Top Five Ways People Wil Try to Weigh in On Your Wedding Plans

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Congratulations, gays! We made it through the winter, and we are rounding the corner to encounter wedding season, once more. While we are through the first summer of post-SCOTUS marriage equality decision, we are still in a time where there are an unprecedented number of gay weddings still around the corner. (and many sweet young gay things working on their first gay wedding, to be rounded out by a gay divorce and possibly subsequent marriages.)

Now that you have met and declared you love, you have the joyous opportunity to plan a wedding, which is somewhere between herding cats and dancing your thesis. Here is a brief tutorial on the top four ways people will try to start shit with you about your wedding.

GettyImages-631093231images via Getty

Are your exes coming?

We are also lucky enough to be deep in communities with our friends and exes, all entangled in personal history. But something that we don’t often discuss in these wedding goings-on is: Which of your exes should you invite? There’s a fair amount of social pressure in gayladyland to make good with all your exes, and we’re all connected under the rainbow umbrella, etc. but the fact remains that many of us have complicated relationships with our exes! Whether we are trying to decide to invite our exes to our wedding or trying to avoid running into an ex at a friend’s wedding so as to avoid a scene, or we were invited to an ex’s wedding, and frankly are having some feelings about it—it’s a sticky situation!

You get to decide who comes to your wedding. Lots of folks make concessions with friends and family about plus-ones, and your mom fussing that if you don’t invite all your cousins they’ll feel left out, and your friends complaining that people aren’t taking their six-month relationships seriously, or whatever.

Here are some considerations: Will they behave themselves? Are they deeply entwined in your social scene, so that if you invite every single one of the rest of your friends but not them it will become A Thing? Most importantly, do you really want them to be there?

Your families will get in the mix

Weddings are simultaneously deeply about the couple, but also in many ways are treated like a family reunion, a party thrown on behalf of everybody else, and an opportunity for people to act out in whatever ways that this wedding strikes them in particular. Is this the time to stage a reunion between your sibling and your step-dad? Someone may think so. Is this the time for your friends to disclose their long-standing dislike of your partner because she wants to send any kids you have to public school? They might think so. Will somebody try to hijack some aesthetic aspect of your wedding, whether it is about the tablescapes or whether or not you wear pants? Absolutely.

Figure out for yourself what you can allow some wiggle room for the sake of those relationships, and shut the rest down with “That’s what we’ve decided is best for us.” You do not have to justify these decisions; you just have to make it clear that that is your decision.

“What are you wearing?”

While queer folks getting married absolutely do have the luxury not as much cultural weight on the way we do celebrations, that is slowly changing. Weddings are things that people love to make prescriptive–there is a strong cultural expectation for wearing white, even though that tradition actually only began a little over 100 years ago.

Gay weddings are edging close enough into the collective mainstream consciousness that people are developing a specific idea of what they expect to see. This aspect will be especially tricky for those of you who don’t fall firmly into a more masculine or feminine gender expression because weddings have a lot of very gendered symbolism. It means that your mom could harass you for wearing a suit (i.e. “The Anderson girl, she’s a lesbian, and they both wore dresses, I thought they looked very nice, I don’t see why you have to go wearing pants like that.”) 

People will be very invested in what you wear, and will potentially be a source of confusion and frustration for you, personally. Just wear something nice and maybe pick three people who will support you in this process, and refrain from talking to people about your process if they can’t be supportive.

Are you going to do the thing I saw at one other gay wedding I’ve been to?

Most wedding stuff has been made up in the very recent past. The whole unity candle ritual came from a soap opera in 1981. General Hospital put that particular tradition on the cultural map. However, our cultural memory is short, and there are many regional and trend-based traditions that people engage in but is treated as if it’s a totally reasonable tradition that goes back farther than their grandparents.

You do not have to make a rainbow sand sculpture as a symbol of your love even if people insist that this is the gayest possible way to have a wedding. People just need to know what time to show up; they aren’t entitled to vet the entire structure of the event.

Same Sex Marriage Brides Wedding Cake with Rainbow Flag

“What is my special job?”

It may be especially true if your family and friends are the kinds of people who have a tendency toward overinvolvement or enmeshment—that they demand to know what’s going on, they require a special job, etc. This may also be true for friends—especially if you have a scattered social network, or are having attendants. This is a time when people become very offended that you did not ask them, personally, to read a Mary Oliver poem at your wedding. 

Bear in mind that this is not about you—this is about a number of things, including a general feeling of exclusion, or their frustration that other people are getting married, and they’re worried about their relationship prospects—but either way, that is something you don’t need to internalize or take responsibility for.

Wedding planning can be such a stressful process. It can also be a very expensive and fraught process. Make space and the time you need to plan the event you want, and stay connected to your partner and your support network. Take care of yourself and don’t worry about what other people are thinking or saying. You’re not marrying them.

Maria Turner-Carney is a therapist and writer in Seattle. Follow her work at seattlefeministtherapy.com/blog.

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