Navigating Family/Friend Drama

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I’ve experienced the following situation way too often: I’m meeting with a bride and her mom; her mom is going on and on about the things she wants for “their” wedding. The bride timidly tries to assert an opinion, only to be quickly shot down. Eventually, the bride gives up and spends the rest of the meeting looking shell-shocked. Sound familiar?

This is not a post to rag on the MOB. This is simply a chance to humbly give a little advice to the bride that is wondering where she fits into the whole planning adventure. Even as an outspoken, type-A personality, I experienced some difficult times when I was planning my wedding. I’m sure many brides can relate to dealing with the dad that wants to invite all of his golf buddies, most of whom you’ve never met; or the mother that throws a tantrum because she’s not getting her way; or the best friend that secretly tries to inject her personal taste into the décor because she’d rather be planning her own wedding.  As a bride, you should not have to defend the fact that the opinions of you and your fiancé are really the only ones that matter; especially if you are the ones footing the bill. So how do we go about keeping this theme prevalent during the planning? Here are four quick survival tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself. This is your wedding day: one of the most important days in your life thus far. You and your fiancé will spend a lot of time and money into creating a beautiful ceremony and a celebratory reception; you deserve to have it be everything that the two of you want. While friends and family can offer wonderful ideas and advice, it should come from a place of support, with regard to your taste and your vision. If you want the small wedding on an island resort – leaving the extended family behind – then that’s your decision. If you want to serve pizza instead of duck confit, then that’s your decision. If you want that “unique” shade of orange on all of the tables, then that’s your decision. These are your memories that will be created. Respectfully tell everyone that the wedding will be everything that the two of you want. I don’t mean to be a Debbie-downer, but some friends or family might not be on board, and that’s okay. Most of the time, they come around. If by chance they don’t, that’s their decision and their consequences to bear, not yours.
  2. Let the planner be the “bad guy”. Not to turn this into a shameless plug, but it does help sometimes to have a non-biased, third party to go to bat for you. As a planner, it is my job – and my privilege – to execute the bride’s vision. While I welcome all suggestions from family and friends, it is quite easy to decipher between those that truly have the bride’s best interest at heart, and those who have their own agenda. Allow your planner to be the one to politely thank them for the suggestions, but let them know that final decisions always fall with the bride and groom.
  3. Find creative ways to involve the family. Don’t feel that you have to have a twenty-person wedding party and 500 guests to appease everyone. There are special ways to include family and honored guests. If your bridal party has reached its limit, ask a special friend to be a hostess or usher. Include an extended family member in the ceremony by asking them to do a reading or light a unity candle. Ask an honored guest to give the blessing before dinner or a toast when you cut the cake. Your friends and family will feel honored that you thought to include them, and you will still feel at ease knowing that your desires were met.
  4. Try not to turn into Bridezilla. I know this can be difficult; sometimes the ones closest to you can be the most frustrating. But it won’t do you any good to spend the entire planning process stressed and angry. Try to find the joy in all of this. Relieve your stress with activities like exercise, extra date nights, and spending time with fun, positive people. The one unfortunate thing about a wedding day is that it flies by. At the end of it, you don’t want to look back on the journey and only remember the stress and frustration. Let go and choose to be happy!

 

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