There’s the potential for controversy everywhere you turn

I’m sorry, but brides-to-be just can’t win. If you plan a wedding that’s as traditional as all get out, there will be people who criticize you for embracing the status quo. If you plan a wedding so unique that there is no existing template for it, you’ll be accused of betraying your cultural heritage. The list of “wrongs” goes on and on and on. Change your name, and you’re a tool of the patriarchy. Keep you’re name, and you’re a feminazi.

Here’s a list of some of the controversy that commonly crops up during the engagement period:

No tykes!
I go back and forth on this one. On one hand, weddings tend to be a celebration centered around family, and kids are by their very natures an important part of the family unit. On the other hand, you probably wouldn’t invite a gaggle of little ladies and gentlemen to a stylish sit-down dinner that won’t even get going until 9 p.m. My personal rule of thumb? It’s silly to exclude kids from daytime affairs–even those that are quite formal–but I don’t look down upon those who choose to exclude the younger set from long ceremonies and late dinners.

The bride wore pants/black/a Halloween costume/jeans/nothing at all.
It’s nearly impossible to spend any amount of time on bridal message boards without coming across those concerned brides-to-be who want a little validation. They’ve decided to buck the white dress tradition by wearing something wholly un-weddingish, and they’re getting flack from mothers, sisters, friends, and aunties. I always want to take these gals by the shoulders, shake them gently, and say, “Honey, wear whatever you damn well please.”

“That’ll be $4.50, please.”
I’m not a fan of the cash bar concept–after all, you wouldn’t invite your friends to a party and then charge them for drinks. Or would you? I do recognize that in some parts of the country cash bars are the rule rather than the exception, and in those parts of the country people come prepared with cash in hand. I myself could not afford a full open bar, so we compensated by stocking our reception with all manner of interesting beers and coolers filled with champagne. If your guests feel an overwhelming need to get smashed, they can get just as smashed on suds.

You’re thinking of having a “man of honor” or a “best woman.”
Some relative of mine once told me that getting married means distancing yourself from your buds of the opposite sex. I didn’t know how to reply at the time, but I know now that friends are friends are friends are friends, whether they have an “innie” or an “outie.” Older relatives may look askance at you for choosing Jim over Janine, but this is one decision you don’t have to justify.

To walk or not to walk?
Here’s another no-win choice. There are those who simply can’t stand the idea that anyone would willingly walk down the aisle with daddy and those who’ve dreamt of doing so since they were in diapers. Walk independently, and you just may break your father’s heart. I know my dad would have been crushed had I spurned his offer of his arm. Then again, some brides don’t even have dads! Whatever you choose, get ready to dodge comments from the peanut gallery because everyone has their opinion.

Leaving on a jetplane!
The Beard and I enjoyed destination wedding lite. In fact, we had to because we were trying to balance the needs of loved ones in New York, Nevada, Washington, Georgia, Florida, Germany, and elsewhere. Florida won out because there were more people with less money in that state than anywhere else. The simple fact is that plenty of people are getting married outside of their home towns because people don’t just have one home town anymore. As tempting as it is to rag on someone who’s getting hitched in Hawaii, consider that she or he may have chosen than spot because they didn’t want to offend family and friends spread out over ten or more states.

The toughest decision I had to make involved asking my mom to walk me down the aisle with my dad. Mom was, as you might expect, thrilled that I wanted to include her. Dad, however, was quite miffed and made his feelings known. Luckily, he stopped just short of my snapping point, i.e. the point at which I would have decided to walk by myself just to piss him off.

What were some of the tough decisions you had to make, and who gave you the most flack for making them?

12 Responses to “There’s the potential for controversy everywhere you turn”

  1. Julie says:

    I’m surprised with the number of individuals who have made comments to my bridesmaids about the fact that they will be wearing black. We’re having a black tie, formal, evening reception in a swanky hotel in downtown Philadelphia. Black never seemed remotely inappropriate to me, considering the circumstances of the wedding — it’s not like we’re getting married outside in a flower garden at 2 in the afternoon. My family and friends never once questioned my decision, and my bridesmaids were thrilled with the idea, as floor length black dresses can certainly be worn again, rather than tea length poofy taffeta dresses in turquoise. But then when they were showing off their dresses to friends and family, apparently THEY got a lot of crap about how could they possibly wear black to a wedding? It doesn’t bother me since it’s not my friends/family… I guess I’m just lucky to have more sophisticated, citygoing relatives than most. Heck, I presume the marjortiy of women invited to the wedding will also be showing up in floor length black gowns, since it is a black tie wedding.

  2. abby says:

    people can be sophisticated and citygoing, and still think black is inappropriate for weddings. i was raised to believe that black and white were not to be worn to weddings – white to avoid upstaging the bride, black because it’s for funerals. and this is a tradition i picked up from the side of the family that was in the boston social register. i understand being hurt that people are questioning your decisions about your own wedding, but either it isn’t a class divide, or it’s one that goes the opposite direction.

  3. Claire says:

    I work for a caterer that does a lot of weddings. Just the other day, we had a bride get married in a gorgeous red dress. Sure, it was untraditional, but she looked confident and amazing. (Plus, it was her second wedding, so I suspect she did traditional the first time around and didn’t want to go that route again.)

    I’ve got no problem with black at weddings, either. Sorry, Boston social register, but it can look really elegant and there is definitely something to be said for letting your bridesmaids wear a dress they can wear again. Untraditional doesn’t mean wrong.

  4. C* says:

    I agree about the black dresses: classy and elegant even if non-traditional. There are so many fashion rules that are being written off these days and I feel like black at weddings is one of them. I happen to have a fabulous pair of white heels that I wear quite frequently after Labor Day. Once, I wore them with a fantastic black and white cocktail dress to a wedding…in October! ๐Ÿ™‚

    We got a lot of crap from people about having un-even sides (5 bridesmaids, 4 groomsmen), & about having a flower girl but no ring-bearer (we don’t know any little boys!), but the 2 things people bugged us the most about was that we invited everyone on the guest list to the rehearsal dinner, and that we had a noon wedding, hors’deouvres from 1 until 2 and then the reception from 2 until 6 p.m. Before the wedding people thought it was really weird for us to do both of those things, but after all we got were rave reviews. The rehearsal dinner was relaxed and fun and gave us some time to hang out with our guests who had come from out of town (90% of them did). The wedding turned out beautiful and having the afternoon reception allowed us to be able to have an after-party of sorts at my in-laws with all the leftover food and cake and drinks. We all went there until around 8 p.m. and then all of our friends and siblings went with my husband and I to the local bowling alley, where we bowled until midnight. We got to see everyone, hang out, and had a wonderful time.

  5. K says:

    I got flack for nearly everything regarding my wedding, from our decision to hold it in a smaller, more touristy (read: out-of-towner friendly!) town outside of our big city to our decision not to have tiny ones at the wedding to letting the bridesmaids pick their own dresses and their own jewelry/hairstyles to only having beer and wine at our open bar instead of liquor. People will complain about the strangest things.

    And here’s what it came down to for me: most people view weddings as their opportunity to chime in on a topic in which they feel they have “subject-matter expertise.” These same people would probably never comment (to your face, at least) about other decisions you and your S.O. make throughout your life, but there’s something about the public-ness of a wedding and the fact that these “subject-matter experts” have seen their share of or participated in their share of weddings that makes lips and tongues flap like mad. As if, “Finally! I have a forum in which to share my otherwise unwelcome advice! And it’s okay because it’s a wedding!” I recognized this, and ignored it.

    I’m not saying that your wedding should be all about YOU, YOU, YOU and that it’s okay to turn into a self-centered, never-in-the-wrong bridezilla. But, ultimately, it’s your and your S.O.’s big day and if you don’t feel comfortable compromising on a certain issue or item, just ignore the naysayers and focus on this: If, at the end of the day, you’re married to and love one another, then the day was a success, no matter what.

  6. Chloe says:

    My MIL! She is devoutly Christian and it really bugged her that we had a civil service and not a church wedding.

  7. Fenny says:

    One of the things I love most about reading this blog is the list of cultural differences between USian and UKian weddings. Equal numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen being the most noticeable. OK, I don;t go to a huge number of weddings, and most of them these days are certainly less than traditional, but unless Daddy has a fat wallet and is paying for the whole day (and if the papers are to be believed, this is happening an awful lot more, with much larger budgets than ever), they generally follow the British fashion of a single Best Man rather than squads of groomsmen. Flower girls and ring bearers are not common here, although a small bridesmaid or two may appear depending on the number of female friends and relations. My Sister in Law had her 3 nephews and a niece as her attendants, whose ages ranged from 4 to 10.

    We also tend to have a modern trend towards a sit down reception for close friends where drinks – champagne & wine – are provided, followed by an evening party for a larger number (usually everyone from the office and the relatives you don’t really like much) where they pay for their own drinks.

    The last 3 weddings I’ve been to, all second time round for both parties, have been very much along the lines of “we’re getting married wherever at this time, followed by a trip to the pub afterwards. If you’d like to join us, we’d love to see you there.” I was Best “Man” at 2 of them ๐Ÿ™‚ Great fun, but I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that is what everyone should do.

  8. Never teh Bride says:

    That sounds utterly lovely, Fenny! A nice stress-free way to begin a life together…plus, you can’t beat a night at the pub.

  9. Melissa B. says:

    NtB, I sympathize with your aisle dilemma. I hate the symbolism of “giving the bride away” and would prefer to walk down the aisle alone or with my fiance, but I think my dad would be really hurt if I told him I didn’t want him to escort me down the aisle. Then again, even though I don’t like the idea behind the tradition, I always tear up when a bride walks in with her father … go figure.

  10. Tizzy says:

    I’m another city-girl who thinks black at weddings is tacky. You should never wear it as a guest unless you’re sure of the brides feelings on it and for bridesmaids dresses it’s dull and funereal.

    Most of my flack will come from my in-laws who nearly had twin brain aneurysms when their younger daughter decided to have alcohol at her wedding. But then they were so sure a cash bar was tacky that they ended up paying for the wine and beer.

    I’ve never been invited to a kid-free wedding and I’m not a parent myself but I’ve always felt kind of weird about it. I always felt weddings were supposed to be family affairs. Don’t couples who choose to ban tots lose guests? Half of my guests will be coming from out of town and many of them have small children. Most people can’t leave their toddler for the weekend.

  11. Nony Mouse says:

    I’ve worn black as a member of a wedding party twice – once as a bridesmaid, once as the groom’s honor attendant (the bride approved of me getting the same style dresses as her attendants, but in black). And there were scads of ‘little black dress’ styles on guests at my (evening, formal) wedding; I think two people asked if I minded black, but there’s a large group of friends that talked… basically, the rule I had was ‘if it looks like a fun cocktail dress, it is a fun cocktail dress; if it looks like you’re in mourning and have black netting on a hat, we need to talk.’ Based on what I saw, I think it was fine for a wedding or gala event, but I might have been miffed at what they were wearing if it was a funeral.

  12. Mika says:

    Personally, I think most new wedding ideas are pretty cool. It all boils down to what’s right for the couple. The only one that sounds odd to me is the โ€œman of honor/best womanโ€ concept.

    Isn’t the bride’s “man of honor” the groom? Shouldn’t the groom’s “best woman” be the bride? I think it’s neat for a wedding to have unisex bride and groom attendants, but having someone else be the “man of honor” or “best woman” *besides* the person you’re marrying….it doesn’t seem like a good sign.