Saying No (aka: what being late to my wedding taught me)

Confession time: I was late to my wedding.

Sure, it  is tradition for the bride to be late to her wedding. But I wasn’t traditional-late. I was late-late.  I always planned to leave home late – leaving my home in Mosgiel for the short drive to the gardens for our 2.00 pm ceremony. Instead I arrived at 2.45 pm – yes, 45 minutes late. Late enough that my poor fiancé had started to wonder if I’d done a runner. To keep my “lateness” to a minimum, we had to skip lunch too.  But why was I so far behind schedule? For the answer, we need to look back a couple of months before the wedding…

Trusting your gut: what being late to wedding taught me

My friend Sarah* was getting married a few months after me. She approached me with a favour… could she do a makeup trial with my makeup artist, on my wedding day. That way, she’d know if the make up artist was any good, and plus she’d look fabulous on my wedding day. The make up artist assured her that she’d have enough time to fit her in – so, ignoring my doubts and not wanting to be labelled a bridezilla, I said yes.

On the day of my wedding, we were running a little behind at the hairdressers. I text  Sarah to let her know to arrive later as we weren’t done. But she was already on her way.  And here’s where I ignored my doubts again – the make up artist suggested doing Sarah’s makeup before mine. That way my makeup would be “fresher”. I didn’t want to be rude… and I didn’t want her to get bored sitting round. So I agreed. But I was getting really nervous now.

Sure enough, we didn’t leave the hairdressers/make up artists until just prior to 1.30pm. I’d picked a hairdresser on the North side of Dunedin to my house in Mosgiel.  I still needed to change into my wedding dress, grab some photos with my wedding party and oh…. eat lunch. I had my wedding photographer ringing me wondering where we were! So we rushed home and got ready (minus lunch, unfortunately) and headed off – to get married!

(*P.S. Sarah isn’t her real name!)

Don’t make my mistakes – here’s what I learnt

There’s a couple of lessons to be learnt from this:

Trust your gut

I don’t blame my friend. I think it was a brilliant idea to get her makeup done & try out the makeup artist (hell, I would’ve done the same) and it’s not like she took ages to get her makeup done.  I can understand why the makeup artist said it would be fine, I guess, and I’m not angry at her (but I don’t necessarily go out of my way to recommend her to people).  It was my own fault for not trusting my gut. I should’ve said no. Instead I tried to please other people by saying yes.

No is not a negative thing

I struggle with saying no even now, but I’m getting better with it.  The last year especially has had me saying no to more and more things – and it’s still bloody hard, even with practice, experience and good ol’ hindsight.

The thing is, saying no and upsetting two people (Sarah and the make up artist) would’ve done less damage than my poor 100-odd wedding guests who had to wait around for 45 minutes outside in the cold! We are taught from an early age that no is a bad thing (No! Naughty!) and as we get older we are expected to say Yes to everything (make the most of every opportunity!). But “no” is not inherently negative.  If you are struggling to say no to someone, just reframe it this way – by saying no to something, you are freeing yourself to saying yes to something else!

Saying no is hard

If you’re agreeing to something because it’s just easier than trying to say no, I understand. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news! That’s part of the reason people procrastinate when having to decline a wedding invitation – they don’t want to have to deliver bad news.

In the last year, I’ve had a solid plan for my personal life and professional life in place. When you know where you want to head, it should make it easier to say no, right? I’ve been really disappointed at the number of people who’ve pushed back when I’ve said no. My reasons are valid, my plan is solid. I’m doing the right thing by saying no. But I still get people pushing back and trying to get me to change my mind. Just remember, it’s them being rude, by not accepting your answer – not you.

Fit it in the framework

I have a little framework that I use when trying to decide about something – an opportunity or a request – and it might help you too (adapted from a set of questions here). It might seem a little over the top for some questions, but other times it helps look at things in a more analytical light:

Does it fit with my vision? 

Does the opportunity fit with the idea I have for (my wedding/life/career). Inviting 10 friend’s partners you’ve never met to your intimate wedding is an example of something that should be a no as it doesn’t fit with the vision you have of an intimate wedding. I know in businesses I get presented a lot of opportunities by people who assure me their thing will be the best for my business – but only I had a true grip on what I want for my business going forward.

Is the timeline reasonable?

Something can fit with your vision, it can be reasonable but the timeframe is crazy. Adding an extra person into the makeup timeline is one 😉 Another example, I was asked to participate in a styled shoot. They emailed me on a Tuesday and they needed the stuff to them in Auckland by Friday (so I had two days to design and print something from scratch). Awesome opportunity, but awful timing. I’d have to hold up other client’s design work – other people who were paying me and had asked me in plenty of time. I declined on the shoot.

What will I miss out on?

If you say yes, what will you have to say no to? Is it time with your family, more hours at work, maybe only having two bridesmaids instead of three to stay in budget? There’s nothing wrong with saying no because you just want a night at home!

Am I excited? 

If you’re dreading something as you’re agreeing to something, you’re not excited. Remember how you say yes to something one week, and then you kick yourself the day before – “why did I say I’d play netball on a Wednesday night?”


Practice makes perfect

You will get better at saying no, the more you say no. It’s a confidence thing too. Confidence in yourself, but also confidence in the path you are taking (with your wedding style, your career, your life…). Here’s a funny list of ways  on how to say no, found via here.


What have you turned down?

I am really interested in hearing what you have either said no to (and go you – high five!) or what you’ve regretted saying YES to (in wedding planning or otherwise). It would be a great support to other readers if you’d share your stories in the comments below. If you’re nervous about using your real name, “Miss X” or “Mrs Z” are fine alternatives 😉

2 thoughts on “Saying No (aka: what being late to my wedding taught me)

  1. Oh God that was so horrible story, i’m getting married next month and me and my friends are planning to do the same late thing but i think being late to the hotel is very bad idea i think i should reach hotel on time but may be give a late entry

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