A “simple backyard wedding” is a fairytale

Dear Carolyn:

My fiancé and I want a small, backyard wedding with about 75 guests. My grandmother has a huge yard that would be perfect for our upcoming wedding. I asked her if we could get married there and she said yes, so I was very excited to start planning.

Then last weekend I had lunch with my sister. She told me our grandmother is too old and isn’t well enough physically to get her house ready to host an event like this, so our mother will be doing most of the work. I told her it was an outdoor wedding, all we have to do is get some chairs and everything will work out. My sister started telling me I have to plan for parking, bathrooms, permits, chairs, a tent for bad weather, alerting the neighbors, hiring a lawn company to fix up our grandmother’s lawn and I’m sure I am forgetting stuff.

I just wanted a simple backyard wedding and my grandma agreed to it, now it feels really complicated. I am upset with my mother and sister for inserting themselves into something that ought to be between me and my grandma. How can I get them to back off?

— Bride

You can’t, or shouldn’t, because they’re absolutely right. The “simple backyard wedding” you have imagined is imaginary. People do need to park, sit, go to the bathroom, stay out of any rain that decides to fall. Neighbors do need to be notified.

And, 75 people will trash the lawn, which will need to be repaired, unless you’re OK with running a human stampede through your grammy’s yard and just leaving it as they leave it.

And, people at backyard weddings always end up in the house. Even if you provide port-o-potties, as you have to for 75, a bunch of people will say “yuck” and use the house bathrooms. People will use bedrooms to change, or living spaces to have private conversations, or they’ll come in to nap or nurse babies, or whatever. Forget the propriety of any of it — it’s just a given that it might. And your not wanting it to be so is not a plan to prevent it.

So, if you’re going to use this home and its yard, then you need to embrace the full responsibility of it — yard work before, professional yard work after, potties, parking, permits and permission, tent, food service and trash management, thorough housecleaning before, professional housecleaning after. Or, you cut the guest list to 30ish. Or you move to a park or other venue with built-in shelters, parking and sanitary facilities.

What you don’t do is dump the hard work on others and/or disbelieve what you don’t want to hear, especially when the recipient of your dumping is an older woman who apparently isn’t well, and the people you disbelieve are the ones trying to protect Grandma and save you from yourself.

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Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Syndicated Advice Columnist
Advice Columnist Carolyn Hax takes your questions and tackles your problems.

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