Some people believe that a wedding belongs entirely to the bride and groom, and they should have everything that they want, the way they want it. Others believe that a wedding is for the friends, family, and guests, and those needs are paramount. I believe that there is a delicate balance to this. Yes, it is the bride and groom's day and they have the ultimate say in the end. And yes, there are certain aspects of your wedding that some family and friends will be excited about and invested in, therefore their opinions should be taken into consideration. Here are a couple of my own ideas for handling those VIP's when they have a different idea of what's best for your wedding than you do!
- Hear them out before you do anything. As tempting as it is to shut down a conflict as soon as it comes up, resist the urge to reject ideas right away. Listen to the person's idea and ask them why they feel it is important for your wedding. If your mom thinks you need a veil with your wedding dress, for example, and you don't agree, let her tell you why she feels strongly about it. That will allow you to think about it from her perspective and truly consider her feelings before you decide. Once you have heard their point of view, let them know that you will take their idea into consideration and then let it rest a while. Sometimes the simple act of consideration is enough to ensure that nobody leaves the discussion with hurt feelings.
- Respect one another's families and their opinions. Wedding planning can be a great opportunity to learn about the family you are joining, and help your betrothed to understand your family as well. Avoid attacking or judging the ideas or values of your future husband or wife's loved ones. After all, they're going to be your family, too! Instead, ask questions. Find out why his mother believes that you need a receiving line or her sister wants her to have the same flowers she had in her bouquet. Sometimes there are bigger reasons behind these strong opinions than we realize. Your soon-to-be-spouse and their families will appreciate your effort to get to know their family better.
- Support one another in the presence of family and friends. One of the things I strongly believe is that wives need love and husbands need respect. Handling conflicts while you are planning your wedding is a fantastic way to practice supporting one another with these important qualities. Don't let anyone pit you against one another, in person or behind the scenes. Make it clear to everyone involved with your wedding plans that you are working together on this very important event. If group discussions begin to get tense, pay attention to how your beloved is reacting to the situation. If it seems that one of you is becoming upset, it might be time to suggest that the conversation be resumed later. Then, have a heart-to-heart and consider one another's points of view before returning to the discussion. If nothing else, your love and respect for one another will not go unnoticed.
- Know when to say "yes." Sometimes, you'll find that doing something that means so much to your loved one will have a bigger impact on your wedding than doing it your way. Let's go back to our example of Mom wanting a veil to go with your dress. Perhaps there is a compromise to be found, such as wearing the veil for the ceremony but taking it off for the rest of the day? Or, a different style of veil that is more to your taste but still fulfills the meaning that makes it so important to Mom? If you can come to a solution that makes both parties happy and doesn't impact your day in a major way, then a problem is solved and everyone wins.
- Let them down softly. Of course, you won't be willing to compromise on every idea that is thrown your way. Don't feel obligated to do anything that doesn't resonate with your values or contribute to your wedding's "brand" or overall feel. After you have listened to the idea, found out the importance behind it, and considered it thoughtfully, you may still say NO. When that happens, be gentle and consider the "compliment sandwich" style of delivering negative feedback: begin with a positive, gently insert the negative, and end on a happy note. For example:
"We are so grateful that you're taking the time to help us with the wedding planning! After a lot of thought, we have decided that we're not going to host wine throughout the entire evening because it does not fit within our budget after all. Thanks again for your effort, we really appreciate your input and we know you're going to have such a wonderful time at our wedding!"When Parents are Paying: Because money, gifts, and overall budget can be a particularly sticky area when it comes to expectations and opinions, I turned to my dear friend and one of my favorite wedding pro's, Jenny Sligh, for a little input on the idea of balancing your desires with the desires of parents who are footing a portion of the bill. Jenny owns Lavender Hill Weddings & Events here in Madison and she is a phenomenal wedding planner! Here's her expert advice on this topic. "So your parents are paying and you are wondering how to handle their expectations about your wedding day. Begin with expressing gratitude, this is an amazingly generous gift and often includes thousands of dollars. The next step is to tell them about your ideas. Often parents feel the need to control the wedding reigns when ideas are not clearly expressed. Ask them what part of the wedding is most important to them; maybe they care more about the food or the venue; then include them in those meetings, ask for and value their input in your decision making. In the end, this day is yours and the vendors you pick need to be selected upon YOUR relationship with that vendor, however listen to the red flags your parents throw up, parents tend to come with wisdom and may see something you might miss in your excitement." Thanks, Jenny, for your expertise in this area! Remember, while this is YOUR unique wedding day, there are still lots of people who are very excited to be a part of this time in your lives. Give fair consideration to those who have input to give and they'll feel appreciated even if you don't make their suggestions a part of your day. Express gratitude for their love and energy, and make your wedding an affair they'll remember!