Your Heart

The Modern Wedding: Reality Check

By November 5, 2015 2
Soughton HallWedding Photography
By Ashton Photography
Soughton HallWedding Photography By Ashton Photography

Prologue: I am engaged. I am planning a wedding. I am bitter. 

I wish someone had told me it would be this testing, this wrought with controversy, because my fiance and I would have eloped years ago and saved ourselves a whole lotta grief (and cash).

Don’t get me wrong — we are party people. We love a good party with great people. We love our close close families, the ones who have watched us grow up both individually and together as a couple. We love our close close friends, the ones who have been there for years and years, even before we were “us.” We want nothing more than to throw a killer party for these people, to wine and dine them, to shower them with love and thankfulness and great music and horrifying dance moves to celebrate the part they’ve played in the life we’ve chosen to lead and continue to build together.

And then there’s the parents’ second cousins.

And the great-aunts.

And the kids of those second cousins and great-aunts.

And the guy who was in your parents’ wedding 30 years ago, but hasn’t seen you since you were two.

And the distant family you used to see once a year for Easter, but that tradition fizzled out before your age even hit double-digits.

And the people your dad met at a bar on vacation whom he’d really like to invite.

… And suddenly, it’s not a party anymore. It’s an awkward gathering of 150-some odd bodies who barely have anything to do with one another. Good college friends get crossed off the list. Even-better grade school friends are told they can’t bring a “plus one.” Including people in your wedding party becomes the only sure-fire way to make them a part of your day, because you know otherwise you’d have to cut them out, too — or because it’s the only way you know you’ll get to have a drink with them (which will only happen when you’re getting ready together, anyway), because you’ll be too busy shmoozing with a long-lost family member or friend who remembers you only in diapers and onesies. “Look how big you’ve grown!!” Yeah, no shit.

You love your parents something fierce; you owe them your life, your career, your livelihood, your whole body and being and existence. And you want nothing more than to make them proud and happy on your big day, just as you’ve spent your whole life doing your very best for them.

The kicker is: you’re at odds with what a “wedding” looks like. You have an idea of what you’d like for food, entertainment, and venue, but the parents have been doing weddings for 30-some odd years, and yes, they know what’s what. You have an idea of what a reasonable wedding budget looks like; mom and dad would like to blow that out of the water for the sake of luxury, light shows, and limitless guest lists. You say “potato”; they say “’80s.”

You: Buffet dining! It’s affordable, it’s great food, it’s convenient, it’s endless second helpings for the extra-hungry guests. Carving station, here I come!

Parents: It’s cheap.

You: Short bridesmaids dresses. It’ll be summer, it’s hot, no need for full-length garb for my lady friends.

Parents: How informal! Will the groomsmen be wearing jeans?

You: I’d love to do online RSVP’s. Easy tracking, less paper, less cost, less work, less time. Quicker responses from people who forget to sign, seal, and return an RSVP card by the date requested.

Parents: Oh, great. So no one over the age of 40 will know how to respond to your wedding.

You: I don’t really need a shower. We have all the stuff we need. I kind of just want a hot tub, new floors, and a king-sized bed. Can I just ask for people to put in money towards a hot tub, new floors, and a king-sized bed? (#lifegoals)

Parents: What will everyone get you? Don’t you want nice guest bathroom towels? A duvet cover? A spatula or two? Mixing bowls? Plates that match? People don’t like to just give cash. They like to see it go to something.

Yes, I sound like a brat, but let’s be honest — I’m a practical brat. I just want a good, clean, fun-ass party. What “Millennial” doesn’t? Sorry-not-sorry if I’m being selfish. I can’t get past the idea of sharing my wedding day and my first kiss with the love-of-my-life-turned-husband in front of people I barely even know. And asking for things I don’t need because those people will be more “comfortable.” And dressing my bridal party the same way bridal parties have been dressed since the dawn of time — or, at least, since the dawn of the ’80s.

I’ll tell you what I’m supposed to do: I’m supposed to do exactly what my mother did. Not drink a sip, not eat a thing, greet borderline strangers all night long, miss dancing and cheers-ing with great friends, miss spending time with bridal party members or favorite cousins, be happy that the majority of my wedding crowd is either 40-plus or 10-and-under. Why is it a crime that this is not for me?

Reality Check: the modern wedding is about love. It is about magically finding someone on that you actually like. It is about celebrating that you and your high school sweetheart made it out of an endless long-distance relationship at college alive and with only one or two “breaks.” It’s about the amazing happenstance that you and your now-fiance and future husband lived one floor away from each other in the same dorm for a whole semester-and-a-half before a mutual friend introduced the two of you by chance at an off-campus party.

It’s about love. It’s about hashtags and memories and joy. The modern wedding is about great food, better drinks, and exceptional people. The modern wedding is about the quality, not the quantity. It’s about your love and happiness and comfort and excitement, not that of the hundreds and hundreds of people who may or may not know your fiance’s name, how you first met, or your dreams for the future. It’s about paying it forward; it’s about giving back to the handful of the very most important people in your life.

It’s not about showiness, or tackiness, or who’s going to be offended, or who will find out. We’ve all got Facebook; I don’t get pissy every time an old friend from high school shares her wedding photos and I wasn’t invited. This is life. It is what we make it. You can make it magical or you can make it a task, a grueling obligatory job. The modern wedding is about a day of all the absolute best things and people you could possibly handle all crammed into one 24-hour span. The modern wedding is about love; it’s whatever you want it to be. It’s about taking back what the ’80s think we owe them. It’s about sorry-not-sorry. It’s about IDGAF.

It’s about love.