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Is Your Wedding For You or For the Guests?

In the last decade or so, many things changed in the world of weddings. The DIY, the ‘who pays for it’, the rise in non-religious ceremonies… but we think the biggest difference has happened in the approach. Today, weddings are all about the couple and what the couple wants.

Or… are they?

This is where the question ‘is your wedding for you or for the guests?’ arises. We believe that many disagreements and family conflicts arise from people having different answers to this question. Could you avoid a lot of stress if you firmly took one or the other approach? Let’s see.

The wedding is for the guests

This wasn’t even a question back in the days of tradition, when the bride’s parents paid for the wedding. It was their social occasion, guest list and wine list. This is how brides ended up with a roomful of people they never met before (the dad’s boss’s wife and her single son were definitely invited). The most important thing was being talked about in the best possible terms afterwards, and preferably for many years. This is how you got society ‘weddings of the year’. And even if it was just in the neighbourhood, it was important.

Perhaps your mam still remembers this, and your grandma definitely does. And now, let’s see where you fit in. If you’re like many brides today, you are probably paying for most (if not all) of the wedding yourself. You think you should be making all the decisions (and you’re right!), but somehow your mam and future mam-in-law are still butting in anywhere they can. There’s conflict, disagreements a plenty. In all this, you are probably thinking ‘why won’t they let me do things my way?’ It’s because they think the wedding is for the guests, but you think the wedding is for you. Drama drama drama!

So what would change if you decided the wedding is for the guests? Every decision you’d make would be guided by ‘will the guests like this? will the guests care?’ Your whole budget would fall under this category too. Will the guests care whether you have tulips instead of roses for centrepieces? Probably not. Will they care if the food is bad? Definitely yes. What about those guest list arguments? They’d probably go away too, because the answer to inviting most people would be ‘yes’. In other words, you may have some strangers… but also some much needed peace during your wedding planning.

It must be said, you may feel a degree of rebellion against this approach. Hey, it’s my day, you say! But if you are truly struggling with a lot of arguments and stress, is it worth considering compromising on some of the issues causing friction? 

The wedding is for the couple

Nowadays, if you ask ‘is the wedding for the couple?’, you’ll most likely get a DUH as an answer. Personalisation rules the day and couples go for individuality. Every wedding venue uses words like ‘unique, customised, one of a kind’ on their website. To call a wedding ‘cookie cutter’ is probably the worst thing anyone could say about it. It’s all about what you want, and rightly so! Especially when it’s your money.

In this scenario, you are Madame No. Your mam wants to invite that cousijn you haven’t seen since you were three? No. Your grandma says you must walk into the church to the sounds of the Wedding March and not Ed Sheeran, because what will the guests think? No.

It’s hard to stick to your guns, but if the wedding is for you, then you have to do it and emerge victorious and smiling. You have to gently but firmly educate everyone that this is your approach. You’ll find yourself saying many, many times ‘mam, I love you, but it’s my wedding and I’m not having (insert the thing your mam wants here)’. Repeat ad nauseum, until it works. And by the way, this is how a lot of elopements happen.

This is if you’re a stubborn bride and not scared to argue back. But what if you have given in from the very beginning and you are, in fact, planning a wedding ‘for the guests’, when you really want a wedding for you? Well, depending on how far you are into the whole thing, it may not be too late to change. We’d say the cutoff point is at the making of the guest list, as this is where most arguments happen. Once people know they’re being invited (because somehow they know even before the invites have gone out), it’s hard to uninvite them.

So, is your wedding for you or for the guests? If you answer this question early in your planning, then you might just eliminate a lot of stress, arguments and expenses. Remember to discuss it with your other half too. If any wobbles happen, they’ll be your support, all the way until wedding day. Which, in the end, wouldn’t be happening without you.

Main image from Jessica & Lee’s real wedding by M&M Photography

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Rachel Green

Rachel Green

If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.

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