Navigating Family Issues When Planning Your Wedding
Planning a wedding can be stressful, especially when opinions are flying from every direction. As wedding planners, we assist with minimizing any unnecessary stress with support and guidance, however, family issues are a natural occurrence with every wedding and one we hear about again and again. Emotions naturally run high when it comes to adding a new family member to your group and when you bring together different personalities and opinions. However, it doesn't have to be as stressful as it sounds, and knowing just how to approach these situations is the key to alleviating any emotional stress in the long run. We've heard the word "dysfunctional" at least a million times during planning meetings and believe me, we've given more advice on this subject than we can count! Keep reading for our pointers and advice of how to navigate those uneasy waters!
1. Accept opinions.
It is human nature to discuss experiences in conversation, so why would it be different for wedding planning? Your friends and family want to share advice because they love you. Let them. Allow them to feel involved and contribute to your wedding experience, even if it is by sharing a small piece of advice. Ask questions, share opinions, and accept the help! You may not agree with everything you hear and opinion after opinion may be exhausting, but let them be excited with you (aka don't be a B.)! But that also brings me to #2....
2. Verbalize what you do and do not want on your wedding day.
There is nothing worse than hearing that a client "has" to do something because it is important to so and so but has no actual meaning to the couple. My question for them is why do it? Kindly remember that this is "your" day and politely ask those with opinions to respect what is and is not important to you. Remember to be patient, understanding, and kind and to most importantly respond rather than react.
3. Discuss in advance!
Identify and address those individuals or uneasy situations in advance. Politely request that they remember that this is your big day and it would mean a lot to you if they could respect you and your new spouse's wishes to allow you to celebrate without making it about them (AKA keep your ego in check for just a few hours). By communicating early on, this will set expectations and boundaries of the type of behavior that is or is not appropriate or appreciated moving forward.
4. Give them a job!
Say your mother wants to be uber involved in your wedding planning and it's driving you crazy. Instead of hurting her feelings by asking her to back off, why don't you supply her with a job so that she feels important and needed rather than rejected. Examples are reserving the hotel room block, researching wedding favors, and searching down old family photos that you can display on your wedding day.
5. Assign seats.
An easy way to keep feuding family members at bay is to assign seats instead of simply assigning tables. Yes, this may be a bit more work on your end, but at least you can control their distance from one another for dinner and the reception!
6. Be considerate of +1s.
Although your guest list can be tricky, consider allowing that single guy or gal bring their girlfriend/boyfriend or friend for support. The goal is to allow everyone to feel comfortable and included in your big day and believe me, it can be really lonely being at a big celebration like this by yourself! Yes, it may be an extra meal and drinks for someone you don't really know that well, but the point is to create a fun experience and this will allow your guests to be at ease and enjoy the party so much more!
7. Compromise! Compromise! Compromise!
A wedding is a combination of you and your families' traditions, cultures, and styles. #2 clearly states to "do you," however, be patient with your families and be aware to not marginalize them as that may cause more harm than good. Be respectful and understanding, and if it's causing more drama than it's worth, perhaps it's time to reconsider.
We would love to hear your thoughts of other great ways to curb any unnecessary family stress + drama on your wedding day! Feel free to share in the comments.