Friday, May 7, 2010

The Battle to Please: Birthday vs Wedding

On my way to work this morning I was thinking about weddings in general and the desire to try to please as many people as you can. I know it's an age old wedding cliche "you can't please everyone, remember, it's your day... worry about pleasing yourself" but I've really yet to meet anyone that hasn't considered his/her guests at all. There absolutely is a desire to make everyone happy during planning.

So I'm on my way to work this morning and it occurs to me, why do we constantly try to make everyone happy on your wedding day but tend to focus solely on ourselves for our birthdays? It seems like we're very much more selfish with our desires when we plan birthday parties rather than wedding receptions. Both days are referred to as "your day" yet when wedding planning I find that we always straddle the fence thinking about what you want vs. thinking about what you think your guests want.

For instance when planning a birthday party if you decide to do everything in a mexican theme - you do it. You don't consider a slew of guests that you know don't love mexican food. And you know what? They show up anyway, and they have a good time. A few years ago (admittedly only 1 year removed from college) I decided I wanted a beer pong birthday party. So you know what I did? I scheduled a beer pong birthday party. I'm absolutely positively sure that the majority of girls AND germaphobic friends I invited to this party did not like beer pong and most likely didn't play beer pong that night. But you know what... I didn't even consider that at the time. It didn't even occur to me.... because it was my birthday. Additionally that birthday was a BLAST. Long story short, Rebecca got so drunk she fell out of a cab in front of my Dad after meeting him for the first time. It was hilarious and will go down in history as one of the best birthday parties ever..... and it was planned by someone who only took his necessities into consideration.

Now nearly 5 years later I'm helping plan our wedding. I can unequivocally say that we've put way more consideration into pleasing our guests than I have planning any other event. Even though we loved our venue the moment we saw it, we agonized putting our deposit down for weeks because it may not be the most convenient option for our guests. If this was a birthday party, we would would have put our deposit down on the spot told our friends to come, and not thought twice about it.

The good news is that looking back at our wedding plans and details there's really nothing I would change. At the end of the day we've spent the majority of our time assessing what WE want and I feel like we've done a beautiful job conjuring up a wedding that is very "us". The only thing that I think we would have gained had we viewed our wedding as a birthday is peace of mind. We maybe would have made a decision, stuck to it, and never looked back. Instead of thinking about our menu, rethinking our menu, triple thinking about our menu, saying, "Hmm, do you think people at the wedding will eat duck at the wedding, we REALLY love it but do you think others eat duck?", we would have said "It's our birthday and we know we love duck! Tell everyone we're having duck! If they don't like duck they can pick around it and eat salad and whatever else they can get full on - or they can fill up on alcohol!".

So my question to everyone out there, why is there a difference between birthday party planning and wedding planning in terms of desire to please everyone? I know that a wedding is a celebration that is shared by our parents so a lot of times we take them and their friends into consideration as well. In our case both sets of parents have constantly said "Do what you two want! We'll love it". At the end of the day, we have... we've stressed and rethought things 100 different ways, but at the end of the day we definitely have crafted a day that's uniquely ours. I know that in a lot of scenarios you're asking people to fly cross country or travel to your wedding and you're asking them to spend their hard earned money to come to your wedding...I completely get that. Is it because we're so concerned with presenting ourselves perfectly? Is it the competition and the constant one game of outdoing someone else? So what is the the real reason? Is it because we have a birthday every year? If we completely fuck one year up, it doesn't matter... we always have next year to make it better. 50% of the time this is the only wedding you're going to plan. So there's more stress to not just screw the pooch... is that why there's more stress and more desire to please everyone?!


  1. I think you hit it spot on when you said that we have birthdays every year, so if we screw one year up, at least we have a redo next year.

    Another thought is, is that the majority of weddings are usually helped out financially from parents, so, even though it is your wedding and not your parents, you still don't want to have them show up and be embarrassed/appalled/upset by any of the decisions you have made spending their hard earned savings.

    Lastly, if someone's bday party sucks, you dont really gossip about it to'd just say "oh yeah, had to make an appearance at a party last night, it was fine..kinda boring, so i only stayed for an hour"...but if you go to a bad wedding, or something sticks out in your mind as something weird, you would tell all of your friends "oh my gosh, i went to this one wedding once where they didn't have a WEDDING CAKE or FLOWERS!!!!! Can you believe it?!"

    p.s. for those who don't know....Davey and I are going to be THAT wedding, (without the cake or flowers,) so there. :)

  2. This is part of the reason I am hoping to get married on my birthday. For when "it's my wedding day!" doesn't quite cut it, I can add on, "It's my birthday, my buhbuhbuhbirthday."

  3. I don't know about you, but I don't typically have a group of people ranging from Great Aunt Millie to a gaggle of toddlers at my birthday kegger. It's a lot harder to entertain a wide variety of people who don't really know each other than it is to throw a bash for your peers with somewhat common interests. There's a need to edit your typical party persona a bit in an effort to avoid offending or boring people. It's ridiculously hard to figure out how to make lots of uncomfortable people comfortable.

    Generally people don't have really formal birthday parties. Fancy events require a lot more planning because guests expect a certain level of organization and service when they go to all of that effort to travel, purchase gifts, and dress up. Some of them may only go to a party once every couple of years, so their expectation for a fun time is high and they can become bitter if turns out to be a letdown.

    It's pretty easy to weasel your way out of a birthday party you don't want to go to, but people feel obligated to go to weddings- even if they don't really have the desire, time or money. For some people, attending a wedding is the ultimate torture.

    Imagine you're a 62 yr old lady trying to avoid having pictures taken of yourself looking like a fat cow in your ugly party dress by sitting at a table in the dark eating a lukewarm chicken entree with an unidentifiable sauce and mushy vegetables, avoiding your ex-husband and his bombshell girlfriend by chatting it up with a crazy cat lady named Hilda seated at your table while the youth bumps and grinds to an ear-splitting Flo Rida jam. Not fun. In planning a wedding, you have an obligation to try to make it a great experience for everyone, not just you and the wedding party.

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