A couple of weeks ago, I ran a Q&A on our Instagram account, answering questions people had about wedding planning, invitation wording, and what we do at Gettin’ Hitched Rocks. (Answer: awesome work, always.)
Reading some of the questions that came in, it really struck me how truly overwhelming wedding planning can be – not just in the amount of wedmin there is to do and the number of suppliers you need to find and click with (which the Rocks Band and I already do our best to help with, with our stress-free wedding planning websites and all-in-one packages), but with guest-list stress, family pressure, disagreements, budget worries, both parts of a couple having very different visions… Things that can make you want to pack the whole thing in and elope. Or call it off.
Since our MO is keeping you whelmed through the wedding planning process, I thought it might be a good idea to start an advice column, a safe, anonymous place where couples can write in to get some guidance and reassurance – and have a good vent!
Not so much an agony aunt as a… problem pal, ready to hear your wedding woes and give you a bit of advice and affirmation, and keep you whelmed.
So, I’m here, and – in one of the many ways I’m exactly like Dr. Frasier Crane – I’m listening. Send your anonymous questions in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone else is arguing about my wedding
First up is Stuck In The Middle With You (And Not In The Cool Stealers Wheel Way) :
I feel stuck in the middle of everyone arguing about the wedding – any advice?
Weddings can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Everyone has good intentions. Everyone wants a perfect day. But – especially when it comes to financial decisions or parents having a really different idea about what the day ‘should’ be than the people getting married – it can lead to conflict.
It’s – sadly – not uncommon. But it’s also not okay. You shouldn’t look back on your wedding day and just remember the bickering that got you there. You shouldn’t just see the compromises no one was happy with. You should be able to look back and feel that your wedding reflected both you and your partner – not anyone else who’s bulldozing over you with their ‘help’, and making you miserable.
If it seems like it’s not going to go that way, speak up.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
It would be good to sit down with the people who are arguing separately and – without accusing them of being argumentative and without being confrontational yourself – explain how you feel.
You want to gently remind everyone that this is your wedding and you don’t feel you’re getting a say. Calmly explaining your feelings should be enough of a reality check for most people to realise they’re not being as helpful as they think they are.
Though, if the arguments are big, broad disagreements about what the day should be – a religious or secular ceremony (and then – what one?!), what traditions should be kept in or taken out – you might have to try a different tact.
Control the budget, control the situation
If the people arguing have been footing a lot of the bill – like parents, with a firm idea of what every last detail should look like – the easiest way to take more control and stop the fighting might be to take over the budget. It might not be an easy conversation – or an easy thing to do! – but it gives a clear message about who the decision makers are.
It used to be the done thing for parents to pay for their children’s weddings completely – and get to make all the decisions for them because of that. The guest list was often people the couple didn’t know! We’re moving away from that now, with couples taking control and paying for their weddings themselves. Baby boomer parents are the last generation who didn’t get the chance to plan their own weddings; they can get a bit too involved with making decisions for their kids, since that’s the etiquette they’re used to.
Paying the lion’s share of the bills yourself sets a clear boundary. If that’s something you can’t do or if some decisions (and deposits) have already been made, it might be harder, but do start that dialogue with them. No one wants you to be unhappy. If they don’t know they’re upsetting you, they can’t stop.
Give everyone clear, distinct responsibilities
If you’re still finding it difficult after talking to them, a good way to stop conflict is to give people set roles.
You don’t need to make every single decision for the wedding – chances are, there are some you’re not even fussed about. (Do you have a burning preference for the car you get to your venue in? Will you look back with regrets if you have peonies instead of begonias?)
Or maybe you have shortlists of suppliers, like caterers and bands, you like and you’d be happy with any of them. Delegate organising that to one of the people who’s been arguing. Give them some guidelines but make it clear that you trust their opinion and value their feedback. Now they have a job to do that no one else possibly could – and you can get other things organised while they focus on it.
The arguing is happening because people want to help. If you can’t stop it by making it clear that it’s unhelpful or that you don’t want that kind of help, then finding ways they can help (that won’t drive you crazy!) is a good compromise.
What do you reckon? Are there other ways to handle conflict that I didn’t touch on? Do you have your own wedding war story to share, to help Stuck In The Middle With You (And Not In The Cool Stealers Wheel Way) feel less alone?
Or do you have a wedding worry of your own that you’d like a little outside advice on? Leave a comment or write in to email@example.com.
Until then, I’m your pal for all problems,
Photo by Collins Lesulie.