Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Breakdown Moment

If you are planning a DIY wedding (and probably even if you had an army of help along the way) there’s a moment in the days before the wedding where you’re going to lose it. Entirely, completely, and in a no-holds-barred ugly way. I can’t promise you won’t be triggered by something small and petty, or that you won’t take our your frustrations out on a loved one.  All I can say is that you you will probably have a moment when you  Just. Can’t. Take. It. Anymore. For some of you, a silent scream. For others, a noisy scream. And possibly hysterical, unstoppable tears.

I had no warning that my breakdown was coming. In fact, I was on a d*mn wedding-productive, conquer-that-task-list roll. I’d already made it though days of hellish mishaps and emotional tightrope walking. We’d worked our way through all the hard stuff on the to-do list and were in final GOGOGO mode the day before the wedding. I’d been up since 6am fixing things with our useless venue and doing the final check all my packed bags (rehearsal attire, set-up-the-venue attire, wedding attire, and honeymoon luggage). I was calm, cool and collected as I jumped in the car to meet a girlfriend at the Los Angeles Flower Mart by 8am, where I felt like a stylish budget wedding superstar after scoring a trunkful of beautiful flowers for our 21 centerpieces, miscellaneous silver jars, and bouquet flowers for just $217. Booyah.

I was even calm, cool, and collected enough to register that I needed more than one flower bucket to store this trunkful of flowers. So I swung by our apartment, repurposed some old gardening containers and a giant plastic Costco cat litter container, poured in enough water to keep the flowers fresh, and felt like a savvy problem solving genius bride. I might have danced around the apartment a bit, sashaying over to Jason and throwing my arms around him for a big ol’ gleeful happy dance kiss (or three).

I kicked off my shoes and ran to find my sneakers for the next task: hauling some of our booze up to our venue so we had enough space in the uhaul. As I went to pull on my socks, I looked down at my feet and completely and utterly lost my sh*t, screaming F*CK F*CK F*CK F*CK for at least a good minute before suddenly bursting into ugly messy sobbing tears.

Jason was at a loss. I was too disconsolate to properly explain and just pointed to my toes. Jason was still at a loss, which frustrated me even more, because COULDN’T HE SEE THE ABSOLUTELY RUINOUS STATE OF MY SPECIAL SPECIAL PEDICURE THAT I JUST GOT YESTERDAY??!!  The pedicure I’d squeezed in between family brunch and wedding errands and family dinner and way too much sweaty running around during the only “free” hour of my entire weekend? The pedicure that I needed, because my toenails are ugly and need nice polish to be presentable. The pedicure for my pink peep toe wedding shoes that was now RUINED. ENTIRELY RUINED. POLISH TWISTED AROUND ON MY BIG TOE IN A GIANT UGLY WRINKLED SWIRL OF CAKEY NAIL HELL!!

Unsurprisingly, Jason remained at a complete loss about my polish-related hysteria even after I sobbed out a semi-explanation. Wisely though, he understood that this breakdown had nothing to do with my nails and a lot more to do with: lack of sleep, insane emotional whirlwinds of joy and stress, a few completely haywire days in which every plan went to hell and an 11pm ambulance scare the night before (Oh yeah, that happened. Everything was fine in the end, but still. Ambulances during your wedding weekend aren’t exactly relaxing and joyous.)

So he gave me some space, told me to schedule another pedicure asap (BUT IT’S SATURDAY MORNING AND EVERYONE IS ALREADY BOOKED! WHO CAN SEE ME ON A SATURDAY?!) and told me he’d take care of the venue trip (BUT YOU CAN’T! THAT’S MY JOB TODAY! YOU HAVE SO MUCH TO DO ALREADY! WAAAAAAAAAH!) As I called around to local salons, trying not to sound like a hysterical crazy bride (which is hard, when you’re in the middle of a hysterical crazy bride breakdown), Jason and I reshuffled responsibilities to accommodate the sudden schedule shift. Jason would take care of the deliveries while I took care of last minute projects (adding table numbers to our placecards, signage, welcome BBQ preparations, rehearsal walk-through preparations). 

I managed to get a 10:15am appointment at my mother’s nail salon (mothers, customer loyalty, and dropping the phrase “getting married tomorrow” and “emergency” all helped) and dashed out of our apartment by 9:45 to make it. As I was waiting - calmer now - for my nails to dry, my mother walked in to the salon because she’d managed to destroy her manicure and needed a last minute touch up too. Luckily, she had addressed the issue without any tears. But then again, I wasn’t ever really crying about the nails. They just happened to be my straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back breakdown moment. It humbled me. It reminded me that I wasn’t keeping it together as much as I had thought. That I needed help. And that I was d*mn lucky the breakdown happened at 9:30 on Saturday morning so I got it out of the way before running headfirst into emotional ups and downs of our rehearsal, welcome barbecue (for 100 people) and the wedding itself.

So if you find yourself crying over nail polish, a broken belt loop, an innocuous well-wishing phone call from Uncle whoever, or whatever other minutiae sets you off... let yourself scream and cry a bit. If you’re in the unfortunate position of having your breakdown publicly, grab a trusted friend or family member and head off to a private corner so no one can joke about Bridezillas. Because this isn’t about Bridezilla bitching. This is about the moment it all hits you. This is about when you finally realize all the strain you’ve been under. And blessedly, once the tears have abated, this is about taking a deep breath and finally being able to let something go as you make some mental space to get married.


  1. I don't really have anything profound to say, but I just wanted to thank you for all your recent posts. I'm holding them close to me as I come to the final stretch before my wedding.

  2. I DEFINITELY think that screaming and crying is part of the process. I had a similar moment about somebody trying to force me to eat something I didn't want. Ugly moment.

  3. I had a total meltdown and started hyperventilating when we got behind schedule the day before the wedding and we were supposed to be at the venue dropping off favors, table name signs, etc. and OMG THE MENU SIGN ISN'T DONE AND I DON'T HAVE TIME TO DO IT AND WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE TO THE REHEARSAL AND THE WORLD IS GOING TO END. Turns out that engineer brother-in-laws are perfectly suited to measuring, cutting, and aligning paper on cardstock and sticking it in a frame so that crazy stressed-out lady can pack for the night and get ready for the rehearsal.

  4. I have had my share of these meltdowns lately, and I'm not even remotely close to our wedding date yet. People call brides "bridezillas" because of the unfortunate moment that they happen upon a meltdown that is timed so that it appears that the screaming is really about an effing place card or pedicure when it's not, not at all. The place card is just the Last. Straw. for an overworked, overtired, royally stressed out human being who can't take it any more.

    I always feel better after I've had a screaming, crying, hiccupping tantrum so that I can think clearly again. But please don't tell my daughter that because she'll never learn to cope without a screaming crying fit if she thinks that's the way it's done.

  5. That up there that you just described? Powering through a To-Do list like a f*cking superstar only to have a tiny detail send you spiraling into a meltdown? Yea, that's me on your average Wednesday. I can only imagine what I'm in for in the coming months...

  6. I got married 2nd April this year - do you know how much I wish you had written about all this BEFORE I was married? Sigh. I think nearly everything you've written recently I find myself totally nodding my head in agreement to.

  7. This all just makes me feel so much more normal. Thank you!! :)

  8. Wait, you're saying that all my "If I get this done now, I won't be stressed out in six months," wishful thinking is a lie?!!! ;)

    Seriously, I'm a little scared now.

  9. Ug. The mani-pedi I got before my wedding was AWFUL. She cut everything too short, got polish on my skin and when I asked her to remove it, politely indicating that I was getting married, TOMORROW, she heaved a huge sigh and did a lame repair job. I wanted to punch her in the fucking face. It didn't help that there was a gaggle of women there (clearly a bridal shower thing) where they had carts of fresh fruit and cheese and crackers and CHAMPAGNE and all the bells and whistles and I couldn't even get a decent effing pedicure.
    At that moment I hated that other bride with the white hot passion of a thousand suns.

  10. So glad that you have a husband who knows to look beyond. Forwarding this post on to my almost-hubs so that he knows too. :)

  11. @Anon - Things I wish I'd known too...

    @ruchi- you could be one of the lucky ones, right? Right? I actually found there were a ton of to-dos that simply couldn't happen earlier than the wedding weekend (uhaul, transport, some food item pickups, etc). That, plus the emotional stress, were what got me.

    @Thirty something bride - that sounds awful and is one of those minimal tip situations. GRR. Unfortunately, I only had myself to blame. I waited two hours to put on my Friday night fancy shoes, but I still ended up mushing my lovely pedicure into a gross mess. Bah.

  12. Yep. Mine happened the day our first friends and family were arriving in town, and before I picked them up from the airport I had scheduled an appointment at the beauty salon. You see, I had been growing my armpit hairs out for 3 weeks in preparation for them to be waxed (strapless dress + beach honeymoon on the horizon and an aversion to razor bumps were the main reasons) and I was reaching critical mass... Also, it was August. It was getting out of hand!I arrived 10 minutes late to my appointment (my fault, but it was the beginning of the craziness of the wedding week) and the salon girl was so packed with appointments that she told me she couldn't keep my appointment. This resulted in me leaving the salon and crying like a baby in my parked car for about 10 mins. It was ugly. It was silly. And it was resolved when I got a text saying if I could wait 30 minutes the salon could fit me back in. Crisis arverted. I can laugh at the ridiculousness of it all now.


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