I’m interested in the perspectives of both ASD and NTs who married ASDs.
I’m engaged and we had planned our wedding for the start of this year but decided to postpone 6 weeks before because I was too poorly (vestibular migraine) and the church and hotel we had booked were both messing us about.
The thing is, we didn’t enjoy planning a single aspect of our wedding. We found it a massive chore and in no way exciting, romantic or anything else. While we both know we definitely want to be with each other and we definitely want to get married, we don’t want to be burned out by all the prep.
On the other hand, we feel that eloping wouldn’t be right for us as we do want to be able to celebrate with our families. I would feel I had missed out a massive milestone if my dad didn’t walk me down the aisle, and I’m certain he would feel the same.
I know you’ll all say, “It’s your wedding, you can do it however you want,” but really what I’m looking for is concrete examples of things that worked for people with autism. For example, one idea we are toying with is having a small, formal service in a chapel with our very immediate families and then throwing a bigger party/reception a few months later for the wider family and a few friends. Neither of us really like being the centre of attention anyway.
Along with Asperger’s, I also have a number of physical health problems which cause fatigue and pain so that is a limiting factor too.
We got married 30 years ago - the full traditional church wedding - there weren't as many options back then.
Looking back at it now, we regret doing what was expected of us - it's ludicrously expensive to blow that much cash on just one day - especially when you consider a good number of the people there are distant relative we never see.
All the presents were typical (useless) presents and the whole thing felt like a pantomime for the benefit of everyone else.
It was all very nice and the photos are lovely etc. - but we wish we had done something else - especially when you think of the better things we could have done with all the money when we were just starting out in life.
There was a wedding in a back garden last weekend a few doors down to us - it sounded like a really nice event - along the lines of the American garden weddings - and it's much, much better value - even if you get professional catering in.
Exactly! I really want to avoid that “pantomime” feeling.
You're right, there isn’t the same pressure these days to do what everyone expects, but it still did feel that, when we planned our wedding initially, it was for everyone else’s benefit.
We’d set a max budget of £9k—my parents had kindly given us £5k as an engagement present, and we were each going to chip in another £2k, and were on track to come in at just under £8k. But I’ve been too ill to work for over 12 months now and all of my parents’ gift has gone on paying my mortgage and bills. We have my dress, our rings, buttonholes (artificial) for the bridal party, and the photographer already paid for (which is basically all you need for a wedding, bar cake), and we lost our deposit (£250) on the hotel. Our local church was going to be the second most expensive item after the hotel catering (2-course buffet), wanting almost £1,200 for the service and music, so we’re hoping to find another venue for a lot less; but there will still be travelling and overnight costs, at least for us, and I feel awkward about not being able to put up the wedding party, although I know my family will understand given I’m unable to work and my partner’s income is quite low.
My fiancé is really keen to have the groom’s party kitted out in suits and to have all 3 nieces as flower girls, as well as his brother’s niece as a bridesmaid. I’ve asked him if he wants to wear the wedding dress too.
Thing is, I really don’t like kids; I find them noisy and needy, and really unpredictable. While I love my brother’s 2 girls completely and unconditionally, I’m really not enamoured by any others. I also don’t have any close friends and I keep explaining to him that, the more children there are, the more it highlights to all my family that I don’t have any friends, and I don’t really want to feel humiliated on my wedding day.
My plan was to have the elder of my nieces plus my cousin’s 2 daughters as flower girls, and leave it at that. I felt it would be a way to include his kids (I like him and am very close to his mum/my aunt), without having to invite all of my other cousins’ kids, and those of “friends” (mostly my partner’s friends who I don’t really know).
I think one of the things he still doesn’t get is that, while he’s been to a number of family gatherings on my side over the last 4 years and got to know everyone reasonably well, I’ve only met his mum, his brother and his brother’s wife and kid. They’re nice enough, albeit not really my cup of tea, but our guest list was 60% his family and most of the stories he’s told me about them are fairly unflattering.
Ugh. Families, eh? I don’t want to look back and regret not doing something more “celebratory”, but at the moment I would be happy to replicate what my brother did for my niece’s christening this summer, although I concede that some of my partner’s family will need to be there. (See? I can compromise!!)
With your recent health problems, you have the perfect excuse to scale back the wedding. A full-on wedding is EXHAUSTING - you are expected to interact with everyone from horrible Great Aunt Ethel to all the cousins you've never met. It's a VERY long day from early morning make-up & hair to late night dancing - you'll be on your feet almost the entire day. You'll end up spending a bucket full of cash to meet the expectations of the older generations who are measuring and judging you when compared to the norms of their generation.
You end up spending money of things you couldn't possibly justify to yourself at any other time.
You need to be true to yourself - and realistic about what the end product is - if it's just going to be some photos and a bit of cake, there's better ways of doing it.
Thank you. I agree, weddings are exhausting at the best of times. The fact that we met at an Argentine tango class and also did salsa together just raises everyone’s expectations too, despite the fact we haven’t danced in over three years now due to work and illness.
I’m guessing a weekday wedding would automatically cut down the guest list? Our parents’ generation are all retired so aunts and uncles could come, and our brothers would probably take time off work. If we do it during term-time, then that solves some of the kiddie issues, although most of them are pre-school age (which I particularly dislike).
I also agree with what you say about older generations judging our wedding through the social norms of their day. It’s not helped by the fact my brother hired a castle in Kent for the weekend for his wedding to his French wife on a stunning July day with views of the coast of France, but they are both investment bankers. And also my partner’s cousin won his wedding last year in a radio competition (but I had just come out of hospital so we didn’t go).
Honestly, just writing about it puts me off. The real issue, other than my autism and general health, is that my partner grew up in poverty; they had nothing, celebrated nothing (not even a homemade birthday card), and while his relatives had ample, he went to bed hungry most nights. I don’t want him to feel like he’s missed out again. I’m sure there is a compromise to be reached somewhere, we just need to keep thinking and googling ideas.
We haven’t set a new date yet so there’s no time pressure, although he’s not comfortable with us living together without being married (he was raised a fairly strict Christian and that’s one of the reasons they had nothing—instead of asking social services etc. for help, his family believed “God will provide” ...and then his dad ran off to Canada with another woman, and my partner was left working every hour to keep the family from becoming homeless and supporting his mentally ill mother alone—again, no social services etc.).
I want him to have a special day but we need to keep talking about what that will look like (for both of us). I’ve never made anything of my autism diagnosis, even among family, but I think it’s time I did because the impact of masking on my physical health is immense. Maybe our wedding can be a gluten-free, dairy-free, autism “coming out” party? LOL.
I really admire the people who get married on rollercoasters or dressed up as Star Wars characters or scuba diving in the local pool - they are doing their day for themselves - for their memories, their happiness. Anybody who cares about you should want whatever it is that makes you both happy - not just satisfying the wedding machine that is created to extract maximum cash from unsuspecting couples.
Weddings get out of hand very quickly - and the costs escalate out of control.
There's lots of fun and fulfilling ways to get married these days - and in reality, a big wedding is just like going into an expensive restaurant on a busy evening and paying for dinner for all those strangers you'll never meet again - it's bonkers!
I'm an Ordained Pastafarian Minister - I can do weddings as long as I'm in my ceremonial garb (a pirate outfit). May the sauce be upon you...
You need to have a long chat with your partner and decide what it really means to YOU.
That's really heartening to hear, and I love your analogy!
...and antipasti with you. :-)