#1003: “Getting married in 30 days and the parent drama is making me wish we’d eloped.”

Dear Captain Awkward,

My wedding is in a month.  There is new parental drama that makes me wish we were eloping.  How do I still enjoy my wedding?

Fiancée and I are introverts and did not want a huge wedding.  My parents do not understand why we would not want 300 guests (despite numerous attempts to explain). We compromised and invited almost everyone they wanted.  We will have 100 guests (a lot!).

A few days ago, amidst a calm discussion about wedding logistics, my dad got unexpectedly angry and bitter and said (I quote) “You have made a lot of choices about this wedding that your mom and I would not have made and you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.”  He said it in a way that clearly indicated he was bitter and resentful and unhappy.  It was out of the blue and really upsetting, very much the “you are a child and I am not going to engage with or respect you” tone of voice.  I am about to be 30.

I tried to engage in calm, thoughtful conversation (through tears) about his concerns, but to no avail.  He does not communicate about feelings, apologize or have discussions about his behavior.  My mom did not get why I was upset (???), but when I talked to her later she did commiserate that he does not apologize for things.  I assume he is still upset about invitations, which pisses me off because we invited all of his family (except for some adult children, which caused other drama, long story).  I may never know.

My primary concern is how to still enjoy my wedding next month. My mom is confident he will behave and be gracious, and she is probably right, but this outburst was unexpected so I am worried (A++ at anxiety). I also know that any conversation with my dad about this will a) not go anywhere, and b) make it take longer for things to cool down, making day-of wedding drama more likely.  But I am both a strong communicator and a strong woman and it is hard to feel like letting it go is letting him win.  Wedding planning has been a large source of stress for me (we had a variety of other family/friend invitation drama despite our best attempts), and this is just the icing on the cake.  Right now I feel like I am going to burst into tears from one unkind word at the wedding.

 I talked about this with my therapist and we are working on practicing being okay with people I care about being upset at/angry with me. I care about my parents very much, but my dad has been the largest source of wedding-related stress, and telling him that will only make things worse.  I have a good Team Me in my fiancée and close friends, but it is hard to know what to do so that I can enjoy my wedding while also feeling angry.

Help?

Thank you,

Maybe I Should Have Eloped

Dear Maybe,

Your dad gave you an (unintentional) gift with his words. I’ll explain later, when we talk about feelings. For now, you’re 30 days out from your wedding, so, let’s make lists and check things off them.

A. Choose a date, reserve a venue, invite people. DONE! You have compromised all you can and invited all you can invite. This is the final guest list, for better or worse. From this day forward I give you absolute permission to concentrate on the people who will be attending and more specifically the people you are excited to see that day, and let everyone else fade cheerfully into the general fog of well-wishers.

If your parents are continually passing on news of the “Well, I talked to so-and-so, and they are still upset about not being invited” variety, it’s okay to say “We are not changing the guest list. It’s done. If so-and-so is really that upset, tell them to take it up directly with me… after the wedding.” There is an 90% chance that So-and-so doesn’t give a shit about your wedding and your parents are using their name to chew on the drama of it all again.

B. Make sure people have places to sit and pee and stuff to eat and drink.  DONE! You’re 30 days out, you have doubtless locked almost all of this stuff down. Your obligation to your guests is fulfilled. Your job from here on out is to show up and get married.

C. A ceremony of some sort with legal documents. I’m also assuming this is being handled. Great job!

You’ve done the hardest part! This event is situated on the space-time continuum and people are coming to it.

D. With the help of your fiancée, make a list of anything & everything logistical that it’s essential to discuss with either of your parents between now and the wedding. Is there something the parents are bringing? Is there transportation stuff/clothing stuff/hotel stuff that needs nailed down? Put it on the list! Is there something that isn’t really important and can be deleted from the list or solved without consulting them? Great! Cross it off the list.

E. Now, use the list and generate a cheerful, joint, “We can’t wait to see you! Here are all the last-minute details in one place!” email to your folks. From now until the wedding day, there is nothing to negotiate or deeply discuss, there is only implementation of decisions long past made: “Are you still good to pick up the cake? It will be ready at 10am that day. Let me know, thank you!” or “Don’t worry about that, it’s all handled! Just come and enjoy yourself.” 

F. One of the benefits of marriage that people tend to undersell: You now have a built-in buffer and teammate and stressful-relative-switch-hitter, for life! Your dad is stressing you out right now, so, maybe your fiancée can take point. “Hello, how are you? Nice to hear your voice! Letter Writer is driving/asleep/I just pried the phone out of their hands and made them take the rest of night off from wedding crap, but I’m here! What’s up?” You can do the same with her most stressful relative. If the person is calling to be pleasant, everything will be pleasant. If the person is calling to shower disappointment on you, they can be disappointed about how they didn’t get to do that.

G. Do you have a wedding party person or gregarious friend who can be Dad-buffer at the wedding? This is not an uncommon or unusual request! Even nice families where everyone likes each other stress each other out around big life events. The designated person makes pleasant party small talk with your dad – “Your child looks great! I’m so happy for both of them! What a great party this is! What is it that you do, sir? Wow, that sounds interesting, how did you get into that?” – and you get a little breathing room and permission to relax between now and then. Your dad will most likely pull it together and behave himself on that day, so this is just a security blanket, but if for some reason he doesn’t your buffer will handle it and you’ll never even know.

Parent logistics stuff, solved! We’re almost there! Let’s talk about enjoying yourself.

H. Make sure that on your wedding day you and your fiancée have some time that’s just by yourselves, for yourselves, with no one looking at you. The great Offbeat Bride team has some pieces about how to implement this:

1) “Introvert wedding survival tips and weddings for shy people”

2) “Avoid wedding day memory loss: How to slow down and actually remember your wedding.” If you’re only finding that site 30 days before the big day, I’m sorry! It helped me so much.

What I’d add to Offbeat Bride’s lists for introverts:

3) Give your eyes breaks. Our ceremony was probably 10 minutes long? Turns out that is much too long to look deeply into into someone’s eyes, even the eyes of your favorite person. Just know that going in.

4) Talk to your photographer. I don’t know if you have photography anxiety, but I do. Our photographer knew and he was great at gently and quickly getting the stuff he knew we’d want someday. He made it fun and low key and gave me breaks and I didn’t feel surveilled or pinned down by a lens the whole time. Your photographer wants to know the bare bones of awkward stuff like “Spouse’s parents are divorced, so, we’ll definitely take some with both parents but make sure we get some with Just Mom and Just Dad.” A pro will take all this in and make it go smoothly. Also, you do not have to pose for pictures with every single person who came to your wedding. Have mercy on yourselves and all these people, let them get to the buffet and the having fun part.

5) Let your officiant officiate. We…okay…I…wanted to go no-cameras (except for our pro) during the ceremony itself. If I’d told people that ahead of time I’d have heard a whole bunch of jibber-jabber about it but having the officiant spring it on people right before the ceremony meant nobody could grumble at us where we had to listen to it.

Okay. Now is the time in this list/pep talk where we address what your dad said:

“You have made a lot of choices about this wedding that your mom and I would not have made and you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.” 

He meant it as a “neg.” He meant “you’re gonna have to live with my/our disappointment.” He meant it to get you to apologize for something or give in on some point of negotiation (or to stop insisting on making yourself happy).

But the words say: “you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.And these are true words. These words are a gift. They can be a shield, or they can be ammunition. As in, the next time he’s a pill about something wedding-related you can remind yourself, that hey, you can’t make everyone happy, and some people might be disappointed no matter what you do, so stop trying to win their approval (INCLUDING YOU, DAD). He probably will never apologize or get it and things might stay a little strained for a while. But you have a secret weapon when things get tense, and that weapon is “Hey, Dad, thanks for the suggestion, I’ll think about it!” (You will think about it, and quietly not take the suggestion).

He’ll grumble, and you’ll say, “Dad, I know that’s not what you want to hear, but like someone very wise once said, I have to stop trying so hard to make everyone happy.” He’ll grumble more – he didn’t meant that you should stop trying to make HIM happy – but you can smile and keep saying “Thanks Dad! Those were really wise words, you helped me a lot. As long as fiancée and I are a team, we don’t have to make everyone happy,” and eventually he’ll STFU. Weaponized filial piety as judo, where you use your opponent’s strength and aggression against him.

It’s not the job of your wedding to make everyone happy or to express your exact social class markers and culture and perfect taste with just enough individual touches to feel really authentic and just enough tradition that it will still be recognizable to the olds as a wedding. It’s not your wedding’s job to spackle over the awkward patches in your family, to make up for lost time, to bring you all closer together, to make the unsayable sayable, to provide reconciliation and catharsis. It’s not your wedding’s job to be your happiest day of your life or to live up to some fantasy. It’s one day, hopefully a happy one, in a hopefully long and happy life.

 

OK STORY TIME in the style of bitchesgottaeat.

I hated wedding planning. I resented every second of it. I had no dream or fantasy wedding from childhood. I was also in pain all the time, and had weekly physical therapy for an injured knee and shoulder injury that made it hard to put on a bra by myself or reliably wipe my butt for months. My future mother-in-law was in and out of the hospital for a persistent MRSA-like infection. Would she even be able to come? I was working four little jobs that almost but not quite made a whole job pay-wise but made 1.5 jobs time-wise, now with extra commuting! Our wedding was exactly one month before Election Day, 2016. My dentist: “You’re grinding your teeth.” No shit?

I hated all the gender expectations around it, like, why are people asking me what our “theme” would be? Is it because I’m the lady? Why do I have to know this shit? (Me: “WTF is theme.” Commander Logic: “You don’t have to have a theme.” Me: “THANK YOU” Note: We did sort of end up with one? Lyrics here.)

I knew I was the one stressing MYSELF out, like, nobody was making me do this, if you’re planning a party about love you have good problems, we had survived some very hard things together especially in 2014 and really did want to celebrate with our friends and families, so why was I making it so much harder on myself than it had to be? Because my brain has a hateful shitlord lodged inside it that second-guesses literally everything is the answer to that question.

I had many conversations with my mom where she was disappointed in or unable to understand my choices (to not spend a zillion dollars that I don’t have, to not add starving myself to my already full to-do list). In one phone call she told me people in our family might not want to come if it wasn’t going to be “enough like a wedding.” She started apologizing to family in front of us when told them we’d set a date and a place – “Well, it’s going to be very rustic!” – and tried to talk us into her throwing a second fancy party where they live in case family didn’t want to make the trip here. (Note: My family is not actually fancy, this was all projection.) She was also hurt and disappointed that I was having a civil ceremony instead of faking and lying my way through a Catholic wedding and wondered aloud, on Mother’s Day, if she was a bad parent because somehow all of her kids had rejected God, or did we do it on purpose to hurt her feelings. (My suggestion that my younger brother who runs his own church called Warriors 4 Christ and sells Christian-themed camping and fishing gear loved God enough for all of us was not received well).

She did not body-police me…much…but she about bit through her tongue to not do it and would always mention conspicuously how she wanted to lose about x more pounds before she bought something to wear. Me: “Mmmhmm.” About a year beforehand I brought a $40 wedding dress on clearance (literally the first thing I saw online that met the criteria of “might fit” and “don’t hate”) that I ended up wearing on my actual wedding day (yay!) but I would have paid 10x that even if I didn’t wear it because it allowed to say, truthfully, “Aw, thanks for the offer to go wedding dress shopping, that’s so sweet, but I already have my dress!” for a calendar year.

My mom came out for a nice shower that my friends threw in the summer. It was so sweet of her to come. She helped me pick out my wedding ring. She gave me a generous gift. She also did the maddening thing she does where she walks very very fast until she’s far ahead of me and then stops and impatiently glares at me until I catch up. My knee had been healing but I re-aggravated it trying to keep up with her the whole weekend. Mr. Awkward put a stop to that when he came out with us on the last day. When she’d walk ahead, he’d stop walking and wait for her to do the glare thing. “Where are you going? Jennifer’s the only one who knows the way, so, you’re going to have to walk with us if you want to get there.” And he’d stand until she had to walk back to where we were and before we’d start off again. And you know, it turns out she can modulate her walking speed after a couple rounds of that? Who knew?

Like you, I had a lot of anxiety about would my mom freak my shit out and make me cry on the day itself. One hint of “Wait, is that what you’re wearing?” (and it wouldn’t have to be in words, it could be a look or a sniff or a sigh)  and we would have deeply tested the waterproofness of that expensive mascara. One thing that helped, I guess, is that I saw her at breakfast but I didn’t see her at all during the girly-getting-ready part of the day. I had invited her to stop by our hotel room but she never came. It infuriated my wedding party ladies that she didn’t but I think it was a gift that she didn’t, the gift of breathing room.

A week before the wedding Mr. Awkward asked when we were going to have people throw rice. I was like, throw what? And he was like, you know, when you leave, and people throw rice. And I was like, um, are we doing that? And he was like, well, in my family, we make little bags of rice, and then we throw it when the couple leaves the venue, and that thing where it supposedly hurts birds is not real, so, I’d like it to be rice and not glitter or bubbles or whatever. And I was like, okay, I understand that people do that, but again I ask you, what? And he was like RICE, WHEN THE PEOPLE THROW THE RICE. FOR THE LUCK. And I was like OKAY, WHAT FUCKING RICE? WHERE IS THIS RICE COMING FROM? I SEE NO RICE IN MY BUDGET, THE ONE I LOOK AT EVERY DAY. WHO WILL BE CREATING THESE CHARMING LITTLE BAGS? and he was like My mom and sisters can do it and I’m like okay, did you ask them, and he’s like well, it’s a little late for that now, and I’m like okay, so…

 

“no rice?”

 

…and he’s like DO YOU EVEN WANT TO GET MARRIED? BECAUSE YOU SHIT ON EVERY SINGLE TRADITION. IF NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS ENJOYABLE FOR YOU WHY ARE WE EVEN DOING THIS? and I was like WELL I DO WANT TO BE MARRIED TO YOU BUT THE REST OF THAT IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION and he was like OH MY GOD, CAN YOU JUST LIKE TRY TO HAVE FUN AND ENJOY THE STUPID LITTLE TRADITIONS BECAUSE THEY MAKE OTHER PEOPLE HAPPY AND IT’S PART OF WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU HAVE A WEDDING and I was like I AM HAVING A LOT OF ANXIETY RIGHT NOW, SO, NO, PROBABLY NOT? AND WHY IS THIS THE FIRST TIME I’M HEARING ABOUT YOUR DEEP NEED TO BE PELTED WITH GRAIN?

He stormed off and called his mom for their weekly chat.

I googled “Is rice a grain or a seed?” and “Can you die of decision fatigue”

When he came out of the bedroom after the phone call he apologized for yelling at me and for introducing changes to the wedding plan past the statute of wedding planning limitations and we both said a bunch of mushy stuff that I don’t remember and fell asleep in front of the TV.

And then a week later, we had a party where we got married at it. Everyone who came had a chair and enough to eat and drink. Our dirtbag friend taught all the 10-year-old girls to throw a real punch in case Trump won the election and they had to fight Nazis someday. My mom was pleasant and kind and after the ceremony she told me she loved what we’d done and went to go tell our officiant. She said that she could tell Mr. Awkward and I were two of a kind and she loved the way we always had each other’s backs and looked out for each other. My dad went to Extrovert Mustache Dad heaven, where it’s surprising that the collected guests did not carry him around on their shoulders singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow” by the end of it. When I see my friends now their first question is “How’s your dad? Tell him I said hi! Is he visiting soon? Can we visit him in Massachusetts?

It was, in the end, not “just party, ugh, what’s the big deal?” as I’d said to myself for the better part of a year. It was overwhelmingly beautiful and cool to have all these different people from our lives in one place at the same time. It was overwhelming and cool to have our friends and family help us and come through for us in all these small and big ways. It was a very big deal. It didn’t hit me how big until it was actually happening, and then it went by so fast.

And now it’s over, and Mr. Awkward and I are like “Thank you for helping me lock it down before I had to learn about Tinder” and “We never have to plan one of those again, HIGH FIVE (never leave me).”

In closing:

  • Wedding planning CAN SUCK SO BAD. Especially if it’s not in your wheelhouse and you don’t have “eh, let’s just throw money at this problem” money.
  • Eloping is still an option. You probably won’t do it because you’ve already spent so much money. But you can! As commenters suggested, maybe have a relaxed secret courthouse jam next week, or some other private ceremony?
  • Weird family stuff won’t get magically fixed but people can surprise you.
  • Small weddings are great, big weddings are great. I know the size of yours is freaking you out, but the benefit of having a lot of people around is that any one person doesn’t stand out that much. Also, wedding guests are extremely self-amusing.
  • If you hang in I basically promise you something lovely and enjoyable will happen on that day.

Come back in a month for your official IT’S OVER high-five.

 

352 comments
  1. “Our dirtbag friend taught all the 10-year-old girls to throw a real punch in case Trump won the election and they had to fight Nazis someday.”

    Man – I wish I could get married again so I could steal THIS tradition!!!

    • Guy Incognito said:

      That was my favorite part too! Wish it wasn’t necessary though 😦

    • I wanna’ be that dirtbag friend.

    • stellanor said:

      I like that friend.

      Also can he teach me to throw a real punch? Because I’ve been winging it all these years, which is probably good for all the people who have snuck up behind me and scared me on purpose.

    • Lemur said:

      I know what the captain means by dirtbag friend, and yet it is hard to see that as a dirtbag friend thing when we’re talking about possible real Nazis.

  2. Liz said:

    Hey, don’t knock Tinder, I met my current boyfriend on it 🙂 there are some good people on it too.

    Thanks for sharing your personal story as well … I’m not married but I am extremely Type A, so I could imagine myself going through all that too.

    • JenniferP said:

      I know Tinder is good and good people meet on it!
      I am also relieved to be old and to give myself permission to not have to learn about Snapchat or whatever. Rock on with your flower crowns!

  3. H.Regalis said:

    I probably am someone’s dirtbag friend. OFFICIAL DESIGNATION 😀

    CA, I like the part of the story about how you and your husband got in a fight, because I’m so used to thinking that any disagreements = sign of the relationship apocalypse, and while intellectually I know that is not true, somewhere I still believe it and stories help with that.

    • AKay said:

      Ohmygod me too! (regarding the “any disagreements = sign of the relationship apocalypse”). Doesn’t help that my parents argued and fought with each other daily before they divorced when I was in high school. Now, I have to actively not spiral into the “omg this relationship is over, we’re breaking up” anxiety any time my boyfriend and I have a disagreement. He also helps by telling me “we’re not breaking up because of this argument.”

      Love the advice and personal story time, Capt!

      • Kitty said:

        Wow, this actually explains a lot about why I get super anxious whenever I have an argument or offend/upset a friend, and have this irrational fear that they’ll like me less or not want to hang out anymore. ☺

      • Turquoise Dragon said:

        My husband and I have an agreement about arguments. If, during the course of an argument, either one of us believes that one doesn’t love the other one, the argument is cancelled. Done. Over right here and now, because we have bigger issues that need addressing, and maybe we’ll get back to that argument in a week or so. Loving each other doesn’t mean never arguing. Loving each other doesn’t mean never being angry at each other. Loving each other doesn’t even mean always liking each other (like when I am stressed out and he’s not paying attention and I try to tell him what I want from him and ten seconds later get a ‘huh? what did you say?’ — I don’t like him very much at that moment). But we have to believe that whatever else is going on, we still love each other — or why are we putting up with the rest of it?
        About six months ago, I explained carefully as as lovingly as I could to my sister-in-law, who I adore, that being angry at /her doesn’t mean I don’t love her/. It just means I’m angry at her, and we’ll work it out or we won’t, and I’ll still love her during that time and after it, too.

        Sadly, I can’t promise this is true for everyone every where. But the idea that it could be true at all was clearly a new one for my sister-in-law. Maybe it’s something that will be useful for you.

    • Thanksforallthefish said:

      Same! Conflict resolution FTW! Also there’s hope for us all.
      I wish my friend had this advice when her sister and mother showed up in her room on her wedding day EXPECTING HER TO DO THEIR HAIR AND MAKEUP….and because she’s so kind and does this all the time, she did it, she comforted them and all their anxieties, and she was a bit late to her own wedding.

      • yasmara said:

        Oh my goodness, me too. Husband & I got into a huge fight when we were wedding planning because he was all, “WE ARE SPENDING TOO MUCH MONEY!” and we literally had not put a dime down on a deposit anywhere. We had spent zero dollars. In retrospect, he meant that Things Related to Weddings Are Expensive Yikes, but all I could hear was, “U R DOIN IT WRONG” and we hadn’t even actually paid for anything yet. Eventually, we both got over it and had a great wedding.

    • M Dubz said:

      One of my life goals is to be the Dirtbag Aunt ™ to my friends’ kids, as well as Dirtbag Mom to my own.

      • Ask Me About The Seventies said:

        Hey, I’m that! It’s great!! My nephews and nieces sometimes don’t know what to make of me, but we all get along. And my kids, all young adults, all seem to enjoy spending time with me. Never thought of the term “dirtbag” in terms of myself, but it sort of fits and now I want to own it and rock it!

        • M Dubz said:

          Have you read the Dirtbag Literary Figures series on the Toast? It is what I dream of my life becoming. Lots of swears, but also total emotional honesty.

    • Mary said:

      Our civil partnership was on a Friday. We were travelling to our venue etc on the Thursday. We came home from work on Wednesday evening, opened a bottle of champagne, and shouted, “WE’RE GETTING CIVILISED!!!” 👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩😍😍😍🍾🍾🥂🥂🎉🎉🎉

      By half-past nine, the champagne-high had worn off, we hadn’t had any dinner, we were both stressing about different inconsequential things and we still had to pack, so we had a massive argument and sobbed at each other for an hour. ☔️☔️☔️☔️

      Anyway, so this is really quite normal, and also don’t start 🥂 at five pm if you have things to do!

  4. Traffic_Spiral said:

    Man, that “you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy” comment is gold! Just think about every single time he gripes about something: “well Dad, like you said, I just have to live with the fact that I can’t make everyone happy.” I would rack up the mileage on that one.

    • Cora said:

      Brilliant. That and, “Are you talling to me or yourself?”

    • onyx said:

      Yeah, that comment is golden. If my dad said that to me I’d not miss a beat to retort “I KNOW, AND THAT INCLUDES YOU.”

      LW, you can hold that poorly worded neg over him foreverrrrrrrrr. Cherish and abuse it!

    • TootsNYC said:

      yeah, definitely! and start using it IMMEDIATELY.
      And cheerfully.

      (and also? Get a little mad at him. Like, what a dick, to be such a deliberate asshole to you about your WEDDING!)

      I think you could also say, “Dad, this is supposed to be a happy day for me. Could you help with that, instead of picking at me?” And then just walk away.

    • You should make “Garden Party” your wedding theme song.

      But it’s all right now.
      I’ve learned my lesson well.
      You see you can’t please everyone
      So you’ve got to please yourself.

      Great song! Great message! Thank your Dad for recommending it.

    • JustKate said:

      After reading the captain’s response, I feel kind of proud that my reaction to the OP’s dad’s comment was “You know what? You’re right.” So, LW, I say you get out there and own that sentiment. It’s actually a pretty good sentiment for everybody’s wedding.

  5. Confringo said:

    “You have made a lot of choices about this wedding that your mom and I would not have made”

    This wedding. As in, YOUR wedding. As in, not your parents wedding.

    Now, OH and me aren’t into the whole marriage thing, but if either of our parents would pull that kind of shit, they would be told in no uncertain words that if they wanted to have a wedding just how THEY wanted it, they could go have their own. Sorry if it’s not helpful, I’m just sat here baffled at how common it seems to be that parents think they get to decide how other peoples weddings are supposed to go.

    • Thanksforallthefish said:

      Agreed. If I ever get married I…well who knows if I’ll stand up to family but I plan to make it all how partner and I want it.

    • Catherine from Canada said:

      Because they probably didn’t get to plan their own wedding. It’s the “gift” that keeps on giving…

      I know that my mom didn’t have much of a say in her wedding and gave me no end of grief about mine (I was 18, had very little backbone where she was concerned, was able to only insist on one detail), and I had to figuratively nail my head to the floor to resist taking over my daughter’s wedding.

    • wwax said:

      Your parents had their wedding, they got to make their choices. Make yours. My husband & I had a tiny courthouse wedding which we loved, then had a big church event afterwards to please the in laws. I still secretly think of the first event as my true wedding with emotional connection. Run off elope then think of the wedding as just a party it’s so much easier that way. No need to tell anyone there you’re already married, my in laws still don’t know our real anniversary & send us a card each year on the wrong date.

    • clorinda said:

      Well, Dad had better get used to it, because we can be 100% sure that LW will make all kinds of choices he and Mom would have not have made … it’s inevitable, in that LW and fiancée are not Mom and Dad.
      Happy wedding, LW, and may it be the first day of a joyful marriage.

      • “Yes dad, I’m glad neither of you would choose to marry this specific person. That would be weird.”

    • Also, id relish in the fact that dad admits that it’s not his choice. “Yep dad, I get to make choices that you don’t like. I do my best to be considerate and I also choose to be honest with myself about what’s important to me. I’m happy to be getting married and hope you can focus on that. So how’s work?”

      “Disappointment is really just a term for our refusal to look on the bright side.”
      Richelle E. Goodrich,

    • efmather2006 said:

      My mother has a list of choices she wishes all her children would make, but some of them cancel each other out and contradict each other. If she got everything she wanted, she’d still only have part of what she wants. She is unaware of this; she much prefers being disapproving and angry. I don’t know if LW’S dad is like this though. If it’s a pattern, the winning move is not to play (another saying I repeat to myself often).

    • HistorianNina said:

      I sort of laughed at that bit: “you’ve made a lot of choices your mom and I wouldn’t have.” Like…no shit? LW and fiancee are not actually LW’s parents…your point (LW’s dad) is…what exactly? I mean, ok, I can read between the lines, his point is clearly “you made choices we don’t like and you will have to live with my disapproval”, but, like, the actual content of his words and the sentiment he meant to express seem so different to me!

      • KittyKat said:

        My dad has another version of this: “You know, we’ve *reaaallllllllllyyyyy* tried to stay out of your business and not give input in your life” in a way that’s meant to make me feel guilty (I had told him my life decisions are not open for “advice”). It used to get me down, but at certain point I realized what a *ridiculous* perspective this was and it was just funny. What is he looking for? “Father, I so appreciate your sufferment and now I will proceed to cover your feet with a thousand kisses!” Uh, no. Now, my inner reaction is more: “DID YOU WANT A TROPHY? Because I’m 29 so that… yeah… that sounds normal”. Now the trophy just a little inside joke I’ve got between me and myself, and because it’s a joke its so much easier to respond to aloud (I’m not in flight or flight mode).

        You are responding to his comment as if it’s rational. The point he was making with that comment (“You’re terrible for being an adult and making your own decisions!!!!!!!”) is not based in reality or any principal of emotional health and thus does not require your energy in taking it seriously. If your dad would like to be taken seriously, he can earn that by being not-ludicrous.

        Some day I will get my dad a big, gold trophy with the words “King Baby” (source: post from earlier this summer) engraved on it.

    • LadyK said:

      The beginning of my love for my mother in law was her mantra, for calming herself, during my wedding planning whenever I’d choose something outrageous, “You are the bride. You can have anything you want.”

      However painfully someone else made choices for her at her own wedding, however wrong I was doing mine, she was going to defend to the death my right to have my wedding my way. We disagree on So. Many. Things, but she got through the wedding like a champ, and better than my mom.

      • Turquoise Dragon said:

        My MIL spent the year leading up to my wedding repeating out out “I am not micromanaging this wedding.” Oddly enough, it worked (except for one small thing, so whatever).

    • Queen of Scarves said:

      ““You have made a lot of choices about this wedding that your mom and I would not have made”

      This wedding. As in, YOUR wedding. As in, not your parents wedding.”

      I came here to say exactly that. This is very much a case of people you care about will sometimes be upset and that’s ok, it doesn’t mean you have to change what you’re doing. Keep working on that with your therapist, keep organizing YOUR wedding the way YOU & your fiancee want it, and I wish you a beautiful wedding day LW!

    • cheesemistress said:

      Right? I commented elsewhere about how my mom was a huge source of stress to me when I was planning my wedding, but I did not include in that comment how many times I reminded her that she had had THREE weddings of her own already and that if her thirst was still unslaked she could obviously afford to throw herself and my dad a baller anniversary party, so she should accept that my dude and were not willing to negotiate about serving macaroni and cheese (that we knew to be delicious at our venue, and because my guy’s last name is a kind of cheese and we were trying to get as much cheese into the menu as possible, and because my guy and I–but ESPECIALLY me, I like to say “body by Kraft” while doing Vanna White gestures at myself–really love mac and cheese) instead of risotto or dauphinoise potatoes (both of which we knew to be meh at our venue) with dinner at our reception.

      • SLB said:

        Cheesemistress, your choices are the BEST choices! That’s awesome.

    • Elenna said:

      This. Yes, you have made choices that they wouldn’t make! That’s because it’s your wedding! Not theirs, YOURS! If they want to plan a wedding so badly, can’t they do some kind of second wedding/redeclaration of vows thing on their next anniversary? That’s a thing people do, right?

    • cavyherd said:

      Oh god. A friend’s heavily Catholic mother had been fantasizing, since Friend was born about how Friend’s wedding was supposed to go.

      When Friend finally got around to getting married (to someone who was ::gasp!:: of the wrong “race”) by a JotP at another friend’s home in front of their fireplace, wearing a tunic she’d made for herself, the Church Lady lips Friend’s mother made all through the afternoon were just glorious.

    • Part-time Jedi said:

      LW, I am currently in the midst of planning a Jedi wedding. As in, myself, the groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl, ring bearers, officiant, etc will all be in Jedi robes, as will a large number of the guests. There will be so many lightsabers. SO MANY.

      My parents are not Star Wars fans. They have made no secret of the fact that they had hoped my Star Wars phase would end in elementary school. This is not even remotely the wedding they would have chosen for themselves, or that they were imaging I would have. But their response so far has been to smile and say “Well, it’ll certainly be very ‘you'” and “We’re just so happy for you”. (My dad did draw the line at wearing Jedi robes himself.) If my parents can handle walking me down the aisle while I’m dressed like a motherfucking Jedi, your dad can deal with you not inviting every single second cousin, and whatever other bullshit he’s got his undies in a twist about.

      Reasonable parents are capable of understanding that their children are separate entities from themselves, with different personalities, styles, goals, and dreams. They may have visions and dreams of their own for their children, but when there is a conflict between what they want for/from their children, and what their children want for themselves, they choose their children’s happiness and deal with any disappointment they might feel by themselves, rather than making it their children’s problem to manage.

      • clorinda said:

        Your wedding sounds terrific. Dare I ask what the music will be?

        • Brisvegan said:

          I am now hearing “dun dun da da, Dun Dun da da,” in my head. I am kind of wishing that you will use the Imperial March to walk down the aisle. (I know it’s the wrong side of the force and all, but it’s hella cool music.)

        • Part-time Jedi said:

          There’s going to be a lot of John Williams, obviously, but we may actually throw in a Star Trek song for the opening processional, since Mr. Jedi is also a big trekkie. And I’ve always wanted to have my first dance to the opening theme from “Up”.

          So the main theme is Star Wars, but it’s really going to be a smorgasbord of nerdy shenanigans.

          • Brisvegan said:

            You are so awesome! I hope it is completely wonderful!

    • N G said:

      Um… devil’s advocate here, but a lot of parents think they get to make decisions regarding the wedding, because they are often the ones paying for said wedding. If there is any kind of financial input, there will be a corresponding opinion (which may not be proportional, depending on the normal level of reasonableness in the parents’ personalities). This does sometimes translate to “I’m paying for this so it’s going to be my way”. In which case, it boils down to negotiation.
      Example – my parents contributed x% to our wedding budget, so they got a say on x number of guests that wouldn’t normally have made my first choice list. We considered this a reasonable exchange, and meant that we could afford the prettier flower arrangements option. My MIL contributed 0%, had a hissy fit that she didn’t get to invite who she wanted, or have any input whatsoever, but was forced to back down by my hubby. (Whole other issue there – I may be writing a letter for advice in the near future).

      • Demon Llama said:

        I second this – my mother REALLY wanted to contribute and while could have really used the help, we were worried how much sway she then expected to have, so we presented her with an option where, if she threw a tantrum, we could happily cancel all the stuff she wanted to pay for and go on our merry way.

        So, for us, she paid for the flowers (I am missing the flower-appreciation gene, literally had no opinions on them), she paid for a fancy dinner for the smaller wedding party the day before (which again, they’re our family and closest friends – they’d’ve coped with takeout pizza if needed), she paid for my dress (which was wonderful and amazing, but I could’ve found a high-street option and the day would have been no less special).

        But crucially, we (or Mr Llama’s parents who were 100% drama-free through the whole thing, thank goodness) paid for absolutely everything critical to the party – venue, music, food, drinks etc – so there could be no “well I paid xxx and I want [insert list of a million friends here] to be there.”

        Also – N G – oof best of luck with your MIL! Sounds like you and your hubby are a good team – he KNOWS when she’s being unreasonable. That’s a great start!

        • Brisvegan said:

          If my kids get married, I plan to just transfer some money to them. They can use it to pay for the wedding or partial house deposit or furniture or whatever. Hookers and blow (*Bender voice*), I might side eye, but anything else will be up to them. I don’t want to be “that parent” but I would like to help them financially. I just want them to be happy.

  6. Hey, LW, congratulations on the nuptials and I wish you and your beloved a wonderful life together!

    My bestie got married in a community center on a lake and thing after thing went horribly wrong. The owner had stopped paying the electric bill so the morning of the wedding, there was no power. No electric for the caterer, photographer, lighting, fans, etc. Groom and his bros went out and found a generator, which provided a lovely cacophony of background noise. One thing fell through after another, and … THEN it started to rain.

    And ya know what? We had a marvelous time. I watched my best friend marry the guy she loved, we laughed retelling old stories, created several new ones, and had a great day.

    In short – you need very few things to get married – a partner, the legal paper, and officiant. That’s it. The rest is just .. stuff. Honestly 🙂

    And remember – as I tell my highly-anxious self all the time – when things go wrong, you get a really good story. If everything is perfectly smooth, what do you have to talk about later? 🙂 I find a lot of comfort in that. All the best!

    • Drew said:

      I attended a wedding at which the flower girl, a niece of the bride, got stage fright RIGHT at the entrance to the sanctuary and Would Not Walk In With All Those People There. (She said it in wails and tears, not words, but the meaning was clear.)

      Her grandma, the bride’s mother, took her aside to calm her down and let the bride and her father walk where that small tantrum was occurring. Did not ruin the wedding.

      And then, right before bride and groom were about to walk out together, flower girl came BARRELING down the aisle, yelling “FLOWERS!” and chunked the entire basket of rose petals at the bride. Everyone laughed, everyone cheered, and the tone for the reception was set.

      Things will go wrong. You can’t predict what they will be. You just have to be ready to roll with changes.

      Also: congratulations!

      • JenniferP said:

        We had Commander Logic’s little girl, the world’s most intenso flower girl. She had ONE JOB on this wedding and it was to meticulously place each petal on the ground and she would NOT BE RUSHED. Her dad had to take her behind the seated folks during the ceremony so she could keep going with the flowers. Wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Kids and animals! So cute! So unpredictable.

        • betp said:

          When I was three, I was my aunt’s flower girl, and I was extremely cranky and confused throughout the process, apparently. I was taking tight handfuls of petals and angrily pitching them at guests as hard as I could. No one was allowed to touch me. Some people could look at me, but if too many looked at me, I had to hide in my taffeta gown. I am frowning in every photo. There is a candid of the reception, where my dad is holding me and giving me a stern talking-to. Also, this was the day of OJ Simpson’s car chase, so people were rushing in and out of the reception to listen to the radio in their cars. My mother reports that at her wedding, it was a hundred degrees in the San Benito county, there was no air conditioning in the church, and her grandma got lost on the way to the reception. My dad had to hide his car at his grandma’s house, so that his best man did not vandalize it as a prank. I don’t remember if that was successful. I’ll have to ask him. There will be quirks about every wedding. I guess the goal is to ultimately be a married couple.

          • Drew said:

            I went to the wedding of two college friends and the groom’s brother REALLY went to town on his car: not just JUST MARRIED and tin cans on strings, but packing peanuts in the car itself, balloons, all kinds of crap. Would have taken over an hour to get that car ready to go and the brother was super pleased with himself.

            Bride and groom came out and looked at the car. Groom’s brother said, “Guess you have some work before you can leave for the honeymoon!” with a really annoying grin. Groom said, “Nope, but you’d better get moving,” and the couple ran around the corner to the rental car they’d stashed there the night before without telling anyone. Groom’s brother looked as crestfallen as I have ever seen a human look. It was pretty glorious.

          • BarlowGirl said:

            My great-aunt got fake flowers for her wedding that I was the flower girl for. Didn’t get to scatter NOTHIN’ 😛

            I did have a tantrum during the dinner, though. (Who serves lasagna at a wedding??)

          • JenniferP said:

            Lasagna lovers! Italians! This one couple I know whose grandmas cook!!!

          • I compromised. My flower girl scattered fake petals 🙂

          • Jane said:

            as my brother’s wedding reception ended with all of us sitting around gnawing on butterfly pork chops that we clutched in our bare, greasy hands, I feel it is best for me not to judge.

          • BarlowGirl said:

            TO BE FAIR it wasn’t the lasagna that was the problem, it was the father who saw me at most once a month and thought trying to get a small child to eat by force in public and decided to go to battle over a plate of lasagna instead of literally anything else that was available that was the problem.

            I won.

          • BarlowGirl said:

            ALSO TO BE FAIR

            we’re not remotely Italian as far as I know?

          • danismi said:

            Oh snap greetings fellow San Benito County-er 🙂 My San Benito County was a little rainier than I would have loved but pretty rad all around.

        • Katie S said:

          At one of my brother’s weddings (multiple brothers, not multiple weddings) there were two flower girls. One was about 6 and the other was between 2 and 3. The older one walked down the aisle dropping flower petals as you would expect. The younger one walked behind her, and picked up the petals that she dropped. Then someone told her that she was supposed to be dropping them, and she dumped the basket of petals in a pile.

          • Tree said:

            Our flower girl was not quite two, as was the ring bearer. So we had them in a wagon, being pulled by her mother (my step-sister-in-law). despite practicing, she did not throw any petals.

            The ring bearer did toss the ring box on the ground, though. Which was why we wisely gave the actual ring to the best man. 🙂

      • LA said:

        My brother is a wedding videographer, and at one recent wedding, the flower girl was doing her thing totally normally, but when she got to the end of the aisle and was supposed to sit down, she looked into her basket which was still full of flower petals and apparently panicked that she hadn’t thrown them all. She proceeded to flip the basket upside down and dump remaining petals right there. The video was hilarious, and she got a lot of amused applause.

        Every wedding has *something* that happens. With mine, the florist sent all my flowers to the wrong wedding…40 miles away. My brother had gone to pick them up, and apparently his response to them was “uh, let me hand you my cell phone, because there’s no way I’m going to be the one telling my sister or my mom you don’t have the flowers.” Thankfully, it was still a few hours until the ceremony, so they whipped up all new flowers and no one was the wiser. *I* wouldn’t even have known if my mother hadn’t had a freak-out about it while I was doing my makeup. The owner was so mortified at what happened that we got a hefty discount (probably didn’t hurt that my brother is the local go-to person for wedding videos, so florist was possibly worried about bad worth of mouth).

        • Heh. Mine was: I couldn’t afford a hairdresser, my bridesmaids were all “nope, not taking on the massive pressure of doing the bride’s hair!” so I had to do it myself. My hair is extremely fine and flyaway so I tried using a product that was supposedly designed for my hair type to add a bit of volume and bounce. But I used too much and my hair turned into a greasy mass. I didn’t have time to wash it again and I freaked out. Luckily someone had both the presence of mind and utter awesomeness to run down to the nearest shop that sold dry shampoo.

      • turquoises said:

        Ahahahahahahaha that is the best ever. Honestly I think she nailed it.

    • pagooey said:

      Congratulations and best wishes, LW! Adding myself to the chorus of people saying that The Thing That Goes Awry at a wedding is essentially the free-entertainment portion of the event for your guests, who will remember it fondly for years. I attended a wedding where everything was fine except that the caterer was one…day…off on the schedule. The food was prepped, but safely still at the caterer’s location. So some hysterical phone calls were made, and then several groomsmen dispatched to pick up/drop off. All the guests considered fighting an attending toddler for her baggie of Cheerios…but when the cars arrived, we all helped to ferry in glassware and dishes and hotel trays of smoked salmon, bucket-brigade style, and it was glorious. Everybody helped, everybody got fed, everybody had something to talk about forever after. 🙂 (Also memorable: the wildly apologetic caterer, negotiating a screaming curve down the venue driveway in her catering van like something out of The Fast & The Furious.)

    • Eurekas said:

      re: you need very few things to get married– a partner, the legal paper, and officiant.

      The day of the wedding of the daughter of one of my friends, they realized that they didn’t actually have the legal paper. Officiant said, ” No big. We’ll have the wedding anyway, and after the honeymoon, you get the paper and I’ll sign it”.

      So after the honeymoon, they got the paper, and met with him, and he said (to the husband)”Do you feel married?” And he said yes, and then to the bride “Do you feel married?” and she agreed that she did, and the officiant signed the paper and that was that.

      • Tree said:

        Our officiant (my brother in law) forgot to give us the wedding license afterward, and had to quickly mail it to us after he got home some 400 miles away.

        Meanwhile his wife officiated a wedding the same day and forgot to sign the marriage license.

    • Carpe Librarium said:

      Exactly. As long as the two betrothed end up married (to each other, ideally) by the end of it – job done!

      • Jules of the Riverside said:

        Amazingly, I do have a story of a wedding that ended up with the wrong couple getting married. In Germany there was (is?) a tradition of the groomsmen “kidnapping” the bride at some point right before the wedding. The groom has to find her (usually at the local bar) before they can get married. A couple my parents knew followed this tradition, except that one of the groomsmen decided to make it overly elaborate and kidnap her away to another city. By the time the groom found her (2 weeks later) she and the groomsman were betrothed.

        • CoffeegirlKarin said:

          There is a tradition of kidnapping the bride, mainly in southern Germany and parts of Austria. BUT the bride is usually kidnapped during the reception (AFTER the couple has been married) and is in some pub/bar in the same village, but no further than the next village over and no longer than a few hours.

          So unless this is a weird regionalism (kidnapping the bride before the wedding, maybe during “Polterabend”) this actually sounds like an urban legend.

          • They did say it was a couple their parents knew, so I guess I’ll take that at face value.

          • GG said:

            We had this in Bulgaria, but according to my grandma, it was a village tradition from yon long ago when bride and groom actually came from different places and the groomsmen came to her house late at night to transport her to her husband’s village. (The tradition, features in a novel, too, one that we had to study for school. In one such occasion the groomsman actually deflowers the bride, too, and then they have to find a bit of blood for the marriage bed. Because blood on the sheet meant everyone got to get even more drunk. Also, the novel features a ceremony with a drunk priest going: “ooooh my head hurts so much, this hangover is the wooooorst, in the name of the Son and the Holy Father, but they say fight fire with fire, and the Hooooooly Spiiiiiiriiiiiiit, so I’ll drink some more during the reception. This one seems too young to be married, but then it’s his life, Hallelujah.” Bulgarian literature is weird.)

          • Jules of the Riverside said:

            @CoffeegirlKarin: The story is from my dad, so it is probably 1:1 entertainment to truth. It would have happened in the late 70’s/early 80’s in the Stuttgart region. I know the couple in question is still together (or were a decade ago) but I suspect there’s more to the story than what is public knowledge.

            I do have a German wedding mishap I know is 100% true: My parents were active in the local amateur pilot/skydiving community and a few of their friends decided to play a prank by dropping rolls of toilet paper and then skydiving into a field in the middle of the party. Only there were two wedding parties happening in the same village and they hit the wrong one. Apparently the couple were pretty friendly about it and the skydivers got back in the plane and finally landed at my parent’s reception (one of my favorite photos of my mom is of her in full wedding gear throwing her bouquet-laden arms around a friend in an orange suit while the parachute is still deflating).

            @GG: Any chance that novel has been translated to English or German? Now my curiosity is piqued.

    • bostoncandy said:

      Until I saw this comment, I forgot about the fact that on my wedding day, my ex arrived at the beautiful bird sanctuary we had rented for the occasion to find that someone had pitched a bright blue pup tent just about in the spot where the harpist was supposed to set up.
      Apparently, his words to the caretaker in negotiating this issue included the comment “It’s a very fortunate thing for you that my wife wasn’t here.” We also wound up hanging out in the Reptile Room instead of the romantic atrium before the ceremony due to some… other issues that I don’t now remember. It actually turned out to be really fun. I mean, snakes!

    • cavyherd said:

      Robert Fulghum has a whole book of Stuff That Goes Wrong at Weddings (& Funerals—which are even funnier).

  7. I like your term “buffer”. I kept referring to my ex-Marine friend as my “bouncer”, in case ruckuses broke out. Buffer sounds much more refined. I think it helps to have someone (that isn’t part of the wedding couple) looking out for issues and soothing them out, so the wedding party can just breathe. Great point, Cap!

    • vagabondtabby said:

      Getting married was a rotten idea, but I had the best ever wedding, which included the formation of a brute squad in case the groom’s father showed up. (He didn’t, but having a brute squad available in case he did made me feel MUCH better about things.)

      • Tapetum said:

        My grandmother (father’s mother) wrangled my mother during the whole wedding/pre-wedding prep, reception. It was a great choice. She was one of the few people that my mother doesn’t ignore or argue with, and is very no nonsense. She handled the whole thing so smoothly, I didn’t know that she’d had to do anything until months later. Turns out she’d kept my mother from ditching the whole wedding, and then several other things during the occasion itself. Mom is not generally argumentative per se, but she is incapable of not trying to make everything everywhere all about her.

    • I assigned the role of “mother wrangler” to one of my attendants, because I have a mother who always has to be the centre of attention and as part of that puts me down to make herself look/feel better. Didn’t want that at my wedding, no thanks.

      My friend was awesome. She smacked my mother down spectacularly when she started making a scene in the foyer because I hadn’t said hello to her (which I had) in the midst of running around trying to sort out a minor crisis involving a room booking error

    • Bookish Miss said:

      I had a few buffers – one pointed at Things That Could Go Wrong, one pointed at my mother and aunt, and one pointed at the best man. I’m going to be a buffer at a wedding this winter, between Bride and Skeevy Guy Her Dad Guilted Her Into Inviting. Totally normal, and honestly there were some awesome stories from them afterwards that I still laugh about. Mom had her specific task (cupcakes), limits for her and best man were solidified with vendors before the event (flat out told them they were allowed to tell my mother no and stick to it), and everything went off without a hitch.

    • cavyherd said:

      I think “Hand of the Bride” and/or “Hand of the Groom” should be a thing. Got an issue? Talk to the Hand. (Who may or may do you the courtesy of not laughing in your face.)

  8. attica said:

    A hallmark of a good storyteller is one that inspires the reader to look up rice: grain or seed? It’s a detail not important to the story, but mentioning it and denying the answer makes the whole passage delightfully sticky. (in the storytelling meaning of sticky, not the lemon-bars-on-your-fingers sticky)

    • JenniferP said:

      Thanks! (fact: It’s both)

      • unlurking said:

        “I googled “Is rice a grain or a seed?” and “Can you die of decision fatigue””

        Yes this part made me literally laugh out loud, in recognition of both those feels. ❤

        Also, LW, both me and my best friend had weddings that tripped all the parental "this is not what I would choose" buttons, and lo, in the end, EVERYBODY loved both our weddings, including and especially all the friends of the parental units. Trust your decisions – You got this.

    • SarahDances said:

      Word! I snort laughed at “AND WHY IS THIS THE FIRST TIME I’M HEARING ABOUT YOUR DEEP NEED TO BE PELTED WITH GRAIN?”

      • Esme said:

        YES. That whole bit was so wonderful, though I get that it wasn’t funny at the time. Thanks for sharing, Captain.

  9. absolutely LOVE THIS. LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  10. K Dubs said:

    Honestly, your dad did you a favor when he said “you’re going to have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.” You can use that any time he tries to guilt you into doing something. Everyone includes him.

    I remember when I was getting married, my mom and my dad went to help me pick out a dress. My mom kept trying to stick veils on me, and I kept telling her I didn’t want one. I was very adamant on this. Finally, I broke down and started crying because I was already stressed out and she kept saying I “wouldn’t look like a bride” without a veil.

    My dad was the one who stepped in and told her that she had her wedding, and I’m having mine, and asked her why she was willing to make her daughter cry over a veil that only she wanted. She actually thought about it, and the veil was never spoken of again.

    Similarly, my ex’s mom was a super picky eater, as is my brother. We’re talking supposed allergies to things that she wasn’t really allergic to, she just didn’t LIKE. My brother, knowing he is a picky eater, said that he would just suck it up and eat or not. He knew he could always eat before the wedding. Ex MIL freaked out over every dinner choice we made. Eventually, Ex Husband had to tell her that our meal plan was our meal plan, and that she could also eat or not. It took about a week for her to realize she was being ridiculous, but eventually, she realized that it was either that or be excluded from ALL wedding decisions, and she chose the latter.

    I agree with everyone else who has said that you’ve already got the things you need to get married. Everything else is just stuff you add on. My sister is now engaged, and the one piece of advice I gave her was, “This is your and Future Husband’s marriage, and the way to start it is by making it YOUR wedding. No one will notice if the centerpieces don’t turn out, or if the cake isn’t perfect. If the food tastes good, the music makes people dance, and the drinks are flowing (alcoholic or not), people will forget about whatever gripes they have. And you can’t make everyone happy, so make YOU happy.”

    • not really a lurker anymore said:

      My parents paid for my reception, with 3 conditions (invitations had to include kids; no open bar; and food my dad would eat as he’s a meat and potatoes guy and we’d had a few family weddings with really interesting plated meals) We had no issues with any of those conditions. But it meant talking to Mom and Dad about the food choices. OMG, the back and forth with my Dad over the vegetarian option. He kept bringing it up. I finally got him to stop with “Dad, I have friends who are vegetarian. They need to be able to eat at the reception.”

      • Wait…your dad objected for some reason to having a vegetarian option, emphasis on the word “option”? As in, a thing he wouldn’t personally have to eat? Yikes.

        • not really a lurker anymore said:

          Yes. It was really odd and I still don’t get why. We had about 20 people take the vegetarian option, which was a stuffed pepper thing. There was a sort of goulash type thing (which I think is what he had), and either a chicken or fish option for 3rd. We even did a chicken strip meal for the kids.

          Normally my dad is relatively sane.

  11. S said:

    I had similar guest-list trauma, in this case with parents being divorced and my mother not wanting me to invite my dad’s sisters. I called my dad and he told me “this is your decision to make, and you don’t have to make everybody happy.” And I blinked, and thought, “yeah, he’s right.”

    I think you can decide that on your wedding day, you and your fiancé get to be happy. You don’t have to make your father happy by doing what he wants. He doesn’t have to make you happy by agreeing with you or apologizing. Make your decision, set up a Dad Buffer person if you think there’s a slightest chance he’ll be a jerk, and have fun marrying the person you love.

    • yasmara said:

      There is this, but I have also been on the other side of wedding invite drama. I only have a few first cousins and when one of my first cousins got married a few years ago, he invited 2 out of the total of 5 first cousins. My brothers and I were conspicuously the 3 cousins who were not invited. It’s honestly the last straw that’s completely soured me on that entire side of the family. It was explained by my aunt & uncle as a budgetary thing, but I don’t buy it. There is *plenty* of $$ on that side of the family and he got married as an adult in his 40’s. Three extra wedding guests (or at max 6 if we each brought a guest) would not have broken the budget. My parents didn’t go either because they were so disgusted at that point. It still hurts me to this day that we were the expendable family – my parents gave him free room/board & acted as his personal tour guides when he was doing a big trekking trip to Alaska, where they lived at the time (and where I grew up). We were good enough for him to mooch off of when he wanted something but not good enough to invite to the wedding? Yes, I’m still bitter whenever I think about it.

      • Aella said:

        My mother refused to attend the wedding of my cousin because her father (Mum’s brother in law) is an abusive dickwad who she hates, and she was all “I will not eat his bread” but she did turn up at the end to pick me and Sis up, and Sis and I were the only first cousins who got invited to wedding and second reception but not the meal.

        My sister and I attended, and all went well. (Well, I burst into tears on the ride home because I was depressed, unmedicated, and my sister had been hanging over me all evening which meant that I hadn’t danced with anyone, but no one knew but my parents and sister.) They got successfully married. I’m pretty sure they didn’t notice anything else.

      • Yeah, I got that one. A cousin (who had been to MY wedding) didn’t invite me to hers, probably because of all the GAY all over me and my wife. But she invited my sister. And made bogus claims about budget or crowd size or something which were proven to be bogus when my sister was gauche enough to ask to bring her new boyfriend, and he was invited. (That boyfriend? Didn’t last 4 months and I never met him.)

        Funny thing. I don’t have much to say to her anymore. (Or her husband, or any of their kids. Or my aunt and uncle, for that matter. I’m still good with her older sister, though.) And my sister apologized to me later for going along with it. Ah, families.

  12. Cora said:

    Hi LW, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

    As I was reading, I had a thought that the Cap covered in point G — get a dad-wrangler. I’ve read a whole lot of advice column answers to “but what do I do about This One Person?” and inevitably the answer is, “Get a wrangler.” I think it’s probably necessary in virtually every wedding.

    Also, about the wanting to burst into tears, maybe you should in private? I’ve also read about the mom who is so afraid that she’ll start crying at the wedding and never stop, and the thing that seems to work is to take as many times as you need before the wedding to go somewhere, think about the ceremony, and cry all you want. By the time you get to the wedding you’re all cried out and can enjoy yourself just fine. YMMV, so proceed with caution, but it’s an idea.

    Finally, one of my favorite ideas about a wedding, I forget where I heard it, is “The wedding is not the end of the story, like in the movies. The wedding is the beginning.” Your wedding isn’t the Big Finale Showstopper; it’s a party to celebrate the start of a committed life together. Keeping that in mind kept me sane at my wedding.

    • descoladin said:

      yeeeessss, the wrangler. My sister and best friend knew to be mom-wranglers which was super helpful at keeping her comments away from me during that day. And I didn’t learn it until after the wedding, but several random wedding guests (who had not been asked to be wranglers, but who knew my mom) helped with that too: my cousin who made comforting noncommittal noises to my mom when mom asked her to play piano in case our pianist didn’t show up, and my friend who made the mistake of telling my mom how nice the venue was, and was then treated to a monologue about how it wasn’t the venue she would have chosen. Hey, at least she wasn’t monologuing to me, and my friend thought it was hilarious. Your friends will have your back too.

    • sistercoyote said:

      My “unofficial” job at my best friend’s wedding to a lovely man (they’ve been married almost 20 years where does the time go?) was to keep an eye on her father and make sure he was keeping to O’Douls or other non-alcoholic drinks. (To my amusement, she never mentioned to me but her dad did, in the same conversation in which we discovered he’d thought my name was “Jill” for all the years we’d known each other and was surprised to learn otherwise [hey, he knew who he meant, I knew who he meant, we were golden].)

      He behaved, the wedding and reception were wonderful, and I highly recommend a wrangler for any potential problems.

    • LeighTX said:

      Yes to the private tears! Before my daughter I’d had a ball of anxiety in my stomach for ages, this terror that I was going to ugly-cry throughout the whole ceremony and look foolish. But the night before, I happened to get upset over something minor. I went into my closet for a minute to pull myself together, then shut the door and allowed myself a full-on meltdown. I felt so much better afterward, and on the actual graduation day I was a champ! Nary a tear.

      Day-before Closet Meltdowns: two thumbs up, highly recommend.

      • cavyherd said:

        Hey, crying is extremely therapeutic. Helps flush all the cortisol out of your system. I’m a big fan, personally.

  13. spinks said:

    Congratulations and good luck, LW. You’ve got this. It will be amazing. To look round the room and see it full of friends and family who have come just to show they love you and wish you luck in your future life together is an amazing amazing feelings, enjoy it!

    This won’t help but fwiw your dad is probably full of feelings at the moment. Our culture talks about little girls daydreaming about ideal weddings (I was never that child but its a stereotype thing) but we don’t often mention that dads probably daydream about their kids’ weddings also. But that’s his issue to deal with.

    ““We never have to plan one of those again, HIGH FIVE (never leave me).””

    — that is pretty much exactly what I said to my OH the day after our wedding too 🙂 That was fun, I am never doing it again.

  14. Alaia said:

    Awesome advice Captain!

    Letter Writer, I feel you. I had an small wedding with *gasp* 30 guests and *gasp* only 10 were invited to the actual ceremony and I was given *so much* grief by my grandmother. You know what? She turned up, she had fun, she cried tears of joy, and it was fine.

    I also didn’t invite my aunt (because she called me up and told me all about how she disapproved of my husband) and then she tried to get an invite a week before the wedding – sorry, nope! And that was also fine.

    Letter Writer, you will be fine! Your dad will do his dad stuff, and you can use his own words against him much like the Cap said 😀

    • Drew said:

      “Your spouse-to-be is awful and why have I not received a wedding invitation” has just ROCKETED to the top of my Inappropriate Uses Of Chutzpah list.

      • CarpeFelis said:

        Can I just say I LOVE the idea of an Inappropriate Uses of Chutzpah list!

  15. Gabriel said:

    Aw, I love your wedding stories Cap! This is all very good advice.

    LW, best way I know to handle wedding planning is, give yourself permission to be hating this. It’s a lot of money! It’s a lot of people in one place! It’s all the family and the traditional expectations and your conflicted feelings about them and also a logistical nightmare! You are supposed doing the actual job of event planner, which people are paid to do, and family diplomat, which people only do in small doses usually, and you are supposed to do it in a general light misty haze of happy bridal glow because after all, it’s about you and the person you love getting married, right? So exhibiting reasonable stress is not on, this is going to be THE HAPPIEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE etc. etc. forever. This is an unmanageable expectation, so don’t feel bad about letting it go and burying your whole face in the Screaming Pillow right now.

    The point really actually is that you and your partner are getting married. No matter what, if you both show up and have a service, this will be accomplished, yeah? You win at having a wedding! The people who love you will be there and witness it, and then you all get food. That’s it, mission accomplished. Everything else- people being happy, the seamless integration of everyone’s desires, you and your fiance having a beautiful moment where you look into each other’s eyes and are like, holy fuck, I love you enough to deal with all this- is a bonus. You have a plan, and a counselor, and a person who loves you. You got this.

    • sistercoyote said:

      I want a Screaming Pillow now. I don’t know what it would look like but it would be soundproof and waterproof and probably really resistant to tearing.

      LW, this is YOUR wedding. You don’t have to satisfy anyone other than yourself, your spouse-to-be, and (presumably) any legal requirements of the state in which you live. So your dad’s absolutely right: you can’t satisfy everyone all the time. But in this case, the only people who need to be satisfied are you and your spouse to be.

      Period.

      End of story.

      (Though, like others, I would be getting ALL THE MILEAGE out of his having said that.)

      Be good to yourself, be good to your partner, and so many congratulations.

  16. Michelle said:

    OMG, I had so many arguments with my mom about our wedding. Made more complicated by the fact that wedding was taking place in Parents’ Town and my parents were paying for most of it. We argued about having a photographer, about the wording of the wedding invitations, about who was getting invited (dear LW, everybody ever argues about who’s getting invited, it’ll be okay), about what the flower arrangements would look like, about serving drinks. I had to make a special point of insisting on vegetarian-friendly food at our very Midwestern venue. (No, vegetarians cannot just eat the crudites and sides, also most of the groom’s family was vegetarian and it is super not cool to make them feel excluded.) We drew a bright-line boundary around the wedding ceremony, which was OURS, we were writing it ourselves and no one was allowed to interfere.

    It’s been twenty years (and eight days, my anniversary was a week ago), and I still remember this nonsense, BUT — and here’s the key point — I also remember that the day of the wedding was great. People were smiling and happy and appropriately dressed, we had an outdoor wedding in this one perfect spell of clear weather (the rain only hit once the indoor reception had started), the food was fine, the cake was delicious, we got some lovely professional photographs and a ton of silly ones from on-the-table disposable cameras (it was the 90s, camera phones were not a thing). My dad teared up, our band was awesome, the dance floor was filled and fun. My mom teared up, too.

    You will likely have to spend no more than 2 minutes with any individual wedding guest, LW, if there are some you’re not so fond of. They will generally entertain themselves and each other, and they will say to you, “Congratulations! You look lovely! Where are you honeymooning?” or some such.

    We got married, and I will never again have my uncles and cousins and my spouse’s family and our friends all in the space place, surrounded by their goodwill.

    Hang in there, LW and fiancee — you’ll make it, you’ll get married, and it will be lovely!

    • Anonymous said:

      We put disposable cameras on the reception tables, and the gaggle of small kids at the wedding commandeered all of them. It actually worked out well – it gave them something harmless & fun to do, and the results were hilarious.

  17. Zombie Bunny said:

    “AND WHY IS THIS THE FIRST TIME I’M HEARING ABOUT YOUR DEEP NEED TO BE PELTED WITH GRAIN?”

    I’m sure this was a far less charming conversation when it was actually happening, but this sentence made me laugh long and hard.

    LW, as someone who is unmarried, but who has watched her parents through 30+ years of marriage (I was born on their 8th wedding anniversary, so it makes the math really easy!), I want to emphasize the Captain’s point that your wedding day doesn’t actually have to be the most special day of your life, even your married life! Something I only learned when I got older was that wedding planning was a nightmare for my mom. My dad’s oldest sister–a walking House of Evil Bees to this day–did her level best to make everything more stressful (and she wasn’t in the wedding party!). On top of which, my parents had been dating for a lot less time than their siblings had courted their respective paramours, so there was a significant subset of people, including both sets of in-laws, who were already convinced that the marriage was doomed (“He has a MASTERS in RADIATION BIOLOGY! How can he SUPPORT YOU with a degree like THAT?!”).

    All this to say that, although by all accounts the day was lovely and my parents smiled in all their pictures, my parents would not classify their wedding as their happiest day. They still can’t agree as to whether or not they had a first dance – Mom says no, Dad says yes. They do remember having Baked Alaska as the dessert.

    The days that they do classify as their happiest? My Dad bought my Mom a fancy ring for their 30th wedding anniversary, to celebrate all of their years together. She picked it, she knew she was getting it, and she still bawled like a baby in the mall. They’ve got an RV now and they take weekend trips all throughout the summer, just the two of them. They’ve travelled to Europe, and have done at least three trips to Hawaii (I’m starting to lose track). My point is, they’re travelling through life with their best friend. They get to make ‘the happiest day of their lives’ be any day they want. Today. Tomorrow. Any of them. All of them. Contrary to what the Great Wedding Industry Machine would have you believe, this is not Your Last And Final Chance At Happily Ever After, Forever. I know it doesn’t feel like that right now – everything’s feeling very immediate right now, very close, very REAL. But it’ll feel like that someday soon, as you collect your happy days.

    I wish you many of them. Congratulations, LW and future spouse!

    • My point is, they’re travelling through life with their best friend. They get to make ‘the happiest day of their lives’ be any day they want. Today. Tomorrow. Any of them. All of them.

      SHUT UP I’M NOT CRYING YOU’RE CRYING

      • Convallaria majalis said:

        Yeah, someone is cutting onions here. No, not crying, nope.

        Aww, that is so sweet! I hope that some day I get to be even a bit like that.

    • SeluciaV said:

      Your parents are awesome. They are officially my married idols and I aspire to their awesomeness. 🙂

      • Zombie Bunny said:

        Thank you! So do I! 😀

    • mythbri said:

      I’m not interested in ever getting married and this entire comment put tears in my eyes (in a good way). Very beautiful of you to say, thanks for sharing it with us.

    • cavyherd said:

      Is it wrong of me that I really want to see the photos from their last RV trip to Hawai’i?

      <g,d&r>

      • Zombie Bunny said:

        Unfortunately, such photos are impossible, as we live in Canada! Can’t take the RV all the way over there. It’s a terrible swimmer. 😉 They usually just rent a Jeep, I think.

  18. Raptor said:

    You definitely need a wrangler. I watched over two relatives for my sister, and I had about 8 people watching for an uninvited jerk at mine.

    I also want to say, anxiety or no anxiety, please take a minute to get all mushy alone with your new spouse.

    I just watched Interstellar again last night, and there’s got to be some kind of messed up time thing going on. A minute inside your reception I think is about a half hour on Earth, and venues bill by Earth time.

    My multi- hour reception feels like a YouTube video on 2x speed when I think about it now. But there was five minutes when I got to sit with Mr. R and eat some of that delicious food we bought. And it felt like we were the only two people in the world. The rest of the room just fell away.

    Oh yeah, also don’t forget to eat!!!

    • Rana said:

      Oh, gosh yes, don’t forget to eat. We actually had a couple of friends who had the very specific responsibility to make sure that we (a) actually got food, and (b) ate that food. It was surprisingly difficult to do!

    • Jackalope said:

      I decided (with my sister’s permission) that one of my main jobs on her wedding day was Making Her Eat. It took almost an hour to get her to eat one yogurt in-between rushing around but I was NOT going to have her faint at her 3 pm ceremony.

      • Emmers said:

        I was this with my sister in law. I literally pulled her away (by the arm, gently) so she could eat lunch.

    • cathy said:

      Congratulations to the LW; every happiness for your future. All the advice here is good; it is your day; enjoy it, and yes, very good idea to have people to quietly chaperone some guests.

      The worst ever for me was a cousin’s wedding.

      My h, who was in a very difficult (alcoholic) place for many years, decided for some unknown reason to take an overdose of anti hallucinogens the day before the wedding, so I spent the evening with him at A&E as a precaution before the Drs decided he was fine. My parents knew because I left my daughter with them; she was perhaps 2 or 3 at the time. They also knew that the tablets he took were not life threatening; it was a cry for help, and everyone made sure he got the help he needed.

      A&E gave me a letter to take to his GP the next morning, so I got an appointment, took h to the GP and dealt with that. H decided to skip the wedding, but I still had to take mum and dad and time was short. I drove them & my daughter the 100 miles or so, we got there just in time and I decided to say nothing at all about what had happened, because it was someone else’s wedding day, lots of my family were there and I wanted to embrace the happiness; I told my parents to say nothing and they seemed to agree. (My mum always says nothing which looks like consent but really isn’t.)

      Standing in the churchyard afterwards while pictures were being taken I watched in horror as my mum worked her way through the whole congregation. She would approach people with a pained expression on her face, talk for a few minutes and then crumple at the knees. The other people would look at her in concern turning to complete horror, and then have to grab hold of her to hold her up. Then she would pull herself together, tell them she was ‘all right’ and stagger away to the next people. Repeat. Through the Whole Congregation, including the Groom’s parents who she had literally never met before. It probably wasn’t the whole congregation, but it certainly felt like it. I tried to look as if I had never met her before and as if she was not talking about me.

      All day I had members of my family sidling up to me and looking at me with intense pity and telling me how brave I was, and how they were there for me, while I just wanted the floor to open up. And there were some really horrible never ending hugs. In all the years since then literally none of them has been there for either me or my daughter but it doesn’t matter a bit; we have been there for one another.

      It is indeed hopeless to try to please everyone; the maximum you can hope for is 2. If the 2 most important people are happy after the wedding, that is a good result.

      And I have told my daughter that if & when her own happy day comes, eloping is perfectly fine with me; whoever she wants, wherever she wants, whenever she wants. The only wrong decision is the one I make for her; she gets to choose.

      Every happiness, LW, always.

  19. GreenDoor said:

    LW, if you’ve done all the planning and budgeting and talking it out with your intended, please just follow your dad’s [meanly delivered] “advice” and accept that you can’t control it all.

    If you’re 30, surely you’ve been to weddings in the past. Think about one from 10, 15 years ago. Do you remember the bride’s budget? What kind of party favors were on the table? What flavor the cake was and what the topper looked like? The length of the flower girl’s dress?

    No. People remember whether they were well fed or not. They remember if the couple looked genuinely happy and in love or not. They remember anything embarassing that happened. The first two you can control The last one you just can’t. Everything else – colors, napkins, flowers, how big the hall was….those are all details that people won’t remember anyway. So don’t sweat them!

    Congratulations and enjoy your special day – how ever it plays out.

  20. FoodieNinja said:

    Captain, thank you so much for sharing your wedding planning experience. Mine was very similar, featuring copious step-mother-in-law drama, mother drama, and my (now) husband suggesting we change our venue 5 days before the wedding. It’s been a few years, I now only roll my eyes when I think about that last one.

    LW, what your father said was pretty shitty. But, will being angry right now make your pre-wedding experience better? If not, let it go for now. Assholes are gonna ass, no matter what the rest of us do. 30 days from now, when you’re married and all this sturm und drang is over, then think about how (if at all) you want to approach your dad and your relationship with him. Not bringing this up now isn’t letting him win forever, it’s you picking your battleground and preparing your troops.

    • TootsNYC said:

      I agree that having anger be your primary emotion isn’t really helpful to you, probably.

      But let a little bit in there, and let it be the thing that steels your spine to not care whether HE is unhappy. Him, specifically.
      He’s shitting on you, and it’s mean. And it’s deliberate–even if it is more instinctively deliberate (because of all his feels) than calculated.

      So combine some emotions. A little sympathy for him, because he probably does (as mentioned above) have a lot of emotions tied up in this. Fathers are supposed to provide a wedding for their little girls; weddings mean their little girls are not theirs to protect anymore, and also that their little girls are really having sex (no more kidding themselves); lots of stuff.

      So, OK, feel a little sympathy for him. Mix that, however, with some appropriate anger, and let it help you be firm about your sympathy: “i’m sorry you’re not happy, Dad, but as you say, I’ll simply have to live with the idea that I cannot make everyone happy.”

  21. SamKD said:

    LW you -do- so have this. The Captain gave great advice but the best part is how to do the Medusa-mirror with your father’s “can’t make everyone happy” statement. Parents push buttons the best and the hardest (they installed them, after all) but this is YOUR wedding and YOUR day in YOUR life…which may be part of why your father is being so passive-aggressive about it but that’s -his- problem no matter how much he tries to either make it your problem or hurt you with words because you’re not doing exactly as he says/wishes/implies. Your wedding will be YOUR wedding and that’s what matters.

    Speaking to “maybe I should have eloped”….we did elope. After cohabitating we decided we wanted to get married, looked up how and learned that if we had the county clerk do it we didn’t even need witnesses. One beautiful April afternoon we went to the City-County Building and were married. Here’s how that went with the family:

    Called Hubby’s mother to tell her: “What?!? How COULD you?!?” and hung up on him.

    Told my mother in person at her next visit: “Well I figured you probably did that and was wondering when you might see fit to tell me about it.”

    Called Hubby’s grandmother to tell her: “Oh HUBBY that’s WONderful! Did you -have- to get married?”

    Sent announcement to my estranged father: no response.

    • roramich said:

      Wow. I just want to say I am really sorry that your family was SO harsh about this! Their loss.

      • SamKD said:

        Aww..thanks! They eventually came around. In retrospect I don’t think either mother had thought “I’m (most important person in)/(running) your life” would ever end. His mother tried “jokingly” to claim that “since there were no witnesses it doesn’t count” for a while though. Hubby’s grandmother really was delighted and although she was one of two people (other being a friend of his) who asked the “had to” question she was doing it for purely optimistic reasons: she very much wanted to be a great grandmother. She pestered us on an average of every other week for the first five years of our marriage till we made her one (three times over and she got to know all of them before she died though Youngest was too little to remember.)

        We introverts both encourage our kids to elope and have said on numerous occasions “it doesn’t make you any less married.” Eldest tried but too many people heard about it and thus it became a ceremony in a hospital chapel with both mothers, my M-I-L and more relatives/hangers-on than they would have liked. I fiercely defended her choice to have new husband’s winter coat (important in the story of their courtship) be both her “borrowed” and “blue” against every other female relative’s protests to take it off for the ceremony. They aren’t any less married either.

  22. policychick said:

    “…you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.”

    The moment I read that, I thought, “How right you are, Old Man, and boy are you going to regret saying that!” What a shiny gift those words are. Repeat that thought to him, brightly, whenever necessary. And in fact – to anyone who might need to hear it.

    You will have a wonderful wedding. It will be heartfelt and lovely, and something will go wrong and it won’t matter, and everyone will have a great time.

    Please write back and let us know?

    • bostoncandy said:

      “And in fact – to anyone who might need to hear it.”

      That is a GREAT point. Dear, dear LW, when the pain has receded a bit, I would encourage you to say “Well, my old dad used to say, you can’t make everyone happy,” as often as you like for the Rest of Ever. You deserve it!!

    • TootsNYC said:

      And attribute it to him, specifically, every time you do (cheerfully, admiringly): “Well, my dad pointed out, I’m just going to have to live with the fact that I can’t make everybody happy.”

      Especially to him, “Well, Dad, I’m trying to live by your wisdom–I’m just going to have to live with the fact that I can’t make everybody happy.”

      • TootsNYC said:

        ooh, just thought of a great twist on how to phrase this:

        “Well, as my dad pointed out when he didn’t like one of our choices at the wedding, I’m just going to have to live with the fact that I can’t make everybody happy.”

        The beauty of making it this specific is that it totally subverts his point–it makes it sound as though he was saying, “I don’t like your choice, but you can’t make everybody happy, so maybe *I* will have to be the unhappy one this time.”

  23. Sibley said:

    I am SOOO glad that there’s a strong tradition in my family of “bride and groom have right of dictatorship”. IE, they tell you to do/not do, and you comply or you’re uninvited. Of course, I have no plans to get married, but it’ll benefit my sister.

    OP – good luck. You’ll be fine, and have a great wedding!

  24. B said:

    Yup, I am an introvert, generally hate stereotypically girly stuff, and had just started medical residency. Boy howdy did I want to elope. Buuuut I figured my family would be sad at such a move and I managed to convince myself this was just an excuse to have a party with all my friends and family. It did help that my parents, at least, were generally a resource and not a drain, and didn’t get too critical about the “weird” stuff I threw in.
    So, how could I make this party acceptable? 1) halloween. We met at a halloween party, it’s my favorite holiday, and it’s about dressing up and pretending to be scary things ^-^ (for me at least, being married = sounds good. Wedding = SCARY!). I couldn’t sell my fiance on a horror wedding, alas, so I settled for steampunk as being relevant to my interests and suitably fancy. OK, steampunk wedding. With some bridal party pumpkin carving.
    Overall it went fine. The wedding planner kind of soured things at the last minute despite doing a good job on the physical stuff (sprung extra expenses on us that they had explicitly said weren’t going to cost things – like paypal fees – and got really nasty with me when I said “but this is the exact thing I said please not to do when we started all this!!”), but whatevs. It happened, it’s done, we have some pretty photos, my family and friends had a good time, and I never have to do it again, wheeee!
    Sorry LW your parents are stressing you out. Try to focus on what you want out of this and captain’s advise is perfect; clearly you can’t please everyone so try get in the mindset of pleasing yourself and spouse is #1, pleasing parents will be a bonus but hey, he already said you can’t so whatevs!

    • What is it with some wedding planners? They can be utter control freaks. I suppose you kind of had to be, but we were saddled with an awful one (came with the venue, no choice) who said “I will do absolutely anything for you. I’d walk over hot coals for my brides” then proceeded to try and make our wedding the way SHE thought it should be, including:

      – trying to make us say grace before dinner (we are atheists, so are most of our family and friends and saying grace isn’t really a thing where we come from)
      – trying to sneak in all sorts of announcements we didn’t want made
      – completely steamrollering my husband’s explicit wishes about the music to be played at the reception, telling the DJ to ignore my husband’s list and making him play (under protest) the one song my husband had specified he absolutely did not want played anywhere near his wedding
      – drumming into my dad that he had to do a “giving away” thing, literally taking my hand and giving it to my husband to hold. Eww. Told him no, I’m not property to be handed over and I only wanted him to walk me down the aisle to symbolise me joining a new family and because he’d like to. He did it anyway out of nerves because she kept bullying him
      – refusing to allow me privacy with my bridesmaids after I ate too much and needed to adjust my corset. I didn’t want her to see me half naked but she barged in and took over
      – tried to make us move our main meal from the beautiful room we’d set everything up for, to a gazebo. Three days before the wedding. She kept insisting the room was too small and it would all go horribly wrong. She was the one who recommended that room in the first place, our attendance was below the venue’s stated capacity and the caterers confirmed they’d never had a problem with that many people in there.

      2/10 would not recommend

    • onyx said:

      Ironically I asked permission to elope from the only whose feelings I’d care about hurting: my mom. And she’s totally cool with it because she never wanted a wedding either, but was forced into it by her parents. Might have an afterparty (omg, Halloween party is such a fun idea!) but the actual marriage bit? Just me and Dude, thanks. I want to take that life step with peace, frugality, and privacy.

      I know my dad will be disappointed and I know SO’s mom will be melodramatically upset–but idgaf. It’s my marriage, my day, and I’m running with the philosophy that even a bride that elopes is allowed to be Bridezilla if I get any pushback.

  25. Wolfie said:

    I needed to read this, I’m only just engaged and already considering eloping. Between fiancé’s late father’s family insisting on a lavish Turkish wedding, and that we have to invite the entire clan at the expense of inviting friends, his antitheist, ex-Catholic mum making it Quite Clear that I am not to inflict any of my “superstitious nonsense” (i.e. pagan traditions) on Her Son, my dad insisting on a bunch of wedding traditions I’m not comfortable with (white dress, him giving me away and speaking for me, love honour and obey) or it’s not a proper wedding, and my mum reminding me that we’re also trying to save a deposit to buy a house, so mustn’t get carried away… I’m already done and we’ve only been engaged a month!

    I think fiancé and I need to sit down and brainstorm a) what our respective ideal wedding would look like, b) which bits are non-negotiable, and c) how those can fit together. Once we have a firmer idea of what we want, it’ll be easier to draw boundaries with everyone else.

    • MrsLokiofAsgard said:

      A woman I’m friendly with is very non-traditional. She and her husband were married a few years ago, but after more than 15 years together. They went to city hall with their two daughters and got married there. Her oldest daughter is a friend of my daughters and she was over our house. She saw a framed wedding photo we have displayed and asked my daughter “where were you?” My daughter explained that we got married before she was born and her friend said “I’m so glad that my parents waited until I was big enough to go to their wedding.” I thought that was incredibly beautiful and kind of wished that I’d waited until my kids were “big enough” too!

      • Mary said:

        My two year old is just working out that we had a civil partnership without her (like, six years before she was born) and she is NOT IMPRESSED.

    • Demon Llama said:

      Oh Wolfie, all the support for you. I think your plan is spot-on. I drew some serious boundaries for my family before our wedding which went down… poorly to start with. But I gave them power over any wedding traditions that I could not care less about and they cared MASSIVELY about and that sort of worked, in the end.

      Just… it’s just a wedding. It’s just one day. You and your fiancé have the rest of your lives together to laugh about how nuts your families are, I promise.

      By the by, you are NOT kidding about the lavish Turkish wedding. My colleague’s account of his 300 person extravaganza was… wowzers.

      Also – my friend got press-ganged into a Catholic wedding (she’s atheist). The tipping point for her were the classes beforehand warning about the evils of homosexuality and how even if your husband is unfaithful, the response is love and forgiveness, not divorce. (FYI, not saying this is how it works in all Catholic congregations, but this is how this one went down.) Her response was to ask me (the dirtbag friend) to do a reading from Plato at the ceremony which was a pretty blatant ode to gay love. The look on the priest’s face = PRICELESS.

      • Lizzielizzie said:

        I want a copy of that reading.

        • Demon Llama said:

          Your wish is my command! It was an excerpt from Aristophanes’ tale in Plato’s Symposium. Enjoy!

          • Farther and Happier said:

            We had that read at our wedding too! Lovely!

    • Sibley said:

      Wolfie, sheesh, good luck with the families! Hash it out with your fiance, then just tell everyone what you’re going to do. Or not, and just let it be a surprise? BTW – eloping still results in a marriage. If that’s the route you decide to go, I do not recommend Vegas.

      • sistercoyote said:

        I, on the other hand, can recommend Reno and will even dig up the name of the place my parents went to get re-married on their 40th anniversary if anyone would like. ❤

      • I do. That’s where dear friends married more than 20 years ago. I was the entire wedding party

    • There’s a piece of advice I see a lot that goes “sit down and each of you without talking about it first write down your 3 most important criteria for a great wedding, and then compare and see what you can do that will fulfill all of those”. It might be difficult if you want a big wedding and your partner wants a small one to find a compromise for that, but at least you’ll know where your visions are clashing!

    • flrpwll said:

      Oh my days. Good luck with that one. Definitely nail down, between the two of you, what you want before approaching the masses.

    • nein09 said:

      So, I married into a lovely Turkish family, and my in-laws were sad that we weren’t inviting hundreds of people, and our solution was for them to throw us a party afterwards THEIR way, in Turkey.

      We basically ended our honeymoon at it. It was an incredible party and people are still talking about it and it may still be the best idea I ever had. Your mileage my vary.

    • bostoncandy said:

      “I think fiancé and I need to sit down and brainstorm a) what our respective ideal wedding would look like, b) which bits are non-negotiable, and c) how those can fit together. Once we have a firmer idea of what we want, it’ll be easier to draw boundaries with everyone else.”

      I think that is a terrific idea. Knowing what parts are nonnegotiable also allows you to know what parts you really don’t care about.

      I really tried to limit my parents’ involvement in the planning of my wedding because my mom can be very controlling and narcissistic. They insisted they wanted to help pay for the wedding, on the advice of a friend I let them pay for the site rental (something where you can’t change the plan by throwing more money at it). I kept them out of the rest.

      A few weeks before my wedding, my parents announced that they really wanted to host a rehearsal dinner. I said, “Well, we’re not having a rehearsal though? The whole ceremony is 20 minutes long? Our wedding party is 3 people, there’s really not much to practice?” They persisted, said they really wanted to do it. We talked it over, and it didn’t actually interfere with anything that we wanted to do, or impact anything about the special day, so we shrugged and said “Okay!” They chose a fancy French restaurant. “Okay!” Party of 25 – only the families and wedding party – zero friends of ours. “Okay!”

      In exchange for a dinner which I remember only a tiny bit about, (my great aunt made an absolutely lovely toast before she took the check for the whole thing out from under my dad’s nose, lol) we had zero interference with any of the other arrangements we made with the rest of the weekend. And heck, we would’ve had to eat anyway! So if you can pick one discrete thing you don’t care about as sort of a sacrificial bull, that can be a helpful tactic as well.

    • cavyherd said:

      One could be very tempted to start an infraction sheet, with the list of all of the family members on it. Each violation = 1 demerit. N demerits = restraining order. Forward tally to violators as necessary. XD.

      Also, add pushy wedding planners to the list. They still get paid; they just…have to behave themselves, Or Else.

    • Lurker in the light said:

      One of the only things my Gram said about my wedding was that she couldn’t wait to watch the whole giving away bit. I was not a fan, but I loved her very much so I chewed on it for a while. I ran across another bride who modified the wording to suit, and used it, too.
      “Who gives this woman?”
      “She does, with the blessing of her family.” My dad was very sweet and wrote it on a notecard so he’d get it right.

      His wife at the time was a complete beast about the wedding and ultimately decided that We Had Offended Her and decided to stay home. Win! I’m sure it was meant to punish me, but it was such a relief to not worry about dramatics from her. I heartily encourage anyone with relations who are pushing and moaning about the wedding to say some version of, “it sounds like this celebration isn’t for you. We’ll understand if you can’t come.” Either they STFU or they don’t come. Either way is a win!

  26. Emily said:

    I’m gong to say the opposite of Cap: if you want to elope that much and your fiance does too, maybe do it. My husband and I are both introverts and I’m on the spectrum and we wanted to elope but had a wedding because our family guilted us into it, and it was basically the worst day of my life. I hated it and i wish it had not happened. There was literally nothing I enjoyed about it, other than the result (being married). My parents did similar stuff to what yours sound like, calling me nonstop to yell at me for making wrong wedding planning choices on purpose to hurt them. I’d ask them what they wanted me to do instead and they would not tell me. So I’d guess what they wanted, get it wrong, and get screamed at. Rinse and repeat. just do what you want, whether that’s going through with the wedding or eloping.

    • Dia said:

      Oh gosh, that sounds awful.

    • solecism said:

      I’ll second that it’s still possible to elope. Get married now. Consider making the “Big Day” into the stand-alone celebration. The invites are still valid, the venue (or just one of them) is still booked, the food will still get eaten, etc. You can send an email/social media announcement of the marriage and update that the upcoming date is for the reception and you hope to see everyone. The people who rage-decline are exactly the people you probably wouldn’t want to deal with in the original plan anyway.

    • TootsNYC said:

      I’ve also heard of people who got married at City Hall the weekend before, and then simply renewed their vows at the big celebration. Having the part most meaningful to them happen completely under their control meant they found it easier to regard the party as just a party.

  27. Atalanta's Boar Skin said:

    Oh my gosh, LW you can totally do this and you’re going to love your day no matter what. My parents were divorcing during my wedding and ended up getting in a huge fight as the reception was ending that led to me crying in the car on the way to our bed and breakfast for our wedding night. It sounds like the worst thing ever, and it wasn’t great! But my husband helped me remove the 100+ bobby pins from my hair and brushed away my tears and 15 years later it’s a funny story of shit truly hitting the fan.

    Having a decently sized wedding might help you out, because the guests will entertain themselves more instead of expecting constant entertainment from you! If people are bugging you, just say “oh i forgot to tell *my new wife* something and run off looking starry-eyed. No one will expect you to shower attention on THEM on your wedding day. Except maybe your dad, and honestly someone’s going to be thrilled to run interference for you. It’s such an important job and the person you ask will feel honored.

    I don’t know a single solitary couple who hasn’t had a “why don’t you care about my family’s traditions!?!” fight at some point during wedding planning. You can do this, you’ve almost already done this, and it’s going to be ok, you’ll look back on it with love and maybe a little eye-rolling here and there. I can’t wait to hear an update ❤


    • you’re going to love your day no matter what.

      I want to push back on this idea, just a little.

      My guess is that the day will work out, and LW and spouse will enjoy themselves, but I could be wrong.

      I’ve known people who adored their partner, and who were very happy in their marriages, and who still had a lousy time on their wedding day.

      It’s ok if the day turns out horrible. It’s one day. You and your partner have a life together.

      So good luck!

  28. Taryn said:

    I totally get this situation. I’m not one for any of the traditional wedding stuff. I knew my mother would want me to have the “family” wedding: church wedding in my rural hometown with every member of the family invited. I’ve been to those weddings. I hate those weddings. After years of delaying, I went with the motto “I’ve never heard anyone say they wished they had a BIGGER wedding.” Invited only our parents, siblings (we each have one) and the one brother in law. Nine people in total. Paid for everyone to go to a lovely resort, so no one else could crash. My mother spent the whole trip talking about how wonderful my cousin’s upcoming full family wedding would be. My in-laws even asked my husband why my mother doesn’t like me! However, there’s so much going on at a wedding that, even with only nine of us, she was easy to ignore and I had a wonderful time anyway. I admit to feeling smug when my cousin’s wedding wasn’t very good and I could say “It’s not like a small family wedding at a five star resort, right mom?”

    The moral of the story? You’ll probably be too distracted to pay attention to your dad. You’ll have your stuff to do with your fiancée. There will be other people around who will share in your joy. When it’s all over, you’ll remember the feelings of the ceremony. The marriage matters. The rest of your life with your fiancée matters. You’ll get through it.

  29. i agree totally that his statement is a gift. you might not be able to convince him that your way is best for you (although i hope he sees it in how happy you and your wife are on the day!). he’s most likely not going to budge on his expectations. BUT! him being happy with the plan isn’t a requirement for the day. you don’t have to make him happy. his unhappiness is his problem, it doesn’t have to be also your problem.

    all the best with the wedding and the rest of your lovely lives together!

  30. He does not communicate about feelings, apologize or have discussions about his behavior. … But I am both a strong communicator and a strong woman and it is hard to feel like letting it go is letting him win.

    Let him win, LW. Whatever his passive-aggressive point is, let him have it. Think of it as a wedding present you will give to yourself & your fiancée.

  31. Amity said:

    LW, when your father says “You just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy,” I interpret that as him saying “There’s no possible way that your wedding could please me.” So if he’s going to be impossible to please, doesn’t that free you and your fiancee from having to tie yourselves into knots trying to please him? Just think of how much brainspace and mental energy you can now channel into other things! You can focus instead on wedding aspects that the two of you find meaningful and personal! You can reconnect with friends and family who are ridiculously excited to see you get married! You can go rock climbing/watch bad TV/take up knitting again/write poems/do whatever other de-stressing activities you’ve been neglecting because of wedding decisions! The sky’s the limit!

    Best wishes for a lovely wedding! I hope you’re able to put aside the emotional bullshit that seems to come with the wedding planning process and enjoy the start of a new life with a person you love.

  32. MrsLokiofAsgard said:

    Oh LW, I feel your pain. I’ve been married for 14 years this year and my husband and I have it in writing – notarized! – that if we ever get divorced he owes me money for pain and suffering incurred during wedding planning. I was all for a small shindig. We could have eloped. My husband was in this place in his life where his mother still had power to press buttons on him and so because she wanted a wedding, he wanted a wedding. A church wedding. I’m a Catholic by baptism and that’s about it. We had a hard time finding a church to marry us but because she insisted that she wouldn’t help pay for the wedding unless our union was blessed by God we had to find a church. It was one thing after another after another until the night my husband and I had a fight so bad I threw the ring at him and then I sent my mom an email venting my frustrations. My mom forwarded it to my husbands mom. Apparently my mom thought this woman was reasonable and once she knew what kind of pain she was inflicting on us she’d stop. Oh no…she continued. She sent me the nastiest email ever, told my husband she wasn’t paying for any part of the wedding and refused to come. I printed out the email, sat down with my husband and set a budget, and later sent the evil witch an invite. It was UGLY. That’s literally the tip of the iceberg. But the week before my wedding my mom told me she didn’t want to wear these corsage things a friend of mine had made for the bridal party – that I was literally only asking to be worn for during the ceremony and photos. My friend was doing all of the floral arrangements as her wedding gift to me and there was my mom refusing to wear it because she didn’t think it went with her (black!!!!) dress. I had full on wedding rage black out! I screamed at her and my two sisters that it was my damn wedding, that this was the ONLY thing I asked them to do that they hadn’t liked, that I’d bent over backwards too many times for other people for a day that was supposed to be about my husband and I, and that if she didn’t wear it that was fine but she could explain to future grandkids why she wasn’t in any of the wedding photos. Then I stood up and my poor husband, silent and kind of dumbfounded, stood up and we left. I got a call the next day that my mom would be happy to wear the corsage. She actually wore it all night long. I think she was a bit afraid of me. Got to admit, I was too.

    Best wishes on your Marriage!! Marriage isn’t about the wedding day anyway. It’s about the days that come after.

  33. BigDogLittleCat said:

    “AND WHY IS THIS THE FIRST TIME I’M HEARING ABOUT YOUR DEEP NEED TO BE PELTED WITH GRAIN?”

    [fortunately I can laugh like a hyena in total silence, but must remember to wipe the tears off my face so no one asks why I’m crying]

    Brilliant advice, as usual. Still laughing too hard to add to the discussion.

    • B. said:

      Yeah, I laughed out loud at that too x)

      Rice throwing is The Thing You Do At Weddings in my country, and people still forget to include it in the wedding planning (because weddings are stressful and there’re always a million details to nail down). So there’s always someone who has to slip out of the church early in full wedding garb and run to the nearest supermarket to buy packages of rice to distribute among the guests. For reference, these are usually 1 kg cheap plastic packages that spill rice everywhere once you tear into them, which has been the cause of many a torrid encounter between the rice, the guests’ often impractical shoes, and the pavement. This has ruined exactly 0 weddings as far as I know, even the ones where it was one of the spouses who stumbled and fell.

      In short, no wedding runs perfectly smooth. And no one cares. People still celebrate love and have a good time. So, LW, you have my permission and your dad’s permission to ignore his nagging and forget about trying to please impossible guests. As long as you and your fiancée end up married and enjoy yourselves, the wedding is a rousing success. The rest is silence, so, try and let it fade into the background? You love her, she loves you, and you two are gonna celebrate that surrounded by people who love you both. Congratulations!!! You two rock at love! And nobody has time for your dad’s rudeness in the face of that much love 🙂

  34. Lizards80 said:

    I was also stressing about the idea of all these folks at my upcoming wedding. I then realized the reason I was stressing is because of how important and private the wedding vows are to me.

    My fiancé and my solution is to (secretly) get married ahead of time, exchange vows in private (vows feel incredibly sacred and private to me; saying them in front of a bunch of people makes me feel about the same as when I imagine having sex in front of those same people. It’s something I only want to share with my beloved).

    The idea of being already married and having all the sacred stuff done with ahead of time, makes the wedding celebration itself seem less stressful. It no longer has to be perfect or ‘worthy’ of the sacredness of those vows being exchanged. I no longer care as much who comes.

    It allows me to shift the focus of the wedding celebration to having family and friends be there to celebrate our relationship.

    We will still have an officiant but now the vows can be generic (or even personalized, but not the same as the sacred private vows). Things can go not perfectly and that’s ok because that’s what happens at celebrations, and I can focus on hanging out with those I love.

    • That sounds lovely and takes so much pressure off you. My brother and his wife did the same. They quietly did the official thing at the local register office (the UK equivalent of a courthouse wedding), didn’t tell anyone except the witnesses the law required them to have, then had an awesome, relaxed, weekend-long wedding party with the ceremony in the woods (for a marriage in England to be legal it has to be inside a registered building) all focused on friendship and happiness and whatnot. They didn’t bother with tiny details, just let those sort themselves out, which meant I ended up being the ice cream lady and dishing out cones to the kids. Which was an unexpected delight.

  35. My ex-husband did all the planning for the wedding. It was a great, great favor for me, because I was (and am) still terminally unorganized. We had a lovely small wedding in the chapel of my grandma’s nursing home with two priests (one Catholic, one Lutheran); my ex in full Scottish garb, complete with sporran and kilt, me in a simple cream-colored Renaissance dress with no train or veil and a flower crown with trailing streamers; and my bridesmaid was a LaVeyan Satanist.

    The only disagreement we had was when my ex teasingly threatened to wear a power-blue leisure suit. The death glare I gave was priceless and he burst out laughing.

  36. Convallaria majalis said:

    First of all: Thank you, Captain, for your excellent advice! If my introverted beloved ever decides he wants a marriage to happen I will try my best to remember this advice.

    Dear LW,

    I am so sorry that your father made you bear with his angry feelings right now when you already have to shoulder the stress of a wedding. I have been there, too – though not with my own parents but with my ex in-laws. I know how you feel and I am so happy that there is a site like this and The Captain and all this excellent information. Please, be kind to yourself and to Team You and prioritize your own and your spouse’s happiness, just like The Captain said. Your parents’ feelings are not yours to bear.

    My own story did not go that well. My ex was (and probably still is) a devout atheist and his mother very religious so there was that tension. Besides, his mother never really understood other people’s feelings. We wanted to get married, but because my ex was introverted and did not like many of his relatives we did not really want to throw a big party, just a small one. In our country if one of the spouses is not a member of the church the spouses have to get married in a magistrate, so we did that. We had meant to throw a small, informal party afterwards to our closest relatives and friends, but my ex mother-in-law messed that up. She wanted to organize a big glorious event and invite everybody in her huge family to celebrate this event of extreme religious importance (to her). Never mind what we wanted, she was willing to pay for everything as long as she could dictate it all – except for our clothes.

    Both of us were very reluctant and it all turned into a catastrophe when we started visiting bridal shops to find a suitable dress for me. They were horribly expensive for two students like us and oh boy did I hate my reflection in every single one of them. One shopkeeper was particularly vile, making a big thing of the loose skin on my abdomen left by a very difficult pregnancy. On the hindsight I should have asked my own parents for monetal support – and my mother would probably have loved to help me find a suitable dress. I should have asked them.

    When I was young I suffered from anorexia. In the middle of all of this the symptoms returned. I could not eat and I could not sleep for months. At this point, finally, my ex pulled the plug of that “glorious” party. My ex mother-in-law never stopped talking about it and showing me pictures of the babies of her relatives. I am so very, very happy to be rid of her and I love my (nowadays) in-laws to bits.

    So, what I am trying to say is: it is your party. You have already given in on many details your parents wanted. It is enough. Concentrating on your own well being is very imporant now. We are all taught to care for our parents, but that does not mean that we have to follow their every single command. You thinking about your well being is not dangerous to them in any way, quite the opposite.

    You are a good child and a lovely human being. Enjoy your wedding!

  37. doylist said:

    Let me confirm that Dad-buffers are a real thing. I discussed having one with my officiant, who agreed, skipped the “speak now or forever hold your peace” line because my Dad CANNOT turn down an invitation like that, and tasked my two largest groomsmen with the task of Dadwatch.

    I have also BEEN Dadwatch-usher at a wedding where Dad turned up in a full-body no-shit buffalo costume. The bride was wise to task someone beforehand, OBVIOUSLY.

    Just wanted to throw my support there. Needing a Dadwatch is irritating but normal.

    • Demon Llama said:

      Mumwatch and Mumbuffers too. I had a whole pack of them run interference at my wedding. I wasn’t alone with that woman at any point over an entire weekend. SOLID team effort by the Mumpack.

      • Muddie Mae said:

        Yup. My mom was late and completely missed the ceremony, which was VERY noticeable since there were only 3 dozen people invited in total. When she showed up I was so pissed I deployed a couple of people that are very good at talking to keep her occupied while I slammed a beer.

    • entendante said:

      OMG. If I ever lose my everloving mind and decide to have a vow-renewal party/ceremony/thing, I want to invite buffalo-suit-dad. I imagine it’s way less stressful when they’re not your family, and my partner and I only had two people show up costumed to our wedding despite explicit encouragement, so buffalo-suit-dad would, I’m sure, make everyone feel more comfortable letting their own sartorial hair down.

      • doylist said:

        I can imagine very little which would delight the man more than being asked to show up at a complete stranger’s wedding in a buffalo costume, so if that ever happens, let me know and I will reach out.

        Alas. The wedding he showed up at was a traditional event, not a costumed one.

        • entendante said:

          Alas. The wedding he showed up at was a traditional event, not a costumed one.

          Yeeeeaaaahhhh, there’s a time and a place, dude. Time and a place.

          • JenniferP said:

            Buffalo Dad won’t you come out tonight, come out tonight…

          • doylist said:

            I laughed out loud at that.

            Probably not related, but I do see the resemblance.

          • Farther and Happier said:

            My mother said she was going to come to my wedding in a completely unsuitable costume that would have made my inlaws very uncomfortable. While I pondered this I told a friend of the terrible costume idea my mother had. Suddenly all my friends were calling or texting me about the terribly unsuitable costumes they would wear to make me laugh and make my mother more uncomfortable. (srsly, things suggested were assless chaps, a full suit of armor, and several kilts) I was able to ask my mother to wear something more suitable with the full knowledge my friends were going to totally back me up. And it worked, but I still wish someone had worn assless chaps just to make me smile.

    • AllanV said:

      So you were a Dad-buffer for the Dad-buffalo? :-p

  38. entendante said:

    So, so much love and solidarity and “ugh, THIS!” to you and the Cap’n and everyone else on this thread. The “get a wrangler – two wranglers, if you’re counting your partner” advice is *so* crucial, and was *so* helpful on my wedding day. Unintended bonus: of my wranglers (because in the union of two overwhelmingly toxic families, a Wrangling Team is sometimes the way to go) one was legally blind and used a white cane, and one used a wheelchair. The gods of making-lemonade-from-the-nasty-lemons-of-ableism were with us that day, and the families were so invested in Being Nice To The Poor Invalids that they mostly allowed themselves to be wrangled with really a minimum of effort. (The Poor Invalids in question, btw, were chosen because, in addition to being good and noble friends, they both wrangle teenagers for a living and could have dealt with a lot more sass than the families ended up giving them.)

    I also want to nudge gently at the idea that, no matter what, your wedding will turn out wonderful. It absolutely might, and based on the stories people tell about their weddings, it’s probably even the most likely outcome. But if it doesn’t, that’s also okay and it doesn’t make you a Wedding Failure. There were definitely things about my wedding that my partner and I allowed ourselves to be pushed into and hated. There are pictures that make me want to cry every time I look at them, because they were taken at moments when I was barely holding my shit together against an onslaught of Other People’s Feelings. Also, I had both the flu and pneumonia that day, got married with a 103* fever, and spent that night in the ER. There were also moments of pure and sublime beauty, and infinite goofiness, and total Rightness for who we are as a couple and the communities we’re part of – it wasn’t all a disaster, and I’m glad we did it. (I’m also glad of all the times my mom slipped her leash that day and managed to make me cry – as awful as it was at the time – because it made me feel way more secure in my decision not to speak to her once the wedding was over. Next to my choice of partner, that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.)

    But anyway, it wasn’t the Happiest Day of My Life ™. And honestly? I’m super glad, because that means that my best friend (who is now also my husband) and I have a whole host of potential Happiest Days yet to look forward to.

    Whatever your wedding day is like – amazing, instructively it will be the right thing, and if you end up married at the end of the day, then you are by definition a Wedding Success. We’re all pre-emptively raising toasts in your honor. ❤

    • entendante said:

      (whoops, totally got distracted mid-aside! That should say “Whatever your wedding day is like – amazing, instructively terrible, or middle-of-the-road – it will be the right thing…”)

  39. Demon Llama said:

    Hi LW, I have recently lived through the “I’m an introvert and my parents have sudden and loudly expressed EXPECTATIONS about how many of their friends they expect to be invited to our wedding day” fun of wedding planning, and I survived! And I even had fun!

    Not sure if this is useful or not, but to give you hope and faith that things will be fine:

    On the guest list shenanigans: Surprise, surprise, not a single one of my mum’s non-invited friends seem to be in the least bit bothered about their lack of inclusion. (Or if they are bothered, they realised it’s not cool to pout about your NFI status to the people that would’ve been paying for your dinner.)

    On feeling like you can’t cope with your parent disapproving of the way you want to do this thing: I went to therapy for a year before my wedding because my mother was making me utterly miserable, to the point where my fiancé asked if I was even happy to be marrying him because every conversation about my wedding made me look sad. I am so pleased you are getting therapy, because it will help not just on the day itself but in your future relationship with your parents. I am finally learning not to let my mother take up so much of my mental energy. I can’t keep her happy, and what a RELIEF it is to stop trying so hard to do so. The Captain’s advice is so overwhelmingly on point, I’m just pleased that I had a therapist to tell me the exact same stuff before my wedding.

    On being an introvert with 100 people who just want to see THE HAPPY COUPLE:
    My cardinal rule was: You do not have to put on a performance at your own wedding.
    For example, I was dreading going down the aisle with loads of faces staring and having emotions at me. So I walked in, made a :S face at my fiancé, and then just stared at the carpet. I was so focused on that carpet that the rest of the room vanished from my existence. I didn’t notice that my brother and sister hadn’t made it to the venue on time, I didn’t notice that a family friend had a dress disaster and was in sweatpants. I was blissfully unaware of any external drama, and bonus, the photos look lovely – even the one of me doing this :S

    I wish you and your fiancée all my very best wishes for the day itself and for your lives together. May you always be each other’s barriers to other people’s drama.

    P.S. Captain, you and I had AMAZINGLY similar wedmin experiences, right down to the ridiculous argument with partner circa 72 hours before go-time. Although you appear to have handled yours with more humour and grace than I did.

  40. Temperance said:

    LW, I can’t believe that I’m the first person to suggest this … but why don’t you and your partner have a little pre-wedding marriage ceremony? Maybe you could say your vows to each other, maybe you make it legal, whatever.

    I’m a huge fan of The Office, and I loved that Jim and Pam ran off and got married on that boat before their ceremony. No one else knew. My husband and I did something similar, and had two wonderful friends sign our marriage license and we did the Quaker self-marriage thing. We loved it. It took everyone else and their BS out of our day.

    • Riley said:

      The characters Lily and Mashall did that on How I Met Your Mother too. A lot of things were going wrong on their wedding day and they went outside to take a break and calm down before the ceremony. They ended up deciding to just get married right there and then (their friend was officiating and was outside with them also).

      • Convallaria majalis said:

        I warmly recommend watching that episode, it is both funny and warm and might help ease the anxiety before the wedding – and the ceremony is very touching.

      • Kitty said:

        Yes! I have been thinking of that episode for this whole post, especially with comments from others about needing people to make sure they ate something during the day. Made me think of Lily drinking so much champagne on an empty stomach that she passed out into the cake. 😂

  41. vikthya said:

    “G. Do you have a wedding party person or gregarious friend who can be Dad-buffer at the wedding? This is not an uncommon or unusual request!”

    It really is not at all unusual. I was once asked to perform two tasks at a friend’s wedding: generally direct traffic and attend to details, but more importantly: keep the groom’s mother as far away from the bride, as much as possible. This was necessary because she was a mean jerk, especially to the bride, and no one else was going to have the time that day to keep her in check.

    Mostly my job was to engage her in conversation, nod with a blank expression or cheerfully breeze past her snide remarks, give her random tasks and errands to keep her busy, and if it came to it: flat-out tell her to shut up and back off.

    For these efforts I got a little flower pinned to my shoulder, a small monetary gift of thanks from the bride’s parents, and the comfort of knowing that my friends got to enjoy their day a little more.

    It is absolutely worth asking someone to shield you from your dad. It’s okay. If all he wants is someone to listen to how disappointed and pissy he is, then there’s no reason that person has to be you.

  42. Remy said:

    I love love love your description of the rice argument. I am the one with the budget spreadsheet, and I can totally see that happening in my relationship. (It didn’t for our wedding, but winter holidays since then? Oy.) Laughed ’til tears.

  43. Lizards80 said:

    One thing that is helping me with the stress of Your Wedding Must Be Perfect is my finances and my plan to secretly get married ahead of time!

    Exchanging vows feels (to me) too sacred and intimate to do in front of most people. So, the pressure to have an event that honors the sacredness of the vows, conflicts with the reality of the type of people who will be there.

    So we are going to at least exchange our own vows, and maybe even get married separately, and maybe have a teeny ceremony the day prior to the wedding that everyone else thinks they’re coming to.

    • Lizards80 said:

      Lol…that should read “my fiancé’s and my plan.”

  44. Honestly, all this fuss deters me from longing for a wedding ceremony. 😦

    • You and me both. My Husbeast and I got married in a civil ceremony on a Monday morning and went out for pancakes afterward with the few local friends and family who were able to attend last-minute; I can’t imagine trying to plan anything more complicated than that!

      • As a teenager I was scocked by the fact that my parents’ reception had been so modest (cc 20 people). But now I can totally agree. One of my female colleagues has told me that there are women who prefer big ceremonies so as to be celebrated by a crowd once in their lives. It must be beautiful but I have lost my illusions about marriage and I see it realistically. No problem with great ceremonies of course, I wish all happiness to them.

        • Jackalope said:

          I like the idea of a big group bcs the main time people get together with everyone is for weddings or funerals and I want to have a party with people that’s for happy reasons! Plus having some of my various groups meet each other after hearing about each other for so long.

          • TootsNYC said:

            I see big family weddings as a gift to the larger family. There’s that old line about “only see them at weddings and funerals,” and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen that it’s often true–but that it -does- have value.

            And if you don’t see them at weddings, you probably won’t see them at other times.

            I also see a marriage as being more about “how the community/family regards you as a unit” and less about “our commitment to each other.” Tons of people can point out that you can be committed without vows, and uncommitted with them.
            So having people there is a way to say “this person is now in our family.”

            I think that’s a legit way for people to look at their wedding.

            And I think it explains why other reasonable people expect them or yearn for them. (Unreasonable people have other reasons.)

        • I once had a conversation with my ex about a potential wedding: he wanted a luxurious one, I wanted none. Finally, after half an hour of him trying to convince me about the Big Fat Wedding, I asked him why he was so invested into a mega-party with at least 300 people. His response was: “Because I want to show my large family and my friends how much I love you”. My reply was: “You know, buddy? It’s not to them you have to show them that. IT’S TO ME.” He didn’t get the point.

          • This may be similar to longing for ultra expensive sport cars. An average car would serve you as well. Yet many people spend fortunes on cars. I know that weddig and car purchase are not similar but I hope you get the point.

  45. SeluciaV said:

    I feel like the universe needs to deliver this message to all newly-engaged people and their families:

    It’s not the job of your wedding to make everyone happy or to express your exact social class markers and culture and perfect taste with just enough individual touches to feel really authentic and just enough tradition that it will still be recognizable to the olds as a wedding. It’s not your wedding’s job to spackle over the awkward patches in your family, to make up for lost time, to bring you all closer together, to make the unsayable sayable, to provide reconciliation and catharsis. It’s not your wedding’s job to be your happiest day of your life or to live up to some fantasy. It’s one day, hopefully a happy one, in a hopefully long and happy life.

    My aunt went nuts when it came to her daughter’s wedding and as MOH I was tagged as the intermediary. Whoo boy did that woman know how to have a snit. She killed herself over so many nonsensical things and amassed a stupid amount of debt so that her daughter’s big day would show all of the people my aunt wanted invited (that really did not need to be invited) how great and amazing the family was. The theme of the day was “we are all one big happy family!” We are not. Case in point: the FOB made a speech about love and relationships and his marriage to my aunt that was SO FULL OF SHIT that I thought everyone’s eyes were going to roll out of our heads. And then told his daughter he wasn’t going to do the father/daughter dance (which was the only thing she asked of him) for a stupid reason he almost immediately made a lie out of. Our grandmother “fainted” and then pitched a hissy during the reception about all the things she didn’t like and how no one had asked her opinion on this event and how she wanted to go home and people should stop celebrating and leave so she could…..

    The family stuff was insane and it didn’t have to be but my cousin didn’t know how to stand up to her parents, and they would only listen to me so much if she wouldn’t articulate the same issues to them. But you know what? It was beautiful and unique and really, really fun and in the end, all of that other stuff made for great stories.

    So just try to focus on that part and know that you got this. And the most important thing at the end of that day – and every day thereafter – is that you met up at the end of that aisle/under the arch/on that stage (whatever your design) and said “YES” to eachother! Hope you have an amazing day!

  46. Argablarg said:

    There is literally NO WAY to build a guest list to make everyone happy. My husband and I had eight– count ’em, eight– people at our wedding. Us, the parents, the friend who introduced us, and the three friends who were letting us use their place as the wedding venue. So simple! So easy, right?

    Uncle Hoosiwhats threw a major fit. Our wedding was some sort of relationship popularity contest and he wasn’t good enough. He was more important than some of the other people who attended the wedding (our parents? The person who introduced us? What were we supposed to do with the people hosting our wedding, make them sit outside?) He had zero respect for me, and had made that abundantly clear for a long time, but it was sooooo important that he be invited to our wedding that he is now no longer speaking to us.

    We could have invited him alone, but leaving out the other aunts and uncles and cousins would have justifiably hurt their feelings. Or, we could have invited all of the other aunts and uncles and cousins, but that would have added 30+ people, which is a *huge* difference in the cost and the atmosphere.

    In short, you’re going to have to balance people with conflicting needs and ideas. There’s no pleasing everyone. Just go with the choice that you can live with the happiest.

  47. First off, congratulations, LW! Whatever shape your wedding takes, you will have a lovely day and a lot of happy memories.

    I had similar parental troubles for my wedding—in fact, both my and Spouse’s parents were pretty terrible about the whole thing (mine threatened not to come, and in hindsight I should have just said “Okay.”) and we got extra drama-llama business from Spouse’s extended family. But in the end, we told everyone that since WE alone were financing this small shindig, we alone had a say in how it would happen.

    To get through the stress of it all, though, we turned to a bit of schadenfreude as a safety valve. We looked at Spouse’s collection of awkward/hideous inventations from weddings past over wine, and we watched awkward home videos of old family weddings. (We both have huge Js in our Myers-Briggs personalities, sorry.) Mocking hilarity aside, it helped to know that things didn’t have to go perfectly or even smoothly for us to have a happy wedding day.

    On the day of, the fam mostly behaved. The only comment my mother offered, upon seeing her daughter in a (bright orange) wedding dress was, “You dye your hair, right? Do you like my outfit? I lost weight to fit into these slacks.” Dad was dressed like he was attending Reagan’s funeral. But I got through that okay, and our friends were absolutely wonderful. What I mostly remember are Spouse, the impromptu music, and our friends’ smiles and hugs. We got through it, and happily so,

    You will too, LW. Wishing you all the very best, and a long and happy life with your Spouse to be.

  48. frugalfemme said:

    +1 for filial piety judo. As usual, the advice here is spot on. LW, I’m sorry this is so stressful, this is a super stressful thing to do. I had a super low-key city hall affair followed by a reception, and only a single member of my own family of origin, my favorite sister, was invited. 😉 And it was still extra super stressful. Even with very little to do or plan, there was soo much intensity around the whole thing.

    But then when we were actually doing the thing I was like, “oh yeah, this is my person and I love her and that’s that” and tbh it was kind of a relief when it was over. At least people stopped taking pictures of me. 🙂 Good luck, LW.

  49. 1. Based on that story about walking with your mom, Mr. Awkward sounds like a damn PRINCE.
    2. I don’t have any dirtbag friends, but I do have a Former-Special-Forces/SCA/Martial Arts Enthusiast friend, and maybe I’ll make him the official Nazi Punching Instructor at any future wedding I have.

    I just wanted to say to the LW, consider the courthouse option. Not as a full elopement necessarily, but to take the pressure off your actual wedding day. I have friends who have done that for various reasons, and they report that it makes the day itself so much more enjoyable, because it removes the specter of OMG we’re getting MARRIED and lets you focus on sharing your love with your friends and family.

    Whatever you do, LW, remember that the goal of this whole thing is for you to get hitched to the person you love. If you wake up one morning married, you’ve succeeded. And if your dad’s going to be bitter about the circumstances in which you got married, his priorities are screwed up and it’s not worth your energy to engage them. You mentioned being a strong woman and wanting to stand up for yourself–I’ve learned that sometimes the strongest thing you can do is let someone sit in their wrongness and get on with your own life.

    One introvert to another, go get married and have a super fun party with your super fun friends (and some other people that you invited to make your parents happy), and then go home and watch Netflix until you can People again, and let your dad have whatever feelings he’s going to have about not-his wedding. So much love and congratulations to you and your SO.

  50. Amber Rose said:

    I remember I said that we couldn’t put wine on the tables because I had no money for wine.

    And my mom was like UNACCEPTABLE YOU MUST HAVE WINE AT WEDDINGS. And I was like, cool, you do that then, have fun. Let me know how it goes. (She did.)

    I didn’t know how to decorate or do centerpieces or table gifts so I went to the dollar store and bought glitter and glass jars and marbles and tea lights and I filled jars with glitter and marbles and tea lights and then I bought everyone a thing of bubbles and then… I said I was done. And I was. If people wanted other stuff they could do it. I think my bridesmaids added stuff to my dollar store centerpieces which was cool. The wine was good also. The dudes did an impromptu dance routine in my honor at some point.

    And they did other stuff too probably. And I didn’t care because they couldn’t ruin it if they tried which they weren’t anyway, and I would like to remind every prospective bride/groom that it’s your wedding and you can not care about tablecloths or wine or decor or people’s opinions about your lack of care. You don’t have to have a dream wedding. You can have fun without centerpieces.

  51. Yolanda B. Cool said:

    LW, it sounds like your dad has a lot of angry feelings about the wedding that are probably not about the wedding at all. Maybe they’re about his perceived loss of control? Or about his own aging? Or something else entirely?

    Regardless, your dad is going to feel however he’s going to feel, and as much as he wants to make you and your wedding choices responsible for his emotions, that’s not the case, and there’s nothing you can do about his feelings.

    So what if you decided to let him be mad, and stop giving a fuck about it? What if your wedding motto was “Okay, Dad. That’s fine.”

    “You have to accept that your choices are not going to make everyone hap0y!”

    “Okay, Dad, that’s fine.”

    ‘Aunt Beatrix is mad that you didn’t invite her son’s girlfriend’s roommate’s dog-groomer!”

    “Okay, Dad. That’s fine.”

    “The napkins are purple, and I hate purple!”

    “Okay, Dad. That’s fine.”

    He will not like it, and probably up his complaining and anger to get you to cave to his FEEEELINGS, but you’ve done a lot to try to consider his feelings, and he’s still mad, so…. what exactly is the incentive for you to keep trying here?

    At worst, he’s mad. Fine. Hes already mad. Nothing has changed. At best, maybe you’ll be able to re-set his expectations that his feelings dictate your choices.

    Best of luck, LW, and congratulations!

  52. Jen Erik said:

    The throwing rice story made my day. Somehow it made me remember the stupidest thing that my husband ever said, after I came back from my wedding dress fitting.
    Me (sobbing): I hate my dress.
    HIm (trying to console): It’d be worse if you liked your dress and hated me.

    LW, I think this is a thing. My mum was never particularly opinionated about our weddings, but I still managed a tearful fight with her over my Orders of Service, and she was so upset about some of the decisions my sister made “You’re walking to the church?” that my aunt forced half a valium on her.
    Equally, I found myself in floods of tears in the run up to my daughter’s wedding this year, because I took something she said personally. (And my daughter also had a moment with her now MIL, who decided they’d chosen the wrong date when it was too late, and months after we were all asked to okay it.)
    Weddings are just terrible, stressy, stupid things. Until they happen and then they’re great. It’s like the Shakespeare in Love quote:
    Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
    Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
    Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.

    I mean, things go wrong. But that’s where your best Wedding Day stories come from – the Uncle who rudely rearranged the seating plan, the Lost Ring, The Feuding Family, the Sudden Power Failure, the Daughter – just saying – who forgot to arrange transport back from the church for anyone but herself and her new husband – we have had all these, and yet they were still special days.

    I think wanting to elope is normal (and sensible) at this point in the process: I did. And you should if you want to. But I just wanted to say that it’s a normal thing to be frustrated with your family before a wedding, and that it doesn’t necessarily portend disaster.

    • Mary said:

      The Drunk Friend Who Seized The Microphone And Made A Speech All About Himself and the Terrible Year He’d Had.

      (It WAS a terrible year, which was partly why we’d invited him, but sssshhhh, dude, nooooo.)

    • OMG the lost ring! At my parents’ wedding, my father thought his best man had brought the ring, and the best man thought my father had brought it.

      So 30 minutes before the ceremony started, my mother was getting dressed in the back room of the church, when her mother tottered in and collapsed in tears because she had just seen the groom leave the church at a dead run, jump in a car, and drive away fast. Without knowing what was going on, my mother had to calm her down and assure her that she hadn’t been left at the altar, there must be some good reason for this, and he would surely come back on time. He did, with the ring, and now it’s a great story!

    • Southernbelle said:

      The Argumentative Uncle Who Took A Carload Of Relatives 50 Miles The Wrong Way, Then Tried To Sell His Terrible Paintings At The Reception.

    • Drew said:

      The Father Of The Bride Who Got Pissed Because The Wedding Photos Took So Long That By The Time He Reached The Reception His Redneck Relatives Had Already Floated The Keg Of “Good Beer” [It Was Not] And He Was Stuck With Shitty Cheap Lite Beer [It Was]

      • Drew said:

        Forgot to add that I snort-laughed at the “half a Valium.” (In my head: “Look, take half now and we’ll keep the rest in reserve in case you come unglued later.”)

    • On the drive to the church, my mother’s mother turned to my dad and said, “You could still change your mind, you know.” My mother’s father, brother and one of her sisters, who were the car’s other occupants, all chorused, “NO HE CAN’T.”

      • not really a lurker anymore said:

        When my older sister was about to walk down the aisle, my Dad turned to her and said “you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to”

      • Anonymous said:

        A month before my wedding, I discovered the the venue owners had double booked us with their annual hot dog sale (it was a masonic lodge.) They expected to be able to cut through the reception area with trays of hotdogs on their way outside for the sale. This was in summer, so I had visions of little old men wearing khaki shorts and black crew socks doing this. We found a new venue within a few days, sent out mail & email notices of the venue change, and made about a zillion calls to notify vendors.

        I will never forget the moment when my MOH and I stepped out of the venue after getting the news. We just stared at each other in disbelief and then both blurted out, “HOTDOGS?!?!?!”

        • Southernbelle said:

          My sister’s first wedding had, a double booked, my hand to God, Harley convention in the downstairs venue area, complete with tiki bar.

          • JenniferP said:

            This would have delighted Mr. Awkward to the point that it was a feature, not a bug, but not everyone is Mr. Awkward.

          • Anonymous said:

            I don’t think that would have bothered me nearly as much!

          • Southernbelle said:

            It was enjoyed by many parties, especially my aunts, who went and got tipsy with some of the bike riders. But just imagine my 20 year old sister in this super-frummy wedding dress and a bunch of matching bridesmaids and a whole set of Chabad people and her no-boundaries prim in-laws freaking out and then… a floor below full of (mostly) dudes in leather vests. I cherish the memory.

    • Squidhead said:

      The Best Man Who Delivered a Toast Longer Than The Ceremony That Began With the Charming Story of How He and the Groom Met in Junior High by Making Fun of the [Special Education] Kids Together.

    • Esselyn said:

      The Maid of Honor Who Brought Beer to the Church and Presented it to Us in Front of the Pastor

      And also realized she wasn’t actually happy for me, but that was a whole ‘nother kettle of monkeys. Like, ouch, I’m sorry you’re having Feelings! about this wedding, but do you have to take them out on the bride?

    • DesertRose said:

      The Limousine Driver Who Picked Up The Entire Bridal Party (from the “getting dressed/doing hair and make-up, etc.” place) MINUS The Bride and Had to Turn Around and Go Back, Causing The Ceremony (at the big Catholic cathedral that’s scheduled for weddings within an inch of its life for 18 months in advance, dead minimum) To Start Fifteen Minutes Late.

      Yeah, that happened at a wedding in my family. (Not mine. I eloped.)

    • Bagpuss said:

      The Wedding Car Driver who went the wrong way on the way to the Church, so decides to do a u-turn without looking , and wrote off the limo. (The Bride therefore arrived at the church rather late, and in a Police Car, having started hitch-hiking after the crash)
      (Bride was a friend of mine, and this was before everyone had a mobile phone)

      When my parents got married, (on a freezing cold day) my mum,plus her sisters, the bridesmaids) were all getting ready when the only hairdryer in the house died. She ended up sitting in front of the fire with her mother and a sister frantically towel-drying her her hair, while the remaining sisters were sent out to knock on doors looking or a spare (the house was pretty isolated, so this mean that they ended up running a couple of miles each ..)

      Stuff happens, you end up married despite it, and tend to find that either it becomes humorous anecdote for the future, or something which it turns out that no-one except the immediate bridal party noticed or remembered at all.

      OP – you can’t please everyone, and the day probably won’t be perfect because there are always little things that don’t go as planned, but it will be pretty much what you planned, you will be married, and once it is done you never have to do it again. Good luck and enjoy.

  53. ranunculus said:

    Well we were lucky and got a “wrangler” as part of the wedding package! It wasn’t his official job title, but he did it with aplomb anyway. Fortunately the guests we thought might misbehave didn’t, and even mil was happy because she got to spend the afternoon in a lovely sitting room in a nice hotel where they brought her drinks and sandwiches and she could hold court.

    Things we did that I’m quite pleased about:
    We didn’t have a big wedding, only 40 people to the formal part, with a buffet for all-comers in the evening.
    I bought my dress in a sari shop (much blinginess, and really cheap), made all the favours and wrote the invites myself (phew).
    Made sure the potential misbehavers didn’t sit at the same table.
    DIDN’T HAVE A FREE BAR. No cheap booze = less opportunity for some folks to get obnoxiously drunk.
    Instructed our minder not to let slip our room number to any guests.
    Were very nice to the hotel staff, so they went the extra mile for us (that’s not the reason we were nice to them, but it was a bonus), such as sliding several bottles of Veuve Cliquot that we definitely hadn’t paid for under the table. We made sure to send a large plate of cake back for the servers!
    WORE SENSIBLE SHOES. OmiGODS, even when I worked in retail I can’t have been on my feet with a smile plastered across my face for so long. As a fellow introvert, I feel for you, LW. Most of the day has become vague memories of a sea of smiling faces and bright lights, and my face aching even more than my feet. But, you know what? People still talk about it nearly 20 years later, saying what a lovely day it was, so we must have got some things right.

    Things I wish we had done differently:
    Not hired the DJ recommended by the hotel – he was an arsehole (the hotel apologised profusely, refunded the fee, and gave us a complimentary dinner).
    That we’d had the foresight to load a couple of plates at the buffet and have them taken to our room – we were too busy to eat much during the evening, and when we were woken by a fire alarm at 2am, we were starved by the time we got back to the room!

    I’m guessing you’re paying for this wedding yourself, LW? If such is the case, the ‘rents can huff and puff all they want. And when Pappy sighs dramatically and declares “you can’t please everyone!” you can smile brightly and say “you’re SO right, Daddy!” and do what you were going to do anyway.

    Judging from my own and others’ experience, a wedding is something you survive. It’s stressful as fuck, before and during, doubly so for us introvert types. But look at it this way – it’s one day when you have absolute permission to behave like a princess. Not in a Bridezilla way, obviously, but dammit, you’re the bride. People are supposed to be happy to do your bidding. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    This has turned into more of an essay than I had intended, sorry. Lots of great advice and reminiscences from La Capitaine and the Awkwardettes. I hope you have a wonderful day, and an even better life.

    • B. said:

      Now that you mention, LW’s one of the brides, and her fiancée is the other one. There’re two brides in this wedding. That means, double amount of bride power that can be invested in guest-wrangling!

  54. Groovy Biscuit Intervention said:

    One thing – I have friends who eloped in secret and then got married again later with everyone there (I’m not sure if they even told anyone about the first wedding?) only to later discover that this was technically illegal. So if you start wanting to do that, just check it’s legal where you are!

    • Thanksforallthefish said:

      huh how weird. My friends did this. For them, they signed the paperwork one day and had a big party with the “cultural” ceremony later…I’m a bit surprised that could be illegal. Laws are weird.

      • Groovy Biscuit Intervention said:

        I think the problem may have been that they signed all the paperwork the first time, and then signed all the paperwork again the second time.

        • Yeah, that would definitely be illegal. Or at least a major headache for the county, who can then make it a major headache for you. Presuming you’re in the US, you can have all the ceremonies you want as long as you don’t sign the papers more than once.

        • Muddie Mae said:

          We signed all the paperwork twice! But that was because our officiant left the date off of the first marriage certificate, and apparently the only way to fix that in my county is to literally do the whole certificate over again.

        • Bagpuss said:

          that sounds like the issue. One of my cousins got married early as her husband isn’t (wasn’t) a UK citizen, and the visa rules were changed at short notice. getting married a month earlier than planned fixed the immigration thing. The first wedding was the legal one, and it just involved the 2 of them, their priest, and 2 witnesses. The wedding tool place s originally planned with all the guests. We only found out about a year and a half later when the subject of their wedding anniversary came up.
          But I know that the same priest was involved both times, and they didn’t do any paperwork second time round. (Athlough they did all spend forever in the vestry when they were NOT signing the certificate. Maybe they snuck out and grabbed a bite to eat? Who knows!)

    • Temperance said:

      It’s not illegal! Just don’t do the paperwork twice, and you’re golden.

  55. scullymurphy said:

    WHO WILL BE CREATING THESE CHARMING LITTLE BAGS? Had me grinding my teeth and hunching my shoulders in solidarity!

    LW: I had so many similar dust-ups with my mom right before our wedding, including an argument because she wanted to invite (2 weeks before the wedding when all seating/food amounts/details had been settled for *exactly* 63 people) a woman who had been my art teacher in 4th grade but whom I hadn’t seen since then and my fiance had never met so that, “I will have someone there for MEEEEE…..” This despite the fact that her entire immediate family (that she got along with and was on good terms with) was attending. I fought her off by referring to and refusing to deviate from the, “no guests both finance and I have not met personally,” rule that I had instituted early in the planning stages, but it was a terrible, emotional battle.

    I really get your anxiety about being on the outs with your dad on the big day. The kinds of arguments I had with my mom back then could make me feel bad for weeks and really color my everyday outlook. I felt the worst anxiety in my life to date in the week before the wedding – complete with sleeplessness, stomach problems, twitching muscles – everything! This feeling persisted until the day before the ceremony when I managed to get a whole hour to myself to drive a few supplies back and forth between our venue areas. I was in a quiet highway in a beautiful rural area with the windows rolled down and not a single soul around. That drive really restored my equanimity and put me in the right frame of mind for all that was to come. It remains one of my favorite memories of my wedding. Just an idea that may help you if you get overwhelmed.

    As for your dad, all I can do is echo what others have said. Try to forget it and let it go. Use the gift he gave you in that statement about not pleasing everyone. Really mull it around in your head and take it on as your philosophy for the next 30 days. You are going to get through this and it’s going to be lovely! Oh and my mom the day of my wedding? Had a great time and still talks about how wonderful it all was. Hugs of solidarity to you!

    • Demon Llama said:

      …including an argument because she wanted to invite a woman who had been my art teacher in 4th grade but whom I hadn’t seen since then and my fiance had never met so that, “I will have someone there for MEEEEE…..”

      Sorry to be a late responder, but I’ve just seen this and MY MOTHER DID THE EXACT SAME THING at our wedding. (About a distant cousin, but same rule applies.) I am flabbergasted that there are two mothers in this world who are this tone-deaf about wedding guest-lists.

      I mean, a) of all* – this was an intimate dinner for close relations, godparents and bridesmaids/ushers only, and second of b)* SHE HAS FOUR CHILDREN, ALL OF WHOM WOULD BE THERE. ALSO HER HUSBAND OF OVER 30 YEARS. Who else does she need???

      We used the same excuse as you, “no guests that aren’t known to both me and fiancé,” but frankly all I wanted to do was yell, “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!” at her.

      (*borrowed from Mallory Ortberg, because, having seen this, I can never think in normal lists again.)

  56. nirdibird said:

    If you can throw a little money at a problem, it is not too late to hire a planner to wrangle logistics for the day. The right person will understand your situation with your parents and do a few things.

    They can help reset your parents’ expectations for what is normal and What Should Happen at Weddings These Days. They have objective experience with lots of weddings and can reassure them better than you about concerns. If your parents are pelting you with questions about stuff, they can pelt the planner instead. Even things that are figured out already–it is really stressful to get “helpfully” reminded of eighty bajillion tiny details and “have you thought about?”s that you don’t need to rehash. They can also potentially be that buffer for you on the day of in a skillful and non-obvious way by directing the timeline of the whole thing and whisking you or the other person away for some important official reason.

    This is not me shilling for the Wedding Industrial Complex (TM). Mostly it’s just because I hired a planner to do these things for me at the 11th hour of wedding planning and it legit saved my relationship with my mother.

    The other thing that made a big difference in that relationship was a concession. I found one thing that I told my mom “gosh, you were so right about this!” and she was pleased as punch because she just wanted the validation and to feel like her well-intentioned advice was useful. She got to feel smug about that and I got to ignore the rest of everything much more easily.

    • entendante said:

      If you can throw a little money at a problem, it is not too late to hire a planner to wrangle logistics for the day. The right person will understand your situation with your parents and do a few things.

      And if you really only need help that day and don’t want to throw your friends under the parents-bus, you might even consider a “day-of coordinator.”

      • Anon, Goodnight said:

        I had a day-of coordinator for my first wedding. It was probably the best money that I spent on the whole wedding. Problems were just…handled. It was great!

    • I was coming in here to see if anyone else had suggested this. My sister hired a wedding planner for the last month before her wedding – to coordinate the stuff on the day and deal with any problems that might arise (like the florist forgetting to deliver the corsages…). It helped us because it meant that Someone Else Was In Charge Of Things and people couldn’t bug my sister or her then-fiance about what needed to be done, and can I help, and why don’t you just, because it was The Wedding Planner is Doing That.

  57. nadialindgren said:

    Our wedding was big but still cozy. 100 guests and we held it in the woods. Not much was per tradition but the throwing if wheat for fertility and the wedding dance (we had our real one early in the evening to our song and got pressured into dancing the official one later). Everything resembled a big party more than a wedding and I have so many fond memories of it. Loads of people wanted us to do it the traditional way but it was our money and our wedding so we didn’t listen. I love that wedding.

  58. NellieBlyWannabe said:

    Even though I’m not wedding planning, I got to give a fistbump of solidarity on the whole dad spewing random negativity thing. In our relationship, it can come completely out of nowhere. Like, years ago I was telling him how excited I was about seeing all my college friends again, and in the middle of me talking he growled, “NellieBlyWannabe, you need to grow out of that,” and stormed off. I mean…WTF?

    It’s easier said than done to not internalize things that our parents say about us, but the important thing to remember when parents get like this is that they’re comments are about them, not you.

    • NellieBlyWannabe, is your dad’s last name Dursley?

  59. Luke B.A. Lady Tonite said:

    “You have made a lot of choices about this wedding that your mom and I would not have made…”

    Okay, but that’s exactly how this is supposed to work. This is your wedding. This is not their wedding. Your wedding. Not theirs. Yours. /Kuzco-voice

    When my sister got married, our parents, his parents, all of the grandmothers, one of his sisters-in-law, and a couple of other random relatives on both sides all had their own assigned buffers/wranglers. (We are very much That Family, but my brother-in-laws’ family is also one of Those Families. All four parents are/were terrible. We operated under an unofficial buddy system where no Problem Child Relative was ever without a “buddy.”) Everyone was walking on eggshells. During the wedding preparations, there had been tearful arguments and screaming matches and someone had even had the gall to hang up in the middle of a heated phone conversation without saying “I love you, bye” first, which is apparently a thing that no other human being has ever done before in the history of the telephone and I swear twelve different cousins were told about it and immediately had the vapors, fetch the smelling salts right now. Ugh. (What even is Florida? Is it a real place? Are Floridians real people? Or are they just ambitious, especially bite-y alligators that learned to walk upright? Or is that just my mother’s creepily cold-blooded family? But I digress.)

    Do you know what people actually remember about that wedding? My sister did a keg stand while still wearing her wedding dress. That’s it. That’s all anybody remembers. Not the colors, the theme, the music, the vows, who was or wasn’t invited or in the wedding party. Not the weather, the flower girl’s little sister’s pre-wedding meltdown, or that three different people had too much to drink and had to be driven home by people who were not expecting to become taxi drivers that night. No one remembers that the groom’s parents had to be kept apart lest blood be shed, that my mother and her mother were giving each other the silent treatment, or that an older lady actually did faint but insisted on staying for the ceremony because she wanted to see the wedding more than she wanted to see the doctors at the ER. (She did go after the wedding and was fine. She’d gotten a little overheated was all.) Everyone remember the bride’s keg stand and the MOH holding her wedding dress to preserve her modesty. (It was planned and the grandparents’ buddies knew just when to distract their charges so they wouldn’t have tantrums. The grandmothers still don’t even know it happened.)

    Okay, that was long and rambling and not helpful, so let me sum up:

    (1) This is not your dad’s wedding and he is neither King of the World nor Boss of All the Weddings. He may be disappointed by your choices. If he’s old enough to have a child who is old enough to be married, then he is old enough to have been disappointed before. It did not kill him then nor will it kill him now to be disappointed. It may feel like it is killing *you* but I promise that it won’t. Let him be disappointed. It builds character, and it reads like he could use a little of that.

    (2) No one who goes to the wedding is going to remember the wedding. No one who doesn’t go to the wedding is going to remember the wedding, obviously, but the people who show up probably won’t remember much about it. They have other things going on in their lives and they’ve probably been to other weddings and will go on to attend even more weddings, and I don’t think anyone remembers individual weddings. Like, they remember that the wedding took place and maybe one or two anecdotes. If someone gets food poisoning or someone gets shot or stabbed or something, they’ll remember that. Otherwise, they’ll forget everything and if anyone asks them about it in three years, they’ll be like, “Oh, yeah…a wedding definitely happened. I’m almost sure of it. I’m sure it was lovely.” Because they don’t remember. All weddings just run together.

    (3) God bless the wranglers of Problem Child Relatives. Seriously, they are the best at big events. Recruit one. Recruit as many as you need, really. It doesn’t have to be someone intimidating. A charming talkative person or anyone your dad respects who could, at least temporarily, talk sense into him or make him hush up will do. If you ask around, you may have volunteers and they can work in shifts so no one has to be a full-time dad-wrangler.

    (4) And finally and most importantly, congratulations! I wish the two of you all the best and hope you are very happy and very awesome together. 🙂

    • Hey, I remember somebody’s wedding theme! It was Monty Python. The favours were WAFFER-THEEN MINTS and there were jokes about dead parrots in the ceremony.
      But more traditional ceremonies, yeah, no.

  60. LW said:

    Hi all, LW here.

    Captain, thank you so much for answering my question! I am a long time reader, and very much appreciate your wisdom on this topic. It is so helpful to hear your great suggestions for how to approach these final weeks before the wedding, the actual wedding itself, as well as ways to approach the conflict with my dad now/in the future. Your reminder of “It’s not your wedding’s job to be your happiest day of your life or to live up to some fantasy. It’s one day, hopefully a happy one, in a hopefully long and happy life.” is really helpful, as is the validation that it is okay for wedding planning to really suck sometimes. Thanks also for all of the laughs about rice Christian-themed camping and fishing gear.

    And to all of the amazing commenters here, thank you also, so much. I have been laughing/crying/laugh-crying throughout the entire day reading all of your wonderful responses. Thank you for sharing your experiences; it is helpful to hear from so many folks who had various types of wedding family drama/invitation drama/things go wrong and still primarily remember the good things about the day. Thank you all also for the repeated reminders that what is most important is marring your partner, and getting to spend each day with them.

    Thank you all, more than I can say. ❤

    • LW said:

      That should have said “rice AND Christan-themed camping and fishing gear”

  61. I was the maid of honor for my friend’s wedding, and she assigned me to wrangle her mother. Her mother was a rather meddling sort of person, and my job was to distract her and keep her from nagging the bride about stupid little stuff on the day of the ceremony. It was a good idea, and removed a layer of stress from my friend. Apparently, another person was assigned to wrangle the groom’s uncle and keep him reasonably sober. Wedding-guest wrangler should be a thing one can list on resumes as a valuable diplomatic skill that benefits society.

    It may be too late for LW at this point, but it can be helpful to identify something that a meddling parent is actually good at and give that person complete creative control over that ONE aspect of the event.

    When planning our own wedding, my fiance and I decided that we would have total control over the choice of officiant, the wording of our non-traditional vows, what we wore, and the cake. My parents were paying, so we let them decide how many people to invite, but stipulated that they couldn’t invite anyone who would have to be introduced to both the bride AND the groom. (If you don’t know either of us, why would you want to be at our wedding?) So we had family, close friends of our parents who actually knew me or Mr. Toast, and our own friends.

    We left the rest up to other people, who checked in with us now and then and just got on with things. We got married in the garden of my childhood home, so we told my mother that we had complete faith in her exquisite taste in decorations, and left all decisions about that sort of thing up to her entirely. That kept her happily busy and made her feel appreciated. Result: months ahead, she planted special things so the garden looked fantastic on the day and she had all the conversations with the florist so we didn’t need to bother. She farmed out the renting of tables and chairs and tents to my dad, who carefully planned the most efficient layout for the oddly-shaped yard and decided who would sit where. My sister was a photographer’s apprentice at the time, so she took the pictures for free–this was the only thing that produced stress, because we didn’t actually receive any pictures for about four months! You kinda do get what you pay for (the pictures were fine, just quite late).

    What we remember best: the officiant asked everyone present, as a group, “Do you all affirm that you, as their community of family and friends, support Cinnamon and French Toast in their new marriage?” and everyone together said, “We do!” It was wonderful to hear!

    tl;dr Wrangling=good idea, also delegate some tasks to the anxious/meddling parent to make them feel needed

    • I did that! My mother is a bit like that but fortunately she is super into crafts, especially card making, so I tasked her with making 80 individual invitations (with ribbons, little pearl beads, flowers, the works) and thank-you cards. She loved it and it took her right out of the way when it came to the planning.

    • Rhoda said:

      Sounds like you have great delegating skills! So many people get caught up in the “perfect wedding” fantasy offered by bridal magazines that they don’t realize they’ll be just as married with flowers that weren’t quite the right shade of pink or chair covers that didn’t quite match the centerpieces.

  62. Fiance and I, also a pair of introverts, actually are eloping for our wedding ceremony, and I must say, being able to plan our ceremony with absolutely no regard for the desires of others has been so amazing. We opted to still have a reception to celebrate after the honeymoon though, and that has certainly brought out some unexpected strange opinions of what should or should not happen at a wedding reception. But I really think that already being married will make the reception day a hundred times easier to face and not care about if something goes awry. So count me as one more person chiming in that you can totally still elope/hold a private vow exchange/whatever before the official wedding day if you think it will make the ceremony and reception less of a Big Deal to face.

  63. Pam said:

    Now ‘Can you die of decision fatigue’ will show up in the next Search Results post.

    • JenniferP said:

      Counting on it. 😂😜

    • what does google say? I haven’t googled it, but my instincts say yes.

      decision fatigued people make “less responsible” decisions (I’m not linking, cos I’ve mostly seen it discussed in body/food shaming way). taking that to extreme, what kind of decisions will the decision exhausted make? there are a lot of ways to die by Not Paying Attention…

  64. I got married a little under a month ago. I am an introvert. My entire family is conflict-averse, but also opinionated. (A wonderful combination!) My husband decided he wanted a super small, elopement-style wedding, which he did not communicate to me until we were well into the planning. We had LITERAL SHOUTING MATCHES (which are SUPER abnormal for us) over catering and decorating and pretty much anything that money had to be spent on…despite the fact that we were not paying for the wedding.

    Which brings me to my mother. Who is usually pretty laid-back, but was all of the sudden really hung up on the idea of a BIG TRADITIONAL WEDDING, in which we had to have flowers and invite everyone we knew and nothing could look “cheap.” She cried real tears when I told her we weren’t having wedding parties, which meant that my baby sister wouldn’t be in my wedding.

    LW, I LOATHED every minute of wedding planning because I constantly felt like I was trying to make everyone happy, but when I made a decision that made my husband happy, it upset my mom, and vice-versa. No one was worried about making sure that *I* was happy, not even me! I was too fixated on trying not to cause conflict, which ultimately caused 100% more stress and grief to everyone in the long run. The last month was the worst, because I started worry about whether anyone was going to enjoy the wedding. Was I going to? I didn’t know; I hadn’t made any decisions based on my wants and desires!

    My wedding ended up falling together perfectly. I’m sure that my mother was still unhappy about not having a wedding party, but it meant that we made it to the chapel at 11:30am without having to get up at the crack of dawn! I’m sure my husband was still not super happy about how big it was, but he got to lead a 150-person game of Wits and Wagers. How nifty!

    I did not make everyone happy, but my wedding was perfect. Yours will be, too! (…plan B was to grin, bear it, and have “our” wedding, just the two of us, a month or so down the road.)

  65. Swistle said:

    Favorite parts:

    1. “You’ve done the hardest part! This event is situated on the space-time continuum and people are coming to it.”

    2. “Weaponized filial piety as judo, where you use your opponent’s strength and aggression against him.”

    3. “It’s not your wedding’s job to….”

    4. Mr. Awkward handling your mom’s walk-ahead thing.

    5. “RICE, WHEN THE PEOPLE THROW THE RICE. FOR THE LUCK.”/”WHY IS THIS THE FIRST TIME I’M HEARING ABOUT YOUR DEEP NEED TO BE PELTED WITH GRAIN?”

    6. “Our dirtbag friend taught all the 10-year-old girls to throw a real punch in case Trump won the election and they had to fight Nazis someday.”

    Paul and I were planning something small (immediate family and a few friends) but, luckily before we made any reservations/deposits, his mom went one step too far (she said, after many other things that were already plenty, that she was going to come stay with us for two weeks after the wedding, because otherwise it wasn’t worth the plane tickets), and we decided it would just be the two of us. We asked ourselves this question: “What do we REALLY WANT, and what can we DITCH?” So we ended up with beautiful wedding announcements, pretty wedding pictures, clothes we could wear again to other people’s weddings, comfortable shoes, and a fun afternoon of driving around on highways with our car decorated “Just married!” so people would honk and wave at us. It was so great. Sometimes I wish, though, for the family/friends gathering we originally planned, if for nothing else but the photos. I wonder if going into it with that feeling (“All this has to be is the day that makes us married—but how fun to have the photos and the memories, and to have it existing in other people’s memories; plus, leftover cake”) would make it easier to get through the time from now until then.

  66. Amy said:

    If your parents want a wedding where all the decisions go the way they would make them, they can have their own wedding. Or they can call it a re-commitment ceremony or something–do it for a fancy milestone anniversary, there are ways to make that seem legit.

    But them expecting you to plan YOUR wedding to their specifications is unreasonable. And if they want to be weird and rude and conflict-y about it…well, they’re the ones bringing the awkwardness here. Deflect where possible (‘I’ll think about that’ is a good response for suggestions you will never do but don’t want to hear any more about), ignore where possible, and feel no guilt.

    But if that isn’t working, feel free to send the awkwardness right back at them. You can say something like, ‘Look, dad, I know we’re not doing this your way, but it’s not your wedding. It’s ours, and since we know we can’t please everyone, we’re prioritizing ourselves and doing it our way. It’s unfortunate that you’re struggling with that, but we’re not going to change our minds. Please accept that and move on, or at least stop making comments at me about how we’re doing this wrong somehow.’ They’ll feel awkward and called out and uncomfortable, and they might make noises in the moment about how rude and selfish and childish you’re being. But odds are they won’t want to repeat the experience of being told off like that, and therefore the comments will likely stop.

  67. TP said:

    Unrelated to weddings, but man do I understand the frustration of being with people who walk too fast. This happens every time I go somewhere with my brothers (except instead of turning around and glaring, they just lose me). It’s like, that is my jogging speed, I’m not wearing jogging clothes, so I’m not going that fast ok?

    • My husband is 6’1″ with super long legs and walks incredibly quickly. I am 5′ with very short legs and am also 8 months pregnant. I have to remind him almost constantly that I can’t walk as fast as he can. It’s become a bit of a joke between us 🙂

      • Ginger said:

        ^I have told at least one guy that if HE wanted to wear 4-inch heels, THEN we could walk at his pace, and until then, I am wearing heels and he had better slow the hell down lol.

        • CommanderBanana said:

          Hah – a couple years ago I was on a first date with a very tall guy, it had snowed earlier and there was some ice on the sidewalk, and I was wearing heels (and I had had foot surgery not that long beforehand that made my feet a little less flexible for a while) and he KEPT WALKING AHEAD OF ME despite me asking him repeatedly to please slow down.

          I finally slowed down, stopped, watch him make it nearly an entire block ahead of me WHILE TALKING THE ENTIRE TIME, then turned around and headed back towards the subway. I was already on the escalator when I got a text asking me where I had gone?! He literally hadn’t noticed I was no longer walking with him.

          Hilariously he told me he’d had a really great time and when did we want to hang out again? The twelfth of never, bud.

      • Turquoise Dragon said:

        One of the best things my husband did when I was eight months pregnant was routinely hook my hand through his arm, both for my support, and so that he couldn’t accidentally walk away from me. He knew it was a thing that he did, so he made sure that he literally couldn’t.

    • BigDogLittleCat said:

      I am a very fast walker, like I could easily leave most of my friends and family in my dust just going my natural speed.
      But guess what, fellow fast walkers? people aren’t left in your dust because you’re a fast walker. They’re left in your dust because you’re inconsiderate. It’s a damn sight easier for us to slow down than it is for a slower person to go faster, because they’d have to break into a trot while all we really need to do is *pay attention* to the people we’re with.

      • DesertRose said:

        In my younger years, I was a super-fast walker. (I’m a fairly tall person with long legs, for one thing.) But when I walked with my friends (after high school, a group of my friends formed a habit of going downtown and meandering the historic district, because we were too old for high school stuff but too young to go to bars/clubs, LOL!), who either didn’t walk as fast as I did because they were shorter people with shorter legs, or didn’t want to walk as fast as was my “normal” speed at the time because they wanted to look at stuff (see above re: historic district meanderings), I learned to slow the hell down and be considerate of my friends. I also got to see some interesting stuff I would have missed if I’d kept walking so damn fast!

        Now I am old (well, middle-aged) and decrepit (osteoarthritis inherited from one or both grandmothers), and I have to ask my mom to slow down when I walk with her, which is a hell of a “karma will bite you in the ass” thing, because it used to be the other way around!

  68. Snow said:

    A recent letter (#988: “How do I have the ‘is this a real relationship?’) inspired me to talk to my boyfriend about getting engaged – he was THRILLED and had apparently also been wanting to get engaged but didn’t want me to feel rushed 🙂 We bought engagement/ wedding rings last week, and we’ve been embarking on wedding planning, so this was wonderful and timely advice (and the rice part was pure gold.) LW, congrats on your upcoming wedding, and please take the Captain’s awesome advice to heart! Good luck and jedi hugs! ❤

    • Zombie Bunny said:

      Congratulations on both the power of Using Your Words, and your recent engagement! Many happy days!

    • BigDogLittleCat said:

      Congrats!

    • Might I recommend eloping… 😀

  69. Goober said:

    As the Captain said, it’s not too late to elope.

    “. . . you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.”

    “And so do you.”

    It seems possible that your father will continue to have expectations of you, after you are married, that are not in any way connected to the reality of your life. It reminds me of a passage from a Lois McMaster Bujold book, in which a character is caught in a conflict between his wife and his overbearing father:

    “He is my past. You are my future. The rest of my life belongs to the future.”

    • TootsNYC said:

      I love the “and so do you” rejoinder!

  70. Kitty said:

    “My suggestion that my younger brother who runs his own church called Warriors 4 Christ and sells Christian-themed camping and fishing gear loved God enough for all of us was not received well.”

    I love this. 😂😂😂

    I’m glad I’m working on being good at boundaries with family now, so if I ever do get married, hopefully I can be like “this day is about me and partner, anyone who has feelings about it can deal with them or stay the fuck home.” ☺

  71. Mustela Furo said:

    De-lurking to say how sorry I am that you aren’t surrounded with people who just say “That sounds great!” I did all my wedding planning more or less by myself. My mother had died four years earlier and my future (and now ex) mother-in-law is the least pushy person on the planet. Plus I was an “older” bride so I felt free to just do whatever the heck I wanted. I had a silvery sage green wedding dress (because it was the color of my eyes!), no veil (I feel you on the veil, commenter whose mother made her cry), and a five-piece brass band that paraded us between the ceremony and reception in the botanical garden. I even had my nephews, as ring bearers, wear furry brown bear ears and carry the rings in the mouths of stuffed-animal salmon, because of the probably apocryphal story I heard about the small ring bearer who growled and snarled the whole way up the aisle. His mother asked him “why the growling?” And he said “I’m the ring bear, and bears growl!” So all my wedding pictures with the whole family include a five year old and a seven year old dressed as bears, holding fish. My point is, it’s your wedding, and if you want to have stuffed fish in the ceremony, you can.

    • Ginger said:

      I love everything about this comment and your wedding.

    • Lurker in the light said:

      I didn’t think my wedding was missing anything, but now I think it was missing ring bears. That is delightful!

  72. “Do you have a wedding party person or gregarious friend who can be Dad-buffer at the wedding? This is not an uncommon or unusual request!”

    THIS! I was mother-of-the-bride-buffer for a friend’s wedding for like three days including the day of, as Bride and her Mom had a rocky relationship. But, as Bride knew we would, Mom and I got on well.

    I also, mostly by luck, managed to drag half the rehearsal party out of the couple’s tiny apartment for an hour to go on a walk to see the sights of the neighborhood, giving everybody some much-needed breathing room. (How by luck? I said to Mom, hey, there’s a troll eating a VW bug under the bridge up the road, wanna come see, and then a bunch of other people decided to join us.) Let me tell you, if you can manage to pull off something like this, *everybody* will be happier.

    • And now I will reply to myself and say, wow, after having read this thread, I am *so fucking happy* my wife and I eloped.

      Like, I wanted a family wedding with aunts and uncles and cousins and everybody. And I really, really wanted to give my wife the gift of a pretty wedding, because Stuff and Reasons. Not a big wedding, but a pretty one. She was so happy when I proposed, but it seemed like every time we started to talk about the wedding, she started to panic. So finally I got it through my head that no, a pretty wedding was not a gift she wanted, and we got married in the same park where we had our first date AND where I proposed, four days after it became legal, with my ex-girlfriend officiating and three witnesses (one of whom our officiant brought along because we thought one of the other witnesses wasn’t going to make it). We had a wedding brunch with them all around the corner, and then took off to an island B&B run by a very nice gay couple for the weekend (which, despite both the couple and the B&B being very nice, turned into its own special mess, but oh well, we were married). And I didn’t tell my family for *months*. And it all worked out just fine.

    • nein09 said:

      I know exactly where said troll is and am keeping this tactic in my back pocket for my friend’s upcoming wedding.

      • Do! The great thing about this city is that most neighborhoods have something distracting you can show people.

    • CarpeFelis said:

      Fremont Troll to the rescue!!

  73. betp said:

    I love the “this isn’t what we would choose” stuff. Like, duh? That’s because it’s not your wedding? This is like watching you place your order at the Red Robin and then grousing, “That’s not what I ordered.” If your pops wants to plan a wedding so dingdang bad, maybe he and your mother can renew their vows and throw a shindig for it. He can wear tangerine chiffon and hire an organist. Whatever he wants – it’s his day.

  74. LRR said:

    “In one phone call she told me people in our family might not want to come if it wasn’t going to be “enough like a wedding.” ”
    Oh Captain, this is when my eyes started popping out of my head. You have my sympathies.

    • Rhoda said:

      A lot of these wedding “traditions” are fairly new. I don’t remember dress shopping being a huge deal back in the 70s (many of my school friends just bought fabric and a pattern and made their own). Hen parties definitely weren’t around then, just bridal showers. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a low income neighbourhood, but weddings seemed a whole lot simpler and less stressful back then.

      • Yep. There was a shift in traditions in the 1950s that co incudes with campaigns by Debeers and fashion designers to sell big dresses, diamonds and the other trappings. Prior to that, weddings were smaller, hone based affairs, or 1920s champagne and dessert buffet shindigs. The idea of Sacred Wedding Tradition tends to refer to very recent traditions that often involve buying stuff.

        • Rhoda said:

          I saw the showy wedding trend starting in the 80s, with the Greed Is Good era. Television shows like Dynasty and Dallas promoted the idea of over the top glamour and luxury, and of course the decade started with Prince Charles marrying Lady Diana Spencer.
          In the 60s and 70s there was a trend of simple weddings, perhaps inspired by the flower children.

          • JenniferP said:

            My best friend used to work in catering and calls weddings “the day when peApple pretend to be rich people for a day.” I was having none of this.

          • TootsNYC said:

            Re: “pretending to be rich people for a day”

            Miss Manners has said that your wedding reception should be “whatever normal style of party you throw” but only one step more formal. (Not necessarily fancier–more formal.)

  75. Katie said:

    Thank you so much for this question, LW, and thank you Captain for such an amazing response! I’ve been lurking here for a few months but never posted before. My wedding is also in a month, and we’ve also been pressured into inviting loads of people we wouldn’t otherwise have. We were hoping for a small, non-traditional wedding, and now we have a huge one with loads of infuriating patriarchal bits, like my dad walking me down the aisle because “it’ll be more meaningful to him to do it than it’ll mean for you not to do it”. Despite, you know, the fact that my parents never provided any emotional support growing up, only financial support. They now delight in pointing out my achievements to people and saying how they’ve always supported me every step of the way…despite my pursuing everything independently and getting either silence or unimpressed looks or being told outright that there was no point. I suppose I should be at least pleased that they’re proud of me…even though it only ever happens after I’ve succeeded in acquiring this or that skill, and never at all during the long process of learning it.
    Wow, this turned into a bit of a self-indulgent rant! Sorry about that. I’m going to check out those links the Captain posted now.

    • Not self indulgent at all. You are entitled to feel how you feel. I am sorry you are being pushed to host all that nonsense.

    • Turquoise Dragon said:

      I’m sorry it’s being stressful. I hope some of the ideas here ring true for you and are helpful. I hope you are your beloved have a calm wedding . . . . and then set up whatever style of relationship works best for you with much mutual admiration and emotional support as you live awesome lives.

  76. Emm said:

    So very glad that I’ve never, ever wanted nor enjoyed weddings. Yikes.

    • JenniferP said:

      You do you! You are not alone in disliking weddings so much that you comment on discussions about them to remind us about that.

    • mf said:

      I love weddings and I even mostly enjoyed planning mine, but I totally get why some people hate it. The invitation drama is the worst (everybody wants to be invited but nobody RSVPs on time!), and the gendered expectations get old real fast.

      • JenniferP said:

        Oh no, wedding planning is a nightmare shitshow! I didn’t mean to be so harsh at Emm, but one of the things that makes planning a wedding a shitshow is that if you talk about it you immediately invite the “Ugh, weddings are so stupid” comments, which do not make the whole thing easier.

  77. Quirkyopteryx said:

    The best advice that anyone ever gave me about having a wedding, was “You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, so you might as well just do what you wanted to anyway.” (From my ex-girlfriend.) It’s really solid advice!

    And we only had to deal with whingeing from my side of the family, as my other half’s side has zero impact on our lives, we invited the ones we liked and the ones directly related.

    Plus we arranged it all in 5 weeks. If they didn’t want to come, or if they wanted to interfere, lol, too late. It did mean that one person special to me couldn’t come, but in hindsight he probably wouldn’t have been able to cope with meeting my parents anyway.

  78. steph said:

    Speaking from experience, there’s some benefit to having both – a civil ceremony at the courthouse beforehand and the planned wedding as scheduled. We did that for a number of practical reasons, but it had the unexpected benefit of reducing the stress of the “big day” considerably. Nothing that went wrong could be too bad, and we couldn’t possibly end up not getting married.

    • Deb said:

      I actually know 3 couples who have done this. One was for the husband’s immigration situation (like 40 years ago), one bride had MS and needed to get on husband’s insurance ASAP, and the other husband’s mother was dying and they were sure she wouldn’t make it to the formal wedding, which she didn’t. All are still married, all enjoyed their formal weddings a lot since some of the pressure was off!

      After reading these comments hope I was a good Mother-of-the-Bride.–both my daughters were married in the same year and I think they got the weddings they wanted. One wanted very little booze and lots of square dancing at the reception and we made it happen. The other wanted a veil (not over her face, just down the back) and I said (only once!!) that it was a symbol of oppression of women but she did it anyway and it was lovely.

  79. Kimbeaux said:

    My mom can be counted on to repeat several behaviors that would a) annoy me, b) push my buttons and c) stress me out as I try not to blow up at her, or d) end with me blowing up at her and feeling like a crappy human. My therapist taught me this incredibly simple trick to deal with her: count the behaviors. When I am counting, i don’t get caught up in my emotional response. I upped the game and created “Mom Bingo” and got my husband, my friend and her husband to play with me. Any of us would mouth bingo at another after five behaviors. It was amazing how it turned potentially horrible interactions into a fun time where I could be as loving and compassionate as possible to my mom.

  80. Lily said:

    Your story is lovely, Captain. (And I just googled the grain or seed question 😀 )

    • Rhoda said:

      At all the weddings I’ve been to, rice has not been allowed because supposedly it swells up inside birds and kills them. And then paper confetti was no longer allowed because it supposedly takes too long to break down and enter the soil as cellulose fibre. I don’t know what people use now. Rose petals?

      • Riley said:

        Bubbles are pretty common. When I was little it was fun when my parents went to weddings because they would come home with little containers of bubbles.

      • You can get environmentally friendly confetti now – it’s water soluble. I think it’s like rice paper so you are sort of still throwing rice!

      • Usually I see bubbles, but I did go to one wedding that used water guns! Another used flower petals, but I’m sure that would be the more expensive option.

        • Water guns could ruin the modesty of any guests wearing white or anything the least bit sheer.

      • Robbie said:

        Apparently the big thing is bubbles. I couldn’t use bubbles, because we got married in a museum and they were clear on the “nothing that could wreck the priceless artifacts” clause in the contract.

      • JenniferP said:

        The bird thing is not true, fortunately! (I googled it)

      • Quickstepping Matilda said:

        My brother and sister-in-law used birdseed.

      • DesertRose said:

        There’s even environmentally friendly confetti that contains wildflower seeds (hopefully one can get region-specific wildflower-confetti so one doesn’t introduce invasive species of wildflowers where they oughtn’t be), which I thought was a cool idea that I’d use on the very slight chance I ever remarry. 🙂

      • I heard somewhere that grains of wheat were originally used for this.

      • TootsNYC said:

        Rice is still often not allowed because:
        1) it doesn’t crush when people step on it, so they might slip when it rolls
        2) it leaves little white flecks all over the lawn
        3) it’s a pain to sweep up

        • N G said:

          Biodegradable paper confetti.
          Important note – this stuff is slippery too when on a dance floor.
          I thought we’d made it perfectly clear that we wanted NO confetti at our wedding, not least because the entire thing was being held indoors and there would be no opportunity for throwing rice, paper, petals or whatever. However MIL (she of the 0% contribution, but 100% hissy fit) decided that our first dance was the perfect opportunity to empty three entire boxes of biodegradable confetti over our heads, greatly reducing the dancing movement as neither of us wanted to turn an ankle on the slippery stuff!

  81. speedbudget said:

    I knew from the beginning I did not want to be involved in any wedding planning. I also knew that my mom would probably steamroll me because she is a master party planner. So I did what any reasonable person would do: Eloped to Vegas. Best decision. Also saved me a shit-ton of money. We did have a little family party afterwards to celebrate the the thing, but I specifically planned that for a Wednesday night so I would have to deal with as few annoying relatives as possible.

  82. Rhoda said:

    Your father sounds controlling. This wedding seems to have been a good way to set new boundaries and let him know that his temper tantrums won’t affect you any more. Back in the days when girls went straight from their parent’s house to their husband’s, the wedding was seen as a rite of passage into adulthood. Your wedding is as well, in a different sort of way.
    You can now learn to stop hoping for apologies and stop trying to meet his demands. He’ll stomp his feet and hold his breath until he turns blue, but it will no longer make a difference – you’re now completely free and grown up and the wedding has made him aware of that.

  83. mf said:

    There’s an upside to having a big wedding: with all those people around, it will be SUPER easy to avoid your dad. Every time he comes over, you can be all, “Hey look, there’s Aunt Myrtle! Gotta go say hi!”

  84. cheesemistress said:

    LW, I’m so sorry you’re having this experience and I’m mostly commenting to validate you. My husband and I wanted a small wedding, and we thought we’d get it because a) he has absolutely no family, b) it was pretty darn important to us to keep it intimate so we could have meaningful interactions with our guests, and c) it would’ve been cheaper for my parents, who paid for most of it (which I realize was super generous of them). We ended up inviting over 100 people, 30% of whom were friends and *acquaintances* of my mother’s.

    I’ve been married for 13 months and 2 days now and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished we had not accepted my parents’ offer to pay for it (because of the stress of planning it with their input–not because we didn’t enjoy our wedding). I still have a lot of resentment about a whole bunch of stuff from the year of wedding planning (for example: I did not want a shower or a bachelorette party, but my mom whined so much that my friends decided to throw me both, and when they asked her if she could contribute to the budget for the shower she was so angry about it that she spoiled all the surprises for me and then talked shit about my matron of honor at the shower while my MoH and MoH’s mom–who made my spectacular wedding dress for me as a gift–were four feet away from us).

    In the weeks leading up to my wedding, my biggest worry wasn’t “what if it rains?” (because I’d been talked into an outdoor ceremony by my mom, even though I’ve never ever wanted one), or “what if my dress isn’t ready?” (we were still working in muslin a week out), or “what if the caterer serves gluten free pasta made with potato starch to my MoH’s mom?” (the poor woman has celiac disease but she and my MoH also have a terrifying poisoning reaction to nightshade family plants), but rather “how can I possibly have a good time at my wedding when it’s become such a circus and when things are so strained between me and my mom?”

    Honestly, my closest friends were very surprised by the wedding I had because it differed so much from the wedding they knew I wanted. My dude and I didn’t compromise on a lot of things with my mom, we outright capitulated. But it was still a beautiful, wonderful wedding. And a really unexpected gift that we got out of letting my mom have so much control over the reception was that the ceremony, which my guy and I wrote and planned together, shone. I honestly had not expected the ceremony to be my favorite part–I thought cutting and feeding each other our cake would be it–but it was. The most hopeful thing I have to share though is that as soon as we saw our guests were having a great time, I forgot all the stress and had a great time too. So I hope you find the Captain’s advice helpful for getting through the next few weeks, and I hope you get to love your wedding as much as you want to.

  85. symplicite said:

    Dear LW —

    When I was getting married, my Mom respected my wishes throughout. I recall her giving me advice, but when I put my foot down, she respected it, and the wedding went as planned (about 20 guests total – I wanted a really small wedding), and with a little bit of family wrangling (my Mom and Dad looked after their respective family members).

    You are never going to please everyone with your wedding, except you. So keep that in mind as your day draws nearer.

    My horror stories from the wedding front:

    1) when my now-ex and I got engaged, we didn’t set a date for almost 6 months after announcing our engagement. My paternal grandmother, who had been saving her pennies for a big splash first-grandchild wedding, was approached by an uncle who wanted to borrow the money. After being questioned if there were “any weddings in the future” and hearing a “no”, she lent him the money. About a month later, my ex and I set the date. My paternal grandmother was FURIOUS because she was now poor and had no control over what we could ‘use’ the money for in our wedding, as she had none to give.

    1a) My Mom and Dad drove to visit my paternal grandmother, who proceeded to tell my Mom that the lack of date planning on my part earlier was “her responsibility” and swore at my Mom during their visit. My Dad decided that he’d had enough of his mother dissing his wife, and ordered my Mom into the car. “WE’RE LEAVING” he announced.

    1b) as the invite list was going out, my Mom suggested that I invite paternal side of the family, including 3 uncles (and wives), 1 aunt, and 6 cousins. “Nope,” I said. “I haven’t seen them in 5 years. I’m not doing it.” My Mom wasn’t happy with it, but respected my wishes and the invites went out.

    1c) upon learning that she herself was the only member invited to said wedding (my ex’s family was large and out of province, so we kept it very small to immediate family), my paternal grandmother again lost her sh1t and swore at my Mom, again that this oversight was “her responsibility to teach me what I was supposed to do.”

    1d) At this point, my Dad decides he’s had enough, and he’s not contacting his family. He’s done.

    1e) on wedding day, paternal grandmother showed up with paternal aunt at the wedding, still furious. Stayed for the ceremony, then left afterward. Everyone remembers my paternal aunt and her very lacy white dress which outshone me in my very plain white dress (but was very comfy! I loved that dress). I remember the ceremony, and the lovely lunch.

    1f) about 9 months after the wedding, I received a phone call from my paternal grandmother (via my paternal aunt), wanting to meet up with me. I guess she felt that because of the rush-rush of setting the date and everything, what we’d planned was a ‘shot-gun’ wedding, and she wanted to know if she had grandchildren.

    1g) I called my Mom and Dad, and told Dad to deal with this. It was his mother who started the ruckus, and he could have the chat and deal. I was having no part of it.

    1h) Dad really puts his foot down, and decides that he’s truly done. He’s not reaching out to his family again.

    1i) Paternal grandmother, about 2 years after that, sells her home during the housing boom, and tries to ‘lure back’ into the family fold Dad, me, and my sister with $10k. My sister spends it on a vacation with her SO (now hubby) in Turks and Caicos. I put it towards a down payment to a house. Dunno what my Dad did with it. Still no communication going back.

    1j) ex and I separate and divorce about 6 years after all of this. IRONY MUCH?

    If I could do things differently, would I? Nope. It was the wedding I wanted, and how I wanted it. LW, keep this in mind, too – it’s the wedding you want. If you wanted the wedding your Dad wanted, you’d have it, right? So give yourself some breathing room – you’re doing just fine with wanting the wedding that you and your fiancee want.

    Jedi hugs!

  86. S. Reader said:

    Several people have mentioned having a wrangler available to manage the OP’s dad or other potentially problematic guests. I’m going to suggest having multiple wranglers available so they can trade off duty – and that way the person who has been wrangled may not even realize he was wrangled.

    I’m suggesting this from my own experience of maybe having been wrangled myself – and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

    May I share my story? It was at a cocktail reception almost two decades ago after a day of celebration for people who had worked closely together for years. Some of the guests still worked for that employer, while many of the guests had moved on or retired but returned for that celebration.

    One of the guests, “Todd,” someone I used to work closely with, had been in the national news, briefly, for having had to handle an extremely unusual, unpleasant and distressing event. While chatting with several of the other guests earlier in the day, I had mentioned that I was looking forward to speaking with “Todd” later on to learn more about the distressing event that had made the news. I figured I’d catch up with “Todd” at the cocktail reception.

    Oddest thing, though: at the reception I somehow never made it all the way across the room to where Todd was chatting with others. It seemed like every few steps I took across the room, a different person I used to work with would approach me, greet me, and engage me in conversation. This was the only time in my life when I never could make it all the way across a room.

    Now, I know, that’s what people do at cocktail parties. But the next day, when I thought back to the reception I realized that there were way way more people stopping their own conversations and drawing me into new conversations than I have ever experienced at any other cocktail party.

    Looking back, considering who drew me into long conversations that night (including some people who usually only spoke briefly with me), and how often this happened (I couldn’t take three steps toward Tom’s side of the room before someone else stopped me) I started to wonder if perhaps I had been wrangled by people who wanted to protect Todd from being questioned about the distressing news story.

    Or not.

    I’ll never know.

    But, to tie it in to the OP, if the OP wants her dad or another difficult guest wrangled, use several wranglers who can take turns distracting the target. Dad or the other guest won’t realize they’re being distracted when it is more than one person doing the distracting.

    Good luck / best wishes to the OP.

  87. Tea Rocket said:

    One thing stuck out to me in this letter:

    Fiancée and I are introverts and did not want a huge wedding. My parents do not understand why we would not want 300 guests (despite numerous attempts to explain). We compromised and invited almost everyone they wanted. We will have 100 guests (a lot!).

    LW, I hope you have a good wedding and enjoy the day, but I just want to raise the point here that you didn’t even need to placate your parents as much as you already have. You were perfectly within your rights to put your collective foot down at 300 guests and would have been equally within your rights to say no to 100 guests, and kept the list down to the people that you and your fiancée wanted there.

    Compromise is often a good thing, but it’s not mandatory every time there is a difference of opinion. Sometimes, other people’s desires do not merit being met even part of the way. It would have been one thing if your fiancée wanted a large wedding and you wanted a small one, because the day belongs to the two of you equally. The same is not true for you and your fiancée vs. your parents. This is your wedding, not theirs. If your parents want to have a fancy party for all of their family, friends, acquaintances, business associates, etc., they can organize one for themselves, instead of hijacking your wedding plans. You did not owe them a compromise or even a justification for your preferred wedding size, or anything else related to your plans.

    There are very few parents in this world who tell their children, “You’re adults now. You no longer have to listen to me or do what I say. I am not entitled to be consulted on every decision you make, and if I disagree with one of your choices, the world is not going to end.” I think part of being an independent adult is realizing that that’s true anyway, and being willing to do what works best for you and letting the chips fall where they may with the people who used to be in charge of you. It’s hard the first few times you do it, but it gets easier, especially as parents realize that new boundaries have been set. I hope you keep this in mind the next time your parents want to overrule the decisions you and your fiancée make for yourselves.

    • TootsNYC said:

      This is such an important point:

      Compromise is often a good thing, but it’s not mandatory every time there is a difference of opinion.

  88. Tree said:

    The best, and worst part of my wedding was that I didn’t get to talk to most of the guests. Husband and I made a concerted effort, but there were lots of people demanding our attention and lots of things going on, and there were a number of people I didn’t talk to at. all. And most of the rest I talked to for like five minutes, tops. I talked a little more to my parents and in laws and the small bridal party and whatnot, but the rest of the guests? Nope.

    This was good because there were a lot of annoying people (relatives and my in laws’ friends, whom I still don’t understand why I had to invite) that I was stressing over inviting and then didn’t even see, so, whatever.

    It was wonderful. I’m super glad we’re married, but omg it was exhausting.

  89. I don’t have advice, but I can add a hilarious wedding story.

    So, my parents had their respective 50th birthday parties and their 25th wedding anniversary all within a few months of each other, so they decided to hold all three at once with a GIANT party involving basically everyone they knew at the local community centre. This included a bagpipe enthusiast.

    As a total surprise to my parents, he brought his whole bagpipe band, and they came in kilts, and paraded through the community centre and then out again. Which was delightful.

    Well, a ton of people hold weddings/wedding photos in the park near my house and one was taking place near our party, so, since they were already there, the bagpipe band went and serenaded the nearest wedding on their way out. Just because.

    So somewhere in the world there exists a couple who’s wedding story involves “and then a bagpipe band showed up and none of us had ordered this, or in fact had ever seen them before and we have no idea why they were there or what happened”. I hope they remember this fondly.

    But remember, involuntary bagpipe serenades are a wedding occupational hazard.

    • Neurite said:

      I love this a lot. What a delightful story all around!

      For a rather less musical variant, I was once participating in a Santacon/Santarchy that happened to wander past a church at the exact moment a wedding party filed out. So somewhere in the world there also exists a couple whose just-married church step photographs were photobombed by several hundred enthusiastic Santas.

      • Bagpuss said:

        one of my hobbies used to be church bellringing, so we used to do a lot of weddings. We would typically ring at the end of the wedding, as the bride and groom come out of church, and while they then did photos in the chuch yard.
        There was one time when we had not been told that the couple were not actually getting married, they were just having a blessing, (which is a shorter service) .
        Somewhere there is a couple whose wedding video starts with a shot of 6 scruffy looking people sprinting across the path just before the bride and groom emerge from the church porch..

      • Pensnest said:

        I had the pleasure of attending a Star Trek convention which was sharing the hotel with a wedding. The bride’s dad, in his grey morning suit and peach cravat, looked very unimpressed by the thronging Klingons, Vulcans, Starfleet officers and other dubious folk, and several of the wedding guests were at least metaphorically gathering their skirts to avoid contamination. But the bride, bless her, obviously thought the whole thing was hilarious and seemed to be having a great time.

        I bet the guests remembered that wedding!

  90. My husband and I eloped. Every time I read ANY wedding story I am more glad we made that decision. Thank fucking Christ.

  91. Southernbelle said:

    My sister who has not talked to me for most of two years (over the fact that she moved to another country, didn’t tell me, and then was ‘worried’ I’d be ‘upset’) is getting married in two weeks and I wish I could paste “It’s not your wedding’s job to spackle over the awkward patches in your family” to everyone else’s foreheads! (I am firm in my refusal to do more than show up- but the pushback has been pretty relentless.)

    So, weddings! Sometimes they’re delightful! Sometimes they’re very stressful!

  92. FaintlyMacabre said:

    When my sister got married, I ran interference with her MIL, who was… difficult. She insulted everything, did not help out at all, and insulted the wedding cake and cupcakes, which were made by my mother. “Oh, homemade? How…quaint.” She did her best to shit all over the wedding, but my sister’s team made sure her crapstorm didn’t touch my sister. You deserve to enjoy your wedding day, and people will help you make that happen. Best of luck! (And for the record, my mom is the bomb diggity of baked goods. You don’t want one of her homemade cupcakes? Good. You don’t deserve it.)

  93. These wedding stories are GOLD. I love reading every one of them. Thank you for letting me share these parts of your lives.

  94. Jenny Islander said:

    My brain came to a screeching halt at the point a few lines in where you compromised with your parents about your party. Yours. Not theirs. Y O U R S. You and your spouse to be: the people running the party. All parents and other relatives: guests. Guests do not run parties. They do not get to decide who else can come or pick the food, decor, or music, and they certainly do not get to decree details of the central ritual.

    It sounds like it’s too late to cancel this wedding that seems designed to scrape two introverts raw, but I very strongly recommend that the two of you have a conversation that does not include anyone else then or after the fact in which you hammer out the things on which relatives get no input from here on out. Here’s a list to start with:

    * Whether you have children
    * How those children will come into the world
    * How you will raise them
    * Who can take care of them besides you two
    * Whether either of you works outside the home
    * What jobs you apply for
    * What you do with your income
    * Where you vacation
    * Who else may come along on your vacations
    * Whether you have pets
    * How those pets shall be disciplined and fed
    * Who else may take care of them
    * Where you will live
    * Who is allowed to visit
    * How much advance notice is required
    * And for how long they can stay

    BTW, it’s probably a good idea to find somebody you trust not to be all “Oh, it can’t be that bad” to wrangle your dad on the day. That is, get between him and you if he decides to sulk at you some more about not turning your party totally into his party.

    • Jenny Islander said:

      And I missed how Captain Awkward already covered the dad buffer thing. Oops!

    • CarpeFelis said:

      One more for the list: How much your income is. For the first few years of our marriage my husband blabbed that to MIL. I was decidedly Not Happy about this.

      • Jenny Islander said:

        YES. Oh, another one:

        * What you eat, how often, and where

    • BigDogLittleCat said:

      *Names of children
      *Names of pets

      • Jenny Islander said:

        * Religious ceremonies that those children will or will not undergo
        * Baby showers: if, when, and where they will happen, who will host them, and who will be invited

  95. Orlando said:

    … To be honest, my reflexive reaction to the “can’t please everyone” thing was “hey, you’re right! I can’t please everyone, including you! All your 100 friends are disinvited! And, are you sure you wanna come yourself? You don’t seem too hyped about this whole thing…”

    Please ignore me… 😀

    • Sibley said:

      Orlando, I’d probably do something like that. But I’m known to have a temper.

  96. Allo said:

    The best advice I’ve seen for weddings is to have a problem-solver present. This person is a decent friend, but isn’t in the wedding party. They wear jeans or whatever for most of the day, and are the person who crawls around on the floor to pin up ripped seams, runs to the hotel to get the forgotten wallet, and cleans up the spilled grape juice. They can quick switch into something easy but nice looking for the actual ceremony, but otherwise, beat up clothes.

    And *absolutely* assign someone to make sure the whole wedding party eats. Even it it’s fast food.

    • CarpeFelis said:

      Sounds wonderful – unless you happen to be that friend.

      • entendante said:

        I’ve actually been that friend, and loved it. Know your friends and pick wisely for that role, is I guess what I’d suggest. (It was also helpful that I was planning a wedding in the same venue, and had never been in a wedding party other than as the flower girl, so being the Designated Fixer felt like an apprenticeship in How To Wedding and made me much less anxious about whether I was forgetting important details.)

        • Jenna said:

          Chalk me up as another person who’d be happier as the fixer who makes sure the hems are even and that people have eaten. Wedding party folks sometimes are asked to make speeches, and are always somewhat on stage at the event. I’d really rather dash around on errands and help with details, thanks.

          • CarpeFelis said:

            I was thinking fixer vs. regular guest, not wedding party.

      • Lurker in the light said:

        Yeah, I’ve been a wedding planner for a couple (of couples?) of friends. That’s definitely part of what I did for them. For some of us, it’s fun.

        It would not have been cool for them to not invite me or make me feel like The Help. Fortunately, my friends are lovely people and would never do that. Also, the giant spa gift certificate one couple mailed me with a lovely thank you note was pretty awesome.

    • CommanderBanana said:

      If you’re asking a friend to do that, may I suggest paying that friend?? Or buying them a really nice gift? And being 100% upfront about what you’re asking them to do? That is a job that people get paid real money to do.

      I got invited to my then-boyfriend’s stepbrother’s wedding, and when I arrived the stepbrother’s mom shoved a platter of spanokopita into my hands and expected me to start serving the wedding guests. She tried to get me, my boyfriend, and his brother drafted as extra servers at the wedding dinner after the ceremony. Sorry, you need servers, you can hire them.

      I am a meeting planner by profession and while I’d be fine with helping a friend plan and execute their wedding, if I was invited to a wedding and then found out I was expected to be the maid-of-all-work, I’d nope out of that wedding and the friendship.

      • allochthon said:

        Definitely, being 100% upfront about what you’re asking them to do.

        Where I saw this close-up was my sister’s wedding. One of her good friends had gotten married the summer before, and had a fixer, so Friend offered to do it for my sister. We (the wedding party) were very grateful, and thankful, and FixerFriend definitely got a really nice gift. FixerFriend totally saved our bacon.

        In my circle of friends, most of the female presenting people are either queer, or extremely tom-boyish, or some other variety of “oh god, heels? Are you kidding me? Also, where’s my multi-tool?” I suspect if one of us got married right now, it would be a friendly!fight for who got to be the fixer, and who had to dress up like an Adult.

  97. My first thought is to hire body doubles, and let them do the big wedding, while you and your love elope. Everybody’s happy!

    Ah, if only.

    • B said:

      Wedding stand-ins; nice! I could see that as being the illogical extreme for needing the “perfect” wedding (including looking a certain way one perhaps does not, and/or being the parent’s wedding dolls…)

      • I can see this as being a great opportunity for character actors and excellent make-up artists.

  98. Lando Dlamini said:

    You must tell your parents that you are old enough to make your own decisions and they must respect your wedding wishes

  99. Deb said:

    Re: throwing rice or whatever at the reception. When each of my daughters got married we talked about doing this but I all I could think of was “Who is going to clean this up?” It sure wasn’t going to be me, and I didn’t feel that I could add to the reception venue staff’s headaches with a pile of confetti to clean up. One groom was a pilot, so I thought about these paper airplanes that you could have printed with clever messages, but again, who was going to pick them all up? Also, in both cases a lot of guests had left before the bride and groom so a big exit with throwing things would have been useless. I’m glad we avoided this extra effort/expense but I have seen the bubbles thing and it was fun and made for great photos!

    • NotPiffany said:

      I know some people who had birdseed thrown at their weddings. The local wildlife picks that up afterwards.

    • Breadpudding said:

      Nearly every venue we looked at (got married last year) had policies against tossing rice/seeds/whatever, and restrictions on scattering flower petals, because no one wants to try to clean that up.

  100. Imperatrice said:

    Oh my gosh I am getting married in exactly 149 days and even though I am 90% in love with the process and we are 110% focusing on “have good time” versus “make a perfect day” and my parents are being real good about everything…I NEEDED ALL OF THIS SO MUCH. Particularly the last bits.

    Thank you Captain.

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