I always pictured myself as the strong independent girl who doesn't “do” weddings. Occasionally I would pass a bridal magazine and pretend that my interest wasn't piqued by the gorgeous gowns, luscious flowers, or the fun and felicity you could create with friends and family. I would tell myself that it was all corny, superficial, narcissistic nonsense. I would try to convince myself of these things because, well, those are the things I was told by my parents growing up…
When someone was throwing a party for a birthday, milestone, or any special occasion, my father would express his disapproval by ranting on about how pretentious, unnecessary, expensive, and plebeian it was. “An excuse to get drunk,” he would say. My mother fell in step with his theories on parties.
Growing up I didn't want to disappoint them. I didn't want to be a sell out. I was their free-spirited offbeat daughter who laughed in the face of social conventions. “Weddings are just another social construct that was created to oppress women,” I would intellectualize to myself in my varsity days.
But there was always a little voice in my head that would say softly, “What if they aren't that bad? Am I not worthy of celebration? Is love not worthy of celebration? Maybe it's okay to make a big fuss over some things, to buy expensive flowers and splurge on food, and even (gasp) a pretty dress?”
Ultimately I asked myself, what joy is there in life if we can't celebrate a deep unconditional love for another human being?
Then one day, I found someone who I want to spend the rest of my life with. And planning our wedding has actually brought me so much joy.
…But not my father.
When someone refuses to celebrate your happy times, you might experience emotions like neglect, criticism, or even humiliation. And that's why it can be so hard and painful. My father's negative reaction to one of the most joyous occasions of my life has been a painful and difficult learning curve.
But, most importantly, I learned some things about about having unsupportive friends and family. I hope these lessons will help other readers in a similar predicament feel better…
It's not personal
It feels very personal, but really it's the person's own issues. I don't know if my dad had a bad experience that led him to hate parties and celebrations. I don't know if he is just afraid of change, or if it's just hard to deal with the idea of his youngest child is getting married. Often people make a fuss because they want to be the center of attention or they want to feel important. Don't let their bad baggage affect your wedding; don't let their issues become your used tissues! Give yourself permission to make the mental boundary; even if it is a parent, you have a right to be happy and live your own life!
It's okay to feel sad and even grieve
I think it's important to allow yourself to be sad, to acknowledge your feelings and even to grieve. Just make sure you don't let it get the better of you and go on to dampen your wedding (or marriage). Don't indulge but process, and then let go and move on.
Sometimes you have to forgive someone, even if they never apologize
This is more about your own sanity. You are not condoning what the person has done, nor are you necessarily welcoming them back into you life… you're just seeing that they are on their own journey and that they are fallible and human; that they are probably also hurting. This is really about letting go so that you can release the anger and pain. You don't want that pain to stunt your growth or hold you back.
I hope sharing my story will help others feel less alone. Weddings really should be celebrations of positivity, hope, and joy. Don't let anyone take that away from you.