Family- we can’t live with them, can’t live without them either! Families are funny old things; sometimes you are all on the same level and getting on just fine, then equally it can take moments to be at the polar opposite. So is there a secret to keeping a happy medium? Pushy in-laws, arguing siblings, separated parents that refuse to talk to each other… it’s tricky, let’s see if I can help you with this one.
I think the key, as with all sensitive subjects, is communication. Sitting on things that bother you can often lead to a blow out of tempers, and as this is the planning of a happy occasion, animosity and unnecessary stress isn’t what you are aiming for. It is also worth mentioning that you are two families joining, you will be tied together after this occasion, so it is worth getting to terms with it all and creating the best scenario possible, not just for the wedding, but for the time you will spend together afterwards.
The issue in the family, may not directly involve you, but as it is your wedding, it somehow inadvertently, becomes your problem too. It might be that your partner doesn’t see eye to eye with someone in your family, perhaps mum? I believe it was Voltaire that said ‘behind every successful man, stands a surprised mother in law’. If this is the case, talk to both people separately about it and express that it is important to you that they get on. Your partner and mother, both share great importance in your life and they will want what is best for you. Nobody is perfect and they will both have their own reasons for disagreements, but the common ground is you and if you voice it in the right way to both of them, it could really settle the waters. The one piece of advice I would give you is, if it is something as close as a partner and mother, don’t ignore it… just because it is an awkward subject, it doesn’t mean it is best left alone. Make sure both of them know that you are not trying to chose a side and that you care about their feelings equally.
Have an engagement party! People are happier when they know other people; it will also be a good trial run for seeing whether everyone can get along for the cause. If you get a whiff of anything suspect at this, you will be able to assess whether or not you will need to get involved. Talk it through as a couple from the get go, this should ‘nip in the bud’ any rows between the two of you about the stress of the situation – it’s his or her wedding too, so halve the problem. Whoevers’ family it involves or even if it involves both, if you are both talking from the same side, you will be better ready to find a solution. In my mind, it is always good to talk and see if resolve can be found but if you can’t go down that route, then it is always an option to not seat people together and do your best to make sure there isn’t a clash on the day. A sweetheart top table can be a godsend if two parents don’t want to be on the top table together. You two can sit in the centre of your guests and talk to everyone, whilst the others that have their differences can sit with friends and family that they know and love, and fingers crossed, a happy atmosphere can be created all round.
Now all of this may not apply to you, but it is a good idea to be prepared. Wedding planning can turn the tables on family dynamics and before you know it, your two best friend bridesmaids have fallen out! The mother in law, who you always got on with so well, can morph into a bossy know it all and try to take over, or even your own family can start making demands. Remember it is your day and the planning of it is entirely up to you. Yes, you want to keep everyone happy, but not to the detriment of your own values. My advice is to keep everyone at bay, ask for help and include your family members but play your cards close to your chest. If someone wants to arrange the flowers for you, or the cake, or anything else- either be prepared to let them have free reign or make it quite clear that you have a vision in mind and you’d like to be involved at any relevant booking meetings. That way, you still get a say! I have seen it many times before… the bride will mention booking a certain element to the day and families go on a bit of a whirlwind to ‘help’ you and end up organising something that isn’t very you. Just because your uncle knows a DJ or Nan knows someone who can bake, it doesn’t mean it will be what you want or even your taste. You won’t offend people if you tell them from the start that you have something planned (even if it’s a white lie at that stage), just make sure your other half knows the plan so that they have your back!
Remember, what you are not trying to do is ‘fake’ happy families or force anything that’s unnatural. We are all very different people with very different views and cannot all be best of friends. What you are focusing on is everyone getting along for the day. You are not looking to get actively involved in any feuds. Respect and appreciate them as your friends and family, ask them if they can do what you are asking, then walk away, the day is about the two of you so don’t get swept up in all the drama, keep the reason you are getting married very close to your heart.
Happy planning, see you next week