Then Jack Happened


Dear Jack,
My fiancé and I are planning our wedding and we are beginning to run into some troubles with our families. We are both a bit older than your typical marrying couple and are footing the bill for the whole shebang. We are both very happy with this arrangement, but even though we are doing financially ok saving for a party of large amount of people has some sacrifices and we’ve had to conserve in some spots. Now we are hearing it from relatives. Parts of my family are upset with out choice of venue. Her immediate family, which is much larger, is upset that we aren’t inviting family that is three times removed from her and her father went so far as to pass along an invitation to his cousin regardless of our wishes (we communicated with the family throughout the invite process). Also, because our ceremony requires many guests to travel out of state at cost to them and also because we really don’t need any ‘stuff’, we decided to not have a gift registry and rather asked that, although it isn’t necessary and we made that very clear I think, we requested cash for our honeymoon if a guest wanted to give us a gift. Now there are whispers of tackiness and money grubbing from various corners. I don’t care of I get a thin dime from any guest. How do we respond to all this in an appropriate manner?
Based on your families’ behaviors I’d say just send them invites and be done with it but it’s too late for that now. This is your wedding and it’s your money and you aren’t obligated to cede control or illicit opinions from guests.
However, there is an inherent tension. While a wedding is about the betrothed first and foremost, it is secondarily about the family and friends in attendance. Naturally attendees are going to want to be a part of the wedding, and in some cases, the planning. Therefore, you must be clear about the boundaries of participation. Don’t discuss big decisions with people whose input won’t be taken seriously. If your cousin can’t convince you to use a venue she really likes for your reception then there’s no reason to ask her what she thinks. However, if you couldn’t care less about what kind of flowers that are going to be on the tables then it’d be a nice gesture to talk to your mother about what she thinks. This gives close people a chance to participate and feel more involved. If that ship has already sailed, particularly after the unwarranted invitation of the distant cousin, then you and your spouse need to learn to put your foot down and stop these types of communications.
As for the whispers, you have to tune that out and accept that you won’t satisfy everybody. Focus on making your spouse and yourself happy, and let the chips fall where they may. If you have a good time at the wedding it is highly likely that your guests will as well. The specific folks that don’t would most likely be sourpusses no matter what. Controlling, complaining people aren’t motivated about results but rather maintaining control. You can’t help it if Aunt Millie thinks that your gift idea is tacky or that you are just trying to make money or whatever other theory she cooks up. Be clear and stand on that. It appears that you are having a more ‘grown-up’ wedding and have been making some ‘grown-up’ decisions so don’t let your guests infantilize you. If Aunt Millie then decides to give you the dog’s old afghan, graciously accept, move on and laugh about it later.
Del Ray/Boca let’s elope, but before that I know you have some troubles, lets iron them out at