About 10 months ago Dara asked me to marry her. I said YES of course! We knew we wanted a solid year and change to plan our dream destination wedding weekend/week and set out to find the best venue for our size wedding in the Smoky Mountains near Dollywood. It’s one of our favorite places in the world and saying “I Do” on a mountaintop felt totally right.
We found the venue and worked a solid month on our Save the Date document. It’s epic because we’re planning a long weekend of shenanigans with an optional week long stay for folks who want to help us get set up and do a little hiking (with the local chapter of Fat Girls Hiking!) and exploring.
I figured since almost everyone was going to have to travel for our wedding we would just settle into a destination wedding. It’s also kind of great because I really want to have quality time with everyone at my wedding and not just swirl past my loved ones at a party.
Dara and I are planning on a hundred people to start with, which is both a lot of people and hardly enough. Instead of compromising on an invite list we split the guest count in half. She went through her Facebook friends list in one cross country flight, decided who to invite and sent out the save the dates.
I have been working on my invite list for two months and have no idea how to decide between my friends. I think some of this is because I’m going to be a forty year old bride and I’ve lived a lot of life. I have a ton of people I love enough to want to join us on that mountaintop on my special day.
We’re planning on a week long stay in a cabin village that surrounds our venue, so it will be a lot like being in a tiny village with folks I love. This is a total dream!
To go to Dollywood with and take as many pictures as we can at all my favorite Dollywood landmarks wearing vintage fashions. (Seriously this is the one time I can get everyone I love to go to Dollywood with me!) To go to the Smoky Mountain Adventure Dinner Theater, to celebrate our big Steel Magnolias BBQ themed rehearsal dinner, to be part of our epic shenanigans. To take our commemorative drone photo, Dara is inspired by a big beer commercial she’s obsessed with.
We’re getting a couple of llamas to come to the spiritual wedding for pics and emotional support!
My heart is kind of broken about choosing between people I love!
Dara is starting to doubt that I want to marry her because it has been taking me so long to send out invites! This is not my intention! I would marry her in our backyard right now if that was our option (but we both want the epic party)! My mom keeps asking me when I’m going to send them out and one of my Bride Squad just said to me, “Yo, B, you gotta send out that save the date!”
Processing about my wedding is helping me figure out what’s important to me and I thought I’d share with you about how I’m moving through this. And the unconventional way I’m choosing to resolve it!
- I’m Asking for a Hell YES!
This is my Year of Ask and Receive and frankly, asking people to show up for me is an area of growth! I have SO MUCH to celebrate this year and it feels overwhelming to ask folks to be part of it!
I’m turning 40!
My blog turns 10 in November!
I’m launching my Fat Kid Dance Party Workout Videos and I want a hella great launch party!
I’m having an epic Bachelez Party in Vegas on Dolly Parton’s birthday—January 19th weekend!
I’m launching my first Self Care Camp festival next summer outside Seattle, something that’s been on my heart for a long time. (That link is a video from my first planning meeting with Leo about Self Care Camp.)
I’m starting up Fat Kid Dance Party retreats in 2019. One is a Fat Mermaid Content Creator Retreat, another will be a FKDP Healing Retreat.
I have a lot of gratitude for the amount of people I love who have really shown up for me in my life and I think some folks are going to be drawn to certain events over others.
I feel like some are likely more into a big camping festival like Self Care Camp vs a Vegas weekend or luxury cabins in Tennessee. Some are more about the closeness we can get at a retreat of only a few people. And some don’t have a lot of money, time or attention to offer and could pop into a 40th birthday party in my backyard a little easier.
What it comes down to: I am asking people for a Hell Yes. I know it’s a lot financially to ask to go to a mountaintop long weekend/week long thing and I want folks to really want to be there and be high vibe.
Otherwise there are so many other ways we can celebrate and I need help making those things happen, too! One of Dara’s besties, someone she had asked to be in her Broom Squad (what we’re calling our bridal parties—Bride Squad and Broom Squad), actually told us he would rather not come to the mountaintop because it was just too many people and interacting for his introvert heart. We received that and understood!
2. Money Stuff
Because talking openly about money helps bust up capitalist shame!
If I had unlimited income, we would just have a 400 person wedding and I wouldn’t even think about it. I have always seen myself as a bit of a Fozzywig character (if you’re familiar with the Muppet Christmas Carol you’d know the generous holiday party throwing Fozzie the Bear I’m talking about).
I have some friends who got married at the same stage of life we are at, invited 300 people to their wedding, 200 said yes and with their plus ones suddenly they had a 400 person wedding. I have some friends who expected 250 yeses to their wedding and ended up with 350 but turned no one away. (It wasn’t a seated dinner so that helped the flexibility.)
We are limited to 225 by our venue but we are starting with 100 because that’s what we can realistically afford. I’m still working without an income and building up Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics so we remain a one income family.
To be honest, the only reason we can afford to throw a wedding at all right now is that our moms both pledged to front our baseline budget and we are supplementing what we can. Praying that FKDP blows up once the workout videos are released so we can include more folks. Having a venue with flexibility that will allow us to increase our invite count as we have more resources was actually a great choice for us.
But it leaves me still pretty restricted about who can come to our wedding.
And I also have so many different ways to connect this year and next, in different geographic spaces that I don’t want folks to feel like they need to trek to the Smokies and rent a luxury cabin in order to connect. Come camp with me at Self Care Camp next August instead!
All of those “should” invites got dropped from my list pretty early on. I processed with my mom about it and she agreed, which really helped validate my thoughts. Which were basically, if a member of my birth family isn’t in my life, I’m not really interested in bringing them to the mountaintop. If they want to celebrate my wedding I have a ton of flexibility about who I can invite to my bridal shower. Which will be in California, and a lot more accessible to them! They are also completely invited to throw one for me! I figure the more the merrier in terms of occasions to celebrate this marriage!
There’s a swath of my family that can’t attend my wedding because it conflicts with my eldest cousin’s daughter’s graduation from high school (I cannot believe she’s already graduating) which sucks and I actually have a lot of grief around them not being part of my wedding. But the siren song of the Dogwood blossoms in the Smokies call me to be a Spring bride and our venue only had the availability for that particular weekend.
4. My Unconventional Solutions
Ticketing and Wait List
I am pretty comfortable doing things unconventionally and here’s what I’m doing. Instead of ranking people into an A list, B list and C list of invites, I’m just inviting whoever I want to invite. If they can RSVP with a Hell Yes, hopefully book a cabin with a 25% down payment (we can help facilitate shared cabins, we know who you’ll jive with) they’re on the list. Once I hit the cap of my 50 invites I’ll put folks on a wait list and slot them in as we have more resources to invite more people. This includes plus ones!
I’m pretty positive there will be more room as time goes on, I’m pretty positive that people whose income is wildly uncertain as mine has been the last few years will still be able to make those last minute calls. (I’ve missed a lot of weddings I would have wanted to attend because of funds; I’ve also attended a few as last minute guest because I could make it work and they had a slot open up.)
There’s definitely part of me who believes it’s kinda rude to invite people to an event but not hold space for them no matter what (since that’s what I want to do in my heart). I polled my facebook friends about it a couple months ago and it illuminated me about who felt it was rude.
One of the people who went to the mat to say that choice was rude ended up doing a hella rude thing to me shortly thereafter so I am taking those rude sayers with a gran of salt. My favorite thing I learned in therapy about criticism—“Consider the source.”
It feels like the easiest thing for my heart to do it this way and then I can stop stressing about who to include and who I might alienate. I’ve been told “The people that matter won’t mind and the people who mind won’t matter.”
Splitting up invites
Another unconventional thing I’m doing is inviting people to my Bridal Shower and Bachelez Party who are not on the invite list for the wedding. I feel like those things are the more the merrier. Plus there are plenty of weddings where I would have preferred to attend the Bachie and NOT the ceremony, and I’m super open to people making that choice with my festivities!
I’m undecided what is going to happen for my 40th birthday and unwilling to let my wedding festivities outshine the celebration that I have lived a full 40 years and became this fabulous! First of all, my value isn’t in my partnership or the legal recognition of same. And second of all I defied a lot of odds to make it this far and this fabulous at 40 so there you go.
More wedding processing to come, including whether and how to have my wedding gown custom made!