I’m getting married. There, I said it. When I first announced my plans to wed my partner to friends and family, everyone was lovely and supportive of my decision. Which is really all you can ask for and all I ever dreamed of–love and support.
But along the way, I learned something unexpected: People will say some weird stuff to you once you’ve been ringed & blinged up. And it gets even weirder when you’re entering into an interfaith marriage. I quickly learned not to take these jarring questions too personally or seriously. Most times, these slips aren’t meant to be rude digs–really, they’re more indicative of that person’s own anxieties and insecurities. So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do? Smile, move on, and have fun. You’re getting married, for God’s sake, enjoy it.
So, if you don’t want to be known as that friend, here’s a little guide on what not to say to your soon-to-wed friend (and yes, all of these were actually said to me):
1. “What’s your new diet plan? Are you planning on losing weight?” This is just awkward for everyone–for a lot of reasons. First of all, no one should ever comment on someone else’s weight, because you never know how they may have (and/or continue) to struggle with body image issues. Also, if someone wants to marry someone else, I’m hoping (and assuming!) that their partner finds them attractive just the way they are. And for the record, no, I’m not.
2. “You must be so excited to change your last name!” This one is tricky, because most people say this out of support, but don’t realize the implications. As the world becomes a more progressive and women-friendly place, women are less pressured to take their husband’s name, and many choose to keep their own. While I don’t think a woman is less feminist if she does choose to change her name (because it’s her choice!), it’s also wrong to assume a woman has to.
For me, personally, I’ve worked hard to achieve my writing accomplishments under my maiden name–why would I want to change that?
3. “Are you raising your kids Jewish or Greek Orthodox?” Or insert any religion. In my case, my husband-to-be is Jewish and I’m Greek, so many people are just itching to know what our future kids will be. Personally, I’m just getting married–I’m not about to pop out any babies just yet!
It’s important to remember that while your intentions may be good, it’s presumptuous to ask someone if they’re having kids, because they may not want them or be able to have them. Or maybe, they’re just not ready to talk about it yet.
4. “When you have kids, they shouldn’t be raised without a religion. That’s just not right.” After the above question was asked, I was kindly told that children shouldn’t be raised without a religion. Regardless of what you think and desperately want to say, how someone else’s children should be raised is really none of your concern.
Interfaith marriages are tricky, and it usually takes time to figure out and unravel all of the complications. Don’t make it any harder if you don’t have to. This is when rewatching old Barney episodes comes in handy.
5. “Why aren’t you having a religious ceremony?” Framing questions or statements with “why aren’t you” is definitely a good way to make someone defensive. In our case, having a religious ceremony was proving complicated logistically and emotionally for both our families. We just felt it was easier keeping religion out, and creating something that was special and unique to us instead. Which is why we are having our friend officiate the ceremony and reading poems as our vows.
6. “Is he converting?” This is my personal favorite. Since I come from a particularly conservative and religious family, this means many of my relatives expected him to convert for me. Clearly, neither of us wanted him to do this.
In general, living by the idea that someone’s religious choices are not their own defeats the whole purpose of faith. While family is important, and should be involved whenever possible, it’s also no one else’s business.
8. Any sentence that begins with the words, “You HAVE to” or “Well, traditionally, you know” is another way of saying, “You’re doing it wrong.” Because obviously, no, we’re not.
9. “Who is paying for the wedding? Weddings are expensive.” Money is an awkward subject for anyone, regardless of who you are or how much of it you have. Besides it being a private matter, it’s just nosy. And no one likes to feel like they’re being criticized. Typically, I like to live my life passing as little judgment on others as I possibly can, which is why I try to avoid talking about money, or making statements about how someone should spend it.
10. “How old are you?” Age shouldn’t be a factor here, unless we’re talking about how age affected Romeo and Juliet, which I’ll admit is appropriate in a high school English class. Or unless someone is underage, in which case asking this question actually is appropriate. Otherwise, it just sounds condescending. I’m old enough to get married–that’s all you need to know.