It’s All About The People

I’ve said it a hundred times in the last year, but so many things about wedding planning have surprised me. Thankfully, the more I talk to various newlyweds, the more I am told this is totally normal, hence me feeling less like a crazy person.

The one part that I am still struggling with is social. As intense as it sounds, my relationships with people have changed based on their behavior in regards to the wedding. It doesn’t mean there were huge blow outs, it doesn’t mean there were big confrontations, I’m realizing those dramatic things don’t need to happen for a shift to occur. And the more I talk with other people who have had weddings or are still planning, it happens all of the time.

Going through something so important, something that really demands a community response, sheds a glaring light on those who just don’t think of you as a priority, on those who are incapable of having the relationship with you that you wanted and thought you had. Normal every day life doesn’t give you the chance to really see who will be there for you in a squeeze. So, on one level, planning a wedding is really painful. I’ve cried a lot, been stressed and anxious a lot, been frustrated and angry a lot. But on another level, I am grateful. I am grateful to see a clear picture of what’s going on, on who is with me and who isn’t, on who I should bend over backwards for and who wouldn’t do the same for me.

And I know that saying this out loud isn’t popular. That acknowledging that your wedding is really important to you on a deep, emotional level, and that some people have forfeited their right to be a substantial part of your life because of this event may seem petty on the surface. But it’s not. It’s not petty. There are maybe 3 major events in your life when a true community response is necessary and meaningful, and this is one of them. It matters to me who shows up (not just physically, but mentally), who lends a hand, who offers support, who makes the transition easier, more loving, more fun, who takes the gifts we’re giving, the party we’re throwing, the countless thoughtful aspects we’ve agonized over in the last year with respect and understanding, and who just doesn’t.

And I’m glad it matters, I’m glad that we have a line drawn in the sand that says this is what we expect, this is what we’ll accept, and this isn’t. It makes us a strong team, and it makes me a better friend and family member because I hold myself to those same standards. I know who’s in it with us, and I know who isn’t. And I’m grateful to see it.

30 thoughts on “It’s All About The People”

  1. I have never felt so lonely as I did when planning our wedding. A lot of friends that we expected to jump in and be present simply weren’t. Therefore I was surprised and blown away in the week leading up to the wedding as people started to come out of the woodwork. They bachelorette party might have been forgotten, but two days before the wedding a dear friend showed up on our doorstep with champagne. And, on the day of the wedding, everyone showed up (emotionally and physically) 100%, and it pretty much blew us away. I think I came to the conclusion that a lot of people don’t know how to participate in the wedding planning process (heck- or even the WEDDING process), and it felt so gigantic to me the whole time that it was hard to remember this, hard to forgive the fact that everyone was making it about THEM, and impossible to see past it.
    …But this is my experience, and maybe not yours.
    Bottom line: Isn’t it awesome that there is an end to all of this? I wish you people– people that show up and rise to the occasion!

    1. I really really love this comment. And it’s true, a lot of people DON’T get it. But there is a balance. And the way people treat you and the way they act in clutch situations is telling. I mean, I wrote this vaguely on purpose, because it’s a universal issue. And I’ve written about how AWESOME other people are, how mind boggling the generosity is, but sometimes, even the smallest things are super lacking, and it’s totally ok NOT take it with a grain of salt. 🙂

      1. Agreed. There will be some disappointments that I will never quite get over, and a lot of people who could benefit from growing up and realizing that it’s NOT ok to not show up (in any form), and that their absence is noted.

  2. You are so, so brave to post this … and you are totally right.

    It’s not just weddings that do this … it’s any time you need to lean on people. And sometimes, when you really just need someone there, they’re not. And that’s not ok. Just like you’re allowed to be overjoyed when a friend (or someone else) steps up in even a small way, you’re allowed to be hurt when that’s lacking.

    I’m not sure why people accept this for every other situation in life, but not for weddings. If you were sick & needing help/support, and no one helped you? You would not be blamed for feeling differently about them. But it’s your wedding & you need help/support? Oh no, you’re just being selfish.

    It’s an issue, and one that I don’t know how to go about fixing. But it comes down to the fact that yes, you are allowed to feel this way. Yes, it is valid. No, it’s not selfish.

    Good on you for not being badgered into thinking you’re doing something wrong, just people everyone out there tells you you are. <3

    1. The whole selfish thing has really been offensive to me. As we are doing our best to accomdate our guests, as the entirety of our focus (aside from the service… and actually… even then, though it’s more centered on us because we’re getting marrIed) has been to make sure everyone has a really really great time.

      And yet… selfishness. I think jealousy plays a huge roll. I think that when good, happy things happen to people, it’s often hard for people who aren’t so happy to think good thoughts about them. I don’t want to ever be that person, even though I may have a little voice in the back of my mind at times. I want to really make an effort from now on to shut that voice up. There is no room for that BS.

      1. The whole selfish-issue is part of the reason why I HATE the term “bridezilla”. I think its offensive in a lot of ways, especially considering all of the ways we (as brides) go out of our way for other people. I am allowed to have an opinion (hell, even a BUNCH of opinions) about my wedding without being shamed about it.

        1. I get that if you’re being a total bitch and having a meltdown over something stupid, then maybe you need a reality check, but that term is thrown around WAYY too much. There is a huge lack of sympathy and empathy towards women when they are seemingly getting “everything they’ve dreamed of” when no. It’s not about the STUFF, it’s emotional and difficult. It’s ok to have an irrational breakdown every once in a while.

          1. And I’d be willing to bet most of the women who are having a meltdown over something stupid are really upset about something else. Something bigger that is scary and harder to articulate.

            Most, not all.

        2. Damn straight.

          The one nice outcome to all of this is that we all end up on the other side KNOWING how to behave, and how to show support, and which little things can mean the world to an engaged couple. No need to continue the pattern. =)

      2. ” I think that when good, happy things happen to people, it’s often hard for people who aren’t so happy to think good thoughts about them.”

        **Well said! You hit the nail on the head right there. Talk about selfish….


        1. This comment is especially accurate. I had a falling out with a friend that was finalized when she wouldn’t RSVP to my wedding and didn’t show up. We were on rocky terms when I met my husband and I think there was some jealousy because I had finally met a great guy. I was on the fence about even sending her an invitation because she was being distant and was especially rude to my husband (when she first met him) – but sent it anyway. Apparently, she did show up to the reception, but never came inside. I wasn’t supposed to find out, and no one told me at the time. I would have gladly welcomed her in. We haven’t spoken since.

  3. Owning this realization during our wedding-planning made me resolve to be the person who would be there for the important people in my life in the future. Finding out how important that support was for me showed me a lot about how I’d been the person who lacked in the past. I really didn’t want that to be the story of my friendships. Hard to acknowledge, not always easy on the follow-through, but totally worth it in the end.

    1. Going anonymous. I have my reasons.

      But, Erin, yes, this exactly. I had some wonderful people who really went above and beyond without even being asked, but some others who … well, let’s just say I expected* more out of them and they really let me down.

      However, I will say this: it’s better to file it away in your head (and heart), and try to move on, than to try and hash it out with those people. It’s one thing if it’s someone like a mother or a sister or a brother, but if it’s not immediate family, it’s going to cause heartache. It’s too bad that we can’t talk to the people we love about these things, but sometimes it does more harm than good. I’m not saying forgive and forget – on the contrary, you definitely should NOT forget. Take a step back, and if they are so inclined, let them prove themselves to you another way, on another day (or not), and in the meantime put your energies into fostering relationships with those people who were there for you.

      Oh, and like Erin said, be the friend you want to have.

      *This is the worst word to use: “You shouldn’t EXPECT anything from anyone!!!” but I can’t think of a better one to use, in this case. And, yes, sometimes, we do expect our loved ones to, well, act like they love us, and it’s not absurd to be disappointed when we’re let down.

  4. Oh Lauren… this. It was so incredibly painful, when just days before our wedding some people who I thought were going to be with us had not even RSVPed, or sent an email to say “we are not gonna be able to make it for X or Y”, and we had to go and ask them, repeatedly to finally get an answer. It hurt because this came from (a few) people that I considered really really close. How for some people it was just not a priority to be with us (as I would have, had it been the other way around). For instance, we just went to some close friends’ wedding this weekend, and we made sure we were there, planning the trip (1 hr flight) since the moment we knew the date. And I know our wedding was not the most important event in other people’s life and other people’s lifes do not revolve around us, it is just how they were careless not to let us know they were not coming. Or how a close friend, I mean my supposed best friend since we were 12…. chose not to come, while she actually travelled to a different country for the wedding of the best friend of her new boyfriend (new from 3 months at that). So yeah, all of that hurt, but was part of the process of realizing who is with you and who is not. So thanks for talking about this.
    To be fair, we also had guests that were not able to make it, but made sure they were with us emotionally, that is, communicated with us and were definitely present. What I will not forget is feeling overwhelmed by the joy and generosity of those who were there with us. And we were so full of love, such a floaty feeling.
    So Lauren, I know this is hard stuff, but everything will turn out for the best. Know that you are loved and that is what matters.

  5. Seeing what you guys have gone through and what a couple of my friends have been through while planning their weddings. Its kinda crazy roller coaster ride but when your reach your destination you guys will be stronger, united and overall better for it.

    Secretly though it kinda makes me glad i cant get married yet-well in cali anyways 🙂

  6. Mmm, the little ways that people you thought you could count on disappoint you during wedding planning really is a the skeleton in the closet of engagement/marriage dialogues, isn’t it? I hear you, lady. I think for a long time I felt guilty that my view of some people changed based on how they did or did not come through for us (emotionally) during that time… but really, how could it not? You’re right when you say that a wedding is something that demands a community response – not in a “I’m the bride, so everything has to be how I want it” way, but rather in the sense that big life events like these really throw into relief all your other relationships and highlight either the usually unseen strengths or cracks in each.

  7. Thank you for writing so honestly about this! It was a big issue that I struggled with during my own planning process, but I didn’t really know how to feel about it. I remember being upset and shocked by someone’s behavior at a certain point in the planning process, and my mom telling me “well, at least now you know who he/she really is.” So cheers to you for realizing already what I needed my mom’s wisdom to learn! Now that the wedding is over, I’m still struggling with what to do with the information I learned, though, and that in itself is another challenge.

    1. It will be super interesting to see what comes of all of this. We may have made decisions about how we feel about things, but life is long and who knows what will happen in 5 years, 10 years. I’m trying to stay open to possibilities, but at the same time wary. Being constantly late down and stomped on by several people is just not something I really want to go through again. And I think that’s ok. You can’t be best friends with everyone!

  8. There were definitely moments of disappointment and being taken aback by people’s “unexpected” behavior (air quotes for diplomacy), but I do love the other side of the same coin: the folks who really stepped up to the plate, even though I hadn’t put them in that mental category previously. I think in some ways it takes a lot of courage to do that, to offer to participate at a more substantial level in a major life event of someone with whom who you haven’t already established super-duper-best-friend status. I’m so glad that a handful of people opted to just jump in and play a bigger part than they needed to!

  9. This is spot on. And you’re brave for saying it, because you’re right, it’s not popular. But I think a lot of it has to do with the general opinion of weddings and brides that I blame on the WIC.

    We’re made to believe that most everybody gets married and that it isn’t really a big deal. Popular culture pushes the idea that any girl who is truly invested in her wedding is only in it for gifts and a big, white dress. That if you’re engaged and you expect support or help from anyone, then you’re an instant bridezilla. Wanting your friends and family to be interested and involved is not the same thing as trying to control them and force the universe to revolve around you.

    But I think that the only way we are going to change this perception of bratty girls and lavish, pretentious parties to one of forward-thinking brides and modern-day celebrations of love and commitment is through a forward and honest dialogue. If we don’t say these unpopular things now, and try to express all the heartfelt reasons why we genuinely want our wedding to be exceptional, then people can’t begin to understand that it’s coming from a good place.

  10. I’d argue that other than extreme cases of people clearly being horrible sometimes it also helps to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    A few years ago my friend got married and I was the friend who couldn’t figure out until the *very* last minute if I was going to be there. I had unexpectedly had to take an internship across the country and gas prices (and thus plane tickets) for long distance trips soared. I couldn’t spend 1000 dollars to go to her wedding. I had also had an incredibly difficult time with another person who was likely to be at the wedding and wasn’t feeling emotionally strong enough to deal. However southwest had a surprisingly good deal to fly a hop flight so the weekend of the wedding I took the 100 dollar hop flight down to see the guy (now my husband) I had been dating to cheer myself up. It was the end of us being more than casual friends. I wish that I could have gone or that she and I could have talked about it and she would have been ok. l’ll admit in the end I was being selfish wrt my friend’s wedding. But it was a time I also needed to protect myself and since she had been busy with the wedding I didn’t want to tell her about all of the dirty details that had been troubling me.

    This was a huge lesson for me for our wedding. Many of my best friends and the majority of my family were not there and sometimes for reasons I didn’t understand. It was hard but I resolved that my wedding was going to be a moment where I only opened doors rather than closing them. It’s ok to be hurt, I definitely broke down crying at some points, but leave the door open a little.

    1. Oh honey, this really isn’t about actually BEING at the wedding, though sometimes it is. It’s about being there mentally. And not even that, but if you are a close friend or a close family member, some enthusiasm would be appreciated at the least, or! not bailing at the last minute when you’ve committed to participating in some way (this has happened to me in multiple ways). Yes, people have said no to coming to the wedding who we thought would for sure be there. Absolutely.

      It’s really about who has your back, even from a distance. Who is cheering you on for this exhausting and important process. So much crap happens in life that we just need to push through, this joyous event shouldn’t be one of them, but sometimes it is. And engagement and wedding planning is a year long process. I don’t think we are talking one thing happens, one time, and that’s IT. There are many many opportunities for people to be awesome and loving. And it’s when, either something SO incredibly rude and selfish happens, or when it’s become clear over a year of needing assistance and it being routinely denied, that relationships are altered. At least in my mind. It’s too much of a powerful experience and life moment to shrug off the behavior of those you’ve asked to be included.

      You did what you had to do at the time, and if you lost a friend over that, if that hurt her beyond repair, then that’s the choice both of you have made. I respect people who draw a line and say this is what I can accept and this is what I can’t and this is the kind of friend I will be in honor of that. And I also respect the ability to let go and move on. And each situation, individually is different. Some stuff that’s happened with people and my wedding I can shrug off, and others I just can’t, and I don’t think people should be expected to. Some things are just not ok.

  11. I’m late to the commenting but I had to add my voice. My (realparents really weren’t there for me at all when I decided to get married. Like, no tears of happiness, no congrats, no nothing save for a lot of bickering about their own problems. It hurt a lot, obviously, but I know now that I should have expected it.
    But the real sad part about it, is that since my family was so uninvolved, when my friends (bless them!!!) really stepped up to the plate to be there for me, I rejected it a little bit. So lame of me. I didn’t realize it until recently, but that definitely happened. I did the “i don’t need any help or anything I’m fine please go away!” thing the whole engagement, just so that I didn’t have to feel the pain of my family being less than enthusiastic. I need to figure out how to thank my friends for putting up with me and trying to be there for me. I don’t know how to do that, but I will figure it out.

    1. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You threw them a huge party. I’m sure they don’t look back and see it as badly as you do. You could always right them a card. Cards are underrated. 🙂

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