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Traditional parents disapprove of couple's nontraditional wedding

| Friday, June 8, 2018, 11:55 a.m.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn!

I'm recently engaged and my fiance and I have begun planning our wedding. From the start, we knew that a traditional wedding ceremony was not for us. Neither of us is religious, and we both struggle with some of the old-fashioned ceremony traditions.

After doing some research on ceremony alternatives, we settled on a venue and ceremony format: We are getting married in a historic parlor room, and instead of having a priest, various family members will be marrying us.

My parents are extremely religious and attend mass every Sunday, but they know I wouldn't be happy doing it their way, so they have accepted our plan.

My fiance's parents are having a harder time with it. In general, they tend to be more traditional and just don't see what we're doing as a real wedding ceremony. My fiance and I have explained to them that a wedding (and marriage) mean different things to us than to them. They just can't seem to get on board. What can we do to help show them this is right for us?

-- Nontraditional Bride

Nothing. Have your wedding and stop explaining yourselves and remain warm and welcoming to your fiance's parents. You have made your choice and made your case for it; it's their job now to decide how to deal with this information.

Congratulations to you both.

Dear Carolyn:

Hubby's sister invited us to a 2-year-old's birthday party at a baby gym type of place, and we accepted for all four of us -- him, me, and our 3- and 6-year-old daughters. However, about a week later, my older daughter's newly acquired bestie invited her to a birthday party at the same date and time.

Because we JUST moved to a new city, and because my daughter is anxious, shy and much older than 2, we called sis ahead of her official RSVP date to explain that Hubby and young daughter would still come, but older daughter and I would not. I do not think it is OK to “pick a better party” but I want to do what will help my daughter be comfortable in her new school, and she struggles to make friends.

Hubby's sister said I need to “prioritize family first.” I think I am doing this by helping my daughter. Am I wrong? This is causing tension, mainly because Hubby's family has this fixation on large, grandiose parties with every single person in attendance.

-- Anonymous

What you did is rude by the book, as you know, but understandable by the gut -- for what it's worth at this point. And I don't think I have to spell out that people who are forgiving on gut issues are a lot easier to be around. Especially when the only thing at stake is another guest at a toddler melee that the toddler won't even remember.

So, now you and your husband need to decide whether to stick with the help-your-6-year-old socially plan, or appease-his-sister plan. Normally I'd say just to stick to what's best for your daughter without hesitation and without a big co-parental navel-gaze, but your husband's unflagging support for this choice is the fulcrum. Make sure you have it.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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