Your wedding is selfish

Guest post by KendraD
You're selfish, I'm selfish, she's selfish, we're ALL selfish! Now let's move on…
You're selfish, I'm selfish, she's selfish, we're ALL selfish! Now let's move on…

I think it's time to agree that the word selfish is a lot like the word tacky: it can be applied to pretty much everything.

Weddings are all selfish in the long run. It's a party, thrown by the hosts (the couple and/or their families) to the benefit of said hosts. It's all selfish!

Now that we can agree that all of it is selfish, let's look at how best to navigate these things.

For the couple getting married: it's okay to be selfish. It's okay to say, “I don't want money spent on me in this way, let's find an alternative.”

For the moms and bridal party members: it's okay to be selfish. It's okay to want to show love the way you know how.

However, for everyone: it's even better to meet in the middle. To find something that can make everyone happy, without giving up key things.

Maybe you're a mom who's always dreamed of throwing this awesome shower, only to end up with a child or child's partner who doesn't want a shower. So maybe throw that awesome party some other time. Or, throw that awesome shower for someone else. Make it a couple's shower. Find a friend who needs to have a shower thrown for them. Or turn the party into a celebration all its own.

Maybe you're a bride or groom or celebrant of unions that hates being the center of attention. Maybe you can find a way to share the spotlight, or not be in it. Maybe you do it by making your partner the center of attention, maybe you do it by not opening gifts, or having the gifts brought unwrapped so they don't have to be opened. Maybe you stand your ground and ask your mom or bridal party member to help somewhere else, like cake tasting, or rehearsal dinner, or post-wedding brunch planning.

Just like the label of “tacky,” the label of “selfish” can be applied to pretty much any situation in the wedding world. Let's all stop discounting someone not wanting to do something or wanting to do something because “it's selfish.” Let's just call it all selfish and focus on celebrating in a way we feel comfortable celebrating.

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Comments on Your wedding is selfish

  1. I totally agree that we need to scrap the word “selfish” when talking about weddings. The nature of weddings is people being “selfish” (this isn’t always a bad thing – especially if it comes from a place of love or caring, or the couple’s personal comfort or preference). I was selfish when my MIL requested that we get married in their church and I declined (since I’m not religious and I would be uncomfortable). I’m lucky that she understands enough and doesn’t label my action as “selfish” (my FIL reminding her that everyone has different ideas about weddings and that every couple’s wedding is unique helped a lot). And even though I didn’t want a bridal shower I let my MIL throw one for me because I knew it was important to her (our middle ground was my friend helped her plan and looked out for my interests).

    The only people that were called “selfish” in regards to our wedding were the people that made our wedding about them, and not in the loving/caring we want to throw you a bridal shower kind of way but the “we want to wreck your wedding” because of a family feud kind of way.

    • Way to meet in the middle with your MIL. I find that the navigating new family relationships is definitely where the word selfish tends to get thrown around. There’s a lot of heightened emotions with a wedding and add in new family dynamics and things always will get crazy. At least, that’s the case around here.

  2. Why do we even need labels with derogatory implications like ‘tacky’ and ‘selfish’ anyway? Weddings are meant to be a happy time – and about the individuals getting married; it’s not an exercise in people pleasing or competition!!

    • I’m not advocating creating these labels, simply defending those who are labeled as such. We don’t need derogatory labels for anything in life, yet people constantly seek to impose them on others. This is more in line of reclaiming what has been used as a put down and reminding yourself that it’s okay to do you, even if others call you selfish for your behavior.

      • That was pretty much my point too! As a writer I get frustrated seeing words being used in a context that is insulting when their true meaning isn’t derogatory at all! I cannot stand labels, the idea of pigeon-holing people or lifestyles is too confining for me.

        I find that people only refer to others as selfish when they resent your decisions. Which to me, says the issue lies with them, rather than you.

        • I feel that way a lot about the word “self-centered.” So… wait, I’m centered, balanced, focusing on being my best self and making sure my needs are taken care of? And that’s a bad thing how exactly?

          Thus informs my opinion of “selfish.” Makes it easier to, if not embrace, at least ignore it when people say it to me.

  3. I think there are ways to make weddings feel really generous–after all, in some senses that’s what “hosting” is. I have never in my life had such a large budget to give my friends nice things to eat and drink and a fun place to party as at my wedding, and my husband and I really relished the different ways we could make the event fun, relaxing and delicious for everyone. Of course, it was a party we threw for ourselves and yes, that’s selfish, but we tried very hard to give as good as we got.

  4. The whole concept of “selfishness” as a bad thing is ingrained in our culture, and it’s used as an insult by the people who want us to do what they want instead. In effect, the people calling us selfish are usually only doing it for their own benefit. Not always, but pretty damn close to always. Then it just becomes a question of whose selfishness you choose to act upon.

    Selfishness isn’t bad. It’s what keeps us from giving away the rent money and staying in abusive relationships. We talk constantly about making ourselves a priority, about maintaining boundaries, and then we turn around and insult ourselves for doing what we’re telling ourselves to do. How much sense does that make? This post applies to all areas of life, not just weddings.

    • I absolutely agree that the idea applies to all areas of life. I find it really sad that so often people are brow beat into doing something they don’t agree with just to avoid being considered selfish.

  5. Yeah. This is the whole “women are supposed to be selfless people pleasers” trope. Nope. I get to be as selfish as any other human, no more no less. Which is, on average, pretty selfish. I like this idea that instead of faulting people for being selfish, we take fault and blame out of the equation and try to work out a thing. I feel the same way about inviting/not-inviting children, open/cash bar, permitting plus ones, etc. Instead of labeling one person as the “selfish” one, we all have “interests” that sometimes compete. No one’s being selfish, everyone’s just preoccupied with her own interests. So, let’s put all the legit interests on the table and see what we can work out here.

    For example, right now I have an interest in talking to female relatives about things that aren’t my wedding. They have an interest in talking about my wedding literally all the time. These interests compete. …I haven’t solved this yet.

    • Good luck with solving that problem! It’s hard sometimes to remind people that there is more going on in your life than wedding planning.

      I definitely agree that the other items you mentioned are often points of contention. In our own weddinged planning, we’re dealing with not wanting kids because we want our friends to be able to bring dates. It is all about prioritizing what interests you have and finding the best way to mesh those with opposing interests.

  6. Am I the only one who keeps reading the word shellfish? At first I thaught it was a really strange post…

    Seriously, I agree that the world shelfish (I can’t get it out of my brain) selfish is overused. However, I think that it is less a matter of what you do rather that how you do it that makes you selfish or not. As a bride, groom, family member, guest etc, you have the total wight to do things the way it pleases you to do, hope other people allow you to live your dream, respect your needs, you name it. And perhaps your position give you the right to do it. But, since a wedding is not something that revolves only about you (you need at least two people to make a wedding). If the happy couple choose to include their community, it includes the community. Because of that it is important (in my eyes) to take other people in consideration. This does not mean you need to give in to what the others want. Being considerate is sometimes just a matter of attitude.

    I’ve see to many brides, mothers of the bride make the event so much about them to the point that the other partner or the couple seemed accessory. Never mind the rest of the attendants. But this is just my opinion about the matter, other people may see things differently.

    • I do think that intent can interpret actions. I’m not about making everything so about me that anyone is an accessory, because if I’ve invited anyone, that means they are important to me. However, that doesn’t take away the fact that this is my (and my husband’s) money/event/etc and that I (we) get to plan it in a way that suits me (us). There are things I’m willing to compromise on and things I’m not, though we’ve tried to find a satisfactory way to resolve what few issues have cropped up.

    • We love seafood, so with all the different varieties of mussels, scallops and oysters at our wedding, it was definitely a selfish shellfish wedding!

  7. “Selfish” also seems to be used to create hurt and guilt when the “selfish” thing is quite reasonable. (Eg refusing to do something they finding uncomfortable, upsetting or unaffordable) The idea of finding compromise is ideal, but there are times when the person using the term doesn’t want that either because they are actually being unreasonable and are using “selfish” as a form of emotional blackmail.

    • Definitely finding a compromise is an ideal that can’t always be met. Anyone and everyone absolutely has a right to draw a line in the sand, over anything, and say that there is no middle ground. It’s okay to embrace the emotional blackmail and say, “Yes, I am selfish,” and let that end the conversation.

  8. I design custom wedding websites for couples and I hear brides use the word ‘selfish’ all the time. They’re worried about posting too many photos of themselves, or going overboard with the video footage etc. Ultimately, this is a celebration. You’re supposed to make yourself look good and you can do or not do whatever you want on your special day. Stop feeling guilty.

  9. I really love the general oomph of this post – that word “selfish” gets thrown around so much like the word “tacky” that it’s in danger of losing all meaning. But it’s got me thinking, because unlike the word “tacky,” it’s not just a matter of taste. It’s usually a matter of fairness.

    While the battle of Your Needs vs. My Needs can often result in a draw, there are definitely situations where it’s only fair that certain people put others’ needs ahead of their own. I once attended a big wedding that involved lots of help and work all around, and the bride and groom never said thank you to anyone. Isn’t that selfish? My partner once attended a wedding where a groomsman dragged the couple into a fight he was having with his boyfriend minutes before the ceremony was about to start. Isn’t that pretty self-involved? Maybe instead of tossing around the word “selfish,” which would just make a self-absorbed person extra-defensive, we should focus on positive reinforcement by reiterating your advice and saying, “Let’s meet in the middle!”

    Because I admire Offbeat Bride and The Empire *so much* for its excellent posts about the dangers of narcissism, I’m really interested in solutions for how to deal with it.

    • I once attended a big wedding that involved lots of help and work all around, and the bride and groom never said thank you to anyone. Isn’t that selfish?

      Nope, that’s ungrateful, which I think is a different thing.

      You’re absolutely right that both “tacky” and “selfish” become shorthand… but I don’t think they both boil down to fairness. I think they boil down to taste (subjective) and expectations (a communications issue, generally). Boundaries are also super involved in both.

      I need my social psych friend to weigh in on this one… LOVE chewing over this stuff!

      • I agree that being ungrateful is different than being selfish! I attended a wedding where the bride and groom never sent out any thank you notes for any gifts. The same couple did not thank any of the wedding party for helping with preperations and actually complained that members of the wedding party didn’t do more. For example, my husband was yelled at for not helping put stickers on candy bags or fold programs when he was never asked to (and we both repeatedly asked if there was anything they needed help with). He was also yelled at for not helping clean up after the wedding when we both stayed and helped clean up (we were pretty much the last to leave). This couple was ungrateful!

        Boundaries, expectations and communication seem to be a huge issue in relationships in general.

        • Mystery Man and I weren’t able to attend a wedding right after graduating from college due to financial restrictions, and also because we were not close to the bride and groom.

          We donated $250 to their honeymoon fund (which we thought was pretty reasonable) and never got a proper thank you from them! The bride must have had expected us to go and was probably angry, but I thought that was really ungrateful on her part.

      • I agree – those are more accurate terms, and I’ve found in constructive communication it’s important to be VERY accurate and tend toward the specific, rather than to generalize with a broad brush that only makes someone hear, “YOU ARE BAD!”

        Please hit me with all the social psych you’ve got!

      • Boundaries, expectations and communication seem to be a huge issue in relationships in general.

        Yep, I think if you say “Hey, friend. Can you help me with X? Warning: on the day of the wedding I’m going to be a total disaster and a complete mess and I might even be rude, but part of why I think you’re going to rock this is because I know you can be patient with me when I’m in a totally compromised emotional state, and I’m sorry in advance if I’m a total freak!” you’re being really fair about setting expectations. Then afterwards, you send them a handwritten card, telling them how much you appreciate them.

        This way, even if you’re rude/demanding/”selfish” in the moment, you’ve set expectations with them so they can make the choice if they want to deal with it… and then you’ve expressed your gratitude afterward.

        I can say for myself personally, when someone clearly sets expectations like this (“Things might be crazy and I might be awful and I’m sorry in advance, but can you help?”) I know what I’m getting in to, and I’m able to make decisions about whether I want to deal with it. If I decide I do, I’m READY! (…but then I’d also like a thank you afterward.)

        I’m reminded of this post:

  10. I don’t understand how weddings are selfish at all. Now maybe the brides on bridezillas can be a bit demanding and crazy about silly things, but for the most part we all are normal and want to have a wedding to share our LOVE with everyone else we love.

    I am a bride, and my fiancé and I are planning and paying for our own wedding on a limited budget. In asking my bridesmaids if they wanted to stand with me on my big day, I knew full well one would possibly not feel comfortable in saying yes because she doesnt make a whole lot of money either. I offered to pay half, but if she still didnt feel comfortable doing it because the costs do add up, she could decline and I would understand! I guess I don’t understand ‘selfish’ because I’m not that kind of person, but I’m not forcing anyone to do anything or attend anything they don’t want to. I will still love them, and will still get married despite anything else. I’m not the type afraid of saying no, and I don’t expect anyone to tip toe around my feelings just because I’m the bride.

    Weddings are supposed to be fun, why create problems?

    • Again, this was written as a response to someone telling a bride who didn’t want a shower that she was selfish for not going along with the plans to throw her one. Just so there’s a background as to where the post comes from.

      I’m surprised you’ve never heard anyone call something that a bride or groom does as selfish. In my own personal experience, I’ve been told I’m selfish for having a wedding four years after eloping and for not wanting gifts. In other family and friend weddings, I’ve seen selfish thrown around for holiday weddings, not serving booze, not serving a meal, and ceremony length. Not necessarily to the bride and groom’s face, but in the side remark to a friend of, “I can’t believe they would…fill in the blank…they should think of their guests.” And there, the wedding has been deemed selfish. And the truth is that you can’t win. It’s truly a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Whoever would think you would get called selfish for not wanting gifts? This is simply a manifesto for embracing the selfishness in life and taking away the sting of the word so it isn’t used to brow beat you into doing something you were against.

  11. Thanks for this post! I needed it to bring a little clarity to our situation. We don’t want gifts, and I was dumbfounded when people were upset after we told them this. I even got a totally serious “you’re getting a gift whether you like it or not.”

    I guess we just need to figure out a way to meet in the middle, although, I realize we’re still not going to make everyone happy. We are having a potluck reception and we’ve listed charities that we like and donate to, but so far this hasn’t been a sufficient enough “middle” for everyone.

    I definitely have some brainstorming to do now!

    • I’ve gotten the same reaction about not wanting gifts. One of my bridesmaids just texted me the other day to tell me that my wedding gift had come in and she was so excited to give it to me. I took a deep breath and returned her excitement about the upcoming event and my joy at seeing everyone.

      Good luck finding a middle ground!

  12. My in-laws and I couldn’t be more different, so we struggled with this a lot. I tried to compromise where I could (my MIL really wanted to do a big rehearsal dinner, so we did that. I asked if she wanted us to open gifts at her house since it seemed important to her. We included some wedding guests that we didn’t really know but she asked us to invite because they are close to her.) but even with trying to compromise, I was called selfish. My fiance and I wanted a really good, professional photographer instead of a family friend. We wanted a non-church handfasting, with as small a guest list as possible. We wanted pie and no bouquet toss and no money dance, so we were being selfish and not making it about family. It made me really mad to be accused of being selfish about a day that is literally all about me and my fiance and our love. Of course I’m going to be selfish! And I loved every selfish second of it! So I guess my point is to be selfish and do what makes you happy, because no matter how much you compromise and try to please people, someone is going to be mad about not getting their way.

  13. Ah, the “selfish” card. Such an emotionally loaded word, isn’t it? In my book, anyone who tries to hijack a couples happiness with manipulative garbage such as this can spend MY wedding day elsewhere.

    I first heard it, in reference to my wedding, from my only sibling. My brother (with whom I am not close) recently emailed me that he feels I’m selfish for even having a wedding.

    Guess who’s been un-invited?

    I’m SO not putting up with anyone else’s drama. I’m getting married. It’s going to be a celebration of our 10 year relationship. Those who honor that are welcome.

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