Anticipating and accepting Judgy McJudgersons, or: why I should stop reading websites that are bad for my mental health

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I know Offbeat Bride has talked about why it's bad to hate-read, which I have taken to heart. (And yet cannot seem to stop myself…) There have been lots of conversations about being a Judgy McJudgerson, and hating on other people's weddings, and why it's Not Okay to be a dick just because someone has stars on their stomach. (Yeah, I went there. #Seussingitup).

I feel happy in the Tribe and reading Offbeat Bride, because we're all on our best behavior. We're supportive, even when someone does something we wouldn't do. Featured weddings always get me excited, even when they're different from what I want. Even when it's different from what I want. Those pictures of people on their wedding days… everyone looks so happy and so in love, and everyone on this blog has exactly the wedding that meant something to them, and it's so fucking beautiful and inspiring.

But sometimes, I go and do the Bad Thing where I read Other Websites that Make Me Feel Bad. Why do I do this? Why can't I stop? I think I do it because it feeds the Insecurity Monster inside of me.

Sometimes, I read the sort of websites where they love to talk about Etiquette. Where things that are totally 100% okay on Offbeat Bride are Bad Etiquette. Oh how they hate the idea of legalled before the wedding. They hate honeymoon registries. There are no excuses. There are no exceptions. It's their way or the Bad Etiquette Everyone Hates You Die in a Fire highway.

The worst part is that they are extremely self-righteous. They are spreading the word because otherwise brides would behave Selfishly. (And thank you, Offbeat Bride, for reminding me it's all selfish.) Otherwise, brides would take advantage of their guests. Their mission is to remind everyone that “just because you think no one will notice doesn't mean no one will notice. Everyone will notice and they will talk about you behind your back and they will hate you. So be nice and proper or be shunned.”

I should say that I struggle with mild social anxiety. A touch of paranoia. That abiding fear that all my friends secretly hate me, and talk about me behind my back, and barely want to come over to my place for dinner. Why would they ever want to come to my wedding? Oh god, they're all going to be laughing at me.

So those Other Websites are bad for me. They fuel my feelings of inadequacy and paranoia. Things that I think are okay are NOT OKAY, and I will be voted off the island. And rightly so, because I am breaking Etiquette.

But then I started thinking. Some rules of etiquette that I read on The Other Websites seem fine. For the benefit of the guest. Trying to tell otherwise entitled brides (it's always brides) that they really should not go around saying “It's my day, it's my way.” The Other Websites object when the bride and groom (by the way: gay weddings do not happen, and everyone is cisgender) eat a Good Meal while the peasant guests eat a Bad Meal. Okay. But then, high on self-righteous indignation, they share other horrors…

“…not only were the couple already legalled (SHAM WEDDING), not only did they have better food than the guests, they wrote ‘bride's parents and groom's parents request the pleasure of your company.' For a church wedding. Can you imagine? Who would be so uncouth?!”

I mean, I would. I would be so uncouth. I do not give a flying fig if the honor of my presence is requested for a park wedding and the pleasure of my company is requested at the church. I think it is ridiculous that anyone cares about that.


That's my fear. I try to respect other people's feelings. I do not think I am an Entitled Bride who Expects My Guests To Make Me Feel Like A Princess While I Abuse Them. But I also don't have any patience for guestzillas who think that the day is all about them. And sometimes, the dark, insecure part of me is afraid that my friends and family will be laughing behind their hands that I don't have an inner envelope. What if my nearest and dearest aren't like the lovely Tribe who support what makes each other happy? The Other Websites are always reminding you, “hey lurkers, if you think you can get away with x and no one will judge you, THINK AGAIN.”

So why am I so afraid of it? I guess because sometimes, I can be a a Judgy McJudgerson. Never to people on Offbeat Bride. Oh no, I love strangers on the internet. But judging my own family? SIGN ME UP. I have not been to very many weddings — none of my close friends have gotten married. Which means mostly I've been to family weddings. And I mean, my family is a big mess o' drama, but I Wedding Judged at my cousin's wedding. It was maybe five years ago. But I rolled my eyes and thought “how awful.” She promised to honor and obey. She and her husband were pronounced man and wife. And there I was, thinking “Gross, gag me with a stick, see if I ever promise to ‘honor and obey' gross gross gross.”

Anyway, that was years ago, and I've since discovered Offbeat Bride, and I regret being that awful judgebox. I was happy for my cousin. She looked beautiful in her traditional, strapless, long white dress, and tiara. Just because her ceremony wasn't my jam doesn't mean it wasn't exactly what they wanted. And even while I was cringing at her vows, I was still happy for her. I didn't like her any less.

So, okay. The worst that will happen is that one of my friends, through love, will think “God this wedding is NOT what I want.” I think I can live with that. Right?

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Comments on Anticipating and accepting Judgy McJudgersons, or: why I should stop reading websites that are bad for my mental health

  1. You’re so right – the worst that can happen is that someone else will look at your dress/venue/shoes/vows/centerpieces and think “gross.” And that’s not a reflection on you being inferior, it’s a reflection on you being different than them. I’m a wedding photographer, and I can tell you that there’s always something that people are going to be judgy about – whether it’s a super traditional, super offbeat, or anywhere-else-on-the-spectrum wedding. Heck, we’ve even been the receivers of snide comments from not-nice guests, and we just smile politely, keep our mouths shut (’cause we don’t get paid to fuel drama) and make sure that we get really awesome photos of whatever was complained about. Because the wedding isn’t about the guests – it’s about celebrating the couple getting married. So who cares if your wedding is the way someone else would do it?!

  2. When I first got engaged I bought some bridal magazines and started reading the most popular sites. If I were to give any newly engaged friends advice, it would be to NEVER read those sites and magazines, and instead, read Offbeat Bride along with a few smaller blogs that fit your theme/style. It is the only way to keep things in perspective! Otherwise, I quickly find myself worrying about monogrammed napkins (which I don’t care about at all), start believing the day will be perfect, & the budget QUICKLY inflates.

    I don’t know if this helps, but you and your partner are going to remember this day for the rest of your lives. Even the most judge-y guests will only remember or think about your wedding for a week, tops. Yes, you should make efforts to make your guests happy & comfortable, but no point in putting so much energy into pleasing the people who won’t carry a lot of memories of your wedding day!

    • I did exactly the same thing! Got engaged, super excited… then recieved my first Wedding Magazines of Doom and immediately descended into a pit of despair. I fondly remember one particular article which discussed Budget Dresses. “Ah ha!” I thought, “I am on a tight budget – this will finally be something of interest to me!” Then the colour drained from my face as their Super-Tight-Got-No-Money-at-all “budget” wedding dress was £1000…. that was the cheapest!
      What followed was a trawl around the internet for some semblance of sanity about this whole wedding thing… enter Offbeat Bride. My saviour! I sometimes doubt whether my wedding (this coming July) would be as personal (and consequently offbeat) as it is shaping up to be if I hadn’t of discovered this website which gave me the confidence to (as Frank Sinatra once said) do it myyyyyyyyyyy waaaaaaay!

  3. Sorry, but this post really left a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t tell what the author is trying to convey to me. For starters, a lot the examples didn’t feel constructive and more like an opportunity to put others down. Usually I feel like there’s a broader application to “Philosophizing” posts that could lead to reflection on the readers, but I’m not seeing it here. Am I thinking about how to work with people being judgey? Am I to acknowledge that deep-down I’m judgey? Is this about recognizing that a couple’s authenticity could mean many things? Or is it trying to say that judgey attitudes can bring to light things you didn’t consider before?

    • I think what it is trying to say is that a lot of time planning your wedding, it can feel like everyone and everything is telling you what is wrong with your wedding. You spend so much time looking at what others have done, or what “should” be done that you look at your own and overanalyze. You worry that the wedding you would love, may in turn not make your guests happy. That somehow your vision is going to leave all your guests with a bad taste in their mouth. So you begin to change what you want, to try to cater to them, to make them happy and in turn you lose YOUR wedding. It has now become THEIRS.

      I think the lesson of this is to not let the thoughts, judgements and opinions of others change how you want your day to be. You may end up with a wedding you hate, and it’s YOUR wedding! You worked so hard to please others, you forgot yourself! You’re the one who is going to be looking back the most, and you want something you will remember fondly, not something you’ll regret.

  4. You know what I thought repetitively while reading: ‘This is why I’m never ever getting married. Ever!’
    You just really nailed it why I don’t like wedding celebrations. Call me antisocial but just the mere thought having to navigate all those expectations (mine and everybody else’s) makes me run for the hills.

    But I guess it’s the same with every overblown social expectation: One person at the time. If you notice yourself judging other people unnesscarily for mundane things then you are on a good path IMO. Often we don’t even notice, it’s an automatic response. So I don’t acutally have any kind of advice but I totally understand why you are reading those aweful websites (bc I do to, everbody does in some way) and I love how aware you are aware what you are doing. 🙂

  5. I love this. A few weeks ago, I asked my Mom if we had forgotten anything major for planning and she asked me about colored napkins with our names and date on them. I responded with my usual, “I hadn’t thought/planned of doing that.” She mentioned her disappointment in not remembering them for my sister’s wedding until too late and followed it with, “but I don’t think anyone noticed.” I told her that I was pretty sure that no one but her remembered that there weren’t colored napkins with the couples’ names and date on them. Her response has become my mantra, “If they do, how sad a reflection that is on them.”

    So if someone judges? It’s a reflection on them, not the person their judging. It helps me, both in planning my wedding in a stress and judgement free manner, and in not judging others, because I don’t want my judgement reflecting on me.

    • We went to a wedding where the couple had all of the details planned out, including colored napkins with their names and date, but they seemed to pretty much cave in to what their family wanted and just said “oh well.” Unfortunately, it seemed the bride and groom were not particularly enthused, and the entire wedding and evening had a feeling of “complacency and oh well” to it.
      I realized that sometimes, it’s not all about the details. I could not have cared less about the napkins, but I was happy the food was good and I would have appreciated more than a “hi” from the bride and groom. Sometimes it’s about spending time with people you care about and being able to celebrate the coming together of two awesome people, and anybody who judges just doesn’t understand. I like to think that we here at OBB are Jedi on the way to becoming zen-masters!

  6. I used to worry what other people thought, and I had a case of paranoia. (Still have social anxiety, though.) Yet, I got into my thirties and looked around and noticed people were making themselves miserable by trying not to offend anyone. As a result, nobody was having fun, and only two people who go around relishing other’s discomfort and embarrassment were getting off on it.

    The point I’m making is that I refuse to give in to those two people out of the hundreds that I know. “Haters gonna hate.” Know that you’re staying true to yourself. Don’t be that person who looks back at your own wedding and says “Seriously, this didn’t feel like Us … did we really cave in to other’s expectations because we were afraid of what they’d think??”

    Don’t ever be afraid of what others think. You’ll be much happier and more at peace with yourself.

  7. Man, I was definitely a Judgy McJudgerson when it came to my cousin’s wedding last June. The whole time it was like, “Ugh, this is so traditional/boring/patriarchal/religious”, and I just didn’t really like any of it. It especially didn’t help that I had relatives asking me and my fiance if it gave us ideas for our wedding. I never did figure out a polite way to say “Hell no!”, so I mostly just shrugged off the question. But at the end of the day, I realized that my cousin and her husband got the wedding they wanted, and I was happy to share that with them; I try to keep this in mind whenever I find myself getting judgmental about someone’s wedding choices. Just because they aren’t choices I’d make doesn’t mean they’re bad or wrong, just that they aren’t choices I would have made. As a bonus, they aren’t even choices I ever have to make, so they really don’t hurt anybody!

  8. Thank you so much for writing this! I just sent an excerpt of it to my fiance, and he asked “wait, did you write this?” This captures my social anxiety so perfectly. I started out reading and participating in the etiquette forums on another site, and it made me so paranoid about my choices that I had to stop going to that site cold-turkey. I swear I’m not a bratty, entitled bride! I just felt like every decision I made was being judged and attacked, no matter how insignificant it was.

    Side note: I’m actually a very traditional bride, but the inclusiveness of Offbeat Bride really resonates with me. So thank you!

  9. On the other hand, those etiquette posts can be really helpful. I pretty much didn’t read anything other than OBB before my wedding, so I knew I was doing the right thing for US with our ceremony/reception/whatevs. I knew that people would probably be upset with some of my decisions, and they were. But had I read more traditional etiquette stuff, I would have had a better understanding of what my traditional family members were expecting. I ended up making a choice that wasn’t important to me that confused and hurt a lot of people. Had I read more traditional stuff, I would have known to expect that confusion and hurt or I would have simply not made the unimportant choice that bothered them so much. Knowing what other people expect can only help you when you need to communicate with them.

    • I’ve found that a very light hand with the etiquette stuff is useful. I don’t frequent The Other Site, but I will google things like “what to put on a save the date” or “should I have a seating chart” or “who do I tip” while also looking here on the blog and on the tribe. Like you said, it’s good to know what more traditional folks might be expecting so that you can make informed decision. At the end of the day, though, I’ve ended up ignoring a lot of the advice I’ve found, especially where there’s a lot of contradictory advice!

  10. So … some of the folks here on OBB are also regulars on those Other Wedding Websites.

    • yes, we are. what’s your point here? not being facetious… i’m just genuinely not understand what you’re getting at.

      • It’s rough when offbeat brides are stereotyped and generalized and mocked. I don’t like to see that turned back on other people either. I *am* one of the people the author is referring to in her post. I *am* one of those people who posts about etiquette. I am also an offbeat bride. I am also a huge fan of A Practical Wedding.

        I’ve spent a lot of time sussing out the differences between poor etiquette and different personal tastes. Some people are never going to be okay with things like non-white wedding dresses, or breakfast-for-dinner catering, or bridesmen and groomswomen, or video game references sprinkled liberally throughout a wedding ceremony and reception.

        But there are some things that are important when you’re hosting a party. Seating for everyone–what about my poor partner, who almost collapsed at a wedding we attended because there was no seating during the ceremony? We didn’t even know about the lack of seating till we showed up; had we known, we’d have either asked for seating or he would have skipped the ceremony. Letting guests know when the event is going to start–I had the hardest time renting a Zipcar to get to a wedding because the couple for real would NOT tell me when the wedding was.

        Different things bother different people. I don’t mind potluck events, including weddings, assuming I’m asked, not told, to bring something, and I can choose what to bring. My partner finds them really offensive. He doesn’t mind when people get married and have a wedding later on, whereas I’m usually irritated by it (big exception with regards to lots of same-sex marriages). And more than that, we can’t control everyone else’s weddings or events. I can’t MAKE people get married during their wedding ceremonies. I can’t MAKE people have seating for everyone. I can’t PREVENT people from having a cash bar. Etc. etc.

        And I don’t think that people are snidely judging their loved ones for wedding choices. The people whose weddings I referenced above? These are our loved ones. I don’t spend every moment with them thinking, “You were all so terribly rude to me!” I had a lovely time at both weddings. I don’t complain to the couples, but I also don’t forget that I spent a lot of time and money and emotional energy going to and attending those weddings.

        Lots of us spend a lot of time stressing over how to make our weddings memorably awesome and fun. Many of us want people to leave our weddings saying, “That was the MOST fun!” I believe that focusing on how to make the event enjoyable for your guests is an easier and more fool-proof way to have a fun wedding. I’m not worried about having enough fun stuff to do. I’m not worried about getting people on the dance floor. I’m honestly not all that worried.

        I didn’t really want to go into all this in the comments, besides pointing out that there are lots of people who are on multiple wedding websites. Regardless of intentions, I feel as though the author has put words in my mouth, which is why I said what I said.

        • I think that the author did try to address this, especially here “Some rules of etiquette that I read on The Other Websites seem fine. For the benefit of the guest.” I read it as a personal piece about coming to terms with feeling judged and with judging others, yes with some strong language, but ultimately it seems like the two of you are largely in agreement: sometimes etiquette is helpful (getting us to think about other people), sometimes it’s hurtful (forcing us into boxes “just because”), and sometimes it’s just mystifying.

          As for the part about snidely judging loved ones, weeeellllll… I’ve got to go with the author on this one. Some of us (raises hand), to our regret, have snidely judged loved ones for their decisions. Like the OP, however, I’ve really tried to grow past that and realize that just because it’s wrong for me, doesn’t mean it’s wrong for them. None of us are perfect, we can only try to be better.

          • I think the author is conflating two kinds of judgmental attitudes, though. There’s, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe [couple] put so many Doctor Who references in their wedding!” or, “Ugh, I would NEVER wear that outfit.” And then there’s, “Wait, I’m being told to bring a chicken-based entree that will feed at least 12 people?” or, “I’m really angry because the couple would not invite my significant other.”

            And to quote the author: “It’s their way or the Bad Etiquette Everyone Hates You Die in a Fire highway.
            The worst part is that they are extremely self-righteous. They are spreading the word because otherwise brides would behave Selfishly […] Otherwise, brides would take advantage of their guests. Their mission is to remind everyone that ‘just because you think no one will notice doesn’t mean no one will notice. Everyone will notice and they will talk about you behind your back and they will hate you. So be nice and proper or be shunned.'”

            There’s no, “Some of the people on those sites are …” or, “Some of the people on those sites say ….”

            That’s really not okay with me because I am one of those people on those sites. Not because I tell other people that their guests will hate them for their choices, or because I tell other people that there’s only one way to do a wedding. But because I go to those sites, and I’m a regular, and I talk about etiquette, and there are OBB-approved things that I don’t think are good etiquette.

            I don’t come here yelling or snarking at folks who *do* those OBB-approved-but-I-think-are-bad-etiquette things. Like I said earlier, I can’t make anyone do anything, so I mostly just shrug it off. But on a board on a site where people are discussing etiquette, I’ll give my honest opinion. And I like going into the nitty-gritty about why something might be good or bad etiquette.

            I’ve felt safe and welcomed here over the past several years, but honestly, not so much anymore.

            ETA: And honestly, I’m not suggesting that everything the author said was wrong or bad or offensive. But it’s very stressful to see something posted that’s hurtful, and it adds to that stress to have people explain how I’m not quite interpreting the post right. I haven’t misinterpreted the author’s post; I read it several times because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t misreading.

        • You seem to be taking this post really personally. I get the impression that she’s not talking about all people on other websites or even all etiquette discussions on those sites, just the ones where people get up on their high horse and act like douchebags. Unless you’re one of those people, she’s not talking about you or putting words in your mouth.

  11. In the infinite wisdom of Capt Mal:
    I aim to misbehave.

    Etiquette “rules” are guidelines, for the most part in weddings. People’s expectations are the rules they hold for themselves and expect you to conform within those constraints you did not set for yourself.

    Follow *your* stars because the people who know you will know if you’re following a rule, or have accepted it. If they can’t accept something that is outside of their expectations (which will happen), it’s that person’s responsibility as an adult (to steal some philosophy from A Practical Wedding) to, basically, “suck it up, buttercup.” It’s not theirs; it’s yours.

    Aim to misbehave. Seriously. It’s your day. Fuck ’em. They could always say “no, a circus-theme wedding with clowns and minibikes isn’t my jam*” and not show up. What’s important is that the people who do love it will go, and the people who do love you more than they may be coulrophobic will also go. Who knows? Maybe they’ll have a good time in the end!

    In the end, it’s your money, your time, your wedding and your relationship. If someone has an issue (not to beat a dead horse here), fuck ’em. Not worth it. Take some of the copy/paste responses from here and politely tell them where they can go with their not-so-your-scene idea.

    *hypothetical, of course, though it could be someone’s wedding and if so AWESOME.

    All this to say, stand strong! Doubts are part of the process, but it’s all about what you both want in your day. Everyone else is there to celebrate YOU and YOUR community.

  12. I normally don’t comment on Offbeat Bride as I’m more of a Homie and casual Bride lurker, but THIS ARTICLE IS SO MY JAM. When my cousin got engaged in January, I was simultaneously ecstatic for her and her fiance, because I love both of them so much, but also happy that my family would get their traditional wedding from her and I would be able to do my thing down the road. That eventually led me to feel super guilty, because our family is lovely and amazing and wonderful, but they also have a lot of ideas about what should and shouldn’t happen in certain life milestone circumstances. I have now made it my mini-mission to support the living heck out of my cousin and cousin-to-be as they plan their wedding because wedding planning is stressful enough in and of itself, HECK NO am I going to allow peeps to be Judgy McJudgersons on anyone’s day.

  13. Thank you for introducing the term “guestzilla”. That was beautiful! Struggling with judgement will always be a tricky thing, but power to you for embracing what you want.

  14. Seriously late to the party on this one, but WOW. I just read Etiquette posts for the first time and WOW some of these women who post are just so, and I can’t say it any other way, rude and catty. They literally do nothing but tear down anyone who doesn’t do things the “right” way and when someone argues they put these passive aggressive gifs saying stuff like “boring didn’t read” and “lol don’t care”. I don’t see how adult women can act this way! It’s just insane. I think being catty breaks good etiquette more than not having an open bar does! These women have said that they will purposefully ignore a registry, refuse to follow instructions, or actually leave a wedding because of a breach of their super strict etiquette! I personally glad that my friends aren’t that kind of a person, and if they are, they can go and we’ll be done.

    What is really upsetting me is that these women are convincing other women do ditch longstanding cultural traditions because they are “Tacky”. I understand if the bride or groom doesn’t feel comfortable doing it, because i’m all for comfort. But literally the only thing is “tacky”.

    The most hated tradition is the “Dollar dance”, which in my Slovak family is known as a Bridal Dance. In my family, you can give anything from dollars to pennies to dance with the bride and if you want you take a shot after. There is no pressure to do the dance at all. Apparently it’s “rude” to do anything with money at all. The part they always forget the second half, where everyone who danced with the bride crowds around her and the groom has to fight through them all, including the groomsmen, to get to the bride and “rescue” her. Sometimes the groomsmen even trick the groom to leaving the reception hall (apparently this happened to my dad on his wedding day) or locking him in the bathroom! I’m doing this for my wedding and my fiance is super excited about having to “fight” for me because he thinks it’s romantic. And to think that this tradition, which has been in my family and other families since they came to this country, is going away because a bunch of people on the internet say it’s bad.

    I feel like I should just send people the link to your article about tackiness because even though I’m not a tribe member (With my wedding a few days away I regret it immensely), I reference OBB all the time because of the diversity of articles, read advice, and how people speak to each other.

  15. Oh boy, did this one ever resonate with me! I just stopped following one of those “Other Websites”, and am just reading this one, for all those reasons mentioned beforehand. Granted, not everyone was rude and catty, some were very nice and open and helpful. But I let the “Traditional Wedding Etiquette Police” get me down one too many times, and had to call it quits. I love this site, and the fact that pretty much everything I want to do for my wedding has been done by members of The Tribe in one wedding or another, and people lived to tell about how wonderful it was.

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