How important is it for people to say yours was the BEST WEDDING EVER?


arielmstallings
Graphic courtesy of Splendid Insights. This is one page from a market research document they did that's actually awesome.
Graphic courtesy of Splendid Insights. This is one page from a market research document they did that's actually awesome.

Y'all know I loves me some data, and this little nugget from Splendid Insights is a hot nugget. It turns out that generally speaking, almost 70% of us think having the BEST WEDDING EVER matters. Maybe it's not the top priority, but it still matters.

Wedding competition is a pretty fascinating motivator. Like, as if it wasn't enough to plan a public ceremony, AND an expensive party, AND deal with family and friends, AND make a public commitment to your partner… now it's supposed all supposed to be the BEST EVER?!

No pressure, guys.

This is something we've written about for years, begging readers to remember that their wedding is not a contest and that all weddings are awesome!

That's all fine and dandy. I feel like most of us already feel a little chagrined at how much we care about our weddings. Isn't it, like, unfeminist or something? Shouldn't I not care? I probably shouldn't be so competitive…

But you know what? It's freaking hard. It's hard when the stakes are high, and it's a very public event. It's hard when you're investing a ton of resources like money, time, and creative effort. It's hard when, in the current wedding planning climate, every single wedding decision feels like it needs to MEAN something.

It's not enough to have the perfect wedding — it needs to be the perfect UNIQUE wedding, where every detail conveys some Very Important Thing about your relationship or your time together. Where you're not just trying to have a nice day within a reasonable budget, but you're also trying to wow your friends and family (who have probably never all been in the same place together!) with the BEST WEDDING EVER.

Jesus, it's a wonder wedding planning makes everyone act crazy. The pressure.

This is when it gets really interesting to see the couples who opt out of the competition completely. Folks planning destination weddings who are just like "Whatever, give me the 'rose petals on the beach' package, that's fine. My priority is relaxing." Other folks who opt for "wedding factory" weddings, knowing they won't be the most unique specialist snowflake weddings ever, but knowing that they won't have to deal with decision fatigue and the overwhelming pressure to make it the BEST WEDDING EVER. Some folks want to save energy for working on the best marriage ever, and that's cool too. For those 30% or so who don't get triggered by the competitive vibe… we salute you!

What about the remaining 70% of us, though? How can we sit with both wanting to impress everyone, while also needing to stay secure?

Well, as always: I think a little perspective is healthy. As Offbeat Bride likegracekelly noted last week:

Yeah, so some couple on The Knot had artisanal barbecue at their wedding three years ago. Well, our community didn't know that and they were thrilled by the novelty of barbecue at a wedding.

Our community had never been to a book-themed wedding, seen Elvish-engraved wedding rings, etc. even if the internet has seen it dozens of times.

It is much easier to go viral if your sample size is smaller.

That last line, though! Unless you're the last of your crew to get married, chances are solid that very few of your guests know much about contemporary weddings. Even if several of your friends have gotten married recently, your wedding is probably going to be the BEST WEDDING EVER if your guests haven't been reading wedding blogs and browsing Pinterest nonstop for the past year.

Now I'll toss the question out to you guys: do you feel like it's really important for people to say yours was the BEST WEDDING EVER? How do you deal with that competitive feeling? Does it not even bother you?

  1. I'm curious if this is also a bit of a Gen X/Millennial thing. I'm very firmly a millennial and have never felt the need for our wedding to be unique or offbeat or the best, we've just wanted our wedding to feel like "us".

    I've also never really ascribed to the idea that your wedding should be the best day of your life – an important or memorable day yes, but there's so many other days out there that will probably be even more fun and " best".

    • Interestingly, I know from reading the survey that the vast majority of respondents were Millennials… so this one doesn't seem to be a gen x/millennial issue.

  2. It was really important to me and my husband that our wedding leave an impression. We wanted it to be unlike any wedding our guests had ever attended, we wanted it to be memorable, and we wanted people to have an awesome time. In talking with our guests both on the day and after we feel pretty confident that we achieved those three goals. But, was our wedding the BEST EVER!? Who knows?
    I feel like it's too subjective to make a decision about this wedding or that wedding being the best because criteria would vary so much from person to person. A co-worker told me that her husband felt we had "the best" food he'd ever eaten at a wedding … but food is one aspect. A wedding we went to a couple years ago had "the best" venue I'd ever seen for a wedding, including my own, but I love quaint B&Bs on cliffs overlooking water. Someone else might hate a location like that.
    The whole concept of "The Best Wedding" seems to be to be a myth. Perhaps if the term were rephrased as "The Best Wedding for US", us being the couple in question, it would relieve some of the anxiety and pressure. My husband and I absolutely had "The Best Wedding for US" and that's what really mattered.

  3. We weren't concern with being the best, as much as we wanted everyone to feel like they could be themselves, and comfortable. And for it to feel like "us" which everyone said it was very much us. Line Brink said we had the best wedding for us and that's what matters.

    When comparing ours to others we recently attended (because even if you don't mean to, it happens!) we found ourselves using that thought process to determine how great the couples wedding was. The more it fit the couple, the more we enjoyed ourselves. Verse attending a wedding where there were events and theme that seemed forced instead of a natural fit and flow.

  4. Aah, thank you for using my humble little pull quote 😀

    My husband and I were the first in our tiny college's graduating class to get engaged, so when other alumni couples started planning weddings using the college as a venue as well, not going to lie, there was a pang of, "Their weddings are going to be BETTER than ours!" My husband even said that people were "stealing" our ideas.

    But here's the thing: getting married at the college? "Stolen" idea from my parents, who got married there 32 years ago. Passing out CD favors? "Stolen" idea from a friend's wedding. There were a bazillion ideas stolen from Pinterest, OBB, and other sites. There wasn't a single "original" or "new" element of the wedding except for the marriage. But we weren't trying to impress the Internet or even our friends and families (a lot of which had gone to my cousin's Pinterest-perfect wedding the year prior), we were just seeking things that would make people say the wedding was "so us" rather than "the best wedding EVAR." And with that, I think we succeeded.

  5. I tend to be one of the overly competitive people. I mean, everything is a competition and everyone knows that, right? However, I'm getting better at realizing that "winning" at things as subjective as fashion or tattoos or weddings means staying true to yourself and doing the best you can, not outspending or going faster or getting the most compliments. Internal validation is the victory, outside validation is icing on the cake.

    • Love this: "Internal validation is the victory, outside validation is icing on the cake."

  6. I got married a year and a half ago. At that time, I'd been to A LOT of weddings with my now-husband. Some of them were really lavish affairs, the sort that we would not in a million years be able to compete with. And we were totally fine with that. I didn't need or want THE BEST WEDDING EVER. What I wanted was a wedding that was "us". A place where both our geeky and non-geeky guests could feel included and have a good time. And I think we pulled that off admirably.

    The problem when you try to compete with everyone else is that there will always, always, ALWAYS be someone with more money than you, more time, more craftiness, more connections… more. If you compare yourself to them, you'll drive yourself nuts. So do you and have a good time, and everything else will fall into place.

  7. We are 55 days away and I am struggling with this SO HARD. So far I've been able to wrangle in the little one-uping demon parrot that lives on my shoulder, but it's so stinking hard. I just have to keep telling myself, no one knows you COULD have had a string quartet…they will only know that we used that money for a banging mimosa bar that will be enjoyed by everyone for way longer than the quartet. No one needs to know that I COULD have clothed my bridesmaids in bespoke custom gowns…because those cute little wrap dresses will look just as nice but won't bankrupt my awesome friends. So far practical me is winning…but I needed this article to remind me to cool my sparkly pintrest jets and just enjoy the day.

  8. I just want a wedding that doesn't have the aspects that I dislike in other weddings. I want good food, because I've eaten terrible food at a wedding before. I don't want to throw a bouquet or garter (burn that second tradition with FIRE) because I dislike having been forced to stand there and pretend to care about catching a bouquet when I think it's silly. And so on. I know my wedding won't be the best ever, because I won't be doing ALL THE THINGS.

  9. This post comes at a great time… Our wedding is in two months, and we are very much a "no frills" couple when it comes to our wedding, and life in general. We will have food (self catered), booze (full bar), music (iPod), and little else. Yes, we will modest decor, but besides the cookie table (Pittsburgh tradition), there will be very little that would distinguish this as a wedding other than my white dress and the ceremony preceding it. Would I love to have a photo booth? Of course, but I just don't find it practical to spend money on. Would live music or a DJ be nice instead of our iPod? Of course, but it's not necessary. The fear is – does being practical, and setting up a simple, relaxed environment mean our guests will not enjoy themselves? I have only attended "wedding factory" weddings, and have no idea how this will all play out. I stand by our decisions, especially as we prepare to potentially move cross-country to Portland, but I also want our loved ones to enjoy themselves. Thanks for listening – I've been carrying around this fear for awhile and found this a good time to "unload".

    • I hear you, Kate! It sounds like we're having a somewhat more wedding-y wedding than what you describe, but I'm also struggling with the "will guests enjoy themselves" issue for similar reasons. We're doing the iPod thing, no day-of coordinator, and a self-serve bar (not to mention DIY makeup for me). I'm planning ahead like the dickens, but worrying about how it will all play out on the actual day is my new hobby. I don't need best wedding ever (it WILL be the best for me and my groom, anyway); just "pretty darn good wedding" would be nice!

      I just keep reminding myself that my guests are adults, and more than that, they're adults who want to have a good time.

      • Don't worry! This sounds so much like our wedding! We had an iPod for music, self-serve bar and food, had no day-of coordinator, or even wore anything that would've indicated it was a wedding from an outsider. It was still a great time and everyone seemed to enjoy that it was a little different and low-key. Your weddings will be awesome!

  10. I am the last of my crew to get married, and thus… I already know there's no such thing as the Best Wedding Ever. All my friends' wedding have been different, and all of them have been beautiful and fun and perfect and the Best Wedding Ever. As a frequent wedding guest, I know it doesn't really matter that much what your colors are (all brides are beautiful), or what the food is like (as long as it's good and there's enough of it), or whether you get calla lilies or peonies, or how many mason jars you use and in what configuration, or what kind of favors if any. In my opinion, this is one of the best things about waiting to get married until my 30s.

    Your wedding is gonna be the Best Wedding Ever because everybody's wedding is the Best Wedding Ever!

  11. My wedding is at the end of the month so I have been coming to OBB a lot for reassurances that my wedding isn't underwhelming with our small budget, so this article is just what I needed in the last few days. And being from another country has made it hard for me to know what SoCals expect. But I agree with two comments above – to make it "So Us" and Make the food, atmosphere and music as best as we can.
    It is a lot of pressure to be the BEST EVER – you can project that onto your guests even if they just want to help celebrate you.
    We have also said to each other that as long as we are relaxed and having fun, then our close friends and family will ensure those that might complain (a crazy few of course) will be doing so on deaf ears.

  12. I have attended four weddings in the last two years. Each one was beautiful and magnificent and full of love in its own way…but for me, the BEST WEDDING EVAR (at least out of those four) was my good friend's viking/SCA wedding. It wasn't the best because it was a Viking wedding, or because it was unique (even though it was), but because it felt incredibly personal to the couple and the community they have built around them. Their passions were reflected in their clothing choices (SCA contingency for the groom's party, tribal bellydancing for the bridal party), the ceremony and reception took place in the MIL's backyard, and my housemate cooked for 200 people out of the household kitchen.

    I stood in the backyard early that morning and watched all my friends swarm around, arranging flowers, stirring giant pots of food, setting up chairs, painting signs. It felt like one of our big camping adventures, but instead of setting up camp, we were making a wedding. And it felt so special and full of love.

    I think that in building a wedding, the focus shouldn't be on being the best, or making the most people happy. It should be about creating something that feels right for the couple. I honestly don't think other people's feelings regarding your wedding should factor into the decision making – you should want it to be YOUR best wedding, not the best wedding in the world.

    • But, you know, on the other hand, my best friend from college ended up having a church wedding even though she and her husband aren't religious (and the priest called the groom by the wrong name!), did the reception in a banquet hall, had the whole "traditional" wedding thing down to the cheeseball DJ and the garter toss and the whole nine yards. Despite her starting out wanting a quirky DIY flash-mob on the Brooklyn Bridge type of thing. (Family pressure, logistics, convenience, etc. intervened.)

      But it was still the Best Wedding Ever. There was a delicious pasta bar, and we danced all night to silly throwback Bon Jovi tunes, and the pictures of that night show the two of them, their families, and their friends, all having an absolute blast. Years later it's one of my favorite memories of my college gang of friends.

  13. I was one of the last of my friends to get married. After attending so many weddings in a short period of time, my goal was to make mine memorable because, honestly, there wasn't a whole lot that stood out among all of their weddings. It's not so much that I wanted to have the BEST WEDDING EVAAAAR, as I wanted to distinguish my wedding from the string of weddings that came before me. Ironically (I guess), most of my guests hadn't been to a wedding in a hot minute, so I probably didn't need to stray so far off the beaten path. But we also included many things that we "us", as other commenters have mentioned. So I'm happy with how things went down.

  14. I just got married in January, and we put a lot of effort into making it feel like us and unique and meaningful, and we picked a lot of great music we liked and that we hoped would please and/or tickle our audience. I think we balanced well between playing to our audience and playing for ourselves, so to speak, and as a result I was thrilled with the result AND we got a lot of "that was the best wedding EVAR" commentary afterward. I don't think BEST EVER is a goal you should chase, but I think, like Natalie says above, that a wedding that is really steeped in sincerity and honest expressions of the couple will just sort of naturally become the best. Was our food awesome? Meh. Was our DJ on top of things? Not really. Was our cake edible? Errrrr. But the EVENT of our marriage and the party with our people celebrating that marriage? Fabulous. Thank Jeebus because those FRAKKING CENTERPIECES (photo essay to come) were a-pain-in-the-tits awesome hassle but so worth it. My definition? Best ever = everyone left with warm fuzzies and smiles on their faces, and it's a wonderful memory for everyone, not just the couple.

  15. Best wedding ever honestly never occurred to me. We dealt with the pressure of Getting Married (it was capitalized in my mind, there was -pressure-) by telling ourselves we were planning a really cool party that came with a ceremony at the beginning. Planning a costume party felt more manageable than planning a Wedding. Because it was a party it didn't matter if it was like other parties (or not like other parties), all that mattered was that it was fun (also that whole ceremony bit in the front, that mattered, too). It totally was fun.

    • This is totally how we have approached planning to – rather than starting from a "wedding" and figuring out what we wanted/didn't want, we started from "fun time with friends" and figuring out what that looked like. From there you could totally get to a typical wedding – if you want to have a fancy dinner and drink and dance with your friends – or something completely different – for us, we're going to be eating brunch and playing boardgames.

  16. Why would I want my wedding to be "the best wedding ever" for someone else? Shouldn't *their* wedding be "the best wedding ever" for them? Honestly, I think intentionally going over-the-top just to one-up your friends and family is kind of rude. Do it for you, or why waste your time on it?

    I love my friends and family, and I certainly care whether they enjoy my wedding. They'll be coming from hundreds of miles away; it should be worth the trip. They should be happy and comfortable and maybe experience something a little different and more memorable than your average party. Why should it matter if it's better than anything? Besides, my friends run conventions – huge, amazing conventions in huge, amazing hotels that I could never afford to stay in if I weren't staff for said conventions. There's no way I can throw a party to compete with that, and no sane person would expect me to.

    Obviously we're each unique and different and entitled to our own opinions. I don't have a competitive hair on my head, so I'll never be the person fighting to one-up anyone. But I feel like this "best ever" syndrome is a symptom of the WIC trying to brainwash us into believing that we must meet some impossible standard, for the sake of selling us stuff we don't need and otherwise wouldn't want.

  17. This would be less rampant if there wasn't so much judgment around weddings in general.

    So many people, even family and friends, like to disparage others' weddings as "trashy" or "not a real wedding" or "had bad food" or "didn't even have drinks", and the list goes on and on.

    Maybe couples sweat the BEST WEDDING EVER thing because they don't want to spend all that energy and money only to have their guests remember their wedding by the one thing they didn't like about it.

    But now there's the judgment from people on the other side, who one-up/one-down with comments like "I care/spent so much less than other people" or moral preaching like "it's the marriage that matters", which in turns makes couples who sweat this stuff feel bad. It's like damned if they do, damned if they don't.

    I think weddings could use a little less judgment and a little more support in general, regardless of how the couple chooses to go about it.

    • Amen to all of this! We really cared about the details of our wedding so it was really hurtful to hear my future SIL state to a friend "No one gives a shit about weddings. They just go for the free food and drinks. It's stupid to even have flowers or centerpieces or any of that shit because no one remembers it anyway." I shrugged it off as just her personal viewpoint but it did make me second guess our decision to put so much work into the details if she was right and no one was going to notice or care.

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