Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cake Comment

Image courtesy of gatos y gateau

I had to pull this comment out of the comments section and feature it inside this here post because it really resonated with me.

In the original post, I said, "Our weddings will be meaningful and memorable regardless of what we do or don't buy, thankyouverymuch" and Ms. Bear Cub responded with this:
omg, sara, I wish it were true. I'm a pretty laid-back wedding graduate. I could care less how xxxx looked at this point (but I personally think everything looked wonderful in my point of view). Unfortunately, a few weeks ago one of my aunts decided to tell me she thought our wedding cake tasted like soap and dirt. WTF? I made the wedding cake. She knows I made the wedding cake. So wtf are laid-back anti-WIC brides supposed to do? Please everyone, so we don't get nasty comments like that after the wedding? Barf.
The nerve of her aunt! I am someone who has been known to provide others with painfully honest feedback from time to time (which has caused me to get into fights with some of my dear friends), but to tell someone that the wedding cake they made tasted like soap and dirt? Seriously? What in the world!

I feel for you, Ms. Bear Cub. I didn't have anyone say anything so nasty to me, but you know what? I am sure someone was thinking something nasty about our $2,000 shoestring wedding. Maybe they were criticizing the Make-Your-Own-Sandwich buffet at the Welcome Picnic ("What? I just spent $400 to fly halfway across the country and I have to make my own sandwich? And they aren't providing alcohol until the wedding reception tomorrow?").

Maybe they were criticizing the invitations ("A postcard? Honestly, they think a postcard does enough to honor the gravity and sanctity of marriage? This isn't summer camp; this is MARRIAGE!").

Or maybe it was my dress ("Huh? She's wearing a $15 sundress? From Target? And her shins are showing? On her wedding day? And she's wearing shoes she already owned?").

Or maybe it was my lack of professional hair and makeup ("That's all the effort she's putting into her appearance? On her WEDDING day? Doesn't she realize this is the most important day of her life? Doesn't she know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity? Or is she planning to get a divorce and do this all over again?")

Or maybe it was our decision to buy several regular small cakes from Whole Foods instead of a bona fide wedding cake ("What were they thinking? I can buy a slice of this cake from the grocery store for crying out loud!")

[Editor's Note: This process of making fun of my own wedding is really, really fun! Maybe I should turn it into a comic strip or something.]

But in all seriousness, there are also guests making fun of non-laid-back, model WIC weddings:
  • "What? They spent how much on a dress that she's going to wear one time? And it doesn't even look comfortable!"
  • "Yeah, the cake sure is pretty but it tastes like it's draped in plastic."
  • "The bridesmaids are probably hating the bride for subjecting them to those dresses."
It's just the way people are. And the truth is, it's usually about them, not us. They make fun of our choices because of issues in their own lives (and vice versa when we're the ones doing the mocking).

I think the best thing we can do is focus on our Circle of Influence. We need to devote our energy to the things we can control and try our very best to stop worrying about the things we can't control.

So, what can we control? We can plan the kinds of weddings that make sense for us. We can be authentic to our tastes and preferences, and we can invite our nearest and dearest to share in the experience with us. We can control the guest list, so that we invite more of "Our People" and fewer naysayers. We can develop duck feathers so that others' criticisms and doubts and negative comments roll right off of us.

In other words, we can continue the process of living authentic lives, of being who we are and who we want to be, regardless of what others expect from us. Our lives are too short and too precious to waste our moments trying to contort ourselves to fit into someone else's mold.

In this way, our weddings are good practice for the rest of our lives. They test our courage and our resilience and our willingness to stand up for the kind of lives we want to cultivate.

In the end, it helps to remember, "Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter."

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Pip said...

The little mean girl whol ives inside of my probably would have responded to the soap and dirt remark with: "Oh, you must have gotten the cake that was reserved for the rude complaining people"

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Pip: Ha! That's hilarious. Thank you for starting my day with a chortle.

Sophie said...

That's why we had no guests. Because everything we were trying to cut back, there would have been people complaining. Every idea I had (cake&champagne afternoon reception, arriving in a parent's car, etc.) there was always a relative who was helping with the planning saying "but it will look cheap! what will PEOPLE think!" yet they were not giving a dime. But eloping didn't quite solve it. Even if it was just us, our witnesses and another friend to take pictures, there was drama: my witness scolded me all day, pointing to other brides in the courthouse commenting on how pretty their dresses were and how I was going to regret it from the rest of my life that I wasn't "queen for a day!" It seems that whatever we do, drama is unavoidable.

Angie said...

(Kind of touching on what Sophie said) A family member kept telling us how we had to have the park pavilion decorated in lights, flowers and wreaths. This same family member also told us she will not be helping us set up the day of. So... she wanted to see all this crap set up in an hour and half, but won't even lend a hand. No thank you! She also said we can't do a rehearsal picnic at the park we're having our wedding at because she doesn't want to be outside in the sun for two days in a row. She's much rather prefer a brunch at some fancy restaurant. ARGH!

I know the day of she's going to make a comment about how the park pavilion looks so naked without string lights and blah blah blah... and how she hated eating a Wegman's sandwich platter at our picnic rehearsal lunch, but like you said- DUCK FEATHERS :)

Heather said...

I can't even tell you how much I needed this post this morning! My fiance and I have been having budget talks about chairs for the ceremony. We're on a budget, and honestly another $250 or more for folding chairs for 25 minutes, seems like a lot, so we've been back and forth about having no chairs during the ceremony or asking people to carry their chairs from the ceremony into the reception barn - not a huge distance and the chairs are light-weight. So then we had a whole discussion about whether or not that's too "cheap" and what if people complain. It's been eating up for weeks, so this post definitely helps and puts things into a bit more perspective for me, and I'm going to see what my fiance thinks. Personally, I don't see what the big deal is about carrying your own chair inside - we're going to have people helping to do so, and the people who do mind and think it's too cheap - probably shouldn't even be there.

Maggie said...

"They make fun of our choices because of issues in their own lives"

So true. Yesterday, I mentioned to someone where we are honeymooning. Her response was, "Why? Why would you want to go *there*?"

At first, it made me feel kind of bad, since the honeymoon is a bit of a compromise, and it's not the typical lush, tropical vacation. But then I reminded myself: we chose this because it works for us. We will make it fun. And she was bound to give me that response about something--if not the honeymoon, then something else. it's just how this particular person responds to things.

The making-fun-of-your-own-wedding had me laughing... my guy and I do this all the time. Definitely helps diffuse stress and put things in perspective (also, it's fun to see how outlandish our faux-disdain can be).

Jen said...

Yes! I always need a good reminder of this. Because half of my family thinks we are not taking this seriously enough while the other half things we have gone overboard and that I'm a crazy out of control bride. (ok, not that anyone says things so direct...but I get the gist from their comments)
WTF!? I can't deal with two totally different set of expectations like that. So I don't deal. I just do whatever the eff we want. They will say what they say and in the meantime I'm gonna dance!

Brandy said...

Every single bride, married already or about to be, should read this. EVERY.SINGLE.BRIDE! It's so true....heck I used toilet paper rolls, dressed up beautifully of course, as part of our wedding. And I don't give a fig if people knew they were TP rolls. Those who know me well, aka that know I'm extremely frugal and would rather recycle TP rolls instead of buy something that's getting trashed after the ceremony, thought it was brilliant. The rest either didn't notice or were kind enough to say something. What I was concerned about, obsessively so, was the my new in-law-family that traveled from Italy would feel gipped by a cocktail reception or that there wasn't an Italian translation for them. I intended to do it, and simply ran out of time. But you know what, my new mother-in-law translated the ceremony as it happened over my shoulder. After the wedding, she sent me (not us, me) a thank you card for incorporating so many Italian customs, phrases, and foods into the wedding to make them feel so welcomed and so well-thought-of! I cried at that card. Here, I'd beat myself up because I didn't learn more Italian before they arrived and thought maybe the wedding would be too relaxed for them, and it was simply the opposite. Sara, you are 100% correct....those who matter won't mind. And those who would....WE DIDN'T INVITE! Haha. Sorry. :) It's true though.

Kristen said...

Wonderful post!!!!!!!! I have just started the planning phase and have started to churn out ideas about what we could do and how we could do it.

One of my dearest friends spent 10 minutes telling me that it's all about what we want to do, that we should just have fun with it and be ourselves, etc. etc. Then I told her we were thinking of having a potluck and the words weren't even out of my mouth before she said, "Oh, THAT"S TACKY!!!!" When I explained the way I was thinking of doing it (having a dish registry, making that the gift, collecting recipe cards of what people brought and creating a wedding recipe book), she softened up a bit, but I had to tease her about it and remind her that she had just gone on and on about how we should do it OUR way, and then the first thing I mention she calls tacky!

I am trying to start growing duck feathers right now! Hopefully I will be sportin' some thick ones by the time the big day arrives :)

Sara - thanks for this great post and all of the previous ones! I have your blog bookmarked front and center for sanity's sake.


Jessica said...

How does something taste like dirt AND soap? I don't even think that's possible! You would think one taste would negate the other! (and by the way, I'm sure it tasted great, so don't pay any mind to one rude comment from a Grumpy Gus).

I gave up on caring about what people thought a LONG time ago about our wedding. My sister practically tried to take over the whole thing! We're getting married in 3 weeks and if anyone says anything to me, I am going to try my hardest to just walk away. It will be VERY hard if someone says something to me to do this.

Sara, please oh please make a comic strip. I would read it every day!

A Los Angeles Love said...

This makes me so mad. I'm not married yet and I've heard it all about our wedding already. And if they didn't say it, I've got a lot of scrunchy faces like they've just smelled something rotten.

But you know what? All the people who I love in my heart of hearts get it. It's taken time, because it's different, but they get it. And, if they don't they haven't said anything. I'm still nervous about a few people on our guest list and know we'll get comments, but oh well. They're just small petty people then, and they don't matter. I'm focusing my heart on the people who are excited about our authentic wedding. I'm focusing on the people who know how to see and feed joy and who don't wallow in small mindedness. This is too important not to.

I just feel a little sad for people who are that petty and bitter that they need to be cruel about a wedding. To your face, nontheless.

Joanne Kennedy said...

People will always be making remarks at weddings and parties. It's like they are jealous it's not THEIR day. I say, do what makes you happy and if your guests are rude then don't invite them to the next party you throw.

I would just look at the person making the remark and say "Wow! That was a mean remark" and walk away.


UrDreamPlanner said...

I love this post!! I am the type of Planner to follow my own rules! My clients are each special and you truly do not need to spend $20,000 to create a Beautiful Wedding! As long as you enjoy the food, love what your wearing, are happy to be marrying the love of your life, the music makes you happy, and so on..the rest doesn't matter!

Those guests that complain, probably shouldn't of been there in the first place, because they didn't help contribute!!

I love your blog!! Don't listen to the small talk...Just be happy with the Big day that you two celebrate together!!


"T-Bone" Lee said...

Weddings are so WEIRD!!! No one comes to a birthday party and judges the paper plates or the choice of hamburgers over filet mignon....but when it comes to weddings people feel that they have the right to judge. Maybe it's just because weddings mean SO much to people but in SO very different ways. I have to admit that before I started planning our wedding I had gone to weddings and judged and now I feel bad. I'm sure people will judge our choices (we're not having a live band for the ceremony but having our DJ play music that's important to us...it's not a budgetary issue, but I wonder how many people will think it was and call us cheap in their minds)...., but at the end of the day the people that really love us will realize we planned a wedding that was true to us and be happy that they were invited to share in this moment.

In response to this gal's aunt telling her the cake was awful I would have just looked at her, smiled and said "well that's rude, isn't it?".

Marina said...

Anyone who makes a comment that mean to your face would not have liked your wedding no matter what you did. Sheesh.

Cayt said...

*When* did weddings stop being happy things? Seriously! Someone tell me this! What should be a happy union between two loving people gets to be the biggest, most stressful thing ever because of things like this, because of this entitlement complex people have, and ARGH.

I'm a half-wedding-graduate. We can't afford to have even the ceremony we set out for (~$3000) as we are both jobless, and our families are in tight spots. So we decided to postpone that part and throw a big awesome party when we could afford it, as well as have the community ceremony and all that jazz. And in the meantime, we'd hit up the courthouse and get married. We had a handful of friends who were dear to us who wouldn't be able to make it to the ceremony, so we flew to see them, and went to the courthouse near them.

Unfortunately, it was also near family we didn't invite and now we're dealing with the consequences of everyone pissed off at us because we went and did this without involving them? I'm frustrated, and I'm tired of dealing with this, and I'm tired of the naysaying and I know there's more to this story than I'm telling but I just wish people would try and understand. I wish people didn't view weddings as these Big Things that had to be done a Certain Way and... Yeah. Whoops. Soapboxing. >.> Sorry.


Unknown said...

Those people will find something bad to say no matter what! My memorable comment was from a neighbor who after my sister's wedding (two years after my own) she walked up to me, completely on her own accord, and said "gosh, don't take this the wrong way, but her wedding was so much nicer than yours". Really!!?

I have a budget wedding blog and I am holding $500 in giveaways for the launch - lots of freebies for brides :)

Elsa said...

Someone who would tell the bride that the cake tasted nasty would have found something unpleasant to say no matter what kind of wedding you'd had. They were looking for some flaw, actual or imagined.

I feel sorry for those people: they carry so much hurt and negativity around with them wherever they go, and they can't escape it. It's very sad.

Anonymous said...

That's absolutely incredible. But everyone has a relative/alleged friend/people you know and got invited along in some way that's going to criticize something you do.
My best friend is getting married in two weeks, and as a maid of honor I'm trying to help her and give her the support she needs, repeat and stress that whatever she chooses, someone will find it cheap, or inappropriate. People who want to nag will always find something to criticize.
But the worst part was that an aunt of the groom managed to get the rest of the family on her side about a much bigger issue.
The groom's mother is in a nursing home because she's not self sufficient, and that aunt is claiming that it would be bad for the bride&groom to exclude her from the ceremony as they had planned from the beginning. She insists that THEY should arrange transportation and care for that woman, being very careful to place all responsibilities on my friend, refusing to help in any way.
And this 15 days before the wedding they took 2 years to organize as not to spend a fortune or go insane with planning.

Bessie said...

"Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter." is by Dr. Seuss.

I just read that for the first time in a bathroom the other day, and it really resonated with me. It's a great way to help us live the lives we each really want.

And great post!

Ms Bear Cub said...

Sara, you're absolutely right - those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter.

The hard part comes when those who really don't matter insist that they do. (Even the snottiest of family members matter, or should at least be treated with respect. Kill 'em with kindness!)

I'm constantly surprised at how weddings serve to through all of life's minor power battles into relief. I had no idea the disdain my aunt had for me (she also told me I was a princess on a high horse for having served people a cake and "expecting" them to like it). But now I know, and that sucks.

Oh well - at the end of the [wedding] day, I broke even with family members who care about me :) (-1 aunt, +1 times a million husband)

Ms Bear Cub said...

btw kudos for finding my little project Gatos y Gateau ;) - I baked a LOT of cakes in the year before our wedding (and my Mr. Bear Cub will assure you they don't taste at all like dirt or soap ;) ).

spankey said...

When I was in the midst of wedding preparations I was emailing my future sister in-law, and thought I'd try to put in a "get to know you" question. I asked her if she had been as stressed out before her wedding as I was right then. She emailed back that she thought "planning was fun, but then I had more money then you to spend and wasn't about to cut corners." Huh?
Yes, we had a limited budget, but I had everything I could have ever wanted at what was a beautiful wedding. After the wedding their father confessed that ours contained more love and affection than he had seen at any of his 4 other kids' weddings. And that's what counts.
Also, about two weeks before I had a weird calm come over me when I realized that no one's opinion mattered but mine and my (now)husband's. So, I had fun as well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this! As a wedding planner the first thing I tell my brides is "There are no rules to your own wedding!" Their day isn't about me, the nasty opinionated aunts or the complaining mothers. It's about the couple. Everyone has different dreams & they should be expressed on their day!

Unknown said...

I love this blog. This post was great. My boyfriend and I just got engaged and it has already begun. I made the decision (my fiancee doesn't care either way) to just do city hall and avoid all the drama. It was a difficult choice but when I weighed the pros and cons and just decided it would be simpler. WELL, family members are up in arms that we are having a wedding. As someone said above, some people always have to find fault with everything. If we do decide to do something it will be something small and frugal and I guess I am going to have grow some "duck feathers"! Sorry for rambling. Great blog.

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