44 – Setting Boundaries for a Childfree Wedding with Jamie Feinberg

It’s wedding season! So let’s dive into the world of weddings, particularly childfree weddings, and the significance of setting boundaries during this emotionally charged event. 

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Weddings should be about the happy couple but can also lead to truly toxic drama that rips families apart. Everyone has an opinion, and they all think theirs is the most correct. They’re also steeped in tradition, that T-word that too often is a crutch for unhealthy behavior and expectations. So how did Jamie, a childfree coach, deal with the challenges she faced during wedding planning while also firmly holding to her boundaries—and do so with limited drama? 

Key takeaways from this episode include:

  1. That setting boundaries during wedding planning can be challenging, but effectively allows couples to avoid unnecessary drama and focus on having an intimate and supportive gathering of loved ones.
  2. How boundary setting spills into all areas of life—not just for wedding planning! Being clear about your desires (like not wanting children), asserting yourself, and letting go of others’ expectations is key to living a happier and more fulfilling life overall.
  3. Jamie’s example of how her boundaries allowed her to enjoy the vision for her wedding AND allowed for compromise with those problematic family members.

About Jamie:
Jamie Feinberg is a coach, artist, writer and speaker helping childfree women to figure out what they truly want—whether that’s time to pursue an old dream, a new career or hobby, or to travel—and then make it a reality. 

Her blog offers advice for childfree women, inspiration, and stories of traveling across the US in a 25′ Winnebago: RossAndJamieAdventure.com

Grab your copy of the Four Steps To Your Dream Life Blueprinthttps://bit.ly/dreamlifehere

Be notified when her book, Crafting Your Life Adventure, is released: https://bit.ly/life-adventure-book

***Want to send in your childfree wedding story? Submit your story at pauletteerato.com/childfreewedding ***

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Paulette [00:02]: Buen día mi gente. And welcome to La Vida Más Chévere, the place where Spanglish speaking childfree Latinas y Latines are learning to dismantle the toxic cultural bullshit we all grew up with. I’m your host, Paulette Erato. Weddings. It’s wedding season, so let’s talk weddings. Did you dream about yours growing up? Did it have this big fairytale theme? People have big feelings about weddings, like big feelings and everyone’s got an opinion. But I’ve told you this before, opinions are like buttholes. Everyone’s got one and they’re all kind of stinky. I don’t know who I stole that line from, but it’s pretty hilarious and really paints the picture, doesn’t it? So back to wedding. People have the big feelings, the bride and the groom have theirs. Their parents probably have theirs. There’s social obligations attached. And if you’re doing a religious ceremony, there’s like, the church’s rules. And let’s not even get into how much the damn things cost. So today I’m starting a series on childfree weddings for La Vida Más Chévere’s YouTube channel. So if you’re on YouTube, you can actually also listen to this on a podcast platform. But if you’re on a podcast platform, go check it out on YouTube. It’s an actual video. It’s not just some pretty little waveform dancing through. And in the coming weeks, you’ll get to enjoy more of these stories from other people who had childfree weddings. If you have a story of a childfree wedding that you’d like to share, send it to me. Instructions on how to do that are in the show notes or the description. Basically, it starts with an email.

[01:31]: So if you were the bride, the groom, the father of the bride, the mother of the groom, the BFF, the maid of honor, an officiant, an event planner, or even just a guest, send me the story. I want to hear it, and so does everyone else.

But why weddings? Well, you know, weddings are steeped in tradition. And just like all the other cultural traditions we’re here to examine, let’s talk about whether or not the ones for weddings are healthy. To get this started, I reached out to a few friends and I asked them to tell me their stories so I could share them with you. Because even if you don’t want a childfree wedding, it’s still a good idea to normalize that as an option. My husband and I had two of them and yeah, of course they were both childfree. One of them was on a Wednesday. Most kids are in school on that day. I’ll tell you about that another time because today we’re talking to Jamie about her wedding. Her story is important because she talks a lot about boundaries and holding firm to no. How that’s a complete sentence. I think it’s a great example because boundaries are peak adulting. That’s how you know you’re a real adult. You’ve got boundaries. And if you’re childfree, you know that’s a boundary too. But you’ve heard me say all that before. So let’s get to Jamie’s story. Oh, also join me over on substack if you would like to read more about these stories. Transcripts, links, blah, blah, blah. All will be in the show notes or the description, wherever you’re enjoying this story.

[02:49]: Hi, Jamie. How are you? 

Jamie [02:51]: I’m well, thank you.

Paulette [02:53]: So I’m super excited because you’re a childfree person, obviously, and you’re a childfree coach, so I want to hear more about that. But we’re here to talk about childfree weddings and all the ways that that can be done. Why don’t you tell us about yours?

Jamie [03:08]: Absolutely. So, going into our wedding, I would say my husband and I were together four and a half years before we actually got married. So we took our time figuring out, honestly, initially he was even like, do we need to get married? And so there was a little of that conversation and then all of that, but he wanted something really small. He would have been completely content to just go to the courthouse, keep it super simple. I picture something a little bit bigger than that. I never saw myself wedding a gargantuan, like classic wedding dress and a church full of hundreds of people. That was never my vision, but I did want more people there. And the more we thought about it, the more I realized that I had a couple of family members who would bring, inevitably, drama and stress, and I was afraid that they would ruin the wedding. And so I went from thinking a little bit bigger on what I would like to say, how small do I need to make it so that I can avoid inviting these people without too much family drama? Like, basically, how can I just make it be this is the policy versus me having to single out particular people, which would have been multiple levels, like so much more drama with all my family members if I had pulled that. And then, of course, I had to think, what is important to me? What do I want to focus on? Make sure I include all of that. 

And so we settled on a wedding that would be about 20 people. And the way we got there was we’re going to invite our immediate families and everyone is welcome to bring a guest. And then both my husband and I would each have one close friend to witness it, and that was the extent of it. So that meant that there were some people really close to me, like a few aunts and uncles that I adore who helped raise me, who were not on that list. And so that was the downside of it. But on the plus side, I knew I could have a wedding free of some really challenging stuff and keep it to a group of people that would just make me feel supported and loved and just have the vision that I had of my wedding come to life. The other side of that was okay. And then we’ll have a reception, and the reception will be big, and the reception will be our opportunity to invite everyone that we want to include. And we will invite these other two people. And it’s okay if they bring some drama to the reception if they decide to come, because we will have had this lovely intimate wedding that we were happy with. To me, that’s sort of the big picture of how we structured it.

Paulette [05:50]: So was the reception immediately following the ceremony, or was it a separate day?

Jamie [05:56]: So it was a separate day. We created a little bit of space. Ultimately, this made it less stressful, too, which was lovely. A place that we, both my husband and I love, that does this beautiful five course meal using their herbs and flowers and whatnot. They have all these gardens. And so we had it there and they didn’t even charge us. We were also on something of a budget. They literally just said, yes, let me buy a meal for everyone who’s in attendance. That’ll be fine. And they offered that we could do separate times for our group, so we didn’t even have other people there. So we ended up with private meal at 4:00 p.m for our group of 20 or so. And we just our vows outside in the gardens. Luckily, the weather cooperated, so we didn’t have to do it indoors. And then we did our meal, and then we went and joined friends at a campsite that they have on a pond, and we just privately celebrated with them. And then the next day was the big reception. And again, we were on a budget, and we didn’t necessarily want most of the traditions that people often have, so we wanted creativity. We’re both very creative people, and so we asked different friends and family members to contribute in various ways. So it ended up being a giant potluck. We invited probably 150 people. It was closer to 100 or a little bit less than that who actually attended. Singer songwriter Danielle Ate the Sandwich planned an East Coast tour around our wedding. So she did two sets. And we had activity tables with all sorts of things. Like, there was one you could use muppet masks and take photos. There was a dino dig table, Legos, and we didn’t even have to create these. Like, we basically set my husband’s sister loose, knowing us and knowing the things that we cared about. And she came up with all these tables and handled the decorations. And different family members brought stuff, did stuff, decorated for us. It was a giant potluck. Everybody brought something. So you can imagine there was just so much food. Friend whose a baker contributed a cookie cake. It was just a lovely thing. And because of that setting, the problematic person, one of the two decided to come, and it sort of took care of itself. There were people there who were able to handle that person and it was never an issue for us, luckily. The other person was so slighted by not being invited to the wedding that the two of them refused to come to the reception. So that was their choice. But there was obviously a lot of drama in all of that and I had to practicing saying no a lot and holding my boundaries around what I wanted leading up to it. I would still do it again the way we did it, in a heartbeat. It did work for us.

Paulette [08:45]: So there’s two questions I have for you here. The first one is did you wear your wedding dress to the reception?

Jamie [08:51]: Yes, I did. I got married in a 1930s tea dress, a white tea dress with cowboy boots, and I wore the same outfit both days.

Paulette [09:01]: I love that you were able to do that. And two, so you said in your email that you had to really practice saying no and holding your boundaries. Did you have practice leading up to that with having those hard conversations? And were you comfortable with boundaries or is this something that you actually had to learn as you were doing?

Jamie [09:18]: A great question. I think this was sort of early in my journey of boundary setting, in a lot of ways. When I was a kid, I was a contrarian in a lot of ways. When I was little, I didn’t really realize it was possible to not have children, but I knew that I was not good with babies. I did not like babies. So for as long as I can remember, I had an arrangement planned with my mother where she was going to raise my children until they were able to talk to me and tell me what they wanted and then I would take them. There were things like that where I was kind of setting my boundaries, like setting my preferences and if I really believed something, I did hold my ground. But I also had a lot to learn when it came to boundaries. I did a lot of just thinking I needed to say yes to keep the peace. And my early adulthood, I started to have to figure that out. So I would say before this, I didn’t have a lot of bigger practice with this. I think when I got firm on my stance that I would be childfree, that was part of when it started. And my husband and I also at a certain point realized we wanted to live more simply and kind of work toward maybe a tiny house or something like that. We wanted to be a little bit more minimalist. And so that meant setting some boundaries around gift giving with family members. So I think that we had just kind of started to have those conversations.

Paulette [10:47]: Cool. So it was part of that evolution then that you’ve been on. How long have you been married at this point?

Jamie [10:52]: So we’ve been married for nine years.

Paulette [10:55]: That’s awesome. Congratulations.

Jamie [10:56]: Thank you.

Paulette [10:57]: You mentioned how being childfree for you is a boundary, and I talk about that all the time. I love that idea because yes! It’s like a real thick line between what we want and what we won’t do. So you mentioned you’re a life coach. As you’re coaching other childfree people, do you also discuss how that’s a boundary for them? And does that make it easier for them to understand and create new boundaries?

Jamie [11:22]: It definitely does. I think the decision to be childfree is a beautiful practice of getting clear on what you want and then learning to get comfortable asserting yourself around that, like in a world that is not accustomed to that, not built for that, doesn’t necessarily know how to handle it. And we can teach people what it is to be childfree and why it’s okay. When you choose this path, it’s harder in a lot of ways, but of course, if you know that raising children is not for you, then it’s easier in a lot of ways. So it’s obviously worth the effort to hold that boundary. Boundary setting, it ends up spilling into all areas of your life, right? Like as you get comfortable saying no, you can make improvements all across the board and it starts to happen almost on autopilot. As you get more clarity on what you want and get comfortable asserting yourself and get comfortable taking the comments from people, learning to let it go, right? Having some sort of mindfulness practices, or whatever you need to run it out, to let go of whatever’s come at you and over time take on less of it. Right? I’m me and I have my own needs. I have a right to choose my own way in the world. And as long as it’s not bothering other people, hurting them in their own life and their own journey, people don’t have a right to make those decisions for you.

Paulette [12:45]: 100%. And for anybody whose immediate response here would be, but I’m hurting my parents, no. I have an episode on this called No One Is Entitled to Become a Grandparent. It was retitled something about grandparents entitlement. I will link it below on the YouTube because you got to put your own oxygen mask on first. But I love the talk around boundaries and how planning this wedding, you really had to say no a lot. And that’s hard because weddings are so emotional. And back to entitlement, people feel entitled to have opinions and demand that their input is heard and that the way that they traditionally do things in their family or whatever is the way that you have to do it. So kudos to you. And nine years later, here you are, thriving, loving life, still in love with your husband, living the good life, living la vida más chévere. So tell me more about your coaching practice and how people can find you, and we’ll put all of this in the description or show notes.

Jamie [13:46]: I help childfree women, and other people who speak my language, but mostly childfree women to figure out what they truly want. So that could be time to pursue an old dream, a new career or hobby or travel, and make it a reality. And of course, if they already have the clarity, then I help them figure out how to do it. And I also offer mental fitness training. So I’ve been doing that now for over a year. And that’s an amazing tool to help you to accomplish what you want, but do it with less stress, to do it with less fear, to be able to actually accomplish your goals and be happier and healthier and all of that in the process. So, yeah, I’m really big on believing that everybody deserves to create a life that they love and they don’t need to live a conventional life if they don’t want to. So I really am honored to help childfree women to bring their goals to life and have the support that they need to be able to do that.

Paulette [14:44]: Fabulous. Like I said, anybody who’s watching or anybody who’s listening can find Jamie’s information in the description or the show notes, however you’re consuming this particular episode. Jamie, thanks so much for sharing this all with us. I feel like, yes, being childfree is a boundary. Learning to say no when you’re planning something as emotionally charged as a wedding, is a super great skill to have. And you’re sitting here being like, yep. This is how I did it. Maybe that could serve as an example for other people. So thank you.

Jamie [15:14]: Thank you so much. That’s a burrito!

Paulette [15:17]: You got something to say about this week’s episode? DM me on Instagram: @PauletteErato. And if you’d like to be a guest on La Vida Más Chévere, check out the guest form on my website at PauletteErato.com. All of these links are in the show notes. While you’re at it, can I ask you a favor? I’d really appreciate your helping spread awareness about the podcast, so could you please share it on your socials or even send it to a friend? New episodes come out every other Tuesday. You can enjoy them with tacos. Or burritos! Muchísimas gracias for your support, y hasta la próxima vez, ¡cuidate bien!

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