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Dealing with families at weddings

I HATE ICE SCULPTURES!– DEALING WITH TRICKY FAMILY DYNAMICS

Planning your wedding can be a very exciting time. For others, it may be a daunting process. There are many things to consider and organise. Sometimes the initial enthusiasm can transform into unforeseen stress and trigger arguments. Here is a true story from a bride

about what happens when the people closest to you and the most generous turn out to be your biggest challenge. You may be experiencing something similar yourself, and know that whatever you are going through, someone else has likely gone through it as well… and survived.

With emotions running high and big financial investments, it is easy to see how the combination of the two can lead to tensions rising. Remember what wedding planning is truly about, celebrating your love and the coming together of two families.

After getting engaged in November 2014, my fiancé and I decided it was going to be a relatively long engagement due to financial restraints as we had just bought our first house together.

We discussed our plans with my parents to potentially get married in spring 2017 and explored the reasons for waiting so long, and to our surprise they very generously offered to pay for half of the total cost of our wedding.We decided that a Summer 2016 wedding was now more achievable.

Being the youngest of three children and the only girl, I knew my mum would want to have some involvement in planning the day seeing as she was left out of the important parts of my brother’s wedding. (She still gets upsets thinking about it.) Considering my parents were contributing such a large amount financially it was important to me that they were included.

 

My fiancé and I are very laid back people and wanted this reflected in our wedding day, with a garden party theme event with lawn games etc. After we chose our venue ( a farm with a marquee in a lovely walled garden) it quickly became apparent that my parents had a very different vision for our wedding.

Initially it took a lot of energy convincing my parents about our choice of venue. They brought up issues about the ‘potential risks’ like dealing with a muddy car park, lack of accommodation for guests and a long list of reasons why we shouldn’t go down our selected route.

In the recent months leading to our wedding, the discussions have turned into heated debates and arguments. One of the most ridiculous moments was related to an ice sculpture offer my mum had seen on groupon and thought it would have “ the wow factor which our day was clearly lacking”. After declaring this outlandish statement, I hit the roof and we didn’t talk for a week. I was very upset that all the hard work, thought, and little personal touches we had put into planning our day was overpowered and destroyed in one sentence… it just so happens I HATE ice sculptures!

Upon deeper reflection, I think i understood that my mum was making these outlandish suggestions so she could have some recognition in organising the day and she desperately wanted to be involved in some capacity. After giving it some thought, I decided to turn this negative situation into a more positive one and I made a list of all the tasks that I could delegate to her and my dad.

As any bride or groom will tell you, it is often more stressful to put your faith in someone else to organise something than do it yourself. If you are not used to event planning, there is so much to do that it can seem daunting and overwhelming. Breaking it down into tasks and weeks makes it more manageable. The art of delegating involves selecting the right people for the task, otherwise, you find yourself with the work bouncing back onto your list.

The tasks I selected were not necessarily the ones that bothered me as much, such as ordering the order of service stationery, picking the Hymns for the church, booking the vintage bus (we have to ferry our guests from church to reception venue) and choosing my niece’s flower girl dress.

We were also really conscious of including them in the important decisions such as meeting with the caterers for the menu tasting, although we already decided on our menu, we were able to work in some of their suggestions.

My best advice for keeping families happy who are involved in your planning is to delegate.

Decide what is most important on your day and agree to what you can afford to pass over to someone else. In the grand scheme of things, the colour of your pageboy’s bow tie isn’t going to ruin your day. Putting things back into perspective on a weekly basis is key. It is so easy to get lost in all the planning and forget what the wedding is truly all about. Take some time alone with yourself, or with your fiancé, trust me this will help you all to remain grounded and have a clearer perspective.

In hindsight, I wish I had a clearer idea of exactly what we wanted when we began discussing our plans with the family. I think coming across as undecided about certain things gave our family and friends the green light to throw as many suggestions at us, which can be helpful but equally you have to learn to be creative about how you turn down people’s ideas when they suggest things like ice sculptures, fire breathing, or tightrope walkers being the ‘perfect addition’ to your country garden wedding! Reflecting about it makes me laugh now.

Sometimes it might be hard if you are a people pleaser like me, but being assertive is key to keeping tricky families in check! Its pretty amazing how everything comes together in thefts few days or hours to the wedding. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is important to remember to enjoy the process and your wedding day. It is YOUR DAY, do it YOUR WAY!

All the best with your planning,

Bride to be: Hayley