I have gathered a little help from my wedding industry friends to give you planning advice pieces twice wedding action off to a corker of a start.
One thing I am acutely aware of when planning a wedding, is the numerous amounts of wedding planning and family politics that intricately weave their way into our journey. Managing them can be quite challenging at times – Aleisha and I talk about common gripes and how to handle wedding planning politics on the Bridechilla Podcast here if you want to tune in!
Today, I catch up with Meghan gorgeous luxury wedding planner of Extraordinary Days Events again to talk about how to successfully work with friends and family during your wedding planning.
I love inviting Meghan to share her nuggets of wisdom with you, she is just wonderful at what she does and as a former lawyer, boy does she know how to negotiate and manage people.
Meghan, the stage is yours!
Your engagement and upcoming wedding is a time of total joy that can bring you, your family, and your friends together in so much excitement, at times, almost as excited as you!
As the couple, you get to spend your whole engagement celebrating with the people you love. Perhaps you will be lucky and your parents and best friends will plan an engagement party, hen and stag dos, and even a bridal shower. Surely there will be toasts in your honour, sipping champagne, and plenty of happy tears shed. These are the moments of complete and total happiness that only an impending wedding can bring!
On the other hand, there may well be moments of friction, miscommunication, and awkwardness that only the ups and downs of wedding planning can bring.
You may need to navigate your closest relationships with care as you make important wedding decisions and delegate duties to those you love most. As you do everything from discuss colour palettes with your nearest and dearest to appointing the important duty of MC to your best friend, there are countless questions that will come up: What if my Maid of Honour isn’t pulling her weight? What if my best man gets totally wasted (as he always does!) at our wedding? What if? What if What if?
Of course there isn’t an exact one-size fits all for every single situation. However, there are three principles which you can follow which will always lead you to feeling confident you have made the right decision and will also make you the most gracious couple, and will keep your most important relationships intact throughout all this sometimes-crazy wedding planning business.
These three principles, which were first used in Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette (See! I didn’t just make them up!) are: Consideration, Communication, and Compromise.
Consideration is about having empathy for your family, your bridal party, and your wedding guests as well as about general thoughtful behaviour.
Perhaps the biggest area I see a bit more consideration needed is in the inclusion of your partners parents in the planning process. In many relationships, it’s common for a bride to naturally take the lead in planning and by default this can typically include her parents in decision-making and tasks. Meanwhile a groom’s parents for example, can often be left wondering what is happening.
A wedding is an incredibly exciting and special occasion for both sets of parents and both should be included as much as you feel comfortable with taking into consideration your personal circumstances.
Plus, remember, a marriage is the beginning of this larger family and what better way to start it than including both sets of parents in the planning such a fun event? This remains true no matter who is paying for the wedding and is even more important if a groom’s mum has no daughters, because she will never have the opportunity to experience being the mother of the bride.
Another area where consideration is helpful is where there is a divorce, re-marriage, step relationship, or long-standing family feud. Unfortunately, even the momentous happy occasion of a wedding sometimes can’t overcome family rifts. (Nu Bride: Yup! Sometimes, they sadly exacerbate them).
Where possible, if you are having a formal sit down, it is best not to make a seating plan where these family members are forced sit next together. Yes, well-mannered adults will be pleasant to one another, but why force them to feel uncomfortable all day?
Where a member of your wedding party isn’t pulling his or her weight – ask, “why”? Is it because you have asked too much? Your wedding party should be reserved for fun tasks, not for endless boring hassles. Is it because they are over-burdened in their own personal life? If so, perhaps some understanding is needed on your part. Finally, is it because they are simply not interested. If so, you may need to clearly define their tasks, change your expectations, or ultimately reconsider your wedding party members.
Finally, remember to be considerate each time one of your family members or close friends do something kind for you. Whether they have given you a gift, helped with a wedding task, or hosted a celebration, write a thank you note! You can never underestimate how far the simple act of gratitude will go.
Communication is about being organised, honest, and thoughtful in the way you talk and write to your friends and family.
Communication is likely to be the most important of the “3 C’s” when it comes to organisation on your wedding day. When it comes to delegating tasks to your family or wedding party, write down their tasks in one document and pass it to all of them at least a few weeks before the wedding. This will give everyone time long before the big day to ask questions or raise any concerns.
If you are worried about an individual’s behaviour before the wedding day, be honest and discuss it privately, to avoid any embarrassment, before it becomes a problem. For example, if you have a friend who notoriously drinks too much or is oftentimes late, explain your worries privately and ask your friend to try to avoid this on your wedding day.
If you would like friends and family to avoid posting to social media, then communicate this to them. I prefer posting this on a wedding website with a nice message as well as a suggested alternative way of getting their photos to you.
Nu Bride: I would also recommend reinforcing this message on the day itself with good signage, a note in your order of service and an announcement during your ceremony)
Finally, if ever there is a misunderstanding or friction between you and a family member or friend – pick up the phone quickly! Please, don’t let hurt feelings fester. (Nu Bride: So true!) Your wedding should be one of the happiest times in your life, yet arguments and other dramas are the quickest ways to dampen this.
Compromise is about settling a difference by mutual concessions.
If you do happen to reach a ‘wedding roadblock’, don’t let it create a dark cloud over a relationship or hinder your celebrations.
If you have a wedding where there is a lot to do on the day, hire a wedding day-of coordinator so that your friends and family can enjoy themselves. Then, you will also spend less time delegating, instructing, cajoling and worrying.
If you have come to an impasse about your guest list, consider evening invites or another small celebration after your wedding. I have found it is always better to be over-inclusive than under-inclusive. You will never regret the relationships you solidified or opened yourself up to during your wedding planning and wedding day. However, you may come to regret the ones you lost or fractured throughout the process of getting married.
If your mum wants a fruitcake and you want sponge, make the top layer fruitcake and the rest sponge.
There is always an answer.
So, throughout your wedding planning, whenever you are struggling with a friend or family member ask yourself if you have been considerate, have communicated what you want clearly, and if there is any compromise possible. These three little things are bound to get you out of all sorts of sticky situations.
Good luck with your planning and remember to most importantly have fun through it all!
Thank you so much Meghan, some really great advice. As always the key is being understanding of others, but also being honest and at times firm. Being empathetic or understanding of others doesn’t always mean you have to bend and please everyone at the detriment of yourself.
Do compromise, listen, be open, be grateful and manage expectations along the wedding planning way.
Header Image: Kylee Yee