What Do Dreams About Weddings Mean?

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Even if you've never spent a waking second planning your dream nuptials, your unconscious hours may still be full of dreams about weddings — as well as dreams about getting married, brides, grooms, rings, dresses, and rehearsal dinners where the waiters are serving everyone Legos, instead of the chicken that you had previously agreed upon. What gives? Do these dreams mean that you're secretly obsessed with getting married? Is your subconscious in cahoots with your aunt who always ruins Thanksgiving by asking you why you're still single?

Not quite. Though wedding dreams are extremely common for the engaged, they're also common among folks who aren't even eager to commit to a cell phone provider — because dreams about getting married symbolize many things besides a desire to settle down ourselves. Weddings are richly symbolic and imbued with tons of meaning; thus, they are a great canvas for our sleeping selves to use to work out all sorts of issues. Wedding dreams can reflect our anxieties about recent life changes, our excitement about the future, or increased levels of self-acceptance.

Read on for dream analyst and author Lauri Loewenberg's tips on how to decode your wedding dream meanings. (You're gonna have to figure out how to deal with your aunt on your own, though.)

What Does It Mean To Dream About Getting Married When You're Not Getting Married Any Time Soon?

Though wedding dreams may not be as alarming as "oops, I forgot to finish 10th grade!" dreams or "wait, why is my steering wheel made of al dente bucatini?" dreams, they can still leave you with a lot of questions. Especially if getting married is nowhere on your current life agenda.

But, Loewenberg notes, wedding dreams don't necessarily imply a desire to actually tie the knot. Rather, they draw from what marriage is supposed to mean in our culture. "Marriage is two individuals committing to each other 'til death do they part,'' Loewenberg tells Bustle. "So to dream of marriage, when you aren't planning a wedding, would mean there is some other type of commitment you are embarking on in real life."

This commitment could be anything from something obvious, like a job or caring for a family member, to something more abstract, like developing some positive health habits. "Whatever this commitment or obligation is," says Loewenberg, "your subconscious is presenting it to you in the form of a marriage so you can better understand your role in it... are you prepared to be in it for the long haul?"

What Does It Mean To Dream Of A Proposal?

You're rolling along in Dreamland, minding your own dream-business, when — bam! You're hit with a big, flash-mob public proposal. You wake up in a cold sweat. What could it mean (besides that you have an enduring fear of your most intimate life moments being turned into viral videos)?

According to Loewenberg, proposal dreams, like dreams about getting married, also often symbolize commitment — but they reflect that you're at a different point in the commitment process. While wedding dreams suggest you're already committed to something, a proposal dream might mean that you're still figuring out whether you want to get involved.

"Typically, being proposed to would suggest you are kicking around the idea," says Loewenberg. "Did someone suggest or propose an idea to you? Are you thinking about 'engaging' in some activity or situation, for example?"

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What Does It Mean To Dream Of Marrying Someone You Have No Romantic Interest In?

Among all the weird marriage-related dreams one can have, the weirdest just might be dreams where you marry a person whom you wouldn't even want to be stuck on a long elevator ride with in real life. But there isn't any reason to feel awkward around Barry, your cubicle-mate, just because your brain spent all night cooking up a scenario where you vowed unending love to each other.

A common reason you might dream of marrying someone is that you joined them in a project, Loewenberg says — so if you and Barry agreed to become after-work gym buddies or collaborate on a big presentation about potato futures, that would explain your dream-nuptials.

But if you haven't joined your dream-partner in any kind of IRL commitment, they might not be symbolizing themselves in the dream. Rather, they might symbolize something they represent to you. To decode what they mean, Loewenberg recommends that you "ask yourself what stands out about them to you. Maybe they are always volunteering and doing charitable work. That would likely be what they represent to you, in which case your subconscious is proposing the idea of of being more charitable in your own life."

What Does It Mean To Dream Of Someone Else's Wedding?

And what about dreams where you're not marrying good ol' Barry, but simply waiting in the pews at his wedding, counting down the minutes until they start passing out crab cakes at the reception?

"Whenever you are the observer in a dream rather than the participant," Loewenberg says, "it will be connected to some situation in your real life where you are not taking an active role. Most often, it is about an issue that does not involve you but concerns you and is on your mind, like a friend or family member's issue."

Dreaming about observing someone else's wedding can also be "the way your subconscious is showing you that you are not taking an active enough role in some area and that in order to reach a particular goal, you need to commit to it."

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What Does It Mean To Dream About Getting Married If You Are Planning A Wedding?

If you're planning and dreaming of a wedding, your primary thought it probably something along the lines of: "Great! I can't even get eight hours off from thinking about deposits and floral arrangements and chocolate ganache!" But Loewenberg says that you shouldn't just blow these dreams off as meaningless.

"Bride-to-be dreams — or as I call them, Bridemares — are trying to help you with the different stresses you experience as you plan the big day, as well as help you resolve any issues that need to be taken care of before you start your new life," Loewenberg says.

The subjects of your bridemares will typically be connected to something you're dealing with in IRL wedding planning: "Being late for your wedding, for example, is super common, merely because there are so many deadlines you are dealing with ... Marrying an ex instead of your current fiancé may point to unresolved issues within yourself that stem from that relationship that need to be taken care of before you walk down the aisle. Dreaming something is wrong with the dress often means there is something with yourself you are unhappy with." You can use these dreams as guides to what issues you might want to be thinking about and working on as your actual, non-dream wedding day approaches.

What Does It Mean To Dream Of Marrying Someone Besides Your Actual Spouse?

If you've been in a committed relationship, you've probably had at least one dream that involved betraying your partner. But, Loewenberg cautions, you shouldn't assume that a dream about marrying someone else automatically means you are having problems with your spouse.

"If you already know you are dissatisfied with your marriage then yes, [a dream of marrying someone else] can symbolize that," says Loewenberg. But more often, your dream-spouse actually symbolizes qualities you need to commit to yourself.

If it's a person you don't know, they might represent more general qualities (i.e. embracing more confidence and standing up for yourself). "But if you are marrying someone you do know, or know of (like a celebrity) then you need to apply this little trick: what three things first come to mind when you think of this person? Of those three things, at least one of them is a quality you need to commit to 'til death do you part.'"

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