It goes without saying that your wedding day needs to just that, your wedding day. It should be an expression of you both, your style, your likes and dislikes and you should be surrounded by all the people who you want to share this great day with. However, weddings are also undeniably family occasions too and lots of your closest relatives will probably want to get involved in the planning as well. So how do you manage to bring people into the excitement of the arrangements and still manage to retain control when you’re being faced with a seemingly endless stream of suggestions and comments? It’s not an easy task and if you’re finding it tough, you’re not alone! Of the hundreds questions I've answered over the years, a great proportion of them are linked somehow with family problems which is a shame because a wedding can give everyone a chance to spend time together working towards a shared goal. In my experience, the key to keeping relations sweet in the build up to the day is to be clear with everyone from the very outset. I don’t mean that you need to be blunt or harsh with anyone but I do mean that you need to be firm and consistent in what you’re telling and asking people.
Dealing with the first questions - Once your partner and yourself have had a few of the basic brainstorming sessions that were mentioned earlier on in this chapter, you’ll have a reasonably good idea of the outline structure for the day and this will help you to deal with the first questions that are fired at you! So when you’re asked when the wedding will be or who will be invited, you can state ‘we’ve discussed this together and we’ve decided on an intimate spring wedding/large winter wedding’ or whatever it is you’ve decided. When you state everything firmly, people soon get the message that there’s no room for interference but if you say ‘well, I think…’ in answer to any question, it sounds like there’s always the chance you could be persuaded to another way of thinking! And of course, by reiterating that every decision was a joint one, you sound even stronger. There’s no need to feel that you need to provide specifics at this point and if you feel you’re getting pushed, don’t feel bad about pointing out that you’re stilly newly engaged and you’re enjoying that feeling without needing to rush headlong into planning (maybe hide your ever expanding ideas file when you make that comment though!)
Expanded brainstorming – Including your family in the ideas and inspiration stage can really help too. Once you start talking together and bouncing suggestions around, things tend to develop more quickly and there are other people to provide objective opinions on ideas as well. The following suggestions might help make these discussions go more smoothly:-
Only offer options that you like – if you know you really want a high summer wedding, ask whether people feel July or August would be better. If you simply ask which month might be a good choice, you’ll be discussing Christmas weddings before you can say ‘I do’.
Be clear that this is an ideas session and not the point when you’ll make final decisions. Explain that you both want to go away and talk about the suggestions that were made before you jointly make a final decision. Point out that you want to make sure that your final choice is right for your both and that you don’t feel that anything about marriage and weddings should be rushed into. Even if you’re almost having to sit on your hands to stop yourself from grabbing the car keys and heading straight to the nearest dress shop to try on some gowns, it’s important to understand that you do need to consider things carefully before committing, especially to parents and relatives. It’s easy to say to your partner ‘I think I’ve changed my mind about this’ but when you’re having to make the same explanation to more people, it gets much harder and this is when people can start to become defensive.
Don’t build up other people’s expectations unnecessarily. It’s so tempting to enthuse over ideas that you’re not really keen on to please other people but although this initially seems like a good idea, there will come a point when it’s clear that you didn’t like that suggestion and wont’ be including it in the day. It’s better to pass over a comment early on than appear to love it only to have to drop it later, by which time it will be much harder.