"I did not get her a gift. I do not feel bad about it."
August 15, 2015 11:37 PM   Subscribe

"Being in someone’s wedding is a special privilege. It’s also often a ton of work and includes paying more money than one expected for clothes, bachelorette parties, and other assorted wedding activities. And it’s also frequently time-consuming and an emotional commitment (especially if the bride becomes difficult) (and almost all brides do). So does a bridesmaid ever owe the bride a gift besides his/her time, love, and understanding?" From the etiquette section of Gizmodo's "I Thee Dread" section: Angry Bride: How Do I Confront a Bridesmaid Who Didn't Give a Gift?

Huffington Post: Wedding Etiquette Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making (2013, by Kristen O’Gorman Klein; originally in Bridal Guide).

Refreshing disagreement on received wisdom regarding wedding etiquette from Scott Taylor at HuffPo (GIF alert!):
10 Wedding Etiquette Myths About Planning Your Wedding.

The tricky question of deciding who to invite and who to leave off:
11 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Invite Someone To Your Wedding by Whitney C. Harris, Brides magazine.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (199 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Our species wedding rituals are boring and pathetic. Consider the klingon wedding!
The Tawi'Yan presented the couple with bat'leths as they did mock battle with each other in representation of the struggle of the two Klingon hearts against one another.

After the couple recited their vows, swearing to unite against all their opponents, the guests attacked them with ceremonial weapons, the ma'Stakas.
And don't even get me started on divorce!
The ceremony is much less elaborate than a Klingon wedding. The spouse seeking divorce backhands their partner, looks at him or her, and says "N'Gos tlhogh cha!" (Our marriage is done!). The spouse finishes it by spitting on his or her partner.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:03 AM on August 16, 2015 [25 favorites]


I attended a cousin's wedding in June, and didn't have the money at the time for a gift. This evening his mother asked if I sent a gift yet. I said the amount I wanted to give I didn't have right now (still; yes, I know...money management skills, etc.). She suggested half the amount, and kindly pointed out that the bride and groom wouldn't really care. So I cut a check for the full amount I intended and will have it and the card in the mail on Monday.

A Klingon wedding does sound much better.
posted by datawrangler at 12:16 AM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think "almost all" brides become difficult. Mark Shrayber has been watching too much Bridezilla.

Difficult people are difficult no matter what the situation. They don't handle stress well.

Most of my friends who have gotten married---the bride is happy and the groom is happy. Oddly, they're reluctant to ask for gifts because they say just attending and guests being there is a gift.
posted by discopolo at 12:18 AM on August 16, 2015 [35 favorites]


So does a bridesmaid ever owe the bride a gift besides his/her time, love, and understanding?

And the cost of the (useless) dress, gas money, lost income from work for recital (maybe that counts under 'time').

My favorite weddings have been guerrilla weddings - at the park without permission, full weddings cost less than 100$ (sometimes a lot less than that), everyone is gone off to have drinks at the pub before the park officials even know anything happened.

Also, they tend to be pagan.
posted by el io at 12:22 AM on August 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


It seems incredibly immature to demand gifts from people.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:31 AM on August 16, 2015 [124 favorites]


Miss Manners agrees.
posted by brujita at 12:44 AM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Asking someone why they didn't give you a gift is simply gauche. Gifts are optional and a nice thing in the right circumstances--as if the bridesmaid hasn't given a gift enough by buying/renting all the silly costumes required for the wedding, possibly traveling somewhere to attend multiple events and helping in planning, support or other things.

I know people who think like the bridezilla in this story. Everyone has expectations or wants some symmetry from a relationship. However what looks like score keeping and pettiness from this bride doesn't bode well for the marriage. If I were betting, I'd say she'll be divorced within 5 years. A few friends who married spouses with similar personalities all were, anyway.
posted by clickingmongrel at 1:00 AM on August 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Reminds me of this recent AskMe that had my wife and I saying "Christ, what an asshole." I'll bet that woman would be upset at a lack of gifts too.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:21 AM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Irish weddings are so much simpler. We have the wedding ceremony, the first fight, the reception, the second fight, the party, the disco priest, the big fight, the group hug, and then yer man who has not said a word all day sings an old Irish song and we all cry until dawn.

Good times.

And remember the old saying - the more disastrous the wedding, the happier the marriage.
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:22 AM on August 16, 2015 [129 favorites]


I just got married. I never wanted a wedding, yet got wheedled into planning a massive one with my million-man family and my now-husband's enormous army of friends. I spent many months trying not to think about it or do anything about it, living with a vague, unrelenting dread. Being greedy, I comforted myself by thinking, this is going to be awful, but at least we'll get lots of presents. Now that it's all over, though, it turns out everything you're supposed to pretend to feel is actually true. Gifts don't matter, compared to the overwhelming honour and joy of having our friends and families, so many of whom are students or artists or ill or unemployed or pregnant or indebted or living far away or just busy with their own lives, take time off work and write speeches and pick out pretty clothes and spend many hours in airports and on planes and come to us to love us and help us and watch us get married. Many of the people closest to us did not get us any traditional gift, and greedy as I am, I'm perfectly happy with that. We got so much from them. Also, tbh, having even one less kitchen appliance to awkwardly praise in our thank you notes is the greatest gift of all.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:34 AM on August 16, 2015 [66 favorites]


How is it an etiquette myth to not put gift requests on the invitation? I thought that was a given. I think it's pretty tacky.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 1:37 AM on August 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


This post has reminded me that I never finished fleshing out some jottings and musings on getting married in a foreign culture and what to do when your mother in law throws rice in your face. Twice.
posted by romakimmy at 1:42 AM on August 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Man, I hate weddings.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:44 AM on August 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


I answered an AskMe ages ago that I'm too lazy to look up on my phone about how I was a bridesmaid for a very good friend. I dropped about $1k overall on the bachelorette, a dress, and travel; took extra time off to get to the wedding several states away; delayed a work trip because of it; and awkwardly socialised with all the bride and groom's family at the rehearsal cocktail reception for three hours. I was so so happy to do it and I had a great time so no regrets. But then a bride or someone on AskMe was whining about how one of the wedding party hadn't bought her a gift and I panicked and sent some spoons off their registry. But like... really? Should I have had to do that? Probably not. But the pressure is real, y'all.
posted by olinerd at 2:40 AM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Hey wait, the "wedding etiquette myths" say you shouldn't be expected to pay for an open bar, but the "wedding etiquette mistakes" say you should. I don't know what to believe anymore.
posted by teponaztli at 3:29 AM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is why I'm always busy for weddings. Sorry, that sandwich I will be making that morning won't finish itself.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:42 AM on August 16, 2015 [24 favorites]


At least 3 people I know were at weddings last night, posting on social media and tagging the photos with the wedding's custom hashtag. I can't believe I only got married 5 years ago and I didn't have my own hashtag. We need to start renewing our vows regularly so I can pick up all the new trends #oldlady
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:30 AM on August 16, 2015 [24 favorites]


> Oddly, they're reluctant to ask for gifts because they say just attending and guests being there is a gift.

My wedding was almost entirely free of unpleasant drama, but the closest we came to any sort of conflict was over gifts (we had asked people not to give us any, and that did not please everyone). Wedding etiquette is a minefield.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:30 AM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


We have a myth in the American culture at least that a wedding is the "bride's big day", which is, I think, a cause for this hysteria/Bridezilla trap that so many women fall into. If you want to have a big wedding filled with people you mostly don't know, that's fine. But those people are your guests, and you should treat them like guests, not like servants.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:38 AM on August 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


In my experience the worst person at a wedding is the mother of the bride
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:41 AM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Hey wait, the "wedding etiquette myths" say you shouldn't be expected to pay for an open bar, but the "wedding etiquette mistakes" say you should. I don't know what to believe anymore.

I've come to enjoy how people (especially in discussions here of wedding etiquette) always present wedding requirements as absolutes rather than limited to their own social world and experience. In some settings cash is tacky, but in others it is the correct gift; ditto open bars and every other question.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:54 AM on August 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


My favorite wedding tradition is the bride chewing gum to cover the smell of alcohol and then lying to the official about having drinks in order to be allowed to be married.
posted by srboisvert at 5:10 AM on August 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


I am not convinced that so many women become bridezillas. All of my friends and both of my sisters-in-law tried really hard to be sensitive to the needs of their guests and wedding parties. The problem doesn't have to do with individual brides, usually. It has to do with unreasonable social conventions, not unreasonable women.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:16 AM on August 16, 2015 [44 favorites]


Not sure if there was ever a time when 'traditions' weren't largely creations of whatever industry benefited from their practice, but the idea that you and all your closest friends must spend thousands of dollars in order to announce your love to the world sets my teeth on edge.

Yeah, yeah, get off my lawn and whatnot.
posted by Mooski at 5:19 AM on August 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Jeez, I thought the 60s had rid us of all this crap forever.
posted by colie at 5:20 AM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


My sister approached Bridezilla level, though not about things like gifts. She just generally does not handle stress well and lost herself. At least she realized what she was like after the fact and felt so horrible and guilty. She made a lot of apologies which were gladly accepted.

I was completely opposite. All I cared were that people were there and things were planned to be super basic. My wedding party wore whatever they wanted. I just couldn't stomach making people buy specific clothes that they would never wear again. So my sisters got together and picked out outfits that were the same and that they wear again. Another dress in pants, dress shirt and a bowtie and the last two dressed in their traditional ceremonial regailia. It was super cool.

Food was potluck with us providing some basics. Just casual.

What ended up happening, which was gifts in themselves was many people just went all out and brought the most amazing food. Not because they were expected but because they wanted to. People brought their 'specialities' to share. It really ended up being a feast.

Other people had offered to do other things and all I did was give some basic desires when they asked for direction (like general colors I liked) and left them to it. So my wedding was a whole lot of people surprising me and me just being super happy and grateful for what people did.

Marriage didn't last but at least I have a really awesome wedding to remember. Awesome because of friends and family, many of which are still by my side even though the groom is not. That means a lot.
posted by Jalliah at 5:39 AM on August 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


Navigating the gift-giving expectations was definitely the hardest part about our wedding last year. We both agreed that we really didn't want gifts and found it awkward to ask for them, so we tried to make the guests aware of this. It didn't really work. I think I actually offended some people by letting them know we were not expecting gifts and didn't have a registry or anything like that.

The weirdest to me, though, were our close friends who were shocked that we didn't want gifts. "Weddings are where you get all your stuff!" they would tell us, to which we would reply that we already had plenty of stuff and didn't really need anything else. I guess the one couple that got married before us just had so much fun going to Neiman Marcus and drooling over the crystal and fine china that they didn't understand any other way. In fact, every time we make a durable goods purchase now, they tell us, "That's something you could have registered for!" It's crazy.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:41 AM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I always wonder why so many people choose to have US-style fancy weddings - they're so expensive, they're a huge hassle to plan, I almost never hear anyone saying "we're having a $20,000 wedding and I'm just loving picking out all the favors and coordinating all the details!". It seems like a contest you can't win - everyone seems to be looking to get offended about gifts, seating, etc. It seems like a lot of people feel totally entitled to asking their guests to spend thousands of dollars on travel and clothes (not even on presents, which at least last, but on something totally ephemeral so they can be a stage prop!). I never hear people talking about how fun it is to spend days going to multiple highly-ritualized events with strangers (all those dinners and stuff are ritualized, but it's unspoken; the ceremony is easy by comparison). And I hear lots and lots of people talking about how much they hate planning their wedding, how much they dread going to someone else's and/or how broke they are due to all the costs.

It just seems like having punch and cake at the church/temple/hall/home - as Miss Manners recommends when one is broke - could be way, way more fun because it would be less stress. (Or at least "having champagne and cake".)
posted by Frowner at 5:44 AM on August 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


Navigating the gift-giving expectations was definitely the hardest part about our wedding last year. We both agreed that we really didn't want gifts and found it awkward to ask for them, so we tried to make the guests aware of this. It didn't really work. I think I actually offended some people by letting them know we were not expecting gifts and didn't have a registry or anything like that.

We really didn't want gifts either. I really felt it wasn't necessary. I ended up having to do some self work in order to accept and be comfortable with the fact that people and even people I didn't think I knew super well wanted to give us gifts because they cared and not out of some social obligation. I found the whole registry thing hard but so many people were so happy to get us exactly the things that we wanted.
posted by Jalliah at 5:49 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


All the weddings I've been to in the past several years have been of professionals in their 30's who've been living independently for years. The idea of buying them stuff to set up a household seems ridiculous. And if they want a $400 Le Creuset Dutch oven, I'm afraid that's not something I'm going to be able to help out with.
posted by Mavri at 5:53 AM on August 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


I always wonder why so many people choose to have US-style fancy weddings

A theory I've heard is that the easier divorce gets, the less well getting married functions as a trustworthy announcement that your relationship is serious, committed, long-term, etc. So many people who still want to signal that they are very committed to staying married instead use the strategy of burning a lot of money on their wedding, precisely because it's something you can't do over and over easily. And gifts maybe do something similar. If I invite all my family and friends to my wedding and expect them to get expensive gifts, I'm implicitly giving them a right to get mad at me if my marriage doesn't last, and, in exchange, I know that my spouse is giving zir family and friends a similar right over zir. It's all a way of increasing social pressure to stay married, to compensate for less legal pressure to stay married.
posted by officer_fred at 6:06 AM on August 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I never understood how asking guests to cook/clean/plan is not only less gauche than asking for gifts/money, but actually has an aura of moral superiority -- you're not like those other princess bridezilla tools of the wedding-industrial complex. The AskMe that Mr.Encyclopedia links to is a perfect example. Scooping ice cream for all the guests in your fancy clothes sounds like the exact opposite of "low-key" to me.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:10 AM on August 16, 2015 [30 favorites]


I always wonder why so many people choose to have US-style fancy weddings

Family pressure? I eloped and I am still getting upset comments from my parents and other extended family members that I didn't throw a huge party. And no, a punch and cake affair would not have been acceptable--that would have "shamed the family" or whatever and I would have gotten at least as much judgement from that as I got for my decision to skip the whole thing.

I think that for some of us, family members have Expectations about what kind of ceremony a wedding will be in, and a lot of parents of women in particular feel entitled to meddle, especially if they feel that it's their responsibility to pay. Some families use weddings as an opportunity to catch up with extended family members or to show off how much the family can afford/how tasteful they are, and you can run into quite a bit of pressure if you deny your parents that opportunity to show off. (Especially if they offer to pay for it.) That's not just a Western thing; a good friend of mine who is Indian dealt with very similar familial pressures.

All that said I regret absolutely nothing about skipping the party.
posted by sciatrix at 6:21 AM on August 16, 2015 [28 favorites]


I always wonder why so many people choose to have US-style fancy weddings

I wanted to have a big party, see all my friends and relatives, and provide them with a good dinner, especially people who came in from far away. And "I'm having a big party for no reason" isn't a culturally accepted way to get your friends and relatives to come out to see you.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:28 AM on August 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


I feel for this bridesmaid. One of my cousins was very reasonable and non-Bridezilla, but people around her kept throwing parties where gifts were expected (I think she had four showers/Jack and Jill/gifting occasions PLUS the wedding?) and at one of them her sister-in-law, one of my fellow bridesmaids, just looked at me and said "I feel like every time I turn around I have to buy another gift for Midge and Bob." :-/

I think some of the etiquette disagreements have to do with either (a) changing expectations over time, or (b) regional differences.

Example: In Maine, where I'm from, the done thing to do always was to bring the gift to the wedding because you'll be seeing the couple anyway and why on earth would you waste money on shipping a gift? (I assume this is still true... the wedding I went to in Maine last year had a gift table, in fact I can't think of one I've been to in Maine that didn't.)

In Massachusetts (where I live now), in contrast, it seems to be the opposite, at least among the people I went to college with -- bringing a gift to the wedding is rude, because the couple now has to figure out where to put it, how to keep it safe, how to bring it home, etc. The polite thing is apparently to ship the gift to the couple ahead of time. I showed up to a wedding with a gift in hand and had an awkward conversation about where to put it before I realized this... nowadays I ship gifts to folks getting married in Mass and other points, and bring gifts to the wedding if it's being held in Maine.

So on the one hand, viva la difference, but on the other hand, it does make it hard to know what to expect.

On the "asking for gifts in the invite" thing (including registry info and/or a poem asking for cash), I think that one's changing over time. I used to judge people for doing this, but then I realized that I actually prefer knowing what they want to get, and it's probably easier for them, and 2/3 of couples do this now anyway... so why the hell am I judging them? I've mellowed on that one.
posted by pie ninja at 6:41 AM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


My wedding was almost entirely free of unpleasant drama, but the closest we came to any sort of conflict was over gifts (we had asked people not to give us any, and that did not please everyone).

We had the same thing. Apparently saying explicitly that you don't want gifts is rude (because Great Aunt Jeannie will expect to get you something, and now you'll make her feel awkward!). Likewise, suggesting donations to particular charities is rude; making it clear that you don't expect or need any gifts but of course, any given would be very kindly received is rude; failing to have a gift registry is rude; having a gift registry but not telling people about it in the invitations is rude; and having a gift registry and telling people about it in the invitations is definitely rude.

I haaaaaated planning a wedding, and I am still incredibly tetchy about how much shit women get for being totally unreasonable bridezillas any time they fail to sufficiently please everybody's contradictory expectations, or - heaven forbid! - declare "we are doing X whether you like it or not."
posted by Catseye at 6:43 AM on August 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I never understood how asking guests to cook/clean/plan is not only less gauche than asking for gifts/money, but actually has an aura of moral superiority -- you're not like those other princess bridezilla tools of the wedding-industrial complex. The AskMe that Mr.Encyclopedia links to is a perfect example. Scooping ice cream for all the guests in your fancy clothes sounds like the exact opposite of "low-key" to me.

In my case it was the community norm. Took some getting used to on my part but that's how this particular community does it. They wanted to do it and it was more insulting to tell them not too.
posted by Jalliah at 6:48 AM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I never understood how asking guests to cook/clean/plan is not only less gauche than asking for gifts/money, but actually has an aura of moral superiority -- you're not like those other princess bridezilla tools of the wedding-industrial complex.

Ha, exactly. "The Tyranny of Structurelessness Low-Key-ness."
posted by officer_fred at 6:51 AM on August 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


people around her kept throwing parties where gifts were expected...one of my fellow bridesmaids, just looked at me and said "I feel like every time I turn around I have to buy another gift for Midge and Bob." :-/

At a certain point I'd be inclined to start giving things like a snow globe from the Hallmark store at the mall, in this circumstance.
posted by thelonius at 6:58 AM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been told that per etiquette, you have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift. Assuming that's true, by the rules of etiquette itself this bride is in the wrong.

Of course, she's in the wrong if that isn't true as well.
posted by maryr at 7:00 AM on August 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, the most infuriating part of the whole article is that this woman had the nerve to write into a wedding blog complaining that she didn't get another gift. What the hell, lady? Grow up.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:10 AM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am still incredibly tetchy about how much shit women get for being totally unreasonable bridezillas any time they fail to sufficiently please everybody's contradictory expectations

I hate the word bridezilla. My sister wanted a simple wedding, but she married into this huge family, and she had to figure out how to accommodate hundreds of people, how to get the right band, how to afford catering, and so on. She had an ideal wedding in mind, and she couldn't do it because she was pulled in a dozen different directions by other peoples' expectations for her wedding. No wonder it was such a nightmare for her. All things considered, she handled it really well.

My girlfriend and I are engaged, have been for a while, and will be for a while longer (we have to wait for financial reasons). Neither of us has a huge family, but there's already a little pressure from both sides. We have a couple years to plan, but we're trying to balance stuff so we both handle it equally. Which is apparently a radical idea - I remember going to a bridal expo with my sister when she was planning her wedding, and there were like two other guys there, tops, out of hundreds.

At least now we know gifts can be such a point of contention. Here we were thinking there was something we didn't have to spend too much time worrying about...

I polled my family about what they thought our ideal wedding would be like, and literally every response was "hippie shaman in the woods." Ha! Joke's on them, we'd do it in the desert.
posted by teponaztli at 7:19 AM on August 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


Here's the thing though. You don't have to accommodate hundreds of people, or get a band, or afford catering. You can say no. It's a thing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:24 AM on August 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


We really didn't want gifts either. I really felt it wasn't necessary. I ended up having to do some self work in order to accept and be comfortable with the fact that people and even people I didn't think I knew super well wanted to give us gifts because they cared and not out of some social obligation.

Pretty much this. And we got some nice presents, but the ones that were the best were just checks. So helpful! But my family is pretty lazy and would rather write a check for 100 dollars than have to go to the store, buy a 50 dollar gift, and then wrap it and transport it.

But my wife's cousin gave us a spatula. It wasn't anything fancy or nice - just like a 2 dollar thing from walmart. They live a middle class life, so, I have no idea. I guess they wanted to give something unforgettable. My wife and I have a laugh about it now and again.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:24 AM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love weddings because I believe a wedding is two happy people (the couple) hosting a celebration of their union with the people they love around them. My husband hates weddings because all he knows of weddings, basically, is this Wedding-Industrial Complex Bullshit. The pressure to travel when he does not want to, spend money on clothes he'll never wear or would never choose, sort through registries of stupid crap he'd never want to give someone, pre-parties and showers and post-parties.

Because it was important to me to celebrate with the people who love us, my husband agreed to have a wedding. He said in the end he recognized the truth in the argument that people like to come together for parties to celebrate the happiness of the people they love. It's the same reason my mother (who is uncomfortable at parties and extra uncomfortable being the focus of attention) went along with my father's plans for a 50th anniversary bash for them.

Our wedding was a cocktail party with no actual ceremony--no vows, no speeches. None of the typical American accoutrements (wedding attendants, wedding DJs, first dances) because neither of us wanted those things. We had no registry either, which threw people, and nonetheless we received gifts (and sent thank you notes).

I am sad when I hear stories of people being ugly about weddings but I guess I'm sympathetic because it's hard to accommodate so many people's feelings about something that is expected to be momentous and once in a lifetime. Even our extremely "no expectations of any guest except that they enjoy the food and drink" wedding caused conflict. Mom arranged for my favorite bakery to make several cakes for the dessert table, which upset my husband who wanted no Capital W Wedding shit, like Cakes. But he let it go within two minutes because he's a good person, but also because your wedding is what you make it and because he likes my mom and she likes cakes.

The more pressure you put on yourself and your guests, the less joy you'll have in the moment. I could not tell you who sent gifts and who did not, but I can name every single person who was at my wedding and can remember at least one moment I had with each of them that evening.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:32 AM on August 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


A piece of guiding etiquette I often hear is that the value of the gift you give should at least cover the cost of your meal at the reception. (As if I have any idea what the "per plate" cost of any given wedding would be! I eloped!) It smacks of an admission fee. My position has always been "You will accept the gift we give you and say thank you. Or not. Whatever."
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:37 AM on August 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


It seems like part of the pressure is the geographic spread outness of people's social and family circles. A friend said to me yesterday, 'if they're expecting me to rent a car for two days, drive 4.5 hours in each direction, and pay for a hotel, they should at least have had decent food and a decent bar.' And... That kind of seems like a reasonable expectation of hospitality. It doesn't have to be fancy, but I could see being irritated if I had to take myself out to eat after a wedding I expended significant time, money, and energy to attend. At the very least, I'd want to have a clear idea before hand so I could make my traveling/spending/eating decisions accordingly.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:38 AM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Here's the thing though. You don't have to accommodate hundreds of people, or get a band, or afford catering. You can say no. It's a thing.

I think you may be severely underestimating how much pressure can be on someone in that situation. I'll be sure to let her know she could have said no; I'm sure it just didn't occur to her.
posted by teponaztli at 7:47 AM on August 16, 2015 [35 favorites]


We bought our bridesmaid's dresses for them (inexpensive sundresses in a nice periwinkle shade, they looked very nice). And rented our groom's tuxedos. Because all of our friends were poor, so it was that or they show up in blue jeans. But also, it felt right to do.

I don't actually know which/if any of our bridesmaids/groomsmen gave us gifts. Certainly didn't expect them to. I never went through the guest list to check who gave me something, I mean sheesh. Though I was rather touched that we got a nice set of placemats we registered for from the semi-employed alcoholic dad of one friend, who we obviously didn't expect anything from.

We had a lovely wedding, relatively cheaply, but I do kind of wish we'd had it in a park or done it less formally. In the long-ago age of 1998 in Texas, though, that was not yet an OK Thing. I particularly love now how you can have a wedding party with men on the bride's side and women on the groom's, and matching bridesmaid dresses are no longer considered a must. That would have been more fun.
posted by emjaybee at 7:49 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


A piece of guiding etiquette I often hear is that the value of the gift you give should at least cover the cost of your meal at the reception.
I find that really gross, to be honest. First of all, it feels like you're being charged an entrance fee to the wedding. And second of all, it puts a huge burden on anyone who has less money than the bride and groom do. Also, if you're not in the same socioeconomic situation as the bride and groom, you might not even be able to guess how much the meal cost.

I think that part of what's going on with the Bridezilla thing has to do with the emotional labor thread. Planning a wedding is a huge amount of work, but it's also a huge amount of emotional labor. You have to balance lots of competing emotions and cultures and family expectations. You have to deal with money and religion and making seating charts that don't hurt anyone's feelings. You have to find matching, non-hidious dresses that will look ok on your super-short sister and your super-tall best friend. And it generally falls on the bride to a massively disproportionate degree. So on the one hand, women are expected to do all this real and emotional labor, and on the other hand, they're punished for stressing out about it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:49 AM on August 16, 2015 [30 favorites]


teponaztl, obviously, I'm sure it occurred to her and she decided against it. I just find it frustrating that people complain about things that are in their control.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:50 AM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been told that per etiquette, you have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift.

Perhaps, but in reality if you send one after the "Thank God We Finished the Thank You Notes" celebration, the newlyweds will rightfully hate you.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:51 AM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, etiquette. I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

I recently came to the conclusion: I do not consider the needs and expectations of people around me

So, I've been listening to the Awesome Etiquette Podcast hosted by Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning, two descendents of Emily Post, author of "Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home" (1922).

I do not UNDERSTAND these people.

They live in a world where a letter to your son and daughter in law should be addressed "Dr. Jane Frezno and Mr Doug Frezno" instead of the much more reasonable "Jane and Doug" or "Doug and Jane" or hey, how about "THE FREZNOS"?

They live in a world where there are secret cues about who is actually invited to a wedding - a wedding invitation sent to "the freznos" means "sure, bring your kids" but an invite sent to "Dr. and Mr. Frezno" means "don't fucking bring your kids." This must be a thing? Somewhere? Where people dislike kids enough that they don't want them at their wedding, BUT it's strange enough that it would be awkward to say something like "no kids" or pick up the phone, BUT it's common enough that there is a SECRET CODE that people (but not me) know about what means what.

One thing that really aggravates me about this podcast is that they promote politeness over rights. I am a person who believes "If they don't like it, they can leave" and "People need to assert their rights to not be held back by banal discrimination." Whereas this podcast says "If someone might have an issue with it, maybe you should reconsider doing it? After all, your goal is to make people feel comfortable and respected."

Anyway, like I said, I've found that my lack of consideration for those around me is not really working well for me, so I'm looking for a more successful way to interact. But "etiquette" - yeesh, it kind of gives me the willies.
posted by rebent at 7:53 AM on August 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'd love a spatula. Maybe my mind's just been warped by Weird Al.
posted by bfields at 7:57 AM on August 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Anyway, like I said, I've found that my lack of consideration for those around me is not really working well for me, so I'm looking for a more successful way to interact. But "etiquette" - yeesh, it kind of gives me the willies.

"God damnit, you've got to be kind." -- Kurt Vonnegut

Only rule of etiquette you'll ever need.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Mrs. slkinsey and I got married when we were in our late 30s, so the last thing we needed was a bunch of "household items." Our invitations explicitly said that gifts were neither expected or required, but that if anyone really wanted to get us something they could check out the list we had created on amazon.com (which included included a range of things we actually needed, priced from inexpensive to fairly expensive). Worked out pretty well. Most guests didn't get us anything, but some of them did and generally speaking they picked items off the list that were appropriate to their means. A few couples even pooled their money together to get us the biggest-ticket item on the list, a full-size portable dishwasher for our NYC apartment. So that was awesome.

Of course, I don't think many people expect the lavish "Diana and Charles" kind of wedding when people at our age get married, so there was no pressure in that regard. For ours, we had my friends in the cocktails industry create a list of specialty cocktails, and had an old-fashioned cocktail party with passed hors d'oeuvre at a local middlebrow restaurant. At some point in the middle we told everyone to pipe down and a leader from the NY Society for Ethical Culture married us, then it was back to the party.


Personally, when I have had to spend significant $ to attend someone's wedding, I have always considered that to be my gift.
posted by slkinsey at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man, I really appreciate my culture's wedding etiquette, which is that you give money, not gifts, however much you can afford, often in an unmarked envelope, and there are NO THANK YOU CARDS.

I mean, I got married at the courthouse, so it didn't matter, but I love not getting any painfully awkward "thank you so much for the microwave we will think of you every time we use it" notes from my friends.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 8:01 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


You don't have to accommodate hundreds of people, or get a band, or afford catering. You can say no. It's a thing.

I just find it frustrating that people complain about things that are in their control.

Do you find it frustrating when parents complain about their kids? They could have just not had kids!

Lots of people want to have a couple of hundred people at their wedding and they want to give those people a fancy dinner and they want to have a band playing instead of a playlist. Not because their parents forced them to or they'd be ostracized from their community.

And those same people are gonna complain sometimes in the planning process, because things you want -- like kids, or a satisfying career, or a trip to Europe -- are actually kind of a pain to put together. I feel like we've never in our life taken a family trip where I didn't say to my wife the day before, "oh my god, why did we do this, we should have just stayed home and relaxed." And yet it's not bad that we sometimes take a trip!

As to the original question: I do think it's kind of weird that the bridesmaid didn't get a present, which is not an obligation, but is a custom, even for the wedding party. But I agree that confronting someone who didn't get you a present you expected is just a never never never nope.
posted by escabeche at 8:04 AM on August 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


teponaztl, obviously, I'm sure it occurred to her and she decided against it. I just find it frustrating that people complain about things that are in their control.

Because my family's asinine entitlement issues are totally under my control? No matter what you do with respect to weddings, you get hit with pressure from all sides. It's really frustrating, and I think the release valve of complaining is really important.
posted by sciatrix at 8:05 AM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sorry, I didn't mean you shouldn't complain about your family. But I do think you should have the kind of wedding you want to have, and if your family/friends disapprove of that,t hey don't have to come.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:08 AM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not everyone is willing to start a war with their family over the kind of wedding they're going to have.
posted by asterix at 8:14 AM on August 16, 2015 [33 favorites]


I feel like there's a huge amount of crossover in this thread with the gigantic Emotional Labor thread which sadly just closed to comments.

Some women literally have no choice in the matter owing to social norms / pressure and the unique demands of the cultural norms they grew up in. Those of you who would advocate women (brides) to shun the enormous backlash they get from friends and family in these situations are literally clueless to how much mental (or socioeconomic) anguish this can create.

I admit, I was very lucky when I got married. My husband's family is very easygoing (albiet large) and we were able to pretty much do whatever the hell we wanted, which was to have a low-key, functional, friendly wedding.

I also had the ability to shut my mother down when she started going off on her East Coast Miss Manners Bourgoise Traditions Rant. I basically told her this was my wedding, I was paying for it, she didn't get a say, and if she didn't behave she could stay home.

Not every bride has this luxury of choice in the matter.

In sum, people (and weddings!) contain multitudes. Don't presume to judge others for your personal expectations of them.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:16 AM on August 16, 2015 [37 favorites]


I just find it frustrating that people complain about things that are in their control.

You're welcome to find anything you like frustrating, of course. I'm an attorney, and can I tell you how many criminal charges arise from police searches that were consented to by people who knew they were hiding contraband and who knew they could say no, but who said yes because they felt pressured.

"Control" is a simple word for a complicated concept. It's a fine word to use but generally speaking if you find yourself using it simply, you might think about slowing down and reconsidering whether you're maybe missing quite a lot of depth and different angles to the situation you're discussing.
posted by cribcage at 8:16 AM on August 16, 2015 [27 favorites]


Not everyone wants to start a war, and also sometimes it is important to people to accommodate the deeply-felt wishes of people they love. My brothers both did some things in their weddings because my mom would have been devastated if they hadn't, and it was important to them not to hurt my mom. I think they probably wouldn't have done those things were it not for my mom's feelings, but my mom's feelings are important to them. That's sort of how healthy relationships work. You don't say "fuck you: you carried me around in your body for nine months and raised me and supported me and have been there for every step of my life, but I don't care about your values at all, and if you don't like that you can skip my wedding." Because that would make you a jerk.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:22 AM on August 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


Which is not to say that anyone is obligated to go with their parents' wishes. But sometimes you might want to accommodate other people's wishes, and that isn't necessarily wrong.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:24 AM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you don't accommodate other people's wishes, then you're a selfish bridezilla, and if you do, then why are you such a pushover?

Wedding planning often puts women in a real bind, especially when they have large or dysfunctional families. And then they are judged for being in this bind.
posted by jeather at 8:28 AM on August 16, 2015 [47 favorites]


I legitimately thought that wedding party members arent expected to get gifts in most middle class WASPy-type circles. Am I wrong about that? If so this might explain why my brother's been glaring at me for 10 years.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:28 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wonder if any philosophers have discussed the difference between etiquette and morality? Seems like that could be interesting.
posted by thelonius at 8:30 AM on August 16, 2015


Etiquette is practical morality.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:35 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


We eloped.

Never regretted it.
posted by kyrademon at 8:36 AM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


If you don't accommodate other people's wishes, then you're a selfish bridezilla, and if you do, then why are you such a pushover?

I can imagine these are the only options in some cases, but sometimes this will be well into false dichotomy territory. Sometimes its just someone being a POS, as in the FPP.

On a separate note, it only struck me in the last few years that I had a sort of despondency about weddings, in that I always expected them to be festivals of whining, backstabbing and bitching about family members, a big argument and quite possibly even a fight. It only occurred to me later in life that they can be fun, after having been to a few fun ones.

I suspect our youthful experiences are why my sister bailed on paying for a big wedding and went off to Vegas instead.
posted by biffa at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2015


My brother's wedding was full-on Wedding Industrial Complex stuff - 400 people, large church, her wedding dress was Vera Wang, his tux was Hugo Boss, TWO Best Men, nine ushers, reception hall was sufficient far away that directions were given to a nearby hotel they'd set up room rates with and had a bus to take you from the hotel to the reception, a three-hour appetizer thing at the Skylands Manor, and THEN dinner, with an open bar and a band playing. (The bastard told me the night before the wedding that I was doing one of the bible readings, and then someone fucked up the setup so it wasn't even there. If I hadn't printed out the verse in question and stuck it up the sleeve of my rented tux, I would have looked an utter idiot.) They had to take out a loan for something like $40K for the wedding costs.

My wedding was... different. Smaller, 46 people. My now-wife was friends with the minister, who gave us the wedding ceremony as our wedding present. And the cake. My parents supplied the champagne as part of theirs. We set up the reception (in another room in the church) ourselves the night before the wedding, and literally an hour and a half before the wedding I was hauling bottles of soda and wine from the downstairs refrigerator in the church up to the reception room. My wife's then-employer gave her a few catered platters as a wedding present, so that was pretty much the food. A friend of mine brought a bunch of beers. No one was in a tux, although I had a new suit and my bride was in a champagne-colored dress (not her first marriage and she didn't want a white dress). And then, as the reception was winding down, one of my oldest friends who was there, who is in the SCA and was a baroness and ran a dozen events (those of you familiar with this kind of thing will know the kind of situations she ran into) got up and said, "Well, Mephron and Mrs. Mephron probably should head out soon, who's gonna help me clean this place up when it's time?!" We were going to come back after everyone was gone to do the cleanup, and my friend took that option away from us, and apparently the place was spic and span when she was done with her minions cleaning (including my 10 year old niece, who apparently thought my friend was awesome* and helped with the picking-up more than her two brothers did).

* my friend IS awesome, just to make it clear.
posted by mephron at 9:01 AM on August 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


lonefrontranger, you make good points about the wedding-day pressures on women, but I have a quibble with the sentence: I also had the ability to shut my mother down when she started going off on her East Coast Miss Manners Bourgeois Traditions rant.

I get sad when I see people cite Miss Manners as the epitome of nitpicky, judgmental scorekeeping of other people's behavior.

Etiquette, according to Miss Manners, is not relentlessly monitoring who does/doesn't drink tea with one's pinky in the air or use the right spoon with the consommé. Etiquette is about (and I paraphrase) encouraging people to be nice to each other, or at least not to shove each other. It's about respect for and kindness to one another, and considering how what we do affects other people.
posted by virago at 9:02 AM on August 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


When Techno and I were doing wedding-things, we came across an interminably picky number of "rules" that - the more we read them, felt like arbitrary decisions made by Someone Else, and it came to a point where we decided FUCK THE RULES and started telling people to break them on purpose.

Rules broken

1. My mother in law wore cream, with my permission and blessing (we had an outdoor October wedding in San Diego, with a semi-tropical theme, she had a beautiful Hawaiian style linen pants and flowered top that went with the leis that Techno's family got for the wedding party and she looked AMAZING and didn't detract from my in my beautiful eggshell dress.

2. I wore off-white, despite being pregnant. Fuck that rule, I looked glorious and nobody cared and it's 2015, fuck the "wah you can't wear white if you're not a blushing virgin who has never seen a dick in her life" rule

3. We expressly told people where we were registered, because after the ninth person in a row asked, we decided FUCK THE RULES because it was helping our friends and family to be less anxious.
(Seriously, yes, it implied we wanted gifts, but jesus, people get so intensely nervous about gift giving and I have never -ever- met a person who didn't heave a high sigh of relief when told "Hey, you can get me stuff from this list, then you're assured to get me something I really want.")

4. I had a maid of honor, Techno had a best woman. My MoH walked me down the aisle, Techno's BW walked HIM down the aisle, we met in the middle and walked the rest of the way together.
5. People threw red spoons at us.
6. about 95 other tiny things that supposedly make us terrible awful people who are rude and disgusting forever, even though everyone said they had a great time and it was a great wedding.

And from all this, I determined that those etiquette people are operating on a extremely narrow worldview where -their- culture and -their- society and -their- friends and family are the only ones who exist and matter and if your friends and culture and society don't match up, oh well, you're awful rude terrible people and they can't be bothered to stop and think "No but gift registries make people so much less anxious." or "But... look, assigned roles in the wedding party based on gender is dumb." or "This is a stupid secret code that not everyone knows, I'm just going to say "Yes, bring your kid" or "I'm not into kids at formal parties, get a sitter." or "Hey, like 15 people going to this have kids, ima put all you guys in touch with each other, so you can group up on a sitter or three!"

It's just Rules for the sake of Rules. "Don't do this, even though it might be better, easier and more accomodating, because THE RULES." and that's the opposite of considerate and polite.
posted by FritoKAL at 9:03 AM on August 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


In my first wedding, we did the minimum. No expectations for our families, no registry, asked friends to DJ as if that was easy, cheapest food we could find. Neither one of us ever wanted to do emotional labor (in this or anything). We were lazy and thought our laziness was actually enlightenment. "Who needs all this crap, lets just have a dumb party, have some random judge say some words, and get hammered."

In both of our second marriages now, the second time around, we gave our families the party they probably wanted the first time, me in a church and with a big hoopla and her in a synagogue with a big Chuppah (not that I was there, but Mazel nonetheless). We spent everyone's money, got the wedding party cool gifts, made people travel, just like, did the whole thing. I think we'd both say that our first wedding was for us, ourselves, not even us as a couple. And living like that is hard, and we failed at it. Coming out of that, in our second marriages, I think we both realize that we need our families, and friends, to help us stay together and survive.

Traditions can be restrictive, naturally. They are built on totally arbitrary mores and rules. But subscribing to them gives you the power of a collective spirit that many of us smartpants intellectual internet types have purposefully given up. The ideal situation, in my opinion, would be for us to take some traditions, the good ones we can use to bind us together OR the ones that, while extremely silly, at least do no harm--leaving behind the hurtful ones built on shame--take them, weave into them open-mindedness and a modern psychological understanding of how humans actually behave. With those tools, we can build the life that we choose within a community that we can pledge to serve, and count on.

Short answer: Accept gifts and support gracefully, in whatever form they take. Then, when it's someone else's turn, get the bridge and groom a gift in the manner they prefer, and make your enthusiastic enjoyment of whatever event they hold into a vow to love and help them through the insane struggle of marriage. And if the DJ plays the Electric Slide...well, you know what to do y'all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:08 AM on August 16, 2015 [25 favorites]


virago, feel free to quibble. you did not grow up in the extremely toxic social environment I did, where Miss Manners was used as a weapon to shame/beat us into compliance.

which is why I feel this entire discussion has massive overlap with the EL one. Women literally cannot get it right no matter how we try to explain the situation.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


If you don't accommodate other people's wishes, then you're a selfish bridezilla, and if you do, then why are you such a pushover?

I can imagine these are the only options in some cases, but sometimes this will be well into false dichotomy territory.
It is a false dichotomy: most people negotiate between their own wishes and other people's wishes. But that negotiation is emotional labor. It is work. It is hard, high-stakes, stressful work, even if you both have perfectly functional families and especially if one or both of you don't.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:20 AM on August 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Thing 1: I have been marrying people for 18 years and never once have encountered a bridezilla. Not once.

Thing 2: When my wife and I get married, my parents made it a point to call me every week or so and ask how the thank-you notes were going. Over and over.

Then my parents attended another wedding and received a thank-you that read as follows:

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. 4ster. Thanks for the gift."

Suddenly, our pace of doing things did not seem so bad.
posted by 4ster at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I didn't want to have a wedding. I really wanted to save up and do a destination wedding in a castle somewhere, inviting only our parents and siblings. But my husband said he suspected his brother would never have a real wedding and he wanted to give his parents a chance to throw a party.

We had a 50-person wedding in my mom's backyard. It was DIY by necessity--sorry if that's annoying? I mean, we really couldn't afford $800 for an officiant, for example, so we asked one of my best friends to do it. A friend of my mom's played "I'll be your mirror" on guitar and another friend took pictures for us. I asked my sister to bake us some cupcakes, but she said no, so we ended up getting a sheet cake from Pathmark. In all, we spent $2000, which was still a stretch for us. We got all of that back and then some in gifts, for which we'll always be grateful. There are some household items I still see and remember the family members who gave fondly.

The guest thing was weird, and hard. Space limitations meant we couldn't invite all of our cousins. From what I recall, we decided to go with "people we've seen in the last five years." But his mom was annoyed that all of these relatives I'd never met weren't invited, and agitated to have them included, and his dad, who is the most easygoing mensch ever, wasn't going to campaign for his family to be there and so a bunch of them got left out. And really shouldn't have. But they're all nice people so they've never said anything to us about it. Still feel weird about it.

Sure enough, his brother got married in May and ended up "eloping" (tho we all knew about it) to Vegas. I was surprised at how, well, jealous I felt. And how left out--I wanted to at least take them out for dinner after to be able to raise a glass in their honor but his wife is pretty antisocial and has been impossible to plan with and it never happened. Oh well, I guess. We had a lot of fun at our wedding but a part of me will always wish I hadn't had to do it or something, even though people still tell us how much they enjoyed our glorified backyard bbq. It was just so much drama.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:22 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I got married at the courthouse, my witness where two senators aides who showed up to help, and my reception was in the Starbucks as I called my Mom to tell her what happened.

That's really how it should be.
posted by The Whelk at 9:23 AM on August 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


The best piece of wedding planning advice I ever got was "Pick three things to care about, to really plunge yourself into making sure they're perfect. Everything else just has to be good enough." I was on IndieBride when I planned my wedding, and that was a popular piece of advice, and it worked out so well -- you could see everyone choosing the three things that really mattered to them. In our case, it was my dress (I did not expect to care about this so much but it turned out I really did), the ceremony (which my husband wrote from top to bottom), and the music. Everything else, we just hired local pros and trusted them. I dropped swatches of my wedding dress fabric off with the florist, which was important because I got married in gold silk brocade and not white, and told her "I like parrot tulips and I want to spend this much money." We picked a venue that was close to home and had an area where kids could run around and be loud, and they only worked with one caterer; we called that caterer and said "We want to spend this much per person and have a lunch buffet groaning with food, with at least one vegetarian option." They sent over a proposed menu and we said "Yep." I asked my bridespeople if they wanted me to pick an outfit or if they wanted to wear whatever, and they all said "Oh god you pick something," so I got a pattern that included three skirts and four tops (most of which you could wear a normal bra with) and picked out a fabric and sent them to the woman who was making my wedding dress. We spent all of 20 minutes consulting on our wedding cake with a local bakery.

It was great. I strongly recommend this option. The other thing I did that was really valuable was to ask everyone who had a conversation with me about the wedding, and who was married, "What was your favorite thing about your wedding? What would you do differently if you had it to do again?" That gave me a strong idea about what things turned out to be really valuable to people and what were pointless stress-inducing wastes of time.
posted by KathrynT at 9:27 AM on August 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Here's the thing though. You don't have to accommodate hundreds of people, or get a band, or afford catering. You can say no. It's a thing.

Ahahahahaha.

So we ended up with flower girls because my mother-in-law told my husband's nieces that they could be flower girls without consulting us, and then not having them be flower girls would mean arguing with my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law and disappointing the really adorable four and seven year-olds that are my husband's nieces.

So instead they were flower girls, which meant buying flowers. Which were expensive and that people had opinions on. And then got them gifts thanking them, plus a gift for my nephew and his nephew so everyone had something.

We also had about a dozen people in total that we didn't invite (some of whom we didn't know, some of whom we intentionally didn't invite) because either someone else invited them or they invited themselves. When I was a little put off by people inviting themselves,I was told my other recently marrieds that yep, that was a thing. And not inviting them was a lot different from rescinding the invite (no matter if they we didn't give them the invite in the first place), we sort of let it slide in most cases.

If I'd had my way we would have eloped, but unfortunately there's at least one other person whose opinions on a wedding really do count, and my husband wanted a princess wedding. We ended up doing a lot of compromising between the two wedding visions, but everyone's reaction was that I was the only one involved - either that I was being difficult or being a pushover, depending on whether they agreed with what I was trying to do or not.

With the gifts specifically: I didn't want one. We have lived together for six years. We were moving after the wedding, didn't know what the space we were moving into was going to look like, and most of all didn't want to have to move more than we needed to.

But that wasn't acceptable, so we told people they didn't have to get us anything, but if they wanted to, we pushed them towards cash/gift cards or charitable donations.

But there were definitely people who wanted to give us a thing. Specific types of things. Every conversation I would have with them was about how I didn't have a registry, about getting a discount on stuff after the wedding if it was on the registry, about the stuff they got from their weddings that they cherished, about what I should have on the registry. If we were moving and woudn't have room for it in the new place, why don't put it in a storage facility until we moved into someplace larger? (But of course, it was my wedding so I should do what I want).

So we came up with another compromise - after we moved, we would put up a registry of stuff we actually do need for the new apartment, which we did - mostly shelving, some storage solutions, a variety of prices. We sent it out to the people who requested it.

And promptly got a passive-aggressive gift card with a note that implied we didn't put the right things on the registry.

So yes, you can assert boundaries and get something closer to what you want. But pretending that weddings are a one person decision making operation is absurd. There will be things outside of the bride's control, and chances are there will have to be some sort of compromise at some point.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:28 AM on August 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


When bonehead and I got married, I had five little nieces to occupy, and one sister. So, sister was matron of honour ('cause she was the only one out of the six of them that could sign a legal document), and the rest were "bridesmaids". The littlest two were flower girls. I went to an online wedding dress wholesaler and bought all the dresses (plus little drawstring purses) for all the bridesmaids and my wedding dress. Then sat back and watched five little girls twirl like princesses on the day of the wedding. Best gift I ever received.
posted by LN at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Man, I'm about to be in a 'big' wedding and the bride and groom are both really excited about it, as are their families and friends. They've had to deal with various levels of social wrangling, especially because one side is Southern and one side is 3rd-gen Long Island, but it's all been handled without any big disasters. It's not like big weddings automatically mean hideous drama and hippie backyard weddings automatically mean blissful harmony.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:34 AM on August 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


And promptly got a passive-aggressive gift card with a note that implied we didn't put the right things on the registry.

We got complaints about our registry, too (and, later, our baby registry). Specifically that we didn't include enough expensive items.

The best piece of wedding planning advice I ever got was "Pick three things to care about, to really plunge yourself into making sure they're perfect. Everything else just has to be good enough."

Wish I'd stumbled across this advice. Honestly, my biggest regret is our wedding photos. The friend who took them for us was just a dude who liked taking pictures, and I both felt weird about asking him to dedicate a whole day to that even though my husband assured me it was fine (it's been a thing for him, not wanting to spend money on photography. He took my author photos, for instance, and I don't have maternity photos either.) The other thing was the honeymoon, which we didn't take for 3 years. Which maybe is an incidental thing to the whole "wedding", but every time travel came up with my husband for three years after we'd have a huge fight, because I really felt like I missed out on having that time alone with him--which is what I'd wanted in the first place. :(

(We ended up driving to Vermont a few years later for a long weekend and it was really, really great and, well, healing. I know these things are not supposed to matter. But sometimes they do.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:35 AM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


To be fair - I really enjoyed what ended up with my wedding, I'm still cool with getting a gift card even if it has a passive aggressive note attached to it, the nieces were really cute as flower girls, and all those people who got us cash ended up getting us MOVERS which was the best thing of all (there was a 100 degree heat index the day we moved and up three flights of stairs from the alleyway). But pretending that taking unilateral decisions on weddings won't have any sort of consequences on family relations is really, really naive.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:35 AM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm so glad I married a man with no living relatives
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 AM on August 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


The best thing to do is hire someone like me, a Professional Terrible Person, to come to your wedding. That way, no matter how badly everyone else acts, it's always "well, she was a bit of a pill about the gifts, but did you see that Uncomplicated Soups guy? Picking fights, getting drunk, hitting on the minister! What a Terrible Person! I'm glad we hired him."
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2015 [36 favorites]


I got married at the courthouse, my witness where two senators aides who showed up to help, and my reception was in the Starbucks as I called my Mom to tell her what happened.

That's really how it should be.


I strongly feel that everyone should do what they want without being made to feel bad about it, but I wouldn't trade my wedding for anything. I figure that of the really big events in your life - your birth, your death, etc - the wedding is one of the only ones that you get to plan for and make into a party. It was awesome to share this with my friends and family, and I also know that I was able to bring a lot of joy to my mother specifically and I think that was a mitzveh.
posted by ftm at 9:56 AM on August 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


They live in a world where there are secret cues about who is actually invited to a wedding - a wedding invitation sent to "the freznos" means "sure, bring your kids" but an invite sent to "Dr. and Mr. Frezno" means "don't fucking bring your kids." This must be a thing? Somewhere? Where people dislike kids enough that they don't want them at their wedding, BUT it's strange enough that it would be awkward to say something like "no kids" or pick up the phone, BUT it's common enough that there is a SECRET CODE that people (but not me) know about what means what.

Secret code? This is both straightforward and obvious. The people specified are the people invited, and they are the only people invited. "Dr. and Mr. Frezno" means specifically those two people, nobody else. "The Freznos" covers all the Freznos living at that address.

This seems like calling the alphabet a secret code.
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


You don't.

Next question?

(Only awkward is that a gift really was bought and was lost in the mail. Which puts onus on BM to ask at some point if the toaster ever arrived.)
posted by IndigoJones at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2015


Sure it is obvious if you know the code. However if you don't know that specific attendees are indicated that way it is easy to make a mistake either way.

Having grown up in an environment where I never went to any sort of formal event this sort of thing stresses me right out. To the point I often just don't go.
posted by Mitheral at 10:09 AM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm so glad I married a man with no living relatives

But the cost of so many hit men.
posted by jeather at 10:10 AM on August 16, 2015 [76 favorites]


I haven't gotten married yet, but I've thought about it and would like it to be an uncomplicated affair. Smallish with no more than 150 people max, and honestly I'd prefer to do all the planning myself without input from family and friends. My boyfriend is too particular which works for me, the only thing he wants is to be married in a church and the one thing I really care about is the reception location.

In contrast I remember a coworker who just last year had planned a very extravagant Cinderella themed wedding complete with round carriage and 12 bridesmaids. It was a lot of work. Her dress was 3K And tiara was $600. Now she and her husband footed the majority of the bill but it did seem like a lots of work for the bridesmaids. I mean they had regular meetings and my coworker seemed to get upset when someone couldn't attend. WTF? Trying to corral 12 adult women with their own lives and families on a regular basis is difficult. Plus the dresses had to ordered because they were dyed a special color. I'm sure it was a beautiful ceremony but it had its share of drama and disappointments.

I think the key thing to remember is that while people want to celebrate your milestone with you, it'll always be more important to you than it is to anyone else and adjust expectations of others accordingly.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 10:17 AM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man, I'm about to be in a 'big' wedding and the bride and groom are both really excited about it, as are their families and friends. They've had to deal with various levels of social wrangling, especially because one side is Southern and one side is 3rd-gen Long Island, but it's all been handled without any big disasters. It's not like big weddings automatically mean hideous drama and hippie backyard weddings automatically mean blissful harmony.

Yeah, all the weddings I've attended have been medium-to-large and hit all the This Is What You Do In A Wedding notes (save the wedding where the couple hated dancing so they didn't have a dance floor at the reception). And they were all lovely and everyone seemed to have a great time.

The anachronistic-for-the-sake-of-it wedding I know of left a good chunk of the guests feeling uncomfortable and left out because it was a series of nerd-culture in-jokes that only the couple's local friends could relate to. So they were insisting everyone be ~wacky~ and ~crazy~ and tone-deaf to the idea that their definition of ~wacky~ and ~crazy~ was not universal. The guests who just wanted to watch a nice ceremony and have a drink at the reception found themselves expected to perform to these unknown standards, wondering do they really have to wear this hat from the "Silly Hat Bin" because the couple doesn't think they're dressed ~wacky~ enough?
posted by schroedinger at 10:18 AM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


"I always wonder why so many people choose to have US-style fancy weddings - they're so expensive, they're a huge hassle to plan, I almost never hear anyone saying "we're having a $20,000 wedding and I'm just loving picking out all the favors and coordinating all the details!". "

I am sure people have different reasons, but mine was my mother says, "That's the kind of wedding my parents gave me, so that's the kind we're giving you." I knew everybody at all the events, though ... it'd be kind-of weird not to. Of course my mother picked out a lot of the stuff like linens and chairs since it was her party, and I didn't mind, she has good taste and that seems like details that don't matter a whole lot as long as SOMEONE picks them. Parts of it were stressful just because planning any large event gets stressful, but it was great fun and everyone enjoyed themselves.

(And it, uh, cost more than that number.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:21 AM on August 16, 2015


As I get older I'm starting to think that craptastic social skills can often be a blessing in disguise. Who cares what the family thinks! If anybody gets bent out of shape, they'll get over it - or not! Go live your own life and leave me alone! If others are happy about my decisions that's wonderful but if not, eh, life goes on.

Of course this only works if you have the financial stability to live without help from family and friends, by and large, which is also something that (hopefully) improves as you get older. Actually this kind of attitude requires a whole lot of socioeconomic privilege but if you can swing it, a blithe disregard for others' expectations is blissfully liberating. (My heart genuinely goes out to anyone who is inextricably caught up in family/cultural obligations and expectations - it often seems like a no-win situation.)

At age 32 we got married at the courthouse on a weekday morning wearing the best clothes we already owned. No guests invited, SIL showed up anyway with a camera and flowers - OK, no problem but would have been fine without it. Parents varying degrees of disappointed / angry, but they got over it pretty quickly. Still think it was the most calm and sensible wedding I've been to. And tomorrow is our 22nd anniversary!
posted by Quietgal at 10:24 AM on August 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was in two wedding parties. The one where my good friend invited me to be maid of honor even though I was a) out of state and b) useless at the time AND she STILL appreciated my presence? Price beyond rubies.

The Whelk has the right idea. The quality of the wedding festivities often varies inversely with the amount of money spent.

Also, I wonder how many brides realize that the deal is deep down a losing proposition for them on some level, and then take it out on the (female) members of their wedding party. (#NotAllMarriages)

"If she only knew what we know ... She'd be on her way to Reno!" -- "42nd Street"
posted by Sheydem-tants at 10:27 AM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The first words out of my MIL's mouth after she heard the news proved that our decision to elope was the right one: "How could you do this to me?"
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:08 AM on August 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Re: invitation addressing code - it's also only obvious if BOTH people know the code -and- know all the information about the person they're inviting.

Here's a fun etiquette puzzle, try to follow all the rules the so-called etiquette experts have laid down.

Your rules

1. If you invite someone, you must also invite their partner who lives with them and is engaged to them.
2. You may not ask for a plus one to a wedding you are invited to
3. Invitations should be addressed to everyone who is invited to the wedding
4. You may not ask for clarification on invitations so you don't look like you're asking for a plus one
5. You may not ask anyone about the living situation of people you are inviting so you don't look like an ignorant clod who doesn't pay attention OR look like a gossip.

(all 5 of these rules have been stated on etiquette hell as GOSPEL TRUTH if you violate them you are terrible)

So - my then-fiance now-husband got invited to a big wedding that his entire family was invited to. I was engaged to him -and- living with him at the time. Invitation did not include me.

So

Does he
a) Make the people getting married look like rude assholes by going without me and ALSO end up looking like a rude ass himself by going without me?
b) Call and ask "Hey, can I bring my fiance?" and be that guy asking for a plus one?
c) Not go, and make it look like he dislikes people who just didn't realize our relationship situation?

Apparently ALL These answer are incorrect, and the 'correct' answer is to send gossip up a secret chain of communication from (him to his mom to T's mom to T) - which is so much BS it's not even funny, and still makes T and R look like dicks for just simply not realizing our relationship status had changed and is inefficient and may not even work.
posted by FritoKAL at 11:10 AM on August 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Here's my thing about weddings: They should be a slightly nicer version of the sort of fancy big party your family normally throws. So if your family does big blowout catered 80th birthday parties for grandpa, or routinely hosts large dinners at the country club, or throws catered cocktail parties for charity? You are WELL-SITUATED to throw a big fancy catered sit-down wedding with the poofy white dress and the flowers and the three courses and the open bar and all that jazz. If your family normally throws big blowout backyard barbecues? Then probably the thing to do is find a nice local park, hire the best barbecue joint in town to cater (merely so none of your family or friends has to man the grills), and borrow a billion coolers from your friends for all the beer.

The point of a wedding is to provide the best version of your hospitality to your family and friends. If that is a fancy church-and-country-club event, that's great! If that's a barbecue in the park, that's also great! If it's pizza in the church basement, also great! A small courthouse do followed by a favorite bar? Also great! The problem arises when people who normally have super-fun backyard barbecues with their huge extended family feel pressured into a fancy sit-down country-club event, which leads to debt and isn't as fun as the barbecue would have been ... and you can sort-of see how couples sometimes feel like "they owe me a present because I spent a year planning this event and went $40,000 into debt." But if you're just inviting everyone you love for a dinner/brunch/drinks/party of the sort you normally throw, do you feel like they owe you anything? No!

It's nice that some people can afford the big fancy country-club thing and like to throw parties that way. That doesn't mean that it should be normative for everyone. And it doesn't mean we should make people feel guilty or bad for having the wedding they can afford, whether that's pizza or caviar. The cheapest wedding I have been to was $250 for pizza and beer in their backyard. The most expensive was in excess of $100,000 in downtown Chicago at spendy, spendy hotels. They were both lovely, they were both a lot of fun, neither bride was a bridezilla, and both couples are still happily married after 15 years. I have nice pictures from both that I like to look back on and smile about how much fun they were.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:11 AM on August 16, 2015 [46 favorites]


(T and R aren't dicks, it wasn't a big deal and we resolved it by ASKING like grown ass adults who can hear "Oh crap, we don't have room." and be okay with it, if they'd said no, I'd have dealt with it okay)
posted by FritoKAL at 11:11 AM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


We eloped.

We had immediate family.

By immediate, I mean if they didn't live in the same house as the bride or groom growing up, they weren't getting in.

That worked out OK.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:14 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


We, two kids from Chile, got married in Manhattan City Hall, with my wife's mom's cousin who lived in NY and her husband as witnesses / only guests. They took us to lunch at those restaurants on the water, in like a boat thing. It was my dream wedding.
When we got back home to Chile, her and my parents rented a place in the country about an hour from Santiago, and we had a made-up wedding ceremony (we arrived together, holding hands, my mom lit the ceremonial fire, my dad rang the gong) with a well known astrologer officiating and about 100 guests, almost all by the parental units. Then there was barbecue, an ice-cream cart and dancing. They prepped the whole thing in about a week, we just showed up.
Nice, too, but the NY one is always 'the' wedding for us.
posted by signal at 11:24 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah, we stayed at a semi-fancy hotel, and talked to the concierge about how we were getting married, etc. She was like, "me too! Where are you having it?". When we answered "City Hall!" her look of dismay/disgust broke through her professional smile for just one second, before returning with a half-hearted "Cool!".
posted by signal at 11:27 AM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, I find cultural rites and traditions rather fascinating. Weddings are one of the only opportunities in my life where I get to examine rites and traditions face-to-face. Perhaps this is the case for most people on Metafilter, which would explain why suddenly being confronted with "rules" engenders such ire and resentment.

Anyway, I love small weddings; they are heartfelt and emotional. But I ADORE big weddings. They are also heartfelt and emotional, but with more booze. Also: dancing! Food I didn't have to cook! And the chance to catch up with a large number of friends whom I haven't seen for years.

I'm lucky that pretty much everyone in my circle threw a huge fucking wedding. (And if anyone is still on board that mistaken train known as "the smaller the wedding, the happier the marriage" -- it clearly doesn't hold true in all instances. No divorces in my circle so far, touch wood.)
posted by artemisia at 11:30 AM on August 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am having a small, not Super Fancy wedding in a week, but even I can see how annoying it is when people who had small DIY weddings lord it over those who felt an obligation to be Traditional.

But I am very confused on how someone invites themselves to your wedding.
posted by mattnworb at 11:31 AM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hell yes guerrilla weddings. My wife and I got married in this room using only our two best friends as witnesses. No permissions, though it's the advantage in PA that you can get married without any officiant. Certainly made things much more easy.
posted by Ferreous at 11:34 AM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Our wedding etiquette:

1. No presents, just your presence.
2. If you can't make it, we have a live webcam so you can watch with all of us.
3. Kids' table is where the bride and groom hang out.
4. Kids are defined as age 40 and under.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


mattnworb: "But I am very confused on how someone invites themselves to your wedding."

A common way is to just show up.
posted by Mitheral at 11:39 AM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Lots of people at our wedding are now dead, lots of couples at our wedding are now divorced, but the memories were/are the greatest gift.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:42 AM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the Anna Karenina principle tends to apply very heavily to weddings. I'd like to believe that most weddings are more or less happy, but the pressures and problems that may arise from them are unique. This is one of the reasons I think it is cruel to sneer and make statements about how people should just elope.

I wanted a simple courthouse wedding, but my husband dearly wanted the big party, in part because we had friends and family scattered throughout the country, and a wedding was one of the few events that would cause them to all come together. In the end, we had a lovely, traditional-ish wedding.

My brother got married a year later in a courthouse ceremony witnessed by a couple of work colleagues, and they celebrated with just immediate family at a Chinese restaurant about a week after. I don't think they regret anything (nor should they), but I think the biggest factors in their decision was the fact that they were in the middle of trying to buy a house, and my parents' marriage had dramatically and unexpectedly imploded a few months prior.

I don't think my wedding was better or worse than my brother's. The circumstances and family dynamics involved in our weddings were vastly different, and aside from wanting to be married, our ultimate goals were not the same. My husband and I were largely trying to find an excuse to introduce a lot of geographically divided people, while my brother and sister-in-law wanted an inexpensive ceremony that would minimize drama and allow them to purchase a house in the near future. We both succeeded, and we're all really happy! I don't understand why people are so stuck on the idea that X wedding is the right or best one, because unless it's your wedding, it probably isn't.
posted by Diagonalize at 11:42 AM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Many years ago, I had to go to a wedding for a groomzilla I knew. I really don't like weddings. I think they're creepy and they make me uncomfortable, and when I'm invited, I generally get a gift, wish them well, and make an excuse not to go. This one was particularly unpleasant because I barely knew anyone except the groom, but he'd invited my then-young son to be in his wedding party, so I really couldn't squirm out of it.

And although I was in a very long term relationship, I didn't get a plus one for it, so I had to go alone. When I got there, I realized I was pretty much the only person who hadn't gotten a plus one. I talked to a few people who had brought casual dates, but my boyfriend of 6+ years couldn't come with me?

After the wedding, his parents said some weird stuff to me that indicated that the groom had grossly misrepresented our relationship as some sort of thing where he was a mentor and a sort of father figure to my son, which I suspect is why he didn't let me bring my boyfriend. It was incredibly insulting and so far from the truth it was almost the opposite. The guy was in a bad spot and very lonely when I met him, so I regularly invited him over for dinner and holidays and things like that, and I had largely lost touch with him as he started to make new friends. He took my son to a movie one time because it was a kid's movie and he didn't want to go alone. That was the extent of his 'mentoring.'

The wedding was an absolutely miserable experience, end to end. They made me go out and move a bunch of cars after the ceremony so they could get the limo through. No shit. They told people to hand me their car keys and then instructed me in how to rearrange the fucking cars. Then, and this wasn't their fault, but my son and I got stranded in a rainstorm after the wedding because the cab company we called thought the address was 'fictitious,' and I had to wake up a friend and she drove 30 miles to pick up me and my crying child (both completely soaked) in the middle of nowhere. It was fucking awful.

The couple didn't have a registry, but I spent a fair amount of money and effort picking out what I thought would be a good gift. I think it cost around $150-200 or so.

And I never got a thank you.

And yet, despite having plenty of reason to resent and dislike the groom, and plenty of reason to suspect that was either an intentional or thoughtless slight on his part, I chose instead to assume that either the gift or the card had gotten lost. Obviously, I don't talk to that guy anymore for other reasons, but I don't have some great need to rectify or stew over that injustice in particular. Maybe some shit happened somewhere in there. Shit does happen from time to time.

If I can give THAT GUY the benefit of the doubt and assume the best about him in that instance, anyone can. Why the hell not just entertain the idea that people tried to do the right thing?

I just don't see the need to sit around concocting new reasons to be pissed off at people based on ambiguous, limited purpose etiquette rules that they may or may not be familiar with, especially based on assumptions about how they came about. I have plenty of concrete and well-supported things to be pissed off about already.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:51 AM on August 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


But I am very confused on how someone invites themselves to your wedding.

We got engaged while living overseas, but were planning a wedding back in our home country. We were having a VERY small wedding, but then some of our friends (from the country we were living in) surprised us with the news that they had purchased trans-Atlantic airplane tickets to attend our wedding.

You can't say no thank you to that.
posted by 256 at 12:09 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have received this advice about getting married.

Marry an orphan.

And the more I date, the more I understand the gravity and sincerity of the statement.
posted by bilabial at 12:10 PM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


About a month ago I attended the best wedding I've ever been to, for the daughter of a dear friend. I've watched her grow up, and let's just say the church was very dusty. But the best part was that the groom's Russian Grandmas were in charge of the food. We were all so stuffed before the wedding cake came out we all swore we wouldn't even eat a whole piece. We all had at least one and took another home. So, my single number one rule of wedding etiquette is that every wedding must include at least two Russian Grandmas.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:25 PM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


let's just say the church was very dusty.

I think you're going to have to say more, because I am unfamiliar with this euphemism.
posted by 256 at 12:28 PM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've really enjoyed this thread: it's like facebook turned inside out so you can see the seams underneath.

My two cents: I've been in and to all kinds of weddings, from five-to-six-figure fetes in New York or London to barbecue in the barn four miles up the road from our cabin (protip: it's never a dry wedding in the gravel parking lot!), and I've never been to a bad one. Ours was right in the middle, which makes sense since if you take the people that are part of your life ideally you'll fall somewhere in the middle of them in terms of your preferences. In part I've never been to a bad wedding because my wife has taught me that you don't have to go to your cousin-in-law-that-you-don't-know's wedding.
posted by sy at 12:32 PM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


"[space we occupied] was dusty" is a euphemism for eyes full of tears, a tongue in cheek blaming such a state on environmental conditions instead of emotions.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:33 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


let's just say the church was very dusty

In other circumstances you might say someone is chopping onions (again, because of tears). Of course, you might be getting married in a professional kitchen, near line cooks working on mise en place.
posted by datawrangler at 12:43 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


lonefrontranger, I sincerely apologize. I did not mean to quibble, or to question the validity of your own description of your own experiences.

I was trying to communicate that etiquette should not be used as a weapon to browbeat other people with, to make them so fearful of the fallout from doing "the wrong thing" that they're hesitant to do anything.

I am not married. For a long time, my single status was seen as a personal shortcoming in my particular Eastern US subculture -- heavily influenced by my mother's mother, whose message to her three children (all daughters) was "You only count if ... (you do X, Y or Z)." And since I wasn't married, that (to my grandmother) was a failure on the part of both me and my mother.

Now that I'm 50, and my mother is 80, my relationship with her is finally recovering from this level of highly conditional positive regard for one's children. But it's taken a long time. And my mother and her mother never mended their own breach (Mom was 76 when Nonna died).
posted by virago at 12:44 PM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem doesn't have to do with individual brides, usually. It has to do with unreasonable social conventions, not unreasonable women.--ArbitraryAndCapricious

I can't even begin to tell you how much I wish that were true! I only saw the Bridezilla show once: it had a smiling, easy-going guy marrying the Bridzilla from the deepest pit of hell, asking for everything from everyone and never satisfied. He stood to the side and let her have all her dramas with her relatives and friends.

I felt like i was in the audience of one of those horror movies where everyone yells "DON'T GO DOWN THE STAIRS!" I was yelling at the screen: "RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! After you are married, all that drama will be focused on YOU!"

I'm posting this as a public service.
posted by eye of newt at 12:48 PM on August 16, 2015


very dusty...

Means there was a lot of cocaine at that wedding. Rails and rails of it.

No?

I'm thinking of Zach and Lisa's wedding back in '92. Nevermind.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:49 PM on August 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


heavily influenced by my mother's mother, whose message to her three children (all daughters) was "You only count if ... (you do X, Y or Z)."

Dad's mother was all aghast when Mom gave my sister and me middle names. She said, "But when they get married their maiden names will become their middle names!"

She was also the one who demanded to see Mom and Dad's marriage certificate after they eloped, because she didn't believe they were really married.

Am I the only one getting a giggle every time I see the abbreviation "BM" for bridesmaid?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:10 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


My wife's family wasn't economically well off when we got married, so luckily, there wasn't a whole lot of this crap for us. Wedding in the park across the street from her parents house, reception at the city-owned building next to the park. Wife wore her Grandmother's wedding dress and no shoes. Reception food, mmmm homemade Tamales!, provided by friends of my wife's parents.

The stuff we did outsource, like the cake, were the busts. The cake fell over while being transported, etc.

Overall, it was awesome. Of course neither of us were interested in an ostentatious wedding, but all this shit you read about would have probably ended up with no wedding at all...
posted by Windopaene at 1:14 PM on August 16, 2015


Am I the only one getting a giggle every time I see the abbreviation "BM" for bridesmaid?
Huh. I thought it stood for Beast Master.
posted by klanawa at 1:15 PM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


the Bridezilla from the deepest pit of hell ...

eye of newt, it's sort of the worst case scenario of what can result when one person (usually the bride) is deemed responsible for the success of the wedding as an event. See: the emotional labor thread.

Of course, there's a lot of actual labor, too, as I saw when my sister got married.

I hadn't been up close with wedding logistics until I was one of my sister's bridesmaids. That was a learning experience. She was talking with the flower people and the caterers and the minister and the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner took place and the photographers ...

No wonder my brother in law was so chill on their wedding day and my sister was so frazzled.
posted by virago at 1:30 PM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it's probably a bad idea to rely on reality television for your information about how just about anything works. Those people are agreeing to be on TV, and if you want to be on the Bridezilla program, you have to act like a bridezilla. I suspect a lot of it is put on for the cameras.

Obviously, there are people who are obnoxious about their weddings. Some people are obnoxious, and they would be obnoxious about their grad school applications or their home renovations or any other thing that was going on in their lives. But the bridezilla is, I think, kind of a sexist trope that pathologizes women for trying to live up to stupid societal expectations.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:43 PM on August 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


I don't like to brag, but regardless I am about to do so, and blatantly. For our wedding we rented the simulated Mars surface at the local planetarium, erected a chuppah I made from shiny foil and PVC pipe to resemble a spidery NASA lander (she's of Jewish heritage), and did a short reading with quotes from Douglas Adams in front of about 30 friends and colleagues. No groomsmen, no bridesmaids. It was lovely.

Then we sent everyone to the event room at a Brazilian steak house, where they took care of all of the organizing and feeding. This was a much larger crowd because it included people we couldn't fit in the planetarium. We had about 20 large bottles of wine and 20 bottles of champagne on hand, and an open bar. Our cake was the "cellular peptide cake" from Star Trek TNG. Yes, with mint frosting. The wedding favors were dehydrated "astronaut ice cream" pouches.

The takeaways:
  • I'm glad we had the wedding in a very small venue so we had an excuse to cut down the guest list, and to omit groomsmen and bridesmaids.
  • I'm glad we had the reception in a rented event room so we didn't have to put much work into decor or service.
  • We made the theme of the wedding a variation of "nontraditional wedding," so it was easy to get out of (or modify) traditions without offending even the easily offended.
The whole thing cost just under $7,500, including the self-designed red/blue anaglyph 3D wedding invitations, the bouquet, food, drink, rentals, etc. Everyone had a great time, including the bride and groom.

Hmm, maybe I do like to brag.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 1:45 PM on August 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm glad that this is no longer a concern for gay couples, but Mrs. Molerats and I were not able to get married in either home state, or the state we currently lived. So we chose the nearest state that allowed gay marraige - about a 200 mile drive for us . Since most of our families still lived in our respective home states, almost everyone had to fly or drive a long way.

So then we started budgeting. And I'm posting here because it still galls me that ALL of the indie-bride type sites that extol "simple weddings" and "just say no to all that wedding-complex shit"! - ALL of their advice was always : "have a potluck!" "have a backyard wedding!"

OK Jerks, how does that work when I can't fucking get married in a backyard in any state where I know people with backyards.

How do you ask all your guests staying in hotel rooms to bring a potluck dish??

(I briefly looked into renting a house on VRBO or whatever -everything I found specifically said no weddings or events, because of course they don't want you to trash their vacation home)

Our choice was between having a "commitment ceremony" and giving any ceremony-related monies to a state that did not permit us to marry , or to make people travel. We chose the latter. I know we could have just done pizza or BBQ, I know people who really loved us wouldn't have cared. It still felt shitty to make most people fly and get a hotel room and not at least give them a nice meal and the somewhat "formal" wedding experience.

Anyway, my point is, even with gay marriage being legal now there are people who have good reasons to have weddings in places where "just do a backyard bbq" or "just do a potluck" is really not feasible. The reason people have hotel weddings and lodge weddings is because those venues are already easily set up with caterers and licenses and etc.

And it's shitty that I continue to read weddingy sites sometimes and still see the willfully anti-establishment snobbery that acts like people who choose a traditional officiant, or venue, or caterer are just such vapid sheeple.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:09 PM on August 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I never understood how asking guests to cook/clean/plan is not only less gauche than asking for gifts/money, but actually has an aura of moral superiority -- you're not like those other princess bridezilla tools of the wedding-industrial complex. The AskMe that Mr.Encyclopedia links to is a perfect example. Scooping ice cream for all the guests in your fancy clothes sounds like the exact opposite of "low-key" to me.

Not only this, but the whole "Oh, you're a DJ/cousin X is a professional photographer/Aunt Y is a chef! In addition to all the money they'll spend surrounding this thing, they should spend functionally their entire time here AND a bunch of prep/breakdown time before and after doing this thing to make it all gel together for free!"

And not only that, but because you're a professional you can't just make a playlist/presequenced DJ set and get wasted, or just cook something simple but tasty, or just take a few "obligatory" photos and hang out. No, you have to give it 110% because not only are you a professional but it's your family and you have to make it extra special!

And the thing is, there's a HUGE difference between asking me if i'd like to, and planning the thing around the assumption that i/someone else will just chip in because duh. I do this stuff because i enjoy it. I basically never say no to a friend asking me to play a party or event. I've spent my own money to do stuff at unpaid gigs for friends because i thought they sounded really fun, and i've had a great time.

Fuck the assumption that i, or anyone else, is just doing it by default though.

Basically everyone i know who does a Professional Thing that could be useful at a wedding or big family event has been roped in to something like this. Some of them just roll with it and are indifferent, but quite a few like me are really salty about it and that's not unreasonable in any way. It's bulllllllshiiiiiit. Double bullshit when they're dropping stacks of thousands on other stuff for the event that "duh you have to pay for", but expect an $$$ thing for free from friends/family.

It's so easy to not shit this up too. Something just along the lines of, and even as simple as "Hey, so i was thinking about who i'd book for XTHING and i remembered you do XTHING! Would you be interested in doing it for my YEVENT?" and seeing where it goes. No expectation of freeness, and if they gracefully decline, quote their rate, or take it like a champ go with that without arguing.

I don't really lose respect for people just for asking, but holllyyyy shit do i when they get all fighty.
posted by emptythought at 2:32 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Man and I eloped after parents came up with 300 person guest lists, and one parent would not come if another parent was invited, and one set wanted us to rent the hugest country club and have helicopters and shit, and I just said, "I know, let's buy first class tickets for us and our four closest friends, and got Vegas." And we did. The bellagio was a beautiful venue, they took care of minister and flowers and chapel....which left me all sorts of time to wander around trying to find Elvi to take pictures with. I refused to give my mother real wedding pictures until she stopped bitching about us eloping. Only then did she discover that I didn't actually get married by an Elvis.
posted by dejah420 at 2:58 PM on August 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


And it's shitty that I continue to read weddingy sites sometimes and still see the willfully anti-establishment snobbery that acts like people who choose a traditional officiant, or venue, or caterer are just such vapid sheeple.

You aren't alone. This anti-establishment snobbery has always made me look down on those who go on and on about it. It's sort of pathetic. It's also super American, talking about how much something cost and didn't cost.

And, in my experience, the healthiest people aren't those that tear other people down to make themselves seem smarter or better. It's all very revealing, and can be kind of funny ("Don't mind Joe if he talks your ear off about how he and his wife got married in a gas station bathroom with a mime officiating. He'll tell you how the mime was a meth addict they picked up on their walk to the gas station." Okay, that would be a funny wedding story that I'd want to hear., but not from Joe because I'd be LMAO-ing at Joe for thinking it was a cool story. I'd just be glad it wasn't my wedding.)
posted by discopolo at 3:14 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


"but I never understood how asking guests to cook/clean/plan is not only less gauche than asking for gifts/money, but actually has an aura of moral superiority -- you're not like those other princess bridezilla tools of the wedding-industrial complex. "

Plus I don't see how it saves money because if you ask someone to do a job you would otherwise pay for (officient, music, cake), I feel obligated to give them a thank-you gift worth at least as much as I would have paid the pro! (I gave my opera-singer friend who led the singing at our wedding Mass the then-equivalent of a personalize iPod; my friend the minister who co-officiated got a pearl necklace; our friend the priest with the vow of poverty got a classroom set of textbooks for his grade school class. These were all more expensive than just hiring dudes but you can't really pay friends money for doing a favor!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:27 PM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I got married at the courthouse, my witness where two senators aides who showed up to help, and my reception was in the Starbucks as I called my Mom to tell her what happened.

That's really how it should be.



Yeah, this is what my bf and I are doing in October this year. I honestly don't understand why people do the whole blowout wedding if they don't want it, and don't want to deal with the stress. My family pressured me too and I basically just said - are you getting married? No? Then you guys can stay out of it. It's my life and I'll do what I want. I guess, like what was mentioned above, many people just aren't willing to be blunt with their family members.

Regarding the article, the whole bride expecting gifts thing just made me pissed off. Last year, I was the maid of honor for my best friend. I spent over $1500 by the end of it on my dress, the bachelorette party, the bridal shower, etc, not to mention a sickening amount of time on helping her plan, the recital dinner, etc. I felt like I had to get her a gift too or she also would have gotten upset and this whole expectation of gifts is just SO WRONG. A gift shouldn't be expected! That's the whole concept of a gift - something you give freely because you want to.

I hope that in the next coming decades people will stop being crazy about weddings but I doubt it.

I hate weddings. I turn down invites whenever I can. One time, I was invited to a formal wedding for one of my friends - as in, everyone was expected to wear full tux with tails, and like, prom dresses. HELL NO was my first thought and I just declined. The large party expensive wedding thing is out of control. The saddest part is - most of these people in my social circle that put on the large weddings definitely aren't rich. They are just blowing money that they could have maybe used for a house. Or they are running themselves into debt for a one-day event. I just cannot understand it for the life of me.
posted by FireFountain at 3:56 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Plus I don't see how it saves money because if you ask someone to do a job you would otherwise pay for (officient, music, cake), I feel obligated to give them a thank-you gift worth at least as much as I would have paid the pro!

Eyebrows McGee, you may be forgetting that you're a relentlessly decent person? Some brides and grooms think they've done right if they make sure the free labor gets a 15-minute dinner break.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:02 PM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


gift noun
1. something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.

There's a whole lot of cultural stuff in gift-giving, and if your culture has strong rules, that's a whole other thing. If you love these people, you may *want* to give a gift. If you can't afford a gift, you send a card with a very loving note, and maybe you mention to BFF, I'm so honored you asked me to be your bridesmaid. It's costing a fair amount, and things are kind of tight, so my gift has to be the gobs of cash I've spent on shower gifts, getting my brows waxed, and those ridiculous shoes.

And, to whoever have us the nice quilted apron and potholders 30 years ago, Thanks. There was no card.

And to the people my now ex- was supposed to write thank-yous to, Yeah, he's like that.

And to my friend who came over, drank wine, and helped me write thank yous to people who wouldn't recognize the writing, You, my dear, are a friend.
posted by theora55 at 4:04 PM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had a friend formally renounce our friendship over email because I didn't get him a wedding gift within a year. Never mind that I spent over $1500 going to it (it was in Hawaii) and wasn't even in the wedding party.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:36 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee, you may be forgetting that you're a relentlessly decent person? Some brides and grooms think they've done right if they make sure the free labor gets a 15-minute dinner break.

I mean, I don't even know what to say to this kind of stuff. Surely I'm not the only person who (politely) asked friends to help and who genuinely couldn't afford either an officiant or a piece of jewelry of equivalent expense as a token of thanks. The friends and family who helped us have our undying gratitude and were already like family to us--their participation only made that more true. I definitely didn't expect other gifts from them (though if I recall correctly, some did give other gifts). I wrote them genuine, heartfelt thank you notes.

But we couldn't have afford a "wedding" (as compared to a courthouse ceremony) of any scale without help--generously given--from friends and family. I get that DIY-affairs sometimes have a false economy, but I'm just really not sure what people who don't have several hundred dollars to spend on an officiant or several thousand dollars to pay a photographer are supposed to do. Not get married, I guess.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:08 PM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


In two months I am getting married. We are both on our second go-round (me divorced, she widowed) and neither of us will see forty again. We smooshed two households into one and don't really want for anything. We are trusting that we will not be showered with fondue pots and rice steamers, but I dunno. We will of course write nice thank you notes to all, but I am hopeful that no one will put themselves to too much trouble for us, as we feel their presence would be gift enough.

As a child, I endured several disappointments such as can only be felt by a child receiving an incorrect Christmas gift from well-meaning but clueless adults. The following December, I was very specific in my list to Santa, helpfully appending page and item number of the Sears Christmas Wish Book. My mother scolded me, saying it was gauche and a little presumptuous to ask for a specific thing as a gift. I am still not clear how wedding registry is any different.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:16 PM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


but I'm just really not sure what people who don't have several hundred dollars to spend on an officiant or several thousand dollars to pay a photographer are supposed to do. Not get married, I guess.

No photographer? YMMV but Kelly and I agreed that photos would mostly just serve to be perused at 3am while weeping into an oversized tumbler of Wild Turkey, after the divorce.
posted by ftm at 5:35 PM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: "I mean, I don't even know what to say to this kind of stuff. Surely I'm not the only person who (politely) asked friends to help and who genuinely couldn't afford either an officiant or a piece of jewelry of equivalent expense as a token of thanks. ... I get that DIY-affairs sometimes have a false economy, but I'm just really not sure what people who don't have several hundred dollars to spend on an officiant or several thousand dollars to pay a photographer are supposed to do. Not get married, I guess."

That's not even a little bit what I meant and I'm sorry that it hurt your feelings. As I said in an earlier comment, you throw a wedding in the way your family normally entertains. Which is in the way you can afford. Which maybe is a potluck where everyone brings a dish, or a hootenanny where everyone pitches in. The people I take exception to are the ones who are like "IMMA THROW MY BIG CATHEDRAL-HOLLYWOOD WEDDING and save money by forcing my friends to do labor that professionals are paid to do, and treat them like the hired help!"

Also my wedding was on the expensive and fancy end, because that is how my parents throw weddings, so it'd be pretty freaking tacky to spend buttloads of money on a sit-down dinner and an open bar and be like "THANKS FOR THE FREE LABOR, PEONS" to your friends who offered their professional services for free. It's weird and awkward to pay close friends for that sort of thing, but it felt right to thank them for THEIR gift of service with a little personal gift from us.

(And I realize the necklace sounds extravagant, but I was making jewelry as a hobby at the time, the pearl necklace was real pearls, but "homemade." That was my gift for my bridesmaids too, pearl necklaces made to each of their individual tastes; if you buy slightly potato-shaped pearls, wholesale, they're not super-expensive.)

liquorice: "And yet on the internet it seems like it is the biggest faux pas ever."

The registry isn't a faux pas, but printing the registry information on the invitation is. The traditional thing you did was tell the mothers and the bridesmaids and people knew to ask them instead of you. (You may admit you have a registry if someone asks twice: "Are you registered?" "Oh, we don't need any presents! We're just happy you'll be there." "I know, but are you registered?" "Okay, yes, at Target.") The modern thing is to have a wedding website which you can put in with the invitation and has all the hotels and directions and things? And you can also include the registry. I feel like that works really well because you don't SAY you have a registry or put it in the invite, but people can easily find it from the invite.

Of course most websites allow google to index their registries these day so often you can just google "BRIDE NAME registry" and find out she's registered at Macy's and Target. If that doesn't work I start at Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, and the largest department store chain local to the bride and start plugging whoever has the harder to spell name into the registry search until I figure it out without having to (ugh) call anyone on a phone because, ugh, phones.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:38 PM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


By the way, I have discovered the only way you can get out of receiving gifts when it is a traditional gift-giving occasion is by NOT TELLING PEOPLE WHAT THE PARTY IS FOR until they're already there. This is how I throw parties for my children: invite adults over for cocktails and their kids to play in my muddy yard, and then when everyone's there we bring out a cake and say, "Guess what! It's Mini McGee's birthday!" BAM, NO PRESENTS. But always a dozen people very distressed that we didn't warn them so they could get a present. After two years of "Please no gifts" on birthday invitations we just started going stealth. One of my friends -- this is true! -- keeps a present for my kids in her car in the spring, in case she comes over and it's not just cocktails, it's actually a birthday party. "Kristin! Really! No gifts!" "But it's a BIRTHDAY!"

(My older son is six and people are JUST NOW starting to believe us that no, we really really really don't want birthday presents, we have a small house and a HUGE FAMILY and my kids get plenty spoiled with just the gifts they get from their grandparents and gazillion aunts and uncles.) (Except Kristin. The memo will never arrive for her, I think.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:47 PM on August 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi, treating one's wedding helpers well does not need to involve large-scale gift-giving - true appreciation and thoughtfulness work just as well. It's just that some couples think that a) they're entitled to the labor (someone linked that AskMe above) and b) don't express any kind of gratitude before, during, or after the event.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:01 PM on August 16, 2015


I love weddings, I really do. Big weddings, small weddings, religious services, secular ceremonies, it is all good.

The thing that bothers me about weddings, and the implicit criticism of "$20k" weddings, is that people have no idea how much it costs to put on an event. If you've never hosted a dinner for more than, say, 6 people, the cost does seem outrageous. But food and beverage and giving your guests somewhere to sit costs money. I know I've mentioned before on MF the helpful "low cost" suggestions from relatives. "Such-and-such venue seemed nice and I'm sure it didn't cost very much money" - we'd dutifully investigate and discover that just to have access to the venue would be $1-3k. Even parks cost a fair amount in our area. It costs a lot of money to look this cheap, as Dolly Parton famously said!
posted by stowaway at 6:04 PM on August 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


I should add that we did spend a good amount of money on our wedding and sidestepped the whole DIY/friend-labor thing to minimize headaches. It worked out really well, and I think the frugal relatives were really happy to just show up and enjoy a party, and not have to work. It was great.

Man, I wish I knew someone getting married soon.
posted by stowaway at 6:12 PM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The registry isn't a faux pas, but printing the registry information on the invitation is. The traditional thing you did was tell the mothers and the bridesmaids and people knew to ask them instead of you. (You may admit you have a registry if someone asks twice: "Are you registered?" "Oh, we don't need any presents! We're just happy you'll be there." "I know, but are you registered?" "Okay, yes, at Target.") The modern thing is to have a wedding website which you can put in with the invitation and has all the hotels and directions and things? And you can also include the registry. I feel like that works really well because you don't SAY you have a registry or put it in the invite, but people can easily find it from the invite.

Of course most websites allow google to index their registries these day so often you can just google "BRIDE NAME registry" and find out she's registered at Macy's and Target. If that doesn't work I start at Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, and the largest department store chain local to the bride and start plugging whoever has the harder to spell name into the registry search until I figure it out without having to (ugh) call anyone on a phone because, ugh, phones.


This is a really good example of phrasing context-specific advice as if it is universal. In some places and for some people, the above is absolutely correct. In other places and for other people, it is not. I personally live in a far-flung and highly mobile social world where it is more polite to provide clear and direct information rather than having unwritten expectations about tracking down and contacting someone's mother whom you have never met and don't even know her name. In another situation, what you describe is absolutely the polite option.

I suspect a lot of the big etiquette disasters happen when social worlds collide or where people don't make their expectations and frameworks clear. There's no chance I'd think to (or care to, to be honest) google around to discover someone's registry -- that is a great example of how etiquette expectations can be so divorced from a person's experiences as to create miscommunication instead of clarity.

I've stopped even considering going to weddings that are far away unless the person is really, genuinely close to me, though I am always happy to send a present. When we married we had no money so our marriage was very similar to what the Whelk describes, though minus the senator's aides; if I was doing it again I'd still elope but I'd try to find a way to afford a trip to somewhere exotic because the marriage part is almost free so why not have a nice vacation?
posted by Dip Flash at 6:56 PM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


...people who don't have several hundred dollars to spend on an officiant...

Holy Crap! Officiants charge that much? Honestly I had no idea. As a ULC minister, I ordained the person who officiated at my wedding. He asked for a pizza for it. I've officiated seven weddings, and the most expensive thing I have received was a night in a hotel near the out-of-town wedding site. (Probably a $85 value.) I also have received a 12-Pack of PBR and a really fancy beer-bottle opener that attaches to the fridge with a magnet.

(These weddings have all either been for close friends or required absolutely minimum effort on my part- -just signing and mailing in the paperwork in one case.)
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:09 PM on August 16, 2015


Irish weddings are so much simpler. We have the wedding ceremony, the first fight, the reception, the second fight, the party, the disco priest, the big fight, the group hug, and then yer man who has not said a word all day sings an old Irish song and we all cry until dawn.

Weddings are, IME, awful, but as with most things to do with celebration, the Irish have it nailed.

(And to avoid all this, I've told my daughter that I'm expecting her to elope. I've even offered to pay the air fare)
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 7:14 PM on August 16, 2015


I always wonder why so many people choose to have US-style fancy wedding

Just try an Indian fancy wedding. Three or more days! Ye Gods! I feel faint at the very thought.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 7:17 PM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


We had a wonderful wedding. Some people gave us gifts. Some people came and didn't give us gifts. Some people RSVP'd no and sent a gift anyway. Some people RSVP'd yes and didn't come, or send a gift. Two of my bridesmaids didn't give us a gifts, but they worked their asses off helping with the party. We had a wonderful wedding. The gifts do not matter.
posted by Pearl928 at 7:47 PM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a fan of registries or gift lists in general because I suck at picking out gifts and just wish people would give me a damn list for any occasion (not just "I don't want anything," lying through their teeth, and wanting something). The registry even takes stuff that's already been bought off the list. How awesome is that?

"Does he
a) Make the people getting married look like rude assholes by going without me and ALSO end up looking like a rude ass himself by going without me?
b) Call and ask "Hey, can I bring my fiance?" and be that guy asking for a plus one?
c) Not go, and make it look like he dislikes people who just didn't realize our relationship situation?"

I was in a similar situation (though we were not shacked up, and the people doing the inviting had no idea what relationship situation I was in) and I ended up doing (c) because my SO pretty much threw a fit insisting that if I went, we HAD to go together because COUPLE, period. SO worked retail and had a douche boss who specifically said nobody could ever, ever, ever have a weekend day off, so it's not like he could go anyway! I was NOT going to be the asshole who begged for a plus one, especially when I was like, a childhood friend of the bride from years ago and pretty low on the priority list, but SO wanted me to beg and beg, and haaaaaaaaaaated the idea of me going alone...in the end, not going was easier than dealing with the fucking drama all around.

Afterward: (a) the day before the wedding, the boss let him have that Saturday off spontaneously (or douchely), and (b) supposedly the mother of the bride said I could have asked and it would have been okay. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:00 PM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I called someone who I had heard was planning to attend my wedding uninvited, and told her not to come, and that if I, or my family, saw her on the property, we would have her removed. It was one of the best/worst moments of my life.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:28 PM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


"Apparently ALL These answer are incorrect, and the 'correct' answer is to send gossip up a secret chain of communication from (him to his mom to T's mom to T) - which is so much BS it's not even funny, and still makes T and R look like dicks for just simply not realizing our relationship status had changed and is inefficient and may not even work."

BS to you, perfectly fine tuned system to me. It also helps everyone in the family stay in touch. All the moms know everything and share accordingly.
posted by oddman at 9:19 PM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the many, many glorious things about our two bride wedding was that 1) our friends were already in camp 'it's your wedding, do what you want to do' and 2) our families were mostly in the 'two brides is weird but we'll be there anyway' camp (which was really annoying, BUT) it meant that we could do whatever we wanted to do and we didn't get criticized. No one criticized a damn thing (the closest we got was my mom calling the pig picking 'not very traditional', but my mother is daft sometimes; we got married in NC in August, a pig picking was about as traditional as we could get for two un-churched people.) Neither of us got called a bridezilla, neither of us was expected to do all the planning (though I did a lot of it, she was frantically trying to pass physics), and we got exactly the day we wanted (other than having had to make a run to Maryland for the paperwork a couple months previously; if we'd known NC was going to roll two months later...) It was awfully nice.

And second of all, it puts a huge burden on anyone who has less money than the bride and groom couple do.

Fixed that for you! :)
posted by joycehealy at 9:24 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one getting a giggle every time I see the abbreviation "BM" for bridesmaid?

Not as big as the giggle I get when I see "STD" for Save The Date.
posted by the_blizz at 9:42 PM on August 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Lots of people at our wedding are now dead, lots of couples at our wedding are now divorced, but the memories were/are the greatest gift.

"And so it remains only to thank you all for coming. Be sure as you leave not to forget your wedding favors... or those who have fallen this day."
posted by No-sword at 10:21 PM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


"It still felt shitty to make most people fly and get a hotel room and not at least give them a nice meal and the somewhat "formal" wedding experience."

Out of all the money I have spent on other people's weddings, including dumb weddings I wish I had not attended, my FAVORITE money to spend would have 100% been traveling from a shitty state with no gay marriage to spend my money in a good state with gay marriage. I would have upgraded my hotel room, bought extra alcohol, gotten myself a massage, and mentioned to every service provider, "Yeah, I'm here for a gay wedding, my friend lives in one of those backwards states without them, I'm so glad you have them here! What a beautiful city, have a giant tip." Like, the deli guys making my sandwich would have been hearing about how great their state is and getting double tips.

I know it is a shitty thing to not be able to be married at home, but don't feel bad about your guests traveling, who were all gleefully spending spite money in the good state.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:27 PM on August 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


As I said in an earlier comment, you throw a wedding in the way your family normally entertains. Which is in the way you can afford.

Yeah, this works great for couples from intact families that share the same culture. It doesn't work as a rule of thumb for families where the parents fought like rabid weasels at every party they hosted (before their divorce), for couples whose families entertain very differently, or for introverted brides/grooms who don't normally entertain at all without anxiolytics.

Eloping doesn't work for everyone, either. Sometimes you have to compromise, and, indeed, possibly the first big test of a marriage is whether you and your soon-to-be-united families can come to terms over the goddamn wedding. God help you if it's the happiest day of your life, though.
posted by gingerest at 12:31 AM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


My wife and I married with no ceremony thousands of miles from my family and friends. Several of my oldest friends insisted that we accept gifts from them. We requested that in lieu of gifts they make a donation to their local food bank. They were vocally unhappy about it.

Their response made me all the happier to be thousands of miles away.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 1:08 AM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I agree on sometimes people not understanding how much things cost. Our wedding was about 10K, which sounds maybe semi-fancy, but 5K of that was food and open bar for 100 people and some of the rest of that was plane tickets for the wedding party that couldn't afford to come.

I didn't ask any friends to do their skills for free, but I did ask a friend to walk me down the aisle when my shitty traditional dad boycotted the wedding because Husband didn't ask him for permission before asking me to marry him. I regret nothing.
posted by corb at 2:10 AM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hope my possible future partner is cool with the idea of eloping because I don't think I'd do it any other way, unless I find myself suddenly very wealthy and can generously pay skilled people to take care of a lot of the fuss and details.
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:38 AM on August 17, 2015


I do want to throw out that we did have a beautiful, low key, and budget-friendly wedding despite being long-distance for almost everyone, so it is definitely possible!! Even if you do have to get a caterer and a venue because of the distance!

(and I am happy to talk about specifics with anyone, because I am a freak and like to talk about budgets and spreadsheets 2 years after my wedding. Which is not to say our wedding only worked because I'm a numbers freak -- I had my share of "OMG this is too much" as much as anyone else -- but I'm proud that we did it!)
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:53 AM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


All I remember clearly of my own wedding planning anymore is getting very upset at the woman at the hotel where I was looking into renting a room for the reception. She sweetly assured me that the napkins could be "color coordinated to match my girls."

Weeks of being traded up by every aspect of the wedding industry (including the church) made me snap: "I DON'T HAVE ANY "GIRLS"!! I JUST HAVE MY MOM! AND SHE DOESN'T WANT TO BE COLOR COORDINATED WITH ANYTHING!!!!!"
posted by JanetLand at 7:56 AM on August 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


But my wife's cousin gave us a spatula. It wasn't anything fancy or nice - just like a 2 dollar thing from walmart.
I put silicone spatulas on our registry along with a bunch of other sub $10 kitchen gadgets. The only feedback I got on the list was about them being too cheap or boring. It was 3rd hand so I don't know if it was gentle teasing or actual nastiness. I use many of those gadgets every week and appreciate them quite a bit.
posted by soelo at 8:01 AM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


We had a bit of wedding-related drama recently - my husband's brother is getting married, and his venue is 21+, which means our 14 year old son would not be able to attend.

My husband has decided that if all of us are not invited, none of us will go.

Meanwhile I'm just glad that he did all the emotional labor on this one.
posted by Lucinda at 8:17 AM on August 17, 2015


The Underpants Monster: "She was also the one who demanded to see Mom and Dad's marriage certificate after they eloped, because she didn't believe they were really married."

When my jewish dad married my gentile mom, his various aunts and great-whatevers decided he had to marry her, if you know what I mean, because why else would little Moishe marry a shiksa? When no baby showed up nine months later, they decided the baby was hidden in the countryside.

It's a running joke in my family to lament the fate of our secret older sister who lives in the country.
posted by signal at 8:41 AM on August 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


Just a few weeks ago I was at a picnic, making small talk with some dude I'd just met. He mentioned that he was getting married soon, and I asked where it would be held; he just shrugged and said he'd show up wherever his fiance told him to because she was "taking care of all that". As if somehow ladies have the power to just magically birth a wedding.

At the time I was in the midst of reading the emotional labor thread here, and I've gotta say, AN ICY WIND DID BLOW.

When I was younger and assumed I was straight, this was actually something that weighed on me - the assumption that as the lady, I would end up responsible for my wedding. Just the thought of it made me feel like a failed woman because I had NEVER dreamed of my wedding as a kid, I LOATHED dresses and had no desire to wear some uber-dress in front of people I had to look in the eye later, and I was freaked out at the thought of having to somehow transform into this "Bride" character - the focus of all this attention and scrutiny, who was supposed to be blushing, and glowing, and tearful to the appropriate amount, and whatever other cliched terms get thrown out there about brides.

Back in those days I would joke that I planned to wear a chicken suit to my wedding and be blarted down the aisle by an all-tuba band (I think at one point a pogo stick factored in, too) - it occurs to me now that this was how I was managing my anxiety over actually trying and inevitably failing to meet the expectations of a traditional wedding. The idea that all of this is something one can just choose not to do sounds similar to the "just don't send cards" declaration in the emotional labor thread - sure it's possible, and it's swell if you both want to and can do this, but depending on your own complex family/social dynamics there can be fallout that is costlier than going with the flow. You can feel like you have to put on a wedding even if it isn't something you particularly want yourself - and people can still act like this is all somehow "for you" and therefore of COURSE it's your job.

Hell, even before my actual (awesome, joyous, lesbian) wedding, I still had pangs over the fact that I wasn't going to wear a dress - despite the fact that nobody I wanted at our wedding would EVER have expected me to wear one, and probably wouldn't have recognized me if I did ... I loved our wedding so much more than I had ever abstractly expected to, and find myself wishing I could live that day over and over again, but man, the expectations surrounding weddings are weird. No wonder it causes all this friction when we're all running around with these various unspoken rules and strongly-felt social pressures pressures (real or imagined) in our head.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:06 AM on August 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


The thing that bothers me about weddings, and the implicit criticism of "$20k" weddings, is that people have no idea how much it costs to put on an event.

THANK YOU.

So I'm getting married next month. I'm not gonna say exactly how much we'll be spending, but suffice to say it is much lower than the averages you see quoted in the media, but easily high enough that I won't be bragging about it to anybody.

You know what we're spending money on? Food and booze. Literally. Probably about 70% of our final spend is going to be food and booze. If you add in the venues - and we got a damn good deal on those, really - it's easily over three-quarters of the budget for just food, booze and venues. We even went with one of the cheaper caterers around, but still.

We're expecting about 120 people. There are very, very few superfluous people on the guest list - my finacee's family is big, and she's close with most of them - and we legitimately did want to celebrate our union with the people who matter to us. We wanted to have a party with them, in some way. So that's like, 120-ish people. And you know what? There is no way to provide food and alcohol for 120 people that is inexpensive. I mean if you know someone with a really big backyard who is willing to host and have family/friends that are really into cooking a shit-ton of food, maybe you could do it. And we did look into some alternative arrangements, but for logistical reasons that I will not get into here, what we are doing is probably the most practical option for us, or close to it, for what wanted.

If you live in an expensive region, and have a large family, and legitimately want to celebrate your impending union with them - and none of these things are unreasonable desires, nor need they be fed by the Wedding-Industrial Complex, I think - well, good luck planning a wedding below the low-five figures, unless you want to have your guests stand around in a field and serve them ring dings and Pepsi.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:23 AM on August 17, 2015 [15 favorites]


I get tired of reading posts from smug, judgmental people about how DIY and cost conscious and sooooo-much-cooler-than-you their weddings were. Hell, I had a picture-perfect hipster wedding that would fit those criteria myself, but I think it just really smacks of thoughtless one-upmanship to crow about it. Because not everyone can swing a wedding like that due to obligations and I don't think people are morally advanced based on how little they managed to get away with when funding their wedding.
posted by Windigo at 9:25 AM on August 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also not everyone is an orphan like me, which apparently is a sought-after trait when it comes to wedding planning according to this thread, I guess.
posted by Windigo at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of sympathy on this thread for the unfair burden society puts on brides, but none for the tremendously more unfair burden society puts on bridesmaids.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:39 AM on August 17, 2015


Well hey, if we're venting, can I admit how tiresome I find it when people (not necessarily here, but among those I've encountered in day-to-day life) insist on dismissing weddings as "just a big party"? That always smacks of the same mindset I must have had when, around age 5, I went around flipping the bird at everyone because by god I KNEW that it was just a finger and everyone needed me to prove that to them.

We're social animals. Symbols are important. Rituals are important. It's swell if you reject them for yourself, but it's tedious to encounter the individual who's sure they're the only one who has peered behind the curtain and uncovered the base capitalistic secrets nobody else understands. I think we're all perfectly capable of imbuing the mundane with the sacred, and it's so much nicer when people can just be happy with their own choices without needing to broadcast how meaningless someone else's choice is.

By god, the sight of my wife in her wedding dress, straight from the jaws of the 'wedding-industrial-complex,' was one of the most profound sights I will ever see.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:55 AM on August 17, 2015 [15 favorites]


I mean if you know someone with a really big backyard who is willing to host and have family/friends that are really into cooking a shit-ton of food, maybe you could do it.

I think this is the central twist of it -- people are very into having weddings that either escape the stress and pomp of planning every perfect detail, but also to have Trend-bucking Cheapo Wedding. But it's hard to have both. Can you save a lot of money if you DIY food, cocktails, decor?? Definitely, but you are vastly adding to your work and stress-load. At some point, it sounds awesome to throw some money at a caterer than figuring out how to bake, store, and transport 300 cupcakes. I flirted with the idea of making our own desserts for my wedding - but on the day of, it ruled so hard to have thrown some money at a good, professional baker, and dispatched my MIL to go pick them up.

I was a bridesmaid in my bff's wedding, and her mother coordinated almost all of the food and decor herself. All the wedding party spent ~3 days pre-wedding doing a shit ton of food prep. We did it with love, and it was a lot of fun, but also OMG CRAZY. I am personally so glad I didn't have all that work right before my wedding - I would pay other people to do it again in a heartbeat.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:09 AM on August 17, 2015


The problem with emotional labor is not that it exists. I want to do emotional labor in service to my friends and family by hosting them to a nice celebration. The problem with emotional labor is that it tends to fall almost exclusively on the woman to provide.

"Fuck you, I'm doing it my way, you don't have to show up if you don't like it," isn't a very good way to treat your friends and family.

My grandfather, who was a farmer and factory worker whose idea of a good time was digging around in his backyard garden on his hands and knees was ready with a suit when it was time to show up to a wedding for his grandchildren and countless nieces and nephews, because he knew it was important for him to be present when asked for.

I am all for condemning the excesses of the wedding industrial complex, but in the end, lots of things aren't solely about you, but about making other people happy and feeling welcome and participating in a tradition.
posted by deanc at 10:20 AM on August 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also it is worth noting that in some areas you just don't have the space. Like, I don't know a single person, friend family or acquaintance, in NYC, who could fit 100+ people at their home. And that was after cutting ruthlessly enough to make enemies.
posted by corb at 10:59 AM on August 17, 2015


deanc: moreover, it's not JUST that emotional labor exists, or that it's basically the glue that holds society together, so, yeah, no you don't get to say "screw that noise" because doing that tends to make things worse, OR that it almost invariably falls to women to provide this kind of context / communication / social lubrication...

it's ALSO that it is simultaneously virtually invisible to most men AND it's the single greatest factor by which women are judged and found lacking in society. By everyone. Other women included! So weddings are sort of the ne plus ultra of emotional labor writ large for the entire world to view, hence they become this gigantic revolving slapfest clusterfuck minefield of everyone else's expectations you're expected to somehow gracefully navigate whilst simultaneously looking glamorous, never breaking a sweat, never pissing anybody off, AND sticking to a budget?

So when your bride / bridesmaids / mother-in-law throws a snit because someone steps on an emotional labor (or real "women's work labor; see also figuring out logistics for preparing / shipping / serving 600 cupcakes in an appropriately thematic and decorative fashion, etc, etc, etc...) landmine, then BY FAR it's the women in the party who are shamed/judged/found lacking in some regard by virtually everyone else involved, and the men simply get to shrug, and go "welp, not my problem" and go back to drinking beers on the front lawn.

so it's probably not a big revelation that those of us who got married over 40 and are otherwise generally fairly socially inept decided, when faced with this whole disaster, to say ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and just do whatever the hell we wanted.

BUT that doesn't mean it's a perfect solution for you or anyone else! Like was said way upthread, that's arguing from a place of privileged cluelessness, and it's best just to allow folks to get on with what best suits their needs.

I mean I don't have a problem with anyone saying that obnoxious brides exist, and maybe what's up there in the OP is a good example of how not to go about things, but I have a REAL problem with the "bridezilla" stereotype in general because COME ON ALREADY.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:05 AM on August 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


I would have upgraded my hotel room, bought extra alcohol, gotten myself a massage, and mentioned to every service provider, "Yeah, I'm here for a gay wedding, my friend lives in one of those backwards states without them, I'm so glad you have them here! What a beautiful city, have a giant tip."

When Ms Wimp and I decided to tie the knot a few years ago, we chose Iowa City because their Supreme Court had just ended the ban on same-sex marriage and we wanted to show our support for the state's sanity. We stayed at a bed and breakfast right near the Iowa campus called the Golden Haug, whose proprietor was friendly and outgoing, but who clearly had some right-wing political opinions. We didn't mind, as it made it all the more poignant to tell her on more than one occasion that the whole reason we were down there was because of same-sex marriage. You could almost see the wheels turning in her head.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:10 PM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am all for condemning the excesses of the wedding industrial complex, but in the end, lots of things aren't solely about you, but about making other people happy and feeling welcome and participating in a tradition.

Tradition might be about making other people happy and feeling welcome, but that doesn't mean it's welcoming to everyone. About the time a bunch of those awful "marriage is one man/one woman" laws were passed, I found my recently-divorced self at a wedding reception and hanging out with two gay couples. Oh the irony. Of course we were happy for the happy couple, but we were also trying hard to be comfortable so we wouldn't get figuratively seated at the "Bitter Jerks Who Hate Weddings" table. (Although I won't say that a few snarky comments weren't made as the evening and wine progressed.)

It's better now that same-sex marriage is legal. But when the gent and I do get hitched, we're going for the city hall/two witnesses/pizza/beer package because we know first-hand how hard it can be for people who by circumstance fall outside tradition to attend traditional events.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 1:28 PM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


The weirdest to me, though, were our close friends who were shocked that we didn't want gifts. "Weddings are where you get all your stuff!" they would tell us, to which we would reply that we already had plenty of stuff and didn't really need anything else. I guess the one couple that got married before us just had so much fun going to Neiman Marcus and drooling over the crystal and fine china that they didn't understand any other way. In fact, every time we make a durable goods purchase now, they tell us, "That's something you could have registered for!" It's crazy.


Sometimes weddings are literally "where you get all your stuff", especially if the couple is young and just starting out in their financial lives. In the country I'm from, it's one of the practical facts of marriage that one side of the family buys the new living quarters (possibly a small apartment or even a nice house depending on the family) and the other side of the family buys the furniture, and then all the relatives show up to the celebration with cash gifts proportional to what they can afford and what they received when they themselves were getting married. Otherwise the newlyweds just would not be able to afford moving out of their family homes.

Lots of people -not just foreigners and immigrants- actually don't understand this way of "Oh no gifts required, we've got everything we could possibly need." Tackiness is tied into economics. I don't think the behavior you've described is crazy at all unless the couple before you were undeniably well off.
posted by iamleda at 3:49 PM on August 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


lonefrontranger: "gigantic revolving slapfest clusterfuck minefield" is one of the greatest English phrases I have ever heard/seen.
posted by concertedchaos at 4:03 PM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I guess it suggests a bit of privilege to admit that (a) I've been to several very large, very nice, very fancy weddings but (b) none of them resulted in debt for the principals or their parents.

They're fun IF you like that sort of thing AND the folks paying for it have the money to do so without being irresponsible about it. The biggest was a LEETLE over the top -- certainly for my friend the groom, but he rolled with it -- as he was marrying the firstborn daughter of a wealthy guy in Baltimore. Actual wedding was in a small historic venue, and was nice and fairly low key. Maybe 100 people.

Reception, on the other hand, was in the Baltimore Museum of Art and included a multi-hour cocktail phase (complete with more food than most weddings) as well as a multi-course dinner for probably 300 people -- with an open bar, 1st growth bourdeaux, excellent champagne, and a 15-piece band. And if that weren't enough, you could decompress by getting private tours of whatever exhibits you wanted because there were museum docents on hand for precisely this purpose. (I think bride's dad was on the museum board.)

It was awesome and fun, and even though my pal wasn't super into the fanciness of it, he and his side of guests had a pretty spectacular time.

When Mrs Uberchet and I got married (10 years ago in October!), we were fresh out of wealthy Baltimore patrons, so we did it all ourselves and spent a LOT less. Even a "cheap" wedding gets pricey quick, though. We did only "stand-up" food, and had a limited bar (wine and beer plus a "custom" cocktail the caterer did for us, which was delicious and involved tamarind of all things). We had < 150 people at the reception. We still spent $10k, and that's without paying an officiant or a photographer because two friends who do those things volunteered to perform those services as wedding presents to us (which was awesome).

That fancy party in Baltimore? I'd be surprised if it weren't 20x what we spent.

I will state for the record it's way easier to get away with doing pretty much exactly the wedding you want if you're both 35 and live hundreds of miles away from family. But it's still not a slam dunk, because several of my wife's friends kinda badgered her about some aspects of the wedding planning in a way I still get mad about.
posted by uberchet at 5:13 PM on August 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


haha thanks! I wrote that on my phone on my way to a meeting and was actually thinking in hindsight it's one of my more incoherent MeFi rants in a long history of stream-of-consciousness blathering, but I guess at least some of it parsed :D

and truly if it didn't come through what I meant to say is that traditions are great if you're a traditional kind of person. However, many of us who are non-traditional / non-hetero- / non-cis or just old, world-weary introverted GenXers like yours truly, well -- we are heartily sick of bullshit society shenanigans (as has been well defended above by those more articulate than I) -- and thus we have taken a long, cynical look at the Wedding Industrial Complex and said "the hell with this, people are going to judge us regardless, so fuck it." That genuinely doesn't absolve us of sending thank you cards or doing any of the other homework involved, but it does greatly cut down on the hassle factor.

and yeah holy christ, people, decent catering is expensive, and insanely time consuming sweaty hard work. I used to work in hotel banquets and catering, and I am more than willing to pay for someone to do that for me if I have any say in the matter.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:28 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reception, on the other hand, was in the Baltimore Museum of Art and included a multi-hour cocktail phase (complete with more food than most weddings) as well as a multi-course dinner for probably 300 people -- with an open bar, 1st growth bourdeaux, excellent champagne, and a 15-piece band. And if that weren't enough, you could decompress by getting private tours of whatever exhibits you wanted because there were museum docents on hand for precisely this purpose. (I think bride's dad was on the museum board.)

It was awesome and fun, and even though my pal wasn't super into the fanciness of it, he and his side of guests had a pretty spectacular time.


You know, I don't think I would ever have some kind of over-the-top fancy wedding, even if I could afford it. But if you're rich, and you're into that sort of thing, this sounds a HELL OF A LOT more fun than than like spending reams of money on a Cinderella carriage or some wacky ice sculpture or something like that. This shit is fancy done right.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:56 AM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


iamleda: "Sometimes weddings are literally "where you get all your stuff", especially if the couple is young and just starting out in their financial lives."

In Chile, most middle-class-people register in one of the 3 large department stores. When we had our 2nd wedding, we did just that, and specified (to the store, not the guests) that we didn't want to get the actual presents, just store credit. The end result was the same as requesting cash (which is not done in mainstream Chile), and for our first year we basically got everything we possibly could from said store. Even small, ridiculous stuff, like M&Ms, dish towels, whatever, plus whenever we needed something big, they'd deliver it so we never had to haul anything up to our second floor, no-elevator apartment.
Most of the big ticket gifts were from our parents' friends, ours gave us cheaper stuff or more meaningful, non-registry stuff like paintings and such.
Basically, I saw the party as a way for our parents to give us some cash to start us off via their friends, and have a good time as well.
posted by signal at 8:38 AM on August 18, 2015


iamleda: "Sometimes weddings are literally "where you get all your stuff", especially if the couple is young and just starting out in their financial lives."

Yeah, I got married when I was 23 and my husband owned ONE PLATE and ONE BOWL when we started dating, and we were both in grad-school apartments with a minimum amount of stuff. We just passed our 13th anniversary and I am just now starting to phase out all the towels we got from our wedding registry. We got a ton of stuff we use every day -- sheets, towels, glassware, small appliances, serving dishes and pitchers, spatulas, our moderately-demon-possessed toaster -- as well as some more fancy, less-practical stuff like fancy china. But we were both young and broke and in school and hardly owned anything that wasn't thrift-store or hand-me-down or "my parents were getting rid of it." Definitely the fact that we got married so young and people wanted to buy us housewares as presents helped us have a "grown-up" apartment a lot more quickly than we would have managed it on our own.

My brother who's two years younger than me got married at 33, and he and his wife both had a decade out of school, careers, their own apartments with no roommates, and their problem was exactly the opposite -- "We're trying to smush two complete kitchens of utensils and pots and dishes into ONE kitchen, and EVERYONE WANTS TO BUY US MORE POTS." Everyone kept complaining they didn't have enough stuff on their registry, and they were like "BUT WE ALREADY OWN TWELVE BEER STEINS HOW MANY CAN ONE COUPLE OWN?"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:44 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also when you're in your early 20s all your friends are broke too so five people pool their cash to get you three spatulas from your registry and you're like "OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, THIS PRESENT IS GIGANTIC, I HAVE NEVER OWNED EVEN ONE SPATULA!" and then you're in your late 30s and you're looking at your close friend's registry going, "Oh, great, some asshole already bought all the china settings, now I have to find a way to spend $120 that is going to require me doing math and lets my friend know I am a china-setting sort of friend even though I could not buy an actual china setting because SOME ASSHOLE raided the registry."

Which is to say the irony of wedding registries is that when you're in your 20s and broke and actually need registry-type stuff, all your friends are also broke. When you're in your 30s and don't need stuff, your friends have money and just want to order some shit off your registry without having to think too hard and will bitch mightily that your registry is too thin.

We need some sort of wedding registry friend-redistribution system where young broke couples buy presents for old wealthy couples and vice versa, so the people who have stuff can just get a few spatulas and the people who need stuff can get entire dinner services.

Oh wait, I think we just call that a progressive tax system.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:54 AM on August 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


People really want to get you a Thing. I don't know if it's rude, but people do get pretty disappointed when you tell them that.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:17 PM on August 18, 2015


It's rude as hell because it ignores the entire purpose of gift giving. People aren't asking, "how can I possibly spend some cash in a signal flare to announce your wedding?" They're asking what they can give you. If you really truly feel that charity giving is super important, then ask for cash and do the donation yourself.

It also has this kind of conspicuous charity consumption sanctimonious flavor that I personally really fucking hate, and I'm a person who donates a lot to charity.
posted by corb at 12:21 PM on August 18, 2015


You pick shit that is higher quality than the stuff you own and throw out or donate the other stuff when new stuff arrives.

I blended two households when we got married, so yes, of course I had pots and pans. But I had cheap pots and pans that gave me issues and were hard to clean and bakeware that gave me a hard time. So I put some higher end stuff on my registry and have been using it since. And every single time I bake a pie in my fancy Le Creuset pie tin, I think of the friend who gave it to us, and how he wanted me to be able to bake for my family, and it gives me a warm fuzzy, and sometimes I tell him "I just baked a pie with your tin the other day" and it gives him a warm fuzzy. And that's what people want.
posted by corb at 12:29 PM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, when this shit is done right just walking into your kitchen is a reminder that people love you, which you really can't get by seeing the success of a charity which has long since used up the money your friends sent.
posted by corb at 12:30 PM on August 18, 2015


You pick shit that is higher quality than the stuff you own and throw out or donate the other stuff when new stuff arrives.

This is assuming that the people who are attending the wedding and buying stuff for you can afford stuff that's more expensive than what you purchase for yourself, which is not the situation that a lot of married couples find themselves in - especially if they've been purchasing stuff for themselves for a while. Or maybe they have nice shit from their first marriage! I admittedly don't have fancy china or single-use pans, but I have no room for them and it would be a burden for me to have them.

Kind of like large weddings - if it works for you, great! But people have weird expectations for a one size fits all gift/registry deal, and the reality of people's needs don't really add up.

It's definitely not rude in all circles to request donations instead of gifts (I mean, we do this for other reasons, too) - it's similar to the 'it's rude to ask for cash/gift cards' situation, where people come in with different expectations depending on where they're from.

I'll say that getting married has made me stop judging other people's weddings, because there's so much bullshit that gets thrown around no matter what you do. I can't stop other people from being assholes, but I can stop myself from contributing.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:49 PM on August 18, 2015


People aren't asking, "how can I possibly spend some cash in a signal flare to announce your wedding?"

You'd be surprised how many people are asking exactly that!
posted by escabeche at 7:27 PM on August 18, 2015


Irish weddings are so much simpler. We have the wedding ceremony, the first fight, the reception, the second fight, the party, the disco priest, the big fight, the group hug, and then yer man who has not said a word all day sings an old Irish song and we all cry until dawn.

Good times.


I really feel like this is over-generalising, I mean, the Irish diasporic experience cannot be summed up so easily! There are so many crucial differences, for example, in our Irish Catholic family, it is always the one-legged friends of the family disco priest, which is clearly a completely separate category...
Also, first fight is usually before the ceremony, and at the very least, there is someone chain smoking outside while seating is rejiggered inside.

Other than that, I admit you've got it down right.


Same recipe for funerals, with slightly more guitar or greatest hits from the cd collection of the departed, and slightly less disco. Usually.
The big fight from the funeral may be related to whatever happened at the last wedding, and vice versa.
posted by Elysum at 8:13 AM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'll bite - what is a disco priest? Google is not helping.

Is it at all related to the Prats' hit Disco Pope?
posted by Frowner at 8:54 AM on August 19, 2015


Er, I just assumed it's the point in the evening when the priest has got a bit drunk and starts dancing disco style to the wedding DJ?

But I mean, there could be a deeper meaning - was just basing off what happens at my family's weddings?

(Because I wasn't kidding about that at all)
posted by Elysum at 10:55 AM on August 19, 2015


Er, I just assumed it's the point in the evening when the priest has got a bit drunk and starts dancing disco style to the wedding DJ?

I was hoping that it had some specific seedily Graham Greene meaning, like a whiskey priest only for the seventies.

The Prats did introduce me to the phrase "going spare", which is useful.
posted by Frowner at 11:04 AM on August 19, 2015


Potomac Avenue: "And if the DJ plays the Electric Slide...well, you know what to do y'all."

Chicken dance FTW.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:18 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]




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