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When You Run Out of Options, F*ck Em


Also known as the "limp noodle" option

When You Run Out of Options, F*ck Em | A Practical Weddingby Sara Downey-Robinson

When I have to drop the hammer on my son for acting naughty, I give him some choices: A or B, kid. He’s two, so he usually goes with the unnamed option C, which is to go limp noodle and make some weird seagull-like noise.

Hmmmm.

Now, some people may find this frustrating, but I’ve taken it as a learning experience. My child has taught me that there is alway another option on the table. At times unnamed, yet there it is. The f*ck ‘em option.

It’s funny that really young children can impart some of the deepest wisdom. They haven’t yet learned a literacy for pretense, so everything they do is just authentic. And being authentic is just about one of the best things a person can be.

Authenticity in wedding planning can be a little thin on the ground. My husband and I lost sight of it while planning our wedding. We considered a destination wedding in Hawaii just to give the extended family an excuse for a vacation. We considered a nice little park wedding. We checked out a hotel. The options of an expected wedding were killing us. Here we were trying to fit into everyone else’s boundaries and expectations of what our wedding should be and none of it felt right. My husband and I went through so many option A and option B scenarios and we found ourselves fighting. None of the options we were exploring fit what our relationship was.

He wasn’t really excited to say our vows in front of other people. On top of that, he’s a traditionalist (you know, a The Kn*t sort of traditionalist). For him, that translated to dragging his heels on actually planning a wedding because he was so very uncomfortable with all the options he saw. Mike went limp noodle. Bless his heart, but all that limp noodling was making me feel very insecure about the lack of forward motion. And you know what really feels just awful all the way down to your gut? Wearing an engagement ring and wondering if you’re ever going to actually get married. Like, ever.

Then one day a wonderful thing happened. The silent option presented itself. In a move completely approved by our two-year-old (if not my father), we ran off to the courthouse and were married. Please note–and this part is really important: we didn’t elope with a vengeful attitude, but rather with true authenticity to our relationship. We pulled out a f*ck ‘em if they wanted a big white wedding. Sorry, y’all–this bitch is done. We later threw a party, which is what everyone really wanted anyway.

No joke–the wedding planning f*ck ‘em option saved our marriage. The pressure and insecurity melted away after we stopped trying to have a wedding that just wasn’t our jam. We found that with wedding planning there was a unnamed option. A wonderful, sweet f*ck ‘em. Some things you just know instinctually, but until you’re pushed into choosing options you don’t really want, you can’t always see that great silent option.

So there it is. No apologies (unless you truly hurt someone). In a sentiment my son would agree with: when you try to force yourself into stuff that isn’t you (option A or option B) you’re going to need to come up with a better plan. Otherwise, you’re going to just get in trouble again.

Photo from Sara’s personal collection

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  • J.A.

    Um this post is too funny & perfect! We just decided on getting married at City Hall. We too looked at all these other options but none felt right to us. I am fairly private and was already struggling with saying our vows so publicly. Plus I wasn’t that into the dress shopping / crafting / etc. My fiancé didn’t like our first round of venues, and then liked the second round but didn’t want to do any of the set up work required. My mom had given me all these people to invite who I haven’t seen in 10+ years. Plus we’re both fairly frugal. And it was all starting to feel so very not us…. So after a few months of being engaged with no wedding plan we decided this week to get married at City Hall! Love it.

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      Good for you guys! I hope it’s wonderful.

      • Jessica

        Thanks! We’re excited.

  • Laura C

    As a person who would like to elope but whose partner is decidedly not on board with that, I’ve started exploring my own weird kind of other option. The wedding is what it is. I’m open to loving it, but the party aspects of it are much more for him than for me. (We’re very much together in our conception of the ceremony, thank goodness.) But I find myself trying to insert into the rehearsal dinner all these things I wanted for the wedding that weren’t possible. I’m going to make the desserts, for instance. Since it’ll be smaller than the wedding and probably won’t have a full set of tables to seat even the people who are there (I’m thinking it’s more of a mingle, then grab a plate and sit for a few minutes when you want to kind of event), I can probably do the flowers. And so on. It’s weird, because I’m creating more work and I wouldn’t have said I was very interested in the work of it, but it just feels like an opportunity to have something that’s a little more me, and that is appealing?

    Of course, several of my ideas are unlikely to be popular with my FMIL, so we’ll see what I actually get my way on.

    • Heather

      Laura, isnerting yourself into the rehearsal dinner sounds awesome. I’ve started thinking of the rehearsal dinner as our wedding’s alter ego- it’s sort of the f*ck em option that we would have done if my dad wasn’t pyaing for the wedding which gives us the freedom to do a more traditional wedding. It’ll delicious, but much less expensive food from one of our favorite Tex-mex restaurants in town, held in our apt building, still with lots of our favorite people (if it won’t cost that much to feed them, why not be about as inclusive as we can?), and store-bought booze instead of upcharged restaurant costs. There’s a good chance that I’ll make dessert or some appetizers- I’m not allowed to make anything for the wedding and our venue covers the catering (I historically have a tendency to take on too much and spend the first hour or so of any party in the kitchen), but I love baking and making people happy with delicious food. The relationship with our future in laws is complicated and I don’t think either of us would feel comfortable accepting money from them if they offered, which they haven’t so far, and since no one mentioned anything about the wedding or future marriage the last time we visited I doubt they will, which leaves us free to do what we’d like. We still have a year to make all this happen, but I think I’m about as excited about dinner the night before as I am the actual wedding and staying up late catching up with family and out of town friends :D

      • Laura C

        You’re my rehearsal dinner doppelganger! Ours will be in my fiance’s cousin’s back yard and I’m wondering if I can talk everyone into getting food from this great, affordable barbecue place in town.

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      You guys are badass! What a creative idea. Rehearsal dinner, FTW! And it will be so cool to have it more laid back. And your own touches! Seriously, why didn’t I ever think of something that smart? Also, I really like barbeque and Tex-mex, so I’ll be crashing these for sure.

    • Rachel

      When we were first planning and I felt like the wedding wasn’t at all what I wanted, I totally did this with the post-wedding brunch! It was more work but I didn’t care…I wanted something that weekend that felt like me!

  • Sarah

    This post was one of my favorites.

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/read Martha

    Don’t mind me, I’ll just be sitting at my desk laughing at “limp noodle.”

    But seriously, good advice :-)

  • http://www.bloomwoodphotography.co.uk Emma Godard – Bloomwood Photography

    Don’t you just love kids!!

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      Yes. I get some good dead lifts in thanks to his limp noodling. :)

  • Laura G

    Ugh I just wrote a lovely and witty comment, just to have it erased by a crashed safari App. *wistful sigh* Let’s just say, this post is encouraging to me, the girl with the anxious, procrastinating, tradition-pressured fiancé. I can have as many “when we’re married”, “when we have kids” and “when we’re old and senile” dream conversations as my little heart desires. But try to have a wedding dream conversation (as recommended in The Book) and I am met with the Berlin Wall, which is quite puzzling to me as we are so open and able to communicate about everything thus far, even the most bitter of disagreements have at least been an open conversation. Even a “what about a tuesday-afternoon-on-our-lunch-hour-while-wearing-our-work-clothes courthouse wedding is not open for discussion. This post, however, gives me further insight, and thus gives me hope. Thanks!

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      I will tell you Laura, the courthouse conversation happened exactly 5 hours before we were legally married. So, there’s even more hope in that, right?

    • http://www.marbleryephotography.com melissa

      even though the relationship ended eventually, i used to shout wedding-specific hopes and dreams in his ear while we were dancing at friends’ weddings. i have a very specific, wonderful-still memory of us being in a field on an island off georgia at 10pm, a few drinks in, and me half-singing “I want to get married in a circle!” and “i want our people to ones to pass our rings around!” and maybe, just maybe “i want to have save the dates made of lavender paper that you can plant and then have people bring their homegrown sprigs of lavender to the wedding and then it will be my amazing bouquet” (i dream big, what can i say).

      ps. still want, should a wedding be in my future.

      • KC

        (this is totally beside the point, and I love the idea of a lavender bouquet, but I tried to grow lavender from seed once, and not one out of 20 seeds came up. Apparently you have to do funky stuff to get it to germinate, and then, since it’s a perennial, it can take over a year for it to flower (and maybe longer). So… maybe something like snapdragons or poppies [or other easy-grow annual that will be flowering around when your wedding is] would be a little more likely to net some flowers for you?)

      • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

        That just set off the most beautiful movie montage in my head starring you.

        Oh man, I had big dreams too. They all evolved or changed or shifted or something. Not totally sure. I wanted to get married in this amazing pavilion. I wanted this Audrey Hepburn style dress. I wanted peonies and garden roses. None of that happened. And that was totally okay with me for whatever reason.

        But I did get pictures in that pavilion in a fucking fabulous dress so we’d have something to hang up. That worked for me!
        Dream big, girl.

  • KC

    I am especially in favor of making a noise like a seagull. That is awesome.

    But yes, seriously, we so often get stuck in all sorts of situations between option A and option B (say, two events on the same night) and forget that there’s option C (stay home because we don’t actually want to go to either A *or* B!), or in wedding planning, between appetizer A and B, and not be able to say “actually, we don’t want appetizers, we want to jump straight into the dinner”.

    And elopement as the “I don’t like A *or* B” option makes a lot of sense. :-) I’m glad it worked out so well for you!

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      Thank you. Definitely never what I had envisioned for getting married. But it got the job done.

      • KC

        I tend to hold that being married is the point, so hooray for it getting the job done! :-) (and hooray for no more wedding stress, also)

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    This is exactly what choosing to elope felt like for me. The traditional options, though we could make decisions on them, didn’t fit and so even though we were planning we would never fully commit to the plans. Eloping was always more our style, anyhow. We’re not bells and whistles people so doing the part that mattered – the getting married – felt right to us.

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      I also officiate weddings – well sort of f*ck ‘em weddings – and I have a joke in the ceremony about foregoing the traditional bells and whistles <– so that makes me laugh.

      I just want people to be happy. And who the hell knows how to do that other than you, right? :)

  • Cupcake

    Love this post! We had a similar problem, and after being engaged for more than a year and eventually realizing my husband would not be able to attend the wedding on the date we ended up with, decided to exchange vows on our honeymoon in England and just had a JP sign paperwork when we got back. Because f*ck ‘em. It had gotten too hard, and what we wanted was to be married and making life decisions together. And that is exactly what we got. F*ck ‘em is generally a good plan C to keep in mind, just in case. :)

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      LOL Cupcake, I love the paperwork after the wedding thing. And I can really, really relate to the sentiment of just wanting to get on with our lives together.

  • http://www.marbleryephotography.com melissa

    I love this. We fight so hard for authenticity within ourselves and within our relationships, of course that should be reflected in the way you wed, however that may end up being.

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      Constant battle, right Melissa? It’s one of the reasons I love APW. The opportunity to be challenged in thought about my relationship is so nice. Yay, Meg!

  • Erin E

    I am writing this comment with nothing but respect for the piece’s author (I am glad the F*cu ‘em option worked for you and I applaud you and your partner being able to reach that option together), but I felt like F*ck ‘em was NOT a viable solution for us. Our upcoming wedding will not be particularly “authentic to who we are as a couple” because working within the budget and wishes of our families and those close to us was something that was very important to us. We wanted to respect the wishes of our loved ones (within reason) as much as we could – which meant, unfortunately, slogging through some hard and crappy wedding planning to get to an event that, no, would not be our first choice as an expression of “us”. But we’re still getting married, which is what counts.

    The F*ck em option may not be right for some, and I think that’s OK. Some folks elect to go with option D: “have an event that pleases many, even if it involves some dream sacrifices and hard work on your part.”

    • Gretchen

      See, now I would consider your wedding to be authentic. It’s an expression of what you prioritized, budget and wishes of loved ones. That’s what you two decided on together, it’s a reflection of your wishes. I’m assuming (big assumption as I don’t know your situation) that once you decided on the type of event there wasn’t a gut feeling of ‘I can’t do this’ ‘I’m miserable just thinking about my wedding’ ‘I hate this, I hate this, I hate this’. Now maybe if you had chosen option C you would have had those gut feelings, and that in my opinion would not have been authentic.

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      Erin, I think you are awesome for doing your wedding your way. When I wrote this I never meant for the message to be that eloping is the only way to be authentic to your relationship. Cause that’s just so not true.

      Eloping isn’t the f*ck ‘em bit, it’s the doing what you need to do thing. More of a “f*ck ‘em” to the preconceived notions we held about *how* our wedding needed to be.

      For some that means working within your budget to bring together a bunch of wishes from a bunch of people so everyone is happy. That’s still being authentic to things that matter to you. Compromise is total authenticity. It means you have enough of your “ego” in check to see the big picture. And THAT is fucking awesome. Authenticity isn’t truculence. It’s recognizing what matters and runs through your blood. Y’all sound amazing for making sacrifices to make people happy! Seriously, can we be friends?

      And in the end, we still had to have the big party, right? And I had to come up with some super creative ways to honor my dad, who was not happy about the eloping bit. I think it’s just nice for people to be at peace with their decisions. And it sounds like you will, plus you won’t have to endure the months of your dad barely speaking to you because he is so disappointed.

      I personally cannot wait to hear more about your wedding. I’d love to hear the compromises and even the feelings that they bring up. I think we need an open dialogue about that stuff.

      • Erin E

        Thanks, Sara – that’s a lovely comment.

        I think sometimes we get a little obsessive with the “this wedding must be authentic” thing – and it’s so complicated because there are SO MANY people and feelings involved! You are absolutely right in that actual authenticity lies in figuring out what works best for each individual couple.

        Sometimes I feel envious reading the “we eloped!” posts because I occasionally wish I could do that (or something that would be more “me”). But, as you eloquently mentioned, authenticity lies in figuring out how to best balance your individual set of wants and needs.

        Cheers to you and your family for finding what was right for you!

        • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

          And for real, Erin. I officiated a wedding (after mine) and warned the couple of not inviting their parents. They wanted it to just be them, but I had a very serious talk about my experience and how I offended my dad. It may not have been what they initially wanted, but they considered it along with their own feelings and ended up having their families at the wedding.

          I think you are so smart and kind for thinking of *everyone*. That’s a true f*ck ‘em to so many things. I admire you for that.

          • Erin E

            That’s an interesting point, Sara – and you know, I don’t know if I would have anticipated which people had the strongest feelings about actually attending my wedding before talking with them. I think putting some feelers out in the beginning of your wedding process to gauge your loved ones wants/needs (and then doing with that information what’s best for you) is probably a good idea.

  • Gretchen

    We came to the same realization last week!! After another stress misery cry we said F$%& it. And told everyone over the weekend. Everyone has been supportive, I think that they’re just happy that we’re happy again. But if anyone give me trouble I’m sending them this post!!

    • Gretchen

      Opps, if anyone *gives* me trouble

    • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

      High five, Gretchen! I hope you guys have a great celebration and wedding!

  • Natalie

    I’m so having this issue right now. Every time we discuss wedding planning, we get into an argument and I start crying because I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want a big wedding but family members (mostly future in-laws) are putting so much pressure on us to figure something out. I really just want a quick wedding in FL and enjoy Disney for the rest of the week, just me and my fiancee’. I’m afraid planning is going to kill our relationship. This wedding stuff isn’t fun anymore.