Welcome to Spring! Today’s episode is a You Ask, We Answer, as is our end-of-month tradition.
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1 Call - “Indian Wedding ideas?”
Ask: A traditional Indian wedding takes 3 days and involves hundreds of guests. This dear listener is planning one and she wants to know if we have any best practices for her.
Answer: The main answer is that we hear you and we want to do an episode with a true PRO at Indian weddings. So we are working on that, and stay tuned. “You’re both Indian and your families are Indian - so it sounds like most people there will know whats up - they will be familiar with the traditions and the flow of the event. If there will be guests there that aren’t it’s worth thinking about ways to make them feel welcomed and a part of things as well.”
2 Email - “Indian bride and opinionated mom”
Ask: I wrote to you both earlier when my fiance and I had just gotten engaged about how to incorporate both of our cultures into our wedding weekend and I'm writing to let you know that we took your advice and are planning to have a few Indian elements in a generally western-styled wedding. We are having a sangeet the night before the wedding which will function like a welcome party where we will have Indian food and music. We are also getting married under a mandap and are planning to incorporate a few Hindu rituals into our ceremony, such as the septapadi (circles around the fire) and jai mala (garland exchange).
While we are so excited for our wedding day and love all of the ways we are planning to join our cultures, we are having a hard time finding common ground with my mom. It started small at first, but I feel as though my day is being more and more taken over by my mother. Examples are, I wanted to walk down the aisle by myself (I'm hoping for a very feminist wedding), but my mom convinced me to have not only my dad but also her walk me down the aisle. I wanted to have a small bridal party so that the morning of the wedding would be relaxing and fun, and my mom is now inviting all of her sisters/cousins to join the getting ready/photoshoot portion of the day before the ceremony. We even bought pajamas for all of her sisters. Most recently, our guest list has completely blown up, mostly with distant relatives (or relatives of relatives) and family friends because my mom claims that her hands are completely tied and she just HAS to invite all of my aunt's in laws and their family (whom I barely know and haven't spoken to in over 12 years).
My parents are paying for the wedding, so I'm conflicted on how to handle this. And even if I were to make a big deal out of it, my mother does not concede easily, so I think it would just be exhausting trying to explain that my fiance and I were hoping for an intimate wedding with close friends and family and what we're getting is a giant party with 200+ people, most of whom we don't know or care about (sorry, that's the truth).
Do you have any advice on how to handle this situation? And/or how to make our large wedding feel like an intimate affair? One thing my fiance and I have discussed is writing our own vows, but I feel very awkward sharing such an emotional and intimate part of our relationship with a bunch of strangers.
Answer: I suggest trying to look at the sangeet day and the wedding day as two different events and hopefully, you can keep the wedding day as the less chaotic of the two. (Can 'getting ready' on the wedding day be with a limited amount of people and more what you had in mind? Tell your mom what you want and that's the compromise - Friday night is more 'her' and Saturday needs to be more 'you'.)
You're going to have to start putting your foot down on things that really matter to you. You've already conceded a lot - with the guest list blowing up and having both your parents walk you down the aisle...I don't think you can really do much about decisions that have already been made and agreed upon, without causing too much drama. But the future decisions, or the pending ones...these are the ones that you may need to draw a line for. Always mention how much you love and appreciate her, but that you have a DAY in mind and you feel like it's becoming something totally different and that makes you sad. You do want it to be about you and your fiancé. You want to celebrate and acknowledge your parents, and you are grateful, but it is your wedding!
- I love self-written vows. BUT - don't share this part of yourself and your love if it makes you uncomfortable. I suggest doing a 'First Look' and really taking the time during the wedding day to make this special and private. Block out 40 minutes or so after you get ready. Your photographer and videographer should be there if you have hired those vendors. You can see each other for the first time without 200 people staring at you. It's intimate and personal and it may be the only time all day that you two are essentially alone and have time to sort of take it all in. After the actual reveal, you'll have time to read your vows to each other then, and to take photos just the two of you, in a calm atmosphere.
- Do make getting ready and celebrating (a pre-party...) your wedding day with your best friends something that you don't budge on. This is a really special time and it makes the day feel more YOURS. Even if you have to start early - before all the crazy starts - tell your gals that you want to relax with them and maybe get pampered together. Make a playlist, have mimosas and breakfast brought in...make it what you want it to be. Your friends will help you!
- At the reception, don't worry about doing a receiving line or a table visit to every single table. Make a plan ahead of time - after you eat, you want to hit up tables 3, 4, and 5 because these are the tables with family members you really care about that you haven't seen in a long time, or that you want to make sure to hug and talk to before the night is over. You don't need to do that with every single guest - it takes too much time and it can feel obligatory and not fun. Your mom may invite a bunch of people you barely know, but you don't have to experience the wedding day with them in a big way - you can still spend time with the people that are most important to you two without feeling pulled in a million directions. This just takes some planning ahead of time!
- Give a toast on Friday and thank your parents profusely and in front of all of the guests! This will maybe help your mom ease up and relax on the wedding day....she can entertain 'her guests' and you can focus on the parts of the wedding day that are important to you and that you have been looking forward to!
3 Email “Fur babies at the wedding”
Ask: I don't want to bombard your social media outlets with questions, but have you two thought about doing a Quick Focus! or an episode on ways to incorporate your fur baby into the wedding (aka pet)? Our wedding is at a hotel so we cannot bring our sweet little pup but are thinking about naming our specialty drink after him. But I am sure there are some cool ideas/examples out there of how pets were incorporated into weddings.
Answer: Yes we will do a QF on this topic!! Specifically with some best practices for including your fur baby on the wedding day (like PJ and Noah did with their two beloved dogs - as discussed in ep #119.
If your pup isn’t going to be there - you can involve them in photos (displayed engagement photos, your photo album that guests will sign, just a framed pic of the dog honoring him??) We’ve seen cats or dogs included on custom cake toppers, menu names - like your idea of naming a specialty drink after him. And signage - cute custom graphics - we love the ones by Miss Design Berry (ep 91). Save the dates, welcome signage, poster for guests to sign...all with a drawing of you two and your dear pets.
4 Email “My family is a little bit racist”
Ask: I have a potential dilemma that you two seem perfectly suited to help with given your sensitivity to LGBTQ couples (although my fiance and I are in a heterosexual relationship) and cultural groups, so I'm hoping you can help me out.
Some of the members of my family are very conservative and half of my family was explicitly raised to be racist. My fiance is black and I'm white, so there are definitely some members of my family who will not approve of our marriage (or at best might consider him "one of the good ones"). The problem is that I'm not sure which family members are the ones who would be that way. It doesn't really come up at family get togethers, but I'm aware of it because of my mother's upbringing (my mom is great, accepting of all people, and supportive). I know that some members of the family have rejected this like she did, but I don't know for sure everyone's stances. I made sure that our save the dates included a picture of us so that people could hopefully weed themselves out in responding to the wedding invitations when they go out, but I'm not sure if there is something more I should do. Giving people a warning that they'd better behave themselves or explicitly telling them that racist views will not be tolerated at my wedding seems rude (even though that is true), especially to those who do not feel that way.
Also, one of my bridesmaids and one of my fiance's groomspeople are a married lesbian couple. They will be walking down the aisle together in the processional and I want to make sure that they are accepted for the wonderful people that they are.
I won't allow anyone at my wedding to be mistreated because of their race, sexual orientation, or anything else, but is there something I can do in advance to prevent the possibility that won't be rude of me to those who don't deserve it? My wedding is taking place hundreds of miles from where the potential problem people live and they are generally lower income, so they might not be able or willing to make the trip (which is by design), but can I somehow communicate that a "yes" on the RSVP means that they will be expected to be supportive of all the people involved, regardless of their race or sexual orientation? What do I do if they don't get the message and treat the people we love poorly? My inclination is to simply kick them out despite the travel because I really don't feel that bigotry should be tolerated under any circumstances, but is there a way to prevent the issue or a good way to politely tell people that their presence is no longer welcome?
Answer: I am so glad you wrote in and I think you are wonderful for being so concerned about these issues specifically. I know exactly what you are saying and dealing with - it sounds like we have similar families. When my white lesbian cousin married a black woman, several family members declined to go and they were able to say it was because of finances, when we are all pretty sure it was because of the offensive double-whammy in their minds. Better not to have them there! Also best to let them make their own decisions.
Here are some thoughts:
You did due diligence in several ways to trouble-shoot this all before the wedding even happens. Good job sending out a pic with the STD, and good job hosting the wedding far away from where problem people live. You are correct that this will weed some relatives out.
I don't think there is a way to make sure people that say they are coming know what they are going to get themselves into, so to speak. Or a way to make them promise to behave. I have to believe that for most people - if they say yes to a wedding, then they will behave once there.
I DO suggest you talk to your mom and the other matriarchs/patriarchs of the family about your concerns, if there are some that you trust. Not in a mean way, but in a firm way - that you are worried that if Uncle Bill sees two women kissing on the dance floor that is he going to make a big scene and be a jerk, for example. Word tends to get around in a family and if word doesn't get to Bill - it may get to you that others share your concern and in that case, you can not invite him, or you can bite the bullet and actually talk to him to make sure that he knows he has to keep it together on the wedding day, or you would prefer he not be there. You don't want him to be uncomfortable...but you really don't want anyone else made uncomfortable bc of his bs.
I also suggest that you talk to your fiancé about this and to the gay couples that are going to be there. Tell them you don't think anything negative will happen, but that IF something did happen, or if someone was rude or awful to them, that you would want them to come up to you (or the planner) so it can be dealt with immediately.
I think you should let the photographer in on it as well - nothing that is going to make him think there is a KKK rally at your wedding, but that you know you have some relatives that aren't 'progressive' enough and that you want to know if he sees or hears anyone being inappropriate. Photographers tend to see and hear more than we do at weddings and some would consider to intrusive or a bad decision to actually tell the bride about any guest troubles. You strike me as the kind of bride that would want to know so you can nip it in the bud. So, your photographer needs to know that.
You can do it! I want you to enjoy your wedding day, not be on high alert to play bodyguard and a live wire waiting for someone to say something that you can pounce on. Enlist the help of the pros you have hired, and your VIPs that will be close to you all day long on the wedding day.
And hey! Maybe this problem will solve itself and they'll all politely decline the invitation, citing distance and work and money. Fingers crossed!
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