Whitney & Joshua

Today’s wedding graduate post reminds me of two things: One, the fact that it’s easy to get hurt by wedding guests, and that this is valid (I’ve already stated my personal views on the subject, which is that sometimes wedding guests can be jerks… or at least it can really feel like that sometimes). And two, it reminded me of what a family member told us as we were wedding planning, that getting people together is not just for us, it’s for everyone. That there will always be elderly people at a wedding or a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, who know, in their heart of hearts, that this may be their last family party. He told us that a wedding, while yours, is also theirs. So I’m amazed by how well Whitney holds both these ideas at once, that wedding guest behavior can hurt, and that wedding guest behavior can heal, sometimes at the same time.

At first, in the few weeks after my wedding I didn’t love the memories of it. Gasp.

I mean, I loved the details.  The stuff I planned out to a T, like the peacock feather pen favors and the ceremony music?  That stuff went really, REALLY well.  Mostly.  With the possible exception of my cake knife, but  I’ll get to that.

But the feelings I had right after the wedding?  Yeah, not so great.  I was, frankly, more than a bit hurt and disappointed.  But worse than that, I was hurt and disappointed in ways that it wasn’t okay to talk about and, at the same time, keep myself from appearing like a spoiled post-wedding Bridezilla.

See, lots of people skipped my wedding and just went to the reception without even mentioning it to me.  And then 25% of my “confirmed, YES we will be there, can’t wait!!” guest list simply skipped out on both altogether, leaving me paying the caterer an extra $1000 for people who simply decided, the morning of, that they didn’t feel like showing up.

And then my gift table was sadly almost bare.  I fought back tears when we came home from our honeymoon and realized that only about 10% of our guests had brought us even a card, much less a gift. And frankly, when you’re crying in your living room because people skipped out on your party and no one bought you a gift, you feel like a real douche.  But it hurts.  And the worst part about it is that you can’t say anything to anyone without coming across like a spoiled princess.  So you don’t say anything, and you write a handful of thank you cards, and you try to move on and not let it change your opinion of your friends too much.

And eventually you do move on.  For me, that moment of real healing began when the pictures began to roll in.  I was lucky—in this internet day and age, my husband and I were able to check out some of our professional pictures the morning after the wedding as we killed time in the airport on his blackberry.

But it was later, this spring, when people started sending us their personal snapshots of the day, that everything changed.  Suddenly, there they were – all the moments I had missed.  I didn’t see much of my friends that day in the whirlwind of events, so imagine my surprise when I learned there was a massive gamer’s table going on that I never knew about.

I had believed that my mother spent the entire day frowning, stressing about my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s.  But there she was, on the dance floor, doing the twist with my uncle, face lit up like a Christmas tree.

And not only that, but there were the faces of some of our loved ones, my grandmother and my husband’s uncle, who did not survive to see the pictures from that day.

I had spent the day, like most brides, caught in the circle of a new husband and a tight wedding day schedule.  But around me, (at the risk of sounding cliché,) there was so much life going on!  The feeling of “nobody likes me, wahhh!” began to subside as I realized that damn, I threw a good effing party and people had a blast!

So that story about the cake knife I promised? My husband’s best friend and best man is a Jewish caterer and event organizer from New York.  (Did I fail to mention that my wedding could have been the premiere episode of a new reality TV show called “The New York Jews Meet the Alabama Rednecks?”  You want to talk stress?  Try having those two particular groups meet in my home state of Kentucky.  Yeah.)

So the best man, doing his absolute best to compromise the values of the two families, hid what he THOUGHT was a challah knife provided by one of the more traditional Jewish family members.  He thought he was protecting us by preventing the battle of the blessings.  Instead, he ended up hiding my engraved, sparkly, beautifully-planned-for cake cutting knife.  He didn’t realize the mistake until cake cutting time.  Oops.  He thought a decent alternative would be to have both myself and my husband scrape off some icing and feed it to each other.  I thought otherwise, and the best man ended up with a smear of icing down his face from my finger.  And then my husband licked it right off of his best friend’s face. And yes, we have pictures of it.  And I am so, SO grateful for that.

In the end, I learned that people sometimes just don’t get it.  People who think they know you don’t always value traditions the same way, or simply weren’t raised with the same social graces.  And it’s okay to be hurt when people blow you off.  But I also learned a lot about what I personally hold dear.  I cried when I saw the picture of my mother dancing.  Her happiness matters so much to me.  She has always been my biggest supporter, and proudly walked me down the aisle.

I cried when I saw the pictures of my grandmother smiling.  The wedding was the last time she traveled before the Alzheimer’s weakened her and took her from us this winter, as soon after cancer also took my husband’s Uncle Mike.  But I also grinned when I realized that people knew my husband and me well enough to play Pirate Dice at our reception.  And I teared up again when I saw the pictures of both of our families joyfully joining together in a huge, laughing hurricane of people during our “Hava Nagila.”  It is these moments which I grip tighter than any gift.

Like the situation with the cake knife, people sometimes do things for their own reasons, and sometimes there are major miscommunications.  Did I really want the nice, formal, cake cutting with a hunk of German chocolate on the side for myself?  Hell, yeah!  But I wouldn’t trade the moment with the icing, or any of those other moments on that day, for the world.

Photos By: Erin Cook of Erin Takes Pictures and by Courtney Beekman and David Vail, friends extraordinaire

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  • This is beyond beautiful. And I fully, fully give you permission to be a bit annoyed at the guests who didn’t show, the guests who didn’t gift. Not everyone has all those social graces down, but hey – your friends and family can PARTY! So kudos to you for giving them what looks like a freaking amazing party. If you can describe even one moment of the day as a “huge, laughing hurricane,” that is awesome.

  • I love, love, love your peacocks!

    Our gift table & guest count was pretty similar to yours – and I was really frustrated. Some people had skipped out on gifts at the bridal shower because “they were putting money in our honeyfund” … and never did. Some had gotten married 1-2 months before us and never gave us a gift, after we spent lavish amounts of time, gifts, and energy on them. And I absolutely felt like a douche for being frustrated… but I was still frustrated (& honestly? probably still a hair agitated when it’s brought up – which is thankfully rare). I think the only reason why the guest count doesn’t bother me TOO much is because (a) I already assumed at least some of them wouldn’t come & (b) our catering bill was included with our venue up to a certain number, so we would only have to pay extra if MORE people showed up. Otherwise, I probably would have been ranting about the million extra sandwiches and fruit balls I had as well.

    & THANK THE LORD for cameras. When we got our set back, I was amazed at what I saw. I walked away from the wedding thinking I actually didn’t spend much time with my new husband at all, and a little pit had developed in my stomach about it. Then the photos came back, and there were TONS of us singing and dancing and twirling and all sorts of ridiculousness that proves we were inseparable that night. I just wish more of our guests had taken their own pictures, too! I have seen plenty of the ceremony (which was my favorite part, anyway) but virtually zero of the reception. Bummer.

    • It means people were having too great of a time to stop and snap a photo!

      • The photos of the reception are all hilarious. We had a local two-man band come play (we found them at random one night at a Sambucca in Houston. Stalked them. Made friends. Befriended their wives. Offered them Jack Daniels. They played on the cheap ;) ) and they ROCKED. THE. HOUSE. I had no idea how ridiculous and amazing people can look while dancing with lots of free booze until our pictures came back ;)

    • emily rose

      We just got photos back (and they are FAB, thanks Leah&Mark!), and while sifting through them I’m realizing that those images can really shape memories of the day. I hadn’t quite understood why everyone cared so much about their photographer, but now I’m seeing that the photos are actually quite powerful.

      • Photos were my #1 budget priority. And I still underestimated how important they would be. But I spent so much of my wedding tied up in nerves (getting ready), crying (ceremony) & feeling such a wave of relief I just wanted to dance and party (reception) that I felt like I missed so much of the night.

        Don’t get me wrong – I had a mother freakin’ kick@ss time – but it was really incredible to see other people doing the same at our party to celebrate our oneness.

        You can’t put a price tag on capturing the love that will last forever. You just can’t.

  • Alana

    Ah, I needed this too… I am even more douchey and shallow because I have lingering disappointment only about our recent engagement party (wedding is next year). We threw a lovely brunch for about 20 of our friends in England (we met as postgrads there, but now live in Holland – he is Dutch, I am Australian), and while it was, indeed, lovely, it wasn’t really what I had imagined and hoped for, emotionally. These people have known us our whole couple-life, and are still our closest friends although we moved away 6 months ago.

    The party itself was convivial – it’s just that it honestly could have been any gathering. I’m horrified that I sound like a self-involved bridezilla, but it was a quite formal engagement party, and basically no-one even acknowledged the engagement we were supposed to be celebrating. No one asked about the proposal or showed interest in the ring, or made a toast to our engagement (it was a champagne brunch). We didn’t talk about plans for the wedding. Of 20 people one couple brought a card/present, which is no biggie, but different to how it works where I’m from. It was hard to shake the feeling that our friends just turned up, ate the food, and bantered like it was any old hang-out session…

    It was a cheerful get-together, and the official line is that I had a great time… but deep inside, being the sentimentalist I am, I have a sad little sense of one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences slipping by…

    • Amanda

      Hello Alana, just wanted to say that I am also an expat living in Holland, I am mexican, he is dutch, in case you would like to meet or organize a book club next time, or something of the sort. And I can relate to how you feel, some people that could have come to our wedding, just basically decided to ignore it, that is, they did not show any effort and in the end did not come, not only that but they did not even send an email saying hey I wont be able to make it…. It hurts because it is people you thought were close, but it happens. Just try not to think about it too much and be sure that on your wedding day the people who CARE will be there or otherwise show their interest and you will feel surrounded by love and magic… as cheesy as it sounds it felt like that.

    • emily rose

      My husband had brought a bunch of our best friends into town for his proposal, so they were all there for the event and then stayed for a party & dinner. And we all just sorta hung out like it was any other day – even a few minutes after we’d gotten engaged! It felt weird to me at the time, but being the center of attention would have felt weird, too, so I’m nto sure what I wanted. With time, I’ve come to appreciate the truth that people are people, and there’s something kinda great about that consistency.

  • Jo

    This is a great and honest post. I was very disheartened at my younger sister’s wedding earlier when she invited over a hundred people, we spent time making food, decorating, setting up tables–and fifteen showed. They’re younger and don’t really get social stuff, but it was still a major “Oh sh*t” moment to me, and I almost said screw it and eloped, since that’s what I wanted to do and if the party’s for the people but the people don’t come….

    But the people that will show to ours will find it meaningful and I hope there will be loads of excellent pictures.

    And you’re very much allowed to be bummed about no shows, or no gifts.

    • I am so sorry to hear that Jo. Can I just apologize on behalf of the 75 lame people who didn’t have the grace, respect or love in their hearts to come? I threw a Christmas party last year and spent a load of money (money is very tight for me) on creating a beautiful formal dinner, and only one of my RSVPs showed up. I am planning to literally stop being friends with anyone who pulls that at my wedding.

    • Fifteen out of over one hundred? My heart just went out to your sister (and your family) when I read that. Truly, truly nuts and I’m so sorry you guys had to go through that.

  • So. I never cry at APW posts. But this had me in ugly-tears.

    Beautiful post! And it touches on a lot of anxieties I have as we slide under the 2-months-to-go mark and people receive their invitations. My guy and I have already lost most of our grandparents and other older family members (so now we’re in a sort of generational pause in the cycle of funerals, if that makes sense), but enough of our close family members have had major health problems that we’re so, so thankful to be gathering with those we can this summer. Births, deaths, and weddings are some of the events by which families keep time, and that is part of why we decided to have a ~wedding~ at all.

    • Karen

      This sums up a lot of what I was feeling while reading (and crying through) this post. We’re getting ready to mail our invitations, which means we’re getting down to really finalizing who we want there…and getting ready to wait for RSVPs and then wonder if people really mean it or not. And then there are our old people, who are getting older…and we had so many funerals last year that I just have to hope that everyone can hold out till after September this year.

      • Allie

        I’m exactly at that stage too (invites went out yesterday woo!) and dealing with the fact that I’m only addressing some to half of couples or that fact that my beloved Gramps wont be there and somehow my Grandma will have to make it through the day on her own having lost the man she’d been with since she was 16 last Christmas. Its hard. Good luck with yours

        • Kayakgirl73

          I understand. I had lost all of my grandparents, well before my wedding. My husband amazingly had three grandparents and a step-grandfather left at 36,but all were unable to attend. Most heartbreaking was his grandmother who broke her hip the month before the wedding rendering her and his grandfather unable to attend the wedding 90 miles away. We sent the grandmothers flowers in our wedding colors the day of the wedding.

      • Shae

        Yes! We sent out our invitations this weekend, and letting them out into the world feels like we’re making ourselves vulnerable to the hurt of No RSVPs and no-shows. The wedding doesn’t feel like our little secret anymore. But we’re also opening ourselves to a lot of potential joy, so we’re staying optimistic and trying to take everything in stride. I hope everyone who is special to you can make it to your nuptials!

        • Karen

          Thanks for the good wishes and crossed fingers — I wish the same to everyone who’s in the same boat!

  • So, I’ve been reading APW for awhile now and I’ve never had the tears at work moment, but this post got me. I think it’s partly because you so honestly discussed the joining/clashing of two cultures (hiding the challah knife). Bost mostly, I think what got me was the effect and importance of weddings for aging and ill family members. We all have those. It hit home.

  • This is one of the most beautiful grad posts I have read. Thank goodness no one else is in the office to see me tearing up at my desk.

    I totally understand the feeling hurt (and even a bit betrayed) by people after the day is over. No one on my father’s side of the family even bothered RSVPing, let alone showing up on such a huge day, and about 20 other people RSVP’d but didn’t show up. When I saw how much of T’s family was there, including family that hadn’t seen him since he was a small child it was a bit disheartening. But like Whitney, time, and all the wonderful pictures have softened the hurt. I’m immensely grateful for the people who were there, and the love and joy of the day.

    • Sadie

      Trisha, I can relate to this. We haven’t had our wedding yet, but it’s already very clear that my fiance’s full extended family is super excited to come, and the turnout from my family is going to be very small. If I make myself be super reasonable about it, I know that this has to do with peoples’ financial situations, and with the general attitudes towards family gatherings that his family and my family have. But still, I am worried about how I will feel when faced with a rehearsal party and wedding FULL of his family, and very few of mine. I know my family loves me, but the differences in family customs and attitudes can still hurt.

  • I felt pretty mortified after my wedding when I realized that all the cards and gifts came from my husband’s side. No one in my family gave me a card or a gift, not even my dad or my sister. It wasn’t even the fact so much that my family didn’t leave gifts, but that they didn’t even bother to give us cards. I am a card saver. I have all of our wedding cards in a little box and our first anniversary I pulled them and we re-read them together.

    I also had some guests whose behavior disappointed me. People who were really really late to the reception also left really really early. I had a family member who went around gossiping about me to my friends and family. I had a blast at my wedding, but it was difficult to not feel disappointed after the fact. It took me a while to get over it, to be honest.

    Now that I am closer to two years out, these hurtful memories have faded enough that they no longer fill me with anger and disappointment. I can see all the good stuff and hold on to the positive memories.

    I’m sorry that you had to deal with similar issues. I think it is really brave of you to come out and speak about it. It is comforting to know we are not alone in our struggles.

    Your wedding looks gorgeous and sounds like it was loads of fun. Thanks for sharing some of the special moments with us. Can I just say I want that peacock painting? And that the photo of the women dancing, kicking their legs in the air makes me smile like crazy?

  • melissa

    Thanks for talking about something I have not known how to talk about. I too was very bummed out about only half of the people I invited showing up, but at least those 50% who RSVP’d that they were coming did. I didn’t have any no-shows. So, I should be grateful for that, no?

    We got quite a few presents, but I still find myself really hurt over the couple of things that were obviously regifted, were extremely inexpensive in nature, and over the couple who got us nothing. People that travelled across the country still got us gifts, and those are the people I would least expect to see them from. People who lived about 30-60 minutes away showed up with a plastic, silver painted cheese plate, a $25 decanter, or nothing. It’s just that when you know a person put in little to no effort for you but more effort for other recent weddings, you can’t help but feel jilted.

    • Kristen

      Oh wow. I buy alot of $25 wedding gifts. I love to pick out the gift, but the truth is, my budget is tight, and I love to give what I can. Isn’t that what matters?

      • Amy

        i think most of us totally understand when a friend does not have the budget for expensive gifts, or any gift at all. i think the frustration sets in when friends/family who you know CAN more than afford it, and who have given generously to others, or who you have given generously to, do not give anything (even a card) or acknowledge the importance of this day in some way (maybe even by offering to help out in some way on the day of?). I think sometimes there are internal emotions at play and people allow themselves to be less than gracious as a result. I wouldn’t be offended unless I thought there was a deeper issue (resentment, selfishness, etc) at hand, rather than an economical issue. And yes, this happened to us as well.

        • Whitney

          Exactly! My husband and I purposefully registered for a lot of tiny gift (think, like, $4) because we knew times were hard in our area. And I truly would have been happy with a card, too. But the worst thing was the handful of couples who just got married earlier in the year. I spent money and time picking out meaningful cards and gifts for them, and they brought nothing. I just wish they had run to Walmart a few minutes before the wedding to get a card that said, “hey, we were here today and we wish you the best.”

        • I think this nails it on the head. Melissa (x2) also mentioned these same people did more at “recent weddings” than for hers. & I was in that spot – and it hurts. Maybe it’s petty, but if you give me a $25 decanter and spent $500 on our other friend’s wedding gift…. call it shallow or what have you, but I’m going to feel just a bit jilted.

          I’ve generally spent about $50 on wedding gifts for friends, but whatever it is that I buy has thought, purpose, and care put into it. If someone did this same process for me with a $5 gift – I promise I’ll love it and think kindly on it.

          It’s the thought that counts, and the motivation behind it. Not the price tag. & that’s what I took from her.

      • I really think it depends on the context. If your friends know your economic situation, they probably appreciate your thoughtfully chosen $25 gifts more than the $200 that someone else gave them.

        One of my partner’s best friends doesn’t make a lot of money and travelled from the Netherlands to Spain for our reception. When he asked for our bank account number (as is typical for wedding gift-giving in Spain), we refused to give it to him and told him to please just come and celebrate with us. He ended up bringing us 3 boxes of my favourite tea that I’ve only ever been able to find in the Netherlands, and I was so excited! Then there was a family member who treated us badly in the months before the event and who gave us a monetary gift that was over 10 TIMES as much as anyone else… I mean, yeah, the money is great, but we were upset at having to write a thank you card and say nice things to someone who doesn’t appear to even like us all that much.

        • SpaceElephant

          When we were getting ready to register, my mother sat me down and said “You need to make sure you register for some expensive things. There are people in your family that aren’t good relatives, that haven’t always been there for you, and if I know them, they are going to try to assuage their guilt through your registry/checks. You need to make sure you give them the chance to do right by you.”
          So, so odd. But your story about a bad relative giving you tons of money reminded me of that.

  • Allie

    Bawling. My. Eyes. Out.

    So beautiful, congrats on your day and your marriage.

  • “And frankly, when you’re crying in your living room because people skipped out on your party and no one bought you a gift, you feel like a real douche. But it hurts. And the worst part about it is that you can’t say anything to anyone without coming across like a spoiled princess. ”

    I’ve had one or two of those moments myself leading up to our wedding. It does hurt and it does suck because you have to be careful about how you react. I did talk to my fiance about how I was feeling though, and it turned out he felt similarly about the situation. Just being able to say to him, ‘I’m feeling this way, and it hurts and it sucks and I know I sound like a brat’ and him saying, ‘no you don’t because I feel that way too’ was a huge help toward feeling better. But then so is finding the good in what’s happening like you did.

  • Love this post. I love APWs honesty and ability to deal with REALITY. What’s disappoints us is as important to reflect on as what thrills us. I tend to be an optimist and sometimes its hard to face the bad feelings. But I’m thankful for the kind of women and insight here. It’s a special place.

    Aaaaaand I also wonder WTF is going on in society that no one has any manners or etiquette anymore. I mean. Times are tough, but get a freaking card people!

  • “It is these moments which I grip tighter than any gift.”

    Me too. We also had guests leave early, not bring gifts, not even bring cards. We even searched for a while, thinking that maybe the missing gifts were “lost” somehow. You’re right– that did hurt. But we chose to have a small wedding in my mom’s hometown so that my 90 year old grandparents could attend, and they still talk about it often, nearly a year later. The pictures we have to remind us of the happiness all around us that day far overshadow any missing gifts.

  • Amber

    I thought it was just us that the no-gift/card thing happened to!

    I would never not give someone a wedding card. So it wasn’t a good feeling realizing that half of my closest college friends and all of my brothers didn’t even give us a card. And then one of the friends who didn’t give a card was recently talking about how bad she was at getting wedding gifts to other people on time right in front of me and I doubt she even realized/remembered she hadn’t given us anything.

  • Susi-Q

    Maybe I’m alone in this, but, until I got engaged, I had no clue how important weddings are to the couple and their families. The magnitude of a wedding just never made sense to me until I realized how invested I am in my own. Hopefully, that is where your guests are coming from–naive devaluation. It’s not an excuse, but it may provide an explanation. That, or they are just tools.

    • You’re not alone — I was that way too. But realizing that made me feel extra disappointed in my married friends who have completely ignored what my fiance and I are going through.

    • Lindsey

      Suzi-Q, you’re not alone! Once I got engaged and started reading wedding etiquette books, I had little mini realizations where I was a little horrified at the way I had approached past weddings (when I was in my early 20s). I wanted a do-over where I would take more care with the wedding presents I picked out and made sure I gave a card! I never committed a huge faux-pas, but I would have approached things a lot differently had I realized how much emotion and planning goes into a wedding. Eep! NOW I KNOW!

      And as I’ve gotten older, I put a lot more emotional emphasis on family/friend gatherings, and I know I’m going to be really hurt if people I invite don’t get how important this is to me–aside from being my wedding, obviously, it will be the only time in my life that all of my loved ones are all in one place! I know most of my closest friends get it, but I’m trying to steel myself in advance for the inevitable disappointment.

      • Alana

        Actually, to be fair, me too. I sort of fear karma because until I met my fiance and starting experiencing all these big things myself, I didn’t properly appreciate the enormity of getting married… I have since gotten in touch with a friend who married five or so years back, apologising for not having understood how big a deal it was, and making more of a special effort!

    • LanyTaz

      SO YES!!!

      I went to a friend’s wedding a little over a year ago, and I had no idea about wedding etiquette!

      I never have been, nor will be, a card person — I appreciate the gesture of people getting them for me, but I don’t get excited for them and I forget to get them for people. I don’t particularly care if I get one or not, and I forget it matters to other people. So, no card for their wedding…. not intentional rudeness — just, didn’t think about it.

      I also thought that if you got a gift for the bridal shower, that was your wedding gift as well… So… no wedding gift…. again, not intentional rudeness — I just have no idea about these things.

      I also left without saying good-bye, because I didn’t want to interupt them — I thought that was the polite thing to do.

      I’m embarassed now by it, and I now know more about etiquette than I ever wanted to know… But, looking back — it’s sad to think I might be put in the “rude” column by sheer naivete…. That friendship has fizzled a little bit, and I always wonder if this stuff factors in…

  • Louisville Water Tower! My own Louisville wedding had a mix of NJ friends and Michigan family and ya know, Kentucky folks. Like you, there were moments I felt like I was betrayed by some guests. Family members who didn’t come even though they lived 30 minutes down the road, those who came and didn’t leave a note or token, or a few college friends who were determined to sit to themselves and leave early. But even though only half of our guests attended, most of those who came had a fabulous time, and the pictures confirm it. And friends who traveled thousands of miles definitely made up for those who couldn’t be bothered to give up their Saturday afternoon.

    Weddings that pull people from different places can be hard, but there’s also a certain magic to them, because when are all those people going to be in the same room again? Thanks for sharing your wisdom and mixed feelings.

  • Estrella

    Thank you for this extremely honest post. I too, carried a lot of disappointment around from my wedding, and didn’t know quite how to communicate it, especially when I got the feeling that no one would want to hear me complain. So instead, when describing my wedding, I just said that it was “kind of fabulous.” Because parts of it were absolutely fabulous, but completely fabulous? Nope. Many things didn’t go the way I had wanted. And I was bummed. Because they did matter to me. I had agonized and planned and glued and cut and crafted and imagined THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE. No matter how much I tried to be a chill, easy going bride, I couldn’t seem to let go of those expectations. And now, eight months later, I still feel some disappointment. But has it gotten easier?Absolutely! It’s taken time, perspective, and the fact that I now allow myself to share the mixed up bag of complicated feelings I have surrounding the whole wedding weekend. It also helps tremendously to hear from brave women like you who are willing to voice those feelings too. Well, that, and the pictures. And yours are simply stunning. :)

  • Julia

    Your post made me cry. OK, I’m still crying a little.

    I think you are very justified in feeling hurt about the no-shows and the fact that you didn’t get at least cards. It doesn’t sound like you had specific gifts in mind, but rather that people show their excitement about your marriage with at least a card. Something that says, “I was here to celebrate with you.” But you’re right, we’re told as brides you can’t say that, even when the hurt comes from a non-materialistic place.

    One note on the no-shows. Hopefully at least some of them were like my sister last summer. They had the whole family dressed up and in the car on the way to a family wedding when my nephew threw up. He had hit his head earlier in the day and they ended up in the ER. She felt HORRIBLE for being a 4-person no show. So I’m hoping that the ones that hurt you the most were ones that had things come up that thwarted their best attempts to be there.

    But it was your comments about your grandma that got me the most. My grandmother is in the throes of dementia. I am her favorite granddaughter. She has been on a mission to marry me off since I was 20 years old. Now I’m 38. The wedding is a the best surprising new news. But she gets tired more and more easily and I so desperately want her to be able to come to the wedding. Even if she only has the briefest moment of knowing what she is seeing, I know what it would mean to her. And that would mean the world to me.

    So while I know you are hurt by some of your guests. And very rightfully so. I am so happy that you have those memories with your grandmother. Hold them tight and treasure them.

    • Whitney

      Hi Julia,

      Two things:

      1. We did have one person go into false labor, bless her heart! So, yeah, totally excused there. But the one who “couldn’t catch a ride?” Yeah. Blargh…..

      2. I truly hope for your sake that your grandmother will make it to your wedding. We had a shaky few months before mine, and I wasn’t sure if either of my grandparents would make it, since my grandfather was caretaker to Nana, and if she couldn’t make it, neither could he.

      But. I don’t want to give you false hope, but my own grandmother could talk of nothing but my wedding for the months and weeks leading up to it. She always thought it was “tomorrow.” And somehow she knew, I mean really KNEW that she had to get in the car and go to KY that day, and she made it. And she smiled, even if we weren’t sure what she was smiling at, and it is the last memory I have of her where she is not in a hospital. And maybe it won’t happen that way for you. But I really really hope it will.

      • Julia

        Oh, now you’re making me cry all over again! I’m so glad you have that memory of your grandmother. And I’m so happy for your grandfather that he has that memory too!

        We figure even if my grandma can’t make it, we’ll stop by the home when we are out doing pictures before the wedding, so I know I’ll see her one way or the other.

        The labor thing is a good one, but no ride? Seriously?? That would sting!

      • FawMo

        That’s really beautiful.

  • Lauren K.

    Love this! I think some of this holds true for any party I’ve ever thrown. I put a lot of thought into the guest list. Hope that a whole bunch of people will be there. But inevitably, some people I really hope will be there can’t come. And there will be people who say they will come and don’t show up, although I’m working on giving people the benefit of the doubt.

  • My (once close) aunt came to our wedding, pouted & complained through most of the wedding weekend & didn’t get us a card. I was unbelievably hurt so I can only imagine how you felt with many guests skipping at the very least a card! I’d hoped for just a small gesture of hey, I am happy for you & your husband. It still stings. I will never understand her actions but I’m slowly letting go & concentrating on our friends & family who were, are & will forever be happy for us.

    Like you, we got our wedding photos back last week & my aunt was the furthest thing from my mind as we looked at our happy guests who smiled, laughed, danced & sang their way through our wedding. My husband & I sat looking at those photos for hours, reliving the joy & love of our wedding. We will cherish those photos forever.

    Congrats on your wedding & best wishes for your marriage~

  • This post has made me feel even luckier to have all my grandparents. I decided against a marquee/barn wedding venue as I wanted somewhere with rooms so my grandparents could go to bed whenever they wanted.

    At my cousin’s wedding at the weekend I danced with my grandparents who are both in their 80s. My gran has the beginnings of demensia, a hip replacement and a permanentaly numb leg from a stroke. My grandad has very bad arthritis in his knees. It made me so happy to dance with them, I even dragged my cousin away from her friends so she wouldn’t miss it.

    I just hope they can dance with me at my wedding

    • Meg,
      Can we do a post about the importance of grandparents during wedding planning? I’d be happy to write it, but I think as a culture, we under estimate the significance of the grandchild/grandmother/grandfather relationship…I couldn’t imagine my wedding without my grandmother and grandfather (step grandfather, my two bio gdads are passed away)…grandparents represent SO much, and I would love to see who else out there is honoring their grandparents/how their grandparents helped during the planning/doing things with their grandparents at their wedding!

  • I just want to add another thank you to this long list of thank yous for writing this post and sharing it with us. I’m going through my own family drama right now and it helps to know that people are crummy everywhere, and it’s not just me. You have every right to feel the way you do, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Please know that you have helped a lot of brides feel better today, myself included.

  • Steph

    “The New York Jews meet wth Alabama rednecks.” LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

    My hubby and I are both from PA, but I’m from the city and his fam is definitely a lot more country (and they are Lutheran while my fam is Jewish), though thankfully everyone gets along well and my in-laws, who are crafty, handmade our chuppah for us using wood a fabric from Michaels. Still the images that line gave me cracked me up on a very stressful day. So thank you!
    I”m glad you were able to make peace in your heart with the parts of the wedding that disappointed you, and I love the beautiful moments with friends and family that you found from the day.

  • “…there will always be elderly people at a wedding or a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, who know, in their heart of hearts, that this may be their last family party. He told us that a wedding, while yours, is also theirs.”

    That sort of stuff is so painful to think about, but on the other hand, it’s great inspiration to hold onto when the wedding planning stress really starts to wear you down–“Oh yeah, THAT’S a huge part of why we’re going to all this trouble!”

    We’ve got one grandparent left between the two of us (my grandma), and while she’s doing fine as far as I know, she *is* in her eighties, and I’m crossing my fingers that she’ll still be healthy enough for our wedding in October.

  • Hillary

    This is such a great post! Our wedding is in two weeks, and I’ve already felt some of these pangs, from close friends who haven’t responded (even though I know they received their invitations weeks ago). It’s a great gentle reminder that we can’t control the behaviors of others, and that even though we might be sad about these things (because that’s how we heal), we still get to have a rockin’ time at our own weddings. Personally, I can’t wait to dance with my husband, and see my cute little niece give out flowers to all the female family members (new spin on flower girl!)

    On a side note: Can we please go back to the time when the word “Bridezilla” came into being and squash it into the ground? I hate that word on so many levels. I was hesitant about wedding planning in the first place, and then the word Bridezilla came into my life. Excited about something?: Bridezilla!; Disappointed that something didn’t work out?: Bridezilla! Carefully weighing your options and mention that to anyone?: Bridezilla-who-can’t-make-up-her-mind! I didn’t realize the full negative effect until when, after months of planning my own wedding, staving off Bridezilla remarks by registering no emotion whatsoever on the outside, that I heard someone refer to my sweeter than sweet soon-to-be sister in law with the remark “Oh, someone’s becoming a Bridezilla, isn’t she?” Patronizing tone aside, that was out of bounds for me, and I started to wage war on the Word-We-Shall-Not-Utter. And . . . off soap box.

    • Jackie

      I just had to reply to this because I too Hate. That. Word.

      I was a really easy going bride. I’m an event planner for my job so putting together the wedding wasn’t too much different than what I do on an everyday basis. Throughout the only process, I only got visibly stressed out to anyone except by fiance twice. Both times involved seriously, way worse than normal DC traffic. The first time was two days before the wedding when I was en route with my mom and my MOH to pick up the alcohol and then meet my bridesmaids for a little mani-pedi party that they had planned. Well traffic was abysmal and we ended up being an hour late for the party AND we were the salon’s last appointment of the day. So I ended up crying in the car because I was stressed.

      The second time was on the way from the rehearsal to the rehearsal dinner. Everyone got stuck in abysmal traffic, and when I called the restaurant to tell them we’d be an hour late, they had forgotten we were even coming. Yet again, I shed a few tears.

      My mom still tells stories about what a bridezilla I was from these two incidents!!!

  • lovely graduate post, really! i had similar reactions when we saw our photos (example – i totally missed our friends getting up and singing with the band, and had no idea my parents spent so much time on the dance floor). we didn’t have much of an issue with no-shows, but did have one couple (my dad’s first cousins, who i barely know) who left the reception almost immediately most likely because it wasn’t Jewish ‘enough.’ A few days later they asked my parents for our new address to send a gift. 10 months later, we received a book basically on how to be Jewish. They wrote a message to us in the inside cover, addressed to Elyse and Mike. I’m sure they meant well. Too bad my husband’s name is not Mike.

  • Sarah

    You are not a douche! You are a person!

    But seriously, I found this post so inspiring because I feel like it’s so taboo (or something) to talk about (a) being disappointed by your wedding, and (b) being disappointed by the lack of generosity from others. So, to have someone both completely shatter that taboo, and then stomp on it for a while, and then leave the reader remembering why weddings are important to begin with, is just so brave and open and I love it.

    I struggle a lot with making sure that my own expectations for how I want myself to behave are not applied without discernment to everyone around me. I mean, come ON. Didn’t they sit through etiquette class, like me (oh wait, not everyone does that?) I was in a wedding, and didn’t get an acknowledgement of thanks from the bride (no card, no gift, no nothing), and I was piiiiiisssseeeedd…… but felt like it was completely off limits to approach her about it or to complain about it. Would I ever stiff a member of my wedding party? No. But, I’m not her and I have no idea why she did so, or even if she was aware she was doing so. Now that it’s my turn to have her in my wedding party, she’s being so generous and so giving and so kind, and that’s infinitely more valuable to me than a pair of rhinestoned “bridesmaid” flip flops. So yeah, I guess I just try (try is the operative word here… I don’t always succeed!) to apply a policy of “no judging” when people do things that disappoint me, or that I wouldn’t do, knowing that there are probably many, many other circumstances where I would benefit from a no-judgement policy by others. But, it’s a struggle, and I’m so happy to know that I’m not the only person who feels this way!

    And, since everyone else has picked a favorite photo, the one of your husband and his uncle (I think) is amazing. You can see… no, feel…. the love in that picture.

  • Bloom

    I loved this post! I’ve found myself at some level feeling guilty about the disappointed feelings I’ve been having about my wedding two months ago. There were so many wonderful moments of the day that it felt totally selfish to let myself linger on any of the bad ones – like one of my bridesmaids completely blowing off the wedding rehearsal…. to go get a massage…

    This post was a great reminder for me to get out my shame blasters I guess :) and remember not all the memories from the day have to be all puppies and rainbows. If I make a little more space for the disappointed ones they won’t fester instead they’ll pass – and I’ll have the wonderful moments to hold on too.

    Thank you for sharing the truth about not getting any gifts or cards from some guests too. I felt much better realizing that other people had that same experience. I foolishly kept waiting, thinking oh they’re coming… but they’re not. I know people don’t have to get you gifts to celebrate with you. But it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t get a gift (which could be any kind of gesture large or small) for someone who’d invited me to be part of their wedding, a huge momentous life event!

  • TNM

    This might be an odd reaction – but in the circles I run in, it is very very typical not to give gifts or even cards at the reception b/c it is considered a bit of a hassle for the bride/groom, but to send them afterward. Most folks don’t take the whole year allowed by etiquette, but nonetheless might take a couple months. This is not to argue that one way or another is right or wrong, but just to note that sometime presents take a little longer in coming, and this may be a cultural thing, not an indication about how your guests feel about you.

    (I assume though that you meant that certain guests *never* got a present or card, and thus the hurt feelings.)

  • Kathryn

    This is not insightful or anything but I had to share: one of the people in the pictures looks exactly like my ex, and my reaction was: *gasp!* (you know, that fight or flight reaction when you run into an ex unexpectedly), and then “Well, that explains the jerk guests!” but then I took another look, and it’s not him. Sorry, I have no good explanation for you why the guests were rude other than people just are sometimes.

  • Wow, it takes a lot of bravery to speak up about wedding disappointments, and even more maturity to forgive and move on from things/people that are so hurtful. Whitney, your graciousness in such legitimately trying circumstances truly inspires me.

  • So lovely –
    And my wedding (which we’re in the midst of planning) could be the sequel of your wedding – My Big Fat Lesbian Orthodox Jewish Southern Cajun Wedding. Awesome.

  • Wow..! Whata dance move! Cool wedding this is.

  • MLT

    I am right there with all of ya’ll. I was so incredibly sad by the no shows and no gifts. Again, I am not materialistic, but hurt by the lack of caring. One of my favorite gifts was from a couple who don’t have a lot of money. The gift wasn’t much and probably a re-gift, but I cant wait to display it in my house. I am most hurt by those who clearly have money and didn’t even bring a card and even more so by my work crew.I am a firefighter, and there is a huge emphasis on brother and sisterhood. We are like family to each other, or so I thought. When I realized how many no shows there were from them , I had to hold back tears. I am dreading having to go back to work to face them. I even had one guy explain how upset he was when I think one person didn’t show up to his. Worst of all, he was one of the ones who didn’t even show up to mine. I am aware that unexpected things happened, but hard to fathom that to be the case for so many of them. I should also add, I was telling my husband after the whole wedding thing,just like Alana, I too had no idea the stress and enormity of planning such an event. I told one of my girlfriends at my wedding, hers is coming up soon, you are not a bridezilla regardless of what anyone may say. I know she was so appreciative of that and I only wish I had understood that for all the past weddings I had been too!! PS. Thank you for this post. Even if no one reads this, this reply is several months after the post was original posted, just expressing myself has made me feel a little better.

  • Missy

    I have never commented on a blog before but I have to point out something regarding wedding gifts. As a woman who just turned 30 living in New York I’ve been to a fair share of weddings in my twenties. I think it is terrible to RSVP and not show up however I didn’t give gifts. Can I point out that gifts traditionally were given at weddings to help a new couple start their life together? At this time, people start their lives together earlier – maybe people live together already and if they don’t, they are more established in their lives where they have towels, bedding, trash cans. I’ve seen friends throw away belongings saying “oh we’ll get new X for the wedding”. WHAT? You’ve found someone you want to spend your life with – thats not enough? I think gifts are a nice gesture but by no means required. Additionally, why do you get to run around shooting things with a gun (registering) that you want and others are required to buy it for you? Why? Because you’ve made a decision to get married? I’m happy for all my friends that have gotten married and wish them well and have given them holiday gifts, birthday gifts and its actually a hobby of mine to find the *perfect* gift for them. I just don’t get it with weddings? I think with the cost to travel to weddings, get hotel rooms, etc – that it evens out. I’m thrilled to be invited and share in the day, appreciate that the couple has chosen to spend money on the occasion, but think for real friends, the gift is being there and letting them know their day is important to you too.

    And before I come off as just a bitter singleton. I now live with my boyfriend and am currently engaged. There will be no gifts. I needed forks when I was 25 broke and single. I do not need forks now that I’ve found someone to split the cost with me.