Today we have a guest post from the lovely and talented Emmie Mears, whose blog you should check out and who I am delighted to call friend. I’m off recovering from my wedding (which happened last night, if you’re curious), so she kindly offered to step up to the plate and write a guest post for me! It was very and helpful pre-wedding for me, so I hope you can all enjoy her wisdom. Take it away, Emmie…
If you’re anything like me, when you began planning your wedding you pictured planning for this:
Chuckle, chuckle, titter, smirk.
It wasn’t long into the planning process that I discovered this fundamental truth that exists in the minds of everyone you invite:
Your wedding belongs to everyone else. So there.
My then-fiance and I went into the process with a few absolutes. We wanted a Very Small Wedding. We did not want a Religious Wedding.
That was about it. Little did I know, but about 47 hours and 32 minutes after the engagement ring slid onto my finger, I found myself ensconced in this:
Caption: All the purples! Put everyone on Papua New Guinea and build up, build up….wait.]
Let me preface this with the fact that I adore my in-laws and my husband’s entire clan of crazies (I can say that because my clan is crazier). During the months leading up to the wedding, I compiled a list of things I never expected to encounter — and how to fix them.
1. Too Many Chefs In Your Invitation Kitchen
Now. My family is very complicated. My parents divorced when I was two, my mom remarried when I was sixteen, and between those two relationships she had a female partner who I still think of as my second mom. Got all that? Spouse’s parents have been married for thirty years, and they’re a very traditional Roman Catholic family.
So, of course on the invitation we put, “Thomas P., Becky and Pat G., and Nee-Nee are delighted to present Emmie for her resounding nuptials. Oh, and Laura and Pete K. can come too with their son, whom our daughter is marrying.”
Spouse and I wanted, very simply, to say this:
With great joy, we invite you to celebrate the wedding of…
Pahaha. I laugh in your general direction. Apparently, people have been getting married a specific way for ten decades or so, and the wording of the invitation is often chosen to reflect certain customary tapdancing that I’d never heard of.
Wedding Politics: 1, Emmie: 0.
It’s traditionally the bride’s family that lands on the invites as the host, but I’m always one to pooh-pooh traditions if I think they’re silly — and in the case of my family, it certainly was. Our solution was to explain the complications of my family to Spouse’s more traditional family and lead them around to the very neutral option we had concocted.
A few feelings on both sides, but nothing inoperable.
2. You Can’t See One Another Over The Pile Of Money
Weddings are not cheap.
In fact, the average cost of a wedding in my county is over $28,000. That’s about a year’s income for me. Needless to say, Spouse and I didn’t have that lounging around our floor. We planned to get married in 2012, save our tax returns and every other penny we found face up (or hell, face down), and pinch together a jolly wee celebration.
His parents very graciously offered to pay when they heard that plan. We accepted.
We managed this hurdle with a decent amount of success. Most people I know who had non-traditional ideas for their weddings got their funk stomped out of them when they accepted family money to help pay for the shindig. That happens very, very often.
Just think about it. Mom and Dad hate the color green, but it’s your favorite. “Well, honey, don’t you think a nice mauve would be better? I mean, we are paying for it.”
We got lucky. Really, really lucky. They went along with almost everything except the size of our guest list, and since they were paying, we decided to let them have at it. Other people aren’t so fortunate, so here’s what you can do.
Pay for it yourself. This is the easiest way to have 100% control over what happens on your wedding day, but I get that it’s not feasible for everyone so…
Compromise. If you must, must, must accept money from family, you can always compromise. Mom wants a certain centerpiece? Trade her for the wedding favors you’re in love with.
Before you accept the money… You can always have a blunt conversation with whomever is offering the funds. If the money is offered as a gift, you can let them know politely that as a gift, it was unsolicited and didn’t come with strings attached. Tread carefully here, because you don’t want to sound like an ingrate, but if someone offers a gift it’s up to the receiver to decide what to do with it.
Bottom line? Make sure everyone’s on the same page from day one. If someone thinks paying means getting to decide the wedding colors and what stationary to use and what the officiant is going to say at the ceremony, you might want to rethink accepting their money.
3. Do We Put the Artillery Next to the Infantry or the Heavy Cavalry?
You can’t put Aunt Mildred next to Uncle Devon because their divorce was messy enough that it gave their kids PTSD. You shouldn’t put your work friends with your grandparents, and if you put your college roommate at THAT table, she won’t know anyone at all.
Do you have a headache yet?
Figuring out where everyone’s going to sit at the reception isn’t easy. There were times I was tempted to make everyone draw a table number out of a hat when they entered the reception hall and just stand around in my bridal gown to watch the ensuing pyrotechnics. Families and friends can be less than pristine, and if those relationships were all sunshine and roses, we’d all have a merry Christmas.
Enlist a trusted relative who is familiar with all the family drama — one on your side and one on the future spouse’s side. Figure out if you can match up any small, disparate groups. We put my college roommate and her fiance with some of our out-of-town friends, and it worked out great. Everyone had fun, and no one felt left out.
One thing we did to cut down on people feeling…miffed…was that we had a sweetheart’s table. That means a table for JUST the bride and the groom. No one else. We split up some of the bridal party and kept some of them together where we thought they would feel comfortable.
It can still get tricky. My parents are divorced (as I mentioned), and so I had three parents at the wedding. My dad came solo and we put him at the same table as my mom and stepdad (my other mom couldn’t make it), and everything ended up just fine. No broken noses or anything.
Use your best judgment and rely on those two trusted family members. Whatever you do, don’t listen to everyone who wants to vocalize their opinions on this or your head will spin around and explode.
And no one wants that.
4. Remember Your Get-Out-Of-Jail Card.
Ultimately, your wedding day is just that. One day. Your marriage will be a whole different animal. While the wedding day is an awesome opportunity to see all your loved ones and long lost drinking buddies in one spot, it’s very easy to get caught by the Perfectionist Fairy and panic if things aren’t perfect.
Things aren’t going to be perfect, FYI.
So what is the mysterious get-out-of-jail card? It’s this:
Your wedding day is your day. It belongs to you and your betrothed.
That’s it. That fundamental truth in everyone else’s heads? False. Some families freak out about weddings so much, you’d think they’d been invited to help plan Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton rather than come experience the public declaration of your love. There could be some hurt feelings if you remind them that it’s your day, but you want that day to be one that you feel good about. A day where your love was expressed the way you and your fiance best wanted to express it. I’m not saying to hell with your families’ wishes, but…I sort of am.
We had an earthy, homemade sort of ceremony where our friend handfast us. We’re both non-religious. I’m a sort of agnosti-pagan; Spouse is a full on atheist. Spouse’s very Roman Catholic family was nervous about what might happen (especially after our zombie themed holiday cards a couple years ago…), but they all had to admit afterward that our ceremony was beautiful, my blue dress was stunning, and that religious or not, there was no doubt of our love for one another.
Hopefully this survival guide will help you in your wedding endeavors! Go forth and be marry.