Assembling Ikea Furniture Almost Made Me Call Off My Wedding

"I don't want to marry a man who can't put Ikea furniture together!"

man and woman assembling ikea furniture ladyphoto89 / Shutterstock

It started with excitement. My fiancé and I were heading to Ikea to do some shopping for our apartment. Having split our time between Paris and New York, it was a nice feeling to finally settle in some place for a few months, and get some decorative pillows to solidify that settlement.

I felt like it was a big step for us to go from bouncing back and forth between two continents, to actually investing in items for our home. I felt like an adult for the first time in my life. 


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We bustled around the store with the giddiness that comes with new love. We weighed the pros and cons of towel quality, tried to figure out if we really did want to spend 150 euros on a New York City mural, and together we both mourned when we realized the cafeteria wasn't open.

It was a good day, despite having to go without the Swedish meatballs that are both delicious and terrifying. We also managed to get through the store with a relatively small amount of bickering, which is saying something since many of my friends have attributed a trip to Ikea as the kiss of death for a relationship.


We got home, unloaded the car, opened a bottle of wine, and proceeded to get to work.

We were getting married in a couple of weeks, and since some friends would be staying with us, it was imperative to me, and my OCD nature, that everything is perfect for when they arrived. For me, there was no way we were going to delay the organizing project we had ahead of us.

My now husband, Olivier, unpacked the trash can for the kitchen and made that his first priority.

I took on a larger task by heading straight for the desk because I knew I wouldn’t be able to rest until I knew my workstation was set up. I had been trying to write on the couch or in bed for weeks, and my back was no longer having it; the desk was essential. We listened to music, drank our wine, and had some fun. We were putting Ikea furniture together! How could it not be fun?


About an hour into our assembly process, I was almost done with the desk, and Olivier had only attached one of the three handles that were supposed to go on the trashcan.

I had struggled with the desk, since I’m only one small person, and was a bit annoyed that he was taking his sweet time with his project, but, as usual, chalked it up to the fact that he’s French. The French tend to take their time with things, they’re never really in a rush, and my husband is no exception. If anything, he takes even more time than your stereotypical French person.

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I jokingly pointed out that it was taking him a while to put together the trashcan, and he pointed out that it was really difficult.


I scoffed. I mean, the man just had to attach two handles to the can, and one handle to the cover — how could something that looked so easy, be so difficult? He immediately got defensive, and I just laughed it off.

By the time I finished putting together the desk, Olivier still had one more handle to put on that trashcan. I was angry. I was annoyed. I was getting married very soon and here was this man, the love of my life, who took well over an hour to put a damn metal handle on a damn trashcan.

"Seriously?" I asked. "It's seriously taking you THAT long? What the hell is wrong with you?" Yes, my tone was too aggressive for the situation, but I was stressed with the upcoming weeks and if it took him that long to put together a trash can, how were we supposed to put together the rest of it in time for our visitors?

I loudly blamed his Frenchness, then angrily accused him of not caring, to which he responded by telling me I was being rude and that I should try to do it myself, and he would time me if I thought I was so "smart."


I went to reach for the trashcan but tripped over a random piece of the desk (that I was never able to figure out where it went), and after slicing my leg open, became more enraged. The living room was covered in pieces of stupid Ikea furniture, and stupid Ikea boxes and I have to be honest, I effing hate Ikea.

"I don't want to marry a man who can’t put Ikea furniture together!" I dramatically yelled from the other room where I held a tissue to my bleeding leg.

"Good! You can put this together yourself," he yelled back, and I heard the door slam a couple of minutes later. When I got back out to the living room, he was obviously gone; but not before he had removed the two handles from the stupid trash can, so I could see how difficult it was.

I immediately called my mom and cried into the phone, "I'm not marrying him! I'm coming back to the States!" My mother, in all her motherly love and care, and having already dropped several thousand dollars on my perfect Parisian wedding, politely informed me that I was mistaken; I would be marrying him and I needed to work it out.


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"It's just Ikea," she said. But I was infuriated. I was out of my mind with rage, a rage I imagine I would not have felt if it wasn’t for the stress of the wedding, and was all but determined to get out of my marrying him. At that moment, I hated him. I hated the love of my life over an Ikea trashcan.

As I composed an email to my friends and family to give them the bad news about the cancellation of the wedding, Olivier came home. I heard him sigh loudly a few times before he came into the bedroom. "Did you try to put that trash can together?" he asked.

"Not yet," I whispered through my tears as if I were in a dramatic movie, and it was the turning point of the plot.


"Well, try it," he said.

I put my email in drafts and followed him out to the living room… where I proceeded to try to put the handles on the trashcan for over an hour.

He was right, it WAS difficult, and not just that, but the directions were completely and totally wrong.


After watching me struggle, he took over and did it all quickly, now that he finally knew how. We stayed up all night putting stuff together, and by morning, exhausted and full of too much French wine, we finally finished and collapsed in bed. We made a pact that we'd never buy Ikea again, even if it was another quick-fix situation.

When we finally awoke in the afternoon, he made me breakfast and it took him an hour to do so. Again, I chalked it up to his Frenchness, but in the light of day with our Ikea drama over, it was nothing but endearing.

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Amanda Chatel is a writer who divides her time between NYC and Paris. She's a regular contributor to Bustle and Glamour, with bylines at Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Livingly, Mic, The Bolde, Huffington Post, and others.