All you need is love and …to learn when to say no, when to compromise and when to go with the flow.
When I sat down to research and write this piece, it became apparent to me that the principles for the successful navigation of the wedding planning process and successfully navigating marriage are quite similar. Although I have yet to find a need for a seating chart in my marriage, and 17 years in I don’t think there will ever be a need for one, so in that respect they are different. So while you are reading this piece, be mindful that you can take some of the advice and apply it to marriage as well as wedding planning.
Wedding planning is hard, this we know. In fact if anyone says to you “Oh I loved every minute of planning my wedding, it was all so much fun” they are lying. They are a big fat liar McLiarsons.
With my experience in the wedding industry, and the many articles I’ve read, blog posts I’ve perused and Facebook rants I’ve been privy to, the number one issue couples (well let’s be honest, mostly brides) have is every man and his dog seems to have an opinion on how you should plan your wedding.
So with that in mind I’ve put together some tips for how to handle those sticky situations and those well-meaning friends and family (who we know only want to help) during the wedding planning process.
Come up with a budget, and stick to it – When you first start planning your wedding, you need to sit down together and have a conversation about money (I know boring as hell, but so important) You both need to decide on how much you can realistically spend on your wedding day, and what type of wedding you want. Is it going to be all out, over the top, dream wedding, or maybe something a little more scaled back? This will help you make all the big decisions (venue, photographer etc) when you know exactly how much you’ve got to spend on each element. Having a set budget means that you also have a good excuse to say ‘no’ to suggestions “Sorry I really can’t incorporate those swans you really want into the wedding Great Aunty Fanny. I can’t afford it!” Soz not soz!
Make sure you’re both on the same page – Make sure you both converse about what’s important to you for the big day. Are there some non-negotiable items that you must have or that are priorities to you? For example, he may be a big fan of a particular type of car and really want those as the wedding cars, where you couldn’t care less what type of cars you arrive in. So you budget for those cars, and if someone offers their opinion on another type of car, you can say ‘no’. If you are both on the same page you will be in a better position when people start questioning or offering their opinions. You will know exactly what the other person thinks and wants and can stick together.
Make sure your partner will back you up – Weddings and wedding planning can bring out the worst in people. A lot of people in your lives will have set opinions, whether solicited or not, on your wedding plans. If you’ve already had the discussion about the budget and your priorities, then you’re in good shape. You also need to know that your partner will back you up if/when you have to say ‘no’ to a suggestion. Also be aware that some people will go for the “divide and conquer” technique, where they will offer their suggestion on you first and if you say ‘no’ then they will try your partner. But once again if you both know the plan and know that you both have each other’s back then you’ll come out on top.
Stick up for what’s important to you – It’s your wedding day, you get to do it your way. If there is something that you really want (priorities and non-negotiable items) and someone questions your decision then make sure you stick up for what’s important. You don’t want to look back on your wedding day with regret on something that you gave up to keep someone else happy.
Don’t be emotionally black-mailed, especially by family – Split families can be a hotbed for emotional blackmail (the whole if he’s coming then I’m not type of childish behaviour, can rear it’s ugly head) Make sure all your family members know that you will not be held to ransom on your wedding day. Remind them that it is your day, and that they need to ‘pull their heads in’ and if they can’t then maybe they should not come. You’ll find nine times out of ten, they will start behaving. No-one wants to miss a wedding.
Every-ones on the same page – If your parents or other relatives are financially contributing to the wedding then you need to have discussions at the beginning with them all about your plans. There can be times when their money will come with strings attached ( an example: if they are paying for flowers, then they want to pick the flowers) and if you’re all good with that, then great, if not then you need to discuss and come to a compromise. I know, maybe easier said than done, just make sure they know how much you appreciate their contribution, but, that you have your hearts set on your plans. And if they still won’t play ball, then you need to decide if the money they are contributing is worth all the hassle.
What can you let go of – There may be times where you just need to let go of some of the control or your expectations and go with some-one else’s idea to keep the peace. But only if it’s something that is not one of your priorities. For example one bride let her mother in law choose and order the wedding favours, because it kept her involved (and happy) and it wasn’t really a priority for the bride. Win, win I say!
Remember what’s important -You love each other. You are choosing to share your love story and commitment with your friends and family on your special day.