Are Our Friends Judging Our Cheap Wedding?

Does anyone else feel like they need to keep up with the group?

gold shoes on a cow rug

Q: When I got married almost two years ago, my husband and I were right out of grad school with limited budgets and a relaxed, bohemian sensibility. Rustic/DIY/kickback weddings were really in at the time, and that’s what we had.

Because we were in a group of friends that were all getting engaged, we were one of the first weddings that we went to. Fast forward to now, and the “rustic” wedding seems to have gone out of style. All of the weddings we have been to after ours have been super glamorous, very obviously expensive affairs. If we spent $10,000, we are seeing weddings that easily have $20,000 to $100,000 budgets. I would be lying if I said that I feel a little shabby when I look back at what we did. I’ve been really surprised that some of my friends spent SO much, because I never expected it. To each their own, but I’m also a little puzzled.

I also recently ended a relationship with a couple who’s easily $100,000 wedding we attended, over politics. When I questioned the bride for voting for Trump, she said, “How dare you! I invited you to MY WEDDING.” We actually invited them to our wedding first, but they did not attend because they had more important plans. But the implication seems to be that she did me a huge favor by giving me a seat at her $400 per person event, even though she did not attend our taco truck reception. What gives? Is a wedding an event to be happy for the couple, or is it to show off wealth?

I didn’t tell her but my car got locked into the church wedding parking lot overnight so me and my husband had to walk to get a smoky hotel room at 1 am, so although I was happy for them, I didn’t feel like I was receiving some amazing experience. It was a wedding like any other for me, with inconveniences appurtenant to being there and being happy for the happy couple. Does she want some kind of acknowledgement that her wedding was the best wedding of all time, because there was bottle service at the tables and a fog machine for the first dance? Can I never have a political disagreement with her because she invited me to her wedding? What are her expectations because we peasants attended her lavish affair?

I know comparison is the thief of joy, but has anyone else been struggling with the group expectations to spend, spend, spend? Any other frugal brides out there who feel a little out of step with the group?


A: Dear Anon,

You’re asking the right girl, because man, was our wedding a cheap wedding. I sometimes see the amazing things folks are doing now and feel a small womp-womp about our Costco desserts and fake flowers. Sticking to a budget in a world full of fancy is hard! But listen a minute, because I’m going to be straight with you. I think you’re reading your own feelings into her words a bit.

When she says, “But I invited you to my wedding!” I don’t hear, “How DARE YOU when your plate of food was so expensive for me!” but instead, “I considered you a close enough friend to be invited to our wedding.” She’s not questioning your worthiness of her magnanimous invitation, or suggesting you owe a debt for being included. It sounds more like, “I thought we were closer than this!” or even “I thought you knew me better than that!”

We like to think every wedding decision is significant in reflecting who we are, our priorities, our values. And a lot of times, okay, sure! But it’s not always the case. Some folks have a cheap wedding because that’s in line with their priorities, whereas some do because they’re broke! Some folks spend a lot on a wedding because it’s important to them, others because of logistical factors, others because of family money and family pressure, and still others because they have fancy taste and want to live it up, dammit. And that’s before we even get into, “What is ‘a lot’?” (be honest, $20,000 to $100,000 is quite a range you gave there). Choosing to spend less doesn’t necessarily mean that your values are way out of whack with your friends’. It’s the same as expecting that picking between a fancy, exclusive dinner spot and going to TGIFridays would convey values. I mean sure maybe it does! Maybe the folks at the chain restaurant are being extra smart and frugal. But there’s also the chance that that they’re just craving something deep-fried and a cocktail in a bucket. Don’t read too much into how people spend their money.

Like you said, your choices were also influenced by what was trendy at the time. They were affected by the fact that you’d just finished grad school, and presumably by things you didn’t even mention, like guest list size and family pressure and whatever else. People make different financial choices for a whole host of reasons. You probably don’t really know how much they’re spending (unless they tell you outright), and even if you do, you don’t know why or how. Money is weird and opaque and personal. There’s a lot that’s unseen, even in the most conspicuous consumerism.

So, yeah. Maybe your friends side-eyed your choices, or maybe they just enjoyed the wedding for what it was (plus tacos!) and didn’t think about the price tag at all. Find a bit of solace in remembering that there were some good reasons for your choices. But also remember that there are reasons your friends are making theirs, too (and you don’t always know them).



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  • Ashlah

    I also want to gently point out that the wedding I had two years ago is probably different (and a lot less expensive) than the wedding I would plan today. Not because I’m not still frugal, but because finances can change a lot in two years, especially when we’re talking about people right out of school. I’m not saying I wouldn’t struggle at all with similar feelings, worrying about judgement, but at the same time, your friends might straight-up simply be in a different financial position now than you were two years ago.

    And remember–people making different choices than you doesn’t necessarily mean they think your choices are wrong. They can decide an inexpensive rustic wedding isn’t for them, while holding not a thing against it being the right choice for you. I agree with Stephanie that the example provided doesn’t really show any snark regarding wedding styles/expenses. (Though it does sound painful and ridiculous–I can’t care about the politics of anyone whose wedding I attended??–and I would have had a hard time not pointing out that they didn’t bother to attend my wedding).

    • Laura

      Seconding that people making difference choices than you doesn’t mean you think their choices are wrong. This is a constant battle with my in-laws. We’re pretty minimalist in our lifestyle, they are not. We throw our money toward experiences, they prefer to spend on material objects they enjoy. Neither of these are morally superior — they’re just different approaches to life and money. Yet my MIL in particular seems perpetually offended, as though we are constantly judging her for their lifestyle (and then she hardcore judges us for our “extravagant” vacations). Different strokes for different folks…it’s not supposed to be this hard!

      • Kat

        Ohhh my gosh we have this issue with my SO’s mother and her opinions on our furniture. My SO could care less about home decor, but my taste is very mid-mod, and I’ve carefully collected vintage pieces from family members over the years that I’m very fond/proud of. Her taste is more….erm….tassled? Ornate? Every. Single. Time she comes to visit she tries to talk us into buying all new furniture. I think she thinks mine is sad and outdated. I have yet to find a graceful way to tell her that her adult son really does not need decorating help….why can’t we all just like what we like and leave everyone else out of it?!

    • Knonymous

      And they might even be a little jealous of your inexpensive, rustic wedding, because after all, we mostly each only get to plan one wedding, and what’s that saying about how each choice you make means mourning 1000 choices you didn’t make, or something like that?

      My MIL is very much the comparing type, and after we attended a friend’s wedding, she was telling me how it was nice, and fun, “But not nearly as nice as your wedding” and I was like, “Really? Because I was thinking how much I loved our brightly colored spring wedding, but if we’d waited 6 months and had a fall wedding, I would have wanted it to be so much like that.” My first vision for our wedding was actually a cozy fall wedding, and but it didn’t fit our schedule, and we had a beautiful spring wedding instead. But I’m still a little jealous of our friends’ wedding. They had warm apple cider! Apple cider doughnuts! Fall foliage! And my MIL seemed blown away that I could love their wedding just as much as mine (aesthetically, obviously my wedding was more special to me for other reasons) without placing them into a hierarchy in relationship to each other.

  • Dana East

    Oh girl. First of all, let me just say I feel you. I was in a similar boat: one of the first in a friend group to get married, did so in rustic-chic style that was inexpensive and oh-so-2013. We had no family support for our wedding, and even spending the under $15k we did spend felt lavish. But in our region (SF Bay Area), that was really minimal. Now, as more pals are marrying, the weddings are certainly fancier–often because of family support (which comes with all kind of pressure we didn’t have to deal with), plus a bajillion other reasons that Liz rightly notes you don’t know anything about.

    But look, here’s the thing: weddings are always being judged. If they’re fancy, they’re too fancy. If they’re not fancy, they’re too shabby and cheap. Lots of couples who have more over-the-top affairs feel just as judged for choosing to spend money as couples who don’t. And I’ll be honest, it sounds like you might just maybe be doing a little bit of that kind of judging right now. Why are we so judgmental about these things? I have a theory: because weddings are historically the purview of women, and women are always more harshly judged by society at large, especially in matters of class and status (which are amply on display at weddings).

    So, maybe just maybe, try to take a break from this cycle. Breathe. Remember it was over two years ago, you probably had an amazing time, your friends all probably did too, and just be grateful you got married earlier in the friend cycle of weddings so you didn’t feel pressure to measure up to all this expensive stuff! And most importantly, be generous with your friends. We all need each other, and female relationships get more important and even harder to maintain as we get older and married. If there is a larger issue with this friend, well, maybe focus on how/if to repair it, but if you can, take it out of the context of the wedding olympics.

  • Amy March

    I think the only person who seems to be judging people based on how much their weddings cost is you, letter writer. No one has said anything bad about your wedding, complained about your wedding, or indicated in any way they didn’t think your wedding was acceptable. You had a wedding you liked and could afford, and presumably they are doing the same. It sounds like you just don’t like these “friends” all that much. Is that part of it? When you had your wedding they were close, and you’re drifting apart? That, to my mind, is a normal part of life, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the costs of your weddings.

    • sofar

      This was roughly my reaction, too.

      Also, very few people (if any) probably remember any details about your wedding or have even thought about your budget. As someone who planned a wedding, I can guarantee you I wasn’t thinking back like, “Hmmmm… I bet Jennifer had a low budget, that plebe. My wedding shall outshine hers!” I mean, yeah, I was thinking back to some weddings where awful things happened so that I could plan against similar things happening to me. But if your wedding went off fine, I bet you all the guests remember you *had* a wedding and that’s about it.

      My wedding and the second reception my in-laws threw us were both very fancy by many standards, but there were reasons we made those choices that had NOTHING to do with other weddings I’d attended previously.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        I remember no details about weddings I attended except my own.

        • Gaby

          I was recently looking at tweets from the wedding planning era and I had one where I was undecided about getting personalized napkins because “they’re cheap and cute, but also kind of dumb.” I love that tweet because I didn’t get them and totally forgot about them ever being an option, so I really don’t worry about my guests remembering or stressing the details since I didn’t.

        • Sarah

          and even my own details are kinda sketchy a few years out!

      • I mean, TBH I can remember a bunch details about almost every wedding I’ve been to, and if pressed could probably give a pretty good budget guestimate on most of them… Because I LOVE WEDDINGS. But that comes in the form of “oh, cool poem, killer shoes” etc. because I’m interested in and excited for people’s individual choices.

        If anyone is paying that much attention but landing on “ugh, they cheaped out on Alstroemerias?” That opinion is sort of sewage and should be avoided as such IMO.

        • Katharine Parker

          I could 100% estimate the cost of every wedding I’ve ever attended as an adult, with varying levels of precision. But I can estimate the cost of everything! It’s not me passing judgment, my brain just works that way.

          I’m the person who will notice which chairs you got, what the linens were like, if there were multiple centerpieces. I’m interested in what people chose! But not in a judgmental way, and I say none of my budget estimates out loud.

          • Lexipedia

            Haha, that’s totally a thing I do to. At a recent wedding we were at where SO was saying something about how pretty the flowers even though they were quite “simple and budget” was shocked when I said “I bet you that centerpiece cost ~$150”

            He asked later (these are very good friends and he said that he wanted to settle a bet with me) – $165 each. He didn’t get that even though “they are all one color!” white peonies are spendy.

          • Katharine Parker

            “Pretty but quite simple” so often means $$$, but men do not often grasp that, in my experience.

          • Totch

            We had to have that talk about dresses: simple and impeccably tailored is hard and expensive, covering sloppy stitching with rhinestones is actually quite cost-effective!! (Not that blingy dresses are usually cheap, just that a clean, crisp, pure white dress is often deceptively expensive.)

          • zana

            People who lack a fundamental understanding of flowers should probably not have high confidence in their ability to assess centerpieces!

          • Violet

            I think people lack a fundamental understanding of what it means to have a fundamental understanding. I can EASILY see someone be like, “Flowers: they grow out of dirt with water and sun, yes? These are white, therefore, not fancy. So, not that expensive! Ta DA!”

          • zana

            Oh, yes, people are notoriously bad at knowing what they don’t know. But situations like these can help with that estimation ;)

          • Lexipedia

            Well, to his credit, the first time we were at a wedding and some girlfriends and I were taking about flowers (I clearly love them) and he surreptitiously wrote down all the flowers I said I liked. However, someone mentioned carnations as “gas station flowers” and SO wrote that down too. The first time he tried to buy me flowers at the grocery store he got very, very concerned that it might have a carnation in it and took an hour to pick one because he had to Google all of the flowers.

          • Violet

            <3 This is so charming.

          • Hannah Paige Woodard

            That is so precious <3

          • Lisa

            Ok, that is one of the sweetest stories I’ve heard!

        • sofar

          “That opinion is sort of sewage” is a phrase I will be stealing and using.

        • Glen

          Hey, now, I love Alstroemerias! We had them at our wedding and my hubby gets me a bunch for Valentine’s Day every year.

          • Haha, I love them and had them at our wedding too, that’s why I picked them as an example ;)

      • Totch

        One thing I’ve tried to keep in mind while planning: I only remember things related to your wedding budget if you made it memorable.

        I’ve been in weddings where as a bridesmaid I went and picked out flowers (with prices in full view) and stood there as the bride paid, and have no memory of if it was $500 or $5,000. I also had a friend just tell me about getting overcharged for wine, and I still remember the all details because it was a big deal to her. Both of those are fine! But I’ll never notice how much you spent unless you telegraph to me that it matters.

        While we’ve been planning I’ve made a big effort not to include those common little asides like “and it was a great deal!” when talking to guests, because while some people will always want to guess costs I think that many people only remember the money when you bring it up.

        • sofar

          Very true!

          I remember feeling a little self-conscious about my wedding (booked a gorgeous down-town venue) and had to stop myself from saying stuff like, “And it was such a good deal — literally half the cost of the other venues nearby!”

          I got married in the midwest, so lots of family/family friends from there would ask me, “How much did THAT cost?” or say, “Well That must’ve cost an arm and a leg!” (because this is considered acceptable conversation in the Midwest, at least among everyone I know there — I don’t miss that part of living there!). And that’s the only time I’d say, “It was a good deal, considering location. We negotiated the final cost with the vendor, so your mileage may vary.” Or, “Yes, inviting everyone we love comes with a price tag, thanks for your concern, that’s really sweet.”

          • Totch

            Much Midwest. So Great Lakes. (I/my family are from the Midwest too, and I’ve been working so hard to unlearn all that stuff and not engage in the budget olympics.)

          • sofar

            And also: Leading conversations with, “So what do you do?”

            A number of my southern friends nearly FAINTED when they came up to the Midwest for my wedding and the Uber driver from the airport was like, “So what do you do? Wow, ‘Search Engine Optimization.’ That sounds interesting. Do you have to go to school for that? Does that earn a lot of money? I just drive Uber in my spare time. My day job is such and such. I got it right out of college. I make $x per hour now, but once I take some more classes, I’ll earn X amount.” And then all my uncles at the wedding were like, “Hi my name is Bob so what do you do?” And they almost fainted again.

            And I was like, “OMG you sweet summer children, this is literally every conversation at EVERY Christmas gathering my entire life.”

            … We need Midwest-deprogramming therapy.

          • Totch

            My big one was “So where are you from?” being the first question! I grew up with that meaning like, what county/suburb/etc do you live in (even if that’s not your place of birth. But when that question is used with malice in so many contexts, it’s just not worth being like “No, I didn’t mean “from” from!”

          • Lisa

            I’m so late to the party on this, but between your comment and @disqus_NSPCIO6X7g:disqus ‘s, I’m laughing so much. I don’t think I have any other conversation openers and didn’t even realize these were abnormal!

          • LadyJanee

            I’m glad you said this because I was thinking the same thing! And I’m from a completely different country! Now my awkward small talk is going to be even more awkward as I try to think of other conversation starters.

    • Nell

      I think my wedding was roughly in the middle of the pack in my friend group in terms of cost (also it cost PRECISELY the average budget in my region, so there ya go). But never once have I enjoyed a wedding more or less because of how much it cost.

  • Sara

    There’s a reason the saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ rings so true. You’re holding up two wildly different weddings and trying to find points of similarities as well as engaging in a battle about political beliefs. Its not going to end well for you if you keep doing that.
    People do judge weddings – that does not mean yours was less than or worse. Its just different. Budgets aside, taste is also huge deciding factor. A taco truck sounds amazing, but maybe someone you knew hates tacos (unfriend them immediately). You can’t base your happiness on other people’s opinion of what YOU liked at the time. Or on your future self’s opinion. You’re just stealing your own joy.

  • L

    I always find it interesting what is left out, “When I questioned the bride for voting for Trump” what exactly did that sound like? With how judgmental you are about your friends’ weddings I find it hard to believe you would be less judgmental about who they voted for (considering how much higher stakes this was to many people). She probably felt attacked and responded in a hurt way because she thought you guys were closer. No one has said anything about your wedding, you are the one passing judgment on others, this has nothing to do with being a budget conscious bride this is about you judging others for choosing differently than you would.

    • BSM

      Why *should* she be less judgmental about who someone voted for when, as you say, it’s a much (MUCH) higher stakes decision than plated dinner vs. buffet?

      Disclaimer: I would hardcore judge anyone who voted for Trump.

      • L

        and that’s fine! We all have our issues that make us twitchy when others choose differently, but you have to realize that when you judge someone for a personal choice they may get defensive and feel attacked. I mean LW is being defensive about the thought that someone *might* be judging her wedding not someone coming up and telling her she chose wrong. I guess I’m just pushing back on the “but I invited you to my wedding” having to do with anything other than how close the friend thought she was to LW.

        • BSM

          “I guess I’m just pushing back on the “but I invited you to my wedding” having to do with anything other than how close the friend thought she was to LW.”

          That makes more sense. From your original comment, it seemed like you were solely chastising the LW for judging people for their politics which, imo, is pretty valid judgment.

          • Amy March

            I think it’s a very valid judgment, I just find it completely unreasonable to go from “I judged her about her core values” to “and then she got mad and I assume it’s because her wedding was more expensive than mine.” No, she’s mad because you think she’s a bad person and effectively told her that!

        • rg223

          I do mostly agree that “but I invited you to my wedding” probably doesn’t have anything to do with the cost each person spent at their wedding.

          BUT, to be devil’s advocate (or perhaps the LW’s advocate): we are only told two pieces of info about that conversation (that LW was questioning her friend voting for Trump and her friend’s response). There was certainly more to the conversation, and it might have been clear to the LW that the friend WAS actually saying “I spent money on your when I invited you to my wedding and I’m upset you’re questioning me about this,” while it doesn’t appear that way out of context.

          • L

            Fair enough, if that was the case I wish she would have included that information because that would actually tie everything together and make it make sense to me.
            Projecting here: I know I have friends who I disagree with WILDLY (both ways on the spectrum) on politics, but still love dearly and would be extremely hurt if my political beliefs were enough for them to stop talking to me and in that situation I may actually come back with a “but we’ve done xyz together over our time together how can you think I’m an awful person?” I know that isn’t the healthiest response, but is one I can understand.

          • rg223

            Yeah, very good point – I think additional context in general would have been helpful here (no matter WHAT the friend meant by that comment).

            “In that situation I may actually come back with a ‘but we’ve done xyz together over our time together how can you think I’m an awful person?'” — I could totally see myself having that reaction too, although I do have to say, I wouldn’t say “you were at my wedding” as a sign that we are super close – it would have been something more personal. That’s feeding into my devil’s advocate point that maybe the LW isn’t totally misreading this comment. Of course, maybe inviting the LW to the wedding WAS personal for the friend… haha we are very much in a speculative area here!

          • BSM

            I mean, the whole progression of the letter reads really strangely to me, so it’s hard to tell what went down wrt to any of it for me.

    • I’m really questioning how the topic came up in the first place. Especially at what sounds like a big wedding, how much time do you even get to hang with the bride? There’s something about the tone of the letter that makes me think it wasn’t a casual discussion of recent events where the bride happened to mention in passing how she voted, but that LW already knew the bride voted Trump and thought that bringing it up in the middle of the celebrations was somehow going to end well.

      • Violet

        I don’t think this conversation occurred at the wedding.

        • Aah, that makes rather more sense!

      • ManderGimlet

        I think it was more of a “later we discussed and…” But like a lot of people brought up, the LW is tellingly vague about how this conversation played out. I have a hard time with the idea that LW was like “I hate Trump and I’m really disappointed that you voted for him” and her friend immediately jumped to “I invited you to my wedding, how dare you question any of my opinions??!!” To me, that’s the type of thing that gets said after some accusations have been made, after some questioning as to the “true nature” of their relationship.

        Frankly, I think it’s a red herring and that there are 4 separate issues here: her second thoughts on her own wedding; her feeling of financial inferiority after having just slogged through grad school which I’m assuming was for career advancement; the general political climate; and her changing relationships with her friend group (which, again assuming, are probably long time friends). All valid and sucky and hard things to deal with, but really only made worse when it manifests as a big ol’ judgement call on anyone with a bigger budget than her.

  • K.

    So I’m still honestly a little embarrassed by this number, but fuck it: we spent $60k on our wedding for various reasons (including things like large families, we could afford it, and also that we unabashedly like lots of pretty flowers). We were equally worried that our crunchy free spirit friends will think we were “missing the point of marriage” and that our/my wealthy family members will feel like we still weren’t doing enough (seriously). In the end, though, if anyone judged us, we weren’t any the wiser. People were so gracious and awesome, and our wedding cost didn’t come up even once. Well, except with my SIL, but that’s a totally different/long story.

    And for the record, it would never, ever occur to us to judge someone who spent differently than us. Every wedding I’ve attended from the lavish ballroom to the 100% DIY yoga retreat-style has been unique, gorgeous and perfectly suited to who they are as couples and individuals. I’ve cried, danced, cheered, and been in total awe at every single one, and felt so privileged and honored to be there. Money was the furthest thing from my mind when surrounded by so much happiness and love, corny as that is to say.

    Now, of course, I’m dealing with the *same exact thing* with baby registries (Will my husband’s cousins think we’re snobs for mostly wanting wooden toys? Will my family think we don’t care about the comfort of our child because our stroller is on the cheaper end? Will our friends think we care too much about “status” if we register for, say, a Sophie le Giraffe? Etc., etc., etc.) so this fear of comparison and judgement doesn’t go away in my experience. You just have to learn to manage it and own your choices, easy as that is to say/hard as it is to fully implement.

    • Ashlah

      Oh my god, I’m so stupidly paranoid about judgement of our baby registry choices. Just like the wedding registry, we’ll have a range of prices, but there’s so much judgement of parenting already (especially of first-time parents), and it feels like the registry puts all your choices out the open. Bleh. (But yes, I’m aware I’m overthinking it, and most people pay less attention to your stroller choice than I think!)

      • K.

        It might be my own paranoia too, but I *do* think people judge more about parenting stuff than wedding stuff. For instance, my one friend lashed out at me because I mentioned I was taking a breastfeeding class. Turns out, she assumed that meant I judged her for exclusively formula feeding and I had to reassure her that I believe Fed is Best for over an hour. And my mom [lovingly, I remind myself] sends me a thousand articles a day about every big ticket item we have on our registry with “other options to consider.” It can be tough to navigate at times.

        But yeah, at the end of the day, most people realllllyyyy don’t care if you’re getting a Graco stroller or an UppaBaby or whatever. And if they do, eh…I’m choosing what I believe is best for my family. That’s what matters!

        • BSM

          Adulthood! Where each new event is an adventure in navigating other people’s opinions, expectations, and personal feelings about your life.

          ETA: And your own feelings about their feelings.

        • Violet

          I don’t think you’re paranoid. I think people judge parenting more than weddings because not everyone’s had a wedding, but everyone’s been a kid. Therefore I’ve found that many people are pretty convinced they are experts on the whole kid-raising thing.

    • Akes

      “We were equally worried that our crunchy free spirit friends will think we were “missing the point of marriage” and that our/my wealthy family members will feel like we still weren’t doing enough (seriously).”

      ^THIS! We are currently planning our June wedding and this, exactly. I feel it with the wedding registry too – I had a friend remark that the plates I registered for were “ridiculously expensive”, whereas I have some fancy family members who say I should have registered for more expensive plates (seriously!). For me, wedding planning has been a HUGE exercise in not giving 2 sh*ts what anyone thinks, because you will never please anyone.

      And I can’t even imagine how much more difficult it gets with parenting, where there seems to be judgment from ALL angles. Best of luck! I hope your family & friends are so thrilled with the upcoming bundle of joy that they will forgo judgment of your baby registry!

      • Lexipedia

        See, this post just makes me want to know what kind of plates you registered for!

      • Totch

        We have this!!!!!! A few rich family members, an a lot of middle class folks who can be money judgey. And all of them are traveling a significant distance to attend. That too nice vs. not nice enough thing feels so real, especially with the added “We flew 5-13 hours for… This?” anxiety.

        • PurplePeopleEater

          Oh god this. I’m from the Philippines, he’s from England, and we live in New York. So to add, I also had Are the posh Brits going to think any of this is a faux pas? Are the FIlipinos going to think I’ve been white-washed? It was FRAUGHT.

          • Totch

            Heyyyyyy! Folks coming from HK and the US to Canada for us. With the posh HK relatives, my fiance is also constantly worried about things being both too Chinese and not Chinese enough. As in “what if I’m so whitewashed that I don’t even realize this is gauche in HK?” At one point he banned the color red because it was too Chinese, and I was just like RED TULIPS IN AN ASSORTED BOUQUET ARE NOT CHINESE. With the more frugal US relatives, we’re just praying that they won’t realize how much abalone costs and get judgey.

      • Yes. I wish I registered for more fancy stuff. (Crystal! I wish I registered for that. I definitely don’t have anywhere to put it now but my parents would store it until we bought a house happily/easily). But my husband’s family would have thought that was weird and fancy so I didn’t. And as a result, my mom’s family was confused because they couldn’t find enough things to spend money on for me because they like giving very generous gifts. (My mom’s rich cousin ended up buying like 5 boxes of things, because I think he wanted to spend a certain amount, and the few big ticket items were already gone, so he got me every single serving bowl and platter I registered for. And a waffle maker.)
        (We actually ended up doing 2 separate registries, too, one at Kohl’s for my husband’s family and one at Macy’s for my family).

      • Jennifer

        Actually, we had our baby before we started planning our wedding and I felt/feel like the judgment is much more intrusive regarding our wedding decisions! I don’t know what it is about weddings, but many people seem to have this idea that weddings should *always* be a certain kind of way and, when they’re not, people kind of freak out. I was on a Wedding Wire website and mentioned that my mom had offered to cook for our wedding (which is typical in the Nigerian culture) and I got all sorts of degrading comments from the WW regulars about what a horrible idea it was to use “friendors” and how they couldn’t believe I was making my mom work on my wedding. They didn’t seem to understand that this was completely normal in my culture and my mom was actually offended when we told her we would be going with a caterer (our venue charges more if we use outside catering). The people who hang out on Those websites are pretty judgmental and I’ve stayed as far away from them as I could.

    • Sarah

      Ha, don’t worry many people go off registry anyhow because “they” know best!

      • BSM

        OH GOOD.

      • Totch

        I just died. ?

    • Abs

      Yes to this! I keep feeling like “why does it seem so hard to just tell people nice stuff we want so they can buy it for us?” But then I agonize over the decision to register for nicer plates because they’re more durable, but I’m afraid my socialist friends will judge how bougie I am for wanting nice things, and then my stepmother calls me up and tells me that we haven’t registered for enough stuff and we’re making it hard for our guests. I’m mostly over it with the wedding because it’s a party we’re throwing (and paying for) so we can do what we want, but the asking for gifts part seems more delicate. We have a wide range of options, but still.

      But of course, I’m actually just paying the price for the many happy hours I’ve spent judging other people’s registry choices in the past. And I still like those people–I was just entertained by their decision to register for a bronze “hearth cricket” when they didn’t have a hearth. Or a living room.

      • Katharine Parker

        Having a wide range of options is really the only obligation to your guests on a registry. I’m all for nicer plates–I am so excited for my heavy, handcrafted, American-made stoneware. It’s so beautiful that I go to the website to look at it at least once a week. It sparks joy. Pick plates that spark joy, socialist judgment be damned!

        • Knonymous

          Oh gosh, I’m full of MIL stories today, but it bugged me SO MUCH when my husband’s mother bought us a few nice, expensive things for my baby shower – and then also basically all of the inexpensive accessories that were on the registry, too. Doesn’t she know that they’re not there so she can buy us 1 million things, they’re there so our just-starting-out friends can find even 1 thing they can afford?!

          • Abs

            Yes–the other part to my stepmother story is that my stepmother bought all of the flatware (that we had assumed would be split between a bunch of different people) and THEN called to say we didn’t have enough stuff on there. It’s like–well, we don’t anymore.

            But then my in-laws didn’t even ask us about a registry, they just showed up at our house with a salad bowl the size of Cleveland that has all of these super specific care instructions. We don’t really ever eat salad. So clearly people just do what they want to do.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            Oh my gosh, yes to People Do What They Want To Do! Honestly, I felt really great about our registry–we had a variety of price points, we made sure that our cheap items were ones people could feel good about buying (i.e. they included both practical items like a cheese grater, and “fun” things like a super awesome $6 wine stopper), and everything managed to give off a hint of luxury while still being practical and affordable. I spent weeks on that thing, and in my humble opinion, we killed it regarding the perfect registry! Guests even commented that our registry was delightful to browse!
            And…we ended up getting six items off of our registry.

      • Totch

        The registry definitely gave me more anxiety than expected. We had the reverse problem because we’ve made a lot of big ticket purchases for ourselves recently, so had trouble finding anything to list that was over $100 (not that people should be expected to give expensive gifts, but we knew some would want to). I had the weirdest call with my mom where I said “please let me know if there’s not enough or the gifts are too cheap or anything!!!!!!”

        What a weird, weird worry to have.

      • toomanybooks

        If your socialist friends complain that you registered for more durable, and thus expensive, plates, you can tell them you wanted to have something that would last, not something with a planned obsolescence that would force you to participate in a chain of consumerism :P

      • Her Lindsayship

        A colleague (and friend) took me aside yesterday to have a chat about my registry. She told me that we really need to register for more things, and for nicer things, because people will want to buy us nice things! But we’re having a pretty small wedding and a lot of the guests are my family, who really do not have money to buy lavish gifts. So on the one hand I have people like this colleague, and on the other I have people who have never shopped at Crate & Barrel and I’m afraid they’ll look at our registry and think we’re snobby or gift-grabby because the copper pitcher is really overpriced compared to what they would’ve bought. Sigh.

    • Lexipedia

      As someone who unabashedly LOVES pretty flowers, anyone who judges me and tells me that “they will just die” can stuff it.

      • Violet

        That reminds me of the inimitable Mitch Hedberg:
        “I like to drink red wine. This girl says ‘Doesn’t red wine give you a headache?’ ‘Yeah, eventually! But the first and the middle part are amazing.’ I’m not gonna stop doing something ’cause of what’s gonna happen at the end. ‘Mitch, you want an apple?’ ‘No, eventually it’ll be a core.'”

  • Laura

    I feel like the LW is conflating weddings with some sort of morality. Having a small, frugal wedding is not inherently morally superior to having a larger, more spendy wedding. This didn’t read to me as true anxiety about having a “shabby” wedding in comparison, but more as an opportunity to cast judgments about the moral character of the friends who had spendier affairs. If you’re feeling out of step with your friends in terms of politics and priorities, that’s one thing. But making this about your respective weddings (when nobody seems to actually have mentioned yours at all!) feels like an excuse to judge your friends.

    ETA: your friends’ political opinions, on the other hand, totally reflect their values. So in my book, feel free to judge away. But you might also want to start looking for new friends, because it sounds like these don’t feel like your people anymore.

    • Etta

      “ETA: your friends’ political opinions, on the other hand, totally reflect their values. So in my book, feel free to judge away.”

      What are her friends political opinions? We only know who she voted for, but we can’t know specifically why. You can’t just assign values based on a vote unless you are a mind reader.

      Questioning anyone on who they voted for can come across as aggressive. It sounded like the friend was taken aback. She might have exclaimed that she invited the LW to her wedding to emphasize that she thought of her as a friend, because the questioning may have felt hostile.

      I might have a political discussion with close friends, but I would never demand someone explain their vote to me!

      • K.

        Not the point of this thread, but there are a lot of people (including me) who believe that voting for Donald Trump reflects certain values regardless of why you voted for him, if only because it shows there are certainly things that he said or did that didn’t bother them enough to NOT vote for him. Or rather, there is no good reason to vote for Donald Trump that is in any way aligned with thoughtful, inclusive and progressive values.

        • Gaby

          I was recently transferred to another supervisor in my office and I was fine with it because I know and like her, and we have worked together on a project before. I then made the mistake of looking her up on facebook and saw that she is an adamant Trump supporter and I haven’t been able to see her the same since. It hasn’t affected our professional relationship but it’s a doozy. The idea of being a republican social worker is already a bit confusing to me, but supporting DT is a whole ‘nother level.

        • rg223

          Trump isn’t even aligned with a lot of CONSERVATIVE values, for heaven’s sake. THAT’S enough of a reason to question why someone would vote for him.

          ETA: No frustration towards your comment, K, only towards Republican voters.

  • It strikes me that you are feeling expectations to “spend, spend, spend?” on a wedding you had two years ago? Like, your friends are not expecting anything from your wedding because it already happened — And anyone looking back *2 years* to judge your (as you point out) then super on-trend wedding does not have a view-point worth worrying about.

    Are there other ways that you are feeling out of sync with these friends? Changing values, etc.? Sometimes when I find myself wrapped up in objectively superficial stuff – i.e. how much your peeps are spending on parties – It’s because something’s rubbing up against under-articulated personal values or insecurities.

  • PurplePeopleEater

    I’m sorry, but for someone who’s worried about being judged, you do come off awfully judgey. I am not a rustic kind of girl, that is just not my aesthetic, so that is not the kind of wedding I would throw. I love pretty things, I love romantic English gardens, I love pink peonies. So for my wedding party, we had gold sparkly table runners on top of which were dozens and dozens of votive candles. We had tall vases of hydrangeas and roses and lisianthus. We held it at a conservatory with floor to ceiling glass walls. You would probably think I spent year’s paycheck on it, but you would be wrong. Most of the things at my wedding were homemade and/or secondhand. The biggest expense was the conservatory, but our total wedding cost still came in under yours. So, don’t start off judging. Don’t think your aesthetic is the only one. And even if they DID spend all that money on THEIR wedding, your budget and your sense of what is fiscally right is NOT the only way to go – different people have different priorities and yes, even different bank accounts. Just enjoy the day, and bask in the celebration of two people’s love – I mean that’s what you’re supposed to be there for, right?

    • CMT

      This is a good point. I wonder if the LW really knows the true costs of the weddings she’s attending or is just guessing.

      • K.

        In my comment where I said I had a $60k wedding, I alluded to my SIL having an issue with our big budget. But the thing is, she still made HUGE assumptions. She literally thought we spent our entire budget on just the flowers alone. *And* she thought (and told people) that my dress cost $15-20k. Definitely big ol’ nope to both. Our actual big ticket costs were mostly hidden in paying for the venue, food, and my husband’s extended family’s accommodations.

        • Lexipedia

          Where on earth did she get those numbers from, and was she sharing them with more family/friends? Is there a bit of a jealousy problem between the two of you? Not to prejudge, but it seems insane to assume someone spent $20K on a dress without some data to back that up.

          • K.

            I’m not precisely sure where she got the numbers, but if I had to guess I’d say “her butt.” :p Seriously, though, she watches a lot of wedding shows and I think her concept of how much things cost has been skewed by that. Our stuff was nice and probably pricier than lot of my friends have spent or would spend, but nothing like that numbers she was throwing out there!

            And yes, absolutely to the jealousy question. Our relationship is actually pretty good despite this, but she hated that her younger brother was getting married before her and that came out in a lot of fun, exciting ways during our planning process.

        • Cathi

          My step brother was really passive-aggressive about our little sister’s wedding that he perceived to be very expensive because it was at a “fancy” venue, notably because he automatically assumed our dad (his step-dad) must have contributed a lot in order for them to afford it. He likely would have had the same reaction about mine as well if I had made the mistake of talking to him about it before hand.

          In protest of the fanciness he wore beaten up jeans and a flannel shirt to the wedding. His wife dressed appropriately for the venue/occasion and he just looks ridiculous in all of the family photos.

      • rg223

        Yeah, since reading this I’ve been thinking that I have basically no idea what any of my friends spent on their weddings, aside from big generalizations like “this wedding, in an expensive area during the summer, cost more than this other wedding that happened in the off season.”

        • BSM

          And, like, I also just don’t… care?

        • Natalie

          Yeah, I’ve attended a bunch of weddings in the same city over the past couple years, and I couldn’t being to hypothesize which ones costed more and which ones were cheaper. I honestly don’t know whether they were $8,000 weddings or $35,000 weddings. The bouquets and centerpieces with fancy flowers could have been DIY and cost $400 total, or they could have been done by the expensive boutique floral shop in town and cost $2000. I don’t know, and I don’t care.

    • Totch

      Just an example of never being able to tell: we’re getting married in a conservatory too (I am so with your style), but it’s publicly owned so it was one of the cheapest parts of the wedding.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    People judge weddings ALL of the time for all KINDS of reasons. I’ve been at weddings where people I knew made snarky comments about the food, they didn’t like this or that, etc. That’s just people and part of dealing with people.

    HOWEVER, your letter reads like you’re projecting your own issues and perhaps embarrassment or self consciousness over your wedding onto your friends. You didn’t say people said anything to you about your wedding, made nasty comments etc. Your feeling seems to be based completely on the fact that people spent perhaps a lot more than you. But that doesn’t mean people are you judging YOU. I spend thousands of dollars on high end handbags because that is something I enjoy. I don’t judge other people for what kind of bag THEY carry.

    Finally, I think you are being a bit of “joy thief” in your obsession and moral judgment over how other people spend their money. Don’t worry about what other people spend. Just enjoy their friendship and their weddings. Life is so much easier that way and you will probably feel less like people are judging YOU as well.

    • Angela’s Back

      this times 1000

  • Janet Hélène

    I find this whole situation confusing. Why is LW worrying about the state of your wedding when no one has (apparently) said anything about it? LW’s friends choices for themselves are not (necessarily) a judgement of your choices.

    Also, it seems like there is a lot more behind the very simple statement of “I also recently ended a relationship with a couple who’s easily $100,000 wedding we attended, over politics.” What this looked like and how it was done would have huge implications on the appropriateness of her saying “How dare you! I invited you to MY WEDDING.”

    It seems like this letter is more of an existential crisis of the meaning of weddings and whether LW’s was all that they wanted it to be. Which is a genuinely difficult struggle, but is different than what is presented in this letter (ramble?).

  • Violet

    Liz and the commenters are totally on point about not knowing truly how much other’s spend and, even if you do know, not equating wedding frugality with morality.
    I want to focus on why you feel your wedding was shabby. You said that because you were just out grad school and because it was a fad, you did a rustic, DIY wedding. Is maybe part of your feelings about this because you really wouldn’t have chosen that aesthetic had it not been financially reasonable and on-trend? I think we’ve all gotten swept up in a fad or two in our lives, and we can feel a little cringey about it afterwards, if it wasn’t really OUR thing, but rather, going along with what’s popular. (Not saying rustic DIY can’t be great, but it is objectively not everyone’s favorite aesthetic.) And since you can’t do-over your wedding, you’re instead looking at your friends’ current ones through an unnecessarily harsh lens in an attempt to re-frame your choice as more moral than maybe it was at the time?
    Or maybe you’re just judgey in general. But being that you’re so worried about being judged, maybe your current judging is coming from a place of insecurity.

  • Anontoday

    Outside of the LW’s original question and more on this topic generally – I find this stuff hard, and it leaves me with all sorts of unresolved feelings. Am I the only one? There is a range of people spending less or more than me that I find pretty unremarkable.

    But there is also a range of people spending more that leaves me feeling …. weird. When my friends bought a house that cost 10x what my condo cost, when other friends have a 300 person wedding at the Four Seasons, then a 200 person reception at a very fancy country club then a 150 person reception at another nice hotel on the other coast when I am sacrificing a lot to feed 75 people, I guess I end up feeling like I can’t relate.

    I’m not saying people shouldn’t do those things (if within their means); I’m sure they’re supporting lots of great businesses and making thoughtful choices. Logically I know that I spend more than many people on these items, probably more than many people can even conceive, and that leaves me feeling squeamish too. But I also feel like I can’t be the only one who has experiences like this and does’t really know what to do with my feelings.

    • Liz3407509

      Yep, I know what you mean. I find as I’m now in my 30s, I notice this more. A friend (who is a teacher) is married to someone who works in tech, and so they do things that are not feasible for us (e.g. buy a house in the Bay Area). I find it weird sometimes, but what helps me is actually spending time with her, so it’s a less nebulous concept, if that makes sense. Like, when I don’t see her I’m like “oh, she and her husband are off on a trip again somewhere awesome” but when I see her, I’m just glad she got to go on a trip. It also helps that she’s got an interesting vantage point on this, and doesn’t pretend this disparity doesn’t exist.

      • Anontoday

        I think you’re right – pretending the disparity doesn’t exist makes it worse. And I love your suggestion. Thanks!

    • BSM

      There is one friend who I sort of feel this way about, but I think it’s more a symptom of our changing friendship than the cause. We’ve grown apart over the last 5ish years (live in different cities, different priorities, etc.), so while I’d still consider him a friend, invited him to our wedding (he didn’t attend), and expect that we’ll probably be invited to his, I think not being as close makes me feel more weird about his conspicuous consumption (like, he proposed with a 6+ karat ring when he didn’t yet have a full-time job… I can’t help the side eye).

      So, to that end, I think Liz’s suggestion to spend more time with your friends like that is a great one! Keeping those friendships strong probably staves off the weirds.

    • emmers

      This maybe isn’t the same, but I also experience this with kids/no kids. I think for me it’s that with some friends we all started out in the same place (single, dating, whatever), and then now our lives are so different. It does make it feel better when people are still down to hang out, and it intensifies the feelings of differentness when they’re not.

      And regarding the money thing— we’re only slightly there now, but my guess is that with our friend group we’ll end up having more money than most. We often talk about how to try to not make it weird for all, and it’s still something we’re figuring out (like if it’s weird to treat people when we go out, or if it’s better to ask people to chip in for a meal but then us cover more drinks/appetizers).

      • PurplePeopleEater

        I’m on the poor side of this with some friend groups, and on the rich side with others. I think most friends will just appreciate your thoughtfulness, really. When we’re hanging out with cash-strapped friends (graduate students), we’ll maybe buy a bottle or two of wine for us to share, and always ask their suggestions for restaurants first, and then we make sure any of our suggestions are in the same price range. On the other hand, with our richer friends (corporate law power couple), we just smile and say thank you when they buy the champagne or whatever, and make sure we write them a thank you note after too, but we don’t make it this big “thing” and we try to just accept graciously – we know they have the money, they know we know they have the money, so let’s all just leave it at that and have fun, I guess. But I don’t know, incomes aside, they’re all great people so YMMV.

        • CMT

          I think learning to accept generosity graciously is a great adulting skill to have.

    • Brynna

      I have a couple of friends that recently bought million-dollar homes. That’s so far outside of my reality that I have a hard time understanding my own feelings about it. You’re not the only one!

  • Lexipedia

    Honestly, the one time I get judge-y about how much people spend on their weddings is if they were clearly very extravagant about something superficial at the expense of guest comfort. Yes I feel bad about it, and of course I would never say anything, but if the bride shows up with a designer dress in a horse-drawn carriage and nobody has enough to eat/the food is absolutely awful I might be a little grumbly. (has happened more than once, though not the carriage)

    • PurplePeopleEater

      I second this: like if it’s winter and you want flower garlands hanging down from your marquee, but cheap out on the heating? Then, yes, I will judge you.

      • Lexipedia

        Bad heating?! That’s just mean!

        • toomanybooks

          I attended a wedding where I had to keep my sweater and coat on the entire time because it was in a freezing hotel. (The hotel seemed nice enough but the event room the wedding was in felt awfully cold for an indoor space in late Fall.)

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Devil’s advocate, but did they intentionally cheap out on heating, or did it just sort of happen? Because yeah, if it was January in Wisconsin, and they had like, one tiny space heater for a massive tent or something, then judge away! However, I’ll be the first to admit that my wedding was a bit warmer than I intended…not because I cheaped out fans and AC, but because I did not anticipate a triple digit heat index in October!
        Sometimes, bad temperatures happen to good people!

    • Katharine Parker

      Yes. Vera Wang dress and a cash bar? I will judge you for being a bad host.

    • K.

      Okay, yeah, one time I was a little annoyed when the couple was drinking from three bottles of Dom Perignon and everyone else had to pay for access to a beer keg (and I’m celiac, so this meant I couldn’t have a drink at the wedding; made it extra hard!)

      I didn’t at all begrudge them wanting to celebrate with something nice because I know they struggle financially and they were also giddy about their marriage being legally recognized, but maybe do that in the bridal suite?

      • K.

        Replying to add: For the record, I know they decided to spend the money on the Dom Perignon for themselves because they told me they specifically saved $1200 for that reason–they were basically like, “We’ve been through hell and we deserve this.” I just smiled and said, “That’s awesome!”

        And in a lot of ways I *did* get where they were coming from. But still, it made me a little irritated that they weren’t also a little more thoughtful about ensuring all their guests were taken care of, re: booze. Even having two bottles of DP instead of three would have meant they could have had a little more flexibility.

        • Antonia

          Your response is way more diplomatic than mine would have been! Drinking DP while your guests have to *pay* to access a beer keg?!?! Yeah… NOPE. Not to mention you can get a good bottle of champagne for $40. Kirkland Signature (Costco’s brand) champagne is fab (if you can find it — sells out QUICK) and a steal at $20 a pop!

    • Brynna

      Typically, I would agree, but maybe they were gifted that designer dress and horse-drawn carriage, but had to foot the bill on the food? We were gifted some things we probably otherwise would have left out.

      Unless the couple is super vocal about their choices, it’s pretty hard to tell what’s what.

      • Natalie

        Yes, this! Couples’ “choices” may really reflect the conflicting priorities of various relatives and who’s paying for what. If the couple 100% paid for their wedding, then sure, judge their choices about carriages vs. food vs. cash bar. But when parents are chipping in money, their priorities often force couples to make choices that don’t reflect their priorities. Guests, even close friends, may not always know what elements at a wedding were foisted upon the couple and which were their decisions.

        • Lexipedia

          Again, and this is why I wouldn’t saaaaaaay anything even though I might be cold and hungry. I get conflicting expectations, priorities, etc. and nobody really knows unless you are on the inside.

          • Another Meg

            Can I at least judge the hell out of the parents?

      • ManderGimlet

        Yeah, I used to feel really judge-y about super-lavish-wedding-but-begging-for-honeymoon-funds couples, but then I started realizing that some families, while generous, are VERY particular about where that money goes! You just never know what strings are attached to each and every dollar.

      • Jane

        Agreed. I have a $3K dress but I bought it on eBay for $250. Guests, other than the ones I’ve specifically bragged to about my amazing online shopping skills, will probably think* I prioritized my dress over other things. In fact, the opposite is true. We are also having live music, which a specific family member offered to pay for (and in fact pretty much insisted on), but which we would not have prioritized in our relatively-low budget wedding.

        So, yeah, it’s just a bad idea to make assumptions/judgments about other people’s weddings.

        *assuming my guests are trying to figure out how much we spent or anything like that. But here’s hoping they won’t be!

    • Totch

      Agreed with everyone here. I can’t​ fault anyone for inconveniences due to time constraints or or just the general limitations of planning an event (like needing time for family pictures between the ceremony and reception). Even if it’s something money could theoretically fix (aka folks are adults, and having the ceremony and reception in separate places doesn’t mean you’re required to rent a bus). But all the examples in this thread just make me mad!

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  • Nell

    Omg everyone is killing it in this comments section – but there’s one thing I feel is left out:

    Sometimes, when you get invited to something posh, you feel indebted to the people who invited you. Maybe you don’t like a couple that much, but they invited you to stay at their ski house in Vail, so maybe you kind of have to invite them to your next party?

    I say this because maybe this LW is freaking out because she feels indebted to this couple. And the answer is: you’re not. You don’t owe a lifetime of friendship to someone just cause you were invited to their wedding. Permanent, unwavering friendship based upon one invitation is a pretty ugly thing to demand of someone. It’s not a trump card (pun intended) that you can throw down instead of dealing with whatever issues are in front of you right here, right now.

  • Jane

    Side note: did Disqus start working for everyone again on their phones? Sooo nice to have it back. Thanks APW.

    • Totch

      Yes. So happy.

    • Eenie

      So happy! The new mobile format was nice, but not seeing the nesting of the comments was annoying.

      • A single sarah

        I did to like not seeing authors in the new mobile format. Was trying to give the adjustment time, but so glad to have it back right now.

        • Eenie

          Oh yeah, I switched to desktop mode to see the author.

    • Amy March

      Yes it’s wonderful!!!!

  • Megan

    When I read this letter, I definitely felt like the writer was judging people who spend more on their weddings pretty severely, if obliquely. That may or may not be the case (it seems like some other readers may have also gotten that impression), but I realized that I am hypersensitive to this kind of judgement, because I feel so defensive about how much my wedding is costing. It’s something that has been an ongoing issue for me, and I’m sure I’ve interpreted completely innocuous comments as judgments about my “decadent” wedding. And I think the same thing is going on with the letter writer, in the opposite direction. When there is something causes us to have deep, discomforting feelings about ourselves, it makes sense that we see it reflected everywhere. I can’t quite imagine feeling self-conscious about spending too little on a wedding myself, unless it caused guests to be uncomfortable (but that’s just me, I’m pretty neurotic about spending money. And we live under the constant shadow of student freaking debt), but I’m sure that many people feel as uncomfortable about spending less on a wedding as I do about spending more. So I feel for the letter writer, but would recommend trying to step back, and think about whether the things she thinks others are saying or thinking about her are really more things that she is thinking herself.

  • A Practical Bride

    “Money is weird and opaque and personal. There’s a lot that’s unseen, even in the most conspicuous consumerism.” This really resonated with me.

    My fiance and I are a month away from our small, low-budget wedding. We’re having a picnic, with a local take-away vendor setting up a stand in outdoor venue. I’m really excited about our plans.

    However, his sister got married about a year ago, with a much bigger budget. Their wedding was at the same venue (an old family holiday home) and their wedding was absolutely beautiful. There was plenty of alcohol and delicious food. It was a five-day affair, with various events stretched out over the days (most paid for or at least subsidised/organised by the couple). I enjoyed myself immensely and was so happy to be part of their celebrations, but this was seriously just not what my fiance and I can afford. I felt anxious for the longest time that family would attend ours and be disappointed and underwhelmed.

    But I’ve since realised that their wedding was what they wanted and what they could afford. We’re planning our wedding to be what we want and what we can afford. And that’s okay! My wedding will be no less valid than theirs, I will be no less married than they are. I hope that on the day, those family members that were at my sister-in-law’s wedding will see that both couples love each other, and both couples are so excited to be married!

    At the end of the day, there’s a lot of heavy expectations and big ideas that go along with weddings. Sure, weddings are fun, and they’re probably the biggest, most expensive and elaborate parties we’ll throw in our lives, but at the end of the day they’re about two people who love each other who are committing their lives to each other (whatever that means personally to them). The rest doesn’t really matter that much.

  • Katy

    I find that I am most judgmental about things that I personally feel insecure about, and that sounds like what might be in the undertones of this letter. I agree with Liz that LW is reading their own feelings into their friend’s words. I will admit that I have been judgmental about the expense of other peoples’ weddings in the past, and on further examination I realized that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to afford a nice wedding of my own when the time came.

    Also, going through the planning process provided me with a heaping dose of reality and humility. It also helped me realize how much of the decision making process is fueled by concern for the comfort and delight of people that you love. I love how my wedding came out (in large part due to the advice I got from this website!) but things ended up being WAY more expensive that I imagined them when I attended weddings as a pre-engaged person.

    Maybe if LW thought about where these feelings are coming from (not happy with own wedding day, distancing of friendships – whatever it is) rather than focusing on price tag differences for weddings with retroactive guilt about LW’s own wedding, they might come to a more satisfying answer to this question.

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  • NotMotherTheresa

    I was fortunate enough to receive a fairly privileged upbringing–we weren’t rich by any means, but we lived in a good neighborhood, and I attended good schools with lots of kids who came from waaaay more money than what my mom and dad had. On the whole, that’s given me a lot of advantages in life, but it also meant that my wedding was, no matter what, going to be “the cheap one”. I mean, if my parents, my husband, his parents, and I ALL scrimped and saved for a decade, we STILL weren’t going to have the kind of money available to us to pay for the weddings that some of my classmates took for granted!
    But you know what? That’s okay. Sure, a part of me wishes I could have afforded lobster at the Ritz Carlton (or at least, you know, an actual videographer and a photographer who charged more than $600), but that’s life. I did what was right for me, and my acquaintances with $400 a plate weddings are doing what’s right for them. If anyone did judge me for my $6k wedding, honestly, that’s on them. Like, does the thought bother me at all? Of course it does. But does it bother me enough to make me wish I would have gone into debt or sacrificed every cent of my savings to try (and fail) to keep up with those people? Nope.
    And honestly, your story about the former friend’s wedding rings pretty true to how most weddings are–no matter how much or how little the couple spends, things will still sometimes be inconvenient and Not Fun for guests. So if anything, take that as a source of solace…odds are, your guests had every bit as good of a time at your taco truck wedding as they did at Super Fancy Expensive Wedding. You just didn’t have to spend as much to mildly inconvenience your nearest and dearest!

  • Cay

    Honestly I think the thing to remember is that you don’t have to have it all today/right ow. You (hopefully) have the rest of you all’s lives together, so you can always do it big later. Didn’t have a huge ring? Get one on your 5 or 10 year anniversary, or whatever anniversary you can afford to. Want to do it big and have another larger, grander wedding? Do it for your vowel renewal. You did what you wanted and could afford at the time, and that was perfect (hopefully) for you. You may be in a different place in a few years where you can afford it, which, if that feeling is still nagging at you (which hopefully it shouldn’t because you don’t want to spend inordinate amounts of money strictly because you think you didn’t the first time), then you’ll be able to do something about it.

  • Joy

    I can sort of feel for the writer. We got married the first of my husbands group of friends, while he was still in school and so it was definitely a budget affair- a cake and punch reception in a country (France) where that is just not done. We’ve since attended weddings in chateaux with multiple meals and gorgeous details and ALL the pinterest things and while I did enjoy our wedding I can’t help but compare, at least a little. We were so broke and I had no idea what I was doing and when you compare that to the absolutely PERFECT weddings it can be a bit whomp-whomp as she says. But at the end of the day, I did enjoy our wedding, and the weddings of friends and as long as everyone is happily married at the end of it all, who cares?

  • spinning2heads

    I know this post is old enough that I shouldn’t comment, but…I don’t think the LW asked the question that she actually needed the answer to. How your friend spent money on her wedding is really not the problem you have with her. The problem you have with her is that she voted for Trump, which let’s be honest, was a deplorable decision on her part. And now that is calling into question every other judgement you’ve ever seen her make. And you’re wondering why she paints her toenails green and you never liked her taste in coffee and can you even be friends with someone who spent a lot of money on their wedding? And you’re questioning the friendship on the whole, due to what you’ve learned about her through the combination of her declared vote and her unwillingness to discuss it with you.

    So the real question is this: Given that she made choices, some large and some small, that you fundamentally disagree with, can you still be friends? And the answer is going to depend on how close you are, what things you share, and how willing you are to agree to disagree over those things you disagree about. So dig deep into yourself, find those answers, and live them.

    (And btw, if you do decide to let the friendship go, you don’t have to have an awful breakup convo and never speak again. You can just back up to an aquaintanceship, or ghost.)

  • Ally Lowe

    I’m semi-struggling (ok totally struggling. I am driving the damn struggle bus) with this right now, for several reasons. We’re paying for everything ourselves, we’re pretty laid back people and I feel like people are expecting things that we’re not into. I have friends who send me ideas for cakes and receptions and I’m like wait. Is this a thing? Do people do this? Should I be doing this? Are people gonna hate me and my wedding because we’re not doing these things? ARE THEY ALL GONNA LAUGH AT ME?!? I’m trying to find a middle ground between traditional wedding things and, well, me.I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with feeling like we’re not doing it right or enough. At the end of the day I (and my amazing sister and friends) keep telling me/myself that it’s MY wedding and whatever I want to do is fine, and my people are coming for ME and not because they expect gold leaf soup bowls or 3 course meals. People who you are inviting to your wedding should know who you are and how you are before they come. That’s why you’re inviting them; because they’re family. They’re way more understanding than you think, they get it and THEY KNOW YOU. You aren’t impressing strangers. You’re celebrating and partying with family, with your tribe. You aren’t being scored and rated by some International Olympic Wedding Committee. R E L A X. Don’t do it. When you wanna go through it. Relax. *finger guns*
    PS Send help and wine because I still lowkey freak out and I have 9 months of planning and stuff to do.

  • Jennifer

    Honestly, and I feel horrible admitting this, I’ve been much more judgmental of weddings this year than ever before and it’s due to my own anxiety as to what we are spending. Before this year, I attended weddings and never gave a thought as to what was spent. This year I’m constantly worrying as to whether we are spending too much or not enough. On the one hand, I have a good job where I make a good salary. I feel like some have the perception that we could spend more on a wedding. However, my fiancé and I just had a baby and even with the salary that we make, paying for a wedding completely by ourselves has shown to be incredibly difficult on our budget. Plus, neither one of us are the lavish type. So anytime I go to another wedding I can’t help but compare my future wedding to the wedding I just attended. I attended one last weekend where it’s obvious that the couple did not go crazy on the costs (there was not a real meal just a lot of snack type foods such as crackers and cheese, the reception took place in a winery where another event was going on at the same time, Limited beer and wine available, etc.). I still had a good time but, in the interest of complete transparency, I felt slightly better as I felt like our wedding would be a little bit more memorable. But then I attended another wedding that was completely over-the-top (or maybe not over-the-top but in comparison to what we were planning definitely more of a lavish affair) that just increased my anxiety.

    Anyway, I keep telling myself I need to get it together or I’m not going to make it to our wedding which is still over three months away…