PART THREE - Your guide to staying away from the cray cray, and having fun while planning a wedding and being a fiancé. Read the first and second instalments on the blog!
This time around, we're talking about the relationship side of wedding planning which 137% of people find to be their #1 challenge during wedding planning. We look at how not to kill one's family, how to stop your sister rolling her eyes, dealing with bridesmaids who are being dicks and getting people to respect your wishes; SO EASY!
How do I not kill my family?
I thought I’d ease into Part III of this series with an easy, relaxed question that isn’t controversial AT ALL. No promoting homicide here guys and gals! Look, the cold hard truth of the matter is that most people feel like strangling a member or six of their families (and some of their friends) while planning their wedding. So don’t feel bad or abnormal. YOU ARE VERY NOT ALONE!
Cloud nine vs. reality
This is down to a couple of things - as the newly engaged bride and groom, you’re floating around on your super fluffy cloud of love, lust and adorable future plans for sweet babies, cute doggos and rad parties to celebrate this love. So when it comes to dealing with family members who are NOT on this cloud, it can be a horrific shock akin to that time your Poppa told you about the joys of his new sexual relationship.
Because guess what? They didn’t just get engaged and thus catapulted into an exciting world of love and parties and congratulations and excitement. In fact, they might have been cleaning up baby vomit while trying not to shout at the neighbour’s psychotic Husky that howls all damn day. They might have just found out their mother-in-law is sick and were thinking about how they will afford the medical bills. They might have just had a dud root, and your fresh and exciting love story may be too stark a reminder that they are no longer in that place.
Some people are crap
Granted, it’s the job of our loved ones to LOVE us, and so some may say they should put their problems aside for a minute or two and get on board. And most people will eventually do that, but some people can’t or won’t, so there is a level of acceptance needed about WHAT PEOPLE ARE REALLY LIKE, rather than how you want them to be, that will save you a lot of heartache.
If your Dad is prone to going bush for three months with no notice and has never really paid much parental attention beyond the compulsory, expecting he will give two hoots about the reception venue is setting yourself up for disappointment and sadness.
If Gran is outraged that you are spending more than $14 on your wedding dress, it’s best not to try and sell her on the merits of couture unless you are really into having frustrating, farcical conversations.
Divorced and estranged family - what fun!
Divorced and estranged family members are a whole other eye-twitch-inducing kettle of coo coo who you may wish to throttle. There is no easy answer to this stuff, other than to decide when it is really necessary to involve yourself in pre-existing family problems. Maybe you feel really strongly that your wedding will be the catalyst for divorced parents to finally act like grown ass humans, but if they’ve been acting like giant irrational, tantrum throwing toddlers since they split in the early 90s, me thinks they are quite set upon this infuriating course of action, regardless of your newly engaged status. Thinking your wedding can influence the situation is understandable, but it is also bonkers. As my Dad recently said to a policeman who threatened to arrest him for smoking a non-legal-cigarette-type-thing at a music festival, “Mate, I am not going to be reformed at this point, so piss off.”
It's not them, it's YOU (perhaps!)
It’s also possible that you’re being really annoying about your wedding and people’s treatment of you is in line with this. Guess what? It’s YOUR wedding, not theirs and they may not give a toss about the many, many, many napkins options you spent all of dinner and post-dinner cocktails educating them on. It’s never going to be as important to others as it is to you. Go get that printed on a t-shirt, cross-stitched onto a cushion and tattooed on your neck, just so you don’t keep forgetting and then getting peeved with the whole world when they don’t care as much as you do.
Is it also possible that you are getting sand in your crack about really dumb stuff? Like being huffy with your best friend for not sending a card, even though she cooked you and your fiance a celebration dinner? Or being crapped off that there was no confetti and streamers all over your desk after you got engaged? Hmmmm, did you do that for others? No. Well then shut up and also read the next question.
Help! My bridesmaid is being a dick. How do I handle this without wrecking the friendship?
My favourite wedding forum to lurk in is Rock n Roll Bride’s forum (you can join it here). It’s really rad - heaps of legends sharing their non-traditional wedding dresses and shoes and decor and being really supportive and fun and sassy. Well, that stuff accounts for about 40% of the posts. No shizzle, the other 60% start with… “OK guys, I am really upset and I need some advice because my bridesmaid/MOH/mum/dad/sister…”
So many of the issues raised relate to errant, lazy and mean bridesmaids and disappearing maid’s of honour. I feel for these (mostly) ladies because they just want to have a great time with their besties leading up to their weddings, and for a range of reasons, it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket. Do you dump them from the bridal party or strike them from the wedding entirely? Do you try and fix the issue? Do you ignore it and hope it will go away?
There are arguments in favour of all of those courses of action but it probably comes down to how important that relationship is to you, as to what you do about it. It’s cool to stand up for yourself, but it’s also a super good idea to have an honest think about whether you are being a bit of a dick too. It can happen without you even noticing - asking for help, then expecting it, making demands and saying a lot of sentences that refer to ‘your special day’, forgetting that they are a human with a life of their own. If you are doing that, then you probably both need to pull your heads in.
If someone in your wedding is really hurting you, then get rid of them. Bye Felicia! Life is short and some people are the worst and chances are they won't change.
When it comes to bridal parties, prevention is ALWAYS better than cure, so before you appoint anyone to your bridal party, have a good, hard, long, extended, honest, long, good, hard, thorough think about who to ask to be involved. Because your flighty friend is not going to suddenly be on time, reliable and on the ball, just because you got engaged. If you have doubts about certain friends, then listen to your instincts and don’t ask them to be involved. Save yourself the future pain.
Don’t forget that you don’t even have to have a bridal party - there you go, problem solved!
How do I get people to respect my wishes?
Two options here.
1. Talk to said people who have not respected your wishes about how you’d like them to because it’s important to you. Everyone cries and someone storms out and you when you get home you tell your fiance you can’t deal with this shit and that the wedding is cancelled. He/she is like WHAAAAAAT just happened bae? And you shout at them that they never loved you anyway, before slamming a door in their face and wailing on the bed.
2. Give no fucks about people’s opinions on your wishes and laugh your way through wedding planning, not giving a single, solitary shit.
Honestly, all you can do it try to communicate your wishes respectfully (what you want them to do/not do) with a little context (why this is important to you). Depending on the person and your relationship, it might be enough. Sometimes, not. Try to let the outcome go once you have stated your wishes, because no amount of worrying and obsessing will change another person's behaviour, which is the stinky reality of life.
As we talked about earlier, it's best to have a realistic view of your loved ones, than to bank on the idea that your wedding will somehow straighten them out. They will act pretty much as they always do. Some creative structuring of your run sheet may eliminate some of the obvious problems - if your Dad gets drunk and tends to crap on for 25 mins, including singing, then schedule the speeches super early, when he is at his best. Or don't have them at all! If old Aunty whatshername is a bit of a homophobe, don't seat her with your gay bro-in-law. Seat her out the back in the kitchen with the dish pig. SORTED!
My sister keeps rolling her eyes when I say ‘my special day’. Should I cut her out of my life completely?
Hey dude, STOP SAYING ‘MY SPECIAL DAY’. Don’t reduce your life to this one day. If you think about it, it’s a pretty mean thing to do to yourself. Because what comes after, if this is your one amazing special day? A slow, sad descent towards death over the next 50 years, boring anyone who will listen with tales of your ‘special day’? If it’s going to be your one special day, then I would schedule it WAY later in life, otherwise you are going to peak too early like those quarterbacks and cheerleaders in all those American movies and that John Cougar Mellencamp song, Jack and Diane.
Getting married is just one of a series of wonderful, lovely special days you’ll have in your (hopefully) long and fruitful life. If you are reading this, chances are you are a pretty lucky, privileged person, in a position to spend a bunch of cash on a fab party to celebrate your relationship. But there will be other amazing days in your life, like having children (OK the day of their birth will be a shit show, but you get the gist), buying a house, paying off your HECS debt, seeing the Taj Mahal, adopting a ferret, having a super fantastic hair day, getting a promotion and buying a really expensive ladder.
So chill a bit and enjoy it, knowing this is just ONE part of a life that you are creating together. And definitely stop saying ‘my special day’. It’s the very worst.
Need more sensible advice?
- Read parts one and two for answers to a heap of other things that might be causing you stress
- Stay tuned for Part IV - how to know if you are being a Bridezilla (hint: have you destroyed Tokyo lately?) and if it is even possible to wear undies under wedding dresses. IS IT?
- Listen to the Bridechilla podcast - it is super funny and sensible and acts faster on anxiety than a valium and a glass of vodka