Wedding backlash and being accountable for your choices

Guest post by Kirsten Hansen
Major feels… you're accountable for your wedding choices as seen on Offbeat Bride
Photo by J Montgomery Photography

Wedding planning is all about making a crapload of choices. Even those couples who do their utmost to avoid making every single decision still have to face some choices. Friends, some of those choices are tough ones. And we can talk forever about etiquette, or rules, or best practices, but real life comes with choices that don't always fit into nice boxes.

My dude and I had some of those. The biggest one? We did not invite my dude's parents. I know, it's a little shocking. It took a while for my own parents to understand how we could consider having our wedding without my dude's parents. Long story short? Not a good relationship. So we had this huge choice that we had made and not everyone understood it. We imagined what his parents' reaction would be if they found out. There would be consequences (or at least there were potential consequences).

We made the decision that we still were not inviting them. We thought out all the options and very carefully made our choice. We stuck by it and we owned it. I had conversation after conversation with my mum who would have done anything to help smooth things out but that was not what we wanted. We knew what we were getting into. As it turned out, there was no drama… but we were ready to be accountable if there had been.

Be prepared for major feels

The thing is, when you make a big decision, especially about an event like a wedding, people have major feels about it. MAJOR FEELS. That's part of wedding backlash. And when it comes to weddings, we often want to seek advice but we also often get unsolicited advice. In the face of that, you need to be prepared to be accountable.

Be prepared for consequences and, like a grown-up, be ready to face them

We knew that if the dude's parents found out about the wedding, they would be pissed. There would be a lot of unpleasantness. To a lesser extent, the same thing was true of leaving other people off the guest list, having the wedding on a Friday, having delivery food, and any of the other decisions we made. We also decided it would be worth it to have our wedding without waiting for a disparaging comment or have my dude's stomach in knots.

Be prepared to be accountable for what you choose

So when making decisions, including the awesome ones, I've found that the best policy is to own your decisions, regardless of what they are. For me this has always meant thinking through what the possible outcomes could be (learned that from my mum!) and then just accepting that I might have to deal with that. It's a heck of a lot easier to face if you've already thought about how it could go wrong and prepared yourself.

This also applies to the days we make bad decisions or unpopular ones. We've all had those moments when we accidentally invited those five extra people, turned down help we actually need, had a fight with a member of the bridal party, overspent on something, or sent a grumpy email to a vendor. You have to own those decisions too. It may not be a lot of fun, but in the long run I've always had it work out better to be accountable than to try to pretend it didn't happen. I make a crappy ostrich, people, so sticking my head in the sand just doesn't work.

Be prepared to be an offbeat spokesperson

When you're an offbeat couple, it's even more important to hold yourself accountable for the consequences of your wedding choices. Offbeat couples are known for making our choices in ways that often differ from what people expect… so when we truly own those choices and are willing to be held accountable, we can continue to demonstrate just how awesome it is to be offbeat.

Who else has experienced some backlash for your wedding choices? What were the things that made it easier for you to be accountable for the decisions you made?

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Comments on Wedding backlash and being accountable for your choices

  1. I really appreciate reading this. I’m having a very similar dilemma right now, whether or not to invite my own mother.

    She has a tendency to take over things and make them about her (usually not in her right mind), and I’m not sure I could handle that at my wedding. Not to mention I have no clue how to get a hold of her at any given time and that the last big thing I invited her to (my college graduation) she swore she’d be at and then wasn’t. Not sure I could take that hurt again, but I feel like it would be the end of our relationship at all if I don’t invite her. Or… maybe it would be the kick in the behind she needs.

    Reading your point of view helped me realize that I’m not alone and that plenty of people have these difficult choices, and that helps a lot. Thank you for taking the time to write it!

    • So glad it helped! Seriously, I think everyone ends up making at least one tough choice when it comes to their wedding. So as long as you really think it through, you can come out the other side knowing you made the right choice for you and you’re ready for what comes with it.

      • For us (or me mainly since my fiance didn’t care either way) it was the choice to serve alcohol at the wedding. Both our parents are extremely religious and it was bad enough we have been living together for a year before we got engaged. But for us, having a dry wedding for only 4 people out of 50 just wouldn’t be fair. We did respect them by only serving wine and champagne since I just don’t feel like paying for people to get wasted. The also don’t like that my bridesmaid dresses are short and strapless, that there will be dancing and that my gown is strapless and fitted. Oh well, they’re not paying for it

    • Nikki I was in the same situation as you and author. I didn’t invite my mother and my husband’s mother couldn’t wrap her head around it even thought she knew some of the more recent reasons. Long story short I wanted my wedding to be about me and my husband not her and her daughter getting married which it would have been. I had an amazing ceremony with less drama, surrounded by people I knew loved us and I have zero regrets about the decision . Good Luck!

  2. Wow. Not just good wedding planning advice, this is just good advice for LIFE, period. Thanks for this!

    I’ve also found that when I make a decision that someone close to me disagrees with, they seem more willing to accept things as they are when I own the decision. Funny how people appreciate it when you play it straight with them! The ability to take responsibility for one’s own decision making is one of the hallmarks of being an adult (at least in my own personal definition of the term). While I’m definitely not 100% on this at all times, it’s something to strive for. And as I plan a wedding, I’m anticipating having to deal with this more than once or twice.

    • Totally! That happened with my dress choice. Once my mum got that I really and truly did want a red dress, she could let go the idea of me in a white wedding gown.

    • “Wow. Not just good wedding planning advice, this is just good advice for LIFE, period. Thanks for this!” Absolutely. I needed to hear this right now, so thanks.

  3. One of the things that really frustrated me during my wedding was when people complained about my decisions behind my back. Because of my tendency to overstress, we only invited eight people to our wedding. EIGHT. Our parents were included, but none of our other family members.

    I heard from my parents that my family members were hurt and wanted to come, but only one person actually spoke me about it. I was prepared to be accountable and explain, but no one wanted to hear my explanations. A couple of my relatives just ignored the fact that I had a wedding because they weren’t invited to it.

    I had to step back and go, “Okay, I’m hurt by this, but I can’t control their reactions. I made my choices because that was what I needed to do. I did not try to hurt anyone and I won’t apologize for the fact that I put my needs first on my wedding day. I cannot force anyone to open up to me about their feelings. I cannot control their reactions, but I can control whether or not their reactions cause me to question the choices I made.”

    It’s not a perfect solution, or any easy one, but it has helped.

    • I had a somewhat similar problem, except I heard the behind-the-back-gripes from a couple of friends who didn’t like that the bride & groom were asking for a few favors from family & friends, and I decided to deal with them myself (bride had enough on her plate and these were really petty complaints).

      I was helping the bride and groom with day-of details, so I knew a bit about their decisions. As a result, I was able to tell the two friends that:
      1) weddings are expensive, please keep that in mind
      2) if you aren’t comfortable pitching in, just say so. It’s a request, not an order.
      3) you’re her friends and it’s supposed to be a fun party, so act accordingly

    • Agreed! My family put up such a fuss about my mini-ceremony being untraditional! I’m basically eloping. I get married in 10 days and I only know roughly the time and the city I’m getting married in. I personally don’t care about the details, however, my family does. After the fussing, I sent out invites, which were those print-a-pack ones, and haven’t heard from a single family member if they are coming. I console myself that they have my contact information and I’ve tried to reach out to them to no avail. This is how I want my wedding to be, and I’m willing to explain it if anyone asks.

  4. Good advice, even if it’s sometimes hard advise to follow!

    The boy and I deal with a lot of that whenever there’s an event that mixes my very Catholic (and very gossip-y) family with our covey of theater friends (with representatives of pretty much every lifestyle choice possible). Who do you not invite? Who do you offend or piss off this time? It’s all an attempt to keep the rest of the attendees (and the two of us, damnit!) happy and having a good time, but we do have to choose, knowing that someone will be unhappy, and probably vocal about it.

    Thanks for the post – it’s nice to be reminded that we’re not the only ones fighting through those choices! 🙂

    • Totally hard to make those choices sometimes. And sometimes there is no right answer that will make everything rainbows and unicorns. But at least you’ll be prepared for what comes!

  5. I love this, not only for wedding planning but for life. Any time you have to make a difficult decision, you need to consider all the outcomes. Especially in dealing with people and their feelings. Will so-and-so blow up at you for your decision? Maybe. Is that reaction worth NOT making the decision? Maybe not. While we can only be responsible for our own behavior and choices, that means that other people are responsible for theirs. If someone chooses to be an asshole, and has to be cut out of your happy wedding day because of it, it’s on them. Making the decision is hard, but just because someone doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision.

  6. This is such a great post. We’ve gotten a couple of strange looks during our planning about some of the things we’ve chosen. I’ve just tried to hold my head high and tell people that it’s our wedding and this is what we want.

    Not inviting the in-laws really resonates because we are not inviting my brother and his family. My mom’s made comments about it several times and every time I tell her that they aren’t invited because we don’t have a good relationship. We really want to be surrounded by people who love us and not be worried about them not having a good time. Some people understand our choice and some don’t but it’s our decision and we are sticking to it.

  7. This really resonates with me too. My fiance and I had originally planned a semi-traditional wedding in a nice community center with 100 guests. Then our financial backer fell through and now we are planning a guerrilla wedding/ planned elopement and only inviting about 20 people. I know some people will be hurt, but there isnt much I can do about that except explain our reasons and hope for the best. Thanks for this post.

  8. When I saw the title of this point I thought, “Oh no, this is gonna make me feel guilty” the way that echoing voice of a parent says “You have to take responsibility for your actions” and reminds me that it’s HARD being a grown-up. But it had the opposite effect. I’ve been realizing recently that one of the major perks of my new-found adulthood is that people actually let you own your actions.

    When you’re a child, you’re taught that you need to take responsibility for what you do and its consequences. But in my experience, adults really are reluctant to let a child take responsibility for their decisions. I was allowed to make decisions, but there was always the chance they’d be overridden by my parents or teachers. And there was very often a parent waiting to rescue me from the consequences of those decisions.

    But now that I’m older, people are starting to actually respect my decisions, especially when I let on that I understand the potential consequences and still stand by my choices. It’s a great feeling to realize that I’m one of those adults now, those people who are allowed to make their own decisions. I can stay up all night and the only person I have to answer to the next day is myself. It’s a great feeling.

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. I am struggling so much myself with planning an “Offbeat” wedding. I stress out so much about what people will say about our wedding, about what is right or wrong and how I’m disappointing everyone by not doing things a certain way. I have to keep telling myself that this is what is best for us, and if people disagree with it, they don’t have to come or even acknowledge it. And that’s OK. I’ve owned every single one of my decisions, from going to school and grad school, to where in the country I live, to buying my own home, to whether or not I have children. And I’ve been so confident about everything… EXCEPT wedding planning. I’ve been so stressed. I find myself just wishing it was over so we could go on our honeymoon and be done with it, ha. I need to remember to just OWN IT and be confident with myself, with our choices, and with the decisions we’ve made that are the best for us and know that yes, someone out there will have a problem with it, but that doesn’t mean it has to be MY problem. Thank you for writing this.

    • You’re welcome! 🙂 So glad it was helpful. It’s weird how sometimes a wedding can make us suddenly change our decision-making process so drastically. It’s all well and good taking others’ opinions into account and wanting to make others happy but sometimes that just does not work either. We’ll make lots of choices in our lives so learning to own them is incredibly important. 🙂

  10. Great Read! When I started planning my wedding I was too much thinking about making everyone else happy. I felt like certain people were trying to rain on my parade. My honey said its about us not them. So screw them lets worry about me. Honestly that reality check is what I needed! Now I’m doing what makes us happy! We just want a party with our closest friends and a dreamy honeymoon.

  11. Thankfully our wedding choices have been fine. The guest list has however kicked up some drama, the most upsetting being a cousin who assumed that her partner was not invited due to some random, silly family drama that I don’t even understand. This hurt. However once I explained that it was that we were only inviting people we knew well (I’m not the best at new people or being centre of attention) the feelings of stress disappeared. I had owned that decision and done it in a mature, calm way. Did she understand? I don’t know she has never replied but perhaps that speaks volumes about her reaction.
    If anything the worst part of decision making are the people that disagree behind your back and don’t give you the opportunity to clear the air. You can’t have it all though right?

  12. My husband and I opted for a dry wedding TWO WEEKS before the big day! Some had issues, but most dealt with it and it worked out alright. BEST DECISION EVER!
    I also wore Converse high tops with my dress! And so glad I did with the running around that evening!
    My husband had been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma (multiple brain tumours) 4 weeks before our wedding date, so both decisions made sense.
    I do believe that although he was tired he quite enjoyed the day and made the best out of the choices we made as a couple. Unfortunately he passed away before we saw 5 married months together but thankfully we had a solid 7.5 years together prior!
    Our son looks forward to filling his dad’s Converse since the ones he wore no longer fit him!
    My advice…. You’re the ones getting married! Life is too short to focus on others when its YOUR day! Make it what you want it to be!

  13. We knew there would be backlash from our mothers for our decisions, though which ones they’d take a peeve to were different. In the end, our choices were based on two criteria: what makes for a good party/memory, and what makes us happy. Imagining the worst response we could get and having a way to diffuse it was very helpful, if marginally anticlimactic: at some point our mothers said eff it and stopped fighting us. I’m not sure if they started to see the big picture and liked it, or just realized we had received a genetic predisposition to stubbornness that was exponential to their own, but it was good for me!

  14. We lost a very close relationship with another couple due to our wedding choices. Crazy major feels. You can only do what is right for you. It is one day out of the zillions of days. Do it the way you want. Major feels or not.

  15. If I hear that what were are having is not a REAL wedding one more time, I am going to scream!
    Luckily we are keeping mum about a lot of our choices: who is walking us down the aisle, speech makers etc. So a lot of that will be surprises on the day.

  16. I will not be getting married myself for two more years, however I have already made the decision that I will be walking down the isle SOLO. I have a father but my relationship with him is nearly non-existent, I also have a step father but that relationship is also rocky. On top of that I don’t like the patriarchal connotation of “giving away”, I’m a grown woman and no one owns me. My mother is very upset that I won’t have my step-dad walk me, however I won’t budge. I know it might hurt feelings to do it this way but I’m okay with it.

  17. I wanted to not invite his parents and his sister. But he was on the fence. He’s a softie and loves them no matter how horrible and hurtful they are to him. And they’re his parents so it was ultimately not my decision to make. We had them at our wedding, they stuck out like social pariahs (partly because they think they are too good for my family, partly because most of my friends and family know first hand their disgusting behaviour) and it had an affect on our wedding day. It was always going to have an affect on our wedding day whether we invited them or not!

    I don’t regret inviting them regardless of their behaviour. It was my husbands decision to invite them and my decision to support him. I am happy to support him, even when I don’t agree with him. My point is that every choice has consequences. Our choice to invite them had consequences for us and not inviting them would have had consequences too. When it comes down to it, you need to weigh up the consequences and decide which you can handle and live with. I could handle supporting my husband and I did not want to handle the consequences of MAKING my husband not invite them when he was so clearly on the fence. That was my decision and despite their crap, I committed to being good with it.

  18. My partner and I are having a small wedding and I was dreading telling our parents that no extended family would be invited. Neither of us are close with aunts/uncles/cousins etc and we only wanted people that mean something to us there. My mum had no problems at all, I think my Dad was disappointed but considering we didn’t know my cousin got married until 6mths after the fact he couldn’t kick up a stink.

    My mum has been really supportive of all our offbeat choices for the wedding with the exception of one: My Hair. I’m planning on having purple, green and blue hair for the wedding, it matches my personality and also our wedding colours. My mum wasn’t getting the hint that it was not up for discussion so my man stepped in and told her firmly that the only opinions that matter are his and mine and he wants my hair coloured as much as I do. A few weeks later she suggested I have my hair purple to match my dress so it seems she’s now trying to respect my choices.

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