Weddings are largely a family affair; it’s one of the few happy events that unite relatives from the furthest corners of the globe for a celebration.
However, as much as we love family, sometimes even the most well-meaning family member can become a burden.
From Grandma Jean turning her nose up at the gown, to Cousin James insisting on inviting his brood of six infants to an adult affair – wedding planning can become more of a full-time job than a lifetime celebration.
So how do you juggle the expectations of a multi-generational family without completely losing the plot?
If family offer funds, find out what strings are attached
One of the nicest gifts a couple can receive is the gift of funds. Weddings can be incredibly costly, and can place undue stress on a household looking to set up a new life together.
Keep in mind that in many cases the provision of funds can also come with hidden obligations. Parents can spring strange requests on the happy couple once they feel they have a hand on the purse strings; anything from choosing the venue they prefer to turning down entertainers and decorating ideas – well-meaning parents can turn your wedding into a re-enactment of their own.
Find a balance for your conservative family members
Intergenerational family members may offer different levels of expectations when it comes to ceremony and conservativeness when it comes to the special day.
The last thing you need is an argument over the cut of your dress, the ceremonial presentation, or location of the reception.
Speak to friendly family members about managing expectations, and don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers to offer suggestions that keep everyone happy. For example, there are some exquisite gowns that combine invisible elements with gorgeous applique to create full sleeve, high neck design.
Be clear with managing guest lists
The last thing you need is a surprise list of guests added at the eleventh hour.
Make sure to have early discussions with both sides of the family about what sort of guest numbers you are budgeting for then go through the ratio of family and friends. Let your parents know if you have any spare seats for any friends they may want to invite.
Another huge headache for couples is the debate on whether the celebration will be child-friendly. If you’re choosing not to have children attend, spread the news far and wide and then make it very clear in your invitations.
- Keep the ‘helpful’ people busy
A lot of stress comes from ‘helpful’ family members interfering with your well-laid plans.
While it can be difficult to tell family to stop helping entirely, do try to give them jobs that you know they cannot possibly muddle up. Anything from collecting items and gathering RSVPs, to helping with the wedding-day breakfast and collecting gifts after the reception.
- Express your thanks, no matter how trivial their assistance and input
Your growing family want nothing more than for you to have a beautiful and meaningful celebration – so while their actions may be misguided, the intentions are usually pure.
Even if Great Aunt Betty thinks her styling prowess trumps yours, or your uncles are insisting on crazy muscle-cars for the bridal car, their hearts are usually in the right place.
Saying your thanks, before, during or after the ceremony is a way to acknowledge their effort and contribution – even if you didn’t want or need it!