Photo: Ryan Flynn Photography
While planning a wedding and signing a legal document stating that you are legally married are both big deals, there's nothing like post-wedding-day life that will make you feel like a married woman. Here, six brides share the moment that made them feel truly married. Spoiler alert: it wasn't on their wedding day!
"The day I returned to work after our honeymoon and answered my phone for the first time with my new hyphenated last name I just smiled and realized I am now part of a team. It is not just me anymore! A strange but wonderful feeling. It sunk in further that week when I started using my new signature to sign checks and documents. Still smiling after 24 years!" — Paige
"What truly brought home to me that I was part of something larger was buying our first home — it was a real 'what's mine is yours' moment." — Sara
"After a little over a year of married bliss and seven months of pregnancy glow, we lost our baby boy to preeclampsia. It has been rough but brought us closer together in that we had to lean on one another through the reality of good and bad times. It even prompted me to write a book about it — www.yourpeacejourney.com." — Keanna
"This may sound strange but it really was my honest to goodness 'feel married' moment. My mother was a big support to me all the years when I wondered if I would ever find 'him'. We'd talk tirelessly about what he would be like, what she hoped for me, what the wedding would be like — all dreams until one day, at age 46, I said matter-of-factly, 'Mom, I think I found him.' She said, 'I think you did too, honey. I hear it in your voice.' She was going to walk me down the aisle — she wanted happiness for me more than anything in the world. When she passed away a year before the wedding, I missed her so much at times I couldn't breathe. I came up with a creative solution to having her 'walk' me down the aisle: I sprinkled her ashes on my wedding bouquet. It was the only thing that felt right. And no one knew but me. It brought such peace. She was with me. That was my moment." — Elisabeth
"The moment I felt married was the first time my husband and I survived a crisis together... The way he treated me, talked to me, and loved me during and after it cemented our relationship. I knew I loved him before that, but I sure felt it during that time. We've been married 19 years, and I love him more every day." — Carrie
"We made the mistake of planning our honeymoon flight the day after the wedding and I didn't think through the lengthy car/travel situation. The morning after our beautiful nightlong wedding celebration with friends and family we were headed back to our house (driving back separately so we could drop off his car before heading to the airport). I stopped to fuel up on gas, still on the fairy-tale-high of getting married and rushing to our honeymoon without considering how I looked. After all, so many people had told me 8 hours ago how I'd never been more beautiful. But my hair was half pinned up, my make-up was hangover-smeared, and I had my champagne headache as I pumped gas in my bare feet. A guy at the next pump shouted over to me, 'Must have been a rough night...I'm sorry.' And I realized as he looked in my car windows that I had my wedding dress sprawled across the backseat, to keep it from wrinkling of course, but from his view I looked like a lone, shoe-less, run-away-bride on a walk-of-shame. It was that moment that I first felt married, and couldn't have been happier to be part of a couple." — Tessa
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.