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Avoid Family Drama Before your Wedding with These Helpful Tips

Ohhhh my what a fun topic! I can't tell you how many times I have heard brides say "I keep having to remind my mom that this is my wedding, not hers." Weddings are an emotional time, and while we love our family dearly, it's not always easy to tell them to back the f* off while planning a wedding. Everyone wants to share their opinions and feel important. And here's a little secret - wedding planners are GREAT at helping couples plan their dream wedding without all the family drama! Here's a few tips and tricks I have learned that may help you make it to the finish line without a feud.

Bride with Mother

Set Boundaries and Set Them Early

A wise person once told me, "an unset expectation is planned resentment." So what does that mean? If your family doesn't know your boundaries and expectations of how they can support you, they are likely to overstep, or worse - not support enough. So when you get engaged, it is important to sit down with your future spouse and talk about the level of involvement you'd like your families to have. Then COMMUNICATE that to your families. I know I know, that's the hard part. But if you do this early, you are more likely to go into your wedding day drama free. Here are some questions to ask yourself when setting these boundaries:

  • At what point (if at all) would I like my family's opinion on a decision about the wedding?

  • Is my family's satisfaction with my wedding design important to me?

  • How much has my family offered to contribute to the wedding financially?

  • Will those financial contributions impact the amount of say they should have?

There is no right or wrong answer to these questions, but they will guide you in the right direction in terms of defining the boundaries of their involvement. Allow yourself to document behavior that is helpful and supportive, and what is not. Then share those supportive things to your family, and I guarantee they will be happy to help (even if supporting means saying nothing at all!)

Give them a Job

Ok this is a great idea for mothers, grandmothers, aunties, etc. It is wonderful that so much of your family is generously wanting to help plan your wedding. But you can't have too many cooks in the kitchen. And - don't forget - it's your wedding, no one else's! So, while the opinions and offers to help may seem nice, it can quickly get overwhelming in an otherwise chaotic time of life.

How do we handle these eager little work-bees? The best gift you could ever give them is a JOB! Pick a task or part of your engagement/wedding planning process that feels low risk, or that you don't care about as much, and let them run with it. For example, traditionally the mother of the groom plans the rehearsal. Check, got her taken care of. Maybe consider asking your grandmothers or aunts if they'd like to take on planning an bridal luncheon, or the day after brunch. Let your parents throw you an engagement party. There is always something that you don't care about as much that can be passed on. And while they are focused on that, you can get a bit of a breather to focus on the things that are important to you.

Make your Guest List, and Stick to it

This is a tough one. Nothing is worse than attending a family reunion a month before your wedding and your long lost cousin Reggie says "hey, where's my invite?" It sucks to share bad news, but just remember there is a reason why you excluded them from your list. This is really hard, especially for families that are very large!

My best advice for handling these situations is to sit down with your future spouse and think about how you'd like to respond to cousin Reggie. And, before going to events, make sure you have your immediate family on board with how to respond. That way, there will be a consistent message across the board, and we can at least limit the amount of hurt feelings that may result. Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

  • "We are so lucky to have a large network of friends and family, and unfortunately we have a limit of the number of people we are able to invite given our venue size and budget."

  • "Thank you for your excitement about our wedding! However, we have decided to keep our wedding a bit smaller and are only inviting our immediate family at this time."

Before we move on, I'm just going to drop this reminder again... this is your wedding. Invite (or don't invite) whoever you want!!

Keep Quiet about Money $$$ to Avoid Family Drama

The beauty of marriage is that it can bring together two families that may have completely different backgrounds. With those different backgrounds may come a difference in priorities of how money is spent. When finances are part of a discussion, things can fishy. And weddings are EXPENSIVE, so conversations about budgets and expenses are definitely going to come up. However try to be discreet as much as you can. Avoid sharing the price tag of parts of the wedding between families, and try to limit conversations about how much something costs if it is not with the individual that is spending the money.

The family tiffs, snafus, and kerfuffles (if you will) that come with wedding planning are almost expected. Be sure to set boundaries, let your family help when you can, stick to your guest list, and avoid discussing finances. If you apply these tips, you may be one step closer to a drama free, stress free wedding. Happy planning, my friends!


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