"I think you're putting on an ostentatious display," my uncle said, as I poured him another glass of wine. We had invited him and my sort-of-aunt over for a Saturday dinner. He was asking about wedding planning (i.e. interrogating me unfairly about how much our wedding was costing), and that was his response. I wanted to slap him. He--the man who drove a Porsche for years (and eventually traded it in for a BMW to be more practical), who flies first-class to Barbados with his live-in ex-wife for weeks at a time several times a year, who lives in a house more than triple the space and bedrooms he needs--was calling something that hasn't even materialized ostentatious, a word dripping in judgement and condescension.
I felt scarily defensive. First of all, our wedding will be far from ostentatious. How could a wedding with 50 people, locally-grown flowers, and, very possibly, a pizza bar (albeit probably gourmet) be over the top and showy? All along we've said we want fun, intimate, classy. But never showy.
But, here's the thing: even if it were, it's none of his goddamn business. Or anyone else's for that matter. Carolina Man and I are footing the bill ourselves, so we get to decide if we want to spend under $1K on local flowers instead of tropical ones (we are) or $10K for a kick-ass venue (we are) or host our rehearsal dinner at home for practically nothing (we are) or whatever we want with the budget we set. These are our decisions to make.
For people pleasers like the both of us, though, that's easier said than done. It's tough to stand in the face of criticism concerning important life decisions and not want to strike back, not defend the decision as if doing so would change the other person's view.
When it comes to weddings, I think we've all been socialized to think that everyone will magically be a better version of their selves for the benefit of the bride and groom. Oh, wouldn't it be nice if this were the case? But so far I can already tell you that it isn't true. My mom will still be opinionated (but helpful!). My uncle is still judgmental. And I still care what everyone thinks.
That last thing is the only part I have any control over: choosing to let what others say determine how I feel about a situation. Moving forward, my goal is to take such comments with a grain of salt and consider the source. My uncle? Lives with his ex-wife. Who refuses to marry him again. Not exactly an ideal go-to source for how to do things in the romantic arena. But in the end, he's family. And you'll bet he'll be enjoying his gourmet slice of pizza as much as the rest of 'em (even though he'll probably never admit it.)