This weekend, I am thrilled to be attending the wedding of a dear friend (so dear in fact that she officiated my ceremony, and I wrote hers). I used to be less thrilled about weddings and all their trappings, due in part to my 1. then-inability to wrap my head around marriage, 2. resentment of anything that took me out of the lab for more than an hour (selfish much?), and 3. hatred of consumer culture. While I still detest excessive consuming that the wedding industrial complex promotes, I’ve come a long way from my old views. Now, with my own wedding well behind me, I am a far more supportive friend and wedding guest than I was before.
If you love your friends but currently dislike attending their weddings, here are a few perspective points to help you cut your bride- or groom-to-be friends some slack.
If you are invited, take it as a compliment, not an obligation. People fret greatly over who they should invite to their wedding. Having more guests is expensive, so in general people are not dolling out invitations willy nilly. If you are invited, it’s very likely you are dearly important to the bride and/or groom, so you should feel honored that you were included on the invite list.
The bride and groom might not mind at all if you decline to attend. For one, it significantly reduces the cost of the wedding. For another, having a sulky friend or relative in the corner giving off neggy vibes is no good. If you cannot afford/just do not want to go, make up a polite excuse and decline the invitation. But try to at least send a card, because that’s just a really nice thing to do.
Wedding planning is stressful, in part because it amplifies existing problems. In the wise words of wedding guru Meg Keene, “weddings have a way of bringing ‘the way we wish things were’ into conflict with ‘the way things are.’” Family drama, financial trouble, toxic friendships, unsupportive environments... you name it. All of these things seem to feed off of your dwindling patience as your wedding approaches, and thoughtless comments from friends can cause disproportionate angst.
When pleasing loved ones is the couple's priority, having no wedding at all can get them in just as much – or more – hot water than the perceived inconvenience of asking folks to attend one. If at this point in the post you are still thinking, “whatever, I have no sympathy for wedding-planning people... no one made them have a wedding,” I will just say this: I have seen people either elope or go to City Hall. In both cases, this has offended, saddened, and even enraged loved ones who expected to be included in the marriage celebration. You seriously can’t win by just avoiding a wedding.
If you do attend a wedding, try to leave your expectations at the door and go with whatever the hosts have (or don’t have) planned. Weddings come in all shapes and sizes. While most couples do their best to make sure the weather, food, ambiance, etc. will be conducive to their guests’ enjoyment, resources and nature sometimes get in the way. Try not to be upset if you get wet from some rain, are unable to indulge in a non-vegan-friendly buffet, or do not get served alcohol. A wedding is a ginormous effing party, and there is simply no way to make everyone happy. If you happen to be one of the ones whose enjoyment was compromised, don’t take it personally. Hosts cannot accommodate everyone, no matter how much they may want to. This does not make them rude, and it does not mean they love you any less.
Notice that I referred several times to posts from A Practical Wedding? That, friends, is a fabulous site. Head on over for all the wedding related goodness you could ask for.
Above photo by Lauren Shipp