You Can’t Come to My Wedding Unless You’re Just Like Me

I’ve been married for fifteen years and I don’t have any younger sisters, and so […]

Carrie Willard / 2.20.19

I’ve been married for fifteen years and I don’t have any younger sisters, and so it’s been a while since I’ve been exposed to the bridal industrial complex except in a very peripheral way. But I do follow several advice columnists on social media for the high entertainment value of Other People’s Problems, and I follow a lot (A LOT) of food and cooking websites.

One theme seems to persist: invitation etiquette. Can I uninvite my stepfather because he forgot my birthday? My sister wants me to invite her children and one of them just got braces and I really don’t want them in my photos because ew. My cousin just started a catering company and now I feel like I have to hire him to make the food for the cocktail reception.


I get it, though. People are working with limited budgets and families have strong opinions. These feel like Really Big Decisions, and they are (kind of). Nobody wants to be Bridezilla, but everybody wants a special day to remember, and Special Days are usually stupid expensive. People often get married when they’re young, and this is often the most amount of money they’ve ever spent on an event, and this is the most power they’ve ever yielded with an address book. I get it.

I recently read an article, though, about a couple who uninvited all non-vegans to their wedding. Apparently, the bride posted on a vegan social media platform that she rescinded invitations to guests who didn’t permanently sign up for a vegan lifestyle.

She sounds super fun, you guys.

I once attended a wedding where a close family member to the wedding party was in prison. There was a short note in the service bulletin offering prayers for those who couldn’t attend, and everybody kind of knew what that was about. The spouse of the imprisoned person approached me at the wedding reception. I had never met her in person before, but she wanted me and my husband to know that she was struggling to forgive him. She thanked us for being there, and thanked us for being a friend to her family during their struggle. It was a really nice wedding.

I can’t help but contrast this with the hand-wringing over invitations, with Vegan-zilla brides and line-drawing in the sand.

I think back to my own wedding. My husband’s dad was one of eleven children. This means that my husband has one trillion cousins on that side alone. We got married in a location that was close enough to his homestead that a lot of his family could travel for our wedding, and we invited them all. I started to panic as we got close to the wedding that I wouldn’t know everybody there. I extracted a promise from my groom that he wouldn’t leave me stranded in a room full of strangers. He promised, but our wedding reception photos hardly show us in the same frame at all. We were mingling with the masses, and neither of us looked any worse for wear as a result. Go figure. I wanted that little mini illusion of control, that he’d at least have to introduce me to these people who were toasting our lives together. Spoiler alert: it worked out anyway.

The wedding was the beginning of our life together, when we would need to surround ourselves with people whom we may never have met. Those people all stood up in church and promised to support us in our life together. They prayed with the Celebrant to make our “life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.” That’s a big ask, and we knew we couldn’t do it without God’s help, and without the love of the people surrounding us. As we exited the church, there were even more people, most of whom neither of us had met. Our wedding was held at a colonial church in the middle of a tourist attraction, and so throngs of strangers came out to applaud when we exited the church. My sister said, “I think they’re taking our photo!” I told her to smile, because we’re probably now in someone’s vacation photos. After fifteen years of marriage, we look back on that applause and we’re grateful for it, because it helped encourage us for the big task of a life together ahead of us.

The vegan bride probably means well. She’s taking a stand for what she believes in, I think? And veganism isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t know if it’s enough to sustain a marriage. A wedding seems like an odd place to take that kind of stand. I hope she comes around to inviting her family and friends who love her, even if they’re not all-in on her dietary choices. I hope she has a community whose applause can sustain her, even when her locally sourced tofu gets runny. I hope she forgives her family for their dietary choices, and I hope they forgive her for her tyranny. I pray that joy conquers despair, in the advice columns, in the Food and Dining section of the newspaper, and in the invitation list.


3 responses to “You Can’t Come to My Wedding Unless You’re Just Like Me”

  1. Dale says:

    Who is this author that shows such wisdom and wit? Is this not the same daughter of Linda, the therapist and Dale, the grocer? How could this be? Another great one, Carrie!

    • David Zahl says:

      As much as I adore this post, and heartily concur with everything in it, I’m afraid that the father in the weddig picture may steal the show… Dale, you are a force of nature!!

  2. Chris says:

    Carrie, I am compulsively reading your posts because of on mention int CT’s The Galli Report….by any chance, is that little church you were wed at the same one I play Candlelight Concerts at from time to time? Hello neighbor! chris

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