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The Competitive Side to Wedding Planning:
Comments by singles, engaged, and married friends or family

 

Wedding planning for most of us is filled with highs and lows, a lot of difficult decisions (some trivial and some very important) and through it all we have to live our lives.  We go to work, talk with coworkers, meet up with friends, attend family functions, perhaps even attending to a lot of weddings (since friends seem to marry in clusters.)  When I got into my own wedding planning, I had no idea that unsolicited comments and advice would be one of the most bothersome things I’d face.   It seems that people feel free to comment on what they think wedding should be like, and even whether weddings are worthy having at all, right in the midst of your telling them about your own plans. 


In my small social circle while I was engaged (small office of 18 people) I sure got an earful of advice about wedding planning.  I was wholly unprepared for these comments: 


“When my daughter gets married I’m going to give her some cash and tell her to go to the courthouse and elope.  She should use the money for a house, not a wedding.”


“I got married for only $5,000.  I can’t believe how much people spend on weddings!” (from a man married 25 years ago.  Inflation, anyone?)


“A friend took a few wedding photos for us and you know, we never even look at them  You just don’t care about wedding photos once you’ve been married for a while.”


“You should tell your parents to give you the money they are willing to spend on the wedding and then spend less and keep the rest of the cash.”


“If I had to do it all over I would have just eloped.”


And then there are the unsolicited observations about the wedding they want, which goes without saying is can be quite different from the one you are planning:

“I would never want that many guests.  I’m going to have a small, intimate wedding where I know everyone.”


“I just have too many friends and family to have a small wedding.”


“We’re going to have a rock and roll band so people can have fun dancing.  Jazz is just too boring.”  (Said to me while I was planning a jazz band for my wedding.)


“I’ve only invited my best friends to be in my wedding party so I get to avoid any family drama.  It is going to be pure fun planning this wedding with my best friends.”


 “I can’t wait for my outdoor wedding.  We’re timing it so the sun sets just as we say our vows.”


“I could never handle the pressure of the potential rain in an outdoor wedding, or of sweating through my makeup.”


Each of us brings unique desires for our wedding.  The problem comes in when single folks can’t appreciate the current wedding world, so they either trivialize your stress and choices or they throw out advice that shows how little they understand about the complex family dynamics of wedding planning.  Meanwhile engaged friends are busying deciding how they want their “perfect wedding” to look and if it conflicts with yours, it can be difficult to navigate those conversations.  Can you easily say how perfect your wedding day is going to be when it’s 100% opposite from your friend’s?  And there are married folks whose advice often comes out of forgetting the wedding planning stress, or being married in a very different cultural time with fewer pressures (and fewer resources.)  Sure, they may not look at their wedding photos, but they also weren’t given the amazing options we have today to record our big day.


So just how do you work around the comments and attitudes people express as you try to put on a happy smile and attempt to defend your decisions?  Here are some ideas.


Use language that allows other opinions to be equally valid.  “We know some people think it’s a waste of money but we’re really excited about our videographer.  We are excited about having a video of our wedding to show our kids.”  Or, “there are so many great ideas and products out there.  We have decided to go with this one because it feels like the best choice for us.”


Express your values behind your decisions.   It’s hard to be snarky to someone who explains what value they hold behind their decisions.  When people kept saying weddings were stupid and I should elope, I decided to defend the entire idea of a wedding.  I most often said, “I feel like the only time family get together is for weddings and funerals and I really want to have a happy occasion for a family reunion, not wait for a funeral.”  Nobody had a good response back to this one!


Chalk it up to your own personality.  One tactic is to say, “It’s just me.  I know I will look back and laugh at how stressed out planning this wedding, but it’s still important to me.  I know I would regret not having a big wedding celebration.”


Just grin and bear it.  Some people are never-ending experts on everything; no matter what you say they will always be right.  You can decide to listen and not engage.  If you feel you have to say something, you can say “To each their own” or ”Times are a-changing,” something equally bland. 


However you handle insensitive or competitive comments about your wedding planning, keep in mind that usually people don’t mean to be as insensitive as they sound. They’re just caught up in their own fantasies or memories. If you are equipped with non-defensive responses, you can let their comments roll off your back and get on with planning the wedding you want to have.