I don't mean to be the Debbie Downer of wedding planning blogs. It's just that I'm compelled to share sad stories with you in case they resonate and give you insight about how to make your own life choices.
Before Matt and I even got engaged, we witnessed many of our friends struggling with their families over wedding decisions.
For example, one of our friend's mothers is extremely loving and supportive. She was immensely helpful in the planning process (both financially and logistically), but she also pushed her daughter to do a few things her way--like hire a religious officiant. Originally, my friend asked me to be the officiant (since she and her partner are not religious). But her religious mom wasn't having any of that. They ended up compromising on a "spiritual" officiant. It worked out in the end (it was a huge relief that I didn't have the stress of running the whole ceremony!) but it did feel a little out of place to bow our heads frequently throughout the ceremony, even though the couple wasn't the bowing type.
Another one of our friends ended up hating the wedding planning process and dreading her own wedding because of her mom's involvement. She would show up at our house with red, puffy eyes and we would know that she had had another fight with her mom. In the weeks leading up to her wedding, she confessed, "I just want the wedding to be over so we can go on the honeymoon."
Matt and I love our families. We really do. My mom is the kind of person who says, "Oh, you want to take a year off and travel to India, an intentional community, and Folk Art School? Go for it. You should do it."
Matt's mom is the kind of person who started buying me birthday presents when Matt and I were dating. Amazing ones! Matt's dad is on the other end of e-mail whenever we have a question about refinancing or getting a loan. They always insist on paying for our dinner (because that's what their parents did).
We are lucky. We really are.
But we still wanted to retain financial control over our wedding (despite generous offers from Matt's parents). We definitely wanted to turn to our families for input and advice (which we did frequently throughout the process), but ultimately, we wanted the wedding to truly represent us. Our parents already had their chance to plan a wedding that represents them.
It's not that we thought anything awful would happen; we just didn't want to take any chances. As an American studies major in college, I learned all about the ways in which money equals power.
Of course there are tons of examples of people accepting financial support from their families and truly enjoying the process. Meg over at A Practical Wedding is one of them. A friend of mine who is busy planning her October wedding is another example.
As with any decision, it's something that couples have to decide for themselves. There's not just one way to have a wedding. We all have to figure out what makes sense of us, given our values and our situations.
It's a decision, however, that shouldn't be made lightly. Just as the most sane and rational person can take on moments of bridezilla-ness (for me it was about photo stamps), sane and rationale parents (usually mothers) can morph into momzillas.
See this cautionary tale from a 2000dollar kindred spirit:
My fiance asked me to marry him last May...Before I knew it my mother had a choke hold on my.
It started out with her lovely and seemingly innocent offer to help pay for 1/3 of the wedding. My father and my fiance's father would be taking the other 2/3. It seemed innocent enough but then after a few months passed she began using sentences like: "Well, I'm paying for___ and so it needs to be a certain way!", "What do you mean you want to make your own bouquet!? No! I'm not having that!"
There were a lot of statements about how I needed to sacrifice certain things for her or for the greater good of my guests and before I knew it, my colors were changed, my favor ideas were being shot down, I couldn't have certain guests at the reception, I wasn't allowed to have the cake flavor (carrot) that I wanted, and she even tried to change my date!
Currently, I still have the date I wanted and luckily the dress I picked out and the invitations and favors. Everything else? Well, she's choosen it or manipulated me into picking it.
I wish I would have found your blog sooner because maybe I wouldn't be in this situation. I don't want to paint my mother out to be some horrible woman but honestly, I feel like this day is more about her than my finance and I. I am grateful that my parents and my fiance's father are paying for all the expenses because we are young, 22, and going to grad school this summer. We couldn't afford a wedding like the one they are giving us but even then I think I would have still been happy with a small ceremony in the backyard with 30 or so people. Instead I'm having a ceremony with 60+ people in a church (I always dreamed of an outside wedding) and my reception with 60 guests in a lake house. Where did my dreams go? The one where I had cake and champange? I dunno.
The more and more things are being finalized for wedding, the more I wish I could start over.