Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Compromises that Matter - It's not MY Special Day

I want to preface this post by saying that I am not a fan of violence and would not generally advocate for its uses. However, that being said, I've increasingly found myself trying not to deck anyone or throw the closest heavy object whenever I hear someone say "It's your wedding, you can do whatever you want" or when insipid reality show bride caricatures start blathering on about "My Special Daaaaay."

Because you know what, this is wedding is nothing close to being My Special Day. In fact, if I could plan an ideal perfect completely selfish special day, it would have nothing to do with weddings whatsoever and would involve me, Jason, a South American beach at sunset, a bonfire shared with other world travelers and locals, and an escape to a hidden-gem romantic restaurant when the night gets a little too chilly.  My wedding, on the other hand, apparently has very little to do with me and my selfish desires.  It turns out that I need to account for Jason's desires too (though so many wedding planning resources seem to ignore that fact), and Jason has always wanted a larger, fancier wedding.  It also turns out that your party will be pretty lame if you don't make efforts to accommodate guests' needs. The same way I wouldn't invite a vegetarian friend to a barbecue and then not provide any vegetarian options, I wouldn't invite people to my wedding but not account for their comfort and convenience with respect to travel, weather, food, timing, and day-of transportation.  It also turns out that the same way I agonize over dinner party invitations (but if we invite Jim and Jane we need to invite Bob and Brenda, because they'll hear about it and get slighted) I agonize of guest lists (multiplied to the nth degree of stress and import, of course.)    

In other words, it turns out that I'm hosting a very large celebratory party with another person and with our families and their pressures, and so his needs, parents' needs, and our guests' needs have taken this wedding in a direction that doesn't remotely fall under the category "My [Selfishly] Special [Me Me Me Princess] Day."

Of COURSE it's going to be an incredibly special day - I wouldn't bother with any of this stress otherwise. But it's not going to be special because it's a me-and-Jason fest filled with cute mementos of our past and lovingly crafted personalized details.  If I wanted that, I'd hang out in my apartment with all our photos and art projects. Instead, I want to SHARE the day with our nearest and dearest, and it's the sharing that's going to make it special.  And it's the honesty that we find together in the middle of the maelstrom that we'll hold with us for the rest of our lives. 

Our nearest and dearest include 150 people.  This is non-negotiable.  In fact, this number has already been negotiated (honestly, it wouldn't be hard to invite 200.)  This number is higher than any accounting on a Perfect Special Day assessment of my wedding, but I wouldn't dream of getting married without our family and friends surrounding us.  Other people may have more leeway on their guest lists.  We do not.  It's either 60 family members (doesn't feel special to me) or 150 friends and family (feels pretty darn special, but not nearly as much mine.)

The backyard wedding was my dream approach to a wedding, with a retreat/campsite with nice cabins coming in close second.  Unfortunately, neither of these are Jason's dream.  His dream would be something more big-party traditional with an incredible DJ, interesting food, and fabulous table decor.  Our mothers are mostly worried about access for our grandmothers, air conditioning/heating, whether there will be enough food and wine, and whether it will be nice enough.  We're meeting in the middle.  We're finding ways to love that middle and ways to all let go of the parts that are impossible.  Because the specialness is in the compromise and in the sharing and not in the misguided belief that it's My Special Day.

The next time I hear that phrase, I'm honestly decking someone.

24 comments:

  1. Yep! It's about priorities--you are willing to give up your "dream wedding" because making the people you love comfortable is more important to you. Makes sense to me.

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  2. You seem like you have your head in a good place. Like you, I'm having a bigger, more formal wedding than I wanted because it's really important to the Boy. We're capping the list at 100 because I know any more than that will have me hiding in the house (hate crowds). It's all about compromise.

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  3. I have nothing to say except "yes, me too!" Because this is exactly how I felt. My ideal might have been more along the lines of brunch for 50, or a tiny destination wedding somewhere like Italy, but that wasn't my husband's ideal, and it wasn't his family's ideal either. (My family was pretty low-key; the only thing my mom seemed to care about was that we not do a buffet. I had no idea she hated buffets so much, but there you have it.)

    Personally, I couldn't help but deduct mental points from any vendor whose website used the words "your special day." Blech.

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  4. @petitechablis - My mother hates buffets too, and it surprised me considerably. I told her I'd personally help with the older folks' meals so they don't need to stand in line and I pointed out the cost difference between serving staff and buffet staff, and she grumpily came around (or at least, she stopped complaining.) Since I'm paying, this is one place where my desires/budget trump her hatred of buffets.

    And I agree about the vendors too. Ick.

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  5. i am so with you on this one. i hate, hate, hate when people say that to me. everytime i express concern about making sure a guest is going to have fun, etc., there's one person in particular who feels the need to say, "you're the bride. i don't want to hear that talk from you. it's your day."
    ugh! how self-absorbed! i have to stop caring about other people having fun or enjoying the food i pick out, because it's all about me? so obnoxious. if it were up to me, the best day ever would also involve me and the boy on the beach or on a beautiful hike. this is a party, and the only way i'm having fun at a party is if other people are too.

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  6. Hell yes, and well said! I think realizing that it isn't your special day takes some of the pressure off, too.

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  7. I agree. How can it be your day when you have to host dozens of other people? If are the host, then it is about your guests, not you. Maybe it is your special day if someone else is organizing or hosting (your parents or a planner) but if you are making people travel to come see you, it is about making them comfortable. Hopefully, you have fun in the process.

    The compromising is healthy and a good primer for marriage. That's what living with someone is all about and I suspect it will only get more so once you have children, hunt for a house, etc.

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  8. I think there's a huge misunderstanding where "my special day" means that it is at the exclusion of others. If you are doing this dance then your guests are a part of making this day special. And not taking them into account is just wrong. So much goes into the planning of a wedding, each of us including the details that are meaningful to us, and the sum of those details makes up our special day. Why anyone would assume that the guests are not one those "details" is beyond me.

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  9. i'm so with u! i felt the same way when planning the wedding. i really cared most about making other people happy. that, in turn, made me happy. it was a wonderful day but certainly not all about me.

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  10. Hi ALAL, first time peeking around. I wanted to thank you for the kind words you posted on my blog regarding the loss of my beloved Gus - it was so sweet :-/

    Also, you made me crack a smile in the face of my extreme, body-aching misery. So thank you for that, too.

    I couldn't agree more. I don't feel like our wedding is "my special day" at all - in fact I am struggling to feel some kind of connection to it at all. Flower arrangements? $5000 photographer (and that's "cheap")? Dirty looks when I mention I want to somehow include our dog? And if one more person tries to convince me why I must change my last name, instead of letting me make that choice and accept it - well, I might follow you on the whole decking 'em thing.

    Thank you for letting me vent and for making me not think about Gus for a few minutes!

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  11. I know this is a pretty divided subject, but I'm with you. The wedding is mostly about the family. My best solution is to enjoy yourself anyways. D and I have a thing where, no matter how ridiculous a situation gets, or how angry I am in the moment, we try to see the funny side. So we'll say to each other "This whole thing is going to be so hilarious in a couple months/years/decades". I don't know if that would help anyone else, but it always makes me feel better and take things less seriously.

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  12. I'm so over "my special day" that and being told that as I'm the bride it is all about me and I'm the most important person - err I thought marriage was about two people so why is the wedding all about me?

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  13. For the record... I don't think anyone was saying that to you yesterday, at all. But I think you know that :)

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  14. It is so hard to have a singular special day. Bc in fact its not just one person's day but a series of many people who are involved. which is exactly as you state... compromises.

    i also don't like the "do whatever you want" b/c i think you should think about the others around you... especially those helping to throw your party or who are being attendants. that ain't cheap and to expect someone to drop 300 on a dress if you know they can't afford it is unreasonable in my mind... but then again... that's not MY special day... it's hers LOL So C'est la vie. To each their own.

    i'm sorry you aren't getting YOUR special day, but i thnk you realize you have so many special days with your future hubby - that ultimately, THAT is what really matters!

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  15. @Meg I definitely knew that :). And the 180 degree(ish) tone shift from yesterday's post is part of my process of coming to terms with whats really important here.

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  16. @Rachel re: "My best solution is to enjoy yourself anyways." That's how we generally approach things too, yet somehow I managed to forget for a moment. Silly wedding. Thanks for the reminder.

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  17. i couldn't agree with you more. while planning our wedding so many vendors have asked me what i've wanted and some have joked about disregarding the groom and i correct them that it is his wedding too, and he has opinions as well. we're making our way through it together because it's not just my day, it's our day. that and we've got a lot of people to accommodate, haha.

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  18. I've wanted to write a post like this forever, but can't do it without sounding like a b*tch. I HATE HATE HATE the "Cult of Bride" and the it's my day philosophy. My new response is: It's your day, but it's your guests' night. And if they decide to leave early or not show up at all because you're thinking of your own needs before theirs, you were setting yourself up for it.

    Oh, and I hate how it's seen like some kind of tragedy when a bride can't do something her way but instead has to yield to someone else's needs. We see compromise as essential in all other areas of life, so why not here?

    Great post.

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  19. Just wanted to add that I totally agree that it's important to consider the comfort and convenience of your guests...which therefore makes it not all about you. I don't think enough brides/grooms do this in the planning of most weddings...what will make my day special, is that my guests are enjoying themselves and us and want to stay right up until the last possible minute. We'll see what happens :)

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  20. You said, "And it's the honesty we find together in the middle of the maelstrom that we'll hold with us for the rest of our lives." And that hit it home, for me.

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  21. It was a while ago for me, but I vividly remember the push and pull between wanting a small, intimate wedding and the fact that we both have large families. Mine took up almost half the guest list, then Andrew's family. After adding our friends,we wound up with 250 people and a big, fat, Greek Wedding. "Our Special Day" is a total misnomer..it was about us throwing a big party to celebrate *with* everyone. In short, preach it sister!

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  22. Yep, you've nailed it again. I'd love a 75-person wedding, but it wasn't in the cards for us. It's about TWO people, at minimum, plus their families...xo

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  23. One thing I have learnt in this whole wedding planning process is to pick my battles. I quickly discovered that this wedding wasn't about me, it wasn't even about us. It had become this 'thing' which I wasn't even sure I liked any more.

    All the ideas we had were being shot to the ground and other people were taking over. The wedding we had in mind, wasn't the wedding they had in mind, so clearly we were wrong.

    Part of me knows that deep down whilst I find it all so frustrating the day will be great, because I'm marrying my guy and that's what keeps me sane through it all!

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  24. I so feel you on this post. We are still dealing with wedding fall out. You really can't please everyone. Just do what the two of you want. Because it really is about the two of you sharing your love with those special to you. That's it.

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