If you’re engaged, or have been engaged, you know what wedding planning is like: people have your very best interests at heart, and they just want you to have a beautiful wedding, but sometimes…they can’t help but overstep.
“You have to do this! You should do that! What? No, you can’t possibly–”
Planning a wedding is difficult enough. It’s even more difficult when there are multiple outside voices telling you what to do. They’re often our closest friends and family, and of course we want them to be happy, but they aren’t the ones getting married. But we love them, but…
It can be very stressful. And confusing. (For tips on how to stop stressing about wedding planning, check out this post!)
I can’t promise to make all of your problems magically disappear, but I can help you get through it (relatively) unscathed. Here we go:
What do you want?
Take time away from everyone else. Sit down with your partner–just your partner–and talk about what you want your wedding day to look like. Are there any non-negotiables? Are there things you aren’t interested in? Things you’re on the fence about? Talk it out, write it down.
This puts both of you on the same page and makes it easy to prioritize when things come up down the line. What is most important to you? What has some wiggle room?
Decide that together.
Everyone is different, and the people in your life may not know what kind of wedding you want if you don’t tell them.
In my case, my parents knew I wanted to elope well before Duncan and I got engaged. It wasn’t exactly news; I’m not a “huge party, center of attention” sort of person. But I was still very clear about what our plans were and how we wanted the day to go, because we still got some pushback early on. “Oh you have to invite so and so!” Nope, we really don’t. Here’s our line in the sand, please respect that.
You’re under no obligation to explain your reasoning for any of this, but you’ve got to say something.
Seething in silence isn’t going to help anyone.
Master the art of diplomacy
Speaking of communication though (see what I did there? “Speaking”…? ok.), if you go stomping about, yelling at everyone about “your perfect day,” no one is going to turn up to your wedding anyway because you’re acting like a monster. (Get a grip.)
Acknowledge where people are coming from when they offer suggestions or unsolicited advice. Explain to them why certain things are so important to you, which will help them understand where you’re coming from.
Instead of, “I just like to be contrary and push your buttons,” you can try, “Keeping the guest list small is important to us. We want to focus our energy on each other and enjoy every part of our wedding together, and we don’t feel that we can do that with 200 guests to take care of.” Elaborate, don’t elaborate, up to you.
(Top tip that is related but also can be applied to other parts of your life: you guys know how much I love butts around here, but try using “and” instead of “but.” Check my last sentence up there. By using “and,” you aren’t negating what you’ve just said. Next time your partner drives you up the wall, say “I love you, and you’re pushing my buttons.” Instead of “but you’re pushing my buttons.” Makes a world of difference.)
Stick to your guns
Now, listen. Don’t be a dick. Remember what I said about the stomping.
Your loved ones mean well, they do. (And if they truly don’t, why are you even dealing with them…?) There’s no need to scream at anyone or jump down their throats.
It’s still your wedding, and if you’re not interested in inviting 50 extra people because your mum says you should, or getting a big poofy white dress when all you want is that cute blue number, you don’t freaking have to.
The troublesome area with many weddings is that parents often offer to pay for things. For many young couples, especially if they’re having a larger wedding, the cost is just too much to deal with. But if your parents are paying for things, you can’t really turn around and say, “I don’t care what you think.” You know? Tends to rub people up the wrong way. Tread carefully, be respectful, be grateful. And if you’re in sticky spot with parents dictating everything and saying, “Well we’re paying for it so it’s our call,” then consider stepping away and having a smaller wedding without financial help.
Get married at city hall, or wherever, just you or just your immediate family. Let your parents throw a party afterwards if that would make both of you happy. But stick to your guns. People will get over it, whatever “it” is. …Will you?
Focus on what’s important
At the end of the day, conceding something here and there won’t kill you if it really does turn out to be a deal breaker. For example: Duncan and I wanted tacos after our wedding because they’re our favourite. We eat them all the time. He proposed to me over tacos. But my parents wanted a nicer dinner, at a nicer restaurant.
The ceremony, the location, the portraits, the timeline… those were all exactly how we wanted them. Who am I to argue with dinner? Plus–see above–they then offered to pay for dinner, because they knew we didn’t want the expense of a fancy restaurant. It really wasn’t a big deal for us, and we knew that going in because we’d discussed our priorities beforehand. (See? Coming back around with tip 1.)
Bonus tip: elope
You heard me.
This may ruffle some feathers, but I can’t tell you the number of couples who have told me that their guest list is too long, their family is creating drama, etc. etc. etc.
Here’s the thing: you are not required to deal with that nonsense. You do not have to invite someone if you don’t want to. You do not have to tolerate shenanigans from your family members if they’re causing trouble. I actually heard from a planner a little while ago that, for a different wedding she was working, the couple warned her ahead of time that this particular group of cousins would probably show up drunk and start throwing punches.
Why are you fucking inviting them?!
Remove them from the guest list. This is insane. We are adults.
Marie Kondo the shit out of your guest list.
If it gets to be too much, or you’ve wanted this from the beginning but you’re scared: you are allowed to elope. You are under NO obligation to throw a big party “because that’s what everyone does.” Get married how you want to. I know you don’t need my permission; I’m giving it anyway, along with my full support. Sometimes people need to hear it from someone else.
…I have strong opinions.
And I try to use my powers for good.