After Tuesday's amazing "It's Almost All Small Stuff" post, I received an email from A Cupcake Wedding that raises really important concerns and realities about that flip side:
As someone not sweating many of the details, let me add that you have to be prepared to brace yourself for when other people comment on that inattention to detail. For example, some guests invited themselves at the last minute, so we told them to come. Now they are fussing that they didn't receive our printed invitations. No shit, I want to tell them, because you weren't actually invited. People are also fussing that I want to serve my guests our own cake, fussing because I don't want to save cake for a year, fussing because we are getting married in a park.
I think we get so absorbed in these blogs to the point where we really believe that all that matters is the love. And I do believe that. But remember that your Great Aunt Norma might not. For her, its about the invitations and the pearl necklaces and the formal first dance.
You have to be really strong to stand up to your entire clan and say I want to do things my way.
I think we all are this strong, but it is not easy, and sometimes it feels very hurtful. Hurtful because you are hurting the elders' feelings. They expect things a certain way and think you are rebelling against what they taught you. And hurtful because you wish people would realize it is all about the love, so who cares if I didn't rent formal china for 100 people to eat from and do you have to scowl like that every time I tell you about my unusual wedding?
It's one of those emails where I wish I had some great advice to make it all go away. Or where I could wave my magical wedding wand and get everyone to look past their own preconceptions about what a wedding is and isn't and towards the love and joy at the heart of it all. But there isn't any advice that can make it go away. You can find ways to manage the arguments, but many of us have a Great Aunt Norma muttering in the background and wreaking havoc on our emotional equilibrium. And, not only is she wreaking havoc because her words are hurtful, but also because we love her and want her to love our wedding plans as much as we do. We want her to love us for us and not just because of bloodlines and habit. She's important and our wedding is important and it's so heart-wrenchingly awful when our loved ones don't respect and value the wedding choices that are so meaningful to us and our true selves.
But I don't think there's a completely satisfactory answer for that besides picking our battles and relying on our strength. Cupcake Wedding said "I think we are all this strong, but it's not easy." I'd actually amend that to say: I know we are all this strong. In fact, I think the wedding helps make us this strong, and working through the hurt is part of what makes this wedding planning process worthwhile.
If you'd given me a choice a year ago between an engagement period punctuated with familial challenges, hurt feelings, and midnight tears of frustrations versus an engagement period supported by parents who handed over a blank check and world with no judgment whatsoever, door number two would have been the obvious choice. But now, after nearly a year of managing the complications of an imperfect reality, I'd choose these complications, hurtful conversations, and mini-heartbreaks. Because somehow, via this complicated engagement journey, we've ended up closer to being married than ever before. At this point, marriage really is just a piece of paper and the wedding has become a chance to publicly bless what has already privately happened. Because we've had to become strong together in order to manage the challenges of wedding planning in a way that we never needed before. Yes, life had already thrown us a few curveballs and yes, we'd already learned to rely on each other to make it through. But, somehow, there was a subtle shift that came with the engagement as we said Yes to a life together and then learned how to jointly say No to everyone else's expectations about that life.
No, none of this is easy. But it's worth it, and perhaps that's something even more important. And it's something that keeps us strong when Great Aunt Norma rants about pearls and missing details and tradition. And it's how we'll overlook any hurtful comments that attempt to mar our wedding day as we cling to the joint definitions of meaning and joy that we've developed together during the engagement. It's how we know, in our core, that this is really about love and nothing else.