Q: We have to be out of our venue by 10 p.m., and my fiancé really wants a wedding after-party. This is super important to him. When I said I didn’t want an after-party, he looked heartbroken and deprived, like I’d forbidden him from having any fun on our wedding day. His reasons for wanting an after-party are to keep the party going and to “join forces” with another couple that’s getting married on the same day and hosting an after-party. Most of their guests are people my fiancé is loosely friends with but wouldn’t have invited to our wedding.
I emphatically don’t want an after-party. I anticipate being tired after a long day of socializing with guests and wearing formal clothes. I’ve never been a partier. My fiancé’s alcohol tolerance has diminished drastically since college (thank God). We aren’t close to this couple or their guests. They’ll be busy with their own wedding and won’t care if my fiancé, a distant acquaintance, comes or doesn’t. (Right?)
The last thing I want is to go out and get hammered (or watch my new husband get hammered, more accurately) with a bunch of randos. I don’t want to stay home while he goes out either. He’ll come home snoring drunk, sweating alcohol, and be totally useless the next day. We’re serving a generous array of drinks at our wedding. What’s the point of getting pitchers of beer at another couple’s after-party at a mediocre bar?
I don’t want our marriage to start out with my new husband resenting me for not letting him “have fun” or say “hi” to his “friends.” But I also don’t want to start our marriage resenting my husband for hitting the bottle too hard and celebrating with strangers when he should be spending time with me. Basically, I want him to give up the after-party, go home, sleep, have a mostly hangover-free day after, and not resent me for it. Ha! What’s a good compromise?
A: There is no compromise between “go out” and “stay in.” You’ll have to pick one.
That is, unless your reasons for hating the idea are all based on this being a very specific kind of party. Dive bar, all-night pitchers of beer, drunken barfing in an alley. You assume that’s what an after-party entails. Is that what your partner has planned? I’m trying to figure out how we got from “after-party” to “I don’t want my husband to have a hangover!” Is going to a party, staying for an agreed amount of time, and limiting the drinks an option for you guys? Why does additional fun time automatically spell out drunken stupors and day-long hangovers? I’m unsure if you’re against going out and getting trashed, or if you’re against going out on your wedding night at all. But either way, brace yourself.
If this is about him being into drinking and partying, and you not so much, that’s likely to be an argument for a long time.
If this is about him wanting to socialize on special days, and you wanting to hole up and spend that time with just the two of you, that’s also likely to be an argument for a long time.
Basically, plan on having this argument over and over. Neither of you will really be right or wrong (this is just about preference), so you’ll just have to figure out some rules for sorting it out. Otherwise, this will all too easily slip into a dynamic where he’s always asking for your permission when he wants to go out or drink, which will put you in an uncomfortable spot. Say “no” and you’re the wet blanket; say “yes” and you’re stuck squelching your own resentment. Either way, being the decider isn’t fun.
Luckily (for me!), this one instance is an easy one to set a rule about. It’s your wedding day. The entire day is about the two of you, together, appreciating each other. He should stay home. There’ll be loads of other times to order a pitcher with these friends—other times that aren’t your wedding day, already packed with emotionally and physically exhausting hours. You get this one.
But work together to figure out a rule for the next one.
Maybe special days default to him staying in. But that doesn’t settle all the other days that aren’t Thanksgiving or your birthday. What else can you put in place to figure out when you both (both!) agree to going out versus staying in so that you’re not stuck being the decider? Figure out what it is you both want here (Is it about the partying or the going out? Are you both arguing about the same thing?), and then find a way to agree now about how you’ll handle this going forward. No one wants to be the bad guy.
And you for sure shouldn’t be the bad guy on your wedding night, because whatever you decide you need to decide together.