It seems that as soon as you announce you two are engaged, everyone has an opinion. And no one has more opinions than your family. So how do you manage all of those family opinions about your wedding?
We all love our families. But sometimes when you’re planning the biggest event of your life involving more money than you’ve ever spent and more relationships than you’ve ever had to manage, family can suck. It’s no wonder that newlyweds report stress, arguments, hurt feelings and breakdowns with loved ones in the months leading up to their wedding.
Here’s how to manage family opinions about your wedding so no one gets disowned or uninvited from the next family reunion!
Note: When we’re talking about family opinions, we mean opinions like whether or not you should have a buffet dinner or what kind of flowers you should buy. We don’t mean opinions on who you choose to spend your life with. If your family relationships are toxic and they don’t respect you and your life, those are opinions you don’t need.
Be a united front
First things first, you and your spouse-to-be need to be a united front. Get on the same page from the moment you get engaged (actually, well before that). Decide together how you want to announce your engagement and how involved your families will be in the wedding planning. Talk about your budget, your guest list and what you want out of your wedding before you involve anyone else.
The last thing you want is your mother-in-law calling to confirm she’s singing at your reception because your partner okayed it even though you would rather die.
Create a buffer line
The moment you get engaged is an exciting time. You want to celebrate! You don’t want to hear family opinions about your wedding. So if you’re not ready for an onslaught of opinions and advice, come up with a buffer line. Or, feel free to borrow ours.
So when your aunt starts talking your ear off about her neighbour who’s a caterer only hours after you get engaged just say, “Thank you so much for thinking of us, Aunt Sherry. We’re just really excited to be engaged right now and want to focus on celebrating that!”
Value the relationship
When you’re overwhelmed with family opinions about your wedding, it can be easy to get frustrated. And it’s perfectly understandable! Your cousin won’t shut up about the band he wants you to hire (even though you prefer a DJ) so when he calls (again!), you only see red.
But remember that’s also the cousin who babysat you when you were six, who helped you pass Calculus, who lied to your parents when you broke curfew, who always saves you the best seat at Christmas dinner, and who welcomed your partner into the family with open arms.
Sure, right now he might be annoying you with his band suggestions but remember he is so much more than that.
Be careful how you ask for family opinions about your wedding
Here’s a big one: if you don’t want your family to give their opinions about your wedding, don’t ask for them! Of course, many family members will share opinions whether they’re asked or not – that’s what family does. But it helps when you’re clear about what opinion you want.
Let’s say you’re deciding on the cake. You and your partner have chosen your baker but you’re not sure if you should go strawberry shortcake or red velvet. Instead of saying, “We haven’t decided on the cake yet,” which might invite lots of opinions, baker referrals and even offers to bake a cake for you (no thanks, Uncle Tim), try saying, “We’ve decided it’s going to be strawberry shortcake or red velvet. Uncle Tim, you have a legendary sweet tooth, which of those two would you prefer?”
Keep it specific, make the choices easy, and let Uncle Tim know you value his opinion.
Remember the emotions involved
Wedding planning can be really stressful. Not only is this event likely the biggest one you’ll ever plan, but it’s also filled with a lot of emotions. A guest list becomes a competition to see which family members make the cut. A wedding party becomes a ranking of best friends. Even a simple decision on what shoes you’re going to wear can carry a lot of emotional weight.
These decisions aren’t easy. They can get even more complicated when you’re combining families that come from different cultures, religions or backgrounds where certain elements of the wedding mean more. Know that emotions will get involved and family opinions will need to be handled with more care.
Remember the money involved
Not only is a wedding filled with emotions, it’s also really expensive! For most couples, their wedding is the most expensive event in their lives. It can be really difficult to make decisions when that much money is on the line. And even more difficult when it’s not just your own money.
Many families contribute to their children’s wedding fund. Or you may have an aunt, uncle or grandparent who is also pitching in. Family opinions about your wedding become that much more complicated when there’s also cash attached. It might be easy to brush off an opinion of someone who isn’t contributing but when that person holds the purse strings, it’s harder to say no.
Our best advice? Communicate. Sit your families down early in the wedding process and get clear on how much is being contributed and what that contribution means. Does paying for 50% of the wedding entitle them to 50% of the decision making power? And if you’re not cool with that, then what? Make sure you’re all on the same page before you start making any decisions.
The good news? All of that communicating about money and family is perfect practice for your marriage!
Get at the “why”
When you’re feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with your families’ opinions about your wedding, it can help to take a step back and consider the “why.” Why is your dad so insistent on a church wedding? Why is your mom saying everyone needs a plus one even though it’s out of your budget? Why won’t your sister shut up about honeymooning in Aruba?
When appropriate, and when you can have a calm conversation about it, ask your family members why they hold certain opinions about your wedding. Get at the root of the opinion, explain your thoughts and see if you can find common ground. You might not end up on the same page but at least you’ll have a better understanding of where your family is coming from.
Bottom line: Your wedding is your day. But your family will still be your family after that day.
One thing we always say at Young Hip & Married is, “Your wedding. Your way.” And while we definitely believe you should have a wedding that fits your unique love story, we don’t think you should burn all your bridges on the way there.
It can be tempting to tell everyone with an opinion where they can shove it. After all, this is your wedding! But after the wedding is over, your family will still be your family. They were there for you before your wedding and they will be there afterwards. You don’t want to look out at a reception full of scowling faces or find yourself getting the silent treatment every Christmas.
Communicate with your family as clearly as possible. Compromise where you can and politely stand your ground when you need to. Remember all of the emotions, relationships and money involved. Lean on your partner and work together with your families.
At the end of the day, family opinions about your wedding all come from a place of love. Every aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, sibling, parent or loved one who shares their opinion with you is doing so because they want you to have the best wedding ever. And even if you think their opinion kind of sucks (sorry grandma, but there won’t be congee at cocktail hour), it’s pretty awesome to think that so many people love you and want you to be happy.
written by Riana Ang-Canning