Were we inconsiderate?

scarlett2001March 21, 2007

We are "older" (Not OLD but not super young either)and both previously divorced. We wanted a very quiet wedding with minimal fuss and tension, so we went to a nearby island and married on the beach with only two friends as witnesses. This was exactly the way we wanted to get married and we enjoyed ourselves so much more than if we had 200 guests and all the other stuff.

Now we are getting flack from both sides and my brother has actually declined to give us a gift because he was "not invited". I don't care about getting a gift, but I did go to ALL 3 of his weddings, I think he should cut me a little slack. He lives on the other side of North America, for Gosh Sakes! My husband has a very large family and we would have had to invite all of them, and their children, plus my entire family from back east and just getting to the island would have been a major mess. It was six months ago so too late to have a reception now, and I thought it would all die down, but it hasn't. We are being accused of being "Cheap" and "Cold" etc. Do people have the right to marry in a way that is meaningful to them? Should I say anything or just wait it out? We went to a family party at the holidays and the climate was chilly.

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I am sorry to hear about your family issues. If I were related to you, I would support your desire to have a simple wedding. Some people are simply not interested in the stress and expense involved in planning a large wedding and there is nothing wrong with that and it is unfortunate that you families don't see it that way. Hopefully, in time your families will get over it.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 5:31PM
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Did your families know you were getting married before you did it?

If they didn't know, they are probably not miffed about your choice of wedding style, but rather they were hurt that you didn't tell them about it at all. I know if my sister got married without telling me, I'd be heartbroken. (We have a close relationship though) If I knew she was getting married but only wanted a small ceremony like you had, I'd be OK with that and support her choice.

I don't think it's too late for a reception. Perhaps after the family thaws out? ;)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 2:35AM
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Hmm -- their reaction does seem a bit excessive, especially for a second marriage. I, too, am wondering if it's not so much about not being invited as something else.

Maybe they felt insulted? If my brother got married privately, I would be disappointed but understanding if he explained that they just did it very quickly and wanted it to be "private," but I would probably feel hurt and insulted if I heard him say something like "we enjoyed ourselves so much more" than if they had included us.

I'm guessing this will blow over. If anyone brings it up, I think you could say safely and graciously that you just didn't want to do it up big a second time (careful not to appear to be criticizing your brother), that you didn't expect and regret that people's feelings were hurt, and that you are so touched that people wish they could have been there. I.e.: focus on THEIR feelings, not yours, and don't try to prove that you are "right" because of the size of your husband's family or anything else. I bet that will be all you need to do.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 1:16PM
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Some things people don't realize:

-weddings are actually quite a lot about FAMILY, not just about the marrying couple. They affect the family's life a lot, and they are a major family rite in our cultulre

-everything you do at or around a wedding sends a message, and a much more potent one that things you do at any other time or event.

By not including ANY family (you didn't even invite parents, or a single sibling to represent everyone else), you sent a message, whether you wanted to or not. That message was, "family isn't particularly important to us." They were so unimportant to you, that you didn't even have a reception later to invite them to celebrate with you, as so many other people who have destination weddings do.

You can't even convincingly argue that you just wanted to get married without fuss, because you went away to a tropical island to get married--"no fuss" would have been City Hall, or the church you normally go to.

Of course they're chilly.

Our culture says weddings are important events, and that families should be present at their members' important events. If you want to buck that without consequences, you're going to need to do some groundwork and maybe even some fancy footwork.

I don't think I'd be quite as understanding as Gellchom if my brother said, "I'm getting married next month, but I'm not going to invite you." I wanted to say "I wouldn't create a major family rift over it," but I've realized, my brother did something quite similar (came to my city from Iowa for 2 days, w/ plenty of time to kill, and never contacted me, and only told me about it only 6 months later), and it permanently affected our relationship.

There's no unpleasantness, but I treat him exactly the way I would treat a stranger, when I seem him at family functions (I'm not even as friendly and comfortable w/ him as I cam w/ my cousins!). And once our parents pass away, I have no motivation to continue to see him ever. When I tell stories about my family, or when I talk about visiting friends and family--heck, even when I THINK about the folks I know in his town, I *never* put him on the list of people I could visit while there, or people I could be nearer to if i moved to Des Moines. (in fact, I had forgotten about him when i started writing this post, and had to go back and add this)

He hurt my feelings bigtime. Clearly, I don't matter to him, and I am not going to continue to put out any energy.

Now, there's a much longer history here w/ this brother. Hopefully you've treated your brother more warmly over the years than my brother has treated me.

I have another brother w/ whom I have always had a friendly relationship. I cannot imagine him getting married without inviting me. Well, I guess I can, but he'd have told me ahead of time why, etc. I'd still be a little bit hurt, but the fact that we have always had a good relationship would be the thing that would soften it for me. But I'd probably be waiting to see whether other things might be more distant in our relationship now.

So, to soften the impact of the message you have sent, I would say you should provide plenty of evidence in the coming months that you care about them--drop them a short e-mail every month or two, be sure to respond promptly and warmly to all family events (graduations, etc.), and eventually they'll get over it.

And I wouldn't go on at any length about your wedding ceremony, etc. That's just rubbing salt in the wounds. And it would make it harder for you to convincingly say that your intent wasn't to exclude people but to have a low-key, no-big-deal ceremony (though if that was the case, wouldn't City Hall have done OK?).

Gellchom's advice in her last graph is right on, I think.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 2:21PM
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I just about always agree with Tally Sue--I can read a post and almost know she wrote it because she's darned near always on the money. This time, though, I can only half agree with her. DH and I were married by a notary (local) and we went alone. We'd both been married before and wanted it private between the two of us. The difference is our families knew in advance. They wished us well. No party later, either. So I can see that maybe I'd be hurt if one of them had just eloped and not told the rest of us. As far as I know, none of my six sibs or parents were hurt by us doing it our way. Maybe it wasn't the right way, be we loved our wedding--25+ years ago.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 9:17PM
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actually, you do agree w/ me, Patti43! (or at least, with the sub-point I didn't make as clearly as I meant to)

You didn't make a smallish fuss that left them out--you didn't make any fuss at all. I think it's the "left-out-ness" that might hurt people's feelings. If you'd splurged on a trip, and invited a couple of friends, then maybe your sister or your mom might have felt hurt.

But you left *everybody* out, not just them. So they quite probably didn't see it as a rejection of them, or a rejection of the family, but as a romantic, intimate gesture.

And, if your mom or your sister had said, "I really want to be there!", what would you have done? Given them the date you had in mind, and invited them to show up, perhaps? Possibly. Though maybe not, but you would have argued that the moment was about the privateness of your bond w/ DH--an argument that wouldn't have carried water if you were including a couple of good friends.

Maybe I wasn't clear--I don't actually believe that everyone MUST get married with family present--it's just that that's the *expectation* in our society, an understandable one. (Even though your family wasn't at the ceremony, the marriage changed their family dynamic permanently, in ways that your romance w/ your fiance hadn't.)

So when you deviate from the overwhelming expectation, you run a risk. Your own risk was small, but you also admit that "as far as I know," no one was hurt. If they were hurt, they had the good sense not to take it as a personal rejection, the good manners not to mention their disappointment, and the good feelings to continue the strong relationship you already had.

(and thanks for the kind words)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 3:29PM
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if this had been a first wedding i could understand, but a second? cudos for following your heart, and not following in your bro's footsteps...i hate to see families treat each other so badly...life's too short...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 8:46PM
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I completely agree with you, I am getting married in less then two weeks. We are having a small wedding, close family only. We both have been married before, so the whole huge wedding thing is over rated. But none of our family was upset, they new financially this was better for everyone; as we are young (25 & 27).

Don't let your family get to you, people often forget it's your wedding it is up to you to do as you choose!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 12:55PM
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Unfortunatly you were not alone. You had 2 friends as witnesses. You could of chose 2 family members as witnesses. That is probably why they are so hurt.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 6:51PM
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I suppose, in a way, you were inconsiderate. Does it matter?! I don't think so. If your family wants to celebrate with you then they can plan a celebration FOR you. You were trying to keep it simple, who could blame you!

I can understand people being hurt, I know I'd be sad if my sister didn't want me at her wedding. BUT, this should be a sign to them that your relationship isn't as it should be and perhaps it should be worked on.

Find the opportunity in this, as should they.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kiss Honeymoon and Wedding Ideas

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 9:26PM
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Our families felt left out (although no anger was expressed) so for our 1 year anniversary we did a Blessing Ceremony. Our first wedding was by a notary and we wanted our marriage blessed by God. With minister in family; lots of family and friends around all in all face saved!! So maybe on your one year have a renewal of your vows and a small reception if and only IF that is what you want. Pressures from family can be hard and harsh! Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 5:38PM
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i'm still sad my oldest "had to elope". the logisitics of the wedding we wanted (i had 2 ideas, one local and one in vegas at my mothers) were making her mil become such a headache the kids just left town, and were married at a friends home...

however, if they were working on wedding #2 a party within the year would have been fine...

how ironic that was "ok" with the outlaws...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:39PM
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What is the funniest invite you received? We received one some time back that was a little strange. They printed them off themselves and this was ok because they don't have much money. They funny part was they hand wrote on the bottom BRING A COVERED DISH....... While they were decorating at the church people were calling the house and wanted to know what to bring. Poor Dad of the bride knew nothing of the covered dish and he told people not to bring anything. To make a long story short, they had little to eat..

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 9:57PM
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My DD was divorced, and for the second marriage, they invited only his parents and us (her parents) and a couple of real close friends. yes there were hard feelings, but they could not afford a big wedding and also he has 8 sibblings and her sibblings were scattered all over the country and could not afford to attend unless we paid for it. Believe me they got over it.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 8:22PM
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I think it's ridiculous that people are expected to have a big wedding and invite hoards of reletives and friends. It is expensive and the marriage is about you two. I'm all for saving that money for a house, or a needed car. Even if you can do it on the cheap, you'd still have all the stress, bickering relatives, etc. They need to get over it.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 2:32PM
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Scarlett, I wanted to add that we had a small wedding of maybe 15 guests, and it was still a stressful nightmare. I wanted to elope, but I did this for my dear hubby. If I had it to do over I would stand my ground and have a wedding like yours. My mommy dearest trash talked me behind my back for not letting her plan the wedding. I was 30 at the time and she didn't want me to get married (to a man that is a mother's dream come true). She told everyone that I was "keeping her out of the wedding". DHs parents weren't asked to plan either and they had no problems. My sister was to be my maid of honor but backed out to go to her husband's Xmas party at work. It took many, many days of shopping to find dresses for my SDs (our clothes took one day for both of us). One guest was freaking out because some food had pepper and she can't have pepper (in-laws friends, no one bothered to ask ahead of time for special food considerations). We had a cook for the day that was there and this woman could have asked the cook about ingredients before eating, but didn't. There were many other stresses, but you get the picture. Getting out of there at the end of the day was such a relief. We stayed at a hotel very near the airport to wait for our morning flight. DH had flowers and champagne waiting there. So he helped end the day very nicely.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 3:10PM
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We just celebrated out first year anniversary, and as I look back on the wedding, I see now that we did the right thing. We really enjoyed our day, had a minimum of fuss and stress and a maximum of great memories. So nuts to anybody who didn't like it, it was our day and we did it our way.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 1:15AM
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Scarlett -
Glad you checked in again. I am glad you are happy with your decision.

Tell us, did your family get over the disappointment?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 6:13PM
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Yes, I think so. I watch the weddings on TV and can't believe the stress people go through trying to have a big, "perfect" wedding.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 10:46PM
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