How to deal when friends and family don't support your wedding

February 29 | Guest post by Lulu Peaches
Photo by Robyn Icks Photography
Photo by Robyn Icks Photography

I always pictured myself as the strong independent girl who doesn't "do" weddings. Occasionally I would pass a bridal magazine and pretend that my interest wasn't piqued by the gorgeous gowns, luscious flowers, or the fun and felicity you could create with friends and family. I would tell myself that it was all corny, superficial, narcissistic nonsense. I would try to convince myself of these things because, well, those are the things I was told by my parents growing up…

When someone was throwing a party for a birthday, milestone, or any special occasion, my father would express his disapproval by ranting on about how pretentious, unnecessary, expensive, and plebeian it was. "An excuse to get drunk," he would say. My mother fell in step with his theories on parties.

Growing up I didn't want to disappoint them. I didn't want to be a sell out. I was their free-spirited offbeat daughter who laughed in the face of social conventions. "Weddings are just another social construct that was created to oppress women," I would intellectualize to myself in my varsity days.

But there was always a little voice in my head that would say softly, "What if they aren't that bad? Am I not worthy of celebration? Is love not worthy of celebration? Maybe it's okay to make a big fuss over some things, to buy expensive flowers and splurge on food, and even (gasp) a pretty dress?"

Ultimately I asked myself, what joy is there in life if we can't celebrate a deep unconditional love for another human being?

Then one day, I found someone who I want to spend the rest of my life with. And planning our wedding has actually brought me so much joy.

…But not my father.

When someone refuses to celebrate your happy times, you might experience emotions like neglect, criticism, or even humiliation. And that's why it can be so hard and painful. My father's negative reaction to one of the most joyous occasions of my life has been a painful and difficult learning curve.

But, most importantly, I learned some things about about having unsupportive friends and family. I hope these lessons will help other readers in a similar predicament feel better…

It's not personal

It feels very personal, but really it's the person's own issues. I don't know if my dad had a bad experience that led him to hate parties and celebrations. I don't know if he is just afraid of change, or if it's just hard to deal with the idea of his youngest child is getting married. Often people make a fuss because they want to be the center of attention or they want to feel important. Don't let their bad baggage affect your wedding; don't let their issues become your used tissues! Give yourself permission to make the mental boundary; even if it is a parent, you have a right to be happy and live your own life!

It's okay to feel sad and even grieve

I think it's important to allow yourself to be sad, to acknowledge your feelings and even to grieve. Just make sure you don't let it get the better of you and go on to dampen your wedding (or marriage). Don't indulge but process, and then let go and move on.

Sometimes you have to forgive someone, even if they never apologize

This is more about your own sanity. You are not condoning what the person has done, nor are you necessarily welcoming them back into you life… you're just seeing that they are on their own journey and that they are fallible and human; that they are probably also hurting. This is really about letting go so that you can release the anger and pain. You don't want that pain to stunt your growth or hold you back.

I hope sharing my story will help others feel less alone. Weddings really should be celebrations of positivity, hope, and joy. Don't let anyone take that away from you.

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  1. My dad did something similar. He thought having a friend officiate was somehow us not taking marriage seriously enough, and hated any mention of Lego flowers or anything goofy and fun. He has a history of disliking plans based on a detail he can't let go of and then gushing about how excellent things were after the whole thing occurs. What I ended up doing is just shutting my mouth about the details my dad hates, and giving him his own task to focus on. He's making us a shadow box with a spot to put wooden pieces signed as a guestbook and slid in behind a pane of glass. He's gone full detail obsessed engineer on it, as I have done with the rest of the stuff I'm doing and everyone is happy.

    5 agree
  2. I'm definitely dealing with some of this right now. My dad seemingly couldn't care less about my wedding. I'm not sure if it's just that he's processing it in his own way, or if he honestly disapproves (interracial relationship, we live across the country so he's never actually met my fiance, he feels like we're getting married too soon, any number of potential issues he could have). Between him and my momcthulhu-turned-up-to-11 mom who texts me constantly about things like bridal hairstyles despite the fact that the wedding is over a year away, being engaged feels like a lonely process of grieving for the family I'll never have rather than a celebration of anything. Much less me. The worst thing is that my fiance's mom is amazing and is doing all the right things. My only hope is that, as the months pass, this stuff will get easier. But there are days I consider eloping and not inviting either of them.

    6 agree
  3. One thing to bear in mind here is that the disagreements and issues here are about an event that has not yet happened. Some people just cannot make imaginative leaps and have to be shown the worth of something in the future or currently only abstract, they just won’t get it from being told about beforehand and will frequently just get stuck on the first thing that confuses them/is different to how they would do it/that they don’t understand etc. Attempts to explain the value of the thing they have already decided has no value will just drive them further into their position.

    My wife’s dad, who I get on with really well and who is totally fine about the fact I am a woman, was however completely unexcited about the prospect of his daughter getting married. Totally didn’t get it, literally said nothing when we announced it. It was impossible to engage him in talking about it beforehand, he didn’t disapprove but although he didn’t say it in words, it was totally obvious that he just couldn’t see why we would do it.

    It hit him all at one once on the day, in the ceremony, and he wept and wept throughout the entire thing, his family have only ever seen him cry once before. He had the time of his life at the party afterwards, he suddenly realised he had a role, he was a father of one of the brides goddammit!!!! I think he bounced up to literally every single guest and introduced himself, he hit the dancefloor (unheard of previously) and I honestly don’t think anyone celebrated harder than he did! Nearly two years later he is still talking about it…..

    My point is that some people need to be shown, they just won’t get it from a telling. It doesn’t matter who is doing the telling, their beloved child or the postman, so in that sense it is absolutely no reflection at all of their feelings towards the teller. If what you are doing is right for you and it makes you happy and gives you joy than anyone who loves you will see that on the day. After initially getting gushy with everyone about our wedding we began to reign it in and only talk to people who got it, even if that mean not taking to nearest and dearest about it. We actually began to relish the fact there were details that only we knew about, we refused to tell people what we were wearing for instance.

    I can honestly say that one on the best things to come out of the wedding planning process (er, apart from gaining a wife obviously!) was this realisation about some people needing showing not telling, (it wasn’t just my wife’s dad) and its been really helpful for how we deal with family since.

    8 agree
  4. This is beautifully written and such good advice. There were a number of things about our wedding that rubbed some people the wrong way. While we didn't have much open combativeness we did have some negative or lackluster reactions from people who we were expecting to be our biggest supporters. It was difficult but in the end my policy became to only share information about wedding planning with those who I knew to be supportive and helpful. Those who were negative or acted disinterested weren't told anything, weren't asked to help with anything, and our planning was a more joyful period because of that policy.

    3 agree
  5. I am glad I came across this article as I'm going through a similar situation with my dad to the point I'm calling him dadzilla. This helps me knowing that I'm not the only one that is going through this. I decided not to continue with this "headache" of having a venue and decided to elope instead. Plus we don't have a huge ton of support from either side of the family. I don't have any regrets, just wish I would of done it sooner.

    1 agrees
  6. This is beautiful advice! I wish I had found it before I did let my in-laws ruin my wedding! We're eloping in 10 days and I've come to terms with it (mostly) but wasn't allowed to enjoy wedding planning or even be excited due to my sister-in-law's need to constantly be the center of attention, and her parents' indulging her and pushing FH and I around in the process. I think forgiveness is the hardest part here. I'm still trying to set aside all of the anger I feel and move on. I'm still grieving for the wedding I wanted that I will never get. Trying not to rush the process of healing, but I'm starting to feel like a very bitter woman haha.

    3 agree
  7. I dealt with some of this during my wedding planning. Certain family members were simply opposed to the idea of me getting married. They had no issues with my now-husband, or our relationship, just with the idea that I was going to "put them" through a wedding. It was difficult to find a balance between loving planning the wedding and trying not to inconvenience them or "bother" them with my happiness. I eventually discovered that the trick was to have someone in your corner. Having a supportive relationship, someone who loved me, made the whole process so much easier. In the end, I chose not to invite those who were opposed, and instead surrounded myself with love and friendship on the big day. It made everyone wonderful for me, and the family I was creating with my love.
    There's actually a comic that makes this point rather well. The cure to family drama is always love: http://lifewithsquid.org/comic/that-escalated-quickly/

    2 agree
  8. Fortunately i haven't had a family member be negative, apart from my mother in law to be, giving my husband to be grief because she doesn't understand why we are not going down the traditional road and why we are opting out of some wedding traditions altogether.

    More for myself i have had strong negative responses/ reactions from complete strangers and co workers, to the point where i don't discuss our wedding plans at all. (i dont know why i bothered) I guess i learnt the hard way not to tell people who dont need to know.

    The worst part for me is i feel like this should be one of the most exciting and happiest moments in my life and i should be happy in this time period of planning and looking forward to our future together, but i'm only feeling stressed and dreadful because of other peoples beliefs on how things should be done.
    My fiance is very supportive and told me not to worry, but i cant help feeling worn down by the whole experience.

  9. Thanks for this. I am going through something very similar and none of my friends can relate. They can't understand why my parents aren't happy that I am marrying the boyfriend they like who I have lived with for seven years. Thanks for making me feel like I'm not alone.

  10. I am dealing with this same thing! I have heard remarks such as my mom saying "Why do you need to get your makeup done, I don't understand?" My dad said when I asked him to build an alter (easy for him – he's handy and does projects like what I want all the time) That I was "making too big of deal of the whole thing" .

    Both my parents love my fiancé and we have not asked them to pay for any part of the wedding. My mom has helped with some deposits and my dress without prompting. But I still would like some more excitement and support in the celebration we want to have.

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