Readers continue the thread:
My father always used to say that weddings are for the aunts and uncles. The couple, and their immediate families, are stressed and distracted. Friends and more distant relatives are happy to be there, but for the most part aren't emotionally invested enough in the couple to treat the day as much more than a party. But the aunts and uncles – they've known one of the partners since childhood. They've watched his or her growth and development, joys and sorrows, though always from something of a distance. And now they get to participate in the next stage in their niece or nephew's life, surrounded by their extended family. While leaving the planning and stress to others. What could be better?
The wedding is all about … the mother of the bride. Full stop.
It's not just that some of those family members who attend your wedding might be unpleasant. In planning the wedding, they will be unpleasant (and pleasant) in exactly the same ways they will be unpleasant (and pleasant) in the years to come. The mother-in-law who doesn't like your choice in cake probably won't like what you feed your kids either; the relative who criticizes your wedding is probably going to criticize your house; the control freak mother-of-the-bride is probably going to be overly involved in your married lives, too.
That may not be a reason to have a wedding, but in a way, the planning is an opportunity for full disclosure, of both the family you're joining and quirks of the family you thought you knew.
Weddings are a celebration by the couple of their existing relationship. The couple invite friends and family to join them in this celebration, but the wedding is still for and about the couple. It is important for the couple to defend their prerogatives. When my wife and I got married, we avoided professional caterers and photographers. We conscripted an aunt to serve the punch, a sibling to direct parking, and a friend to help cut and dish out the cake. Then we proceeded through the wedding at our own pace, enjoying each moment before moving on. The only part that was scripted was when we stood in front of the judge, and it was our script.
Weddings can and should be about the couple, and they can exert themselves to ensure that it is so. But they must make sure never to cede control to relatives or professionals.
People should stop overthinking the whole wedding thing and just try to have a good party!
On that note:
As for your reader who writes that weddings are like funerals, I would answer that in the American weddings ARE funerals. I got married in the Czech Republic to a Czech and, while the marriage was a ghastly mistake, the wedding was a blowout. Imagine a mountain inn and pub all to yourselves; toasts and good wishes washed down with slivovice, and instead of 40 little ghettos – I mean tables – of the bride's design, all 50 guests sit together on either side of two long tables. Those who could hang in danced till sunrise, while the innkeeper kept the liquor flowing and put out a groaning table of meat and fish from his own smoke house. Anyone who could still walk and was game joined the old-timers on a hike up a nearby mountain the morning after.