Here’s the problem I hope you can help me with. My fiancée and I are both professionals in our mid-30s and have been planning the wedding (well, she and her mother have been, mostly) that will take place New Year’s. It looks like it’s going to be more expensive than the amount that her father said he would contribute, and now I’m being asked to cut down on the number of people from my side who will attend. Already her side will have almost twice as many people as mine, so I’m beginning to feel that my family and I don’t matter as much as hers.
When I try to talk to her about it, she says that it’s really “her day” since I don’t care that much about the ritual and the spectacle, and besides, she is the bride, plus her father is paying for it. She’s right that I don’t care about all of that. In fact, I’d rather have a small ceremony with just immediate family instead of all of their relatives, her father’s colleagues, and her mother’s friends from childhood. It feels more like a performance than a ceremony. Before all the wedding stuff started, she says she never got “all stressed out” over personal matters, and she assures me that she will be all right when “all the craziness is over.”
Should I go ahead and just make the cuts since this whole thing is for her really, or should I offer to contribute so that my friends and my parents’ friends can come?
Crazed by Wedding Stuff
The question of your contributing more money and eliminating guests from you side is really a side issue because the more pressing question is not so much what your wedding is going to look like, as it is what your marriage is going to look like. Is it just “her day,” or is it both of your lives?
Consider this maxim: You never know what anybody is really like until you see that person in a crisis. You don’t say how long you two have been together. If it’s been a relatively short time, maybe you haven’t yet observed her performing under pressure. Now, as time is running out before you have to decide on whether to proceed on what is ideally a life-long commitment, consider her usual modus operandi. Think back to memorable times in your relationship, and ask yourself whether making other important decisions makes her unreasonable or irrational.
You also need to ask yourself some other questions about not-so-important decisions: What is she normally like when, according to her, she’s not “all stressed out” about the wedding? You say she says that she never got stressed out before “all the wedding stuff.” Is that accurate as far as your recollection goes? Do you feel that you defer to her more than she does to you? Does she get her way in all matters great and small?
At this point you are tying to decide whether you should let her have her way with the wedding; what you should be deciding is whether she should have her way with your life, i.e., the two of you getting married. You probably feel that with all the planning and spending for the event, it must happen. (A New Year’s date makes me think mega-event.) If it doesn’t come off as planned, you are imagining all the resentment and blame that will be directed toward you. Here’s an alternate perspective: Imagine all the resentment and blame directed toward you when the marriage doesn’t come off as planned, and you decide that this was a mistake when you have a couple of kids and a hefty mortgage.
Given how you feel now, I think you should postpone the mega-event so that you both can sort out “all the craziness” that goes with planning a wedding when you should be imagining a marriage. Be ready for people to say that you are just getting cold feet, but stand firm. The two of you need to see each other when you are “on” as well as “off” and consider as many “what ifs” as you can—honestly and calmly.
Professionals say that when buying a car, you have to be willing to walk away from the deal if you have any doubts. The same advice applies here only infinitely more so. Before you sign on the dotted line, you need to test drive your dream machine until you are happy with it. Do your due diligence so that if you find yourself driving down the “boulevard of broken dreams,” this marriage isn’t totaled after it swerves out of control and crashes.
Got questions about life? Love? Parenting? Work? Write to Whit’s End, an advice column by local husband, father, teacher, coach, former executive and former Marine Corps officer Al Whitaker. Send your questions to [email protected]
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