Getting engaged puts a cinematic, googly-eyed tint on real life: Glittery rings materialize in champagne flutes, followed by proclamations of eternal devotion. But being engaged may not be as magical an experience. The road to “I do” is paved with plus-one snubs, impassioned pleas against buffet service and drunk uncles hell-bent on setting Corinthians 4:13 to a ska beat. The parade of decisions, down payments and daily squabbles leaves many a bride-to-be pining for a good night’s sleep.
Seeing as it's wedding season, we asked one tired (almost) bride to document the ups and downs of her resting life over the ten days preceding her nuptials. Here, then, are the sleep struggles (and triumphs) of a 29-year-old Brooklyn lawyer, as excited to share tax returns and marriage misadventures with her boyfriend of eight years as she is to turn in without having wedding worries on her mind.
Tuesday, July 5: 10 more nights as a single woman (under the law, at least)
I stay up too late watching “Fargo” (the series, not the movie). I realize that I only have 10 more days to make a last-ditch effort to lose weight, whiten my teeth, buy wedding accessories, etc. This shit adds up. It's really hard to justify spending so much $$ on one-time-use trinkets, and I know I shouldn't be lying awake at night thinking about things like finding appropriately fancy hair barrettes (although they really are kinda hard to find), when plenty of other, more important things are going on in the world and in my own life than my silly princess day.
I'm not up all night, but I definitely don’t have one of those “head-on-pillow-and-pass-out” nights. I get up to pee at 12:36. Then I drift off and get about seven hours of sleep. But I'm still tired the next day. I blame dehydration. And the dramatic tension coursing through “Fargo.”
Wednesday, July 6: No dress, two dinners
I come home late from a four-hour-long fruitless shopping trip in Soho and I can't fall asleep. I lie in bed thinking about how I broke the “don’t eat after 7pm” rule with a second dinner at 9pm. Now I feel guilty for feeling bad about something so shallow in light of the Alton Sterling tragedy. Also, why did I watch the video of his death so close to bedtime, or at all? I felt obligated to, I guess, but — understatement of the century — that shit is fucked up.
And...my mind wanders back to the shallow stuff, like finding a rehearsal dinner dress. I probably should have bought something weeks ago, but I was clinging to hope that I’d shed a few more pounds. People who say it’s easy to get unrecognizably skinny (as people apparently expect of brides) for their weddings are liars. Maybe it’s because I’ve lifted more lbs in manchego than iron over the past few months. C'est la vie.
Thursday, July 7: Kale-somniac
I sleep poorly after having a weird kale tequila drink and eating an excessive amount of banana cake at my friend’s business-school-going-away party. I wake up at least once in the middle of the night. I’m anxious that tomorrow (Friday) is my last day at work before vacation. It seems like I have an impossible amount to do before being able to leave for a week-ish! But, I’m relieved that I bought spanx and earrings for my wedding day. Perspective, right?
Sunday, July 10: Minivans over Maine
After seven hours in a rented minivan, we're at the wedding site, in a sleepy Maine beach town. It feels like a long time coming. I've been with my fiance for eight years, formally engaged for 19 months and confident I want to get married on the lawn behind my grandfather’s house since spending childhood summers there.
We have a cook-out at the Airbnb, where my almost-husband and his groomsmen (plus their plus-ones) are staying. Usually, the salty sea air up here knocks me out and I sleep like a babe, so I have high hopes. They don’t quite pan out. I sleep ok-ish, but my mind is kind of all over the place. Seeing my parents for first time this week is a mix of exciting and anxiety-provoking. The whole “I’m getting married” thing starts to feel real. It’s weird. It’s exhilarating. It’s...a lot.
Wednesday, July 13: Sleepless in the boys' house
More friends arrive, including my MOH — here’s to wedding-y acronyms I never thought I’d use! — for a second day of beach fun. MOH and I decide to spend the night at the boys’ house, so we stay in the room where I’ve been sleeping, and send my fiance to his brother’s room, as to keep empty rooms tidy for people arriving later in week. (Airbnb problems, amirite?)
I sleep badly, thanks in part to late-night dulce de leche made by a friend visiting from South America. I couldn’t say no — she lugged the ingredients on a multi-leg, many-hour international voyage. It was delicious. It also wasn’t something I should be indulging in four days before my wedding. Is it even possible to get skinnier by Saturday at this point? These are the sorts of deep ruminations that keep me up, plus the fact that my MOH and current bed-partner likes to fall asleep to TV shows on her phone. I start hyper-focusing on the clicking sounds coming from her side of the bed. I get jittery about all the things I haven’t done, including the welcome bags my mom and I didn’t put together.
I don’t get much sleep, but I do get to wake up at 8am to make sure the tent is delivered and set up properly. And I do get to clean out mason jars.
Thursday, July 14: Panic and pass-out
MOH and I move into my sleeping quarters for the rest of week, a beautiful cottage right by the water. I have a minor panic attack early in the day and take the inevitable wedding-week Xanax plunge. (Thanks, anonymous bridesmaid!) Why a minor panic attack? Oh, I don't know, maybe because four hundred different people-slash-vendors that we paid to plan shit for us thought it wise to email, call and text me all week long to discuss problems with the timeline, etc. Isn’t this what I paid you for? Suffice it to say, I feel at ease after taking a bride’s little helper. And I sleep pret-ty, pret-ty well.
Friday, July 15: Tomorrow, I do. Tonight I send furious texts
I get through the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner and the welcome party. I can't believe I actually survived the past two days, but I don’t think they could have gone better. In fact, the welcome party went too well, because on the night before my f-ing wedding day, people are up late, partying loudly outside the cottage (also the site of the welcome party). Needless to say, around midnight, I start freaking out at the thought of not being able to fulfill my dream of an eight-hour-night's rest. I begin furiously texting people to bitch and moan, obviously to no effect. I have to do some serious breathing exercises.
Being anxious about the thought of not being able to sleep, only to get more anxious. What a lovely, counter-productive cycle. It reminds me of nights before law-school exams, when I’d panic about being too tired to think straight. Also, I’m schvitzing all night without AC. Finally, around 2am, the drunks settle down and I’m able to get some shuteye.
I manage to get about six hours of sleep. Not ideal but what can I do? I wake up on Saturday feeling giddy because, ya know, it’s my wedding day.
Saturday, July 16th: Mrs. Tired Bride
I have never been so exhausted — physically, socially and emotionally. But the past 24 hours have also been incredible. I’ll never buy into the princess-for-a-day thing. And I won’t say the b-word (rhymes with #messed), but I do feel lucky. And relieved. And my husband and I even stay at the after-party until about 2:15am. Maybe we won't be a boring married couple after all. Maybe we’ll be ballers.
When we do get into bed, we can’t fall asleep. Adrenaline? Excitement? Alcohol? We pass out around 3am and wake up with hangovers and badly blistered feet. After the goodbye brunch, we’ll be one minivan ride away from a mountainside mini-moon. I’m — sorry, we’re — ready to peace out, and then pass out like babes in the fresh mountain air.
This story was originally published in August 2016.