Unless you plan to elope secretly in the dark of night, or have planned a small intimate wedding, you may soon find your wedding plans escalating out of control. This one-sentence wedding mantra may be helpful. Recite it to yourselves in those moments when everyone about you seems to be going crazy with the planning details: The point of the wedding is to celebrate our love and make a public commitment to each other for life. Everything else is extra.
— from Wonderful Marriage, by Lilo and Gerard Leeds
This is long, self-involved, and wedding-related. You’ve been warned.
As most of you know, David and I got engaged just before Christmas. Individually, before we got engaged, both of my parents told me individually that they would pay for our wedding. Once we got engaged, the battles started almost immediately between my mother and me.
She is, to put it mildly, pretty old-fashioned when it comes to weddings and other kinds of events. Or, more accurately, she has a distinct idea of what is “appropriate” and what is not. Our first trip to my parents after our engagement, my mother said to us, “I think this should be a collaborative event. I think we [meaning her, my dad, David, and me] need to collectively figure out what kind of wedding we want and go from there.” My dad said, “Um, I think Melanie and David need to figure out what kind of wedding they want, and then we can go from there.” My mother was not deterred.
In January, David and I sent my parents a guest list with 181 people on it. This included all of David’s family, all of my family that I know and am close to (my mom’s side is huge, and I included my grandparents, my 5 aunts and uncles (plus their spouses), and all of my cousins and their families – a total of 22 people), David’s and my friends, and some family friends that I am close to. I knew my parents would want to add some people that I had forgotten or overlooked, and David and I thought we’d end up with a list somewhere in the neighborhood of 200.
Late in January, David and I went up to my parents for the weekend to look at venues. We saw a ceremony venue and a reception location that we really liked, but we didn’t make any decisions. When we got back to my parents house, we started talking about the guest list. My mom gave me a list of people to add, and then as we were discussing it, more and more people were added. In the end, the guest list ballooned to 265 people. She added people I have never met, and cousins of hers whose married last names she can’t even remember. David and I protested, but she said, “It’s important to them [the cousins] to stay close to their family.” Well, if it’s so effing important, why have I not seen them since I was 6, and why don’t you know their names?
Anyway, David and I were up for hours that night, talking about how much this was not what we wanted. He does not like to be the center of attention; if he had his way, we’d elope, but he knows I really want a wedding. He was very, very upset, and I felt like things were completely out of control.
The next morning, I went downstairs to talk to my parents by myself (David knew). I felt like I had to talk to them as their daughter, you know? I said, “You keep saying we need to figure out what we want, but I feel like we keep telling you what we want, but you’re not listening.” My mom asked what the difference was between being the center of attention of 180 people versus 265. I said, “David has literally met everyone on the 180-person list. It’s a big difference.” Then she said, in response to my complaints that she added people we have never met, “I haven’t looked closely at the list you and David sent, but I’m sure there are friends of yours on there that your father and I have never met.” I said, “Yes, but it’s OUR wedding.” She said, and I’m not kidding, “Stop saying that.”
She finally left the room and I said to my dad, “Would you be hurt if we just paid for the wedding ourselves?” He said, “It’s not about the money.” I said, “I know, but if we pay for it ourselves, we can have the wedding we want.” He said, “Why don’t you plan the wedding you want and we will still pay for it?” I said, “Obviously we can’t do that – she is not letting that happen.” We were so frustrated. We left it at my parents agreeing to look at the guest list and try to make cuts.
The following Tuesday, I called my mom and told her that David and I had settled on the ceremony and reception locations we wanted and asked her to take care of booking them and paying the deposit. She agreed. When I called later in the week to follow up, she told me she had booked the date with the ceremony location and had contacted the reception venue and they would hold the date for us, “and if anyone else wants that date they will call us before they give the date away.” I said, “Why don’t you just pay the lady her money so she doesn’t give our date away?” She said, “They’re holding the date for us, don’t worry, I just want to look at some other places.” I explained to her that that was not what we agreed on the phone on Tuesday and that I felt she was trying to do an end around what David and I chose because she’s not 100% satisfied with the reception location. She insisted everything would be fine. To this day, she has still not signed a contract with the venue, and she still has not looked at any other places.
I went shopping with my bridesmaids a few weekends ago and they found two dresses they really loved that looked good on all of them (strapless). I sent the links to my mom to ask her thoughts; she said she liked one more than the other, and I agreed. I thought we were golden. Later, she said, “I want you to ask them to have straps added to the dresses, at least for the ceremony. I don’t think strapless is appropriate.” I told her I had no problem with the strapless dresses and that I was not comfortable asking my bridesmaids to have straps added to accomodate my mother. We still have not settled this, and I’m currently back to the drawing board on their dresses.
I bought shoes months ago that I want to wear with my dress. (If we’re FB friends, you’ve probably seen them; if not, here they are:
So hot, right? Our wedding colors are this color pink and dark orange, and I thought these shoes would be a fun way to add to that.) When I first showed the picture to my mom, she just rolled her eyes and said, “That’s not appropriate.” I let it go. This weekend, after we bought my dress (!), we were sitting in the bridal salon waiting for our contract and she said, “Melanie, you are NOT wearing those shoes.” I tried to find some common ground – “Would you be more amenable to my pink shoes if they were in a fabric other than suede?” “No. It’s not appropriate.” I dropped it. But I’m pissed. I’m 34 years old, I don’t need anyone’s permission to wear whatever shoes I want whenever I damn well want to, especially not on my wedding day.
David and I ordered save the date magnets shortly after my parents booked the ceremony location and our date was set. I told my mother we were going to do it. Since it’s, you know, OUR wedding, I put our return address on the envelopes we ordered. When I told my mom, she said, “These are the kind of things we need to talk about. I didn’t know you were going to order them.” I reminded her that I told her we were going to do it. She said, “Your father and I are hosting; if save the dates are sent, they should come from us.” I said, “You can send the invitations, but the save the dates are D and me asking the people we are closest to to save the date for OUR wedding.” She wasn’t budging. I offered an olive branch, saying I could order new envelopes for the save the dates with my parents return address on them, and David and I could use the ones we have for thank you notes or something. She just sighed and said, “I’ll think about it.” She also thinks save the dates are stupid. I explained that David really thinks that they’re neat, and it’s one of the few things he has an opinion on, so we’re sending them. She’s not happy. “No one on my side needs one.”
Finally, last week, I sent my parents an updated guest list that contained some cuts my mom gave me the week before. I explained that the list was down to 225, which was a good start, but that David and I wanted a list of approximately 180-190 people, and that we felt we’d already cut everyone we could. I asked my parents to look critically at the guest list and to please make some cuts. I have not seen a revised guest list.
If you’ve read all of this, I appreciate it. I am at the end of my patience with her. I keep reminding myself to choose my battles, but I feel like she is fighting me on everything. I know she wants to be a good hostess, but as someone said to me elsewhere when I was venting over this, if I were throwing my parents an anniversary party and I invited a ton of my friends that my parents didn’t know and tried to insist on all the things I like instead of focusing on what would make my parents happy, I would be a shitty hostess.
I know she wants to include people that are important to her, but is it too much to ask that I have at least met/seen these people in the last, say, 5 years? Can’t some of these people make do with wedding announcements after the fact? I hate the idea that people David and I do not know are going to get an invitation and feel obligated to send a gift even though they would never dream of coming to the wedding. It makes us very uncomforable, but no matter how many times we say that this is not what we want, she does not budge.
I don’t know what to do anymore, and I still have 6 months and a lot of planning left.