Does a wedding HAVE to be stressful??????

tklnMarch 20, 2006

ARGH. SO and I have been together for over nine years...we got engaged a year ago, and are planning a wedding for next May. HOWEVER - we are planning on getting married in Europe. This has ALWAYS been our desire, for years...and it has been our desire to keep it simple, with immediate family and that's about it (my best friend is the lone exception).

My 'immediate' family boils down to my mom, my aunt (her sister) and my first cousin, who will be walking me down the aisle. Including his GF, and my BF, we're at five. SO's side...not so simple. His brother and his wife, their newborn, his parents, his sister, her husband and their four kids, and his aunt. Gives us 12.

So this weekend, speaking with my side and they are very upset that I do not want to invite my mom/aunts' first cousins - two sisters, whom they are very close to. I do appreciate the fact that they are very close, but it turns into the old 'if I invite one, I have to invite the whole family' - which becomes another ten people. My aunt even offered to pay for them, which was a nice gesture, but it's not about that (well not all about that) - I just don't want to deal with a ton of people. It's already turned into over 20 people, and I feel that's already too much too...

I realize our side of the family is small, but that doesn't mean we have to 'even out' the sides - which I'm afraid my mom wants to do. It's not my fault she didn't have more kids! My mother even made a comment to the effect of 'well, then just go with his family then and we'll stay here'. I told her that she better watch what she says, or no one will come and we'll just go ourselves and that will be the end of it.

Background - we are not getting any money from anyone for this, in fact, we are going to contribute to either airfare or hotel for most, we will be having a large party for friends/relatives a month after we return, so that everyone can celebrate.

Soooo....thanks for letting me vent. :-) Any words of advice??? Geez...we're 33 and 40'd figure we'd be beyond the family politics!!!


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Elope! Go to Europe, just the two of you. It will be more romantic and so less stressfull. Are you an only Child?
Than limit it to parents only!

I wish I had done it 22 years ago!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 1:29PM
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I have advice, Lucy- and you may not like it.

We were married 25 years ago in an immediate-family only ceremony because "I" didn't want a production. I didn't do the frills, fancies, flowers or wedding dress, nor would I today- not my thing. However, my one regret is that because of my self-absorption, I did not have the grace to think of others to whom it would have meant a great deal to share our wedding. More family, more old friends- what earthly purpose could have been served by not including people who cared about us?

Even though these folks were not invited to witness the celebration of our vows, they have been with us through thick and thin. I am ashamed of my insensitivity still, after a quarter-century. Because these dear people who coached DH, watched him become a man and lived down the street -were related by a gate between backyards instead of blood- I didn't think inviting this village was necessary- I still shake my head at my own self-centeredness.

So, my take on this is- ten more people? (not fifty or one hundred!) Who are part of your life- and relatives no less? And it would mean a great deal to your mother? Your aunt has offered to pay for their trip, and you've still said no?

Even the best marriages take a lot of work and give and take. You might be happier with yourself if you 'give' on this one.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 2:42PM
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IME weddings are only stressful when those involved forget that the day belongs to the bride and groom and to no one else. That happened to me in my first wedding - so many arguments from his mom about how SHE thought things should be. But it wasn't her day, she'd had hers already.

Second time I got married, I didn't have that problem, and although I knew full well that everyone involved probably did NOT agree with how DH & I chose to do things that day, they kept their mouths shut and things were so much easier.

The only other possibility to eliminate/reduce stress is for the bride & groom to say, we don't care, and hand over all the planning to the mother/MIL/whoever is really wanting to do it. I've only known one bride who did that and it worked out well for her! (I could never do that but I really admired that she could let go of it so easily!)

When I was planning my second wedding, I decided that if anyone gave me any opinions, demands, whatever, about how THEY thought I should do it, I was going to answer by saying that I would seriously consider their request but that in the end the decision would be up to me & future-DH, and I that KNEW they would understand and not make things difficult for me. Yup, I was prepared to put it exactly that way because I did NOT want to go through the arguments and hard feelings that occured the first time. I was fortunate as I said above in that no one did give me a hard time (I think MIL gave my DH a few "opinions" but he shrugged them off and said we were doing what we wanted -- and she never said anything directly to me!)

I think that when others get involved to the point of causing stress by trying to get you to do what they want you have two choices.

1. Make them understand in no uncertain terms (although nicely!) that it's your decision and that although you appreciate their opinions and feelings, in the end, the day belongs to you and your groom. Period.


2. Give in to what they want.

IMHO, #2 is the least stressful solution IF you can do it without looking back -- give in then just forget about it and move on.

I COULD NEVER DO THAT -- even though I know it is the better way to go, simply because it would cause me even more stress to have MY event go the way I didn't want. Which is why I was prepared to sort of put my foot down if necessary.

My best piece of advice: what ever you choose to do, when the day comes, enjoy it. Don't stress over late or wrong flowers, or your hair or make up not being perfect or anything like that. Just let the day flow, be happy, and enjoy every minute of it. I learned this the hard way as I fretted about every detail the first time (minute details that I should have never cared about!) but didn't stress at all about a major glitch that happened the second time around -- instead I chose to laugh at it, and have great memories of it now.

Good luck, and Congratulations!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 2:50PM
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My DH and I were married in the Virgin Islands. We figured that as long as the two moms were there, we were safe. With my family in one part of the country and his on the opposite end and us being in the middle, it just made our heads spin to figure out how to do this and make everyone happy. Besides, I am not into large weddings and all the planning involved. So we decided to visit his side and my side of the family and have a "meet the new member of the family" pre-reception (no gifts, thank you). I met everyone in his family and vice versa. All brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins felt that they were included and considered and no one could argue the "mom rule". We, then hopped on a plane to the island and had a wedding with my parents, his mom and aunt in attendance. It was small, intimate, fun, stress free and nobody complained. My DH and I both agree it was perfect for us.

Good luck and Congratulations! A wedding in Europe sounds lovely and so romantic! Have a wonderful time!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 3:33PM
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Which European country were you thinking of getting married in? Some European countries have some lengthy residency requirements before you can marry in that country. Also, you don't mention if you intend on getting married in a church or not. If so, you may actually have to plan two weddings; one in the church and one in the town hall as the church wedding is not enough to legally be considered married.

I don't mean to cause you more stess, I just wanted to be sure you were aware of the difficulties a European wedding can pose.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 5:10PM
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DeeDee - we are planning on Tuscany...and we've read up and been in contact with probably a half or dozen agencies about all the legalities, so we've gotten that part down (well, at least the finding out about it!). We are still deciding between a full Catholic ceremony (he's Catholic, I'm Christian) or a double (civil plus relgious blessing, which was sort of what we wanted from the get go, but now we're in between). I know there is a ton of paperwork, but's just so darn beautiful. We've travelled all over, and our original desire was always Switzerland - in this small town that's in the middle of the Alps - but we somehow migrated to Italy. :-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 5:38PM
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Does your mother just want you to make the "gesture" of inviting these people? I can't imagine that many people would trek to Europe for a wedding. One issue is you wouldn't really know how many to plan for. My advice, invite the small list you really want. If your mother wants to throw you a celebration when your return, she is free to do that and invite whoever she wants.

We faced the same issue with numbers. It was either 15 or over 100. There was no in between. Part of the issue is that his cousin is my oldest friend (she introduced us), and another of his cousins is married to one of my good friends. Well, if you invite those cousins (who are siblings) you have to invite their mother (DH's aunt). Well, if you invite one aunt/uncle you have to invite them all. And if you invite all the aunts/uncles on his side I have to invite the ones on my side. And if we invite 2 of his cousins we really have to invite the rest. If we invite his cousins we have to invite mine. Etc., etc. We ended up in trouble anyhow because DH's mother specifically told me NOT to invite a group of cousins out of state (the only cousins on his father's side) because they would never come and it would seem like we were asking for a gift, their father was very sick (DH's uncle), etc. Well, we didn't invite them and it ended up they were very hurt by it. Sigh. Weddings.

We ended up inviting about 120 people.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 5:40PM
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Go ahead and invite them, especially if they are going to pay their own way, the celebration will be much better with more happy family sharing your wedding day with you. You don't have to deal with any of them. They are adults, they can deal with themselves. You won't regret it. You'll all have a wonderful time, they'll get to see Europe, and see why you consider it so special.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 5:41PM
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Pecan Pie:

It's funny how you mention self absorbtion...My mother(bless her heart) is one of the most self absorbed people I know! She made my wedding a living hell! And we paid for 75% of it!
Weddings can bring out the worst in people.
There are plenty of mothers and MIL's out there who try to live vicariously thru their children.

For Lucy, this is her wedding and her honeymoon. She should be able to do what she and her fiance want.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 8:39PM
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I can see everyone's points - which just makes it a harder situation!

Unfortunately, one of the OTHER reasons I don't want that side of the family coming is, well, I don't particularly like them. :-) They are nice folks, and I get along with them, but they have a certain arrogance that is undeniable. They have money, and while they don't necessarily flaunt it in your face, it's there. You can feel it. They have travelled all over, so it's not a big deal for them to go to Italy - in fact, they OWN a house in Italy. :-) SO's family is the exact opposite - they are very down to I already know the 'clash' of personalities are I just dont want to deal with that kind of stress.

I have talked about making one peace offering - my cousin's aunt lives in Rome...I used to be very close to her when I was younger, so I figured that would be a no-brainer to invite her and her family. I'm hoping that olive branch will work!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 8:59PM
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oh gosh, I sure have been there!

I got married in France in 1999. Attendees: Myself, my husband, my sister, her husband. (even her three kids, whom I adore, were not included).

Yes, there was hurt. No one acted as expected (people who I thought would be supportive were hurt and upset, people who I thought would be uspet shrugged.) But we were "older", 30 and 38 when we got married, and I did what I wanted. My only advice, act firm, and state ad nauseum these are your wishes, ask people to please respect them, no negotiation, and know that people will be hurtful nonetheless but still love you anyway. It just brings out the best and worst in all of us, brides included.

I also had a party a month after I got back, and guess what!! I got to wear the dress TWICE!! That was awesome. :) Some people did state that they would boycott the party since they weren't included in the wedding (family, can you believe it??) but everyone came anyway. The party had a cake, but no ceremony, or cake cutting, or nothing wedding-y except my dress, LOL. I printed out our vows and our custom written ceremony and put them in frames on the dinner tables, and had our wedding pictures on display for all guests to see them. I had dinner and dancing and actually enjoyed it a lot more than if it were my wedding day.

It's 7 years later, and I have to warn you, the hurt people still barb me about it. Also, everyone thinks our anniversary is the party date, which is funny. BUT, I had an incredible dream wedding, on a hotel balcony overlooking a sparkling mediterranean sea on a tuesday afternoon. Very spiritual and intimate, and it was PERFECT. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I love telling the story of my wedding, it was so romantic and special.

I do remember the anxiety and the surprise at how complicated even the simplest wedding can be. Bon courage, remember whose wedding it is, and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 10:34AM
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Lucy, my guess is that your mom wants her cousins there because they are familiar with Italy and it might make the whole thing feel safer to her. Maybe sheÂs hoping to spend some time at their house while sheÂs over there? She may also feel that itÂs just rude to have the wedding in Italy where the cousins have a house and not invite them. But itÂs not her wedding.

We paid for our own wedding, and I quickly instituted a "no pay, no say" policy. My side was fine, but my MIL is a girly-girl with two sons, likes to plan events and had a long list of people IÂd never heard of who "had to" be invited. Politely fending off my MIL was the only stressful part of the wedding. A good friend offered to cater the reception at cost if I let her run the reception. Done! My only bridesmaid showed up to get dressed for the ceremony with two dresses sheÂd recently worn at other weddings and asked me to pick one. No problem!

SomeoneÂs nose will get out of joint at every wedding. I donÂt think thereÂs any way to avoid it. The big question is whose nose itÂs going to be. And you are never, ever too old for family politics.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 4:44PM
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Weddings upset the balance of power and accepted roles in any family and what I call "wedding psychosis" inevitably sets in. What always astonishes me is that you never know who will have a reaction.

Perhaps its naive but I think that the people who are getting married should have their wishes respected to the letter -- no argument and no one else to consider. I think it's such a big life event (even the second or third time) that it's almost too much to ask the bride or groom to think of everyone else.

When my DSD got married two years ago there was a great deal I didn't agree with or like. It drove me mad that she didn't want an engagement ring and then got upset when everyone asked about it. But they are adults and they wanted what they wanted. So my line was that it's their day and everyone should just can the comments and complaints and show up smiling. I'm sure that wasn't appreciated by everyone but I felt it was important to support the bride and groom 100% and it's the way I feel about weddings.

Others obviously disagree.

But I say do what you want and ask everyone to respect your wishes. They love you and while they might complain (even for years!) they will.

Best of luck to you both. We toyed with getting married in Italy but could not work out the religious and civil ceremony issues, travel etc. We'll celebrate our 11th next month and I only hope that you have as much happiness and luck as we have had. We've had our problems but never any regrets.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 6:14PM
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This is why dh and I chose to elope. We got married in Hawaii, on the beach, with just the minister, his wife, and their dog in attendance. We told everyone we were going but did not invite anyone to the actual wedding. We held a big reception when we got home to which one and all were invited and no one seemed to feel slighted. If they did, they had the grace to keep quiet about it! It was a fabulous, stress-free and inexpensive wedding, which allowed us to spend fairly lavishly on the honeymoon part. It was also absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. The minister's wife videotaped it for us so we could show those who were interested and she also took pictures afterward. She made leis for us and her husband wrote us a poem. It was a delightful day! We had brunch afterward and then went swimming :)

I vote for eloping and having a family reception later, but I have to add that this was a second wedding for me (first for dh).

    Bookmark   March 22, 2006 at 1:38PM
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