Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ground Rules?

I saw this post on Weddingbee about the "rule of three" which is telling your mom and his mom that they only get three things of the wedding to care about.  I think it's a good idea for people with overbearing parents, but it wouldn't have worked for us.  At all.  Because we would have lost big.  We could have given them three small things, but their big problems were big issues.

Our rule, instead, was the Rule of One.  Which is that you pick One major issue for which you will go to the mat, and tell your parents to go to hell over, if it comes down to it.

With my mother, the One issue was an outdoor wedding.  My mom is a worrier.  She likes being outside, so long as there is actually a window between her and being outside.  She's not a big fan of mosquitoes, bugs generally, heat, cold, or being wet.  Our outdoor reception in a tent worried her, more than she was even willing to let on.  I reassured her in the beginning that our wedding was in October, that bugs wouldn't be an issue, and that it wouldn't be too cold or too hot, and if it was, we would bring in heaters.  It was 72 degrees and sunny on our wedding day, so worries were [mostly] unnecessary.  (Stinkbugs!!)  I think the biggest way I got around this was by reassuring my mom she could bring and wear whatever kind of sweater was necessary to ease her fears. She brought an army of sweaters, and the advantage of the tents were that we were so close to the car that she could go get anything she left in the car that she needed to stay warm.
Photo by a guest

With Mark's parents, the One issue was food - pescatarian vs. serving meat.  I said a lot about this over at 2000 Dollar Wedding, so I won't say much more, but what we found ultimately was to pick the thing about the One thing that was important to us, and then let everything else go.  If vegetarian food didn't seem particularly impressive or fancy looking, we went out of our way to serve fancy looking vegetarian food.  If the concern was that the buffet would run out of food, we made sure that the caterers had enough food.  If the concern was that certain family members didn't like real vegetables, we would serve crabcakes and grilled cheese sandwiches instead of a vegetable crudite platter.  We got many compliments on the food, and were really happy with the way everything came out.

Other issues came up - issues that weren't worth fighting over.  I could have fought on whether or not favors were necessary, but the truth is, at the end of the day, our favors cost us $30 and they weren't a big headache.  We could have argued over whether we really needed aisle decorations, but it was easier to spend the time making it happen than fighting over it all.  The thing about wedding planning, especially an indie wedding, is that sometimes I suspect we fight just to fight - just to make sure that this day really is reflective of us.  We fight to maintain "our" aesthetic, even if we don't have one.  We fight to avoid the posed family portraits because they are not fun, they're not creative enough, and they're a hassle to organize.  We fight because, lets face it, favors are silly.  (We found it was crazy-easy to have favors be just in a bucket on the way out.  It's pretty easy to get a bucket or basket that goes with your theme, and then fill it with cheap candy.)

I know there are people in a much tougher position than we were.  I know that there are fellow bloggers whose parents have a problem with the city they are getting married in, the venue that they chose, how they are spending their money, the religion of the service, and pretty much everything else.  I feel for people in that situation, I really do.  But I don't have any advice for them, because simply put, we got lucky.  My advice is for people with parents who are generally pretty chill, but you can't agree on a few things.  We also had my sister tell us very early on that we could only pick one really big issue to fight over, and that we would need to let everything else go.  So I guess the only thing I can say is let go, where you can, when you can.  Or, lie, and then tell your mother-in-law, "I don't know why nobody put out the programs...we worked so hard on them." Or delegate, and say, "I know it's important to you to have programs/favors/aisle decoration.  Do you think you could take care of it?"  Then realize that having programs that somebody else designed isn't the end of the world.

What is your rule?


  1. In humorous defense of MOB who comes across a little wimpy, she is a scuba diver and has walked in the bush with grizzly bears and rhinos. Yes, on foot 30 feet from Rhinos. Not when she was the Bride's age but in the last two years. She does get cold.
    As for me I got to wear the same shoes I wore to the sister's wedding. Other than that I was, perhaps wisely, not consulted. Fine by me

  2. My parents were pretty chill... we had a lot of issues with money -- me trying to be cheap or whatever and my MIL just finally took over and said she'd pay. So then I didn't have much say, but it worked out. (thank goodness!)

  3. For us, some things were non-negotiable (Catholic wedding. Not getting married on a football Saturday), and no one in the family seemed to have their feathers ruffled about it. Some things were things that everyone else feels like they get to have an opinion about, but we want to make just ours (I will have pretty invitations tied with ribbon because I Want To, So There). To respond to that, we picked our top 5 "silly" priorities (please note that these are not "silly" to me). If it doesn't fall in the top 5, and it's causing us undue worry (read: centerpieces) we're letting it slide. Our families may fret, but as long as an underlying tone of "hey, we love you guys, please come celebrate with us!" is coming through, they're going to have to just deal with us being crazy kids about the top 5.

    Thus far, this has worked for us, because while I am mildly obsessed with paper goods, I cannot bring myself to have an opinion on flowers.

    Also, I love this: "The thing about wedding planning, especially an indie wedding, is that sometimes I suspect we fight just to fight - just to make sure that this day really is reflective of us."

    I think you may be right. And very wise.

  4. Maybe we should have set some rules like that. But there have been so many "big" issues (I felt like your last paragraph was referring to me specifically) that I don't know if that would have been possible.

    We are slowly getting there with my parents. They aren't "happy" but they are now "resigned" to what's going to happen.

    But I think this post would be really helpful for my best friend who is having so smaller struggles with her parents and in-laws. I'm going to forward this on to her.