Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My parents vetoed my wedding venue

Dear East Side Bride-

I'm completely flabbergasted and left pretty downtrodden after my Floridian parents flew up to NYC last weekend and immediately vetoed my dream wedding venue (the Metropolitan Building in LIC). After we booked it and placed a deposit. Four months before the date. 

The reason? Not enough toilets, supposedly steep stairs and only a slow freight elevator as an alternative. Which is cool. I get it. They're paying for the venue & catering while the man & I cover the rest, but I'm freaked that this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Upon getting upset (and admittedly, sure, a little bratty) during the mess, my parents actually called me a fucking bitch. No joke.

What's worse- the boy (angry that my folks have been so nasty) is ready to call it quits and save up until we can take care of the whole shebang ourselves (in a year or so). Which suits me just fine, but would cause a huge rift between my parents and I (who, before this whole only child wedding mess thing came along, were all very tight).

It would also be a massive inconvenience to try to reschedule as my UK family (whom I'm actually even CLOSER with) has already booked thousands of dollars worth of flights, hotels, etc. The money I've put down is not even an issue now. I just feel like what was supposed to be a joyous occasion for my family has turned into endless verbal sparring.

So. I'm not quite sure WHAT I'm asking. a. Know of any cool NYC venues that might please both my fussy folks and my bookish, vintage, goth-at-heart sensibility? and b. Am I totally batshit for not starting over?

- Seriously Snubbed in Brooklyn


Dear SSB,

Actually, that's not cool. If you've already put down a deposit and half your guests have bought plane tickets, it's too late for your parents to veto the venue. I'd act like a fucking bitch too.

But. Could you discuss it with them one more time? Calmly? I have a feeling they're freaked out that their only child is getting married. In NYC, no less. Keep in mind, the city is big and weird and scary to a lot of people who don't live there.

Scrambling to find another venue won't solve the problem, and you don't really want to cut your parents out of the equation. (Nor do you want to devote another year of your life to wedding planning.)


(Image via woolgathering & miscellany)


  1. Hi ESB & SSB,
    Sorry for your trauma. I have worked at the Metropolitan building and loved it. But other spots with vaguely similar sensibilities are: the Montauk Club and the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture in Park Slope. Not sure if they fit your needs, scale-wise, but they're right off the park and in a very lovely and non-industrial spot that might work for you and your folks. Good luck!

  2. @SSB- That really sucks. I agree that your parents are being unreasonable. I am in a similar situation (planning far from my family) but am getting married in NYC where they are so the dynamic gets a bit reversed. If it's anything like what I've been experiencing, I'd wager a guess that they're feeling left out of the planning process (especially since you're an only child and they're paying for a big chunk). I totally agree with ESB about another calm discussion where you reaffirm that you cannot move without serious financial harm (to them) and that finding a new venue in this time frame will be really difficult. Offer them decision power about things you don't really care about (flowers, menu, the band, whatever).

    If they're still in a tizz, I suggest you check out my venue. It's a restaurant in South Street Seaport called Harbour Lights. The prices are exceedingly reasonable for Manhattan and the place has killer views of the city, Brooklyn and the bridges all the way up the river. http://harbourlightsrestaurant.com/media/websiteharbourlights.html

    I'm sorry that you're in this jam, good luck!

  3. I'm with ESB on this one. 4 months before your wedding is no time to change your venue. It is unreasonable of them to all of a sudden have an opinion, especially when it's going to cause a huge hassle and lose a deposit. Let them take control of something that hasn't already been selected and paid for.

  4. What a nightmare! How many toilets are there, by the way? And how many do they require? You can tell them your "friend" (me, another only child not originally from NYC) is getting married in NYC at a venue with only 3 bathrooms and about 130 people attending, if that helps at all. I agree with ESB about everything, especially not calling the whole thing off. That would be an awful thing to do to your international guests and probably more of Fuck You to your folks than you want (although I can understand why it might seem appealing at the moment!). I checked out the Metropolitan Building on-line when I was looking for a venue, and it looks so gorgeous. I'm assuming you also looked at The Foundry? Same neighborhood, and I've heard great things about it. But I hope you don't have to change the venue! I really hope a second, calm conversation with them will take care of it! If they called their only child a "fucking bitch", their emotions must have been REALLLY overheated. Which happens. Good luck!!! And maybe I'm projecting here, but make sure not to beat yourself up! I think the only child dynamic is pretty intense.

  5. Wedding stress does funny things to people. The trouble is that now you not only need to address where to hold the wedding but also that you have already put hundreds of hours into organising it and they are rejecting it out of hand, and of course the wounded feelings all round. Are there really that many who will be unable to manage the stairs? Will those who take the elevator be genuinely offended that it isn't a regular one? As for the toilets, there were about 50 people at our wedding and they only needed about 1-2 between them. I'm not sure the objections really stack up at this late stage.

    More important, I think what need to be communicated is your deep upset, how you are feeling, why you are feeling that. You need to open the lines somehow so that everyone can hear each other out and work out the way to go together.

    If it helps, I could've cheerfully throttled many of my nearest and dearest in the run up to the wedding and on the day they were wonderful, I was so glad all were there.

  6. I agree with everything ESB and the commenters said. At four months out when people have already bought tickets, this is an impossible situation. And it may have to do with your parents both feeling left out and feeling like this doesn't reflect their version of a wedding, which is hard stuff to sort out when money, emotions and tradition are involved.

    Wrapped in with that is an important other point - although I can't know for sure what your parents are really upset about, I'm assuming that their Florida-based concept of "what a wedding is" is probably impossibly expensive in NYC. My mother has been very disappointed by the venues in our price range. Very. We hear about it All. The. Time. Luckily for us, she's not paying and it's up to us. But after a lot of discussions (she actually went site scouting behind our backs and offered helpful "alternatives" that I was able to shoot down for a number of reasons, she finally understands the compromises we have to make to stay in budget and that NO perfect venue site exists within $30,000 of our budget limit.

    Again, I don't know what their real issues were but, if it was bound up in the expectation v reality of what you get for what you're paying and how "different" it was for such a high price, you may need a frank talk about the costs and alternatives you already researched.

  7. oh man. keep the venue and tell them tough titties. seriously, 4 months out and they expect you to change venues? no way jose.

    ok, you can't say tough titties... but let them know that you've gone so far into planning, esp with overseas guests booking flights and hotels, that you can't back down from this. let them know their support (not just financially) but emotionally is super important. because when your wedding day comes they won't care about the terlits (ahem, toilets) or slow elevators. they'll care about you.

  8. Ahh, parents.

    These qualms seem relatively minor. It's a normal wedding venue. Are they worried about something else?

    Whilst it is possible, the venue change may not solve problems and could possibly really inconvenience many people. (The pound sucks at the moment!)

    Talk and explain.

  9. i went to a wedding with 150 guests, a full open bar, and one bathroom. and you know what? NO ONE FREAKING CARED. our friends were beautiful and happy to be married.

    most importantly is to navigate your relationship with your parents because i think weddings are important training for the rest of your life together. it's complicated because they are paying, but you need to establish that you and your partner are becoming a family unit. you need your parents to trust your baby family unit to make responsible, adult decisions, and this is a good time for them to learn that.

  10. What they are demanding is unfair.

    They need to be reminded to consider your feelings in all of this.

    The venue sets the whole tone of the wedding. So, they think they should be able to set the tone of YOUR wedding? No way.

  11. Planning my wedding with my parents long distance has been so hard. There have been times it has been so frustrating I just HATED everything about it. And there are other times I have been so grateful for their help.

    Hang in there.

  12. SSB, maybe the venue folks have some parent-calming words they could offer you? surely they've had clients with similar concerns - any event space with proper insurance would - and i'm sure they have very thoughtful ways of addressing them (how they help guests with limited mobility get about, what the average loo use is, &c). it sounds like everyone needs to take a deep breath (and maybe a shot), walk around the block a few times, and let things cool off...before you all re-approach the venue you already love, have already paid for, and have told the fam to plan around. you're not being unreasonable; give them a chance (and then another chance, and another) to come around.

  13. why do weddings always bring out the worst in people?

  14. Your parents are being totally unreasonable. It would be near-impossible to find another suitable venue at such short notice, especially in New York! I agree with everyone else. Explain that while you understand their concerns, they are far too late with them and what's done is done.
    I'm blown away by the idea that someone thinks you can change venues four months before the wedding. Just amazing.

  15. That venue has had tons of weddings - I'm sure the venue folks (or a planner they could refer you to that's worked there) can offer some words of wisdom on how they solve the bathroom/slow elevator situation. Also, show them how beautiful weddings that have been held there are!

  16. i'm surprised you put a deposit down for something for which you weren't paying without their ok. did your parents know that the money they were shelling out was going to a place they hadn't yet seen? if so, their power of veto is well over. deposit's down. too late.

    tell them to keep their money, and pay for it yourself, as is. nicely.

    4 months is a short time in wedding-planning-land, but it's plenty of time to get over this fight and all be happy campers about what SHOULD be a happy time.

  17. I have been to several weddings with 150+ guests and only one bathroom, and it was a non-issue! These are the little things that people tend to obsess over while planning, but then afterwords you wonder why you ever wasted your time worrying about it/them.

    It's very nice to be uber-considerate of your guests comfort, but you can't win 'em all. My wedding own venue also has several less-than-ideal quirks about it, but that's all part of the charm, too.

    I'm so sorry that they are making this difficult. I hope it clears up soon so you can get on with being excited and happy!

  18. WOW that sucks. I think ESB is right, it's just too late for them to veto. Best of luck, SSB!

  19. Wow. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this bullshit 4 months before your wedding. I understand that your parents might feel like they should get final say since they're paying for some of it but it's YOUR wedding. The fact that it's so close to the date and you have given a deposit makes it a bit outrageous that they'd make you change the venue at this point. Not too mention you might have a hard time even finding an available venue at this stage in the game.

    I'm with some of the other gals here, have a calm and rational conversation with them. Give it another try. Let them know how much you appreciate the fact that they're helping financially and also let them know that this is your special day and it would mean a lot to you and your fiance to be able to get married in the venue of your dreams. If they still say no then bitch slap them and tell them to suck it.

    Is there any way at all that you can come up with the money to pay for it yourselves on the date that all your relatives count on being in town for? Because if your parents still have a hissy I would do anything you could to keep the date and venue.

  20. oooooops what a desaster!
    def not cool.
    I am sending superpower and hope everything will be superfine in the end.

  21. I've been thinking a lot about this post since I read it yesterday and I thought of all the long things I could say; and I empathize because this is totally something my parents would do, so much so that I'm thinking about having a super small, super cheap wedding so I pay for it myself that way they don't ruin the whole day for me... but I digress. In a nutshell, I think apologies should be said from both parties, and then I think that you should calmly tell them that it's your wedding, and even if they are paying for it, it's a place you chose because it best represents who you are as a couple and represents the aesthetic you wanted for your wedding. It's your day, not their day, and what makes you happy (under reasonable circumstances) should stand, including a venue they don't necessarily love. This might have a lot to do with their fear of losing their baby, their fear of relinquishing the parental "control." But fight for what makes you happy, giving in I think sends the wrong message and blurs the boundaries you and your fiance should be setting up for yourself. Good luck!

  22. Seriously Snubbed in BrooklynJune 17, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    I am completely humbled and sweetly surprised by how amazing every lovely lady on here has been. Really, thank you so much.
    It's been a struggle, ya know? And, yup, you're right- the single child dynamic is damn near impossible to successfully navigate, particularly from afar.
    It turns out that the foundry is blessedly open (and still rather lovely). With more bathrooms (ha). It's not my dream venue, but I'm trying to keep a level head.
    I had my planner with me when my parents saw the MB- she's a pro, with Exquisite Affairs, hosted a gajillion affairs there with four times the headcount and never a single a problem, but they simply wouldn't listen. To her, or to me. Talking to the admittedly eccentric owner, Eleanor, would have done little to quell their anxieties, unfortunately. It was actually pretty bizarre.
    After the whole argument, I tried to have a rational discussion with them about the venue, sent on articles/reviews (including a feature in Martha Stewart Weddings, and, hell- who doesn't trust HER about a respectable venue?) but still- no dice. They were firmly against it. I sent on price quotes from other venues, including more traditional banquet halls, hotels, etc as reference- and they were unfazed.
    But, being that The Foundry is open, I'm taking it on the chin. But basically said, that's it. No veto power, no changes, no "input" from here on out. If it's gonna get done, I'd best be left to it. Which actually went over very well.
    It's been a tough, tough time, but now I have an excuse to hopefully go back and renew my vows at the Metropolitan Building.
    Thank you so much, ladies.