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Guilt stopped me from planning my wedding

Guilt stopped me from planning my wedding
Guilt stopped me from planning my wedding

Following a fairy tale Disney proposal, I got engaged four years ago.

As someone who played weddings with their toys and dreamt of their own Prince Charming carrying them into the sunset their whole life, you’d probably imagine the princess proposal was everything I wished for, but it didn’t quite work out like that.

I’d been the girl who made veils for my dolls out of squares of toilet tissue sticky taped together and as I grew older, I secretly practised Mrs Louise ‘insert surname of crush here’ in my diaries. I was so looking forward to being a bride, so why have I dragged my feet when it comes to wedding planning?

Louise and Liam got engaged four years ago

The answer is guilt, and it was robbing me of my joy. Let’s rewind.

Years back, I went to university and fell in love. Not long after, I was choosing a ring and wafting around wedding fayres feeling fizzy with anticipation for what would surely be the most perfect day of my life.

What I wasn’t focussing on though was the actual relationship. I decided every red flag was just jitters and every off week was a bad patch.

The wedding rolled around and whilst there were lovely moments, there was a lot that I hadn’t planned well, hadn’t really understood or didn’t feel good about. This was a time before Pinterest and Instagram, I had no doting Mum to help me plan (though I know she looked on from Heaven) and I was only twenty-four. It was all too much, too soon and frankly, I didn’t do a very good job of things.

I was a young bride, three months pregnant, crying over minor let downs which on the day felt major and more importantly, in a relationship that deep down, I wasn’t sure was right.

Important to note, I take full responsibility my wedding disappointment and after that, things didn’t work out. I had spent so long being dazzled by the idea of a wedding, I hadn’t considered the realities of marriage.

Blonde woman smiling with a white bag
Louise’s guilt was holding her back from wedding planning

The divorce chapter

I thought divorce would be just like a big breakup, but I was so wrong.

Divorce, in my opinion, is a trauma category all its own. I learnt far more about myself through divorce than I did marriage, and not all of it I was prepared for. You see the depths of yourself in a divorce. The good, bad and ugly.

Even though I felt right down to my core it was the right choice for all of us in the long run, there were so many times I doubted myself.

 READ: I went through a trainwreck divorce – here’s what I learned 

It was a loneliness I hadn’t imagined and a slow but brutal heartbreak. I first grieved the end of a relationship (which surprised me, given I felt so strongly I shouldn’t be in a marriage) but what shook me most was that I found myself grieving my future and my daughter’s too.

I thought I had everything mapped out, but the rug was ripped out from under my feet – by me. I fretted about how my choices would affect my little girl and if I’m honest, I still worry how she’s been impacted.

RELATED: How I found myself again after divorce 

Guilt around divorce

The whole experience was horrible, and the guilt was suffocating. I was ashamed I hadn’t managed to make things work and I was embarrassed about what my wedding guests would say. I felt guilty that I hadn’t been the wife I had promised to be – ‘til death do us part’. I felt even more guilty that I hadn’t provided my daughter with the family unit she absolutely deserved.

woman and two daughters in matching clothes
Louise worried how her divorce would impact Darcy

It was emotionally akin to holding my breath, jumping off a cliff, with my little girl in my arms as I plummeted and hoping the landing was alright.

Thankfully, the jump turned out well and a decade later, I can look back from a more positive and compassionate place.

Falling in love again

A couple of years later, I met my Liam, which resulted in baby Pearlie and the fairy tale proposal I mentioned.

smiling couple
Louise and Liam are now going ahead with wedding planning

But I just couldn’t bring myself to plan my wedding. No part of me wanted to let myself enjoy wedding planning. I couldn’t cope with thinking of history repeating itself. I poured energy into making sure the relationship was good, with solid foundations and a strong family unit.

Running out of excuses and reasons to delay, we decided 2025 would be a good year to say, ‘I do’ and I tentatively allowed myself to start planning. But guilt was holding me back. I was there physically but not mentally. It didn’t feel like my wedding at all. I kept saying, ‘I’m excited to married but I’m not too fussed about the wedding.’

But all that changed when a friend and I had a frank conversation about guilt.

We talked about how we feel guilty for so much, big and small and how it’s the biggest waste of energy ever, which prompted the idea of guilt-free joy. Feeling joy, without letting guilt steal the shine.

Woman in outfit on boat
Louise isn’t holding herself back from joy anymore

Once you start letting guilt-free joy sink into your life, things start to radically change.

Guilt-free joy has been instrumental in kickstarting me into planning my wedding – finally! While viewing a potential wedding venue, I felt the old fears flood back like a wave taking over me. Negative talk and imposter syndrome filled my mind and I felt like I shouldn’t be there, talking through canapes and drinks receptions. Until I remembered, guilt-free joy. Did I need to feel guilty this? No. Should I allow myself joy in my new marriage? Yes.

It was like a light clicked on and I was in control of my emotions again. I toured that venue imagining smiling at Liam, the girls nearby, the good energy of all our favourite people in one room, celebrating something so joyous. I nearly cried! I’d set myself free.

Woman taking mirror selfie in wedding dress shop
Louise has thrown herself into wedding planning

I’ll be carrying my new mantra into March and letting you know exactly what it brings for me. I’d love to hear if you’re going to adopt it too. You can find me on social media under @LouisePentland if you want to tell how it goes.

Until then, I will see you next month and wish you all, as you imagine, the most wonderful, guilt-free, joy-filled month!


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