Monday, June 26, 2017

Don't Invite Me To Your Wedding: A Rebuttal

Hey all,

Wow, do I know a lot of people that are getting married right now!  Congrats by the way!  This world needs a little more love in it, so I couldn't be happier for you.

Some of these weddings I've been invited to. Some I am not.  And that's okay!  Weddings are expensive stressful events, and like any decent person I am not going to begrudge you for not having room on your guest list to include me. I've been there! You can not realistically have everyone you want to attend show up.  Stay strong and stay sane, and remember it is YOUR special day.


But for some reason, people seem to be forgetting what weddings are all about. The celebration of the love that has brought two people together.  Maybe it's because I know so many people tying the knot right now but I've been seeing a lot of articles like this one here,

"Don't Invite Me To Your Wedding If: A Comprehensive List"


Hrmm.  Um, excuse you!  It is not your day!

If you didn't click the original list/article, don't worry, we will get to it; point by point. And point by point I will illustrate what a self centered asshole you are acting like. (With the possible exception of one.)


Point 1:  If you're having a dry reception.

Now I get it.  Especially in American culture. All of the best commercials on TV would tell us a good time cannot be had without alcohol. And true, having a sip or two can relax us some, and make tolerating some obnoxious people a little easier, as the article points out.

Here's where you're going to feel like an ass as I point out, they probably have a reason for eliminating alcohol. I will lead with a personal example.

I have gotten married before.  I wanted a dry reception.  I didn't get a dry reception because for some reason many on my mother's side of the family said they wouldn't come if I didn't have alcohol. Many people that honestly took seats away from friends that I couldn't fit on the guest list, no less. But they were important to my mother that they could attend so I compromised and allowed beer, wine coolers, and similar.  Nothing too "hard."

What resulted was a bunch of loud Italians saying some pretty embarrassing stuff, an uncle walking around with a little cooler full of his BYOB, who eventually stripped down to his wife-beater style undershirt, and pinned my 11 year old brother by the neck against the door for "monkeying around at his sisters wedding."

Do you maybe see why I didn't want alcohol?
Do you understand that maybe the bride and groom perhaps don't want to deal with drama on their special day or have to remember an anniversary as the day a close friend or relative died in a drunk driving accident?
Do you understand that some people have alcoholics or newly recovering alcoholics in their family that they don't want to tempt fate with?
Do you understand that maybe the bride or groom may even be the recovering alcoholic?
No?
Oh, right, tell me more about how the day is all about YOU the guest.

I mean... it's not like anything bad has ever happened where alcohol where alcohol was involved, right?

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Point 2: Having a Band instead of a DJ

Okay, I get that your taste in music might be more in line with remixed heavy bass beat drops. Or maybe you like some country line dancing, or the classic Chicken Dance.  (I know it's a favorite in Wisconsin!)

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I have nothing against DJ's. And personally, yes I prefer a DJ as well. I have some very close friends who DJ/KJ for a living and I would love to support their businesses. But that opinion is about a wedding I would have, not one that I would attend as it is not "my" day, it's the bride and groom's. I merely wish to point out that there are ups and downs to both sides of this flipped coin on this one as I also have friends who are in bands.  Talented artists and musicians who want a little more exposure and could really use the gig.

So my point is, don't tell anyone who to hire on their day!  You don't know their reasons.  You don't know their budget.  You don't know if the band performing isn't in fact a member of the band's gift to the bride and groom.

And there is also one more little awesome thing you may have overlooked in your quick to judge--make it all-about-you ultimatum.  Even many of today's famous, most sought after musicians, had to start somewhere.  And that somewhere is often performing at little gigs like weddings.  You can get a list here which includes Idina Menzel!  One of my favorite Broadway performers of all time.  (You may recognize her as she played Maureen in the film Rent, was the voice of Elsa in Frozen, but my favorite was her role in WICKED.)  How cool of a story do people have who attended weddings that she sang at once upon a time!?

Yeah, your welcome for an attempt at a unique experience, you ingrate.

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Point 3: Your families are "beefed out" and there's any chance of a fight.

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Did you skip that bit about how you should know better than to complain there's no alcohol?  Maybe you should go back and read again.

Seriously, there is little to no chance that the day will be 100% drama free this "special" day.  I don't suspect that many fist fights break out at weddings.  I have not seen one yet. But there are precautions you can take by just not inviting people who are full of drama. We all have that one racist elderly person in the family, or a vegan who thinks the buffet is a tribute to torturing and murdering animals and won't shut up about it. (Or... and I'm looking at you, person who picks apart every wedding ever... That person who is going to find a flaw about your special day, broadcast it to the world, and prove they really just aren't a worthy enough friend to be included in the first place.)

So, if you are getting married, don't feel bad about having to have a very blunt conversation with these people. Tell them it is your day, not theirs (like I'm doing now) and if they don't think they can behave in a respectful way it is their responsibility to keep themselves in check or they will be asked to leave early.

If you can't do that, leave them off the guest list. No one has time or money to waste on people who are going to ruin your day.

If you can't do that without causing further undue drama, then have a destination wedding where guest lists are short and only the REALLY close people are invited or will be able to make it. (But we will get to that in another couple points.)

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4: Ring Bearer is a Pet.

I cannot even begin to express how ridiculous this one is to be upset about. Nor can I hide my astonishment that it is one of the most agreed with points on the list.

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I just don't understand the reasoning behind this.  The author of the article goes from saying "Your dog doesn't care about your wedding day. The humans there barely care so your pet really doesn't," to complaining that you are denying children in your family.
Never in the history of ever, have I ever been to a wedding where the children in the wedding actually wanted to be there throwing flowers and carrying rings. In fact, the only reason we have this tradition in the first place is because it was thought that the marriage is doomed if the groom accidentally dropped either of the rings. It was a sign he didn't want to get married, or the marriage can't last.  Less bad luck if someone else drops it.

There are reasons why an animal may be a better choice though.  Maybe not for me, but I understand and support it if you have this at your wedding for these reasons.

A.  While it's true that "Fido" may not understand or care what's happening, let's be honest that neither does the 3 year old. What's important is what you, as the bride and/or groom, care about.  If the pet is important to you? If it is a life that you and your partner have bonded over through years of caring for it together etc. then don't let the haters stand in your way. If someone would rather not be invited to your wedding over such a mundane detail, they are not your friend and don't deserve the invite.

B. You have 3 or 4 nephews all about the same age and you just know which ever one you pick is going to cause a big family fight and a bunch of backhanded compliments and snarky comments on your day.

C.  A pet is often better trained and more reliable to go from point a to point b without a fuss. I cannot count how many times I've seen ring bearers get stage fright, not know what to do, or make a b-line for mommy or daddy instead. The entire flow of the ceremony is interrupted, music starts to run long and the piano player starts to panic as daddy tries to wrangle a crying toddler down the aisle.

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5. Republicans Present?

This is just ridiculous.  I'm sorry, NO.  What!?

You're being close minded, prejudiced, and all around insensitive again.  Now, let me say with absolute clarity, that I think Trump is a terrible choice of president.  And let me shout it even louder that my opinion doesn't matter!  We aren't at the inauguration, we are at a wedding.

This may once again surprise you but it isn't YOUR wedding.  Saying you won't go to something because there are republicans there, is just as ridiculous as saying you won't attend because there are liberals present. Or black people present. Or Asian people present. Or gay people present. Or white people present.... etc. and so on.

If you can't put aside a political agenda for a single day, (and I don't care WHAT that agenda is) for a friend, then you need to be a grown up and dismiss yourself from the guest list. Not the other way around and expect your friends to read your mind and un-invite you. They have enough to worry about without the added stress of worrying who you are going to get along with.

Chances are the reason you feel so strongly about this is because you don't want to be stuck at a table debating things that you know you can never change the other person's mind about. So please realize that the bride and groom can't help it if grandma is a republican any more than you can. But guess who is probably a higher priority on the guest list.

PS. Most brides and grooms do take this stuff into account with this magical thing you've probably never heard of called a seating chart, you child.

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6. It costs more than $700 to arrive at your wedding destination.

Okay, this one is really hitting me hard. And yeah, I wouldn't be able to afford to go to that either. But recognize that sometimes, invitations are a politeness.  A "wish you could be here" gesture.  I don't think everyone is expected to attend that gets such an invite.

It's not jury duty. Your presence is not required by law. This goes both for friends who are invited from out of state to your location as well as local friends who are invited to a destination wedding. This seems less the bride and groom's problem of inviting you, and more your problem with not being able to say "no" or admit that you can't afford it. But remember there is no rule against sending regrets and a congratulatory card instead of flying off somewhere.  The end.

Now, my thoughts on destination weddings are a little more complex and here comes what I promised to continue earlier.

Weddings are expensive.  No, I mean REALLY out of control expensive. The markup for the word "wedding" alone is ridiculous.  Don't believe me? Call a venue and ask for a quote to rent the hall for a party... (A birthday party, or office party, or whatever excuse you want to make up.)  Wait a couple days, call back and ask for a quote for a wedding.  90% of the time the charge will be triple for the same damn services. The return on your investment is limited, and the more I learn about weddings the more I realize that guests don't really give a shit about the food or venue most of the time.

Maybe the closest 20 people to you do, but for many, it is a bit of a waste. So the solution for many couples is to plan a destination wedding for a close select few instead of having a big party that comes with a year of stressful planning for just one single evening.

While I'm not getting married anytime soon, my current partner and I have talked about the ridiculous costs and drama of weddings at length.  We have decided that instead of spending 10 grand on venue, food, music, photography, etc. for 300 people that you barely know the names of, it would be much better to choose the 20 closest people to us to share in an experience for half the price.

Basically, I have found that you can treat 20 family members and friends to a little vacation where all they need do is find some time off work and cover travel costs. Lodging, activities, food, and drink, for the entire week, can be provided for half the cost of a big fancy wedding.  And instead of having dozens of people complain that they weren't included in your 300 person guest list, you can have 280 people that "hate traveling" glad they had an excuse to not attend with disingenuous "sorry" rsvps,

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Now the last one on the list is a difficult one to talk about....
Point 7. If I'm your only black friend.

Awkward. The issue of "race" has really come to the forefront of discussion in recent days and it breaks my heart to see so much going so wrong so fast.

So I will preface my response to this one by saying, if you don't feel comfortable in any setting because of the color of your skin or your heritage, (no matter what ethnicity you associate yourself with,) if it were my wedding I would personally understand the need to decline an invite.

And if you feel you are the "token" friend of any demographic invited, and were only invited because of your skin color, sexual preference, or being differently abled, (insert demographic here)... Well screw that. You deserve better and shouldn't let the bride and groom use you to make themselves look like "good people."  Yes, I do recognize that there are people out there who try to "collect" friends to make themselves look good or trendy or... whatever. It's sickening.

But that's not the impression I got from this article complaining.

So I will just leave it at this: If you don't feel you will have a good time for this or any other reason, don't attend. Simple as that. But also, don't deny yourself a good time because you might be a different ethnicity than others at the party and assume you won't have anyone to connect with. That's every bit as racist.

Personally I refuse to eliminate someone I would like at my wedding from my guest list because of the color of their skin, or religion, or etc. compared to the rest of my guests. The decision of whether a friend feels comfortable enough to attend or not should be left up to them, not an assumption made by me.

I also cringe at the thought of misguided individuals going out and trying to find more people of any demographic to make their "one" friend more comfortable.  This is not okay. But people are dumb, and I can see some doing this in reaction to that article now...

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All summed up:

I guess the point of all this is, as a guest, it is not YOUR day.  It is the bride and groom's day.  Don't make it all about you before you are even invited. Everyone has reasons behind the choices for their own wedding day. If you want to make a list of "rules" someone should follow before inviting a person, make a list for yourself for YOUR wedding. Not others.

At the end of the day: Be kind. Be a gracious guest. Understand that these two people probably spent thousands upon thousands on this party for you to come and have a free meal, dance, and be jolly celebrating their life event. If you can't do that for them without alcohol, or because a dog is carrying a ring, something is wrong and maybe you should just send a "regrets" RSVP, because you are not as dedicated of a friend as they are to you. Did you forget that was an option? Declining so they can make room for others on their list of potential invites? Be an adult who knows when to simply politely decline the invite.


And if you are getting married, don't let articles like the one discussed here get you down.  There are too many expectations for "proper" weddings without picking over these guest demands too. Make it the experience YOU want. If the classic wedding in a church and banquette hall is what you like, then that's great for you. If you want a vacation wedding on a beach, where the photography is done with a camera app on guests' phones, the music is shuffled on an ipod, and the bartender is the grocery store liquor section... that's cool too. Have the setting, music, food, and everything else you want. Let "Fido" bark down the aisle.  Drink or don't drink, as you wish.

Never forget whether or not it's YOUR wedding day.

It's unfortunate how many people I won't be able to invite to my kick ass wedding someday, because by sharing or liking the article I picked apart here, they clearly don't want to participate.  Their loss I suppose, but I hope they remember when the day comes that it was their choice.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

International What Day?

I saw a lot of people criticizing "international women's day" this year. Some of them, women themselves. Most of them men. Let me start by saying this, you have a right to your opinion and I respect if you don't want to celebrate. However, knocking others observing the day is a little cringe worthy for me, and here is why.

1. The main complaint I heard was in the name of "equality." Or more pointedly, "Pffft, international women's day? That's dumb! When is international men's day?" This complaint is mostly about, if women don't want to be treated as "special" or "different, they need to stop demanding special treatment. But to all this I would have to respond: International Women's day was on March 8th, 2017 (this year.) International Men's Day is November 19th. Thanks for playing. And yes, I agree, if men can have an international day celebrating the extraordinary accomplishment of having a penis, then I guess in equality's name, we should have one for the counterpart vagina. 2. Having a "day" doesn't accomplish anything useful.

You're not wrong. It is a pretty useless thing to just name a day in recognition of something and expect ALL of the problems facing that thing to just float away. February 4th is World Cancer Day, and yet, we still have cancer in the world. Guess that didn't solve much, huh? But who's to say? I mean, this does kind of give a time and place to set aside a few thoughts and maybe even a couple of dollars to research in combating cancer. Just like International Women's day kind of organized a time and encouraged a little bravery for the women of the world to voice opinions to newspapers, employers, legislators, etc. about oppressions that go unnoticed, equal pay, or reproductive health rights. Many times this day is used for women working at unfair wages or without recognition to go on strike to fight for the women in their company. 3. Having a "day" belittles women. It shouldn't be just one day but "always."

I'm not sure what this complaint is exactly. I mean, yes, I agree that women should be appreciated just as much as anyone else in the world. There are many degrees to a spectrum for gender and sexuality, and each and every person, no matter their alignment on that spectrum should be treated as anything less than a person. Plain and simple. But "not" having a day? Come on. Turning a nose up at being given a day goes back to the equality thing. You can't want equality and then whine a stomp your feet when something is given to you. Imagine a room full of children being given candy. and when a child is missed they demand that it isn't fair that they didn't get what everyone else got. So, the adult hands them a piece of candy at the realization that the child was overlooked. Chances are, realizing that mistake is going to inspire the adult to pay closer attention next time to make sure no child is left out again, especially this child. But then the child complains that the candy isn't the flavor they wanted. They wanted the blue piece, not the orange. Well. Now they get nothing because the adult in charge of the candy is upset now for their efforts in remedying things not being good enough for the child. (Before you read too much into this metaphor I'm not trying to compare women to petulant children, or to paint men as the "adults." If anything "society at large" is the "adult" in this scenario, and behaving petty as well.) Problem is, this is a step backward for everyone. So I want to enlighten others to another way of thinking about "days." We have a National Doughnut Day, June 8th We have a National Talk like a Pirate Day, September 19th We have a National "Color" day, October 22nd I'll repeat that, we have a day set aside in the calendar to recognize that color exists. Now as an artist I am a huge fan of color. I like that it exists. But I'm pretty sure most of the world is already aware of the existence of color. I'm pretty sure having a day for it isn't accomplishing anything more or less than having a day set aside for recognizing being female or male. Pretty sure we would all survive if we didn't designate a day to recognize pirates or doughnuts too. But no one is getting up in arms about eliminating these days. Why? Because they are pretty harmless to just be left alone, right where they are, wouldn't you say? But what does it say about our society when we have no problem allowing people to celebrate, "We Love Broccoli Day" (Today March 22nd 2017, yes it's real) but throw tantrums about people who are observing International Women's Day? Are women not as worthy of having a day marked on the calendar as Men, Doughnuts, Pirate Vocabulary, Pallets of Color, Lefthanders, Broccoli, Fried Chicken, "Sauntering," and more? Yes, some of those are pretty great and deserve a little recognition. I just think women are too. And while I may not recognize every "Day" on the list, I'm not going to sit here and lecture others for making the effort to celebrate something silly. We need a little more silliness in the world. And putting others down for an effort to raise awareness, raise funds, make change, or just to be a little silly at times... well that would be foolish.