Over the years, columnist Carolyn Hax has doled out more than a few helpful hints to would-be brides and grooms. Now, with a bevy of newly engaged couples about to start their wedding planning, a roundup of some of her sage wisdom on how to set boundaries, what you should think about before a destination wedding and how to have the wedding your family will hate.
September 2011: Left out of the wedding plans
I’m being left out of the planning of my own wedding. My future wife has a lot of very strong opinions and is also being backed (financially and otherwise) by her mom. I don’t have very strong opinions about weddings generally or this one in particular, but I feel like I should be concerned that I’ve been consulted about almost nothing this whole time.
— Blessing or a curse?
“I don’t have strong feelings about wedding plans, but I’ve realized I do feel strongly about being included in decisions that affect both of us.”
Please, please take very seriously any response from her that doesn’t feel right to you. Don’t make the very common mistake of saying, well, I don’t care about the wedding anyway and she does. Pretty soon the issue will be something you do care about; make sure you aren’t yoked to someone who doesn’t care what you want.
February 2008: Why don’t my preferences matter?
I’m recently engaged. Most of what I’ve heard so far from family and friends is what I should do, what they want out of me and requests to explain why I’m not interested in doing X or Y like other brides -- and I’m feeling as if my preferences don’t matter.
I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never even been a bridesmaid. I already have a hard time putting myself first in my various relationships. I don’t want to be rude or a Bridezilla, but so far my attempts at getting people to respect my wishes aren’t working.
— City of Wedding Hell, Population Me
You’re letting me plan your wedding? It must be “my day”!
· A budget. If the total comes from but doesn’t drain your savings, you’re beholden to none but each other.
· A location. Choose without apology if you like it, can afford it and can make it accessible to those who matter (in descending order of importance: the couple; the people whose presence is important enough to affect the date and location; everyone else).
· An officiant, representing your beliefs as a couple -- not your beliefs as a dutiful child, your beliefs in appearances or your beliefs in location, location, location.
· Finally, you need enough refreshments and seating to make your guests comfortable; invitations; a head count that reflects both your budget and vision; music to keep things festive; and a dress that doesn’t scream “fairy-dust poisoning.”
Unless that’s your preference. This whole blueprint is about marriage, on the couple’s terms. Assuming your terms aren’t “vanity” and “waste,” the only people you’ll really offend are those who want things done their way, not yours -- i.e., the ones you can’t please anyway.
Here’s what you don’t need: anyone’s respect. Want, yes, not need. It’s between you and your fiance.