Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?
Recently I received a letter from a woman that was about to get married to her live in partner. Their relationship had already gone through all the usual ups and downs. They knew each other families and were both embraced. The children had come to accept each parent as being significant in their lives and on the whole ‘already’ lived and had the trappings of a married couple. The reason for the letter was the dilemma about the kind of wedding they should have. Or should I say, they wanted. They didn’t want all the fuss of a traditional wedding with the cost that that incurs and the stress that goes with organising it. Those of you that did go down that route will probably remember the all the ‘carrying on’ of the whole shebang. You also probably look back and smile or laugh depending on bad it was. One thing most of you will say… ‘it was all worth it’… Your family and friends will have had their stories of the day. You will remember different things of the day but it’ a day that you only expect to do once and it sure is a day that you will never forget… (unless you suffer from some kind of memory loss) and each photograph or video footage will transport you back to the day and all the emotions of the day will be remembered.
So, is it just about the bride and groom? Should the families have a say in what happens? Should money be the deciding factor on the type of wedding you have?
Traditionally, weddings are a family affair; the joining of two families where both families have an input into the cost and preparation of the nuptials. Like many traditions, the ‘wedding’ has evolved into something else. Some are still going with the whole package, some are inviting a few to the ceremony and sit down part with others invited to the ‘reception’… some are going abroad and only a few people attend, some are going to the government municipal offices and off to a restaurant. In fact I could be here all day looking at the different types of weddings I’ve been to or heard about. There are two basic ways of looking at weddings, either a family affair or a personal event, for the couple. The right or wrong of each can be discussed for the next century and there will still be no agreement. You know what type of families you have. How understanding and supportive they are, how traditional they are etc. You also know what your budget is.
The woman asked if it was ‘selfish’ to want an intimate affair with just their nuclear family. I must say I had to stop and think. What I was thinking about was the word selfish. ‘Keeping something to yourself that would be of benefit to others if shared’ (my own definition). How would her wedding benefit others? Give people something to do? Well that’s no reason to spend $XXXX on a wedding for people to come to. Feed people? Again they’ll eat regardless it’ only a few hours in a day. So that people could say congratulations? There are cards, texts, emails, phone calls and visits for that. So that they can share in your happiness? Hm… this one stopped me in my tracks. There are some people who stand by you in your relationship, help you to keep it going, support you in the tough times and earnestly put themselves out there to see you happy and strong in your relationship. Funnily enough generally these people are the ones that say… ‘you do you, whatever makes the two of you happy. Just take lots of pictures so we can see them later’. Then immediately launch into wedding planner mode so that you have a day exactly as you want it. They are more interested in your happiness than their own need to wear a nice frock and hat. These people would be worth spending the money on, but they wouldn’t expect it. How you show your appreciation of the people who have supported you in your relationship really is up to you. Often a wedding and reception with them in attendance will do it. A party at home later in the day or a fancy dinner somewhere or some other celebration will work too. Heck, just inviting them round to watch the video and throwing in some snacks and drinks would let those that care about you, know that you appreciate them. I do think to go off and have a wedding and not give anyone a chance to witness the union in any way shape or form is selfish. Especially when they have their love and respect invested in your happiness.
If money is the issue, invite those that are most important to you round, sit them down and tell them what it is you are planning on doing. If they say ‘go for it’ happily, then just carry on with a light heart. If they look crestfallen and quietly say, ‘well if that’s what you want’ then I’d throw them a lifeline. Tell them what you can afford comfortably and what you think it will cover. Then invite to do the rest including the planning, organising and implementation.
Life is about compromise. It’s about feeling at peace with yourself. It’s about considering others and the role they play in your life. Ultimately, marriages are about two people… not even the children figure too importantly. They matter to a degree , but are not the main focus. Marriage is about TWO people and how they negotiate the maze of life. Weddings however, different kettle of fish!