Welcome back to our continuing series, “CMP’s Top 3 Tips!” This month we have a special treat for you all. Lara Kreutner, wedding planner extraordinaire of Sealed With A Kiss Events is guest posting for us! She will be walking us through her top 3 tips for managing family expectations while you plan for your marriage – and who doesn’t need a little help with that, amiright? 😉 Take it away, Lara!
As a wedding planner I tend to wear more hats than “designer” or “planner.” More often than not, I take on the role of “family therapist” as well. For some families, even those that are usually functional, when a traditional event like a wedding happens, sometimes functionality can get a little…dysfunctional.
I want to be clear I am not a certified family therapist, but in my experience these three tips should help ease the tension when family dynamics get caught in the wedding vortex: compromise, put your foot down, or fold.
Depending on your dynamic and the issue in question, compromise is often the best option. Because weddings are a traditional event, and not every bride is traditional these days, I have spent a fair share of time seeing old traditions reworked to become trendy. One great example of this is the wedding cake. While some brides still spend a lot of money on a large tiered wedding cake, I have a lot of clients who don’t enjoy cake so they honor the tradition by having a small 10” cutting cake and serve other desserts they like for their guests to enjoy. Compromise can become more difficult when the parents or family is contributing more (particularly financially) than the couple getting married. In my personal experience, the most stressful “compromise” came when my husband and I were figuring out our guest list. The number we could afford to invite was much smaller than the number we came to with our list and lists from both parents. In the end, the parent’s lists were cut by about the same number (which doesn’t always happen) but we were able to work it out as a team.
2. Put your foot down.
Again, this can be difficult if you have a tyrannical matriarch or patriarch in the mix, but if the wedding is moving in a direction that causes it to become something you don’t want it to be, my advice is to sit down with your contributors and let them know. Most of the time, they really do want you to have what you want and don’t realize their involvement has altered the course, so thoughtful communication is key. Make sure to think through what you want to say before you talk about it so that you can remain as calm as possible during the conversation. But there are always exceptions to every rule and you might have a contributor who seems to think this is “their wedding” so if this is the case, eloping or “folding” (my next tip) might be the best options.
Sometimes, depending on the situation, “folding” (just like in Poker) is best. When you take this action it is usually because:
a) You don’t really care that much about the decision, or
b) Compromise/putting your foot down are not options
The most important thing to remember when you take this route is that you are getting married to someone you love, this is just one day (of so many!) to celebrate that, and most likely you and your family will be the only one who know it isn’t exactly what you had imagined. People also fold when parents are funding the whole affair and don’t give you an option, in which case I like to think about the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Horrific dress, even worse bridesmaid dresses, huge zit on the day-of, not to mention totally opposite types of family. They still had a great time, and had a lot to laugh about. Try to spin things in a positive way rather than sulk in despair over not getting it exactly your way. You have a whole lifetime to celebrate your marriage.
My hope is that these tips can help you navigate through wedding craziness when it comes to family. Everyone loves you who is attending and at the end of the day, they just want to be happy and celebrate with you!