The 2013 wedding season is about to end, mine has come and gone, and a lot of people I know engaged ask me what my advice for planning a wedding is. I’d like to take the time to reflect on what I’ve learned and witnessed from it all…
Think back to when you were little, most women start dreaming up their wedding long before they have a ring on their finger (me me me). You have this perfect picture painted of the entire day; great venue, beautiful flowers, one-of-a-kind dress, the best photographer around, your favorite cover band, your closest friends and of course, your prince charming. You play the whole day out over and over again in your head like a song on replay, making sure every detail is perfect, exactly how you want it, exactly what will make you the happiest, most beautiful bride on your special day. On YOUR (key word) special day. Not your mom’s, not your grandma’s, not your dad’s or your aunt’s or uncle’s, not your sister’s, cousin’s or your mom’s friend’s boyfriend’s, yours.
Having gone through the entire process from start to finish with a mom, dad and family who was as much involved as I wanted them to be (which was very little), I have to say looking back I have zero regrets or second thoughts about our wedding weekend. Like most brides, I was given a budget from my dad and had to plan accordingly to make my ‘dream’ wedding a reality. My mom was there for moral support, to cry when she was supposed to like moms do, but knew it was my day. She made zero decisions, told me how to do nothing, and didn’t put her two cents into anything. My sister was there to lend an opinion when I asked or to execute little details that I didn’t have the time to do, or to help problem solve when a catastrophe happened. The rest of my family and my in-laws followed suit.
I laid down the law early in the planning process that no one would be invited that Nick and I didn’t know as a couple. No great aunts or uncles that I barely recognized. No cousins we didn’t talk to. No friends of our parents we didn’t personally have a long lasting relationship with. The last thing we wanted to feel on our wedding day was a. awkward and b. obligated to entertain people we didn’t even know. Together we decided on everyone that got an invitation and widdled down the list to those that meant the most to us.
You’re probably thinking at this point, “OMG she didn’t invite her entire family? Or what about her parents best friends? Or the priest who baptized her and the OBGYN who delivered her?” Listen, it’s not that I didn’t want my parents to celebrate the marriage of their daughter, or my in-laws to include those people that the Wilson family had a past with, but a marriage is a sacred thing, it’s very personal and to be honest I was scared shitless the day of. Not because I was afraid of never being single again, but because I had to share my deepest feelings for Nick in front of a bunch of people, and I knew most of them my entire life! I could only imagine having to do that in front of 200+ people I didn’t even know how I was related to or how my parents even knew them.
In all fairness (for those of you who are shunning me behind your computer screens), my parents (and in-laws) got it, unlike most, they understood, it was their idea. Our day was our day and those they wanted to celebrate with, that Nick and I didn’t know that well, were invited to a reception they held at their house a few months after the wedding. It was a win win for both teams and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.
I always ask friends that have been married what’s the one thing they would have changed at the their weddings. For me it was that I wished my grandfather and god parents could have been there to see my walk down the aisle. I would have traded anything, but it was out of my control. For most, I usually get, “Well, I wish I had an outside wedding, but my parents don’t believe in having it outside the church.” Or, “I hated that so-and-so was there because I didn’t even know her.” Or better yet, “I hate that I didn’t get to dance or spend time with my husband because I was too busy being introduced to my parent’s friends.”
It’s frustrating/heartbreaking, to me when I hear that. It’s not your mom’s, relative’s or friend’s place to put their two cents into decisions if you don’t ask them. Actually you shouldn’t ask them, be decisive, do what you want, not what they want. Yep, if you don’t get married in the church it’s not ‘official’ in your religion. Great, go have a private ceremony in the church/religion of your choice after, wear your Sunday best and have your parents there. I’m doing it, my sister has done it and I bet we’re not the only ones out there. Don’t invite the great aunt you haven’t talked to in 20 years, who you don’t recognize and have to be introduced to the night of your wedding. Don’t invite all your parents friends, unless you truly have a relationship with them, just to make your parents happy. Don’t plan your menu around what your sister likes. The only people that should be at that tasting are you and your fiance.
Too many opinions never ends well. It’s not their day, they’ve been married, they’ve had their venue, photographer, those cute chevron paper straws in the mason jars, their featured cocktail of the night, and the flavor of wedding cake they liked best. And if they haven’t, well, shame on their parents for dictating what they could and couldn’t have. Don’t feel bad because you think you’ll be hurting someone’s feelings, they’ll get over it. Weddings are expensive for both sides, it’s not the 1950s anymore it’s 2013 and the rules have changed…I promise. It’s the one day that it’s perfectly fine to be selfish and I expect that when you have your own daughter or son, you’ll leave the decisions up to them. Don’t recreate that moment for yourself, be the support to help them dream up their own wedding day.
(stepping off my soapbox)