Q: Dear Jareesa,
I’m a woman who is soon to be officially engaged to my longtime girlfriend (we’ve talked about it a lot, we’re on the exact same page). She is perfect, she’s my favorite person, and I could not ask for a more loving, supportive, charming girlfriend. The only issue we will have is our wedding.
I have plenty of friends whom I love dearly, but I honestly don’t need or even want them there. My ideal wedding is just for me and my partner, and the simpler the better. I love my friends and family, but it’s not important to me that anyone else be a part of that day, and to be honest, I’m loathe to divert time and emotional energy to managing other people’s emotions or logistics for several months before and then finally on my wedding day. Being a bridesmaid several times in several Pinterest-y, hyper-traditional weddings just completely turned me off of weddings. While I know my wedding would never be like those (I read APW! I know my wedding doesn’t need to be anything at all!), those experiences have clarified how much I don’t want to deal with anyone other than my partner on my wedding day.
But having a wedding with all of our friends there is extremely important to my girlfriend, and I totally get why. Half her family (one parent and one sibling) have said they won’t come to our wedding because of religious objections to a lesbian marriage. This is obviously painful and emotional for her, and it’s really important to me that she feels loved on her wedding day. A family event that included my nuclear family and the half of her family who would show up would emphasize the really obvious absences in the room. She also feels like her family probably wants our wedding to be really small so that they can kind of downplay and ignore it, and that’s exactly how she doesn’t want to feel on her wedding day. So she wants a communal celebration, probably with dancing. She doesn’t need a massive or fancy wedding, she doesn’t need it to be traditional in most ways, but she wants her chosen community around her, overshadowing the absence of her shitty family members so that she feels loved and affirmed. I get that, I respect that, and I want that for her. But I just don’t have any genuine desire for any of it, and it feels weird going into my wedding thinking, “I hate all of this. I am only doing this for the person I love,” and obviously her dream wedding includes me being excited for it too.
We communicate incredibly well, and we’ve talked about this openly and non-judgmentally. I understand and respect all of her feelings about the wedding she wants, and she doesn’t begrudge or resent me for mine. How do we compromise? My (insane) dream compromise would be a private ceremony followed by a big party at a bar/restaurant with only her friends and none of mine—but obviously that is dumb and unworkable for a million reasons, not least because of many mutual friends and all the excluded people who would be horribly and righteously offended. We’re going to have to suck it up and make some more realistic compromises, so do you have any advice on where to start, or what kind of perspective will help us manage this??
A: Dear anonymous,
There are some situations where “compromise” is code for “one person gets their way and the other person sucks it up,” and this might be one of those situations. You want a super private affair and your fiancx wants a rager with all your friends.
For me, part of marriage is doing things that I wouldn’t necessarily do because I know it will please my spouse, and my partner does the same. Is a wedding with friends something that you can tolerate, to make your spouse happy, or is it a deal breaker for you?
Also, you might already have a solution. You said, “My (insane) dream compromise would be a private ceremony followed by a big party at a bar/restaurant with only her friends and none of mine—but obviously that is dumb and unworkable for a million reasons, not least because of many mutual friends and all the excluded people who would be horribly and righteously offended.” Why is it dumb and unworkable? Are you worried about losing friends if you don’t invite them to your wedding (that you don’t even want anyway)?
Basically, I can’t pull a King Solomon for you and split the baby in half. One of you is going to have to do something you don’t want to do, but I can’t decide that for you. But maybe, just maybe, you both already know what that is. You just need to get the nerve to do it.
—Jareesa Tucker McClure
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