “had” to invite almost 200 people – so what we did was made it a destination wedding and did not send save the dates. We had a wedding website with all the info which we gave to people we really wanted there in advance, but the invites went out 5 or 6 weeks in advance and we ended up with only 48 people which was what we wanted!

  • Chrissa – Physical Kitchness

    This post is so sweet. Your wedding looked like it was an amazing time, you were a beautiful bride, and you’re right, that hubby of yours is pretty handsome 🙂

    • Awe thank you Chrissa! I am still waiting to hear how you scored Ellen tickets!?

  • It sounds like it was absolutely perfect! I used to photograph weddings and the couples who enjoyed the day the most were the ones who were focusing on each other instead of the less meaningful things.

    • Yeah that became pretty clear to us early on – so we decided to just focus on one another and all of our vendors and everything ended up being amazing!

  • Mary

    “I always just knew he was the one” — UGH MY HEART! Loved reading your story. Such a beautiful bride!

    XO – easilyinspired-blog.com

  • I loved reading about your wedding experience, Rachel. I am so glad you enjoyed your wedding despite the emotional difficulties.

    • Thanks Jenny! Are you going to write about yours? I hope it was everything you dreamed of!

  • What a beautiful wedding! I’m in the process of planning my own wedding and certainly see how the vision I once had for the day (also determined in part through watching many, many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress…) has changed drastically as decisions have been made for the event. Thanks for sharing – this is such a great perspective for brides- and grooms-to-be to keep in mind.

    • Haha glad I am not the only one! sometimes I kept second guessing myself, like “I never wanted this before, is this right?”

  • mckenna bleu

    Your wedding day is absolutely beautiful and so are you!

  • Sarah Jean

    Sounds like you found a great guy 🙂 For my wedding I never imagined a two and a half month engagement but that’s just the way it worked out for us!

    • hehe i might be biased! What! thats so fast! How come it turned out so quick? I think either a really fast or really long engagement would be the only two ways that would’ve worked for keeping my sanity! haha

  • Brittany Daoud

    I love this post! My wedding was entirely different than I ever imagined as well, but it was different in a good was and so much more magical than I could ever have pictures 🙂

    • Awe isn’t it wonderful when things turn out like that! and thank you!

  • Rachel, your day was GORGEOUS!! You are stunning. 🙂 Seems like a dream – so happy for you! Who’s the designer of your dress? It looks like it could be by Sarah Seven! I am obsessed with her dresses and it’s what my was designed after!

    • Awe thanks Summer! And it is! I actually always thought your dress was Sarah Seven!! I am totally obsessed with her too!

  • I love how beautiful and honest this is. I can tell how much you love your husband just by reading this and it’s a beautiful thing. That way you described him in that first paragraph is just like how I feel about my husband 🙂 And I think it’s amazing you walked yourself down the aisle. I know it must have been such a difficult time but it just shows what a strong woman you are.

    • Awe thank you for your kind words Becky! <3 And cheers to the good husbands :-)!

  • Krissie Aguilar

    What a great read… seriously! I got married about 6 months ago and my wedding turned out way better than I anticipated. I also had a dress that I didn’t have to worry about getting dirty or sucking in my stomach. I think if I would have chosen a dress with a long train that required me to wear spanx, it would have bothered me the whole night of the wedding party!

    • Congrats on your wedding! And I agree about the train and spanx, blech! lol

  • I LOVE your dress! I feel the same way about my husband, I don’t know how I got so lucky to find someone as perfect as he is. I am a wedding planner so I spend a lot of time at weddings and working with couples and I always say if at the end of the day you are married, then you had a perfect wedding. It doesn’t always go how you imagined as a kid, but it’s usually even better!

    • Thank you Falon! And totally agree! It was even better than I imagined and a great day! I would love to plan weddings! but can’t stand people haha kudos to you!

  • Maybe different than you imagined, but in the end, the fairytale still came true 🙂

  • Laina Turner

    First of all your pictures are GORGEOUS. I got married this past July and had many of the same thoughts. I also LOVED the phrase multi-passionate in your bio. It’s the second time I heard it today. Maybe thats a sign:)

    • Awe thank you! i think it is a sign! and Congrats on your wedding!!

  • Hi Rachel, you look gorgeous in your wedding dress and all your photos! I love how you shared your story with us! I’m also Type A so I give you props for taking the leap for an entirely outdoor wedding!
    ~Jessica

  • My dress was different, too. I thought I’d have the stereotypical princess gown, but I had a more form fitting dress. Honestly though, I never really gave thought to my wedding until right before…and it was better than I imagined!

    • Thats the way to do it! I tried to stop thinking about it and the weather and everything as it got closer. No use in worrying or dreaming – gotta live in the present!

  • This was a super interesting read! I loved how you did things differently. I’m getting married in April and the planning process has been excited but difficult at the same time. I admire you for not being so traditional!

    • Thank you! And congrats on your upcoming wedding! what has been the most difficult for you in the planning process?

      • I think the most difficult thing so far has been getting what I have pictured in my head to real life. We are approaching double digit days till the wedding and it’s starting to give me a bit of anxiety 🙂

  • The dress you chose is gorgeous! I never liked the idea of having a wedding outside, but the idea is growing on me.

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlife.com

    • Girl! I never liked the idea either but it was so fun! We actually had to move dinner inside though because it was so windy. but we came back out for dancing which was so fun!

  • Greta Hollar

    You were such a beautiful bride! So radiant and full of joy! Your wedding looked lovely and I bet it was so fun!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

  • You looked absolutely stunning on your wonderful day! I love this!

    Silvia
    http://www.lovelysilvia.com

  • Stunningly gorgeous for your special day! I’m still single and def have some specifics in mind for when my turn comes. Your post is a good reminder that even if the day doesn’t look like what I had dreamt about through the years, it will still be a day I’ll never forget!

    • Exactly! It was interesting to see how much things had changed from my vision, but i am so happy it did because everything turned out to be a perfect reflection of us as a couple

  • Anna Hubbard

    Beautiful photos and wonderful post! It’s interesting to hear people’s thoughts post-wedding!
    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  • Jocelyne Shults

    You are a beautiful bride and your wedding was gorgeous too! Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  • One, you looked amazing. Two, the day looked perfect. Three, love the tidbit about you walking yourself down the aisle <3

  • Jae

    I don’t know your story, but my heart broke for you when I read that neither of your parents walked you down the aisle. I could never imagine the same for me, so that alone is enough reason to be grateful! We had a traditional wedding, a Filipino one at that, and I wouldn’t change anything if I could!

    P.S. I, too, wanted a Belle-inspired ballgown for my 18th birthday!

    • Awe thank you <3 and yours sounds like a fun wedding!! haha and I love your p.s.!! <3

  • Oh Em Geeee these pictures!!! Your wedding was stunning, and you made the most lovely bride! Loved this post 🙂
    Isn’t That Charming.

  • Amy

    First off, you looked stunning! Even though it wasn’t the dress you thought you were going to wear, you still looked stunning. As a person who likes to plan out everything to a T, this just reminds me everything doesn’t always work out they way you want it to be, but it may be for the best. Thank you for sharing this!

    xoxo,

    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  • I think it is great that your ideas for what your wedding “should be” were able to evolve to fit your life at the time. To be honest I am not a huge fan of big ball gowns for adult women, maybe that’s just the area I’m from though? Seattle tends to have a more laid back and less “southern belle” sorta vibe haha. Your dress looked stunning! This might be weird to ask but was it Sarah Seven? I used to work in the bridal industry and your dress looks like one of her lovely designs!

    • Haha i agree – i think the ball gowns thing is weird for adult woman too now a days. I think they often look cheaper in the end. And yesss girl it is! Good eye!

  • Wow! I am so sorry your mom and grandma didn’t come to your wedding. That is so hard. I remember that Summer had a post about her mom not coming either. Don’t know if you’ve seen it.

    I have no idea what all you’ve been through, but rest assured (even though I’m sure you know this) that you have people who care. I am so thankful you have Eric, and I am also thankful for whoever else who has supported you in your journey.

    Also, your wedding, your dress, and YOU are all GORGEOUS. Love these photos!

    • It’s okay. No one from my family actually came. I read Summer’s post a while back when I was going through all the feels. And you are so sweet. Thank you for all your kind words and support always Kristin <3

  • First off you looked stunning! Second, what a gorgeous wedding setting. I think it’s important to realize sometimes it’s okay that our expectations in life change. As long as it made you happy, in the end that’s all that matters. 🙂

    • Totally agree! I hope this post is a reminder to all the brides and future brides that it doesn’t matter what you envisoned at the end of the day! And thank you!

  • Congratulations of your wedding, Rachel! You look gorgeous in your dress!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

  • Elisha

    This is such a beautiful and honest post. Wishing you every happiness in your marriage, it looks like a gorgeous wedding!

  • Elly Leavitt

    despite not thinking this was how it would turn out, looks and sounds absolutely GORGEOUS! you look great & I’m so happy for you and Eric 🙂 xx

  • Because I got married WAY before Pinterest and Instagram I seriously had NO expectations for what my wedding would be like — and I honestly remember SO little of it! It was just like this big, huge party and I got to wear this AWESOME DRESS! Everyone says they had fun so it me someone’s expectations I hope!

  • “…the last walk I will ever have to do alone in life.” <— beautiful!! And what an absolutely stunning wedding! I pictured my wedding very much the same as you pictured yours for a long time. One like my sibling's weddings. But we got married in the morning and had a brunch reception. It was perfect! Well, we'd have rather eloped, but still 😉 I think this post rings true for SO many in that often times our weddings turn out much differently than we originally picture them… usually in good ways!

    • Love it! We were actually supposed to have a brunch wedding! I write about it in tomorrows wedding wednesday post! They ended up renovating the room we originally booked two weeks before our wedding so we couldn’t do it! We heavily considered eloping for a year but are happy in the end we didn’t. And thank you!

  • I’m sitting here crying reading this because I feel like there’s SO much we can probably relate to and don’t even know it yet.

    J’s mom didn’t come to our wedding either. But in the end, everything you said here is so beautiful and spot on. You have a partner for life – a true best friend – and you never have to walk alone again. Ugh. Crying.

    Coming Up Roses

    • Awe so sweet <3 I am totally sure there is! I hope things are okay with them <3

  • I feel the same about my wedding…wasn’t what I imagined. But I agree with you that the best part was marrying my amazing partner in life:) Congrats, beautiful! May you both have many wonderful and joyful years!

    • Awe thank you Nena! The same happy and wonderful wishes to you 🙂

  • Wow, what a beautiful ceremony. Congratulations!

  • Taylor Smith

    I think the wedding you thought you would have is the one I DID have! I had the big dress, ballroom reception, a huge binder. LOL. But I totally agree with you on the groom thing — I cannot believe I got as lucky as I did to marry my husband. I wake up every day a little more starstruck than the day before.

    • HAHA love it! I am totally with you on that starstruck feeling! I can’t believe how lucky we got! 😉

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    You look completely gorgeous and your wedding looks like a fairy tale. SO beautiful!!

  • I love that you basically moved in 3 weeks after you first hung out. I did the same with my now-husband only 2 weeks after we met. We’ve been happily together for 6 years now so obviously we knew and we were right!

    • HAHA thank you! and same here! we are coming up on 5 years. When ya know ya know, amiright? haha Congrats to your happy lives together <3

  • I really loved this, I’m currently planning my wedding and its a very surreal experience. Totally different from what I pictured as a kid in so many ways but also so similar. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

    La Belle Sirene

    • Awe I am so excited to see how it comes together too! Congrats! How far along are you in the planning process? What’s squared away and what’s TBD?

  • “…because it truly felt like the last walk I will ever have to do alone in life.” You have my feeling all of the feels! So beautiful. It’s interesting to compare what we imagine vs what actually plays out, but the most important thing is that you found your person. (And it doesn’t hurt that your wedding was absolutely beautiful.) Congratulations, and thank you for sharing so much of your life in this <3

    • aweeee! haha totally agree how interesting the differences are! and thank you!

  • I love this so much <3 Planning a wedding currently, there are so many things we've locked in that are completely different than what my initial idea was, and honestly, I'm totally ok with it! I feel like, I'm marrying the love of my life and everything else will be exactly as it should be.

    -Clarissa @ The View From Here

    • YAY for marrying our dream hunnies! haha seriously, my husband and I just kept focusing on each other and it made the planning process so enjoyable. Except the morning of, he had to deal with some family drama unfortunately. but everything was fine because we just kept coming back to one another and our new family!

  • I love this post, and I think it’s actually a really healthy perspective on weddings.

    I’m not a bride (yet) but I’m a professional bridesmaid and have seen my friends go through their shares of ups and downs through the wedding process. The ones who tried SO HARD to keep their childhood vision usually ended up in constant conflict with their fiancé, mother and mother in law (not a great place to be!)

    The one’s who just rolled with it, who knew that the life they HAVE is so much better than their 5 year old dreaming (even when it meant some depressing asides) had much happier wedding days and have had much more successful relationships.

    Your wedding looks like it was beautiful 🙂 still SO happy for you

    xxox
    Laura @ http://www.cookwineandthinker.com

    • WAIT WAIT WAIT – hold up! How did I not know you are a professional bridesmaid? Are you joking? or serious? I have always wanted to do that! how did you get started?!?

      • haha I’m joking, kinda. I’ve been a bridesmaid so many times that I probably could go pro. And I’m the “bridal consultant” for my friends who don’t have me as a bridesmaid because I’ve planned every type of bachelorette, been to every dress shop, have a list of preferred DJs, caterers and venues for Toronto.. seriously it’s like a full time job at this point.

        • awe that’s so funny! My friends cousin started a bridemaid for hire business a few years ago and she got a ton of press!

  • Sami Mast

    Loved reading about your wedding experience! You looked beautiful on the big day!

    xo
    Sami
    http://www.theclassicbrunette.com

  • A lovely post that’s for sure 🙂 I can relate to many of these aspects as I got married three weeks ago, and actually organised the entire thing in three months! It was quite hands on with certain aspects however with solid friends and family behind you and a loving partner, things went really well 🙂

    You’re so right about the groom, I was taken away with how handsome my groom looked (and always does anyhow) but seriously, he reminded me of a Prince waiting at the bottom of the isle as soppy as that sounds hehehe!

    I’m so glad your day was wonderful and I do like your pretty photographs above, I think walking down the isle alone goes to show what a strong and wonderful lady you really are, and wishing you all the best for the future with your wonderful husband 🙂

    Thanks for sharing such a heart felt post.

    Laura xx
    http://www.shehearts.net

  • I got married in September, and it’s also unlike anything I thought! I am breathing a huge sigh of relief to put it behind me, as it’s stressful! Easy to get lost in the planning, when it’s not what it’s about at all! Your wedding looks absolutely beautiful, and you make a stunning bride! Congrats!

  • Robin

    Wow, so many parts of your story sounded familiar to me! I also essentially knew from day 1 that I’d marry the man who is now my husband, and our relationship moved extremely quickly; but we did have a two-year engagement that had a lot of emotional difficulties that had nothing to do with our relationship, but which I was glad I could work through in a healthy way before walking down the aisle. Your photos are gorgeous, and I loved hearing a little bit about your story. My second post that I ever wrote on my blog was all about the emotional and practical parts of my wedding too, and I’m going to start re-promoting that post soon because it’s kind of gotten buried in recent posts and comments but meant so much to me to share! Can’t wait to see more about your wedding and the emotions that came along with it!

  • Anton Ritlop

    CONGRATULATION ! Very nice and unusual wedding,,,,,
    Wishing ALL THE BEST and a lot of happiness to you Rachel and Eric forever!
    Your daddy.

More in Relationships, Wedding Wednesdays
 Setting myself up for a good financial future has been priority number one for a while, I also believe in enjoying experiences. I have built my "Insta-ready" life on a serious budget, even though it doesn't always look like it. One way I achieve this is Groupon's thing's to do section!  Life's too short to not go out and have some fun! - the confused millennial #ad #groupon
How to Live An ‘Insta-Ready’ Life Without Breaking the Bank with Groupon

Close