Weddings are all about the happy couple, right?
Hahahahahaha!! That was funny.
If you are a bride- or groom-to-be you might have noticed that sometimes, as you begin to plan your celebration, others begin to express their own...ideas. Horrible ideas. Terrible ideas that you would never ever entertain, but nevertheless, they are thrown at you with abandon.
And oh, the opinions.
As all the "innocent suggestions" keep pouring in, you feel like you are going to snap. Maybe you do snap.
And of course when that happens, because you are the bride, everyone is quick to point the finger and yell “Bridezilla!” when in fact, they are the ones that have pushed YOU over the edge and you just can't take it anymore (rightfully so).
How do you manage everyone and still keep your sanity? Is it even possible? The short answer is yes, it is possible. But first let's explore why this is happening in the first place...
Why everyone has gone bat-shit crazy
What you might not realize until after becoming engaged is that once you share the news, a LOT of your relationships will change or become tricky to navigate. And that is because your pending nuptials are making many people nuts.
It's not your fault. And this doesn't apply to everyone. Some will turn for the better: for instance, divorced parents finally calling truce and pulling it together for you, or a good friend you’ve lost touch with that comes right back into your life and provides all the support you need.
But unfortunately, weddings conjure up some weird things in people and you might see that they start to act in unexpected ways. The reason for this is because everyone is making your wedding about them. Emotions begin to run high. Lots of people are happy for you, but many also become desperate to make sure they find a place in your big day. Or a date to your big day. Or a way to control, or put a stamp on, your big day.
Family from either side might thrust their own expectations onto you. Good friends flake out or become jealous at a time you need them most. Suddenly you're having horrible fights with your partner over things that shouldn't even be a big deal, but have become a big deal - thanks to everyone else's meddling.
You have every right to be upset
First, let's remember that you have every right to be upset. It'd be completely justifiable for you to tell everyone, in no uncertain terms, to back the heck off. You'd be totally in the right to threaten to run off to Tahiti, de-friend your entire bridal party, and revoke all rights to grand babies if they all don't shut their pie-holes and butt out of your bridal business. After all, it is your day! You are busy and stretched thin, and juggling a lot of balls. You're only human.
There are, however, a few reasons why I suggest you refrain from reacting in anger. I will share with you a few tips I have that I think are a better, long-term approach that will still allow you to get what you want - but save your relationships, too.
I truly feel that you have to keep your surrounding relationships as healthy as possible, not just for the sake of those relationships, but because they ultimately bleed into your relationship with your spouse. And remember, your main goal is to keep yourself and your relationship with your future spouse happy and healthy. If you kick off your marriage with stress all around it and people who have animosity toward you, then you are fighting an uphill battle that will likely only grow worse. You have to ask yourself if you really want to live with that negativity in your world.
You're not changing anyone - that's for sure. But if you work to handle how you will handle them, at least you can remain as calm as possible. That means still doing things your way, but taking the high road.
But why take the high road?
The first reason I think it's wise to take the high road is one that might hurt to hear, but is a fact: these people and their opinions are likely not going anywhere. You may not like your in-laws but you will have to find a way to deal with them in a healthy manner. I say that not so you can hold hands with them and sing Kumbaya around a campfire every Tuesday night, but so that their shenanigans and these issues don't put strain on your marriage. Trust me, they will only get worse.
The second reason I want you to rise above the drama is because engaging in it will only create more drama for yourself. It might feel good to scream at your sister-in-law once and for all that you don't care how much experience she has planning weddings, you're doing things your way, but you'll likely only invite more pushback and animosity. When it comes to weddings (and life) I try to live by one solid rule: don't poke the crazy.
When it comes to others meddling in the planning process, how can a couple determine when to fight the person imposing, and when to let it go? Again, it's your wedding, you are in charge, and the day should be a true reflection of what you and your future spouse envision it to be. But some things are more trouble than they are worth, and you might actually gain some sanity by letting things go.
Here are a few ways you can handle these tricky situations, and re-gain (or maintain) control of your wedding while keeping you relationships intact...
How to Handle Tricky Situations
If it's something truly important to you as a couple, find a way to pay for that item yourself. It's unfortunate, but some people offer to pay for something pertaining to your wedding in order to control that particular element. And if you aren't the one paying, you might find yourself stuck. If it's something truly important to you, pay for it yourselves. (If you are realizing this a little too late, you can still use the tools in the following steps.)
Be both kind AND assertive. You can come from a calm place without bringing negativity to the table, and still get what you want.
Example: "I really appreciate how much our wedding means to you. That said, (blank) and I have always wanted (X, Y, or Z) done this way, and feel strongly about keeping it how we've envisioned." Then STAND FIRM. If you repeat yourself in a calm, assertive manner, then move on, the person will likely move on as well.
The trick is that you have to be firm, and not care that they might trash-talk you behind your back. You need to be okay with everyone not being okay with you, is the best way I can put it. There is no room for people-pleasing in wedding planning. Remember, someone will always have something to say, no matter what you do, so it's best to just do what you want in the first place.
Re-direct people. If your grandmother truly wants you to get married in a church, but that's not at all the way you planned to celebrate your day, gently tell her that you won't be having a church ceremony - but find a way to include her. Maybe she can read a prayer aloud during your ceremony, maybe you can donate to a religious cause in her name. Just something that lets her know that although you aren't following her traditions, you are honoring them (and her).
If your mother-in-law is grasping at straws or meddling, it is likely because she is struggling to find her way into your day. Find something that she alone can do that is special. Ideas: a reading at your ceremony, help arranging the favors, a decision about the day she can call her own. This will make her feel involved in a way that you are comfortable with. Win/win.
Evaluate what's really bothering you. Maybe it's your mother who is adamant that you take a formal photo with all the second cousins, but because you hate posed photos, you don't want to do it. You tell her no, but she insists. She is always trying to control you! Your stress level goes through the roof each time you talk to her and she brings up her insistence on this ridiculous photo op, and you continue to push and pull. Ask yourself: do you really want to die on that hill? I say, take the stupid photo, print her out a copy after the wedding, and move on. It's not worth your sanity to fight her on this. You know when it comes to your wedding album that photo ain't making the cut, anyway.
When all else fails, side-step. Remember, at the very least, you can simply side-step the person hurling their "suggestions" at you and quietly do it your own way regardless of what they say or think. Just smile and nod, excuse yourself, and go do what you were planning on doing anyway. At the end of the day, you don't owe anyone an explanation.
What if the push-back is from your future spouse?
If it's push-back from you spouse-to-be, however, you will need to re-evaluate the decision. It's a wedding, but it's also the jump-start to a marriage together that will hopefully last for years to come. Figuring out a way to compromise is a great exercise for how you'll problem-solve and see eye-to-eye for the remainder of your future together.
Try to stay calm and come from a positive place. First, check yourself. Are you acting out of hand? Are you overreacting, overblowing your budget, or spending too much attention on something that in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t matter much? Have a heart-to-heart with yourself, first.
Next, find out why doing something a certain way means so much to your spouse, and make sure it's not something like "to make my mom happy" or anything having to do with pleasing someone else. Then, coming from a place of love and positivity, brainstorm ways you two can meet in the middle.
I know you can do it. You two are together for a reason. As for everyone else? Well, remember: at the end of the day, your wedding is not about them.
Alessandra Macaluso is author of The Real-Deal Bridal Bible, host of the Real-Deal Brides Podcast, and blogger at AlessandraMacaluso.com. This post first appeared on www.realdealbrides.com. Alessandra is also author of the What a Good Eater! family cookbook. Alessandra’s work is featured in several anthologies, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, and many other online publications. Her original screenplay “Polar Suburbia” placed as a semi-finalist in the Moondance Film Festival.
Alessandra is mom to two toddlers and a twenty-five pound Maine coon cat who believes he is a dog. She spends her time driving her OCD husband completely nuts with her constant rearrangement of scenery in their home. Learn more at AlessandraMacaluso.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.