Warning: The following blog post contains strong opinions that are jaded, cynical, and probably insulting. Please be advised that if you have ever held a wedding, attended a wedding, or daydreamed about your future wedding, some – if not all – of the following will offend you. If it makes you feel better, yes, I too was guilty of some of the points that follow, but if I don’t get lenience, neither do you. Continue reading at your own peril. Reader discretion is advised.
Weddings are inherently cheesy events. It’s something about bringing together distant relatives and long-forgotten friends, groups of people that only find themselves in the same room at weddings and funerals, and forcing all these folks to sit and watch while you prove how much you love your significant other.
And there’s actually an interesting paradox when it comes to weddings. Those who embrace the cheesiness seem to wind up with the best weddings: they’re fun, relaxed and everyone has a good time, including – and most importantly – the honoured couple. The others who take the whole thing too seriously, constantly stress about planning, and honestly believe their wedding is perfect and entirely tasteful are usually blind to the fact that the kitsch has taken over, while remaining wound too tightly to enjoy themselves on their Big Day, or allow anyone else to either.
Weddings are becoming less a ritual about life-long commitment, and more a display of wealth and extravagance, as couples become convinced they must buy dinner for anyone they’ve ever met and cover each chair in only the finest linens. There is always a feign of resistance to the default wedding format, as the couple tries to incorporate personal touches, but in the end nearly all weddings turn out the same, and the personal touches seem to only create caricatures of the individuals themselves.
So, exhibiting my penchant for complaining by way of itemized list, please find below The Ultimate List of Wedding Grievances, written in conjunction with a Con List cohort.
Because someone needs to say it.
xkcd shows us how it all begins
The Ultimate List of Wedding Grievances
1. Glass clinking during reception to coerce the bride and groom to suck face for the crowd. It is disruptive and the perverted enthusiastic guests and children often get out of hand. No one wants to see people make out with mouthfuls of prime rib.
2. The receiving line. While über-traditional and practically the only way you’ll get to see all of your 300 guests, the 40 second interactions are hardly meaningful. The guests queue up for an eternity, and your crazy old aunt will always think it’s appropriate to talk to each wedding party member for a full 8 minutes, thus holding up the whole production. Those receiving lines that include the entire massive bridal party and all parents and siblings are the worst.
3. “The Chicken Dance,” “The Macarena,” “The Locomotion” and “The YMCA”. Self-explanatory.
4. The cake cutting. In case you didn’t know, the mid-dance cake cutting is the exit cue for guests who are bored, tired, or just want to leave. This probably sounds familiar: “I’ll wait until they cut the cake, then I’ll go.” By the time the cake is cut, most people are too tired, drunk, or full to want another dessert. They either want to leave or to just keep partying uninterrupted. It really slows down the night’s momentum when you to make everyone stop and gather for the photo-op. And if the couple smashes the cake into each other’s faces… well, it’s been done. It’s not original, funny, or cute. It should also be noted that most wedding cakes are not delicious: taste is inversely proportionate to aesthetics.
5. The mother/son, father/daughter dance. If the groom wants to dance with his mother, fine, he probably should at some point. But do we need to pause the party so everyone can watch? Not necessary. Full bridal party dances fall under the same criticism, and even the all-important First Dance treads dangerously here, since all most couples do is sway back and forth. Bor-ing.
6. The lame wedding favours. What am I going to do with 1 oz of maple syrup? How long am I obligated to keep it before I can throw out the dove-shaped paperweight with your initials on it? Seriously, your guests won’t miss these cheap trinkets if you decide to opt out. A third of them don’t even take them home in the first place and 6 months later the rest won’t even remember what you gave them.
7. The notion that money is an appalling, impersonal gift. Myth! While the Mother-of-the-Mother-of-the-Bride may be mortified at the suggestion, most contemporary young couples, especially those who have lived on their own or lived together prior to the nuptials, will be very appreciative; they already have a toaster oven. Not only is money or a gift card acceptable, it makes gift shopping much easier.
8. Any speech or toast longer than 5 minutes; 3 minutes is ideal.
9. Children. Evidently, putting a kid in a pretty dress or a mini tux is a free pass for any and all forms of misbehaviour. And an open bar/family gathering apparently gives dutiful parents the excuse to be distracted or blatantly ignore the ruckus. Sure, who wouldn’t want to take their shoes off and run around screaming in their dress clothes? But if I can’t do it, neither should your child. Unfortunately, this is generally unavoidable, as most parents will take personal offence if you attempt an “adult-only” wedding.
10. Pets and/or children as part of the ceremony. There’s a reason Hollywood lists these two things as the most difficult to work with (close third: Christian Bale). Temper tantrums (or dogs running amok with wedding bands) trump “cute” every time.
11. Every-man-for-himself reception seating. This usually ends in groups of friends being split up, dubious seat-saving, and complaints. Make a seating plan – place cards are cheap, and you should have a good idea of who should/can sit where. If for some reason your new mother-in-law doesn’t arrive early enough to get her spot at the best table, you will hear about it for the rest of your life. “John’s speech was so touching.” “Well I don’t know dear, I was so far away I couldn’t hear him, let alone see him up there.”
12. Brunch/lunch receptions. I’ve never been to one, and I wouldn’t go if invited. Okay, maybe I would, but I wouldn’t be stoked about it. If it’s a budget thing, cut down the guest list and host a dinner like a normal person. An evening cocktail party reception could be an acceptable middle ground if done properly.
13. The dreaded “cash bar”. It’s striking how those so often concerned with “tradition” and “custom” still opt for the cash bar – a major faux pas in traditional wedding etiquette. And it automatically labels you as “cheap” (sorry), since asking people to pay for anything at your wedding is generally in bad taste. If it’s a cost issue, consider how out of hand the size of your wedding has gotten in the first place, or make some sort of compromise such as providing wine, but not spirits, or discounted drink prices. In three years, people won’t likely remember what wedding favours you provided, but they will remember whether or not they had to pay for their booze. Of course, it could be worse; you could have a “dry” wedding.
14. Ceremony/dance-only invitations: there’s a dinner, but some of you are not invited. Ouch. A guest considered for the dance-only invitation should not be a guest at all, plain and simple. It’s not like the dance-only invitees will be completely unawares of the dinner that occurred just before their arrival, and receiving the second-class invite is insulting. Expect these guests to arrive only for the open bar – if they come at all – and not to bring a gift (could you blame them?). This is truly a do-unto-others situation. Not to mention, if you have a group of dance-only guests, you are now obligated to provide a well-stocked midnight buffet.
15. The plethora of wedding-related events: bridal showers, bachelorette parties, engagement parties…. And your guests are expected to bring gifts to all of them? Prepare to lower your expectations.
16. The Bridal Party. Being asked to be a member of a bridal party should be a request made to close friends you’d like to share the experience with – not to recruit free manual labour. Brides and grooms should acknowledge that it is expensive to be in a bridal party, and that few people have the balls or the foresight to say “no” when asked to be a part of one. Keep their costs reasonable and their time commitments manageable.
17. Facebook event invitations. I’m all about losing useless and out-dated traditions, but really? Too far.
18. Outdated and over the top decorations. Miles of tulle draped from the ceiling of a dingy community hall or a plastic gazebo does not magically transform it into the Banff Springs Hotel. You’re not fooling anyone, so keep it simple.
19. Throwing rice/confetti. Someone has to pick that up! Is it really appropriate to show how happy you are for the bride and groom by throwing food at them? I think not.
20. The notion that this is the most important day in everyone’s life. It may be one of yours, but chances are your old college friend or second cousin doesn’t care nearly as much. Please keep this is mind when you make demands of your attendees.
21. Spelling and grammatical errors on wedding invitations. You will be judged.
22. Weddings during long weekends. Perhaps a bigger deal here than in warmer climates, but Alberta/Canada sees a limited number of long weekends in a summer, and I certainly don’t want one to be monopolized up by your wedding.
23. About the bridesmaid dresses: “Oh, that’s versatile, you can totally wear it again”. No, you cannot. Use of this and similar phrases should be ceased immediately. Regardless of how it looks, it is and will always be the bridesmaid dress from so-and-so’s wedding. Therefore you can’t knowingly wear it again to another event, especially one that people who were at the wedding will be attending. Even if you’re at a totally unrelated work Christmas party on the other side of the globe, Facebook photo tagging will reveal you. Besides, the majority of these dresses all have that everlasting bridesmaid-y feel to them – even the black ones.
24. “This tastes like ‘wedding food’.” Maybe I watch too much of TLC’s Four Weddings, but this is the most ridiculous complaint. There’s no such thing as “wedding food”. It’s mass-produced banquet food that shows up at every event with 75 or more guests. With few exceptions, quality is lost to quantity. If you prefer not to be subject to this grievance, forego the frequent menu tastings and spend your time trimming the guest list.
25. Do not invite people you don’t expect or want to come just to be polite, and then panic when they come. You had that coming.
26. Also do not invite people who are not invited to the wedding to your wedding related events (e.g. shower, stagette). If they come, it’s just to make a scene or make you feel bad, so doing so just means you’re asking for trouble.
27. The thank-you is NOT an outdated tradition and proper thank you notes should be sent to everyone and sent promptly. This goes for wedding and shower gifts. Some people will have you believe you have a year to send these notes, but anything after a couple of months will have guests raising their eyebrows. That same tradition says guests have a year after your wedding to give you a gift – would you be okay with waiting so long? Just get these formalities over with. The acknowledgement is always appreciated. And as with invitations, you cannot use Facebook for this.
28. Guests who do not dress appropriately. I don’t care who you are or what the venue is, 99% of the time denim is not appropriate. Just because they have collars, plaid and golf shirts are still not acceptable.
29. Keep your registry under control. You need a wide range of price points, and a lot of items in the reasonable $75-$125 range. A huge registry with lots of expensive items will be interpreted as greedy or delusional.
30. The infamous Bridezilla and her lesser-known minion, the Groomonster. Serving as a G-rated euphemism for “crazy bitch”, perhaps the daily use of the term “Bridezilla” on TV networks such as TLC has desensitized friends of the bride to the full meaning of the term and their impending doom. All brides have Bridezilla moments – it’s basically unavoidable. The less you think you are being a Bridezilla, the more likely you are a behaving like a complete psycho. But just because “everybody does it” doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Try to have empathy and try to remain calm if something goes wrong. At least one thing goes wrong at every wedding – accept it and move on. Yes, it’s “your day”, but you invited the rest of us and we have to put up with you.
31. Gift-openings. Yawn. They are boring and no one cares. If you had a registry it can easily be deduced that you received many things from it. I don’t feel it necessary to check and make sure.
32. Going somewhere warm and far away for your wedding because you’re too cool to do it locally like everyone else? “Oh, a wedding in Hawaii! Real original!” – Peter (Jason Segel), Forgetting Sarah Marshall
33. Wedding photos by formula. I have this picture; you probably have (or will have) one just like it.