Your Wedding Is Not An Imposition


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Your Wedding Is Not An Imposition | A Practical Wedding

This is too important to bury in the comments. So here we go:

YOUR WEDDING IS NOT AN IMPOSITION.

Did you get that? It’s not an imposition on *anyone.* And let me tell you why. It’s not because your guests will have fun at your wedding (though, duh, they will), it’s because your guests are grown-ass people. They are GROWN UPS. If your wedding is too expensive, or too far away, or just too much of a bother? They won’t come. If you’re lucky, they’ll be very kind when they tell you about it. If you’re not lucky? Then you didn’t want them there anyway (try to remember that mid-sob, it was hard for me.)

But the people that come to your wedding? Well, let me quote the wise Marisa-Andrea, “This is what I have learned: The people who love you and care about you will not feel like your wedding is a burden or an imposition. They will be thrilled that out of all of the people you could have invited, you want THEM. The (editors note: FEW) people who do feel burdened — eh. You are always going to have someone who isn’t satisfied.*”

And if they are not grown ups? If they are quite small? Well. I trust you are serving cake and punch and giving them room to run around? If so, they’ll remember your wedding fondly for the rest of their lives, and they’ll hope one day their wedding will be just like it.

*Ass-hats.

Photo by APW sponsor Gabriel Harber

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12997875522614810785 Mouse

    THANK YOU!

    Ass-hats, indeed.

    I know that the people who love us will be excited to be there, and everyone else, well, whatever.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04795863661094922831 Jo

    I struggled with this in a very serious way, all throughout our engagement. And, I think it's where my only (minimal) regrets stem from – "Oh, I should have introduced people more!" because then they would feel like they were more included.

    But the response we got from everyone was that the thought we put into our ceremony made them feel completely moved and grateful to just BE there and experience it with us.

    And the great food and awesome dancing party we had afterwards was just icing on the wedding cupcake (if you will).

    So I've tried to focus on that fact, and the fact that I can't remember ever going to anyone else's wedding and feeling imposed upon. Sheesh!

  • http://www.shinyprettybits.com kc

    I really needed this. One of my bridesmaids, someone I consider a dear friend, is getting married a month before us. She never fails to inform me, every time we speak, what an inconvenience MY wedding is to her. To quote: we could be going on a honeymoon, except the plane tickets for your wedding are so expensive! Or, we would take a honeymoon, except we have to use our vacation to go to YOUR wedding, just a month after. You get the picture. I have offered to PAY for her plane ticket. I have let her know that I understand if she cannot come. I am beginning to think that some people just want to complain.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09148000224621590075 Nikki

    Thank you for saying this. It is exactly what I need to hear today. Exactly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06042553293751060098 Nightravyn

    Dear heavens, thank you for both of these articles. I've read them both, and have been trying to beat the messages into my brain since. Once the wedding planning went into high gear, I started fretting about the ways I could make everything easiest on all my friends and family coming from all over. It's not a big wedding, but everyone's scattered to the ends of the earth.

    But after starting to have panic attacks over the whole situation, I started to step back and realize just what these articles are saying: No, I don't HAVE to entertain everyone like we're in a 3 ring circus. And no, I don't have to stress over the fact my wedding is an hour from the nearest airport, etc. Our friends and family love us, and will come or not as they can (and most of them are gleefully plotting their trips). And those that do come are coming to be there for something they've been waiting for: us getting married and being happy with each other.

    I just need to slap myself and remind myself of this fact every so often. Thankfully, my intended is good at remaining calm and reminding me when I need it. ;)

  • http://happynappybride.wordpress.com/ Happy Nappy Bride

    And we have to remember that everyone won't be happy and it's not our job to make everyone happy. Those people are always unhappy and why would they choose your happy moment to stop being unhappy?

    I can't be bothered with it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    … And it's really not our business that they are unhappy.

  • Stephanie

    Yes, Thank you!

    The one thing I wish I knew going into our wedding is EXACTLY that. The people that were there, were the people that were supposed to be there. The people that had a good time were the people that were genuinely happy to be a part of our marriage and understood that the clebration was not about them. That we would do our best to see and talk with them, but that there other people to laugh and dance with too.

    Also, the other lesson I learned, your wedding is not the end of the celebration. There will be people that can't come for whatever reason. There will be people that you meet later that you wish, wish, wish, you would have known sooner so they could have been there. But, you will get to celebrate about your mutual love and support throughout your lives.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03209113339750185034 nina@mount pleasant wedding

    Thank you for this!! I've been starting to feel guilty for imposing on people that they have to pay for accomodation to come to our wedding. My mother-in-law was just visiting and commented several times how expensive it was going to be for my sister-in-law and her family to come. when they're flying to Cuba this spring for their friends' wedding!!

    I have a friend who lives halfway across the country and I told her that I would absolutely not be offended if she didn't come because I knew it would be expensive. She was thrilled and so excited and is definitely coming! Yay for the people that want to be there!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    "There will be people that you meet later that you wish, wish, wish, you would have known sooner so they could have been there. But, you will get to celebrate about your mutual love and support throughout your lives."

    Tear. Up.

    That's how I feel about our co-officiant and her wife, who were married a few years before we knew them. Why couldn't we have known them in time?? But it doesn't matter. We know them now, and they were there for us, and we can celebrate each other from now till the end.

  • Sara

    Oh yes, needed this today.

    I had a complete wedding planning meltdown last week. My fiancee and I have always wanted a ceremony with a cocktail reception. Party with friends on the town afterwards. That's it.

    But it's so easy to take the path of least resistance – which is – pretty much going along with whatever a caterer or your wedding venue has in mind for a smooth wedding. Not what you want, necessarily, but what's easiest. It's so simple to fall into that trap.

    Certain family members have been saying "People will expect dinner. What will they say when they find out it's only a cocktail reception?" And I say "I'm putting on the invitation COCKTAIL RECEPTION. And they say "But they will still be hungry."

    And finally, last week it popped into my head. They are *adults.* If they need a full meal, eat before they come. Eat after they leave. Don't come at all. Whatever they want. Adults make decisions, it's the beauty of being an adult.

    Ok, rant done. Apologies. Did I mention I had a wedding meltdown? ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Sara
    I mean. As long as it's at cocktail hour, they need to grow up. Or not come. Only serving cocktails at say, a 4pm-9pm wedding would be… well… everyone would be hilariously drunk, right? But otherwise? People need to f*cking deal with it.

    The infantalization of wedding geusts is a pet peave of mine, and a rant I havn't really… written… yet (trouble ahead).

    The flip side (which is fresh hell) is when people way over-program guests. Like – "Seriously? You want me to play twister right now? GET OFF MY ASS, I want to DRINK MY COCKTAIL."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00570876113939066775 Julia (Color Me Green)

    well now i feel bad for feeling burdened by the idea of spending $1200 and 10+ hours of flying to go to a friend's wedding that is just one (albeit very important) night in our lives. but you know what…it doesn't always make sense to go to weddings we are invited to. we all have to do what's right for our situation and whatever happens, it's not the end of the world.

    • Cynthia

      I think that was exactly the point of the article. If you feel burdened, you shouldn’t go. For everyone’s sake.

  • Sara

    Thanks Meg – we are actually having heavy hor d'oeurves at the cocktail reception. So yes, it'll be more than one hour, but there will be plenty of food. Just not sit-down dinner. It's my feeling that if they need a full steak to feel satisfied, then they should go ahead and eat that before the wedding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00650933140736435170 Giggles

    One of the funny moments during our reception was after our first dance when I was dancing with my father and he with his mother, was that his mother kept pointing out people who had just arrived and that we needed to go say hi to them and that because we'd been busy cutting the cake and playing the piano and having our first dance that several people had arrived and hadn't been greeted yet.

    My husband just laughed it off and figured if people came and were offended and left because they weren't greeted as they walked in the door because we were off having our first dance, then it was their own fault and we didn't want them there in the first place.

    In the end, nobody cared that we were enjoying our reception and weren't standing at the door all night.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Julia
    Indeed. You don't have to go. You really really don't have to go. You can be kind and lovely and write them a letter telling them how much they mean to you, and that you wish you could afford to go, and then give them a meaningful gift. They'll be a little sad, and they'll miss you, but THEY WILL UNDERSTAND.

    And then you can take them out to dinner when you see them next.

    Or you can go, and have fun. That's sometimes awesome too.

    If it makes you feel better, I WISH we were burden with more wedding invitations.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. Just awesome. It's amazing to me how many (and I hate to use this word, but here goes) guestzilla's there are out there. And half of them seem to be related to me somehow. Sorry for the mini-rant, but I wish I could just send them all this post, and just have them realize 'hey, she's not trying to be a horrible person. She just doesn't see why every aunt MUST have a corsage' Or that dancing to a peppy first dance is okay. Or that I don't want to create a hand crafted out of town bag, invite everyone to the rehersal dinner, have brunch with everyone on Saturday morning, hand make my own centerpieces, make personalized favors for each and every guest, walk to each and every table and skip dinner to say hello to each and every person, and have brunch with everyone again on Sunday.

    My current mantra: Not doing these things does not make me a bad bride. Not doing these thing will not mean my wedding is ruined. Not caving on these things does not mean I am being 'selfish' or that I am not remembering that this wedding is "not just about you, but is about the families as well" I KNOW THAT, but my wedding is also not about my aunties/mom showing off to their friends/neighbors/other relatives. I cannot bend over backwards to please everyone. Not doing these things does not make me a bad bride.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10887625097831786188 elizabeth

    …except that it's so easy to get the idea that the wedding is an imposition when people – esp. people involved in the wedding – are saying that it is. Sadly, I heard from my two besties (1) what a – possibly insurmountable – hassle it would be if our wedding were up in the mountains, four hours from the nearest airport (we chose another location so that she could be there); and (2) what a hassle it was to find a dress, come to the rehearsal, find clothing for the kids, etc.

    Ok, yeah, F*ck 'em. But these are my two best friends, lifelong friends. It's not like I'm gonna get new friends months before the wedding. While it would be great if everyone were purely happy for us – as they would be in an ideal world – other people have their own agendas, some of which may involve not wanting to be bothered, some of which may include thinking you're going overboard (which simply means the discrepancy between their views on weddings and your own), and some of which may be a desire not to have friendships change at all, when they surely will, post-wedding.

    Thanks for raising this issue, Meg. Would that we were all so self-assured as to be able to ignore comments from others that suggest they feel imposed upon by the obligations associated with our weddings.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16598818215956339093 sandra

    Thank you for that post. I'm getting married in Hawaii next month and it's amazing how many people have disappointed me by saying they can't be there. I gave them 18 months to prepare and I'm still feeling guilty for having it there. Thank you for reminding me that it truly isn't me, it's them. And thank you for reminding me that the people who are going to be there are amazing (although I knew that).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Sandra
    The flip side is, if you have a destination wedding, the ground rules are that you CAN'T expect non-immediate-family to come, you can only be absolutely delighted if they CAN make it. Because it's a vacation, a wonderful (but expensive) vacation. Which is a different thing, a bit.

    But that's the point, they are grown ups and they will make their own decisions, and that is fine and fair and wonderful. And they are not allowed to make you feel bad or guilty. They are only allowed to say things like, "Oh, that sounds wonderful! We so wish we could make it. You'll have so much fun, and we will raise a toast to you from here!"

    So enjoy it, and relish the time you'll get with the wonderful people that can come.

    • Sarahkay

      I agree with you Meg. I don’t know who will be at our wedding.

      We’re getting married on a cruise, soon. We aren’t giving people 12 months to plan. So it’s not much notice, and I don’t really know who will show except maybe our parents(hopefully?). But with his family scattered allover Southeast Asia and assorted other far-flug destinations, his father in Germany, our friends all over the country, and my family in the American South(2,000 miles away) it’s going to be asking a lot for people to gather in the city where we live- so we might as well do what we want to do, and take the first vacation of my adult life. If our loved ones are able and willing to join us on this fantastic vacation to start our new lives, YAY!!! And if not, it’ll be like a romantic elopement, and we’ll send postcards telling everyone we love and miss them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08630952870183488792 Rachael Eisner

    Here friggin here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18182268757502634911 sera

    yes, ass hats. Meg, every time i read your blog I feel a little more blessed to get to read it. Seriously.

  • April

    Oh, I struggled with this one for MONTHS. We first selected a glorious place to marry that meant so much to us; but I fretted nonstop that it would be too pricey and too out-of-the-way for many guests. So we ditched it; got married in our hometown instead.

    There are days when I am a tiny bit sad, wishing for the original plan we'd had. Because even though we changed our wedding location so that more could join us, our wedding was STILL quite small. And there's the rub: no matter what you decide for the wedding or where you choose to get married, someone(s) will not be able to fly there, stay there, or join in for myriad reasons. Best to just plan and get on with it, let the chips fall and guests gather where they may.

  • Sarah

    this is a big issue of contention for us as well! we live in chicago, but we're having our wedding on long island (ny) b/c that's where i grew up, and a lot of my family is still in the area. FH's family is from upstate NY, which is about 6 hrs drive, but in reality, it's about a whole "world" away, mentally. i had some flack that a lot of his family aren't at all interested in coming to our wedding b/c it's far, the cost, etc. but really, it's like if it's that hard for you, do you really want those people there in the first place, anyway? i have family and friends who will also be coming from maryland, virginia, massachusetts, arizona, st. louis, and michigan… and they're all still excited to be making the trek. my mom even has friends who now live in london who want to come in for the event! i feel like in the end, distance is more of a psychological thing, and it's what people make of it in their minds. that's not to say that we won't be sad when there are barely any of FH's family at the wedding… but at the same time, we also want people to be there who WANT to be there… not people who feel put out by being there. i feel like this has been a really huge hurdle for us, and i'm glad that we're not alone!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01357677266168771468 Catherine

    Seriously, this blog is keeping me sane. Thank you!

    Perhaps it's the case that that infantilisation of wedding guests is connected to "bothering them" guilt? Like, the more you do for them, they less they'll have to do themselves, the less you're bothering them? Maybe.

    Last week Dad, of all people, started worrying about where the family were going to stay. ALL of them. And expected me to sort them all out (Mum set him straight bless her). Now, I'm more than happy to recommend accommodation. We're even giving over our entire house to guests, happily. But I had to remind myself that our guests are ADULTS and can book a B&B; themselves…

    Anyway, yes, you rule :D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00379596904318935981 Liz

    @hors d'ouevre reception sara- we did a dessert reception, and heard a lot of the same. ignore ignore ignore.

    we didn't expect folks to want to travel to have just a cupcake and coffee. but we ended up with some people flying from ca and tx and all over, and then THANKING us for LETTING them come, over and over.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14470716512876801431 SaraElizabeth

    So helpful. I needed this reminder. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11777354604543168212 Anne

    Thank you, Meg! I am having this exact stress right now. The "Everyone's traveling all this way and so we must entertain and ensure everyone's comfort at all times because if we don't no one will be happy and we'll have spent all this time and money for nothing but headaches!!!" Time to breathe. They are adults, responsible for their own happiness. Repeat like a mantra.

  • Emily

    Thanks for this, Meg! After my mom found out the boy and I are having our reception in the private room at our favorite local bar, she actually told me *not* to invite a lot of our extended family because, in a nutshell, they're used to big, traditional weddings and won't want to travel three hours for our "beer thing." Yeah. She referred to our wedding as a "beer thing." Sigh.

    But you're absolutely right that our guests are in fact grown ups (something I, admittedly, sometimes overlook) and they'll come if they want to. And how sad would it be to exclude people you love because you're afraid of burdening them with your laid back wedding?

    • Roadrunner

      Dear god, I wish I could have the same peace you have with this. We’re having a very small, private ceremony–as in, literally 9 people besides the two of us. And then a big dinner afterwards with friends and family to celebrate. But just a dinner, not a wedding reception–there will be no chicken dance, first dance, garter tossing, etc. We’re just going to have a fantastic meal with people we love.

      But my extended family is all used to large, multi-day, Catholic weddings. Can I really ask them to come half way across the country, some with small children, for a dinner? But I’ve been invited to all my cousins’ weddings–can I really not invite them at all?

      I just don’t know what to do.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08169407356570837365 D-Day

    Thanks Meg!! I'm lucky enough to not have anyone (yet) tell me what an imposition any part of our wedding is going to be. Everyone so far has assured me that whatever they are doing/spending is a pleasure and they're just excited to be there.

    STILL I feel guilt over how much the bridesmaid dresses were, how much the hotel costs are going to be, the fact that people are showering us with gifts in addition to just Being there. I *know* they do it because they want to. I know they're adults who will only do what they can afford to do (and if they do more than they can afford, that is not my business).

    Also yeah the blogworld sure makes you think you need to throw a carnival to entertain people. Thanks for the reminder that just getting people together, with a little food and drink and music, will be enough.

  • Anonymous

    Oh boy. I think this entire discussion is relative.

    You have to look at the financial circumstances of your family and friends, as well as their time available.

    The complication is that you may not really know their situation since most people keep their finances private.

    I had to turn down going to my cousins' weddings which were several states away. At the time, I was too broke to pay for airfare, a hotel, transportation, a gift, and an outfit to wear. It wasn't the fault of my cousins – they just lived that far away so I didn't hold it against them.

    I think there is a difference between a hometown that just happens to be far away versus a couple who CHOOSE a far away location.

    It takes having some descretionary income to be the kind of guest who can travel long distances (more than a car ride). So, some of this discussion boils down to socioeconomic issues.

  • Anonymous

    My own parents have lost so much of their retirement savings thanks to this economic meltdown, that I think I'd have to pay for their hotel rooms if I wanted to get married where I now live.

  • Caitlin

    Oh did I need this today. Thank you thank you Meg!

    We've been engaged since April and as soon as we announced that our wedding will be about a 4-6 hour drive for most of the guests, the complaints started rolling in. Mostly from extended family, but it's been hard to hear since I already have the tendency to put too much effort into making sure people are happy.

    But the best thing has been the people who have countered these complaints with such joy-"we may not be able to make it since the hotels are expensive, but we'll do everything we can" or the friends who say "it's one night in a hotel, it's four hours in a car, we'll sleep 6 to a room and there's no way in hell we're missing this".

    Surrounding ourselves with those latter thoughts really helps. And of course reading things like this!

  • Nina

    Thanks for addressing this issue.
    I've been feeling this little nagging guilt in my head about burdening people all throughout the planning – it's there in the background every time I write an email to a friend who has to travel, or contemplate what I could ask for some help with – basically I'm just uncomfortable with people making a fuss over us. But I think they are happy to, and I'm hoping that this one time I can actually truly accept it and take in the affection of the people around me instead of feeling uncomfortable over it (maybe that'll be my transcendent experience of the wedding day).

  • Tulip

    Sandra, you could give me five years to save for a trip to Hawaii and I still couldn't swing it. ;-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13384246523460058023 misslippy

    I hope every wedding guest will remember that you've invited a select number of people (I assume) to witness something incredibly special and personal. When I have been a guest at great (meaning personal, fun, intimate) weddings, I always feel like I should be the one writing the thank you note.

    Some of the people I worried about the most at our wedding (family friends traveling a long way, not knowing anyone, etc) all made a point of thanking me for including them. It felt insane to be the recipients of such love and support and have THEM thanking US.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11575834126606152875 miss fancy pants (the bride)

    Ugh, this concept is so much easier said than done for me. I would love to be able to remember that I shouldn't concern myself with small-minded, petty people, but when those kind of people are in your family (in my case, some of my aunts and sometimes both my and his parents) it's nearly impossible to keep this in mind.

    If the world were a perfect place, I would be planning this wedding surrounded by people who were only 100% happy for us and thought of nothing else. As it happens, that is not always the case. And that's probably the #1 struggle we've had to deal with in the last year and a half.

    But I'm trying (really, really, really hard) to drill the message of your last couples posts into my head! Maybe it'll finally stick at some point between now and June, haha.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00379596904318935981 Liz

    @ misslippy- problem is, there are some folks out there who have this mindset that guest=gift. so if you invite a lot of people, all it really means is that you want a lot of gifts.

    which is obviously a load of CRAP because a toaster would be way less expensive for me than a spot at my wedding. way WAY.

    but i think that may be where the whole "guest imposition" thing has its roots.

  • Lindsey

    This is great. Thanks so much. My fiance's family lives across the country and I have been worrying about this. But then I remember that he & I have flown out there for multiple family weddings and had a great time.

    Also I can't imagine feeling burdened by a wedding. I am always so honored to get invited to celebrate with someone! I have to remind myself that (hopefully) most of our guests will feel the same way when they get our invites.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the commenter who said "it's relative." Last year I was invited to a destination wedding and it was made pretty clear that the friendship would be over if I didn't accept. This was a great financial burden, used 50% of my vacation days for the year, led to me missing an important religious holiday with my family, was a rather uncomfortable 4 or 5 days in another country with many people I didn't know, and it turns out, our friendship suffered anyway. I know two others who declined their invitations due to financial concerns and in both of those instances, my "friend" took it personally and the friendships were cut off. I hope this is an isolated, extreme case. That being said, I truly agree with the main point of Meg's post, which is very refreshing!

  • Cate Subrosa

    "The infantalization of wedding guests" – looking forward to that one, Meg :)

    On the over-programming side… not to brag about my own wedding or anything (ha ha) but we got so many comments on how great it was that we…

    1) got married
    2) let everyone buy themselves whatever they wanted to drink and catch up for an hour or so
    3) ate
    4) had some speeches
    5) partied

    It was simple, and people loved it. They got to eat and drink, chat and dance. And that's what people really want from a wedding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06939655050839177513 thehickbride

    I definitely needed to see this!!!! Thanks for the great post!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13701002256314578594 Alexis

    Thanks for this post… I've been struggling with a "friend of mine" who won't make the effort to come. I even asked her to be a bridesmaid because we were so close and her response was that she doesn't know if she can get time off work (she had a year advance notice). Since this, we aren't friends anymore but I feel greatful that this has happened. It really put our relationship in perspective. If I'm important enough to someone (within financial / distance constraints anyway), they will make the effort. I've had lesser issues with this with my other guests too so I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388295799913646592 “T-Bone” Lee

    I really needed this post. I have been having major guilt about the money my wedding party is spending despite them all saying they are fine with it….I am not normally a people pleaser type but I REALLY have been feeling like I just don't want anyone to feel burdened or put out ….despite spending a lot of money on some of their weddings and never feeling put out because I LOVE them…it's hard to see that they would feel the same way.

  • Tania

    Thank You!!! Very well put!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    You guys, I'm sort of assuming that you understand the flip side, we are all ALSO adults, and understand and take responsibility for the the ways that our wedding decisions effect others.

    If everyone has to travel to come to a wedding – some people will be able to, and some people won't. The point is, they get to be adults and choose, just like you were an adult when you chose where to have it. We rather regularly turn down wedding invitations for far away weddings. We'd like to go, but lots of money is lots of money, and that's the way it goes. That said, when we can't go, we don't GUILT the couple, or make DEMANDS. Nope, we apologize send a sweet note, and buy a small gift. And it is what it is.

    And destination weddings are, indeed, a different beast. When you make the choice to have one, you immediately have to let everyone off the hook on attending. Immediately. You tell them that you would be thrilled if they can make it, but you are NOT EXPECTING THAT OF THEM. And many who love you will come, and many who love you won't be able to. Because no. It's not up to us to plan other peoples vacations.

    So. It's very shared responsibility. That said, getting married is NEVER an imposition (at least not the way y'all do it. Please.)

    @Anon
    We paid for several sets of hotel rooms for people we wanted there. We also offered to pay for plane tickets. It put us over budget. It was worth it to us. Again, that's part of being a grown up. It was important to us to get married in OUR home, and we decided it was worth it to us accept the consequences. It is what it is. That' s the joy and pain of being a grown up right? Personal responsibility for our decisions (whatever they are).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11616638527985079172 elyse

    to repeat what so many others have said, LOVE your blog!

    as for being an imposition on our guests, we're having our wedding on a thursday night. my (extended) family's reaction, most of whom live within a 2-3 hour drive? 'how could we/why would we do such a thing? make me take a day off from work?' his extended family's reaction, almost all of whom live in s. africa, australia and new zealand, well, more of them are planning to come than we expected! maybe its because they would have to take time off regardless, but it just reaffirms why i never felt the need or desire to have a big wedding (unfort for me, fiance does NOT agree! maybe because he has a sane family he wants to celebrate with!)

    luckily our friends (who are all over the place) cannot wait to celebrate with us, and are psyched we're giving them an excuse for an extra-long holiday weekend (its the thursday before memorial day).

    i actually have the opposite problem though – feeling like i'm imposing on people who we know already won't be able to come. like 80% of fiance's guest list from his hometown (st louis, wedding is in ct), mostly family acquaintenances whose weddings his parents have attended, or who were invited to his brothers wedding which was local – they feel obliged to invite, i feel terrible because we know they can't afford to travel but will feel they need to get us a gift.

    before you say i / my family should put our collective foot down, his family is paying for half the wedding. so luckily cost isn't an issue. but my comfort level is, and i keep imagining that all these people they say won't actually come, do actually come. its been the major (only, really) issue we've argued over. well, aside from me losing the "let's have a small intimate wedding" battle, but i knew that before we even got engaged!

    sorry for the long rant! anyone else out there having a practical 'large' wedding? not an easy feat to pull off!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12465660658541486360 Rachel

    Thank you so much for this post! Our family and friends are scattered every which way so anywhere we had our wedding would have been a "destination" for more than half the guests we invited. Despite this, we are still hearing negative things about how far it is to fly to the Florida Keys.

    I'm also hearing only negative things from my mom (my parents are divorced) about how awful my wedding is going to be for her and my brother and how cruel I am for imposing certain people on her. It's been really difficult for me not to feel incredibly guilty about having a wedding at all, so this post helped me feel a little better at least!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07070862577463593562 Sharon

    Meg, you are truly a jewel amongst women. As much as I told myself before I was engaged that I wouldn't be sucked into the excessive guilt and handwringing that often accompanies wedding planning, I've definitely fallen prey to it more than once already. ("We really aren't close to so-and-so and so-and-so, but they will be super-offended if we don't invite them… so I guess we should?" "Are my friends who are offering to help out REALLY okay with it?" etc.)

    It's funny because I have never, in a single wedding that I have attended or bridesmaided for, ever felt imposed upon. Ever. And most of the people I am inviting are ones with whom I've had beautiful friendships spanning years and years. And yet… I still worry that I'm burdening them. Isn't that strange?

    (I think I'm going to take to calling the wedding "The Party" in my head, just to make planning seem less daunting! :D)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04977640100594117514 Kelly

    I have been worrying about this very (VERY) issue all morning and then opened up A Practical Wedding and just started laughing out loud when I began to read.

    I love you all.

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree with what you've said about destination weddings — many people will not be able to come and that is fine. What gets tricky is when it is immediate family. My brother and his lady are planning one, and I don't think they've really thought about how expensive this will be for all of us, especially our parents, who are not in a position to pay for something like that and are not into adventure vacations. But, it's my brother, I'm going, and keeping my mouth shut.

  • fran

    I'm attempting to have a practical large wedding. it's HARD. For one, we are doing it in upstate NY, an hour from where we met and his family. I'm from the South. No one is happy, but oh well. My big issue is kids– I am very, very close to the 4 cousins on my side. He has about 20 cousins under 12, and barely knows any of them. We can't invite *my* cousins and not his… or can we….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06039509732190999476 Janet

    I didn't even realize how badly I've been doing this until I read this post. Oh. My. Goodness.

    You're so right. I'm a total people-pleaser, and that has started to get me into trouble with this whole wedding planning shebang. I am super worried that I'm imposing some sort of burden on all of my guests. (Wedding guests, shower guests, bachelorette party guests….)

    On one hand, I think that reaching out to people to tell them that I hope that they'll be able to celebrate but that I totally understand if they can't make it is good and healthy. On the other hand, having a panic attack about the fact that "no one is going to want to come because the wedding is so far from civilization" (and that's why I'm telling everyone how okay I am with it if they can't make it)… well, I think maybe I've fallen off the deep end.

    What the heck is wrong with me? Thank you, Meg. It's all so simple once you think about it in the proper way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17854521209781210323 Alycia

    @Fran-
    Do your cousins know his cousins? Will they ever have a conversation about your wedding? Does his family know your family well enough to pick out cousins during a large wedding? If not, then no worries! Invite the people you love and know, related or not.

  • Sunshine

    Two couples could come up with identical locations/plans and it might be brilliant for one couple and a disaster for the other.

    You really have to know a lot about the lives of your family and friends to choose wisely.

    Meg, you should do a review of this book I just read – "ALL DRESSED IN WHITE: THE IRRESISTIBLE RISE OF THE AMERICAN WEDDING" by Carol McD. Wallace.

    It traces American wedding customs from the 1800's to 2004. I was aware of some of the facts, but the author really filled in a lot of blanks.

    Like, I finally know where the whole "princess for a day" thing got started.

    Weddings are shockingly more complicated now and it's facinating to read how they were in the 1800's. The author demonstrates that "traditions", details and events have been constantly added to weddings – and very seldom been taken away.

    Consequently, the planning time has gotten longer and longer to pull off such a complicated event.

    She also talks about several critics down through the decades who have tried to put the brakes on wedding madness … with no results.

    Best wedding-related book I've read and the author isn't snarky like some wedding writers are.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05848016840645068780 Hannah Stonehouse Hudson

    As a photographer I will say – do what YOU want, its the only way you'll be happy and look happy. As the matron of honor in my sister's upcoming wedding I will say – do what YOU want, because that's why your bridesmaids are there. To help you get to where you want to be (literally and figuratively) You are not an imposition to them. They need direction and will do whatever makes you happy – regardless :). If they don't then screw them lol

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10323993039912422459 Kristie B

    Imposing. I'm sorry, but someone inviting you to something special like a wedding is not an imposition. Your job as a guest (and especially as a member of the wedding party) is to smile and have a good time. Even if everything at the wedding is something you would never in your right mind choose to do – smile and (even if you have to pretend) have a good time. That is what adults do. You do not pout about having to wear a certain outfit, the music that is being played, who is sitting at your table, that you aren't entertained, that the ceremony wasn't traditional, that the couple chose chicken instead of beef…you smile for that couple.

    More than a few times I've had to snap at fellow wedding guests and remind them of this. If it is such an imposition, then don't come (and make a very polite excuse why you can't make it – do not tell the couple something mean).

    Asshats indeed.

  • mel

    I love the term ass-hats

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10323993039912422459 Kristie B

    Oh…

    Years before we were engaged, D & I had this amazing chat about what marriage meant to us and why we would have a wedding. A big part of that was to have our community of family and friends witness our vow and ask them to support our future marriage. We would not invite people who haven't supported our relationship up to that point. We would not invite family members who we didn't think had major impact on who we became as adults. We would not invite people who we didn't think we would talk to 5 years after the wedding.

    This mantra of inviting/ surrounding ourselves with people who we really viewed as the pillars of support for our marriage has helped us slide past a lot of disagreements (internal and external).

    I don't need negative people in my life. Blood or not.

    New mantra – No Asshats at my wedding!

    I really like that word, thanks Meg.

  • Anonymous

    I get it and I love it, although it also makes me laugh because the thing I kept saying to everyone while planning our wedding was, "No, no, we're not inviting [insert name of my mother's college roommate, my in-laws' distant relation, my former co-worker," because we want a small wedding and besides, other people's weddings are a pain in the ass, so I'm sure they don't want to come to ours."

  • Deborah

    Great forbidden subject. My "guestzillas" involved my now-husband's best friends from high school… 20 years of good times, attendance at all their weddings and births, and coming through to support them at various highs and lows in their lives. My husband rather stands alone in his capacity as a male to be a responsible friend (as opposed to the not uncommon male way of being a friend who "hangs out" for entertainment), and it was a huge source of pain to him that they were so difficult.

    It was also a huge source of stress for me – I wanted a small event anyway, and only had the wedding because he couldn't conceive of getting married without all his friends there. Well, after being told exactly how we were to conduct the wedding if any of them were going to be bothered to come (the greatest insult you can give to someone throwing a huge party for YOU to come celebrate with someone who's ALWAYS come through for you), we still ended up with a lot of sad, sad behavior. The best man couldn't be bothered to wait on his cigarette to give a toast; the group of friends he's been core with for 2 decades preferred to ransack our house for liquor the night before the wedding, held in our backyard (reliving the glory days as a marauding teenager I guess) than just BYOB and chill before the big party we'd set the booze aside for, and then they all treated it like a big free food and drink fest for the specific purpose of getting blitzed… and didn't even congratulate us, get us even a token card as a "yes this is about you" gift, etc. I guess we needed to be punished for our rudeness in asking them to drive a few hours out of their way to be a part of this important transition in his life.

    Am I bitter? A little. I paid for this big party, which I didn't want. I had inklings that his friends were going to turn out to be Not Friends for years before this – the one time he asked them to do anything for him (and I STILL can't get over that attending a really nice, fun party is a burden…). I gave up my honeymoon to make this happen, and they all acted like a bunch of ungrateful brats.

    But the balance I've found, after surviving all this, is that my husband got the wedding he wanted. He loves a party, and he got one – with fortune tellers, beautiful decorations, great food and drink, and lots of fun in the pool, the hot tub, the music room, and all that late into the night. He may not have gotten the personal "we recognize this is a way to honor you and your wife" that I (strangely) thought was inherent in attending a wedding, but he did get his legendary party. So I choose to think of that as my gift to him. Rationalizing helps (a little – haha).

    The other balance is that he finally got to know the quality of his friends, and it has reshaped how much he extends himself and feels committed to them, and who he knows to be a worthwhile investment. That sounds harsh, but weddings and marriage are a time of transition – a time to recognize that now your life is with the one person you've just committed to. Perhaps that's why his friends did what they did (I can imagine it's hard to lose the one person you could always count on to drop everything and save your ass). But the fact is, now we know who we're dealing with, and we can make informed decisions about whether we're going to extend ourselves for them (not based on the fact that 20 years ago you had good teen times). I hate that it had to be such a visceral and personal disappointment for him… but at least I'll never have to watch my husband be treated disrespectfully by someone who holds the honor of being his "best friend" again!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14423309373403650082 basketcase

    OMG yes.
    We looked at having a "destination" wedding (about 4 hours drive from home) in a location that meant SO much to us… Then my Mum started talking about how impractical it was, so we flagged it for something here instead. I still get pangs of regret, but we have paid non-refundable deposits here and cant afford to lose them.

    The only wedding I know of where it feels like an imposition for me is that my Future Brother in Law is getting married the same day as one of my best friends, and I cant get to both, so have been told by my FMIL that I HAVE to be at the family ceremony – even though thats now only 6 weeks away and we have NO information or invites. I'm trying hard to get over it and pick myself up to deal with missing a good friends wedding, especially since I dont want to get on the wrong side of the In Laws. It just takes time.

    If the family wedding in the other town were better organised, I think I would feel much better about it though. Must remember to smile for whole day away from Fiance, stuck with people I dont know while he is in the bridal party…

    • http://diannelamerc.com diannelamerc

      We’re still planning, but we’re in the same sitch–planning a “destination wedding” 4-5 hours from L.A. (where we and half the guest list live). I’ve been worrying and dithering over that.

      My mom is worried no one will come so far–although, frankly, the people we’re talking about aren’t any of them deal-breakers. They’re mostly extended family who I grew up with and whose (local) weddings I’ve attended over the years.

      But that was 20 years ago. Being twice that now, we have the freedom of planning (and paying!) everything on our own. For the last 10-15 yrs these people have been a combination of childhood memories and faces I see at a big family holiday party once every year or two.

      So now I’m feeling more confident in planning the wedding in SLO. We are good with a small wedding anyway. Considering the other half of the guest list are either local to that area or would be flying in from other parts of the country anyway, we’ve been considering a weekday wedding, because I’m not sure that will actually affect the numbers much.

      The trickiest part is deciding how to plan the numbers! If we invite ~50, and only 5 are guaranteed (parents, sister who’s officiating), do we plan for the 10 my mom thinks might make it, the 50 total, or the 30 my intended thinks is most likely? With such small numbers, it makes a big difference!

  • Anonymous

    Ass Hat is one of my favorite words too. Except that I'm confused because people use a hyphen and some don't.

  • Anonymous

    If you don't impose upon your guests, they will likely not feel imposed upon. Thoughtful planning can ensure that folks who otherwise love the bride and groom will continue to do so after the wedding is over. Brides sometimes treat guests like they are nothing more than extras in a Broadway production of "Princess Me." Allow your bridesmaids to choose dresses that flatter them, don't leave guests standing around for 2 hours in the sun while you take photographs before the reception, DO NOT be tempted to send any less than a HAND WRITTEN thank you note to your attendants and guests. Your guests do love you and want to be with you, but that consideration goes both ways!

  • Amy

    Oh Meg, all of my doubts and fears and feelings of wedding failure are solved on your blog. Seriously. Thank you.

    We had several asshats. Actually, it's a long story, but really… ass hat indeed!!!

    Thanks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Anon
    Have you ever read this blog before? It seems that you haven't. That's what this blog is about. Perhaps you should look around a little.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Kristie B
    "Your job as a guest is to smile and have a good time. Even if everything at the wedding is something you would never in your right mind choose to do – smile and (even if you have to pretend) have a good time. That is what adults do. You do not pout about having to wear a certain outfit*, the music that is being played, who is sitting at your table, that you aren't entertained, that the ceremony wasn't traditional, that the couple chose chicken instead of beef…you smile for that couple. If it is such an imposition, then don't come (and make a very polite excuse why you can't make it – do not tell the couple something mean)."

    AMEN.

    It's so interesting that we have a culture that talks endlessly about the bridezilla. And YET. When you try to have a reasonable, sensible, kind, thoughtful wedding… the world looses it's mind.

    Oh, lovely, underrated etiquette.

    *Though obviously you don't mandate peoples outfits. Though sadly, some people seem to feel that dressing appropriately is an imposition.

  • Nina

    I have to add my voice to the people saying that destination weddings are a bit of a different thing in this discussion of imposing on guests (and by destination, I mean everyone having to fly there). I certainly don't want to bash destination weddings overall – because I think with the right mindset and in the right family it can be great – but for a lot of people I think it really IS an imposition on the guests. I know if one of my close friends opted to have a destination wedding, I would be very torn: while technically I could afford to go, I save up my money and vacation time for being able to visit my mom occasionally (she lives abroad). I would be heartbroken to not be at her wedding but I would also have to make a pretty big sacrifice to be able to go.
    Of course, as we've been saying, guests are adults and can make this choice freely – I'm just saying it would be a tough choice (whether or not she pressured me to go).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10449191190443478197 Jen

    Thank you Meg for saying exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear. Please keep blogging and writing these wonderful posts until my little sister gets married (can you keep sharing sane wedding advice for another 5 years or so? :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13918294368137405967 Kendall A.

    Gooood advice! My dear friend's (and maid of honor) first words when I told her I was engaged were "You can't get married in June or August 2011, because I'm taking the bar."

    I get that she wants to be a part of the whole shebang, but good heavens, she's not the one planning the wedding. All she has to do is show up! Luckily it looks like summer 2011 isn't going to work for us anyway, but I'm glad I don't have to face that problem (she already convinced another friend to move her wedding, hoo boy…).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Kendall
    To be fair, we've told everyone that we can't go to any weddings or any other kind of event during David's bar study this summer. We… can't. We just can't. It's not possible. And that's part of being adults. We'll send lovely notes and gifts, but we won't travel (at least together) in July this year.

    So I guess that's what I'm saying. As adults, you get to pick when it is, and she gets to pick if she can go. Fair is fair, after all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03367631935043016430 Mrs T

    Ass hats – You rock. We say that all the time – thought maybe it was a crazy Oz thing. Glad to see it's everywhere!

  • Jessica

    WOW – what incredible timing… clearly not just for me but for so many other women out there. I had NO idea how many expectations people I BARELY KNOW have of our wedding. When we've expressed our wishes/vision for our day, I can't believe how many people have told us this doesn't work for them… but the few that are excited & honored to be there, TRULY shine through & make us realize that these are the pillars for our marriage that will be there even when it's not necessarily convenient.

    I could go on & on about the people who have opted not to come, who have chosen vacations over traveling for our wedding (I'm looking at you, Step-mom) and those who have scolded us for wanting to have an intimate wedding in the woods but I can't waste the energy anymore. We can only hope once they see what we've planned & how it represents us & our love, they will finally get it & pipe down… doubtful but a girl can dream, right? As my fiance says "you will be there, I will be there, what else really matters?"

    Thank you for this post Meg – I think a lot of us needed this today!

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Wow. I will say this. I'm not opposed to considerate planning with one's guests in mind. However, I am opposed to guilting the couple for their wedding choices. Yes, I agree, that if you choose a destination wedding, you have to expect that no matter how many months notice you give, there are some people who simply will not come. Part of being a grown up is taking responsibiltiy for the ways in which your decisions may affect others. You can't be mad or offended that someone isn't willing or able to spend thousands of dollars to travel for your wedding. You can't cut off friendships because of it. You have absolutely no right (as a grown woman making grown up decisions) to make your wedding a make it or break it event.

    I firmly believe that people should be allowed to get married the way they want to get married. If that means they elope and it's just the two of them, that's what that means. If it means they invite everyone they know and pick a central location where everyone might have to travel a bit, that is what that means. If they only serve cake and punch and not a formal dinner at the reception, that is what that means. I absolutely do not agree with making a couple feel guilty for their wedding choices.

    Just so we all know where I stand, I'm not talking about weddings where couples are intentionally inconsiderate, i.e., having a dinner reception then serving dinner late. This is rude. Foregoing dinner altogether is not.

  • Anonymous

    All occasions in life require consideration on both sides. I have a friend who celebrated a major birthday and told everyone she definitely did not want a party. All she wanted was go away to a spa and forget the whole thing.

    Or so she said …

    She ended up inviting all of her girlfriends to go with her to the spa, except for me.

    She told me she thought about inviting me, but didn't think I would go. Considering it cost each lady hundreds of dollars to go with her, I guess she was right. The other ladies could afford it, and it hurts to be the only one who couldn't.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03209113339750185034 nina@mount pleasant wedding

    Its not fair for a guest to make a couple feel guilty that their wedding is being a burden BUT its not fair for a couple (or bride or whatever) to make someone feel guilty for not coming!!!

    I've seen several comments here "Well, I have them a year's notice…they should have come" It doesn't matter how long the notice is, if someone has to travel to get to your wedding you CANNOT expect them to come. This day is really important to YOU. Its just not as important to everyone else. (I exclude immediate family members from this!–but at the same time, you have to be flexible–my sister let me stay with her at her mother-in-law's house when they got married because she knew I couldn't afford a hotel)

    I have friends that I'm inviting but I'm going to put a note in the invitation saying that I would love to have them there but I completely understand if they decide not to come. Its a super important day in our lives, but not necessarily in theirs. A little perspective is necessary!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Marisa-Andrea
    exactly exactly exactly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10323993039912422459 Kristie B

    Meg – I have zero problems with people wearing whatever they want to my wedding (although, for pictures sake, I'm praying my MIL doesn't want to wear a aloha mumu). I just don't like when guests say things like "I can't believe I wore a dress for this" or "I hate wearing a suit." Is it that difficult to not look like a hobo for one day? *sigh*

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05922091596290930281 Celia

    gosh, now i feel like a dick for actually getting excited when people told us they wouldn't be coming. it's so true, the people who are meant to be there, will be there. unless it's an extreme situation, i seriously doubt you'll be thinking, 'if only so and so could have been here' on your wedding day.

    and as for destination weddings, sometimes they really are the best decision. joe and i grew up on OPPOSITE sides of the country. new hampshire and southern california. we didn't think it would be fair to have it in a location where only one side of friends/family would have to travel. so, we made everyone travel. and i was more than happy that the people who threw a shit fit about it ended up staying home.

  • Anonymous

    i have to respectfully disagree with parts of this post. i am not a bride, nor have i ever been a bride, so i'm sure i don't fully comprehend the emotional roller coaster and a massive balancing act that planning a wedding is. but i do feel like i have an important comment.

    i have been to my fair share of weddings now, and, while there's no perfect solution to keeping everyone happy, there are times when i felt the bride and groom had been completely selfish in their choices without considering at all what their guests would incur as a result.

    at the end of the day, if i'm so irritated or angry with these people, then you're right – i really don't have any business attending their wedding. because it is THEIR moment and it would be inappropriate and rude to be a self involved storm cloud on someone else's important day.

    however, i must admit there have been a handful of weddings i would have been happy or at least willing to attend and support, but the nature of the nuptials (expenses, timing, etc.) completely turned me off. i mean COMPLETELY turned me off.

    being a bridesmaid or a friend of a bride, or even simply a wedding guest is always gonna be a pain in the ass to some degree. let's just be honest. it's ok to feel frustrated with the whole thing. it involves time, expense, planning, and so on and so on. and while it's one couple's special day (and that's great, and fun, and so exciting), it might ALSO be like the 4th, 5th, 12th wedding I have been to in three months.

    i agree that if you can't be there with a smile, then don't go, (and if that's the case you're probably not one of the core people the bride and groom wanted to attend in the first place, because those people would literally do anything to be there.)

    But i feel like it's fair to concede that SOME of the bitching other people do is warranted. that's just how it is. it's unfair to expect every bride to cater to every guest they have. and lord knows some people can be/ just are assholes. but it's also rude to ask 200 people to fly to a place with no major airport and stay for two days when there are no hotels, and instead you have to rent a home for a week…

    thanks for the great topic!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00379596904318935981 Liz

    bahaha.

    i love how many anons think you're encouraging everyone to be self-absorbed on their wedding day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @anon
    but: a) That wasn't what was being discussed. If you go back to the original post, women were saying " I feel like by the act of gettingarried, I am imposing on people." this was my response, because no one should have to feel like that.

    B) I didn't say "no weddings impose on people." because of course, they do all the time. I said YOUR wedding does not. Because no, the simple thoughtful weddings by and large thrown by the readers of this website DONT.

    C) yes, you are right. If you feel imposed on by a wedding, you should send kind congratulations, and leave it at that.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think being a bridesmaid *has* to be a pain in the ass — but I've done it three times now, and two of those times, it was.

    Weddings, practical or impractical, are complicated events saturated with emotional meaning, and for a lot of brides that creates stress. Which means that suddenly, consideration for other people (guests, the wedding party, even family) can take a backseat to other, more immediate concerns. I think as a good friend, it's important to occasional put up with someone's bullshit, especially when it's important to them, and since their weddings were important to my friends who got married, I put up with it. I flew across the country (2 of the 3 were destination weddings), I took time off work, I shelled out for hotel rooms and dressed I'd never wear again. I blew $200 on a bachelorette party from hell that ended with the bride crying and yelling at all of us on the street (and she wasn't even drunk). I took a train to the bride's hometown and helped her clean her house. I hugged my bride-buddies when they freaked and feigned interest in cake toppers and I was nicer to their moms than they were. And afterwards, we were able to laugh together about how fucking insane they were, and how, when the time came, they'd do all the same for me.

    I think it's a bizarre idea in our culture that marriage is work, but friendship is never supposed to be. Of course weddings are an imposition. It's also an imposition when a friend is depressed and needs to stay on the phone talking just to get through the night, or when a friend needs a ride to the abortion clinic, or when a friend needs someplace to crash and your couch is the only place she can find. It's work, and it can be exhausting. But that's what friendship is, and that's why it's meaningful. If it was always easy, it would also be worthless. And at least at a friend's wedding you get free food, and booze, and a chance to do the funky chicken with your mutual friends from college.

    • Moz

      I agree with the last paragraph of this for certain. I have done the bridesmaid thing but not the marriage things and was very broke when I did. I had to save for months to put down the deposit for the hens night and she covered my dress but the weddings was at the height of wedding season for me as a singer so I lost work.

      But I love her and her now husband and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Even if it meant toast and fruit for a few weeks as my diet.

      I know that if and when I get married that should I choose to have a destination wedding, as Meg says, people are off the hook immediately. But when it’s a bridal party member (as she would be) then no, you make things as easy as possible. But if she couldn’t do it, then it’s sad but life is life. I don’t love her any less.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, Nina -
    I guess what I'm saying is all the weddings I've been to have required varying degrees of sacrifice on my part. I wouldn't consider any of them "practical weddings," so, in fairness, i shouldn't have said that as a blanket statement. i'm sure a practical, thoughtful wedding would be nothing but joyous – but as a bridesmaid or friend, i'm never in control of that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17566982793875335322 daniella

    @ Marisa-Andrea
    I agree with much of what you have to say but… in defense of later dinners, let me just say that sometimes religious considerations are at play. I, for instance, am having a Jewish wedding on a Saturday night in the summer. Since we have to wait until sundown to start the ceremony (and even then we are fudging it), dinner will be on the late side. I would have liked to do a Sunday reception but thought that might make things more difficult for our out of town guests. In any case, my point is that even when you have your guests interests at heart, coordinating a wedding is not always perfect and convenient.
    But, otherwise, I entirely agree with your (and Meg's) post!

  • Anonymous

    @Celia,

    Just wanted to say your situation is completely different. Yes, sometimes a destination wedding is the most fair arrangement when the family is on opposite sides of the country.

    I could not fault someone in your situation and it's becoming more common.

    Your choice was for the sake of "fairness", whereas some people choose destination weddings when they don't need to.

    They have the right to their destination weddings, but should not expect that everyone can make it (as many have already stated).

  • Indiana

    Sometimes what we want as brides runs up against issues of practicality. Hence this great blog. But, if the bride is worried that she may be imposing upon her guests, she might want to take that as a signal to pause, scan the reasons why she's feeling that way, and try to put herself in her guest's shoes. Sometimes those feelings can keep us from making decisions that will cause us regret later.

    If you only invite people that you truly care about and only as many as you have the time and resources to care for properly, you should be fine.

    Guests at a wedding have similar responsibilities as guests at a dinner party. They may be expected to provide their own transportation and appropriate clothing and be good guests, mingling and contributing to lively conversation at the reception and amusing themselves between events. But they shouldn't be treated as audience who paid for tickets to a show. Ostensibly they are friends whom you would like to have after you're married as well.

  • Anonymous

    I know Miss Manners has weighed in on this subject. She has bemoaned the trend of making tough demands on bridesmaids and putting guests through the ringer.

    According to her it's been a trend and that's why she wrote her most recent wedding book.

    But she wouldn't condone being rude either. She would advise just bowing out politely.

    I've never felt put upon by a wedding, but then again, I haven't been to one in years and the prior ones were local.

  • Anonymous

    @Indiana,

    Totally agree.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18361291538358633691 Olivia

    Can we define Destination Wedding?

    That's where I'm getting stuck, in terms of what I feel is reasonable to ask of guests.

    As these conversations have made clear, people put Destination Weddings in a different category.

    Our immediate families and very best friends alone represent six different cities in three different countries. So in a way, no matter where we get married, it will be a "destination."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Look guys, I'm at the edge of closing comments on this.

    QUICK REVIEW:

    - Yes. Some weddings impose on guests.
    - No. The charming practical weddings planned by women who read this site do NOT impose on guests, even if guests think they deserve ballroom weddings.
    - The point of this post is that EVERYONE is expected to make adult decisions. If a wedding is an rude imposition on you, you should NOT attend, you should send a kind note declining. If you choose to attend you should not mention that you are displeased. That is what grown-ups do. As brides, we make the same grown-up decisions, and should not be condescended to as if we are rude and flighty and spendy, with no heads on our shoulders, if we are not. But that's another post.
    - NO ONE SHOULD EVER EVER EVER FEEL, OR BE MADE TO FEEL, THAT THE SIMPLE ACT OF GETTING MARRIED IS AN IMPOSITION ON THOSE THAT LOVE THEM. PERIOD. AND THAT IS THE FINAL WORD.

    Finally, @Daniella, Marisa-Andrea was speaking of dinners that were served late (i.e., people left waiting for hours while the couples served dinner), not dinners that were served later in the evening (i.e., Jewish weddings.)

    And we're done. Are do some weddings impose on guests? Yes. Do the weddings you are planning? No. Is the act of getting married an imposition? Absolutely not, ever ever ever. AND, If you choose to submit to ridiculous bridal demands as a wedding guest instead of kindly and firmly saying no? Well. You need to learn to live with your choices.

  • Kimmy

    I also have to disagree about the "late dinner" thing because, again, it's all relative.

    My man and I usually eat dinner at 7:30 or 8. Weekend dinner out reservations are typically 8:30. same as most of MY family. HIS family on the other hand, eats dinner around 5pm usually. Even if we do 7 or 7:30 pm dinner they'll think it's late.

    However, we're making it clear that the ceremony is at 6 and dinner will follow… so if they need to snack before hand – THEY ARE ADULTS and can account for their own hunger.

    We did this because I was hell-bent on NOT having a 4 hour gap between the wedding and reception. We were trying to be considerate by having everything back to back in one place.

    Amen Meg, well-timed post for my sanity. My people-pleaser self has been wraught with concern over having our wedding in the expensive city we live in, and contemplating NOT having a bachelorette party because I don't want to burden my friends.

    @ ANON – you made me tear up "I think it's a bizarre idea in our culture that marriage is work, but friendship is never supposed to be. Of course weddings are an imposition. It's also an imposition when a friend is depressed and needs to stay on the phone talking just to get through the night, or when a friend needs a ride to the abortion clinic, or when a friend needs someplace to crash and your couch is the only place she can find. It's work, and it can be exhausting. But that's what friendship is, and that's why it's meaningful. If it was always easy, it would also be worthless. And at least at a friend's wedding you get free food, and booze, and a chance to do the funky chicken with your mutual friends from college."

  • Nina

    Anon: "being a bridesmaid or a friend of a bride, or even simply a wedding guest is always gonna be a pain in the ass to some degree."

    Really? Would you also say that going to a dinner party is always a pain in the ass to some degree? Because for that you probably have to dress up a touch, maybe pick up something to bring to the hosts, and find your way there… and isn't that really what going to a wedding is to most guests? Except it comes with the added bonus of witnessing someone you care about get married. (again, destination weddings are a different discussion)
    Even being a bridesmaid, at least to most of us practical brides, just entails going shopping for a fun dress and occasionally listening to us vent – not all that different from what friends do for each other regularly.
    I believe some guests and friends choose to make the wedding more of a pain by trying to make it more complicated than that (believing for example that they MUST throw an extravagant shower) but this is their choice. It all comes down to adult choices again.
    Meg, before this discussion I kept being afraid of burdening my guests with having to come – I think you've fully convinced me now, it is an awesome thing to go to a wedding.

    • anonymous

      I would say, no, being a dinner guest is not going to be as much of a pain in the ass. Because it doesn’t involve the expense of travel and a hotel, for one, or buying or renting expensive clothing. It is a much more time- and expensie- limited proposition.

  • Nina

    @Anon: I fully understand that, I too have attended and been a part of some very unpractical weddings (and more appropriately unpractical brides) and yes, they certainly ARE a pain. But for the sake of my own sanity during wedding planning (since I tend to lean a bit to people-pleaser), I have to think that weddings CAN be enjoyable for everyone (minor inconveniences aside) if you stay thoughtful and kind.

  • Elissa

    It's all true. People feel honoured to share this time with you, especially when it's obvious that you feel just as honoured to have them there.

    In regards to the small ones, I have a few very beautiful things to share.

    At our wedding we had a fair handful of little tigers running around, blowing bubbles, and dancing their boots into the ground. At the reception one of our friend's daughters came up to me and said, "I've been thinking about it, and I'm pretty sure that this is the best day of my life!" She's only seven, so I don't doubt that she'll have many more days of equal pleasure, but I love that she enjoyed it that much.

    Another friend told me how her 6 year old son had been so moved during the ceremony that he held tensely onto her hand, not sure quite where to put all the emotion, until the end. Then he let go, clasped his hands together and sighed, "Oh yes!"

    Also, since our wedding, our little niece has been asking everyone to marry her. She even asked for a prince at christmas time so that she could get married like her Aunty and Uncle.

    I really didn't anticipate just how moved the young ones would be, but some of the reactions, both on the day and since, have been just gorgeous.

  • Tara

    I stumbled across this website a couple of weeks ago and I wish I had known about it when I first got engaged a year and a half ago. It’s the only really sane website about weddings that I’ve found. My wedding is in less than two months and we’ve having it on a Sunday afternoon, in a vintage movie theatre that’s been turned into an art gallery, and we’re doing it on a pretty tight budget. No DJ, no sit-down meal, no favors, DIY invitations, and minimal decor. When I read the other wedding sites and magazines, except Offbeat Bride, it made me feel like I was going to disappoint my guests because I didn’t hire a calligrapher to addresses the invites, because we won’t have a full bar, because we’re not blanketing the venue in fresh flowers. Here’s one example of the insanity: This article in my local newspaper caught my attention with the headline “The DIY Bride.” Thinking it would be about ways to be creative while saving money, I read it. But this couple’s budget was obviously way beyond my own. (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/main/7090345.html). Then I read a lot of the posts and comments here, and it gave me the insight I needed to realize that it’s OK to do what we feel is right for us, without going into debt and going nuts from the stress of meeting “expectations”. THANK YOU!

  • Cathie

    My future MIL tells me that all people remember about a wedding is the food. She tells me this after she’s declared my food choices as “too fancy” (I hadn’t considered tarragon poached chicken to be fancy before). When I started to get upset, she tells me that she’s just being honest with me and didn’t I want her to be honest. It’s made me sad enough that I’ve put wedding planning on hold until my fiance returns from his deployment because I don’t want to do this alone anymore. All I want was a simple, fun wedding that is a celebration of my relationship with my fiance. I’m keeping my fingers crossed …

  • Emma

    This is my favorite post that I’ve read on this site so far (still working on the archives). Thank you for linking to it this morning!

    We were hemming and hawing about having our reception at the summer camp where we met, debating providing porta-potties so guests wouldn’t have to walk further to the bathroom, etc. When we finally decided to have it there, but continued to worry about it being too rustic or non-traditional for some of our guests, my mom gave me the exact advice in this post. You picked your place, do not apologize for it. You don’t need to spend the next few months backtracking and “fixing” it, it is what it is and the guests will deal because they came there to celebrate the two of you. I’m more excited than ever to be at our home away from home for the event, and it turns out that most of our friends and family have either been there, or are dying to go because we haven’t stopped talking about it for 10 years. Hoorah for sanity and for sticking to your guns!

    ps – 10 points for the term “ass-hat” being used.

  • http://sarahsurgeon.blogspot.com sarah

    thank you for saying this. our wedding was more than a year ago, but i still think about the few people that made us feel like our special weekend not being the mose convenient for them. they stink.

  • Kate

    @Elyse-I am having a very large practical wedding the Friday of Memorial Day next year. We are just starting planning, but I have a huge huge family, and a large group of friends, so the number we are most likely at is 300-350. I am trying to keep the budget between 10-15k. I will be paying for most of this, my parents have kids in college still and that is far more important for them to contribute to, than a wedding I can pay for, and I am fortunate that I can swing that myself.
    @Fran- Kids are always a debate, I am picking and choosing. I don’t think there has to be a clear line drawn. However, I would pick up the phone and talk to both those you are inviting and those you are not. To those you are not inviting be honest-” it is nice for you to have a night out without the kids and since I don’t know them well, I thought you would like to leave them with a sitter, here is her name and number.” To those you are inviting, ask them to keep it on the down low since you aren’t inviting everyone’s children, but since yours are a part of my life I would like to include them. Most people get it. If they don’t, you don’e want to be friends with them anyway ;)

    Imposition- His mother asked if she would have to take Friday off. I was a little floored.”Yes, you are going to have to take off the day of the wedding and most likely the day before off too.” His brother asked the same thing. I really started thinking hard about this, but then I realized they hadn’t been to many weddings. The wedding is an hour away for them, (my parents home town and out of the city so waaaaay cheaper) a holiday weekend, laid-back bbq styled barn party. In my head, this was going to be the easiest wedding for people to go to ever! But it is a matter of perspective too. I at first thought I can’t believe they aren’t willing to take the time off, but then I realized, it wasn’t bitching, they just had never done it.
    I agree to a point with ANON, I am the wedding queen. Been a bridesmaid 7 times, maid of honor 3, and a guest at 55+ weddings. A LOT of them have been a hassle and some not that fun. But they were important to the couple, and bottom line that is the point. We don’t get to dictate what other people deem as important, she may HAVE to have “bashful” and “blush” and we go with it. It may make her relationship with her mother a thousand times less stressed if she has the sit down dinner, or invites her 3rd cousin once removed. At APW the celebration of the marriage is in the forefront, and marriage creates a new baby family that is part of two other family and numerous friend-families. My mother gets unreasonable at times, but she is letting go of me in a way that is tough, so she focuses on the little things to take her mind off of it. It is my job to keep the balance. So of us are able to what we want, and some of us give in, because it really is only one day.

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  • Theresa

    This is fantastic. I’m having some trouble though, with my fiance being more of the mindset that it is our responsibility to bend over backwards for out of town guests.

    We have a wedding website where there’s an option to ask questions publicly (so hopefully we don’t end up answering questions over and over)

    My FI’s aunt and uncle, who I’ve never even met, asked:

    “Where can we get a key to your house? Uncle Lyle and I will need a place to stay since I am not working. We can’t really afford a hotel room and there’s no room at your Mom’s Inn.”

    I was pretty shocked and thought it was super rude, but I answered to the effect of, we haven’ t figured out the sleeping arrangements yet, but with probably 80 out of town guests it’s inevitable some guests will have to stay in hotels.

    Ryan thought that was too assertive, and that I would offend them, and we needed to be understanding if their money was tight.

    But I don’t want ANYONE staying with us that week, unless it was someone along the lines of my one out of town bridesmaid that was my roommate in college, because with her I wouldn’t have the added stress of feeling like I have to play “hostess”

    But he insists we’ll have to. I’m not sure what to do

  • Shawna

    I just wish my dad wasn’t the one acting as though this was a burden. I can’t just un-invite him. He’s the only funding I have at all for the wedding. I wish he could just be joyful and happy to help.

  • PurpleHeather

    Thank you. I read a horrid post somewhere on some cruddy corner of the Internet all about the evils of having to travel to a wedding, cash bars, etc etc etc, and it’s been bugging me. I’m just going to put the worry down and carry on with my partner planning the day that we want to share with our friends and family.

  • Terrin

    I love the word ‘ass-hat’! And I love this brief article. Thank you for such an important reminder. More joy, fewer guilt monsters in wedding planning!

  • thomas

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