Why the Wedding Industrial Complex’s “helpful” lists burn my biscuits

Guest post by Mayday

Oh, hi there, Wedding Industry. So we meet again. Mind if we sit down? I'd like to have a little chat with you.

Now, here's the thing. I can put up with hearing you tell me about how I need this One Thing to make my wedding Awesomer Than Everyone Else's because Everyone's Got One. I can listen patiently while I hear you prattle on about etiquette and about how Some Things Are Simply Not Done. And I don't like the fact that prices double every time I use the word wedding.

What I'm trying to say is, I get it. For quite a lot of people looking to get married, you fit the (rather large) bill. You formed all the stereotypes, after all! Who better to enforce them but the master?

But you know what I don't like? This trend of “funny” and “helpful” wedding planning articles I've been finding on Pinterest, wedding boards, and linked to on Facebook.

Don't give me that look. You know the ones I mean. Those sarcastic, mean-spirited articles that are meant to be “helpful tips” to new brides talking about how much wedding planning sucks and if you don't feel bad about yourself and your life while you're planning your wedding, you should hate yourself. Oh, Wedding Industry, I know you think they're funny. But they're not. They're passive aggressive and mean-spirited and downright hurtful.

Because here's the thing: Have you ever thought that maybe… just maybe… some of us are getting married because we're in love? That we're not using our weddings as a way to show off or one-up our friends and relatives and neighbors and Susan three blocks over, but because we genuinely love our partners and want to scream it from the rooftops? That it's not a desperate money-or-present grab, but that we've chosen people that we love and care about to be with us and share and enhance our joy? That everyone I have invited to my wedding is under absolutely no obligation to bring a gift or leave some cash or make a toast or even come if they don't feel like it?

I get passive aggression. I get guilt. They're my second-languages. Some days I speak them better than English. I know when someone is deliberately lashing out because it makes them happy to see other people who are already under a lot of stress (that you yourself put on them!) because they make easy targets.

Do you know who does that? Bullies.

I never understand why you want to pit brides against each other. Sure, it makes for better reality television, but if this is supposed to be the Most Important Part of a Woman's Life, why are you not making this about Sisterhood and building us up? Why do you tear us down left, right, and center — and now you're doing it under the guise of help?

Fuck you.

I refuse to let you steal my happiness, either through insistence or guilt. Telling me that I'm selfish or foolish for wanting — or not wanting — anything ain't gonna fly with me anymore. That shit is over.

So, to my fellow affianced:

Are you having the traditional church wedding? Are you getting married in the woods? Eloping? 300+ guest list? Wearing designer shoes and a gorgeous dress? Wearing a sundress and rocking bare feet? Covering tattoos? Showing them proudly?

Are you doing things because they make you and your partner (or partners) happy?

Awesome. Rock it. I can't wait to hear about it.

Having trouble with family or friends over something wedding or non-wedding related? Are you stressed because Life is Hard?

I am so sorry. You don't deserve to have ANYONE steal your sparkle, your sunshine, your smile, whatever it is that makes you happy. Please try to focus on the things that do make you happy. Your betrothed is generally a good one (unless they're the ones causing the problems — but fighting every now and then is supposed to be good for you).

It's definitely time to build up instead of tear down. I'm sick of hearing about how I'm not good enough, how I'm selfish and spoiled because I'm happy.

Obviously I am. I'm good enough for anything and everything, and hell fucking yes I'm happy. If you can't stand that, get the fuck out of my way. I don't have time for you. I'm far too busy being awesome.

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Comments on Why the Wedding Industrial Complex’s “helpful” lists burn my biscuits

  1. I really love this article. My philosophy has always been “it’s your wedding, do what makes you happy”. If you want to have a TARDIS wedding cake or one with six tiers and tons of flowers, or a combination of both…do whatever it is that makes you happy. Your wedding is about what you and your partner want, not what anyone, including the wedding industry, tells you that you should have.
    Congratulations on your engagement and wedding, Mayday!

    • Omg. How about a six tier TARDIS with tons of flowers? Can someone do this, please?

      (Also- congrats, Mayday! Enjoy every minute.)

  2. I love this article. What I think is “funny”? The Styleblazer “You Might Like” article links under it: “The Tackiest Celebrity Weddings Ever” and “Questionable Women Who Wore White on Wedding Day”.

      • Thanks so much! I’ve never read that post before re: outbrain. I won’t respond in the comments again, but will make sure to directly email you. (Sidebar: I have the gout, so I might have to go looking for that article 😉 (it’s a gout plague in my family – not that you care! Ha ha!)

  3. Oh my goodness….THIS! From the moment I got engaged I felt like every article I read (save for a few OBB posts) was trying to tear down my happiness and make me bitter about my wedding and the planning process. I don’t hate the planning process, but I DO hate the endless lists, articles, and non-inclusive (for the groom) wedding advice that presumes every step of this has to be brutal and full of drama. If only more brides & grooms could support their fellow peeps in marriage we could all happily get married and go on about our lives!

  4. Please know the majority of those in the wedding industry just want you to have the weddings of your dreams. It doesn’t matter what that all entails. Those articles, are rarely written by working professionals. Really, most of us are wayyyy to busy working for our couples to write snarky articles. And yes I agree some are extremely rude and passive aggressive. But you have to simply ignore th and focus on your love and the reason for your wedding and marriage.

    • This was what I was scrolling down to say! haha. I am way too busy to be writing those snarky articles and am appalled whenever I come across wedding professionals who are. I love making sure my brides wedding days are SO happy and full of love. That’s what weddings are about – celebrating love! It makes me sad when things are getting my brides down and I just want to help get everything back on track so that we can be celebrating again!

      Mayday – enjoy your happiness and don’t let those blog posts get you down! xoxo

  5. I am a technical writer by trait, and I hated every bridal book out there. So I made my own little packet to keep me on track. It turned into more of a little wedding diary in the end. I would be happy to send it out to offbeat bride for other brides.

  6. I have found out from other wedding sites that I am a horrible person and a tacky bride. I am having…. A HONEYMOON REGISTRY! *gasp* and I included…PLANE TICKETS ON IT! *double gasp* … we are having … a … COCKTAIL STYLE RECEPTION! *let the bashing begin*

    Ok…caps done…but seriously, reading forums has become almost a sport. I find the brides being bashed and attempt to come to their rescue by linking them to relevant OBB stuff…..and I hope it works.

    We are all (hopefully) getting married to the one we love. Sharing that moment with who we want and expressing the event with our own awesome flare and personality.

    You know that show Four Weddings? Well…I would love to go on it. I would lose…but I would get to experience the love and happiness of 3 other couples and I would give them all 10s! Everyone wins in my book because you got married in the way you wanted and did it your way. WINNER! (ok..that is the last caps ^_^)

    • I really don’t understand Cocktail Reception bashing, it’s like cake and punch in the church basement, but with more appetizers. =D

      • I generally am not a fan of cake and punch church reception, but that’s only because I personally feel it would be rude for me tell invite guests from out of town and not event provide a snack after they drove all this way and spent Money on a hotel HOWEVER if that’s all the couple can afford and most people are local then why not? Rather they spend the money towards something they actually want or need

    • When I was planning our wedding I would read forums on other websites for entertainment. Some people take things way too seriously. My biggest pet-peeve was around honouring loved ones who have passed away (especially parents). My mom passed away when I was a teenager. I decided I wanted her name on our invitations but I wanted to find ideas of how to write it. I saw tons of comments about how it wasn’t proper to do have a deceased parent’s name on a invitation and how dead people can’t host parties. (That only made me more confident that I wanted her name on the invitation.) Then there was honouring deceased loved ones at the wedding which according to other forums is “morbid” and “depressing”. (My MIL loved all of the little touches we had to honour my mom, his aunt and our grand parents – and none of them were depressing or morbid.)

    • I wanted a cocktail reception but the problem I encountered was that the caterer I was using would charge more for the appetizers than the full meal because it takes more time and effort to set up and set out cocktail food. Also, I was told if I have my wedding at night it’s rude not to serve guests dinner, but I opted out only because it was so expensive. I wish I could have a 25 people wedding with cocktails and heavy hourderves 🙁

    • I actually really like the show four weddings because it’s less about “omg, drama” and it’s more like going to have fun and it just feels like all the women on their are really supportive of each other, usually what people take points off for is if the wedding isn’t enjoyable (which I think is valid because it is important that the guests have a good time). I don’t know if you would necessarily loose.

  7. An event like a wedding (and a funeral and a christening etc) a political family event. There are LOTS of voices opinions and discussions of who’s credit card is in the mix of every wedding. Blending of traditions etc includes plenty of family heated discussions and everyone having to give up something to make someone else happy. Just the way it goes.

    Believe it or not nobody adds $$$ over the word wedding! It’s Life X 100 (or more depending on the size of your guest list) so get out the calculator and think about it for a minute.

    • While I think some portions of the WIC may get a bad rap unfairly, the arbitrary “wedding” mark-up absolutely happens. I worked for a florist for several years and they always charged more for wedding flowers. They had their own reasons and I’m sure each vendor category does, but just because they have reasons, doesn’t make it right.

      • “Believe it or not nobody adds $$$ over the word wedding! It’s Life X 100 (or more depending on the size of your guest list) so get out the calculator and think about it for a minute.”

        Harper, it’s cool that *you* don’t charge a mark-up, but don’t make claims for the entire industry. I spent years working at a high-end salon where hair dressers and makeup artists absolutely did a wedding markup. I don’t have to “do the math and think about it for a minute” — I know. I get that you’re trying to defend your industry, but you’re not making any friends here when you make claims like this and speak condescendingly to potential clients.

        • Two of the venues we looked at had mark ups for weddings that were very clearly outlined in their contracts (not even in the fine print – they didn’t try to hide it). One was a golf course that claimed it cost them more to have a wedding than a golf tournament (note: the other golf course in town didn’t have a mark up, actually gave us a discount for having an open bar, so we went with them). The other was the theater where we had our ceremony. We loved the location so we went with them anyways. Their packages either involved having rehearsal time (and a lot of it – enough for a play) or not having any. So for us to have a 30 minute rehearsal (so people were familiar with the location since most had never been inside) we had to pay for a lot of extra rehearsal time we didn’t need. On the other hand we made wine at one of those wine kit places and they actually had a discount for weddings.

  8. Thank you for this. I had a run in with a few friends recently (“You’re not having a processional? But you’ll look so pretty, and you get to be the center of attention, and we’re going to repeat these two points over and over, and not listen to you!”) and have been feeling kind of down since. I needed to hear that my Fella and I can have(and should, and don’t need to justify) the wedding we want. It can be so easy to forget, and reminders like this can be so timely to the over stressed. Thank you, Mayday!

    • I am getting married this summer, and we’re also not having a processional, and we’re also finding that people are weird about it! If you’ve had your wedding already, do you mind me asking how the processional-free ceremony went? Did you do anything else to mark the beginning of the ceremony, or was anything else needed?

  9. I discovered, in a very short span of time, that nothing turns people into assholes like getting married or having a baby. There will always be an opinion, you will always be doing something wrong according to someone, and this article sums up so many feels I had about it all.

    Do what makes you happy. Fuck the rest.

  10. This is great! Especially the comments about (not) one upping others and family troubles, since we had both.

    “You don’t deserve to have ANYONE steal your sparkle, your sunshine, your smile, whatever it is that makes you happy. Please try to focus on the things that do make you happy.”

    My BIL and his wife were married the year before us and everyone compared their wedding to ours. Their wedding was WIC driven and ours was less traditional/less WIC driven (our goal was that it would be about us and be authentic, but also more laid back and family-focused). When my in-laws compared our weddings they made it sound like we were doing things differently to spite my BIL and his wife (who we weren’t getting along with at the time) instead of because it was about us and being authentic.

    These comparisons fuelled the tension between us and my BIL/SIL and brought negativity to the whole planning process (both because of the comments being negative towards one wedding or the other, and because it put a greater divide between us and them). (Note: my MIL still talks about how I was a very calm, organized, rolling-with-the-pushes kind of bride, and now her other DIL was a bridezilla). I had to frequently refocus the attention on positive things in the months before our wedding, as conversations leading up to our wedding were frequently about how my BIL and his wife were trying to ruin our wedding (which they have since admitted to doing on purpose). I really didn’t want to discuss that crap since I didn’t want that to be my memory of our wedding (and the good thing is that is isn’t how I remember my wedding).

  11. I really needed to hear this. With 26 days to go the “feel like crap” and guilt phase has set in. With no help from either side of the family, my fiance is working 4 jobs and me with 1 full time job, but it’s still hard. Oh, we’re having record high temperatures this summer? Awesome. Let’s get an obscenely expensive tent and put it on the credit card which is saving/destroying us. The list goes on and gets longer. Me and my fiance are losing the excitement we once had for this event. And definitely losing sight of why we’re doing this anyway. Our 70 person wedding turned into a 90 person wedding and all we do is talk about “wedding garbage” as I now call it.
    It’s nice to hear uplifting words at this time, because work is starting to feel like a sweet escape from real life, and that means there’s really something wrong. Thanks for the kindness. And yes, fuck the wedding industry.

  12. Thank you for this article. As part of the “wedding industry industrial complex” I operate a boutique business that puts the dreams, desires and wants of the bride and groom first and everything else further down the line. Food Trucks and picnic tables instead of a sit-down meal with linens – great. Flowers that can be donated to a hospital – tremendous. Finding that local band you heard in your neighborhood bar instead of hiring a wedding band – perfect. My bottom line is that it’s not my wedding, it’s the clients’ – and I love to share my philosophy right from the start, i.e., their are no rules when it comes to weddings.
    And as a few others have pointed out, these articles referred to are, more often than not, not written by working wedding professionals who do what we do because we love to make couples happy and stress free for a truly major event that hopefully is never duplicated.

  13. The “helpful” lists/infographics that REALLY get to me are the ones that say: “Who Pays for What”. As if we still live in a world where all brides’ families pay for the wedding and the grooms’ families pay for the liquor. I really feel like adults can gauge their own economic/social circumstances themselves. Most couples I know (including ourselves) pay for their own wedding.

  14. Yes! Yes yes yes! As an industry professional who caters to fun and laid back brides, I’m always sad to hear about stressful wedding planning or fear of etiquette mistakes. This is your big day! And people who love you are coming to celebrate your love. Be brave with your wedding choices and have the day you want to have. More partying! More fun! More LOVE!

  15. YAY!!!
    I HATED high school, but I’m not going to spend my life avenging it. Feeling less than is a lifestyle I don’t want to live.

    I agree: FUCK YOU.

    Love it!!

  16. Can you please provide some context for what you’re talking about here? I have never seen a passive aggressive wedding list that seems to anger you so. Examples, please.

  17. I know this is about weddings, and this might seem counter to that, but this is EXACTLY how I felt about my divorce. I felt like everyone treated me like I was selfish because I was doing something that was going to make me HAPPY, and how could I not think about my ex. Well, because I had done everything for my ex for the entire time that we were married and it ruined me.

    I’ m engaged again and can’t wait to this wisdom into my next marriage, because knowing what makes ME HAPPY will make all the difference.

    Thank you for putting this out there!

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