Ask Team Practical: No One Is Excited for Me

I got engaged after three months of dating someone, and I think the fact that my family and friends don’t know him very well has taken a toll on our engagement and my wedding excitement. The thing is, they don’t seem very excited; my mother never talks about it; my sister only talks about it if it concerns what she can and cannot wear; and my father hasn’t asked me a single thing about the wedding and has brought it up all of zero times, though he does bring up my cousin’s wedding (quite the extravagant affair and something I’ll never be able to afford) often. This makes me feel as though I shouldn’t be excited either, and when I bring this up to my fiancé, he says that they don’t feel excited because I don’t feel excited. Well, I don’t feel excited because THEY don’t express any interest in my marriage or wedding! I feel ashamed in a strange way and can’t work past the fact that I have almost zero enthusiasm due to what I perceive as the unfairness of the situation. I keep thinking it’s because I’m not having the big traditional wedding that people aren’t excited. I’ve even thought to myself that if I were prettier, more photogenic, people would be more excited. I’ve hit a totally invisible road bump in my thinking about all of this.

The thing is, I have been trying to get him and my friends and family to hang out, but my family is intense sometimes. And when I try to bring up the wedding with my mother, she doesn’t say much. At all.

No idea what to do. Elope?


Dear A,

Sorry to jump right in, but I have to address that last bit about “not being pretty enough” right off the bat. Please shake that notion right out of your little head right now, miss. That is a terrible, horrible thought. How excited people are has nothing to do with how deserving you are of excitement. If something like a wedding is chipping away at your self worth or making you feel cruddy, it’s really worth examining why. It’s one thing to want folks to be enthusiastic. It’s another to start to question your value when they aren’t. How valuable and beautiful we are is never accurately measured by the emotion and expression of others. Ever.

In the way that many people have different complicated emotions in response to the big things, people also have really different (sometimes really weird) ways of expressing them. Maybe your family isn’t so excited as much as they are sad to see you move on, nervous about being central to a big event, or worried for you (we’ll come back to this one). And if there is some excitement mixed in there, maybe they just don’t know how to express it. Give me a minute to do what I do best, and make this about me. When I first moved into my college dorm, my dad spent the whole day snapping about things. At idiot drivers! At the car trunk not closing! At the guy on the radio! When it was time to say goodbye, he squeezed me tight and told me he was proud of me. Proud of me? That’s what that was about? Emotions aren’t just complex—they’re complex to the point of profoundly confusing. Sometimes they just work themselves out in really odd ways that make the rest of us scratch our heads. (Besides all that, if my cousin were to have a lavish, expensive wedding, I know some members of my family would talk about it endlessly. Not because it’s more exciting, but because it’s a terrible kind of fun to gossip about how other people spend their money.)

I said we’d get back to the issue of worry, so let’s do that. Three months is fast. Not necessarily “bad fast,” but your family might have a little worry for what could feel like a quick decision. Think about that one for a bit. Have they expressed concern? Is it possible there are concerns that they haven’t even voiced? It’s possible. And it’s a good plan to solicit the opinions of the folks who care about you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re right or even valid, but that’s sort of the point. You get to hear their thoughts, weigh them, and determine if you think they are onto something or not.

Not only might they be worried for you, but it may be taking them a quick minute to adjust to a choice that perhaps they weren’t ready for, even if you are. We could be talking about a little emotional whiplash. Even in the case of stuff that’s really joyous and exciting, jumping right into full throttle enthusiasm about something you didn’t expect can be sort of difficult. In that case, you might want to think about having a conversation (without judgment) about processing these changes that will be affecting them, as well. After all, they are somewhat suddenly getting a new family member they don’t know very well. That’s emotionally complicated stuff, right there.

I hate to break it to you, but your fiancé is at least a little bit right. This is your wedding and folks are going to take their cue from you on how enthusiastic to be. Besides, excitement has a way of being contagious. Plan an engagement party! Invite your mom out to pick out your shoes! Those little lead-up events sometimes get to be too much, but a lot of the time, they really work to build excitement for what comes next.

When it gets down to it, as with all things, you may need to be honest and forthright. Sometimes in weddings enthusiasm reads as support, and a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of support. You, unfortunately, don’t get to decide how people feel about your wedding (or even how they express those feelings). But you can be direct in asking them to support you and maybe even help them understand what support looks like to you.

You also can force the issue about having your family and partner get to know one another a bit, if that’s important to you. And I’m going to argue that it should be. Think about it: it’s hard to get excited about someone you don’t know. In marrying you, he’s tying himself to your family. While that doesn’t mean your partner needs to fall madly in love with your family, or vice versa, it will help to know how they interact so you know what you’re up against in terms of possible future family chemistry. Plus, you’re all going to be part of one big family, so you might as well get cracking on that now.

It sounds like you all could use a little bit of conversation to put you on the same page. Truthfully, they may not be excited. One of the sadder parts of wedding planning is coming to grips with how things actually are in comparison to how we’d hoped they’d be. But, even if they’re not excited for you, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited for yourself. Finding who you want to spend your life with is a big damn deal, and you should own how wonderful that is.


Team Practical, did you face any family or friends who weren’t as excited about your wedding as you anticipated? How did you respond it felt like you were alone in your enthusiasm?

Photo by Jessica Schilling Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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  • Another Meg

    Liz is, as always, right. Talk to your family. Maybe they don’t have concerns, but maybe they do. Airing them will help you all come to terms with them. And it can only help for them to get to know your fiance. If they have concerns, maybe that will put them to rest- you know, when they see how awesome he is and how great you are together. And it will help everyone adjust to the new family dynamic.


  • Amanda L.

    While my family was excited for me and my now-husband, they were not ‘OMG’ gushing all the time. My dad rarely, if ever, asked about the wedding planning, though he’d probably say it was one of the top 5 best days of his life. This is probably a good time to tell A that no one, NO ONE, is as excited about your wedding as you are, whether you’ve been together for 3 months or 3 years.

    With that said, I can imagine that if my sister came to me after dating a guy for three months, and one that I barely new at that, I would be in a state of shock for a bit of time. I’d be excited for her, but I’d also be nervous, and I wouldn’t want to transfer that on her, so I probably wouldn’t bring it up.

    So the next step, A, is to talk to your family. Mention that it’s bummed you out that they aren’t excited, and ask if they have concerns. Part of being mature enough to get married is being mature enough to handle other people’s opinions, even if they don’t jive with your own. I do wish you the best :)

  • Anya

    My parents got married after years of friendship but only one date, and my fiance’s parents got engaged after 3 months dating too, and both marriages are firm and awesome and totally loving so don’t take this the wrong way. I believe you can totally know what’s up in 3 months if you know yourself well. So stand firm with me for a second in who you are and hear me out.

    One thing I learned from my family in wedding land is that it is damned hard to give your daughter up so that she can form her own family. This precious child who you watched succeed, mess up, and grow into a real person is flying the coop, and that’s that. What’s scary is that marriage is just as fraught as the rest of your life has been, and your parents know that, and are probably worried sick. Whether they’re excited for the wedding is besides the point – it’s the marriage they’re worried about. What’s important, to you and to them, is that you are excited about the marriage. You, in yourself, need to be excited for 50 years to come. Then you can get them on board. The wedding is just a vehicle you get to the marriage – the marriage is what matters.

    It is your firm belief and your excitement in your future that you must bring into your daily life, to your interactions with your family, and, in time, to your marriage. That is what your parents want to know and have faith in. In order for them to really see that, your fiance needs to show up. They need to get comfy seeing the two of you as their daughter and son-in-law. It’s only fair to your family to know who’s going to spend the rest of his life making sure you’re happy, excited, and strong. I think if you’re firmly, strongly, lovingly, joyfully ready to enter the next 50 years with this man, and let your family see that and get to know him as your partner, they’ll at least get a little less nervous. After all, it’s not unreasonable for them to be nervous, and it will help to put them at ease as much as you can for your own sanity.

  • PA

    I think Liz is spot-on. My parents decided to get married after six weeks (although they hid it for another 6 months), and my fiance and I followed suit with two months, although our asking-the-blessings-of-family-and-taking-the-title event came at a year and a half. Both of these cases, and yours, showcase the two sides: sometimes you realize pretty quickly, and that’s difficult for other people.

    Directness, however, can be a good place to start getting things resolved. General guidelines I might suggest include stating your feelings and worries up-front (using “I” language), and letting them express theirs without interrupting, save to keep them from expressing others’ emotions (i.e., no saying, “Well, your mother thinks…” Mom can tell you herself!).

    In the meantime, as much as you can I’d suggest that whenever you catch yourself worrying about what others might be thinking, try to stop that thought in its tracks and replace it with a thought about why you’re excited to be sharing your life with your fiance – I’ve found that that sort of thing can work wonders! Really revel in it. Have some champagne, laze around on the couch and grin at each other!

    Best of luck!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Re: “Well, your mother thinks…”

      I agree, except sometimes our mothers aren’t good at telling us what they think. My family has this very collective way of gathering information and sharing plans. It worked alright when we all lived together, and we overheard enough of conversations, or were just down the hall, to pick up on what was going on. Now that we’re all over the continent, all sorts of misunderstandings have cropped up. I’ve learned that when I hear, “Well, your mother thinks…” it’s time to call Mom or send an e-mail and say, “[Sister] says you’re worried about X…” Mom won’t tell me what she thinks on her own, and sometimes her thoughts are of the deeply concerned, all-caps kind.

      • PA

        “I’ve learned that when I hear, ‘Well, your mother thinks…’ it’s time to call Mom or send an email.”

        This is true – people may not come out with their feelings, and nothing can move them to square with you. Her family members may feel as if they are being put on the spot, and it would be very natural for them to hasten to add, “But it’s not just me who feels this way…” But I have seen what an unholy mess that can cause, and so I am generally for going to the source for the information (which it sounds like you are doing here!). I am also generally for saying, gently, to someone who is clearly hiding their feelings, “Well, I will take you at your word, then, that there is nothing wrong. I hope that if anything comes up in the future, you will feel free to talk to me about it.”

  • Joanna

    My brother got engaged 5 months into a relationship with his girlfriend, at age 24. They got married a couple of months after the proposal. Personally, in that situation, I didn’t bring up wedding talk because it was very stressful to throw myself into accepting and supporting and loving this new sister-in-law that I barely knew. Of course they were excited, but I’ll be damned if I invest myself emotionally into something that is at risk of ending badly (simply because his taste in females up until that point was extremely poor).

    Having said that, my brother lives a life without forethought of consequences. His multiple children can attest to that. You, my dear, may very well be a woman with a solid head on her shoulders who knows herself and strongly believes what is in her heart to be true. Even if your parents love you and trust you, it’s quite an adjustment for them to make. Usually if parents know you as a couple, of course they’re excited to see a bond solidified by marriage. So maybe it’ll take time. Maybe they won’t be very very excited now, but once they see how wonderful your marriage is, and what a swell guy your husband is, then everything will kick in.

    Plus, you should lead the way! Be excited, for yourself and the wonderful commitment you’ll be making. And perhaps if your parents see how serious you are about building the right foundation, they’ll follow suit.

    • Senorita

      My brother did almost the same thing, without the multiple children. Even though he’d been living in the same city the whole 3 months they’d been dating, we didn’t meet her until the night he was announcing their engagement too us. I can tell you that as the family member, it sort of hurt a little. It felt like we weren’t important enough parts of his life to factor into the equation. I think it’s also why even now, almost 6 years later, I still have to put concentrated effort into “bonding” with my sister-in-law.

      On the flip-side, my now-fiance and I started ring-shopping after 3 months and then purchased a big sparkly goodness after 5. We knew. Fast-forward about 2 years later to the actual proposal and engagement, I know that not only were our family and friends in a place to be overjoyed by the solidifying of two people and a relationship they were already in love with, it honestly put us in a much healthier and calmer place to embrace everything coming our way.

      I know that waiting isn’t for everyone, and it may not be for you, but if you’re planning on spending eternity with each other anyway, does a few extra months really hurt?

  • Meg

    My parents got engaged after dating for three months. 30 years later, my parents are still married. On the other hand, my oldest brother got engaged after dating the girl for less than a month, and four months after their wedding, she was gone and so was most of his money. Not saying that’s going to happen to you (god, I hope not!) but your family may have worries you just haven’t seen. It’ll be weird at first, but talk to them.

    If your family is “intense,” maybe it’ll be easier to get them used to your fiance one at a time. Invite your sister to join you and fiance for drinks. Go shopping (for wedding stuff?) with your mom and have your fiance join you. My fiance met my family members one and two at a time, and three years later, they’re still getting used to each other. Don’t force it, but give your family and fiance some time to get to know each other. Let your parents see how happy he makes you. They’ll come around.

  • My family has been supportive during our engagement period but at no point would I have called them “excited.”

    I chalk up some of it to me and my fiance living a life that is different from the lives my family leaves in some pretty subtle ways that sometimes feel pretty big. I chalk some of it up to us deciding to have a destination wedding that many family members cannot attend (or didn’t ever really seriously think about coming). A little bit more to the fact that I don’t live in my hometown. And yet a little more to my mom not having the money to help much (at all).

    I tried to help create some excitement by inviting my mom, aunt, godmother, and sister dress shopping. It was fun. But didn’t start much of anything.

    In the end, I turned to those people who *were* excited for me and for our wedding. My future brothers-in-law are pumped about our desert wedding. My college best friends (one who is coming and a couple who can’t) have been great about simply being excited for me. And then there’s the unexpected conversation I had with a motorcycle buddy of my fiance…he and I have nothing in common but we chatted on the phone last night for awhile and he told me the thought we’re a great couple about to have “the coolest wedding ever.”

    So, yeah, my mom? Not so much there for me. My sister? Not at all. My aunt, a little bit. My godmother, most excited of all but still not much. Forrest and I? Totally pumped. Most of our other guests (and guests who can’t be there)? Psyched.

    Talk to your family, A, to make sure that the worry issue Liz mentioned isn’t a problem but find your joy anyway. It’s out there.

  • Sarah

    Oh Honey, I feel like you wrote that post about me (except exchange 3 months of dating for 3 years). My family was not excited, and I knew it prior to our engagement. My dad had even told my fiance that he thought we should wait until I was done with PhD to get married (I’m pretty sure my dad was also in tune with the fact that that would take 5 years, but maybe he didn’t think it through). Add to this that my parents had been witness to some terse exchanges between my fiance and myself at one point (and we rarely get to see them due to physical distance), my parents who I’ve never seen fight ever in my life and who were both children of nasty divorces. The outcome? The day I got engaged the first person I called was my best friend, to gush. When I called my parents, I was so nervous I cried on the phone. I’m sure that didn’t help the situation, despite my explaining that I wasn’t crying because of the engagement, I was crying because I was afraid to tell them.

    Well, here we are a week from the wedding (and over a year from the, “Mom….. J. asked me to marry him (sob) and I said yes (sob) and I’m really (sob) happy” conversation. Both my fiance and I have had to come to terms with a lot of people in our lives not being excited in the way that we imagined. Which in hindsight, is because they are not imaginary. They are real people, and they show their enthusiasm the best that they can.

    I’ve also come to terms with the fact that my incredibly close family is not very good at discussing big situations. And the thing that we’re worst at talking about? Relationship stuff (such as dating, or having a disagreement with your partner). The thing we’re second worst at is socializing with people outside our family circle. Now, at the end of a year and a half of planning I’m finally understanding and accepting the lack of excitement for what it is. We’re all uncertain about the new balance of the family (my biggest fear… what happens to Christmas?). We’re all mind-numbingly bad at parties, both throwing them and being at them. We have never been the kind of people to squeal over dresses and jewelry, mostly the kind to say quietly, “that’s pretty, but not $xx.xx dollars-pretty!”. And since weddings are about BIG relationships, (sometimes) big parties, and (sometimes) pretty outfits and jewelry, they may in fact be the worst combination of factors for an outward show of family enthusiasm.

    There are still days that this makes me very sad, but there are some things I’ve done to deal with it. I asked my mom and sister to go dress shopping with me. We didn’t find one, but that’s not the point. Then I asked my mom to help me make my dress. Doing this long distance was not as satisfying as I’d hoped, but her help was valuable and it meant we talked about the dress. Our wedding is very small and very DIT (do-it-together). I’m giving people tasks so that they have things to focus on other than just socializing. I’ve tried to do a few things to ease the transition of “still slightly dependent” to “having another family that is an independent extension of this one”. One of these that my dad seemed to have a tough time with but that my mom actually pushed for was moving my phone number off the family plan and onto my fiance’s.

    I’m sorry that you’re struggling with this too. It’s not easy. It’s even more difficult to “get excited” yourself when no one around you seems to share your enthusiasm. And there’s no cultural narrative that tells us that this happens a lot (because how boring would a movie about a family that doesn’t get excited be?). In fact, the whole WIC world tells us that EVERYONE loves weddings, and ALL mothers will gush and want to buy invitations with you, and weigh in on your choice of center pieces. And even though we know this isn’t true, it can still be hard to reconcile when it slaps us in the face. But, focus on some small things to be excited about and share them with your family. For example, “Mom, look at these awesome shoes I found for the wedding!”. And, “Dad, we’re going to barbeque for the rehearsal dinner, would you be the grill master? We’re getting bison burgers!”. Finally, at some point in this process, let go of their excitement being important. Maybe it will never be what you pictured, but it will still be good. If that’s the case, focus on your fiance and the reason you’re getting married. You love this person more than anyone in the world and you are going to start your own, solid unit. Now THAT is something to be excited about!


      This is all really wonderful advice, Sarah, especially the reminder that people don’t act like you imagined because they aren’t imaginary. My Mom is very important to me and has been very excited and supportive of our relationship, but just isn’t into the wedding stuff. Nor am I particularly, so I talk to my dad about it (because he cares perhaps too much) and talk to her about normal life stuff. FMIL is very into party planning and decor, so she’s been my go to “lady of the older generation” to chitchat all about wedding with.

  • Maize

    My Fiance and I got engaged after 6 months of dating and my brothers reaction was “Who’s idea was this? Isnt this decision a little rash?” then he continued to tell me the date we picked was 2 days AFTER his wife’s birthday and he wasnt sure it was a good idea. Needless to say I was really dissapointed in his reaction. My parents weren’t much better either. I was really hurt and had many of the same fears that you mentioned. My brother had a fancy, more traditional wedding, and we arent. I felt like my family wasnt taking me seriously or that they didn’t care. My dad wasnt embracing my fiance like he had with my ex-boyfriend. My mom wouldnt even entertain and small conversation about the wedding. I also have an “intense” family and I was SO worried about our parents meeting. His family is in farming and my parents are immigrants in academia and the medical field. I had no idea how we would all get a long.
    Flash forward 4 months and both of our families have met each other and my mom is much more involved and talks about it often. I think their distance had more to do with their own issues then our engagement. My dad, whom I am very very close with now adores my fiance which means everything to me. Give them some time to get to know him and the two of you as a couple.

  • Paranoid Libra

    As someone who was on that side of not being able to be excited for a friend I will try to give you some perspective on why. My biggest problem overall was jealousy. That whole engagement crack of when everyone around you is getting enganged and you are ready but your partner might not be is tough. When you have been in a relationship for YEARS and someone who hasn’t even been dating for a year gets engaged, it sucks to watch that. I had no one to really talk to about that waiting period. My best friend was getting married and I didn’t want to rain on her parade.

    The other person I considered my other best friend was who I tried to talk to about it. She then starts off (understandably so, but when someone feels like they are in a mini crisis/frustration through the roof not really what they want to hear) saying how her engagement ring had come in the mail and she snatched the package out of his hand to see it, but she wasn’t called herself engaged yet as there still wasn’t that “official” proposal. I called in a depressed mood about not being engaged, to hear that was kind of like pouring salt onto the wound. Someone you trust dearly is about to get engaged to someone you don’t really know and the only things you really know about him is the time she called crying in the middle of the night about his friends treating treating her like shit and her soon to be fiance didn’t stand up to his own friends for her. I have a bad taste in my mouth about the guy and they are about to do something I am DYING to be able to say I am too.

    It ROYALLY EFFING SUCKS to be on that side. I can’t fake my feelings either. When it became official I never even got a text message about it, but found out online. I would have had the courtesy to the least text her if I got engaged more likely actually call her. That there was another stab of just feeling like she didn’t care about me so why should I care about her.

    She messaged me saying she felt like I wasn’t that excited for her and I did tell her it was jealousy thing and also when I needed to talk to someone about how I was feeling about my own situation she wasn’t there. Sometimes someone might not be excited because they have a huge stressor hanging over their heads and need to talk about that and other times well jealousy sucks.

    I sadly never heard from her again. I would try to be more excited when it came to stuff being online, never got a direct response. I felt like I was all in all dead to her. Never got invited to her wedding didn’t even get wished a damn happy birthday after all that.

    It is very possible for some it to be jealousy of after only 3 months your engaged and some of your friends might be dying to be in that stage of their relationship or scared of the fast dating and scared you are going to hurt yourself. I am sure they feel a bit protective of you.

    Just please don’t cut anyone off because they currently can’t get excited. Ask them if they have anything big going on because well there is other life going on around you during this very exciting time that for some trumps on their current rough spot. Ask if they aren’t so excited because it was the short dating time frame and they are afraid for you. Hear them out and actually at least speak on the phone.

    I ache frequently because of losing my friend I truly do, so give your friends and family a chance to let it all sink in or vent what is bothering them. I am sure they just really do want the best for you.

    • Maize

      I am actually very familiar with your feelings. 4 years ago when all my friends were getting married and engaged, I was in a relationship that I desperately wanted to proceed in to marriage and he wasn’t ready. We had been together for 2.5 years and living together and I was ready to take the next step.

      I broke down when my close friend got engaged. They had been dating 6-8 months and their relationship had started out as an affair…. and I freaked out. I clearly remember her calling me from NYC where they got engaged and I was at work on the floor pounding the plastic tiles yelling in my head “no! no! NO!” I was SO jealous. I made it through their wedding (I became a bridesmaids after two of her soon to be sister-in-laws backed out), it was difficult.

      Not long after the wedding my boyfriend and I split up. My friend who got married and I remain close friends but those feelings were REALLY difficult to deal with. I felt like a jerk for not being as excited as I should have been but I also needed to process my feelings and there wasnt any space for that at the time.

      • Paranoid Libra

        Yes that space to process your feelings can be desperately needed. I think that’s what sucked the most. I had 3 people with whom I felt I coud process some of my deepest feelings with, my now husband (and same guy who I was waiting on), my best friend that was actively engaged, and my now former friend. It also makes it difficult because of the whole who can you talk to that won’t make you feel as though you are being the nagging woman about marriage.

        And my apologies for my novel, but it was a bit theraputic writing that out because I still mourn the loss of that friendship, but I remind myself that she didn’t try to listen even after blatantly telling her I needed someone to talk to.

        • Maize

          I really glad you wrote that because it hit me hard and reminded me how I felt. I’ve never really talked to anyone about it so your comment was actually theraputic for me!

  • Robin

    Liz – you give dang good advice.

    • Liz

      Thanks :)

  • One other thing I’d add–your family might not know how to talk to you about your wedding, especially if you’re planning/paying for most/all of it yourself. I think my mom was a little hurt because my husband and I ended up doing 90% of the planning, and Mom was never sure what she was allowed to bring up without seeming like she was intruding. She ended up having a fantastic time and we talk about the wedding now, but there was definitely some tension during the planning process. If I could do it again, I’d try harder to bring my mom into the process more–even just talking more to her about what I was working on.

    • Jen

      my mom is on the other side of the country, so while we chat on the phone and I do my best to keep her updated, sometimes things just slip my mind. my future mother in law lives here, and she was VERY involved in planning the weddings of her two older sons. I think it’s a bit difficult for her to be less involved in planning our wedding, but between me and my fiancé we’ve got a fair amount of event planning/organization/crafting talent (he was a chef/caterer for about 10 years, and I both worked with him both front of house and back of house and just love organizing/crafting!) and we’re the kind of people who want to do it (mostly) ourselves. I’ve been trying really hard to keep her updated on every. single. decision. (read: this is HARD for me! sometimes I have ideas that become decisions in a fairly casual conversation with my fiancé and don’t really consider it as “accomplishing some important step in wedding planning that should be reported!”) …but at the same time, she’s already so much more involved in the planning than my mom is (simply because of distance), that I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t be involving her so much because I don’t even have the option of involving my own mother (things like dress fittings, hair trials, etc).

      ahhh, wedding planning was so easy for me for so long…now just under one month out I think I’m finally feeling some of the stress!! :)

  • If your family is having trouble adapting to the idea of a new family member whose arrival might not have been expected quite so soon (as others have suggested) — are there any bonding activities that you might try being proactive about? This might sound silly, but my family has a Thing for specific MST3K episodes, and it’s become this weird communal thing to introduce new boyfriends/girlfriends to some of these episodes as a family after a dinner or something. (Yes, this is kind of weird. But it’s our social bonding…thing….okay?)

    You might want to be proactive about it, is what I’m saying. Can you all go on a weekend trip together? An outing? A team-building ropes-course adventure? (I jest a little, but still…) If they’re unsure of how to welcome this new person in, and everyone’s feeling a little awkward, creating specific activities around which people can bond might work better than having intense family dinners that are more in your family’s intense comfort zone than your probably-also-uncomfortable fiance. (I might add, you may need to be honest and simply say, I want you all to be comfortable with each other and I’ve decided this funtivity is something that would be fun for us to all do together.)

    • MST3K!!! May I please bond with your family?

      Also, solid advice.

  • Amy March

    I’m reminded of Meg’s wisdom that your people do not change because you are getting married. I know my mom would not be excited if I announced an engagement at three months. It’s not in her nature. So I’d have 2 choices in your situation: 1.) get engaged because I’m ready, deal with lack of family excitement, or 2.) wait to get engaged until I thought family was on board. I think it’s totally fine to know you’re ready at 3 months, and your family doesn’t always know best. But I also think if you want them involved and excited and happy, it’d be fine to say look, I want you on board, and I get this feels quick. We’re going to take a 6 monthhiatus from planning, and I hope in that time you’ll get to know finance and you’ll be able to join with us in excitement. Also if your family is religious, speaking individually and collectively to a minister could be useful- they can potentially be a reassuring pro-marriage outsider.

  • One of the things A mentioned as a reason why her family and her fiance hadn’t hung out a lot is because her family is intense.

    While I agree with all these ladies that although it’s not the most publicized timeline 3 months be enough to know you’re going to get married, I’ve got to say that I think that bit troubled me the most.

    We talked about how maybe A’s family hasn’t come to terms with the entirety of what her marriage implicates, that line makes me think that she doesn’t either. Your family, while intense, is going to be his family, too. I don’t think that being intense is a good excuse for him not getting to know them, and I think maybe you need to evaluate your feelings toward your family and the family dynamic you are going to create between your new family with him and your old family. He has the right to get to know his new family and I think the fact that they’re intense (among other better reasons, I know) is not something that trumps that.

    I think A needs to consider why the intensity of her family has made it difficult for her to get them to meet. Is she ashamed? Uncomfortable? and are her feelings about that going to change and allow her family to really be a family after she gets married?

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Like Meg says in the book, some people are good at weddings. Some aren’t. Just like we reject the “You must be so excited” line to brides, I think we should reject the “You should be excited for us” line from brides.

    I, for one, have never been excited about a wedding in the girly, hop-up-and-down, squeal way, and that includes my own. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy for couples. It doesn’t mean I don’t support them. It just means that this is not an area of life that inspires in me that particular emotional and resulting biological reaction. I just don’t do happy-excited well. I’m much better at solemn gladness.

    Perhaps A’s family is similar.

  • Daynya

    Liz’s advice is spot on here (as usual).

    And now to draw from my own experience, also something I do quite well. My family wasn’t very excited when we got engaged either. We had been dating for about 4 years, and the reaction was basically “oh, cool”. We had been planning on eloping from the beginning, so when we told them that, they remained somewhat supportive, but also bummed that they would be left out. After soul-searching, and reading THE book, we realized that we actually wanted a small wedding with family and friends. So, once we broke that news, everyone got really excited. I had to ask my mother, and his, for help with certain projects in order to get that level of excitement and involvement. Now, they are really excited. The rest of my family seems….mildly enthusiastic? My dad, brothers, etc., are all happy for us, but they don’t really GET excited. So, perhaps it is not your relationship that is in question. Maybe they aren’t sure where they fit in? No matter what though, the only solution (in my mind) is direct communications. It might be uncomfortable, but once you know, you know. You can go from there, and make it as family oriented (or not) as you guys want. Regardless, this is part of the wedding process. This is the part I’ve grown the most from. The conversations, where things feel icky, and emotional, and I wanna avoid them at all costs. That is what I’ve learned the most from so far. Good luck, and I’m excited for you!!

  • Cass

    I doubt it’s the length of the relationship. I was dating my now husband for 5 years, and still no one seemed that excited.
    I feel your pain. Sometimes people just don’t get excited, I think.
    But you are still marrying this amazing person who will become a part of your new baby family. Yay!

  • Just Married

    Lots and lots of hugs to you, A!! Expectations of other people’s excitement is SUCH a hard thing to wrangle with and to come to terms with. I got married a couple weeks ago at a destination wedding, and that very same issue hit me smack dab in the middle of the weekend, and sent me into meltdown mode just hours before our rehearsal.

    My husband’s extended family was having a grand ol’ time at our location–everyone hanging out and showing up to all the planned gatherings we had. But my family was no where to be seen except for a brief hello (kind of like a politician). At first, the overwhelming love & excitement from my future extended in-laws was a lot of fun! But then…it became a stark contrast to the whereabouts of my family. And then, in the middle of the pool, when someone actually asked, “Where is *your* family?” with all future in-laws around…an emotional meltdown struck.

    Long story short…I completely understand why my family wasn’t around. It wasn’t because they had a lack of love or excitement. But I could have really avoided that major meltdown at the least opportune time, by having a conversation with them prior to the weekend, making sure we all came to a compromise on our expectations of the weekend.

    Best of luck—I have a glimmer of understanding of how you feel, and I know–it sucks. But at the end of the day, remember that you have so much to be happy and excited for yourself! You’re marrying the love of your life! ((Hugs))

  • Boy howdy I can relate in so many ways. My situation was basically different and yet it still sort of turned out to be the same: My now-husband proposed to me after nearly 7 years of being together. We even co-habitated and that was something I’d sworn would never happen (not with him specifically, just in principle because I didn’t trust people, as a youngun).

    His sister never said a word to me about the engagement, ever. We were engaged for nearly a year. She managed to make it up to the actual “elopement”, without ever mentioning the engagement or the wedding. We used to be really good friends, too. His brother questioned the eventual wedding timing itself, like it was an imposition, even though he’d been pressuring us to plan it for months and when we finally decided on doing it, “well, we’ll have to be there now, won’t we?” (Well, no, you don’t. If it’s too difficult, then don’t go. You’re an adult, you can make your own choices.)

    My grew-up-together friend’s response? “Are you pregnant?” He was evidently having some issues. Still is. We really haven’t spoken more than a few words since. Not because I’m mad at him, actually, though I was really ticked at him for months after that for being a brat, but because his issues were so bad that they turned into an incredibly unhappy situation he won’t leave.

    My own parents were happy for me but it all revolved around my mother’s illness. My future MIL didn’t want anything to do with the wedding or with respecting my family’s traditions, she only wanted not to be embarrassed by me or my “I can’t understand how you have so many of them, it’s not possible” family.

    I turned to APW for some solace, to the few people who were friends of my soul and I wept a few tears, and ignored the wedding for a while. And then eventually, we just got married. It wasn’t the wedding I wanted, if I even knew what that was, but it was the wedding I could cope with at the time.

    And I had a few amazing friends who flew to be there with so little warning or *literally* dropped everything (at work) and came RUNNING when I told them I was “eloping” that morning and I couldn’t bear doing it without them. Sometimes you just have to actually ask the question and not have any expectations. I didn’t and I was surprised by everyone, for good or ill.

    Everyone has their own issues and agendas, and it’s always going to color how they react to your news. It’s a shame when they can’t be on board in a positive way for you but some can if you ask them to, and some can just because they can. If you want them to, then you have to actively find those people in more cases than not, I have found. Life may seem easy for a lot of people but you’re looking from the outside and that view is always skewed.

    Even one of my closest friends, for whom I confusedly felt life was charmed because she was cute and adorable and so dratted NICE, suffered from the same sorts of in-law persecutions and misunderstandings and jabs and annoyances and other aggravations that everyone less “blessed” seemed to. And that didn’t make me feel better, it just made life seem more understandable.

    I hope that you find your heart and soul friends, and soon. It doesn’t make the hard parts go away but it’s easier to navigate with them at your side.

    • Sarah

      This really speaks to my experience. My fiance’s sisters haven’t bothered to acknowledge our engagement, though we are about eight months in. When he told his mother we were engaged, she said “why? What’s the story on that?” I feel completely rejected by his family, and it hurts to be so unwanted. My family, on the other hand, is thrilled and my mom is in wedding planning heaven, so I’m glad to have them on my side!

      • *hugs* I’m VERY glad your family is into it and your mom is especially! I think that left the biggest hole in my heart – I could have dealt w/everyone rejecting me if I only had my mom.

  • KT

    Wow, I really needed to read this. I’ve been struggling with my future in-laws over this. The funny thing is, my fiance’s father and stepmom are the ones who wanted us to get together in the first place and set us up. So, imagine my surprise when after we got engaged, we hardly heard a peep from them about it. It’s definitely hurt my feelings more than I’d like to admit. Part of me thinks that they don’t want to be asked for money, so they don’t bring up the wedding. And part of me feels like because this isn’t my fiance’s first marriage, they aren’t as excited for us. My fiance and I have discussed this a lot lately because my brothers are throwing us this huge engagement party next month while his family has not offered anything to help us out.

    But, these are all assumptions I am making. In reality, I am simply expecting my fiance’s family to act like mine, which they won’t (a blessing and a curse). And so by translating their actions (or more accurately inactions) through the lens of what it would mean if my family acted that way is unfair.

    The plan then is to ask them directly, how would you like to be involved in our wedding? And I’ll do my best to prepare myself for whatever answer they give. At worst, they will want to offer nothing, and I will be mad for a bit and eventually get over it. At best, they will want to help, and I will be grateful. But, it will be better to know either way so as not to be disappointed on the wedding day.

  • I doubt this is any consolation, but if they don’t know the person you’re marrying, I totally understand that they could be shocked and unsure how to process it, but with time and open conversation and lots of interaction with your future spouse they may well come around. And maybe not till after the wedding

    My parents were engaged after 2 months and from what they tell me, everyone in their families had to do a major “wait…WHAT?” before they sat down and got to know each other. When they married a year later, it was a happy occasion, sure. But at their 25th anniversary party last June? That was some *LOVE* in that room. Man. It develops over time.

    I think happiness/support/excitement increases a ton when they have deep love and want the best for BOTH of you, together. So they need to get to know him in order to develop that feeling for him, and to know that he *is* the best for you (because, I hope, that is all they want)

  • sometimes, no matter how well you know people, you just never know.

    i think the comment about taking cues from your excitement is really important (maybe – because people are complicated, and obviously it could be any number of things). but that is something we ran into a lot. because we were both giddily excited – but we’re pretty low-key people, and talking about my feelings is not my forte, to say the least. so mostly we were giddy about the wedding to each other, and calmly happy about it to everybody else. and then we were sad that some people didn’t seem to be taking our wedding seriously. imagine our shock when it was because they had no idea it was a big deal to us.

    i mean, the folks in question all knew that us getting married was a big deal, but that’s more long-haul, low-key, not exciting but happy stuff. they just didn’t have any idea that the wedding itself was a big deal. and when we told them? they totally got excited. i mean, everyone has their different levels of excited, and ways of showing it, but it seems like a lot of folks were waiting for “permission” to be giddy with us. in fact, i think that’s a lot of it – the “with” part. you can’t be excited with someone unless they are also excited. you can, of course, just go ahead and be excited at, about or for them, but that is a bit different, and doesn’t work for everyone.

    on the other hand, on the subject of “you just never know” – while we were being confused by my in-laws *seeming* lack of interest, i was far more shocked by my parents’ excitement. i like to think i know them pretty well by now, but i never saw it coming – i was expecting “oh, that’s wonderful, let us know when to show up.” and not another word, and they were easily more excited about the wedding than we were. which is not to brag, but simply to say again that people are complicated, and what is going on with them may not be at all what you think, even in the folks you know best.

  • Lyn

    We got engaged in November 2010 after about 7 months together and now we’re getting married in four weeks. It’s only in the last month or so that people have started to get really excited about it all. Talking to them about it now, they say that it didn’t feel very ‘real’ – the wedding was this far-off thing in the future and they just couldn’t quite see that far ahead. I have to admit, I felt like that too, at times, because nearly two years in the future just boggles my mind. But now that it’s just about around the corner, they’re getting really excited {and a bit nervous!} along with me.

    It did hurt a little bit, though, when I took my mum dress-shopping (with my fiancé! Shock! HORROR!) and while she was interested and happy to look at pretty dresses, she wasn’t very excited or bursting into tears (not that I WANTED her to cry, but it’s what you always hear about with taking mums wedding dress shopping, don’t you?).

    They might just need more time ’til it gets ‘real’ for them. I hope they do. It might take a while, but it’ll be worth it. If all else fails, you and your fiancé will be so excited on the day, you won’t even know if anyone else isn’t :-)

    • I was excited when we first got engaged because romance! Commitment! Sparkly ring! But then the excitement wore off a bit because the wedding was just so far away. Now we’re less than 2 months out and it’s all getting very real, which makes it exciting again. If *I* feel this way about my own wedding, I’m not surprised other people feel this way, too. My parents didn’t seem super excited at first (although they’re very happy for us and love my fiancé), but now that it’s closer, they’re very excited.

      And my mom didn’t cry when we went dress shopping either.

  • Em

    the first time I introduced my now-fiance to my family, it seemed like they felt it was a hassle to be there, that meeting him was an intrusion on our family time. I proceeded to sob myself to sleep because I suddenly felt like an outsider in my family, with whom I had always been so close.

    So I set out to fix it. We knew we would be getting married by four months, but when friends would ask when we were gonna get engaged, already, I would tell them that we were waiting until it had been at least a year to give our families time to get used to it (by which I really meant *my* family — his has had pretty much no drama of this sort). I made a huge point of having our parents meet one another, thinking this might help, and when we finally did the bit with the ring and the “he proposed!” phone calls, I thought that this time, they’d be ready to be excited.

    No such luck. The first couple months of wedding planning were pretty much just a river of tears every time I talked to my parents. At one point my mom actually told me that she really wanted to be happy for us, but every time she thought about the wedding she just got really sad and depressed. oof. And to make matters worse, while my family was in intense and emotional (and as yet unresolved) negotiations over venues and guest lists, his was all drama-free, how-can-we-help practicality and squee-ing.

    But here’s the thing — it’s not like his parents were being “good” and mine were being “bad.” My family is just as wonderful now as they were before I met my fiance, it’s just that they’ve never done this before. Liz is correct — this shit is HARD. And although we haven’t resolved everything yet, I think we have, finally, figured out how to talk to one another.

    Three things I learned along the way.
    1) Enlist some help with this! Things were really really tough with my sister, too, for a while — but after we had a conversation about what was going on and how I was feeling, she has been my rock. I was able to tell her what’s been painful with my parents (which she understands as no other human being on the planet can, and which she subsequently had a chance to witness in person…in public…oy). I told her that what I really needed was for someone I loved to be excited with me, she became that person. Because it was always there — it was just buried under other stuff. And moreover, she could say to me, “I know it sounds like mom is saying X, but my guess is that she really means Y,” which I would have realized myself if it wasn’t all so fraught for me. Being able to have the conversation with her first was what enabled me to have the right conversations with my parents, where it was all a bit more loaded.

    2) Enlist more help! I told two old friends what was going on, and both opened up about how much family ick there was in the beginning stages of their wedding planning processes. I. Had. No. Idea. It was SO helpful to feel not-alone in this, and SO SO SO helpful to see how they’d gotten through to the other side of it and still had good relationships with their families. *Plus*, one of them lives nearby, so the night of a particularly awful conversation with my mom, she and her husband took me and my fiance out for drinks and celebration — we talked about *not* the wedding, and drank champagne, and then she shot cheesey “engagement” photos of us on her iphone, and by the end of the night, instead of crying myself to sleep, I was leaning drunkenly over to my fiance and going, “guess what?! I get to maaaaaarry you!”

    3) Meg’s line about people not magically changing just because you’re planning a wedding was really helpful for me, because it made me feel less alone in the craziness of the early stages of planning. What I wish I had realized that there’s a flipside to that idea/ Maybe people don’t temporarily change for the better — but they also don’t permanently change for the worse. It felt, for a while, that my getting engaged had permanently ruined the stable, loving, supportive relationship I shared with my family. Which in retrospect, is kind of hilarious in a didn’t-know-I-could-get-that-hysterical sort of way. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta wade on through that river of tears — try to remember that it’s not an effing ocean, and that there’s dry land on the other side.

    • Catherine B

      I love this advice!

  • MDBethann

    Liz is spot on, and I second everyone who said you definitely need to talk to your family. It won’t be easy now, but it may only get harder if issues like these go undiscussed and unresolved for too long.

    I didn’t learn about this until my small “friends” bridal shower this past spring, but at least a few of my friends were very surprised by the rapidity in which my now DH and I bought a house together 2 1/2 years ago. For the first 6 months that we knew each other, we just hung out, and I didn’t really talk about him much to my friends. As we started to actually date, I mentioned him a bit more often, but still none of them had met him. When we got really serious that fall and I finally mentioned him to my friends, it was as if he came out of the woodwork, and so they were really surprised that winter when we went house shopping – they thought it was really quick. But once they got to know my now DH, they grew to really like him and were really happy for me when we got engaged, but they needed to know him first in order to be happy for me.

    We handled things a bit differently with our families. We had talked a bit more about each other with them and we made a point to schedule a weekend where I took him home to have a quiet meal with just my parents and then we did the same with his parents. And then at Thanksgiving we met one another’s grandparents and siblings. It was nice because we were able to slowly meet each others’ families without being overwhelmed. I think this helped a lot in building support for our relationship, especially since my DH was married before and his family didn’t want him to get hurt again. But we built the trust and got to know each other and everyone gets along really well. By the time we got engaged in 2011, they were so happy for us – the thing I remember most is my sister giving my now DH a huge hug and calling him “brother.”

    I’m not saying this will happen for everyone (though it would be nice if it did!), but giving people time to adjust to your relationship and this new person joining the family is definitely a good idea, especially since it can take awhile for people with different personalities and world views to get used to one another.

    Good luck and big hugs!!

  • kcaudad

    I know a lot of people have commented already, but I wanted to add some tidbits…
    I haven’t had the best relationship with my parents in recent years. We live far away and they usually don’t agree with my choices. Therefore, I think, they often act ambivalent and uninterested in my life. That’s just the way it is. As someone said, people don’t usually change just because you are getting married. I’ll add that family dynamics and relationships may not change either! My parent’s aren’t super excited or interested in much of anything that I do, so why would I expect them to show excitement about my wedding? Yes, they congratulated us on the wedding and upcoming marriage. But, no, they are not going to be that involved or obviously excited about it. It’s been hard at times. But, once I accept it, I could move on to better things. My Future-In-Law’s are very involved in our lives and are extremely supportive of us and the wedding and marriage. I take how my parents act in stride; and I embrace the love and support we get from his family!

  • Amy

    I had a very quick engagement too (eight days, but announced after two months). My family (especially my siblings) spent the engagement vacillating between shock and “you’ll see”. I lost several friends because they couldn’t bring themselves to be supportive. It was incredibly rough having people who I’d thought trusted me look down on my decision.

    The best thing that we did was to get into premarital counseling early. This calmed a few members of my family, because it showed that we were focused on the relationship and not the trappings of a wedding.

  • KC

    Liz’s advice sounds spot-on.

    This does remind me of the time when I introduced my future husband to a good friend of mine (older, lots of life experience, generally perceptive, good perspective on what’s important and what’s not important on average, generally provides good advice). I was confused by the “hm, I’m really not excited about him” vibes I was getting from her at the time. I was worried. I eventually asked her (or she brought it up – I don’t remember) a while later, and it turns out the Big Incompatibility she was sooo worried about was… (insert pause of nervous tension)

    Him being slightly shorter than me (I am unusually tall).

    Yes. That was the Thing that made her uncertain, that was making me wonder what Giant Incompatibility she was spotting that I was missing.

    So… sometimes people are just a bit weird in ways you really can’t predict.

    I would bet it’s a three-months needing-to-get-to-know-him-and-used-to-this-idea thing, though. A lot of people need time to grow accustomed to ideas and changes, and they may additionally need a bit of relationship observation time to be convinced for themselves that the prospective marriage is a positive thing and hence get excited about the wedding.

    I hope things improve soon! :-)

  • Newtie

    A similar thing happened in my family, although I was the cousin with the “traditional wedding.” I got engaged after five years of being with my partner and then spent a full year planning a wedding that wasn’t particularly lavish but was very conventional in a a lot of ways. During my year of engagement, my cousin got engaged to her partner, whom she’d only been with for about four months, and got married within two months of getting engaged. Her wedding was very very small. My extended family treated my wedding as if it was “real” and didn’t really respond with the same amount of enthusiasm to my cousin’s. This made me really sad, since, as someone getting married myself, I could put myself in my cousin’s shoes and being to imagine how hurtful my family’s response must have been. No amount of me (and my parents) speaking up and trying to make up for the rest of the family’s lack of enthusiasm seemed to help. My cousin’s mother and sister were particularly un-enthusiastic.

    But you know what? In the pictures from her wedding day, my cousin looks RADIANTLY happy. I think she had some worries that her family’s response would affect her wedding day — but it really didn’t, when it came right down to it. She was so very in love, and so happy to be marrying the person of her dreams, that any tepidness from her family didn’t even register on her wedding day. She said it was the happiest day of her life, and you could tell just by looking at her — at the ceremony and at the reception afterward — that that was absolutely true. And now, some weeks after the fact, no one treats her spouse any differently than they treat mine — I think, as Liz suggested, part of the trouble was our family just needed more time, and now that time has passed, any weirdness or tension has passed, too.

    So, I know knowing another woman out in the wide world went through the same thing isn’t always much of a comfort, but know that when it comes down to it and you’re standing there saying your vows, you’re not going to be thinking about your family’s enthusiasm or lack-thereof. You’re going to be thinking about your partner, and the beautiful life you’re starting together. And that happiness will color the whole day.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I want to add that the “excitement” over the cousin’s wedding is a whole other kettle of fish from A’s wedding. It’s one thing to be excited about a big, extravagant party you merely attend. It’s another to be excited about one in your immediately family where you’ll likely have some involvement in the planning. And absent unusual circumstances, in the contemporary US, a family is just not going to feel as deeply about a niece or nephew’s marriage as a child’s.

    And A can be thankful her family sees the difference, if only implicitly. A lot of the issues that come up on APW are about friends and family who expect big, extravagant, exciting weddings, and members of Team Practical who don’t want that.

    • KB

      I second this – I think it’s easier to be excited over someone else’s wedding, especially given the fact that her immediate family is probably “filtering” a lot of what’s going into planning this epic bash. They’re not hearing the fights, the tears, the drama over every little decision, so when they hear “Guess what, we’re having a giant ice sculpture of the couple as babies” or something, they think it’s cool because it’s a given. But if YOU were to bring up a giant ice sculpture (or something), other factors like cost would come into play. It’s much easier to accept things at a distance and from the outside, especially when they don’t involve your child/sister/friend.

  • Alice

    When a friend of mine got engaged after three months, I said nothing. I was just…taken aback. It was so unexpected. And in this case, I had a lot of doubts but I didn’t feel right expressing them. I mean… Who was I to question her decision in regards to marriage? And I knew her family had expressed very serious concerns so I didn’t want to make her feel entirely unsupported. So I didn’t say anything. when that marriage went horribly wrong, I felt so guilty. I really wish I had been a better friend. I should have been there for her even if being her for her meant telling her what she didn’t want to hear. Perhaps if she asked me, Id have been forced to be a true friend and tell her the truth.

  • Christina

    Looking at the lengths of a lot of these comments is a testament to how emotionally fraught this issue can be, we have a full blown Friday afternoon APW therapy session gong on here. But it all makes me feel less alone since I went through something similar too. Lots of tears. It has been over a year since our engagement and 1 month until our wedding and I can say it is getting better :) And I think it is because of the following things:

    1) I realized that nobody is going to be as excited about wedding DETAILS as me. But that doesn’t mean that nobody is excited about us GETTING MARRIED.

    2) It is a huge adjustment for my family, I am the oldest daughter/oldest grandkid/first wedding this generation. And getting married puts some finality on me living in a different city from my family, and they miss me. I need to be cognizant of that. Maybe your family feels like they are losing you somehow.

    3) I found out which wedding tasks they were going to be excited about, and which ones they werent–and assigned them to areas where they could shine. I learned this one the hard way. My sisters, both, for a variety of reasons were real drama queens while bridesmaids dress shopping—it totally sucked and I wanted to de-maid of honor them both by the end of it– but instead, I got over it (read Meg’s book, it helped!) and pressed on, I talked to them about how their lack of enthusiasm made me feel. And that worked. When I put one on an artistic wedding endeavor she delivered, and the other planned me a beautiful bridal shower.

    So if you hit some bumps with your family– try to keep moving– and do let them know that their dearth of enthusiasm really hurts your feelings, they may not realize that, or maybe they have reasons for not being excited that will hurt your feelings more but better to know than be wondering about it all the time. My sisters both had somewhat rocky years last year, and my parents were on the brink of divorce but decided to stick it out. I chalk up a lot of their behavior to that– so take a look at what your family has going on, maybe they are too sad about other things to generate enthusiasm about anything (I think that is BS because I find ways to separate what I have going on from how I show happiness for others but apparently it is too much to expect out of other people and something I must accept… still working on it as you can see…but I’ve made great strides)

    Good luck and I echo some of the sentiments above– a long engagement helps with the adjustment period so that you can walk down the aisle feeling a little more supported!

  • My mother, as previously detailed on this website, did not take the news of our engagement well. Rather hostile about it might be more accurate. Liz and all the commenters have great suggestions and advice, so let me just offer you hope for the future. During the short and hostile engagement period, my mother, I think, was still mourning the loss of my abusive but gregarious ex and the future she (wtf) wanted me to have with him, instead of getting to know my reserved but totally awesome fiance. It took a couple of years, and the baby didn’t hurt, but my mom now goes out of her way to be nice and friendly to David, and while she’s still a bit difficult, she’s fully embraced David as her son in law and we have a much, much better relationship than we used to. Yes, we’ve now been together for 4.5, married for 2.5 and have a 0.5 year old baby, so it was NOT a quick process, but we got there!

    So, time? Can really help. Helps them to adapt, and helps you (me) to heal from the happy-mother-wedding-lovey feelings that I wanted and didn’t get.

  • Shawna Elise

    This reminds me of when I got pregnant. Even though I was 25 I was not engaged and had only been dating my boyfriend for 6 months. My dad didn’t see it coming. He didn’t express any excitement and didn’t ever bring it up for the first 7 months. It was very hurtful. I later found out that he was having a hard time adjusting to viewing me as an adult, a woman, someone capable of having a family. He was used to seeing me as his little girl. Maybe your family is going through the same thing. Maybe they didn’t see it coming and they need time to get used to the idea of you getting married and starting a family.

  • anonymous

    Even though my fiance and I have been dating for four years and our families are very happy about and supportive of our relationship, no one has really been very enthusiastic about the wedding in the way I hoped they’d be. I expected it to be this event that brought me closer to my mom and his mom and sisters but it’s turned out that since our families live on different coasts and we live in a different region from them both, I’ve done 99% of the wedding planning on my own, with very little input. Everyone is happy to do what I want (even when I don’t really have an opinion or really could use some help deciding!) I’m sure a lot of people would be jealous of this, and I should really count my blessings, but it does make me feel like people aren’t excited about the wedding.

    Then I remind myself that everyone who can manage financially is coming, that no one is boycotting, that folks are supportive, if sometimes more distant than I’d hoped. And really–that’s a gracious plenty.

  • Ceka

    My younger sister got engaged 2-3 months into her relationship. At that point, I had spent a few days with them around Christmas, which gave me a chance to observe the following:

    1. How my sister acted around him
    2. How he treated my sister
    3. How he treated me, my husband, and my family
    4. How he talked about his own family

    I had a sense of who he was as a person, how he behaved, and where he was going in life. And he’s turned out to be a good husband.

    If I hadn’t spent that time with them before they got engaged, I would have been worried sick. And to be honest, I still thought that things were moving really quickly. My rule of thumb is that you should date someone for a full year before making that kind of commitment, and I worry when someone I care about takes the plunge after two or three months.

    If I hadn’t had the chance to get to know my BIL beforehand, I probably would have done what your family is doing now. I would have been pretty quiet about the whole thing. Saying something negative carries the risk of alienating the person you love, and if the guy turns out to be bad news, you don’t want her to be isolated. And getting excited about the wedding really isn’t possible when you’re worried about the bride.

    At this point, I wouldn’t focus on getting your family to get excited about the wedding. I would spend a lot of time giving all these new relationships a chance (many, many chances) to get established and grow. So at this point, it’s time to plan visits home, invite folks over, put the fiancé on the phone when you call your parents or siblings, show up at the family reunion, visit your aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmas…you get the idea.

  • AnotherCourtney

    This was tough to read because it very well might have been written by someone I know, and that is forcing me to look at my situation in a different way.

    The advice that I like the best is for A to talk to her family about how they feel, and I’ll add to it that when she talks to them, she needs to make sure she listens. Not that that means – in any way – that she must agree with them, but listening gives everyone the chance to feel heard, and there might be some concerns that can be reassured once she understands what exactly the concerns are.

    In my case, the bride fits perfectly into the story above, but there are other circumstances (a very, very recent messy divorce and a young child involved) that are making all of us unsupportive of a quick wedding. It sucks for the family because a wedding is a time where people want to feel happy and excited, and it sucks definitely for the bride, who is very much excited about it, but doesn’t get much response when she brings it up.

    I am very slow-moving when it comes to relationships, so I have trouble understanding what the rush is. But thinking about it today, I do understand being decisive about some things. When I was house shopping, for example, I looked at 30 houses over a couple months and kept hesitating or asking for others’ opinions. Then, I walked into that 30th house and knew it was mine before I even finished the tour. I put an offer in a couple hours later, and I’ve loved every minute of living in it over the 2 1/2 years since. At first, I was a little afraid I was being rash, but a good friend explained it to me: I knew what I was looking for, and I had found it. It’s as simple as that.

    If each person in the relationship falls into that same category (they each know what they want, and they’ve found it in each other), then it is that simple. Some people take years to figure out what they want in a spouse and if they’ve found it (that was me!), but some people know right away. As long as you’re honest with yourself and know what you’re looking for, then your family will come around in time.

  • Sarah

    I think it’s also important to note that you might need to do some self reflection here. This was really important for me when I wondered why my family didn’t seem as excited about our wedding. And you know what I realized? They got some shit going on. My mother just started a new job in December and works 60 hours a week. My dad–it’s just not his thing, plus he isn’t a big fan of marriage in general. My sister is terrified that my wedding will make people think she and her long-term partner should get married (which they don’t want), and is afraid to talk about it in case the conversation goes to ‘their wedding.’ His mom just got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and his dad also has cancer. On top of that, we are very protective of our wedding and have a specific, APW-oriented mindset that many of them can’t/don’t get, because they’re not in wedding mode or involved in this community. So we don’t ask them for opinions or details very much, and have sometimes strongly disagreed with opinions they have offered. They might not seem as excited, but it’s because my wedding may be a once a week thought to them, not the once an hour thought it is to me. And on top of that, it might be the least important thing to them, because they don’t have to worry about it–they trust me to pull it off. Their own job/relationship/health? That’s what they need to be worrying about.

  • KB

    I’d just like to echo what everyone’s said in terms of the “not-as-excited” problem not being segregated to an engagement after a short relationship. I was friends with my fiance for years and then we dated for another couple of years – my parents still don’t seem to be very excited. They like him well enough, better than all the rest of my exes – but I think I realized that, in all seriousness, they’re not going to get excited about any guy I date/marry. I could be engaged to a freakish amalgamation of Michael Phelps, Gandhi, and Prince William – and they would still be like, “Oh, yay, that’s nice…” So just know that you’re not alone.

  • Oh, bless your heart. I have the same issue and we are getting married new years eve 2012, but at 55 I have the ability to say ‘screw them’. Our relationship was quick, immediately after he left a bad marriage and people assumed we had an affair which we did not although they will quietly continue to see it that way no matter what. I have only one friend who gives me total support, and that is proof of a friend. You learn who your friends are, you learn how to respond with joy when someone shares their happy news of marriage or pregnancy with you because you know how it hurts. The only thing that should concern your family is ‘Does he absolutely love you? Would he never mistreat you? Are you happy?” Sadly they are denying you their unconditional love, and also themselves beautiful moments sharing this with you. Let them know how all this makes you feel. It will take courage, but if you are adult enough to get married then you are adult enough to speak your heart and mind and should be straightforward with kindness. Ask them to honestly explain why are they not making this a happy time for you? What are their concerns? Remember, often people have their own issues regarding marriage. After that, find your own peace and joy no matter what!!!!!

    • Is there a way to upvote this comment more? ” You learn who your friends are” …. so true, and for so many more situations than engagement/wedding cheers.

  • Jessi03

    I identify with this so much! For mine, though, my family was thrilled but most of my friends are not. My fiance and I have been best friends for the better part of a decade now and have been romantically involved for over a year. We kept our romance very quiet since we’d both had prior engagements that were broken and didn’t want to tell the world until we were 100% sure and in the planning stage. Well, now we’re telling everyone and the majority of my friends are trying to talk me out of it. They seem to think that just b/c they’ve been uninformed about our relationship it means that it didn’t happen, and now they keep talking about how we’re “rushing.” We’re not getting married for another year! It was so disappointing telling the people I grew up with, and now we’ve started dreading telling anyone else. Our families are thrilled, but very few friends are, and it’s been really aggravating to have to defend our relationship to some of the closest people in our lives.
    Wow, that was long-winded. I’m sorry. Basically, I identify and want to hug you.

  • Mels

    I went through this same thing. I was super excited and bubbly telling my family I got engaged, and I might as well have bought a new toaster for all they cared. I got yelled at by my brother, who told me to kill myself for bringing up such bad news on father’s day (which we weren’t even spending with our father). I wanted to plan the wedding, but my mother refused to acknowledge anything I did, and openly cried when she saw me with my fiance. I asked, continually, what was wrong with getting married, and they all pointed to “issues” that didn’t actually exist, or, if they were fixed, they just found a new “issue”. First was that he didn’t have a job, after JUST graduating. He found a job a week later that paid well. They said there wasn’t enough financial security even then, but he had 30k savings built up. Even with his student loans, we would be pretty comfortable. Finally my mother said that I just wasn’t ready. That was just another stupid ploy. My father, was told everything by my mother and brother. He called me and said he was concerned that I had only dated this guy for a year before getting engaged. I had dated him 4 years. Shows how much they care about my life doesn’t it? Anyway, we planned an island wedding since we were getting no help. Sprung the news on my family, and just two weeks before my mother broke down and asked me to put the whole thing off for a family wedding here (what I had wanted all along). I went ahead and agreed to put it off, and we planned a big church wedding. 2 years and 1 child later, my whole family refuses to acknowledge that they ever didn’t like my husband. He is just so great and fun, and we are so cute together. I am such a great mother, and I really have become so amazing. I seriously want to throw up when I hear them because I may have put those actions aside for the family relationships there, but it’s absolutely ridiculous how we were treated those two years of our engagement.
    So, no, family isn’t always picking cues up from you with their excitement or lack thereof. You just gotta know if it’s right or not for you, get through it, and remember that it’s your life not theirs. You’re getting a whole other family that is probably much more excited about having you join than your own is about your life decision.

    • Mels again

      oh, completely forgot to mention that my mother stated IN HER CHRISTMAS CARD that went out to our ENTIRE GUEST LIST for the wedding that she thought we were completely wrong for each other and to keep in their prayers that we wouldn’t go through with it.