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.