Why do we get so judgmental about other people’s weddings?

Why do we get so judgmental about other people’s weddings?

Written by Amy Beecham

After being bombarded with invasive questions about her upcoming nuptials, Stylist’s Amy Beecham asks when planning a wedding became an opinion free-for-all.

When I announced my engagement earlier this year, amid the excitement, congratulations and genuine well-wishes, I noticed something: a much more sinister line of questioning. It happened almost immediately. 

“Are you really not going to have it in a church?” someone asked as I floated the prospect of a humanist ceremony. “Don’t you think you should be holding it closer to home?” commented another. 

The questions about the wedding just kept coming. “How much did your ring cost?” one person asked me outright as my mouth literally fell agape.

“That’s a lot of people; how are you going to pay for it?” 

“Am I invited?” 

“Shouldn’t so-and-so be included on the list?”

These invasive remarks cut straight through the excitement that was building around picking a dress and choosing a venue. I immediately understood how heavily the whole process would be scrutinised. Would people think we were spending too much? Or being too simple? How many people would we alienate with the guest list? Who would be offended if I didn’t ask them to be a bridesmaid?

Weddings are a naturally voyeuristic event, whether we want them to be or not. But as someone who grew up bingeing reality shows like Four Weddings and Say Yes To The Dress, it’s always astounded me how vocal people can be about the choices of others. From a mother shattering her daughter’s dreams of a dress by telling her she looks bad to couples literally rating each other’s ceremonies out of 10, it’s almost a given that brides-to-be should take on the burden of judgment from their guests before, during and after the ceremony.

It’s an idea that permeates nearly every aspect of the occasion. According to data from Hitched, almost three-quarters of those planning a wedding felt pressured to invite someone they didn’t want to their big day, with that pressure coming directly from their family and close friends.

“Planning a wedding can be really stressful, even more so when your friends and family have their own strong ideas of how the day should look,” Zoe Burke, leading wedding expert and editor of Hitched tells Stylist.

“I get it – people don’t like change, and certain wedding traditions have been so ingrained in us that they’re almost expected from one wedding to the next. But, the thing about traditions is that they’re not for everyone. People think they can weigh in on how it ‘should be’.”

While I recoiled at being on the receiving end, that’s not to say I’m immune to passing a little judgment myself. I’m as guilty as the rest of them for the odd snide remark about a ‘basic’ first dance song choice or an overdone colour scheme. But what is it about matrimonial events that bring out this critical side of us, seemingly more than any other occasion?

“Since most people have either had a wedding, been to a wedding or participated in one, they feel there is common ground and that the door is open for discussion or commentary,” suggests Ellie Durbin, a wedding planner at The Aisle Assistant.

There’s also an emotional component, too. “Weddings are official occasions for attention, so they’re also battlegrounds for unofficial rivalries and hidden expectations,” Charlotte Fox Weber, psychotherapist and author of What We Want explains to Stylist.

“Weddings give us an opportunity to assess and categorise people in all directions,” she explains. “Friends get promoted; others get put on the naughty list. Some step away from participating. And it can be a shocker to feel passed over and unimportant. Low ranking can seem like ultimate proof of insignificance.”

It’s because of this, more than anything, that weddings can highlight what it means to be seen and chosen.

“The act of witnessing people commit to each other can remind us of our own disappointments and loneliness,” Fox Weber suggests, and therefore it’s easier to be critical. 

“The truth is that weddings are often joyous, but when we feel personally deprived, it can be really difficult to fully celebrate other people,” she adds.

While it should be that the only opinions that matter are those of the couple getting married, and to a certain extent those helping to pay for the wedding, the reality is often very different.

“People wanted a say in everything,” Heather, a 45-year-old from Glasgow says about her wedding, which took place in 2003. “Their interest may have been well intended, but it felt like our every move was being scrutinised as we were constantly asked for details.”

“It was quite a big wedding – one where I didn’t know 60% of the guests, which was already very intimidating. I really felt the pressure, being young, naive and a people-pleaser.”

Heather shares that she coped by organising everything, including her wedding dress, flowers and cake all online, without the interference of wedding fairs and family shopping trips.

“The thing I learned the hard way was to do what is right for you and your partner,” she says. “Weddings can be expensive and ours, while lovely, was just a bit much. If I was doing it again, it would be small, intimate and with minimum expense, with it being less about other people.”

Wedding shaming: why are we so judgemental about other people’s nuptials?

Every magazine, Pinterest quote and blog will tell you that your wedding day should be about you and your partner. And it should. But as anyone from a big, nosy or over-excitable family will know, boundaries can be hard to implement, let alone maintain.

While my own wedding is years away, the chatter around the decisions my fiancé and I make will eventually die down. We’ll get married where we want, when we want and in the presence of those whom we choose to share our special day with. And if it doesn’t? As the old saying goes: “People will always talk. Do it anyway.” 

Images: Getty

Source: Read Full Article