For me, wedding planning was The Hunger Games with less blood and more tears. Planning brought out the very worst in me and in some of the people around me. When we got engaged my heart was set on a fifty-person wedding. We’d take a Friday off work, get married at Ben McNally Books or City Hall and go to a fancy restaurant in the Toronto for dinner. No fuss, no mess, and very little funds. 

That idea was quickly murdered by my mother, who – with three brothers, five sisters and an army of nieces and nephews – wouldn’t be able to choose who to invite. “How can you not invite my brothers and sisters to your wedding, Vanessa?” is all she could ask when she felt like talking to me. Perhaps she was right, maybe she was wrong, maybe it’s some shade of grey. Either way, I couldn’t handle weeks of my mom not speaking to me, so Alex and I booked a venue that could fit 150-200 people for a decent price at a hall in Woodbridge on a Friday night. That was battle numero uno.

After that, the hits just kept on coming. Everyone had an opinion about something. 

  • “What do you mean you’re getting married on a Friday?” I mean it’s cheaper than doing it on a Saturday and we’re paying the bill.
  • “You’re not having corsages for the aunts and uncles? You’re not having corsages for ANYONE?” No, we are not wasting money on flowers that most of my family find tacky and that no one really wants to wear and will die anyway. No, I do not care if anyone gets offended because that means that they have issues, not us.
  • “I can’t sit beside that person.” Yes, yes you can because that’s where they’re sitting. If you don’t like it, you make the seating chart.
  • “What do you mean you’re not getting married in a church?” I mean we’re not practicing Catholics, we want to write our own vows, and it’s really none of your business.
  • “How can you not invite _____?” Easily,  I haven’t spoken to them in three years.
  • “You’re not putting your parents’ names on the invitations? That’s disrespectful.” No, it’s not. We don’t need our parents’ names on there because everyone who is invited knows who we are. They don’t need the names as a reference point, and if they do, we don’t want them there.

The problem is that people think they’re entitled to things because you’re close to them, because you love them, because they helped you, or because they’re your parents. They forget that the wedding is one day. I just couldn’t fight anymore. I needed someone else to make decisions because apparently mine weren’t the right ones. We compromised a lot but I wouldn’t say anyone won.

The summer before our wedding I cried in a hotel room on my fiancé’s naked chest. He stroked my head and listened as the tears poured out and flowed down to his bellybutton. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take it. The fights, trying to please everyone, listening to people’s opinions, paying money for things I didn’t want, upsetting people, upsetting myself. 

I realized that in that moment, I hated them. I should preface this by saying that I truly and unconditionally love every single person who attended our wedding and who helped make the day possible. BUT that morning, I hated them. I hated them for making me feel small, for breaking me, for not understanding what was important to Alex and me, for not caring about how comments can affect a bride. 

That week we contacted all of our vendors to cancel the wedding. We’d take a loss if we had to and maybe even elope. To our dismay, it would cost way more to cancel the wedding than to go through with it and with we couldn’t afford that kind of loss. So we had the wedding. 

We got married on a sunny and crisp Friday in November. My wedding day was the best day of my life in spite of all the prefacing bullshit. I got to marry the love of my life and we decided that moving forward we would make our own decisions. We will not ask for opinions. We will do what is right for us.  

My mother was happier than I had ever seen her. She was the perfect hostess and a proud Mama Bear. Seeing her smile made me forget about everything just for one evening.

I would do anything for my family (including having the wedding of their dreams). I have my own opinions. I have different views. I don’t have to kill myself trying to conform because they love me anyway, stubbornness, selfishness, and all. But for now, I feel an immense weight lifted now that it’s all over.