(Apologies in advance for the rambling quality of this post.)
So yesterday I was angry. I know I had questions about why in the world my fiancé had reacted the way he had to logical questions about the wedding. After all, I reasoned, he asked me. Therefore, he must have been the one who wanted a wedding – he was the one who was talking about it!
But he was experiencing “boy jitters.”
(I now know that these are really anyone jitters. These are the feelings of being overwhelmed by needing to make decisions about minutiae that really isn’t important to you, but you feel should be because someone else – someone you love – is asking you to care about and decide on something trivial. A decision needs to be made – even if it’s just the decision NOT to have it, but the mere act of deciding and the mental effort of planning something down to the level of detail “needed” for a wedding is exhausting and frustrating, especially when it’s some tiny, insignificant thing that’s NOT important to have.)
Last night we went to see his masseuse, and on the way there, I broached the wedding topic again. Hey, I’m getting married. It’s totally legit that this is somewhat consuming my attention. I could see that parts of “wedding talk” were perfectly fine with him, but as soon as the reception came up, he squirmed like he was undergoing the worst kind of torture. It was as though his body was radiating pain from every pore!
So I changed my whole approach.
Instead of What do you want the reception to be like? it became Do you even want a reception at all?
And that’s when we got to the heart of it.
He really just wanted a party with his closest friends celebrating this milestone in his life. He didn’t want a prescribed ordeal that involved people who required him to put on a public face instead of be himself. He wanted an intimate gathering instead of a big spectacle.
Because let me tell you, that’s all that I really would want, too.
So I said, “Let’s do what makes us happy. What would make you happy?”
And that’s when we got a goal: thirty people, no kids, just the people we most want to hang out with.
Now that’s something I can handle. Crisis averted.
Except for one significant detail: I have kids.
So I rolled with it for a little while to allow us time to sink our teeth into the idea and experience its flavor, its texture.
Then I said, “Okay, but I would like my kids to be able to celebrate because this is a big occasion for them, too.”
His eyes opened wide. He had forgotten to think of my kids as children, or at least that’s how I took it. My thought is that he either assumed that they would be under the care of their new grandparents or that they were so integral that they didn’t count as “kids.” I flatter myself to think it’s the latter, frankly.
So I started to play around with ideas that would give my kids a party at the same time that the adults were free to let their hair down and relax.
After a bit of thought, I came up with my current solution: rent a room or suite at a hotel (preferably close to the party venue – or charter a party bus to drive people back to the hotel) and bill it as a slumber party. Hire a W.O. (Watcher-Over – that’s my older daughter’s term for a babysitter), supply pizza and treats and pray that there’s a good pool for hours of entertainment. The kids will have an amazing time, the adults won’t have to worry about their kids, and everyone will be safe and accounted-for until morning.
So we get back to my fiance’s house, and spend a couple of hours just talking in his office. And he explains (once again) that he sees the big picture on things, not the details. He doesn’t like to micro-manage. And that’s fine. I can respect that. Except that with a wedding, you need to get input from both people. Otherwise, you run the risk of either hosting a Bridezilla – no, thank you – or completely ruining the day for your intended. Again, no, thanks.
Here’s the thing: I know what I like. I know what I would want. I know my priorities, and I know what’s important to me. I don’t *necessarily* know all of that from his point of view.
Here’s what I like: simple, elegant, comfortable.
Here’s what I want: economical without cutting important things, fun, stress-free, celebratory, not encumbered by outside people’s wishes.
Here’s my priority: that the marriage is good and built on mutual respect and shared direction, that the partners are equally yoked and in general accord.
Here’s what’s important: spending quality time with the people I love and making sure that they know how much I love them.
I did need to know what he preferred. So he was finally willing to get down to the detail level. Yes, he had actually pictured himself in a tux. He realized that a tux may not be the best choice for a shipboard wedding. So I told him I pictured him in his ubiquitous shorts, and he balked amusingly at that. Apparently that was too casual for him. Then he said he’d get a pair of lightweight khaki pants from one of the Caribbean outfitters he prefers. That made me cringe a little, because then I had to wonder if the dress I’d bought was too casual. Oh, well. We shall see when it arrives at the house.
Then he started vacillating about the size of the party after we disembarked. One moment it was the intimate gathering of maybe thirty people. The next moment, he remembered all the extended family he should invite and got trapped in the “If I invite this person, I’ve got to invite this other person.” It’s an easy pit to get sucked into. I know; I’ve been there. And, speaking from experience, I can now safely say that you don’t HAVE to invite anyone. You are under absolutely no obligation to invite anyone at any time to any event. You may realize it’s a good idea to maintain a relationship, but it’s never required. But I digress.
Every time he started thinking about inviting more and more people, he started to get more and more agitated. So I called a halt to it. Did he really want a reception?
Well, that made him pause. Thankfully.
It boiled down to friends offering the advice that he wanted to have a big reception because that’s when people brought gifts.
So I had to ask Are gifts really that important to you?
Because I had come to the realization that gifts really weren’t that important to me. There really wasn’t much that I needed, and I could generally go out and buy what I did need.
But the registries. Those looked like fun. And the saddest little puppy dog face you ever saw – that he might not get to scan things at the store with a gun.
Ok. We can register… but you get to write all the Thank You notes – by hand. I will rub your feet while you write them, and I will happily sign my name at the bottom of each note.
Because, really, I hate registries. Gift registries are for either specifically setting yourself up with things you desperately need (and therefore probably won’t receive) or to help the people who don’t know you from Adam. The people who know you well will either give you something really unique that suits you perfectly, give you nothing at all because they know you don’t need anything, or give you money because they know that money is a great gift that is always the right size, shape, and color.
And really, I argued, the people who will be at the party will all want to give you something anyway because they’re your best friends. They are the people who are the most excited for you. So just keep it to the party for friends.
Then I hit upon another stroke of brilliance – have a “reception” a month or so later, up farther north, closer to all the rest of his family, and bill it as the nice way to celebrate with them because it kept them from having to drive over five hours just for a party. My best friend, when I told her about this idea, latched onto it with a glee heretofore only known by puppies with a new chew toy.
“That’s right!” she said, “Have it at his parents’ house. Have his parents plan it all because then they can have the party they’d always wanted for their son. Then no one is going to get in their way. They know what kind of food they want to serve, they know who they want to invite, they know how they want everything to be. You can just show up.”
And you know, when she put it like that, it made me realize it would be a disservice to his parents to have a big wedding reception that we plan and host. And why would I ever be so heartless as to do them out of a grand fete?
Then my fiancé checked his Facebook, and he saw a wedding photo. “Wedding photos!” he exclaimed.
Wedding photos indeed, I thought. Give the camera to your sister-in-law and we’ll be set.
“I don’t want to just have my sister-in-law take photos. She would make me pose so bloody much that I would want to throw the camera overboard.”
Oh. Well, so much for that idea. “You could just give out a small list of the 5-12 photos you’ll pose for and then just go for the rest as candids.”
And then he got a smirky grin on his face. The kind that lets me know he just thought of a really great, off-beat idea.
“Oh, just that what if we had your younger daughter as our photographer?”
Diabolical. I liked it. A lot. And it would give him bragging rights for the rest of his life: how he not only used a member of the wedding party to take photos, but that it was his idea and it incorporated his future step-daughter, a ten-year-old wedding photographer.
So, “boy jitters” somewhat eradicated.
- Reception “nixed” – replaced with party
- Numbers kept small – and only really good friends
- Photographer established
- Groom’s attire established
- Wedding gift registry – meh. I’ll allow it, but he gets to hand-write those thank-you notes. haha!