When my fiancé and I got engaged, we were excited to plan an event that represented us as a couple and set the tone for how we want to live our lives together. We were incredibly fortunate to have a big community of people excited to celebrate with us, interested in our plans, and brimming with suggestions. When we started getting into the groove of wedding planning, we wanted to know what people loved about weddings they had been to or what roadblocks they ran into when planning their own celebrations. But for every time we sought out advice from someone we trusted, I received at least two unsolicited comments that seemed critical rather than constructive. People were trying to be helpful, but they just made me feel like what we wanted for our wedding was wrong.
“Live music is a must.” “You won’t look bridal without a veil.” “Don’t bustle your wedding dress. Get a second gown for the reception.” “I hope the open bar allows shots!” “Doing cupcakes instead of a wedding cake seems like a cop-out.” “You’ll definitely want an updo for your hair.”
My fiancé and I talked a lot about what our priorities were for our own celebration and how we wanted guests to feel throughout the event. A lot of wedding traditions didn’t ring true to us, so we decided to adapt them or skip them altogether. We planned a September evening wedding in New York City, with a secular ceremony followed by drinks, dinner, and dancing. When most of the wedding planning was done and dusted, the uninvited comments kept on coming. To be clear, I was immensely grateful for other people’s wisdom—when asked for. I generally didn't talk about our wedding unless someone asked me a specific question, mostly because I didn't want to bore people but also because unsolicited, strong opinions about what a wedding “should” be like were driving me up the wall.
“Are you really having men in your bridal party?” “How could you not have a flower girl and ring bearer?” “Why don’t you want a limo to take you to the venue?” “What about the garter toss?” “You don’t have wedding colors?” “Don’t you want to have a theme?”
It’s not helpful to hear that we “need” to have live music for the dance floor when the DJ is already booked. We’re not going to change our minds about having little kids at our wedding just because someone had a toddler be their flower girl and it was adorable.
I spent a lot of time on wedding forums (shoutout to Reddit's r/weddingplanning!) and I know I’m not alone. Multiple times a day, there is a post from a bride-to-be upset about a comment someone made about her choices, whether it’s a wine-and-beer-only bar being “tacky” or the gap between a Catholic wedding ceremony and an evening reception being “inconsiderate.” Generally, I nodded and smiled and changed the subject IRL whenever someone wanted to tell me why [insert thing we’ve chosen for our wedding here] is somehow “wrong".
If you’re a bride totally overwhelmed by the weight of other people’s opinions, remember this: People are coming to your wedding because they love you and want to celebrate you. Ultimately, what they’ll remember about the celebration, hopefully, is not whether all the bridesmaids wore matching shoes but the love and warmth of the celebration. A wedding is a party, not a performance. And in the end, the party has to be true to you.