I have been contending with a lot of negative feedback from my future in-laws regarding my nontraditional wedding decisions and so I am feeling a little humorless when it comes to discussing event details with casual acquaintances. I do not feel squealy and elated when I talk about my wedding, and this seems to disappoint (and sometimes even upset) other people.
How can I address others' unsolicited wedding enthusiasm without seeming negative or rude?
Why, I just cannot imagine why you wouldn't be jumping up and down in delight about organizing an event that's incredibly high pressure, involves family resistance, costs a small fortune, and takes up months and months of your project management time.
What, you mean you haven't spent your entire life up until this point dreaming of the day when you would put on a big white dress and stand next to a vulva sculpture? What's wrong with you, Molly? WHY AREN'T YOU EXCITED FOR YOUR SPECIAL DAAAAAY!?
I touch on this topic a bit in my book when I interviewed a couple brides who expressed frustration that family members seemed to forget about all their other accomplishments in life and fixate completely on the wedding once they got engaged.
Forget about “How's the PhD coming?” — all you'll hear is “How are the flowers coming?” and if you're not excited about your gardenias, people get disoriented. You mean … you're not excited about your flowers? You mean … you have other things going on in your life?? My god.
Your issue is a little different, but I'd still give some of the same advice — try diverting some of the bride attention onto other aspects of your life, i.e. “Oh, the wedding's coming along fine [note the complete lack of details here!], but I'm actually more excited about my new job right now!”
Other responses to the question, “So, are you excited for the wedding?”:
- Shift focus from the wedding and the actual marriage: “Sure, I'm excited about the wedding, but really, I'm most looking forward to actually being married sharing the commitment with my partner.”
- Kill 'em with whithering sarcasm: “Excited!? Of course! Wedding planning is going GREAT. I love how EASY it is. It's great how everyone LOVES MY NONTRADITIONAL IDEAS.”
- The honest route combined with topic shift: “I'm happy to be getting married, but facing a lot of challenges because some of my ideas for the wedding don't match with family expectations. It's an exciting time, but I'm sort of burnt out on talking about it. How are YOU doing?”
Part of what you're doing here is re-educating people who assume that all women have been dreaming of their wedding since birth and once engaged are in the happiest time in their lives.
Think of each conversation as a form of gracious outreach, demonstrating to the world that for some women, getting engaged is just a logistical issue — and sometimes one fraught with family drama and more pains-in-the-ass than squealy excitement.