How should I deal with family during wedding planning?
Updated: May 4
We thought we'd put our feet up this week (again) and let a real blogger give you advice!
Meet Becca. She is one of Marmaros' good friends & you will see her and her husband's wedding photos on our instagram if you go back far enough.
Megan & Becca were each other's MOH and plan to stay friends for life. Becca didn't have a planner or coordinator that walked with her to plan every detail - she had a reception coordinator that also did the floral and decor. She relied heavily on both her family & her MOH to make her day go smoothly.
So we asked Becca to share some thoughts on navigating the joys and struggles family can bring in the wedding planning process.
Photographer: SPR Photography
There are certain clichés you hear just about every time someone finds out you’re engaged. But by far, the biggest piece of vague, unoriginal wedding advice I received was,“You’re not just marrying him, you’re marrying his whole family.”
If I had a dollar every time I heard that saying, I’d be a freaking millionaire.
And as much as I hate to admit it, the cliché is undeniably true. When you say, “I do,” you are becoming one with your spouse AND his or her family. Their family becomes yours and yours becomes theirs. Everything from a family’s size, personality, tradition, background, culture, and upbringing play a part in how you will operate wedding planning.
Regardless of the family dynamic you find yourself, wedding planning, in general, has all the potential to shake things up. Add the in-laws to the equation with an entirely different operating system, and you have a champagne bottle that is fully shaken and ready to pop! But before you let the metaphorical bubbly burst all over the room, it’s critical to understand how to combat all of the joys and struggles that family can bring during this beautiful, exciting time.
Assume goodwill. If there’s nothing else you take from the post, take this. No matter who is causing the drama, be it an in-law, extended family member, or someone in your immediate family, assume goodwill. That means instead of immediately assuming that difficult family member is purposely criticizing your ideas, believe the best in them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Be kind. This will not only keep the process peaceful, but will minimize your stress leading up to the big day. That’s not to say you shouldn’t address deeper issues between family members during this planning process, but when it comes to the small things, pull a Taylor Swift and shake it off.
Opinions. There will be lots of them. Great ones, useful ones, rude ones, and irrelevant ones. Most likely, family is coming from a good place when sharing their advice. Keep that in mind before reacting to great-aunt Cheryl when she tells you that it’s blasphemy to wear anything but white on your wedding day. It may seem obvious, but you can respectfully listen to the advice and absolutely not use it. No need to obsess over aunt Cheryl’s feelings or snap back at her, because you will be the one wearing the dress. Thank her for her opinion and go grab your ivory gown. Typically, family just wants to feel involved and valued, so give them that tiny pleasure by kindly listening to their advice. It’s up to you to take it or not.
Delegate, delegate, delegate. It might begin to feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and you want to be the head chef. Don’t you dare throw down your apron before creating a list of sous-chefs! Flattery will get you anywhere, and it will also erase the fear of uninvolvement in your family. Ask yourself, “How can I use this eager family member’s unique strengths to help us with our wedding?”
Photographer: Catherine Cansler Photography
For example, my mom-in-law is an excellent baker. She baked our groom’s cake! My grandfather was a pastor, but was unable to speak due to health reasons. He performed the communion, and it is the most cherished memory of my ceremony. It could be that your sister thrives on organization and enjoys a good puzzle. Allow her to create a draft of the seating chart. Maybe your brother-in-law is proficient at woodwork. Ask him to create a custom sign for the wedding. This not only adds value to your family members, but adds sentiment to your day. By assigning these special jobs to family and making them feel needed, you will create a joyful atmosphere for everyone. And who knows? You might end up reducing your workload, too!
Drama. Perhaps you have a family who carries it everywhere they go. Maybe you are marrying into a family like this. My advice: avoid it at all costs. If there is a particularly toxic family member who must be at your wedding, you should attempt to have a heart-to-heart with that person. If needed, this could be an amazing opportunity for you and your fiancé to practice being a united front for the first time. As we all know, these family situations are never alike; but if it is not an option to uninvite a toxic person to the wedding, then all you can do is acknowledge their feelings, be authentic with yours, and clearly communicate what you need (or don’t need) from them. If that doesn’t work and a plan can’t be created, get a groomsman, bridesmaid, or trusted friend to be the “toxic guard” during the wedding. This person’s sole job is to go undercover and ensure the toxic one keeps their distance from you during the big day.
Resist comparison. Much like snowflakes, no two families are alike. Therefore, your emphasis on family during wedding planning should be as important as you and your fiancé want it to be. There is no “right or wrong” way to include them. Only you two know the dynamic and history that your family brings to the table. Broadly speaking, if there is a way to involve them peacefully, I don’t think you will regret it. Their participation will mean the world to you in the future. If your family can’t navigate this peacefully, there is nothing wrong with respectfully removing them from the planning process.
This day is yours. Do not compare it to anyone else’s day, which will make you feel endlessly unsatisfied. Your wedding will be beautiful, meaningful, and perfect, because you are marrying the love of your life.
Photographer: Catherine Cansler Photography
(PS - let's pretend it's Megan giving her MOH speech up there)
Despite all the videos you watch, articles you read, and opinions you hear about how to combat family, do you know who you are dealing with in the end?
Humans. Humans who cannot be controlled, who navigate based on unique experiences and emotions, and who desperately want to be heard.
If your metaphorical champagne bottle pops off beautifully like it does in the movies, cheers to you and yours. Truly, we are all celebrating for you. But, if yours happens to get a little shaken along the way and fizzes onto the floor...Salut!
You will have an iconic story to tell and still a great party to be had.
And do you know what? Both will be beautiful.
If you loved Becca's writing (and who wouldn't), there is a place you can read all her thoughts! From funny & playful to real & deep, you will find SOMETHING relatable in her letters. Her blog is called Sincerely Letters and we might be a bit bias but we think she is an amazing writer! Check her out!
Until next time,
Megan & Mallory