The pleasures and perils of family

big family

Those aren’t my relatives in the image above, but they easily could be. When I actually have more of my wedding pictures, I’ll try to find one that illustrates the dichotomy between my overwhelmingly large immediate family and the Beard’s itty-bitty one. Having a large stand-alone family, or a combined family so big that its density subtly changes earth’s gravity, can be both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, relatives can really fill up those church pews, ensuring that your wedding is well-attended. On the other, if any of them have traveled a great distance to attend said wedding or have not seen you in some time, their desire for “face time” may override their sensitivity.

I mentioned yesterday that given the chance to relive my nuptials, I would do a few things differently with regards to my wedding celebration. The first would be to let everyone know in advance that private time is as necessary to newlywed happiness as champagne and cake.

Both the Beard and I have friends and family hailing from a diverse cross section of geographical locations, and all of these people inevitably wanted to share their happiness with us in person. Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you. We certainly felt loved as we hauled ourselves from dinners to breakfasts to cocktails, etc. But through it all, we kept decrying the fact that we had had but a few scant moments to enjoy one another’s company after saying, “I do.”

My advice is this: If you know you want alone time with your new spouse, let everyone attending your wedding know this. Be gentle, but be firm — and don’t let anyone guilt you into losing your resolve. If you’re not sure how much alone time you’re going to want, weigh the pros and cons of free food versus the exhaustion that will hit you after you’ve breakfasted with one set of loved ones, grabbed a quick lunch with another more faraway set, and then driven more than an hour to meet up with yet more family for a traditional clam bake.

The Beard and I learned this the hard way, after having a bit of a shared meltdown on the road between family obligations. We’d just planned and executed an entire wedding ourselves, and were not given much of a chance to wind down afterward. In fact, we were afforded quality time to ourselves on only two separate occasions, during our character lunch at Disney’s Crystal Palace and while packing our belongings to leave for home.

Let me be very clear that this was our choice. We regard family as important, and we made a sacrifice to prove it. Heck, we’ll have the rest of our lives to think up excuses to avoid family (just kidding, mom!). But before you make the same sacrifice, take a few quick seconds to mull over some ways you could fit some alone time into your busy schedule of post-nuptial family visits. A few minutes spent gazing into your new spouse’s eyes with no one there to interrupt will do wonders for your wellbeing!

12 Responses to “The pleasures and perils of family”

  1. Meg says:

    That was admittedly the lovely thing about doing a wedding wherein most people flew in for the day and then flew back out the same night. The reception was over at 4:30pm when everyone went to the airport and the husband and I had four more ays in Vegas to ourselves.

    Private time is important, especially if you’re an introvert like me, so even if you’re not thinking that it’ll be a stressful event, keep in mind that you might want to even be able to retreat for a bit during the reception if you’re an introvert. People are draining!

  2. Twistie says:

    Yeah, there’s a reason my beloved and I headed off to a B&B on our wedding night. We did a quick visit with a few special folks in the morning, and headed out for our honeymoon.

    It’s great to see eveyone and spend time with them, but you’re right; it’s important to spend time alone together.

    Great illustration, BTW! I think you’ve been rooting in my wedding album!

  3. Pencils says:

    Our reception is over at 5pm–I’m not sure exactly yet what we’re going to do immediately afterward, but some more photos is a possibility, as I do NOT want to waste any reception time taking posed pictures. This is my wedding day, not a photo shoot. That said, we’re leaving for the honeymoon very early the next day, I believe the car service to the airport is picking us up at 3:45 am. (3:45? What were we thinking??) I think we’re going to make it a very early night. 😉 Which should be fun anyway! I never wanted to spend my wedding night with friends and family, just with my darling new husband. Ten days now!

  4. C* says:

    Our reception is over at 6 p.m. and after a fun photo shoot around town I think we’re going to meet some friends at a local pub for dinner and drinks. But I hear ya Pencils about the early a.m. flight the next day. Our flight leaves at 5:30. Thank goodness the airport is just 10 minutes from the hotel. We have to be there at 3:30 a.m. 🙁

  5. Never teh Bride says:

    Wow, Pencils and C* are super hardcore! I’d be the world’s biggest grump on a flight that early — even if I did get married the day before!

  6. JaneC says:

    We’re leaving for our honeymoon right after the reception is over (I think–it’s still five months away). We’ve picked a honeymoon site only a two-hour drive from our wedding site, so with the reception ending at 4pm we’ll be checked into our hotel before dinner time. The relatives will just have to live with that. If they want to see us, they can come visit at Christmas or something.

    I find the idea of a breakfast the day after the wedding a bit weird. Only one wedding I have been to has featured this (and I’ve been to ten in the last four years!), and it isn’t something I’m inclined to do myself. My fiance and I want to run off and be alone as soon as possible.

  7. Dianasaur says:

    Alone time is a must! We told our family and friends they won’t see us at all the first week and a half after our wedding (we’re going to a nearby B&B for 2 days, then flying out at a nice normal 10am for our honeymoon), and not to expect to see much of us the first 2-3 months either. We’ll want us time! Most of his relatives live in town and have seen us several times. My relatives I don’t see very often will help with preparations the week of (good bonding time hopefully), and be invited to the rehearsal dinner. We are definitely establishing some boundaries.

  8. Sarah says:

    A friend at work, now on his second marriage, told me exactly the same thing. I was running through the weekend schedule, and when I got to the morning-after brunch the groom’s parents are throwing, he interrupted:

    Him: Do you have to go to the brunch?
    Me: Well…we should
    Him: Sure you should. But do you have to?

    I told him about a friend from high school, who after the reception, was driven out to a B&B that only the best man knew the name and location of. According to him, that’s the way to go. And like I said, second marriage: clearly he’s an expert.

  9. lazydaisy says:

    the boy and i are having a jewish wedding, and we were thrilled to learn about a custom called “yichud”, which involves the the newly-married couple going to a private area immediately after the ceremony to spend 10-15 minutes just with each other. we decided that no matter what else we choose to do for the wedding, we WILL include this in our day…that those first few minutes of being husband and wife will be ours alone, not spent rushing off immediately into the madness of a receiving line, etc etc etc…..

  10. belasala says:

    Ha…lazydaisy – we are on the same wavelength in different comments threads. We’re looking forward to the yichud, too. (But psst – one of the best parts of the yichud is that it pretty much negates the practicality of the receiving line!)

    I dig the farewell brunch idea. We’re doing one – just a casual thing at MIL’s house. We’ve been to a few weddings in the past year or so that did it and we really enjoyed seeing everyone again before heading out. We’re going to be alone with each other in a car for 1800 miles starting the next day 🙂

  11. Bree says:

    A note on getting private time after the ceremony, My husband and I dashed off in the limo to a location unknown to all but the photographer and her husband. She then allowed us to wander through a beautiful and lush garden setting and took a few posed photos here and there but mostly just let us do our thing and took pictures as she saw fit. This time together to take it all in and have that just married wedded bliss captured was a wonderful thing. It is nice to have a few moments alone to celebrate becoming a married couple before you hit the hoopla of cocktail hour. So definately ask your photographer if they know a place or if you have a place of your own in mind try to schedule it in. It only ended up being about a half hour and it took about that long for people to get to the reception site anyways!