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N in azaleas

It's the wedding planning jitters!

Some of you have already seen this. It's todays "ACK! How am I going to manage being in this wedding?"

I’m suffering the Wedding Planning Jitters.

I am not one of the people who planned or even dreamed of her wedding. When I thought of marriage seriously, I spent some time wondering about the day-to-day life but not the ceremonies. Mostly, I put all those thoughts out of my head.

I've been a bridesmaid at least a dozen times, so I'm familiar with the traditional basics. The weddings I've loved the most have been weddings where the bride and groom got to visit with their friends -- more often than not, this visit occurs in an after-party party. What I enjoy in weddings is the solemnity of the ceremony -- a piece of that appeals to my spiritual nature and the visiting with friends who love you.

My MIL to be has a list of 99 of her closest friends and relatives. My mother has a list of 103 of her relatives. My list, when cut to the bone and only including close friends that I'm still close to and not even including brides in whose wedding I was an attendant, has 80 people. These numbers include children and guests for singles. The church holds 230 people I think it's tacky to invite people to a wedding when you know you can't let them sit down. I can't invite all the people I want to invite, which makes me feel like a heel. Many of them invited me to stand up in or be in their wedding.

Currently, my parents are paying for the bulk of the wedding. Brandon and I are both in debt, and I hate to go further in debt for a wedding ceremony. Brandon will not elope because his sister eloped and really bruised the entire family's feelings.

The current wedding is pretty traditional -- wedding followed by desert reception in a pretty place.

I often break out in bouts of 'how did the Wedding Monster' get this big? The wedding doesn't really feel like me, not that I know what my wedding would feel like. I just know that when I go to a beach wedding with 30 guests invited, I think 'how cool'. When I hear about my friends who get married in Logan, UT, in the summer on a hill/mountain top, I think "That sounds lovely and just right for them". When I hear about my friend getting married in a speakeasy with a fantastic band for dancing, I think "I look terrible in flapper costumes." Then, I think, "How perfect." My friends who were married on a ship picked the perfect venue for them. I have one friend who choses a lavish wedding style reminiscent of Hollywood movie weddings - it works for her.

I just keep thinking that this is a lot of money to spend on an occasion that is beginning to feel like a senior prom, and I didn't even like my senior prom.

What would you do? What kind of wedding would you plan? If you know me, what kind of wedding would you have pictured for me? Am I just suffering through bridal nerves, or should I try to change my plans?



This is the sort of thing that convinced rickj to elope.

For Heather and I, planning the wedding (and building a house) at the same time drove us mad, and the only solution was to elope.

While I am biased, let me throw this out - who is the wedding for? If it's become a nightmare that you just want to survive, maybe you should just bail and go to Vegas, or tell your parents and in-laws that you only want (picks a small number out of the air) 10ish people from each side.

If you want the whole schmear, with Here Comes The Bride and all the trimmings, then you may want to start delegating more responsibility to the people who are making you crazy.
Seems like there are three ways to handle this (or at least three that I can think of off the top of my head):

(1) Accept that you are in the whirlwind of a large wedding that is being planned for you, but mostly not with your money, and that it will be the wedding that makes the families happy, if not necessarily you. (This is largely what ended up happening in my case, even though Carlos and I paid for almost every dime of it. Somehow the planning just got away from me, and I ended up in a traditional, conservative Methodist wedding I had NEVER planned on. That small, outdoor, beach/mountain idea sounds more like my ideal, too.)

(2) Tell your families that you do want a wedding, but that what is being planned is not to your tastes. Stand up and say, "I'm very disappointed that you have insisted on inviting so many people, some of whom I don't even know, that I'm having to cut close friends off of my own list. Please cut your lists back some so that I can invite my friends." Say to them, "We would really like to have the wedding that we want to have because we only plan to do this once." (Also know that taking this option might result in some family member or other going into a huff and saying, "Fine, you pay for it then," and leaving you to plan "the wedding you want" on a tiny budget. But don't give up hope, it can be done! My entire wedding, honeymoon included, was less than $5000. Even if we got pressured into a conservative wedding, we did NOT get pressured into paying for things we did not want.)

(3) Do what Rick did and just bag the whole thing and get eloped, knowing that you may piss off some family but save yourself some headaches. After eloping, throw a nice, casual event for your friends to celebrate.

I can't tell you how much it frustrates me that so many people feel it is their right to interfere with the wedding plans of someone just because they are that someone's mother/father/family member/friend, and forget that this day is supposed to be a happy celebration of two people getting married, and that the feelings and wishes of those two people should be number one priority. (Talk to hangingfire sometime about how much this issue frustrates me, especially on her behalf.) And the excuse, "But we're paying for it," doesn't cut it for me. It's like giving someone a gift certificate, then telling them how they can spend it. If you offer to pay for someone's wedding, it isn't supposed to be a gift that comes with strings attached, other than whatever limit is set on the budget amount.

The flip side to all of this, however, is that you may find yourself having the wedding you don't want in order to keep peace or make others happy. And if you decided to do that, the easiest thing is probably to just let go of the whole thing and go along with it, while somehow finding a way to emotionally reconcile yourself to the wedding being "for them" and the marriage being the part that is "for you".

I'm sorry this is stressing you out. You deserve better. *hug*
I'm sorry this is stressing you out so much honey.

I know part of the problem is that you have a lot more people who you consider close friends than I do. Once I got my 10 or so people on the list, I felt like all the pressure was off.

I'm sorry that I haven't been more obviously sympathetic. I'll try and do better.

See, no matter what happens with the wedding, the MARRIAGE is obviously going to be great, and that's what really matters. (Man, did you hook a keeper.)
I dunno, MY reaction to Brandon's comment was a muffled cough-into-hand "suckup"....


But seriously, Nicole, life is too short to put up with pushy relatives. Tell 'em what YOU want and they can boil with the cabbages if they can't put up with it. Don't compromise your happiness.

("There, there, it'll be all right." <--the mantra of the bride's companion)

But you may also keep in mind that on yer wedding day, it's going to be so emotionally overwhelming that yer ability to distinguish among all the possibilities that seem so critical now will be diminished considerably.

Anyway, what really matters is joy, and we your friends will have great joy and send great joy and you and Brandon will sail away on an ocean of joy. Everything else is trivia.

*Hugs* I cannot say this strongly enough.

Do not in any way allow your family/friends/and future family to plan your wedding as their party. It's not. I really regret not having our wedding in Wyoming in spite of the threats of various grandparents to functionally kill themselves getting there. (hiking in from base camp or the not so subtle diabetics at altitude lectures.) And while I suspect some of that regret is tied to other parts of the wedding experience--I would hate for you to have any of it. I happen to know that your extended family has had a wedding cake recently and will be just fine without it, and your immediate family would rather be in the mountains than drinking silly punch. As for brandons parents-extended family-and pets? It's not their wedding either. If you and brandon want the big silly episcopal church wedding, that's fine. It's a lovely thing if a tad gregarious. However if what you really want is the solitude of a mountain/beach/sailing wedding-get that. Even the dreaded drive-through window wedding is better than the elaborate wedding if what you and your soon to be husband want is the drive-through. If you need space for friends at the event you can nix me and bekah from the "grand list" without hurting our feelings-provided you take a few pictures (arming guests with throw away cameras counts) and you are willing to gush about it post-mortem :)

I'd love to answer brandon's family bruising comment but as I don't know the mailing addresses for the bruised I'll just think scornful thoughts about how could anyone possibly be hurt by not being invited to a wedding? It's 2 people, solemn vows, and some witnesses--not a popularity contest, nor a mark of how much those two people love a non-vow-taker. Not being invited to a wedding means you aren't the bride, groom, priest/officiant or caterer. That's about it.

If there's anything I can do to help, let me know. Take care and stay sane.
Oh man sweetheart. Take a break for a few moments. Take a break... and let me tell you about the background of my 300-people-invited wedding.

My parents started off saying- look it's a wedding. We got married in the church, had the 75 people who showed for cake in the churches gym and it was very low key and fun. I wailed- But NOBODY gets married and has the reception at the church. I spent months... months combing every bridal piece of literature that crossed my path. I went to bridal shows... I haunted dress shops. I became a very popular poster on theknot.com

I had to invite all these people- my mom had a list... Lisa had a list... everyone had a list. There were people getting invitations 2 weeks before the wedding. My first panic came when I realized I couldn't serve a meal. How could ANYONE get married and not serve a meal? Okay... got over that. Desserts. I just had to find the perfect place. Every place out there was too expensive or had insane restrictions. I drove Alan and my mom insane with the hundreds of places to choose from and nothing was right. I finally settled on the church when we realized how much the photographer was going to cost (photography and the dress were my *no compromises!* issues from the very very beginning) Fine. At the church... I can deal with that. We'll have a lavish banquet of desserts. We'll have dancing...

About halfway thorugh I had the same heart attack you seem to be having. Holy CRAP when did this get so out of hand? But I was on theknot and between them and my own insanity it had to be done! Can't IMAGINE not inviting my second cousins if Alan's second cousins were invited. We invited just over 325 people. You know exactly how many St. Stephens sits *Laughs* In fact I counted it a blessing that it was over a holiday weekend because I had NO idea how we could have invited so many people when we weren't guranteed a 50% turn down rate. Some lessons I learned... the most important things- looking back.

1)Hire the best DJ under the sun if you want to dance. Our DJ was FANTASTIC and I have never been so happy to pay a vendor for the services rendered.

2)Make sure there's enough seating for everyone.

3)Make sure the punch or drinks don't run out. (I could have killed my helpers... there were only 2 bowls of punch for 140 people... all but one glass was gone by the time Alan and I arrived after the pictures. Everyone was on water or coffee after that.)

4)Make sure there's at least one food that's fantastic- and make sure it's in quantity. The cake was blah (but it was cheap and easy) the cheesecake was okay... but people are still raving about the chocolate covered strawberries a year later. I think we could have just had a massive table of strawberries, one cheesecake and a small brides cake along with the assorted chocolates and no one would have complained. The reception was short... the dancing was fun and it was late enough that no one went hungry.

5)Get a fantastic photographer. If doesn't matter if you get married in a church gymnasium- a great photographer will make it look a hundred times better than you remember it being... and the film is all you'll have to remember it by.

6) Go as cheap as you can go on flowers- very few people remember them except in passing... and NO ONE remembered what our alter flowers were- the church is simply that fantastic. Professional arrangement is overkill when you have experienced quasi-florists in the family. The corrolary is that flowers are great in great numbers... and that online florists are a brides best friend.

7) Cut Great Aunt Matilda. Don't let ANYONE tell you she'll be offended. ~~~Screw Great Aunt Matilda~~~ if it's her or your friends. Friends are the heart and soul of a person... it's FAR more important to see the girl you baby sat, who's now one of your good friends giving you a huge thumbs up as you walk down the aisle.

That's what you remember hun. I remember walking down the aisle and wanting to cry. My friends- they were all there and grinning from ear to ear. I had friends fly in from Boston- and "close" family who couldn't bother to drive half an hour. The church was a blur- and St. Stephens is beautiful all on it's own. Really one of the most intimate and beautiful churches I've ever been in. If I couldn't get married on a mountain in Wyoming... that was it. People remember the food. They remember the music. They remember dancing. They remember laughing. As long as you have that- it's perfect. In Pecore Hall... in a firestation in the Heights (was considered) anywhere- as long as everyone can laugh and have fun. Nobody is going to pick your wedding apart... or if they do- they're never going to tell you to your face.

So cut back the parents lists. Understand that there WILL be a few no shows- and ask Brandons family to detail out who will likely be there and who won't... get your mom to tell you who the no shows on your side might be. Look at your list of friends and figgure out which, if any won't be able to attend. (We had about 15 of just our friends who were stuck in Iraq, New York, Canada etc) If you can't cut it down to 230- then send out 230 with RSVPs- and for every no you recieve- send out a new invite.

It feels a lot like senior prom. There's punch, a big dress, lots of who should be invited and who shouldn't. There's no right way to do it. I never dreamed of our wedding- I just didn't. (well until 3 months before the wedding when I could dream of nothing else but wedding nightmares) and it was perfect. It wasn't what I would have picked first off- but Nicole- it's really one of the happiest days of my life. From the moment I arrived at the church (15 min late!) and they started shoving me into that dress- I was on cloud nine and there wasn't a disaster that could have made it even the slightest bit less happy.

My grandparents (mom's parents) walked out after starting a rumor I was pregnant and it was a shotgun wedding... The punch ran out... my feet started blistering in the church and I literally coudln't walk by the end of the night... the hymns in the program were wrong... Alice tried to give Alan my ring in the ceremony... No one respected my wishes that the presents be at the back of the reception and so I have pictures of wedding presents everywhere... the photographer caught the god awful gray door in all of our cake cutting pictures... my mom shoved roses into the cake instead of setting rose petals on top (Gross! They cut around it)... the candles were a disaster and melted all over the place (dripless my ass!)... I was late to my own bloody wedding... the DJ wasn't paid (I had to drive BACK to the reception to cut him a check)... and to top it all off- my mother in law died the week before.

NOTHING can make it any less perfect for you when you consider the sheer amount of happiness that getting married creates. What kind of wedding? Follow your heart. If it feels wrong- then it feels wrong. Cut it back, change your ideas, rethink it... You don't have to spend a fortune on it if you don't want to... but there's no wrong way to have a wedding (well... I was never a fan of my sisters halloween dress up idea... or of weddings involving a shot gun... but that's nitpicking)

But remember that none if this is going to matter... not even a moment once that dress goes over your head and you're waiting at the end of the aisle. It's okay. It's going to be okay. I promise... and I don't break promises :)
Continued *points* Down there.
Should also mention I hadn't read any of the other replaies before I started writing a mile a moment. Sorry for the book *Laughs*
On the DJ front: You should consider hiring Denise Krause. She DJ'd my wedding, she DJ'd Bobbin and Bill's wedding (at St. Stephens no less), and is just so fabulous and relaxing to work with. She'll be the most stress-free decision you make, if you decide you want a DJ. And unlike many DJ's, she's happy to get a stack of CDs from you that say, "Play this at this point, then this at this point," etc. She makes it very, very easy.
N in azaleas

September 2009

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