Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Photo by Two Spoons Photography

Pinterest, Facebook, & Blogs. We live a world where visual inspiration abounds. For a first-time bride with very little experience in the wedding planning world, I started my year-and-a-half long engagement thankful for all of the “wedding-inspo” on the Internet. But my gratitude for pretty pictures quickly turned into a much darker force as the pre-wedding months wore on.

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As the oldest of three girls, I’m quite used to forging my own path and figuring out life through trial and error. But that typically leads to slow learning curves. I didn’t wear makeup until I was nineteen, I took five years to finish college since the first one was a wash, and I had to Google “those chunky rain boots” when Duck Boots became trendy again. So when I started wedding planning with my fiancé, Eric, I knew I would have to get over that learning curve fast in order to effectively execute the wedding of our dreams. 

My partner and had a strong vision for our wedding day. We wanted a ceremony touting our equality as partners rather than the submission of wife to husband. We wanted to include meaningful Iranian traditions to be inclusive of my dad’s side of the family. We needed to offer financially mindful traveling options for our family and friends. We navigated the central purpose of our wedding beautifully, and I shifted my focus to what everyone assured me was the fun part—the decorative details.

Cue the brand new Pinterest account and the new blog follows. Cue the purchasing of wedding magazines and the searching of “wedding up-lighting,” “spring wedding colors,” and “mason jar favors” on the internet. I even took online quizzes to determine my “wedding style” (rustic-chic, as it turns out). I spent hours trying to take the foundation my partner and I had set and to turn it into a beautiful visual reality. 

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I called my partner, and together we decided to move on from there—to move in the direction of authentic decisions based on substance rather than material; to focus on our love rather than the details of our wedding day. 

As the months wore on, what started as a compensation for my lack of knowledge turned into an obsession and a source of stress. My new hobby of wedding planning turned into a chore. How was I ever going to pull off the perfect stylized wedding? 

I started to obsess and spend hours on minute details (that in hindsight made no difference to the overall ambiance and spirit of our wedding). I cried over creating the perfect invitations. I agonized over napkin colors, and I stressed when a fellow wedding-planning friend told me she had hired a wedding stylist (being slow to learn, I hadn’t yet heard of such a person and immediately wanted one). I wanted to have the perfect styled wedding, and I wasn’t going to rest until it was here. By the end of the planning process, looking at the wedding-inspo boards that once gave me so much glee started causing my stomach to twist in knots.

My preoccupation with beauty began to affect my relationship with my partner. Wedding-planning questions and to-do lists dominated our conversations. My partner was patient and kind, but constantly reiterated how ready he was for the wedding to happen already.

The “intervention” occurred, ironically enough, as I was reading and being inspired by the second edition of Catalyst just two months before our wedding date. I had finished a particularly stressful week of last-minute orders of menus and day-of gifts, and I had just argued with my mom about how we NEEDED to have an ivy garland to drape over our welcome sign, when I finished the issue, put down the magazine, and looked myself in the mirror…

Was I happy with the direction of our wedding? Was I spending my time and energy on decisions that mattered in not only our wedding, but also our marriage? Is my current stylistic obsession REALLY going to matter on our special day? Was I allowing the idea of a “perfect wedding” to get in the way of having my most authentic wedding? 

I had to answer those hard questions honestly. I called my partner, and together we decided to move on from there—to move in the direction of authentic decisions based on substance rather than material; to focus on our love rather than the details of our wedding day. 

I stopped using Pinterest. I unfollowed wedding blogs. I threw away my conventional wedding magazines. I freed myself from expectation.

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“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

This story is a cautionary tale of how I allowed myself to be swept into a world of consumer goods and painstaking, beautiful lies and how it affected my ability to see our wedding with clarity. I was comparing the unique union of my partner and myself to the societal expectation of what a beautiful wedding should be—or rather, what it should look like. 

The truth is, there’s always something better and more beautiful that you can compare yourself to, and you’ll end up dissatisfied. The second you turn your eye outward towards something else, you distract yourself from the view inward. You lose the knowledge of what you truly want. I urge all brides to put down the Pinterest, set down the wedding magazine (I see the irony here), and reflect inward to create a wedding that you (and your partner) will find magical.


Alyson Farzad is a recently graduated Master's student with plans to enroll in the Communication Studies PhD program at the University of Maryland. Her interests revolve around social movements, social justice rhetoric, and inclusive initiatives in higher education. She and her partner own a golden doodle fur-baby and enjoy taking him to local microbreweries on the weekends.