Whenever I was faced with a wedding dilemma, I pushed myself to go back to the purpose of a wedding.
A wedding--in my opinion--is:
- An opportunity to publicly declare your commitment and your love to one another, immersed in the support of your closest friends and family.
- An occasion to reunite friends and family in one place.
- A chance to bring two disparate sides together to form new friendships and connections.
- An opportunity to have a relaxed, enjoyable, memorable, and fun(!) experience.
- A chance to showcase and share your values and commitments to the world.
Seriously! I understand when people argue that weddings are about family (see #1, #2, and #3). But why does that mean you should be forced to invite people you are not close to?
Matt and I predicted that the bigger our wedding got, the less connected we would feel to individual people because our wedding would turn into a "meet and greet." You know what I'm talking about. While everyone else eats a sit-down dinner, the bride and groom make an appearance at each table, with the photographer trailing behind. There are so many people to smile at and engage in small talk with that the wedding ends up passing by in a blur. When it's over, you're left to truly live the experience through the photographs.
Additionally, I personally felt that the bigger my wedding got, the more nervous and stressed I would feel. But that could just be me. I'm an introvert, and I don't necessarily enjoy being the center of everyone's attention.
Matt's family is very social and they are very connected to the people in their town. We purposefully avoided having the wedding in Matt's hometown (Bloomington, IN) or my hometown (Tampa, FL and San Diego, CA) because we didn't want our wedding to be dominated by one set of friends/family. Since we happened to be living in Colorado, we had the wedding there. It was a good middle ground.
Matt's family definitely had a ton more people that could've been invited to the wedding. Instead of haggling too much over the guest list, someone suggested that we have a second reception in Matt's home town several months after the actual reception. That way, Matt's parents can invite all of their friends and family. Matt and I are not involved with the planning at all. It's just like a big party that we're invited to.
My family also had people they would have liked to invite. Just the other day (more than a month after the wedding), my mom said, "You know, Cathy was upset that she wasn't invited." Well, the fact is, I haven't seen Cathy since I was 10 years-old.
I understand that we all have to make political choices now and then. There may be a few people whom you really are obligated to invite. But, for the most part, if you apologize and say, "I'm so sorry. We had to cut the guest list way back." the majority of people will get over it. Several of my colleagues are still my friend, even though they weren't invited. My mom's cousin will still be my friend the next time we run into each other.
And, no matter how many tiffs you and your parents get into while a planning a wedding, they are still going to love you after the wedding is over, even if you've made your own choices. Sometimes it's hard to imagine. But it's true. Your relationship with your family is bigger than a one-day event.
Trust me when I say that I understand how difficult the guest list piece is. No one wants to hurt other people's feelings. But at the end of the day, it's your wedding. Your parents--more than anyone else--need to recognize and understand this fact. They need to deprioritize their preferences/tastes/styles and remember that your wedding should be the fullest expression of you and your partner-to-be.
Most of the time I want to vomit when I hear the Wedding Industrial Complex say, "It's your day!" Really, they're just saying, "Go ahead and spend more money. You can justify it because a wedding only happens once in a lifetime."
But in the case of making major decisions that affect the ultimate quality of your wedding and the kind of experience you create for yourself, it is your day. Put your foot down!
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