It was early in the planning process – like way too early, we’re talking maybe a month after he proposed – when I questioned myself on whether or not I was being a “Bridezilla”.
First of all – can we finally banish the whole “Bridezilla” title? A bride is not a malicious creature with fangs and claws who eats people and climbs buildings like a squirrel. This is the equivalent to calling any woman with an opinion “too bossy” or “too loud” – it’s 2020, you should be allowed to have a specific opinion about your own wedding.
Unless your opinion is…. a little bit…. too….. hmm. Okay – unless your opinion makes your level-headed fiancé say – “Seriously. You want to build a deck so that we can get married on the beach and you don’t have to walk in the sand. Seriously?” Any comment that begins and ends with “Seriously. Seriously?” means you might have gone too far. Reign it back. Just a touch.
The deck thing came later. (I mean – I wasn’t actually implying that we should build a deck, I believe my exact words were: “Maybe they can lay down some wood? But, like, maybe the wood could be like, an inch or two off the ground, you know?”) Anywho – that one came after we’d already decided that we would get married in California. Initially we had planned to get married in Chicago, where we met (and live now).
Chicago wedding planning was very different from California wedding planning. First of all, the weather plays a huge factor in the midwest (we wanted to get married in October, which in Chicago means “cold and rainy” season), and we wanted it to be ‘different’. Not weird different – we just didn’t want to host our reception at a golf course, a country club or a barn.
So I said – “What about the Chicago Athletic association?” — which I realize sounds like I’m saying “Why don’t we just get married down at the YMCA?” – but trust me, this was not the YMCA. The Athletic Association is considered a “Venetian Gothic” historic landmark in downtown Chicago, established in 1893. And it’s BEAUTIFUL. I don’t normally get jazzed about buildings that also have basketball courts in them, but this one is special.
It was also way over our budget. Not even the real budget – the fake one that I’d said we could do if we “started eating at home for every meal from now until the wedding” and “don’t spend money on anything that isn’t wedding related.” Also, a lot of cheap dinners. No more organic produce, only the cheap pesticide-riddled stuff for us.
“Jenn, can’t we find another venue?” Kyle asked me. Like he had suggested that we actually get married at the YMCA.
“But this is perfect!” I forced the pretty images open on my laptop of marble staircases and black and white checkered floors in front of him. “Look! We could take pictures here – and look,” I pointed to the elegant, grand staircase. “Look at the entrance I could have!” I was imagining myself in a grand ballgown, full-blown Meghan Markle style, slowly descending down the staircase while an orchestra played. (I don’t know where I thought we’d get the money for a “grand ballgown” and an orchestra, considering we’d be skimping just to afford the venue…. but in a world where I could afford that venue, I could find a way.)
“But it’s way over our budget.” He pointed out. “And why do you want to get married some place that has an indoor basketball court….?” He clearly wasn’t seeing my staircase vision with the ballgown. “We’ll find something else.” He kissed my forehead, dismissing the idea. “Just keep looking.”
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t devastated. You’d have thought I’d been dreaming of getting married there for my entire life, and not just for the past ten minutes of it. Why couldn’t I get married there? Why couldn’t I live out my staircase-ballgown-fantasy? Why didn’t my almost-soon-to-be-husband want the same fancy wedding that I wanted?
Answer: He did. He just didn’t want to sell his truck and start riding a bicycle to work in order to have it. And he didn’t want me to have to do that either.
Planning a wedding can feel like a million voices in your head all talking at once, and then on top of that are the outside voices who want to politely (or sometimes not so politely) offer their opinion. And then you feel like maybe you should compromise, but you just got all of the voices in your head to agree on something – and now this outside person wants to come in and tell you to consider something different? Ugh.
Who gets an opinion? Who doesn’t? Where do we draw the line on marble staircases? This post won’t have all of the answers, but at least it might keep you out of therapy.
“My partner doesn’t seem interested in the wedding planning. How can I make sure he gets a say in the wedding ?”
I hate to break it to you – but he’s not going to be interested in picking out your bridesmaids’ dresses, or your flowers, or the colors of the tablecloths. If it had been up to Kyle, we would have gotten our tablecloths at Party City and called it a day. Ask for his help on an aspect that he can get excited about – like the food, or the alcohol, or the music. Or ask him how he would like to help, don’t just assume he’ll want to take over the DJ hunt. Some guys want to be in charge of the food. Some guys are comfortable figuring out the logistics of transportation. Whatever it may be – the best way to get your guy involved in so to straight up ask for his help and then, between the two of you, figure out how best he can help you. (Keep in mind that planning a wedding together is kind of like your first ‘test’ as a married couple. The more you can communicate, the better off you’ll be.)
“It feels like my partner and I can’t agree on ANYTHING, not even the flavor of the cake. What are we supposed to do??”
Easy. Have a two tiered cake with two flavors. You can compromise. Can’t agree on music for the ceremony? Ask that each of you pick a song in private and surprise each other. Either MUTUALLY choose from one of the two, find a new song entirely, or figure out a way to incorporate both. Find two separate venues that you’ve both fallen in love with? Write down the pros and cons of each and come together with your lists to decide on one together. The point is – remember that all of this planning and (sometimes) arguing is all boiling down to one day. Your wedding is only going to be one day. Even destination weddings and weddings from different cultures around the world – as far as I know, the actual wedding itself only lasts for ONE day. Your marriage is supposed to last for the rest of your life. And you’re doing all of this because you supposedly love each other. So treat each other, and each other’s opinions, with love and respect and remember that napkin colors and bridesmaids dresses should not doom your marriage.
“How much ‘say’ should our parents have in the wedding?”
Are they contributing financially? I know, I know – it’s your wedding, not Sally-Mother-in-Law’s…. but, and this is just my opinion as a third party/nice person/someone who doesn’t know Sally-Mother-in-Law, but if she’s paying for even 1/3 of your big day, then she gets to have an opinion. Not to say she should be calling all of the shots – I wouldn’t let her pick out your wedding dress or your bridesmaids dresses or anything major-major…. But if she wants a little dessert table besides just the wedding cake, then just let her have the little dessert table. Consider that her financial contribution will go towards it. If they’re not paying for anything – then it’s your decision how much or how little input you want them to have. Maybe you could still include them by updating them on the details as plans are made, or asking them to help out with decorations or invites.
“My future mother-in-law is SUPER overbearing and is constantly trying to be more involved in the wedding planning. When we showed her our venue, she was already making plans of how everything should be laid out! How can I get her to back off?”
You can’t. Future mother-in-laws come with future-husbands and something tells me that she’s probably been like this for most of her life and she’s set in her ways by now. You can’t change her. But there are ways to deal when she starts making suggestions that, perhaps, you didn’t ask for. You can always smile and nod and say, “That might be a good idea! We’ll see – we’re still figuring out all of the details” if you want to dodge it, or if you want to stand firm, you can simply smile and say “Thanks for your suggestions, but we’ve already got it figured out.” The thing you don’t want to do is try to argue with her. Don’t put your future husband in that awkward situation between his mom and the woman he’s trying to marry. No matter what, it won’t end well.
“How involved should the Maid of Honor be?”
As involved as you want her to be! You will ultimately make the decisions, but maid of honors are great to bounce ideas off of and help out with all of the finer details of wedding planning. This process can be stressful enough, everyone needs a best friend by their side to take off some of the weight. If you feel that she’s being too involved (I’ve heard horror stories about maid of honors trying to move the wedding date, pick the colors of the wedding, etc) then calmly sit down and explain to her how you feel and what you expect her role to be.