The inevitability of family drama associated with an impending wedding is something all couples need to be prepared for. Even if your respective families have met and get along famously, throwing a wedding into the mix tends to bring out the absolute worst in the people we love the most. To save your sanity, take a look at our complete guide to avoid family drama.
Be a United Front
Before you start planning your wedding, sit down and make some ground rules together. As a couple, you need to decide what you want, which areas are open to discussion (and which are not), whether or not you need help with any planning details, etc. Once this has been figured out – hold firm. This is great practice for any similar future events in which you two will need to face a problem head-on. Then, when you feel ready, get together with your families (all at once if possible), lay out your plans and have each other’s backs. If this doesn’t go over well then…
if there is ever a time to put an ultimatum on the table, a wedding is it. Whether it’s divorced parents who don’t get along, a bratty cousin who is bitter about not being in the wedding party, or the token unreliable sibling who can’t be trusted with anything – don’t be afraid to lay down the law. For the most part, you’re dealing with adults, and if your closest relatives can’t be trusted to suck it up and put their own issues aside for ONE day, then you have full disclosure to disinvite them. This day is about the two people getting married and literally no one else – you don’t owe anyone anything. Repeat after me: “You’re an adult, and if you can’t act like one, then you will not be attending”.
Enlist a Professional
Think about adding some wiggle room to your budget to invest in a wedding planner that has dealt with hundreds of families in the past. If they’re a proper professional, they’ll have all of your wants and needs on their list, and can even go so far as to password protect all of the information surrounding your wedding so that prying hands (looking at you, mothers who want a do-over wedding) can’t get to it. Additionally, pre-wedding counselling for yourself and your soon to be spouse is highly recommended. We often revert back to our roles within our families when we are around them and sometimes that can mean it impedes on your ability to be there for your partner. A few sessions with a couples counsellor can be hugely beneficial and strengthen your bond during this stressful and hectic time.
Regardless of how crazy our families can get, there are always a few wonderful, perfectly sane people who just want to make sure you’re happy and stress-free on your wedding day. Keep those people close to you, and if they are comfortable, ask them to help with keeping your families in check. Anything from wrangling a drunk uncle to keeping your future mother-in-law away from the microphone to sing her rendition of some sappy song. You should be blissfully unaware of any craziness going on, let someone else deal with it for the day – just don’t forget to thank them with a very expensive bottle of wine.
Pick Your Battles
When in doubt, ask yourself “Is this the hill I want to die on?” If the answer is yes, then by all means, go to war. But if the answer is no, then have a little bit of grace and understand that most of the time, your family has good intentions. So, if you’re not particularly tied to certain details, let them go. Chances are that on the actual day of your wedding, you won’t notice (or care!) if the chairs have covers or if your parents’ speech goes a little too long. Naturally, figuring out what is a big deal or not is more difficult in high-stress situations like wedding planning – but that’s what your partner is there for! When in doubt, talk it out.
While planning a wedding on your own is a noble task, there will come a time when you need to ask for help. Your family members will certainly want to lend a helping hand, but they probably have no idea what you really need. Set expectations for them right off the bat! Even the smallest task will make your family feel like they’ve contributed something to your wedding day. Instead of shooing away your aunt who insists on sending you a million Pinterest links – get her to focus that energy on something else, like putting together the ceremony programs or have her hunt down a nice guestbook for your guests to sign. As long as these good-intentioned (but often meddling) family members have something to keep them occupied, they’ll be happy and you’ll be less stressed out. It’s a win-win strategy!