Guest Post: Wedding Politics

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:

Glowy bride, beaming groom, no face-planting in sight…

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…

Easy, right?

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.

The Fix:
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

If only I had this problem in real life…

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.”


The Fix:
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?

And you think THIS looks easy.

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.

The Fix:
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.


My Top 10 TV/Movie Weddings

Doesn’t this one make everyone’s list?

I’m sorry guys. I tried not to do it, but you guys are getting some wedding content this week.

I’m getting married in six days, give me a break! We’ll get back to regularly scheduled programming when I get back from sunny Mexico. In the mean time, we’ll have some guest posts, some goofy wedding posts, and some normal Kristin-content mixed in just for spice.

But today, it’s all about goofy weddings. About six weeks ago, after I went to see The Five-Year Engagement, and I came home slightly hysterical about the impromptu movie wedding, Drew gently suggested that perhaps I shouldn’t watch any more movie or TV weddings.

Now, I really love romantic comedies. And sit-coms. I have to admit it: I just do. And at this stage, I’m starting to go into withdrawal. So here are my ten fictional weddings, in no particular order: some of them I learned from, some of them I genuinely enjoyed, and some are just plain funny. So read, enjoy, and watch them for me so I can live vicariously through you.

1. Friends: Ross and Emily
This is one of those ultimate learning-experience TV weddings. First, the wedding hall is torn down. Then the bride briefly calls off the wedding. Then, once everything is all hugs and puppies again, the groom’s ex-girlfriend shoes up, and he says the wrong name in the ceremony.

Thanks to this episode, Drew knows that his job is pretty much just to show up and say the right name. But he also gets to hold my hand through any disasters and try to understand that little things like music and garland are more important to me than they might be to him.

And I’ve learned that I can roll with things, and that sometimes tiny alterations will make things more beautiful.

Um… oops?

2. Friends: Chandler and Monica
This wedding somewhat balances out Ross’s failed one. Yes, there are disasters, yes, the officiant shows up late, yes, everyone thinks the bride is pregnant, but otherwise, it goes off without a hitch.

Plus, the entire seventh season of Friends is all about Monica’s crazy wedding antics, which have made me feel much better over the last year.

3. How I Met Your Mother: Marshall and Lily
Another terrible sitcom wedding! (Are you starting to notice a pattern here?) No flowers, the musician giving birth, no photos, no veil, the groom shaves his head, and an ex is present yet again.

But Marshall and Lily love each other enough to have a pre-wedding before their wedding, one with all of the things they wanted originally and without all those things that don’t matter.

Lily is super-drunk.

4. Father of the Bride (1991)
One of my all-time favorite wedding movies. Everything is beautiful and goes smoothly, and I can’t count the number of times in the last year that I’ve wished I had a Franck to help me plan my wedding.

They almost look friendly, don’t they?

5. My Best Friend’s Wedding
This is another of my longtime favorite wedding movies. Watching Julia Roberts try to hate the sickeningly sweet Cameron Diaz and to destroy her posh wedding still fills my heart with joy. And, in the end, poor Julia gives up the ghost and lets her best friend marry the woman of his dreams. 

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander and Anya
This is one of those big-scary lesson weddings, one that shows just how mean people can be, and how sometimes the demons we bring on ourselves are far worse than the ones that come from hell dimensions.

Even if I weren’t banned from watching wedding episodes, I would not watch this one, because watching Xander leave Anya just about breaks my heart. 

7. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Ah, the classic blending of two wildly disparate families to create something new and special. This one’s all about learning to love yourself and your origins, too, and to find that one person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself you can be.

8. Little Women (1994 film version): Meg and John Brooke
I’ve always loved this telling of Little Women, and while I always thought Meg’s quiet love story with John Brooke was a little ho-hum, but it’s grown on me over the years. Plus, I love the cute, lush, rustic garden setting, and I’d love to have people wearing flower-crowns dance around us in a circle and sing “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

The bonnets would be optional, of course.

9. Mad About You: Paul and Jamie
I haven’t watched this one in ages, but I remember fondly Jamie eating chocolate to drown her sorrows and worrying that she wouldn’t fit into her dress. This is another couple who couldn’t take the stress of their planned wedding, and sneaked off to have a private one.

That’s sweet, and all, but I think it’s more a reminder that the wedding is about two people, and not about all the guests and glamour, and you shouldn’t have to avoid your friends and family to remember that.

10. Sex and the City: Charlotte and Harry (as compared to Charlotte and Trey)
Another wedding gone awry! Perhaps I should’ve just written a post about all the things that can go wrong in a wedding if you live in a television show. The nice moment here, though, is when Carrie points out to a distraught Charlotte that a perfect wedding does not equal a perfect marriage. While Charlotte’s earlier wedding was perfect (aside from a few sexual-function issues), the marriage was a disaster. And, as we see, despite the wedding mishaps, Charlotte’s marriage to Harry is a great one.

I do love her dress.

Bonus #11. Heartbreakers
This movie is so full of bizarre, conned weddings, it’s hard to overlook the love stories. I do love Jennifer Love Hewitt’s beach wedding, though, and the song “Oh My Love” from their wedding night will play a much happier part in my wedding than it did in theirs.

The Horror! The HORROR!

She gave birth in a WHAT?!

Have you ever noticed that when you’re about to undergo some ordeal (a wedding, childbirth, tooth extraction), people always want to tell you their horror stories?

I first noticed it a few months ago when a then-pregnant friend mentioned that people get weirdly free with a pregnant woman. They’ll touch her, ask her personal questions, and tell her the epic story of a 45-hour labor which ended in a gruesome emergency C-section. Of course, my friend can now beat them all: she gave birth in a truck on a rural road.

It got still more noticeable when I started mentioning wedding plans to acquaintances. After I mentioned my upcoming nuptials, the woman who does my hair told me the horror story of her second (or was it third?) wedding. The hotel hosting it double-booked them with another wedding, so they had to have the ceremony and reception in the bar instead of the banquet hall. The photographer was late, the flowers never showed, and IT ENDED IN DOOM AND DIVORCE.

The most easily-traumatized victim of our love of horror, though, is the man with the upcoming wisdom tooth extraction. My fiance had his wisdom teeth out this morning, and, after a lifetime of painful dentistry and orthodontia, he’s been dreading it for the three weeks since he made the appointment.

It went fine. He was in and out in 45 minutes.

But we’ve heard so many horrible stories of dry sockets and impacted teeth in the past week that it makes me just want to pretend I don’t have wisdom teeth and never, ever go to the dentist again. The worst part of it was that I accidentally got in on the scare-the-victim stories, too.

In this metaphorical image, the cat represents the dentist.

Fiance: “Well, the dentist said I won’t need anyone to drive me home, but I think I’d like it if you would.”

Kristin: “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. When my brother had his wisdom teeth out, they had to drive an hour and a half to Abilene, and then my dad had to pull over a few times so that he could vomit… um… never mind.”

Fiance: (with growing horror) “Vomit what? Blood?”

Kristin: “Um… yes?”


Why do we do this? All people are story-tellers: it’s not just writers. We love to share the appalling stories of the trials we’ve undergone, and that’s fine. Rehashing a battle is probably more fun than fighting it, and commiseration makes our victories (or suffering) ever-so-much more satisfying.

But why do we scare the person who is about to face what we struggled to overcome? Why do we take this sadistic pleasure? It’s hilarious, but it’s horrible all at the same time.

What do you think readers? Why do we love to share our most gruesome, painful stories with people facing the same struggles?