You don't have to come to the shindig, ya know
April 17, 2009 6:12 AM   Subscribe

We know where we want to get married, but the bride to be's parents don't like our preferred location

We live in New York City. The parents live in New Jersey. We met in Northampton, Mass. We were thinking about doing the wedding in Northampton for a number of reasons (nostalgia, beauty, cost, proximity to old friends) but bride's folks are not into the idea, primarily because their extended family all live in NJ. So that means about 20 or so people would have to schlep from Jersey to Massachuetss (about 4-5 hour drive)

My family lives all over the country - Texas, Michigan, California, etc. So the thought of traveling for the wedding doesn't really bother them so much.


1.) Should we try to convince them that this is a good idea?
2.) Should we forge ahead and disregard their preference?
3.) Should we suck it up and have the wedding in jersey?
posted by orville sash to Human Relations (51 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Who is paying for the wedding? If you are, then you do damn well what you like, and they will suck it up and come. If they are paying, then you should maybe be a bit more willing to compromise, but definitely go at them with a clear case (This is cheaper, you will save money here, we can rent a bus for $X that will take everyone from NJ up in style, etc...) to try and convince them, but don't be all ultimatum-y about it.
posted by Grither at 6:14 AM on April 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

Who is getting married? You or the parents? Get married where you want. If you get married anywhere else, you'll always look back on your wedding day and say "We wanted to get married in the Hamptons but we didn't." Don't have that regret.

Grither's idea about the bus is a very good one.
posted by onhazier at 6:23 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, are you organizing it, or are they? Because I know some parents choose to have it closer just so it's easier to organize.

If you're paying and organizing, don't bend over backwards if it doesn't make sense to you. But do try to ease their concerns about the specifics - drive, hotel cost, time of year.

It's not like it's Costa Rica, or Vegas or something on the other side of the country.

If they're paying, really sit down with them to talk it all out. This will be the first of many conversations about the wedding and money, so start it off on a good note. And the bride will have to do most of the talking here.
posted by barnone at 6:24 AM on April 17, 2009

Your wedding, your choices. If they don't like it, they don't have to come.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:26 AM on April 17, 2009

If you're (you and your bride) paying for the wedding yourselves, you can go to her parents and say essentially, "We love you, we want you and your friends to celebrate this marriage with us, and we understand that our chosen location is somewhat inconvenient for you, but this is what we've chosen and we hope you'll join us in Northampton."

You don't need to explain, persuade, or sweet talk them into liking it--and in fact, that's probably entirely the wrong strategy (your message should be: we're adults, we made our decision, see you at the party!). Ordinarily I think wedding planning should have some flexibility and should cater to at least some concerns your relatives may have, but when parents start to pull this kind of power tripping bullshit? ("You need to hold your wedding at the location most convenient for our friends") No. That's not love or tradition or spiritual meaning. That's just using your wedding to show off to their friends.

Of course, disregard all of the above if they're footing the bill--the one who pays calls the shots.

Also, congrats!
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:34 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I got married 2,750 miles away from where most of my family lived and all of them showed up. Heck I even had to send invitations to a few family members I hadn't planned on inviting because I learned they bought plane tickets to attend.

Northampton is a beautiful place to get married - I say do it! Just make sure to check the college schedules before you set a date (i.e Smith's parents weekend). If you do decide to do it in Northampton feel free to memail me for suggestions - I helped my friend plan her Northampton wedding while she was living in London.

posted by a22lamia at 6:38 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

This exact thing happened when my wife and I got married last year. It got to the point that her parents threatened not to come if we had the wedding a short distance outside of the city we live in. They tried to convince us "that people were going to die" if we made them drive down the highway ten minutes.

In the end we basically told them that we were going to do what we liked, and we made a conscious decision not to take their money because of the baggage it would entail (in fairness they did give us money afterwards). But the wedding was great, it was on our terms, and everybody loved being outside the city. The money we saved renting a cheaper hall easily allowed us to hire a bus service to shuttle people back and forth safely as well.

My advice: sit down and talk with them about why the location is important to you, and be willing to stick to your guns if it comes to that. Meet on neutrl ground, and ask them to come to that meeting with their own list of priorities for what they want out of the wedding (Is it just a status symbol for their acquaintances? Is it a family reunion?) and you do the same. Make them understand that the location is one of the critical things for you. Show that you're willing to compromise to accommodate their priorities in other areas.
posted by hamandcheese at 6:38 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Assuming that you're paying for your own wedding, then you nailed it in the post title. You might want to be a bit more tactful, though.

If they're paying, then I suppose their opinion should have a little more weight, but isn't paying for the wedding a gift? That you should be able to use as you see fit?
posted by owtytrof at 6:38 AM on April 17, 2009

My family is in CA, my husband's family is in NC (where we also live). We chose to get married in CA, because my family is bigger, so there! (just kidding). Anyway, there were, of course, some people who could not make the trip to CA, so we had a second reception in NC after the honeymoon. That way our friends and family on both coasts were able to celebrate with us. Everyone was told of the second party plans, so they knew they didn't need to try to budget for a trip ahead of time. Can you have a big party in NJ later? Or even a smaller/ laid back party, since there are only 20 people.
posted by purpletangerine at 6:46 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can you possibly offer to have some event in NJ? engagement dinner, host a family bbq afterwards, etc. With the money saved from having it in MA, could you invite the out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner? (or share with your parents information on lodging, things to do in the area, bus transportation? Northamptom's a beautiful place to visit.)
posted by ejaned8 at 6:46 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's another solution besides either/or. Do the wedding you want to do, and then let them do the wedding they want to do for you after.

If your place in Northhampton was special to you, just have your 10-20 closest friends there, have one of them be a JP or minister who can marry marry you in a park or wherever you want.

The family can throw you a big reception for family and extended friends in NJ the next week and you can go through the ceremony again or even create a new one for them. That's how we did it anyway. Much less pressure, twice the fun, everybody happy.
posted by quarterframer at 6:48 AM on April 17, 2009

Here are the pertinent questions:

Which group of people is more likely to have the emotional, time, and financial wherewithall to travel-- the Massachussets friends or the NJ family? Which group of people is more likely to still be around this marriage in 25 years-- the Mass friends or the NJ family? Which group of people is likely to feel the most disenfranchised/hurt by the opposite choice-- the friends or the family? Which group of people will it be harder to justify the unpopular choice to?

As a potential mother of the bride, I would understand if my daughter decided to get married in her partner's hometown rather than hers. But I would be extremely hurt and put out if I was told that they were getting married in a third location because "it's pretty, we liked it there, and that's where our friends are." ouch.

Can you get married in NYC, which has the advantage of being your current home, making it practical, and close enough to NJ AND Boston that it doesn't feel like a snub to either party? (I don't have any idea the costs or logistics of a wedding in NYC, just a thought.)
posted by nax at 6:48 AM on April 17, 2009

Sorry, Northhampton. A little hazy on east coast geography!
posted by nax at 6:49 AM on April 17, 2009

(I will add that to my comment that if you do a "small wedding first it doesn't have to cost much money. Rent a house for your friends, go out to dinner with everybody, get permission for a small gathering where you want to get married and explain it's only a few people and they may not even charge you.)
posted by quarterframer at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2009

Sorry, back again. I just read your headline. Tell me that you don't really think that the presence of the bride's family at your wedding is optional.
posted by nax at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2009

Wow, I'm really surprised at all of the "you're paying for it, so tough shit for everyone else" attitudes.

I believe it's of the utmost importance to have your friends and family at the wedding. If weddings are solely about the bride and groom, why are you bothering to invite anyone? It's not just a big party you are having; you are promising your vows not only to your partner, but to everyone else. That's why weddings are big affairs in my opinion.

That said, we need to know why her parents are worried about all the travel. For many people, the cost of gas + hotel + gift is often prohibitive and people won't be able to go. If that's the issue, then have it closer to NJ where people won't have to stay overnight. Even if it's not about money, and her parents simply don't want to inconvenience your family, well that requires a discussion and a compromise.

The bottom line:
If you want to have a party that's completely to your liking, and you don't care if people come or not, by all means, do whatever you want, everyone else be damned. But if it's important to you to promise your vows in front of everyone you love and care about, make some compromises.
posted by anthropoid at 6:54 AM on April 17, 2009

My family lives in Northampton and takes day trips to NYC - I'm not sure where in NJ your family is but maybe driving up with her family for a weekend would encourage them to view it more positively. Also, suggest an afternoon wedding and then people will be able to return home that night. This could eliminate the cost of a hotel room. Check out how much the wedding would cost in NJ vs MA - this might help.

If people don't want to drive: bus and train options exist.

People in town rent out houses during Smith graduation (especially when the Five Colleges get really sneaky and schedule all five graduations for the same weekend), the same people might be persuaded to rent their home out for your wedding.

Oh, and onhazier, Northampton, MA is not part of the Hamptons. Different place. We're talking Western MA here.

Having been accessory to a wedding a few years ago where there were differences of opinion on venue: do seriously ask yourself if both you and your bride to be are on the same page on this. Fighting a battle like this can be painful, especially when it comes from only one side of your future family.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:54 AM on April 17, 2009

And nax, I'm glad you mentioned that headline. Orville: if you really don't care if your bride's family comes or not, you and I have very different definitions of what a wedding is.
posted by anthropoid at 6:57 AM on April 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, everyone.

To answer some questions in the thread:

1.) We would like to pay for the wedding ourselves, which I think is very much in our power, provided we don't have it in New York City.
2.) The idea of having multiple weddings/parties doesn't really blow my mind. I'd really like to do it all at once.
3.) We both went to college in Northampton, so it's not as if her parents/family haven't made the trip before. They know the area.
4.) Yes. The headline was a joke. There is no way I would plan a wedding that her parents wouldn't be a part of.
5.) There's not any animus between myself and the parents. I'm not mad at them - I understand where they're coming from. It's more frustration, because I have a pretty clear image of this gig in my head, and this is just an obstacle. I'm not taking it personally.

If you follow my history of wedding askmes, you'll see that we're in the very very plaintive stages of planning this wedding. I just want a little assistance picking my battles.
posted by orville sash at 7:16 AM on April 17, 2009

We had our wedding far away from family. Those who could come did, those who couldn't didn't.

You're paying for it. It's your wedding. 4-5 hours is not a long trip, really. To make it easier on people who have to travel, have you considered doing it on a holiday weekend? We had ours on Thanksgiving weekend and no one seemed put off by it at all. We hosted a big family dinner on Thanksgiving for those who were there and it was awesome. My best friend got married on Labor Day weekend. Again, people seemed to like it. They don't generally have to take time off work and if they're driving (not flying), it wouldn't be much of a hassle.

I've never understood the reasoning behind the "second reception" thing. If people want to come to your wedding but they can't, tough. They're ostensibly adults and it's not the end of the world. There have been a few weddings I was very sad to miss but I got over it. There have also been a couple of weddings where I practically had to move heaven and earth to get to and you know what? I did it because it was important to me.

Again: your wedding, your money; you should do it in Northampton.
posted by cooker girl at 7:28 AM on April 17, 2009

Have the wedding where you want. People will travel for a wedding. And seriously, 4-5 hours is nothing.
posted by chunking express at 7:30 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you do choose to pursue this (and I think it can be a lot of fun---we were living in Seattle and got married in the San Juan Islands, which definitely had logistical challenges), one way to make it easier/more palatable is to do a lot of the logistical planning for people. Hire a bus. Reserve blocks of hotel rooms. Have activities planned before and after the wedding so that people who've travelled have things to do. Maybe subsidize travel/lodging somewhat, if money is a concern.
posted by leahwrenn at 7:36 AM on April 17, 2009

Also, my friend got married in Balls Falls (seriously) and it was a lot of fun. They had a hotel on notice so you could get cheaper rooms there, and hired a bus to get people from the hotel to the wedding venue. And it was a school bus. It's probably the best wedding i've been to. It felt a bit like an Indian wedding, in that it was a bit of a weekend event.
posted by chunking express at 7:50 AM on April 17, 2009

What's their main point? The 10 hour round trip, travel expenses, inconvenience, or do they have an image of their "little girl" getting married in the family hometown? If it's the latter, you may be stuck -- that's something for the bride to work on. If it's one of the former, try looking into house or condo rentals for the extended family so they can make it a weekend family getaway; look at bus/train schedules to see if it's possible/plausible for them to travel that way (maybe provide a shuttle from the 'main' wedding "hotel" to the venue).

I don't think that scheduling an afternoon wedding vs. an evening wedding will make it any easier for most people to make a day trip -- ten hours in transit is a lot, and very few people can pop out of a vehicle after 5 hours of travelling and be ready to go to a wedding. You'd need someplace for guests to prep in, even if they're not staying overnight. (NB - I've done the 10hour day trip for an afternoon wedding. Friends got married in Chicago; half the attendees were from the Chicago area, 90% of the rest were from Detroit or Minneapolis. Nearly everyone drove, as mass transit in the midwest is, um, well, not. The only reason it worked as well as it did is that three Chicago friends opened their houses for guests to prep in.)

Nax: But I would be extremely hurt and put out if I was told that they were getting married in a third location because "it's pretty, we liked it there, and that's where our friends are." ouch. Sensitive much? Wouldn't bother me a bit, as long as I knew that they didn't pick it just to annoy me. I've had friends get married in her hometown, his hometown, the town they live in, 70 miles from both, 10 hours from both. As orville_sash mentions later, they went to school there, so it's got some meaning-- it's not just a random place picked out because it was pretty.
posted by jlkr at 7:56 AM on April 17, 2009

The travel thing seems like a bit of a red herring -- complaining about a 4-5 hour drive? Really? Absent actual medical conditions, what sort of candyass complains about that?

What you might do is plan an early-afternoon wedding w/immediate reception so it is physically possible for guests from NJ to get up in the morning, drive to your wedding, attend, and drive home arriving back before midnight or 1. Then, nobody who doesn't want a hotel has to have a hotel.

Having the wedding someplace with a strong emotional connection for you matters.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:59 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]

My two best friends got married near Northhampton last summer (we all went to college near NoHo, too). It was a fantastic experience - the whole area's gorgeous that time of year. It couldn't hurt to show the extended family all the fun things there will be to do over the wedding weekend - maybe a trip to Flayvors or Herrell's before the ceremony, a walk down main street after the reception, a dip in Puffers pond before they leave.

I agree with Nax - don't frame it as not wanting to inconvenience your friends, because that is kind of a slight. Frame it as Northhampton being a special place for you. You say it's where you met - is it also where you started dating? You could talk about how over there is where you first saw her, and that restaurant over there, that's where you had your first date. And there, by the river, that's where you told her you loved her for the first time.

Do all you can to help make it as convenient and enjoyable as possible for her relativees. Stress that you're not trying to ignore their needs, but it's your day and you want to do it in the way that's most meaningful to you.

A 5 hour drive is not that big a deal, honestly. I don't want to know how many times I made it when I was going to school in the Valley. I think it's a reasonable thing for you to ask of them, and hopefully they're just being grumpy about it.

(Also, myself, I would prefer to get married in a place like Massachusetts where everyone who wants to can get married than a place like New Jersey or New York where gay people are still separate-and-unequal. This might be a disingenuous argument if it's honestly not that important to you, and it may hurt more than help with her parents, but I thought I'd mention it.)
posted by shaun uh at 8:02 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I urge you to have the wedding where you want, especially as you are paying for it.

But do seriously consider having the reception at, or very near, the hotel.

In our wedding, we decided to have it where we lived and make both families travel - this upset both sets of parents in my case so it worked out.

But by having the reception at the hotel, we were able to spend lots of time getting pictures (we got 1700 photos of friends and family that day) since everyone was in once place. Best of all, there were no concerns about arranging designated drivers - everyone could relax and have fun and stumble to their room afterwords. People with children could put them to bed and easily return. It worked great.

The other thing to consider is that the cost of the trip will factor into the gifts you receive, rightly or wrongly, if that is important to you.

At the end of the day, it's your party, it's your day, and it's your (hopefully) once in a lifetime experience. Don't be afraid to be both accommodating and decisive. I give you my congratulations and good wishes. :-)
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:03 AM on April 17, 2009

I can't help you with whatever family specifics might be happening here, but a location that's far enough away to be a long drive can actually be quite nice. People who come get to treat it as a mini-vacation.

My suggestion is to work out a deal with the local inn / hotel / whatever is closest to the wedding and comfortable, so that your guests know they can stay nearby without hassle. Make a list of alternate lodging in the area for the guests who want to use their Hyatt points or whatever.

You will find that, despite the kvetching, the people who love you and who can make a trip will come, and will most likely have a great time.
posted by zippy at 8:04 AM on April 17, 2009

Would you be prepared to pay for the cost of a coach and driver(s) to bring the NJ guests to the wedding? People might be more amenable to making the journey if they're driven in relative comfort. It also solves the problem of designated drivers.
posted by essexjan at 8:04 AM on April 17, 2009

1.) Should we try to convince them that this is a good idea?

Yes. It is your waiting and the reasons you gave for wanting it in Northhampton sound romantic and reasonable. It's not as if you don't want her family there, you just want the wedding in a place that means something to you two, which to repeat, is totally reasonable.

2.) Should we forge ahead and disregard their preference?

Yes, but in a diplomatic fashion. Can you rent a bus for everyone, maybe make it into a weekend getaway where everyone goes to travel AND attend the wedding?

3.) Should we suck it up and have the wedding in jersey?

It's your wedding. Make yourself happy and subtly lay out some ground rules for the family about who will be deciding what you do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:12 AM on April 17, 2009

Piling on that you should have it where you want if you're paying for it. I'm kind of amazed that they're complaining about a 4-5 hour drive. Maybe it's because I'm in Texas and that's nothing as far as wedding travel is concerned. Not only that, but a lot of people have destination weddings in other countries, let alone a couple of (small) states over. They're being unreasonable.
posted by fructose at 8:15 AM on April 17, 2009

Nax, just a note - having a wedding in NYC can prohibitively expensive.

Go ahea and save up to pay for it yourself - this will avoid many many headaches. Plan it over a long weekend, line up hotel blocks for people (which should be at or super-near the location), maybe a bus to zip people from NJ.
posted by canine epigram at 9:20 AM on April 17, 2009

If you're paying for it, it's up to you. I would tell her parents that you can't afford a wedding in New Jersey, and that it's important for the two of you to pay for your wedding yourselves.

It's not just a big party you are having; you are promising your vows not only to your partner, but to everyone else.

anthropoid, I strongly disagree with this. The actual text of most vows say nothing about those who are there to witness the wedding--and a wedding is no less a wedding if the bride and groom elope and invite no one. Weddings are big affairs in our country because of the profit that can be gleaned from them, and there hasn't even been a tradition of this sort of thing for very long. It's nice to make your wedding convenient for those you love--but it sounds like the OP & partner love their friends, too, and that's shouldn't be dismissed just because there aren't blood ties there. Plus, the fact that the bride's parents think that nothing of the inevitable, much larger inconvenience to the groom's family is telling. Honestly, I would really worry about control issues in this situation if the wedding was moved to New Jersey--if you bend to that request, who knows what sort of other requests will follow?

(Then again, to be fair, Mr. WanKenobi and I are planning on eloping for exactly these reasons.)

There are plenty of great suggestions upthread about how to compromise with her family and make this more convenient for them. I'd stick to your guns, because your reasons are sound ones.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:39 AM on April 17, 2009

I would prefer to get married in a place like Massachusetts where everyone who wants to can get married than a place like New Jersey or New York where gay people are still separate-and-unequal.

I have to say, this sold me on MA. I was definitely in the NJ camp before. Would they respond to that?
posted by nax at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2009

Nax, just a note - having a wedding in NYC can prohibitively expensive.

Not true. A specific kind of wedding in NYC can be prohibitively expensive but getting married in NYC can be cheap, lovely, and perfect if the bride and groom want it to be so. If they want to be on the show Bridezilla though, then that might get expensive.

Are your friends from college your family? Are they your bride's family? Is the blood between your friends thicker than the blood between family?

Rather than approach your wedding with a kind of dark sarcastic humor (which is unhelpful when you're in the process of planning and negotiating what is going to happen at your, and your bride's, event), approach the wedding by looking at what your priorities are and what your bride's priorities are. Don't joke about the bride's family not coming. And make 100% sure who is going to be paying for the wedding. Don't make the mistake, like you seem to be, to think you can pay for it "unless" something happens. Don't have an "unless". Make a choice, at the very beginning, right now, who is going to pay or help pay.

The bride needs to convince her family to get married in Mass. but you need to frame it in ways where you are doing the work, you are doing the planning, and your bride's family are able to insert themselves into the system if they like. Frame your argument less about friends and more about college. No one's family is going to enjoy being told that "friends" matter more than them. And just because they're not your family right not doesn't mean they're not going to BE your family once you get married.

I don't know if you really want to get married in Northhampton. I mean, you claim that you do, but where's the emotional argument about how much you and your bride loved it and want to be a part of it? You frame your argument about friends, why not like this? You went to college there, you loved the area, you want to relive your romantic days together outside of the big city atmosphere. Talk to your bride's family like that and also mention that you'll book hotel rooms, you'll reserve hotel blocks, you'll do the planning, you'll do the effort, you'll make it so that the bride's family just has to show up and go/help the bride shop for a wedding dress (if that's what they want to do). However, if your bride and you are unwilling to be this engaged in the process (and it is a lot of work btw), New Jersey is going to win out in the end. Your bride's family might view themselves in the traditional role of planning, being involved, and if your future mother-in-law's mother planned her wedding, she might see her daughter's wedding really as her own and want to plan that. And that's a family tradition that going "we might pay for our wedding" or "you don't have to come" or "our friends are greater than the bride's family" isn't going to fly and make your wedding much more of a headache than it should be.
posted by Stynxno at 9:49 AM on April 17, 2009

Conflict resolution, a HUGE part of marriage. I wish that I could say that I had it figured out. The wedding day is the easy part.
posted by notned at 10:15 AM on April 17, 2009

I think the trip from NJ is too long to do without staying overnight. It just wouldn't be any fun, especially for any elderly people or small children on your guest list. Would an overnight stay be a big burden for your NJ relatives? Will the timing of your wedding mean that people would also have to take off work? Hotel + Missed work + Gas + nice clothes + gift can add up, and economic times are hard for some. Maybe not in your case. Just something to consider, and have thought about when presenting your case to your new family.

I'm hoping you'll be happy the day you get married, no matter where it is. Congratulations!
posted by pizzazz at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2009

Response by poster: I would prefer to get married in a place like Massachusetts where everyone who wants to can get married than a place like New Jersey or New York where gay people are still separate-and-unequal.

I have to say, this sold me on MA. I was definitely in the NJ camp before. Would they respond to that?

No, nax. I don't think so.

Stynxno, you're coming on a little strong and taking my reasons for wanting this location the wrong way. My friends are my family, but this is more about having the wedding my fiance and I envision than it is about proximity to either friends or family. When it comes to money, I'm not worried, but I'm also not going to bankrupt myself trying to have this wedding at the convenience of some of the guests.

To be honest, the large part of my friends live in New York now, and I can't imagine any of them having a problem with making a trip to Northampton for the wedding. My family's scattered all over the country, so they're not going to have a problem either - they have to . I'm not even sure if her extended family has a problem with this. The only people who have expressed any discontent are her parents.

My approach to this thread != my approach to my future inlaws. As I said upthread:

5.) There's not any animus between myself and the parents. I'm not mad at them - I understand where they're coming from. It's more frustration, because I have a pretty clear image of this gig in my head, and this is just an obstacle. I'm not taking it personally.

What I'm asking is: is the potential battle worth it?
posted by orville sash at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2009

What I'm asking is: is the potential battle worth it?

You tell us. Are they usually difficult? Are they prone to grudges and passive/agressive BS? and if so, can you and your wife deal with that over this and other issues in the coming years.

I've dealt with similar issues with family, especially over the wedding and frankly, establishing ourselves as separate unit with our own wants was totally worth it. We get the sense that some family members grumble about us being difficult, but those are also the family members that usually want things their way. We don't insist on things being our way all the time, we phrase discussions with "We love ya'll, but...", and we definitely still enjoy being with family, partially because we know it's on our terms, as adults.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2009

is the potential battle worth it?

That really depends on how people might take this. We went through something similar a few years ago when we decided that we were getting married in the town that was our home and not the state (that, due to east coast geography was only about 1 1/2 hrs away) were my wife was born and where one side of her family (her parents are divorced) resides. In the end we went with what we wanted and the family had to drive up. Not such a big deal seeing as most of my family and friends had flown in from Europe. Our extended family had no problem with it in the end, but we're still dealing with the fall-out from closer relatives, or at least we think that's the issue, it's hard to tell...
posted by ob at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2009

Also, the key to whatever ya'll decide is that you and your wife have to be on the same page and in agreement.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2009

What I'm asking is: is the potential battle worth it?

That depends on how important it is to you and your future wife to have this wedding exactly where you want it, and how likely her parents are to still be bringing it up 10 years from now ("Well you know, if you had just had the wedding in NJ like we wanted...") plus how annoyed you will be by that.

When I got married, it was very important to my family that we have a Catholic wedding. That wasn't what I wanted, but I ultimately decided it was worth conceding at the time to avoid hearing about it for the rest of my life (because my family IS like that). It was more important to me to have an outdoor wedding and I fought the battles necessary to make that happen.

Weddings are all about compromises, not always between you and your soon to be spouse.
posted by geeky at 11:10 AM on April 17, 2009

It sounds like they're being selfish. I'm not harping on the future in-laws, but maybe you should remind them that everyone on your side is traveling more than 4-5 hours by car, and if they're going to travel far, you want it to be worth their while. Maybe there are some great places in NJ your future in-laws have in mind, but unless they're footing any part of the bill or there are medical conditions to consider, politely remind them of the other folks who are planning on attending. Don't think of it as a battle of one side vs. the other, but think of it as being fair to everyone.

My wedding was pretty much out of the way for everyone. Some could drive, and others flew. We had it mid-day on Sunday, so those who wanted to be back to work on Monday morning had enough time to travel, and they could spend time in the area on Saturday. Most people did make a weekend of it. We had some planned events, but mostly it was free time in a nice location, and somewhere people might not have gone to otherwise.

If the area is really great, lay out events or offer tips for things to do and see in the area. A wedding is more than just the vows - it's the whole experience. If the general location is fantastic, give people time to enjoy it. And if this is their first time to the area, they'll now associate this lovely area with your lovely wedding. If it's somewhere in their back yard, it could be nice, but it may not be as special.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2009

My wife and I had a similar situation.

She's from Jersey. I'm from Upstate NY. We met at school in Pennsylvania.

We tried all sorts of plans for the wedding. The whole event on a boat in Lake George, NJ and then the wedding and reception at the school in PA were our two firmest plans. It was never going to be something overly elaborate, and we were going to cover it, but my wife's Mom had issues.

We wound up having the ceremony we wanted at school on a Saturday and then taking the folks that attended (including my wife's whole extended family) back to the hotel for a casual lunch. Later that night, we took all of our friends out for the night; drinking, driving range-mini golf, drinking...We had a really good time.

In the morning we packed up and headed back to Jersey for a reception that my wife's mom had arranged and paid for. It worked out well, and everyone got most of what they wanted.

That said, with age comes wisdom. If we were to do it again, we'd both lean toward renting a beer truck and a giant slip and slide and avoiding the expenses and stress.

You might have to make compromises with what you want; but make the compromises with your fiance and don't worry too much about anyone else. The day belongs to the two of you, and all the little roadblocks quickly fade in importance as the year's pass...

Good Luck.
posted by Barnsie at 11:42 AM on April 17, 2009

Oh, and right now get used to having drama over the wedding not being perfect for someone else. It never will be perfect for everyone, and the only people you should really try to make it perfect for are you and your wife. Definitely try to accommodate pleasantly as many people as you can, and obviously a little extra effort should be given to accommodating the parents of the bride, but do keep in mind that it's your wedding, and be firm and polite about that.

Oddly enough, for my wedding, the most drama came from MY mother, not the mother of the bride. Sigh. Best of luck with everything!
posted by Grither at 11:57 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've driven 4 hours to go to the wedding of people I barely know -- and I HATE to drive! I did this as a show of support and an act of friendship.

Can't disagree with Anthropoid enough: Your wedding is about YOU.

if you really don't care if your bride's family comes or not, you and I have very different definitions of what a wedding is.

As someone who is planning a very small Caribbean wedding (me, her, local official, and whoever happens to be on the beach at the time), I'd say this is certainly true. I define a wedding this way:
"wedding"; noun: 1. a marriage ceremony
posted by coolguymichael at 12:19 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'll join the crowd saying that you should take other people's input, but if you're not taking their money (and sometimes, even if you are), the final decision should belong to the couple.

Now, as was said, it's of the utmost importance that you and your fiancee provide a unified front. It's her family, and she's probably going to take the brunt of the nagging phone calls, emails, and other forms of communicative unpleasantness. Make sure she's with you on this, and feels as strongly as you do. You said something along the lines of "I have a vision of this in my head", do please make sure that your vision and her vision are one and the same.

With that being said, congratulations! (and sorry for the potential roadblocks you seem to be dealing with). In the end, I think you and your fiancee need to make this decision and then present it to her (and your, for that matter) family as a fait accompli. Then you talk to them along the lines of "The decision is made, but now let's talk about how we can make the potential issues you had with the site far less likely". People who have mentioned condo rentals, pre-booked/notified hotels, and bus rentals are all spot on.

Last summer I flew across the country for my cousin's wedding, I live in Toronto and flew out to BC. I'm not one who really needs a lot to do, and Victoria was pretty enough as it was. But my cousin and her husband did take troubles to plan out events for people who were interested. They arranged and hosted dinners/parties, the bachelor party was transformed into a golf tournament, and they gave ideas for whale-watching and listed museums and other events in the area that might appeal to us. Granted, a bunch of us went out and stayed for a week to make the airfare worth our while, but I'm sure you could make a long-weekend out of your wedding and enough people would take you up on the offer.

I guess my advice, in a nutshell, if your wedding is going to be at a slightly removed destination, then bring some of the trappings of a destination wedding into play. Events, sites to see, and other such attractions will help your guests (or at least, the bride's family) get more excited about the location. You two should know plenty about the area from your college days and can give people a good list of things to do, I would think.

Good Luck!
posted by dnesan at 12:39 PM on April 17, 2009

Listen to them. Respect their reasons. Maybe you can have an engagement party in her home town. Sell them a little harder on your preferred location. Affordable, nice spot for a family gathering. Find a really great wedding location with amenities. Maybe your friends want campsites and volleyball, but if parents really want a hotel w/ a pool and a nice restaurant, you can probably find it. There may be a way to involve them in sentimental ways; your bride can wear her mother's pearls, or whatever.

I suspect that how you negotiate these choices will set the pattern for your relationship with your in-laws. So listen, respect them, accommodate them if possible, but ultimately, satisfy your own dreams.
posted by theora55 at 3:07 PM on April 17, 2009

is the potential battle worth it?

Totally depends on the parents. I err strongly on the side of asserting oneself as an adult making adult decisions autonomously--but then I have my own personal family baggage to thank for that. It may be that your chosen venue is the one thing that could drive a wedge between you, your bride, and her parents, and if that's the case, then maybe a compromise (small wedding in MA, large reception elsewhere, for instance) would be well worth it. BUT. If the parents' insistence on their location is a symptom of larger control/respect issues (i.e., they feel that they have the right to dictate this decision and fail to respect your right to make your own choices as an adult married couple), then there will always be some next thing you do "wrong" in their eyes by not complying with their wishes and plans for your life. If that's the case, this battle will just be one of many, and you might as well have the wedding you want.

I guess my recommended gauge for this would be, do you get the sense that they recognize that it's your lives and your choice (albeit, a part of your lives and a choice about which they feel strongly)? That level of respect deserves some compromise--or at least a good faith effort to explain your choice to them. If the issue is a lack of respect, then personally I think this is a good first time for you, as a couple, to start showing them the consequences of failing to respectfully engage you as adults--consequences as in, what happens, not punishment, just what happens. (Can you tell this is something with which I have experience and strong feelings?)
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:35 PM on April 17, 2009

It's your rodeo. It only happens once in your life and you're only asking them to drive. IMHO if you're paying and you have a special place that means a lot to you and your bride-to-be, everyone else can play nice and go with the flow. Congrats and good luck.
posted by CwgrlUp at 4:58 PM on April 17, 2009

Nax, just a note - having a wedding in NYC can prohibitively expensive.

Not true. A specific kind of wedding in NYC can be prohibitively expensive but getting married in NYC can be cheap, lovely, and perfect if the bride and groom want it to be so. If they want to be on the show Bridezilla though, then that might get expensive.

Styxno, notice I said 'can' not 'is always regardless of the setup.' (should have been 'can be')

That being said, I'm quite comfortable asserting the fact that for a standard-sort of wedding that requires rental of any kind of hall, Northhampton is less expensive than NYC (much in the same way that apartment rental prices are). You don't have to "want to be on Bridezilla" to realize you can often afford a larger comfortable space for much less in a more rural location.

posted by canine epigram at 10:06 AM on April 20, 2009

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