Wedding Pushback

16 Feb

Letterbalm Bridal BouquetDear LetterBalm: My fiancé and I are planning a winter wedding for next January. We’re both young and don’t have much money. We knew our families would have to help us financially and have some say in the wedding I’ve wanted since I was a little girl. But everybody is jumping in with unreasonable demands. My mother is insisting on a big band, we want a small classical ensemble for the ceremony and a DJ for the reception. I’ve been told to wear my cousin’s wedding veil (she’s close to me in age, but we have different tastes). My future mother-in-law wants her style of fancy table flowers and guest favors and a huge, elaborate cake and black-tie. And, everybody is telling us who should be in the wedding party – way too many people. My fiancé and I don’t want to start off our married life on the wrong foot by make both families angry. But we have to stop this.

–Hijacked Bride

If a bride and groom are able to emerge emotionally unscathed from their wedding, they should join their nation’s diplomatic corps. You and your fiancé are in the middle of a nuptial maelstrom. If, as you correctly understand, you don’t calm the situation down, your married life might become a living hell. Ms. L.B. is going to suggest something you may not want to hear. You and your fiancé may have to be the grownups here, putting the day in perspective and downsizing your plans. Consider prioritizing and paying for as much as you can yourselves – hand-written invitations, seasonal flowers, a small ceremony with champagne and cake afterward, a large reception at a later date. This takes the onus off others and puts it squarely on you and your fiancé. No one can order you around if you’re paying for everything. You and your fiancé might think about conveying this to the assembled masses of family during a sit-down in which you both remain calm and lay out your strategy. Be sure, however, of what you want:

Families, we appreciate all your suggestions for the wedding day. We know you’re as excited about it as we are. But we must tell you that things have gotten out of hand. The plans are far from what we envisioned and far from what we want to say as a couple committing to each other. We feel strongly that our wedding day must be authentic and must reflect our love. So we’ve talked about it and decided to pay for everything ourselves. We’re staying with the wedding party we originally wanted and will plan a simple, elegant ceremony with family and close friends in the church, probably no more than 25 or 30 people. Friends have generously volunteered their lovely townhouse for a reception with champagne, hors d’oeuves and wedding cake. We’ll have a classical music ensemble, too. When we can afford it, we’ll have a big reception. You know we love you all very much and want you there to celebrate our wedding day.

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