With several friends getting married soon, I thought I’d dispense some wisdom:
Your wedding is not really about you. It’s easy to get the misconception that it is, what with your name on the invitations and all. Ha! You will spend far more wedding-related time staying up late trying to figure out how to do a vegan/kosher/Atkins menu, or how to tactfully arrange tables so that Crazy Uncle Melvin is on the other side of the room from Belligerent Cousin Bertha than you ever will staring lovingly into each others’ eyes, or joyously smelling your bouquet, or doing any of the things wedding photos would lead you to believe weddings are about. If you think your wedding is about people fawning over you, you’ll go crazy. It’s not. It’s about you accommodating them.
Caveat: as a friend who wisely guided me through my wedding said, “Your wedding is not about you. But you know what is? The fucking MARRIAGE.”
You will notice a world of difference between people who have planned a wedding and people who have not. Guests who have planned weddings are impossible to offend. They know what you’re up against. You need to sit them at the kids’ table in the back of the back, between the kitchen and the bathrooms? They’re sure you had a good reason. People who have not planned weddings, however, are another story. They don’t RSVP by the deadline, they tell you at the last minute that they have 8 +1s flying in from Hawaii. If they do not receive an invitation, they fail to take the hint and ask if they can attend anyway.
Before my own wedding, I was not guilty of anything this egregious, but I understand the general reasons behind it. For guests, the reception feels more like a party than anything else, so people tend to treat it like a regular Friday night gathering. While it would be fine to be flaky about your attendance to pizza-and-wine night at my house, you cause a world of pain when you’re flaky about wedding attendance. We need to know if someone is coming so we can write the seating chart, pay the caterer, and pay the venue. Plus, if I pay the caterer for your food and you don’t show up, I’m just going to resent you every time I see you. Me paying the caterer $100 for your food because you couldn’t get your act together to tell me you couldn’t make my wedding = way more enmity than if you skip pizza night and I end up with some extra pizza in the fridge.
You/your future spouse/random family members will have strong feelings about how things should go, and these feelings are not logic based. A sage whose name escapes me once said, “It’s impossible to reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into in the first place.” Getting married results in all kinds of unconscious behavior from normally civilized people. They may have seen Father of the Bride Part I at age 8, and noted that the bride had blue flowers. Therefore, damnit, they will have blue flowers. They may get ideas from caveman notions buried deep in their brain stem. I recall a ridiculous conversation with my mother about washable china plates vs. bamboo plates. The bamboo plates would have been much easier on the budget, but my normally frugal mother kept repeating, “Your wedding cannot look CHEAP!” I pointed out that all our friends are hippies who would never notice plates, that the bamboo would keep us within budget but that the china would put us over, that the bamboo would go with the MidSummer Night’s Dream wedding theme, but all to no avail. My wedding could not look CHEAP.
If such desires can be easily accommodated, I say go for it, even if they’re a little crazy/unnecessary. I also think that the person making the wacky request should pay for it, if possible.
If they cannot, it’s best to make that plain as quickly as possible, and then to make it clear that the matter is closed. United fronts are great for this, and for heaven’s sake, be as classy as possible. Weddings are like family Thanksgivings, only worse. The entire family is densely packed in a room, with rivalries, tensions, and all that fun stuff. Your grandmother may forgive you for not getting married in the religious ceremony of her choice, but she will probably take much longer to get over it if you explain your decision in a heated argument replete with tears and curse words.
If it’s your desire that gets passed over, please get over it as soon as possible. This is really for your own sake as much as anyone else’s. I was once at a wedding where the mother of the groom visibly moped throughout the reception. The bad vibes were palpable. It got to the point where guests discretely asked if something was wrong, only to be told that she was upset because her decorating suggestions had not been adhered to. You don’t want to be that person.
To avoid hurt feelings, it’s helpful to have a rule, even if this rule is totally arbitrary. This can be something like “I picked bridesmaids who live nearby” or “I wasn’t able to invite anyone from job X”. People like it when decisions don’t feel personal.