Wedding Wednesday: The worst things you can say to a bride-to-be

Photo by Emily Blake Photography

My post about getting engaged attracted more views than anything I’ve ever written on this blog. That means at least some people are interested in reading about my wedding, and I could use the space to vent, so I’ve decided to write about it once a week.

When you get engaged, people  like to ask you a million questions, and they all have an opinion on everything. For some reason, people I don’t know or like very well have a real knack for chiming in with the least helpful things they could possibly say. Here are some things people have actually said to me. Do your engaged friends/coworkers/second cousins a favor and keep these thoughts to yourself.

1. The average wedding costs $25,000.
Why do people keep telling me this? It’s only a comforting comment for brides with a budget over $25,000. For everyone else, it makes even an “average” (read: boring, predictable, forgettable) wedding sound out of reach. I hear this figure thrown around a lot, though I don’t know where it originated or whether it includes stuff like rings and the honeymoon. True or not, it doesn’t make me feel good to know the “average” wedding costs as much as some people make in a year.

2. You can save money by cutting your guest list.
I feel like I’m the only person who thinks it’s insane to boot people off your guest list in order to pay for a more lavish party. If you want to have a small wedding, that’s great — and hey, it will probably cost less. But George and I both have big, blended families and we want them at our wedding. Even if it means we can’t afford to hire a lighting specialist and a string quartet.

3. You can save money by doing stuff yourself.
I never wanted to be a DIY bride. Spending my free time making centerpieces out of wine corks and stalking Pinterest for the latest, most time-consuming crafts has never been my idea of a good time. Now that I’m planning a wedding from nearly 700 miles away, doing stuff myself instead of hiring a professional sounds even less appealing.
Instead of driving myself crazy with a million long-distance projects, I’m just going to pay for what I can afford and figure out the rest. I’m looking at venues that are already decorated instead of trying to transform a blank-canvas banquet hall into some elaborate, artistic vision. Another way to avoid DIY nightmares: Cut the fat. We don’t need favors. We don’t need chair covers. We don’t need special glasses for the toast or a special cake cutter. I just saved myself four projects right there.

4. I better be invited, beeyotch/girly.

5. It’s your day.
Well-meaning as it may be, this statement is entirely false and, I would argue, kind of dangerous. Marriage, by definition, involves two people. So at the very least, it’s our day. And we’re choosing to spend a big chunk of money (to us, anyway) to throw a party for our friends and family because it’s important to us that we include them. Our opinions aren’t the only ones that matter here. Why invite 100 people to your wedding if you don’t care whether they have fun?
A wedding is not a coming-out party. It’s not a graduation party or a birthday party or a going-away party. The reception isn’t an excuse to congratulate myself for landing a man and fitting into my dress, it’s a celebration of two people becoming a family.  It doesn’t have to be the party of a lifetime, and it certainly shouldn’t be all about me and my colors and my bridesmaids and my demands. It’s not my day.

Full disclosure: A lot of people, especially my close friends, have been pretty awesome about this whole engagement/wedding thing. So, in fairness, here are the five best things people have said to me.

1. Don’t forget to just enjoy being engaged.
This is easier said than done when my fiancé lives nine hours away, but it’s still good advice. I’m trying not to get caught up in planning and obsessing over details and worrying about what might happen if it’s humid on my wedding day and my hair gets kind of frizzy.

2. No matter where the wedding is, I’ll be there.
When we first got engaged, George and I weren’t sure where we’d have the wedding. In fact, we argued about it for weeks and it was a really tough choice to make. Three different friends made it a point to mention they weren’t worried about location and they’d show up come hell or high water. The best part, of course, is that I heard it from all the right people — friends I really wanted to be there, not randos erroneously assuming they were invited.

3. Sorry for assuming I’d be in the wedding, but I was just speaking hypothetically because I know I’d be in the wedding if it were tomorrow, but it’s a long way off and things change, ya know?
This one comes from my friend Hannah, who obviously gets it. My wedding is over a year away, and my social life is in a state of transition. Most of my close friends from college still live in Kansas, but I’m slowly building friendships in Texas. If I pick my bridesmaids now, I run the risk of choosing girls I may not be close with after a year and 700 miles take their toll. And I could end up wishing I had included my very best Texas friend, even though I don’t really have a very best Texas friend just yet.  A good bridesmaid is conscious of all the opinions and expectations being launched at a bride, and she’s careful not to add to that stress. So Hannah has that going for her.

4. Do what you want. People will understand.
I worry that my guests will think a buffet is tacky or they won’t like the date I chose (June 8, 2013!) or they’ll be disappointed that I don’t have favors and chair covers and special glasses for the toast and a special cake cutter. What if they don’t like my colors? What if they don’t like my flowers? What if they really, really wanted to do the Cupid Shuffle, only to find out it’s on my extensive no-play list and they leave feeling like they’ve been to the worst wedding in the history of weddings?
Fortunately, my very wise friends just remind me to plan it the way George and I want it and have faith that our guests — remember, these are people who love us — will understand our choices, even if they don’t like them (but I really, really hope they like them). So maybe this is a more constructive form of the “It’s your day” comment.

5. Even if you hate every detail of your wedding, it’s still a success if you end up married to George.
I know I’ve said this to a few stressed-out brides before I got engaged, but I still needed to hear it from someone else. In fact, I’ll probably need to hear it several times before this wedding is over. I want my wedding to be perfect. I can’t help it. But if it’s not — even if all my biggest, most ridiculous worries come true — I still end up married. I want to marry George more than I want to impress my friends. But I may need a reminder sometimes.


  1. Been there, done that! Good luck with your wedding planning. The main advice I wish someone had given me back in the day was: Try to have the wedding YOU want. Everyone will tell you how to do things, how not to do things, and in the end, your wedding will be a little blip of memory for them but a BIG memory for you. If you and your new husband can look back on your wedding and smile, it was a good day.


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