When you decide to marry your partner, you’re also marrying into their family. Likewise, your partner will be joining your family, too. When it comes to wedding planning, both of your families will very likely have opinions about how your wedding should go. From deciding what kind of engagement ring you’ll have to charting out the seating arrangements for your wedding guests, here are eight tips on how to navigate family dynamics while wedding planning.
- You and Your Partner Come First — First things first: Have a discussion with your partner about what you both want for your wedding. Discuss any concerns you may have about family dynamics. It’s essential for you both to be on the same page about what you desire and are worried about before you involve either of your families. That way, you two can brainstorm and decide what it is you both want for the wedding. If you and your partner don’t want to invite that extended family member you’ve only met once, you’ll need to explain that to your family together. Want to get one of those unique engagement rings for your partner? Don’t let anyone stop you. If you and your partner want to have a particular wedding theme or don’t want a religious ceremony, you two can create a game plan together on how you’ll communicate that to your families.
- Listen with an Open Heart — Your families are excited. They want to help and be involved in the wedding planning process. The question is: where does helpfulness end and meddling begin? That’s a boundary you two will need to navigate together. When family members do want to give their input, you can decide how much you want them involved in the planning process. If your future mother-in-law wants to give you advice on engagement rings for your partner, hear her out. Listen to them with an open heart, but don’t let them take over the wedding planning. Tell them you appreciate their input, and be kind but firm about what you’re willing to do, not do and what’s negotiable.
- Know What Your Must-Haves and Non-Negotiables Are — One way to be able to confidently listen or set boundaries is to know what your wedding must-haves and non-negotiables are. If you’re set on having your bridal party wear jewel-toned bridesmaids’ dresses, have that be a must-have for your wedding. If you want flowers for the centerpieces but don’t care about or are open to what kinds of flowers they are, that can be negotiable for your family to have input on.
- Take Care of Yourselves — Wedding planning is stressful. It’s time-consuming. According to a survey from The Knot, couples spend an average of six hours a week wedding planning. It can also be quite expensive. In between wedding planning, you still need to do everything else in your already busy lives. That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourselves. Try to have fun with it and don’t take things too seriously. It’s one day of your lives. Keep in good spirits, and that will give you the patience and strength to deal with any overwhelming and overeager family members.
- Ask for Help — If the wedding planning process is getting stressful beyond relief, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Anyone who wants to give their input can also get involved in helping. Manage expectations and know that sometimes people will give their opinions yet not want to get involved in any way. Continue to be collaborative with your partner and families to manage the dynamic positively.
- Let the Relatives Get Involved — If someone really wants to be involved in the wedding process, let them be. Just remember that you and your partner’s wedding vision is your vision. It’s your day, and at the end of the day, it’s your wedding and you two get the final say. Decide what tasks you want your relatives involved in and get help where you can get help. Let’s say you haven’t even picked out engagement or wedding rings yet. If you’re planning on proposing and you want the help of relatives who know your partner and understand the stress of wedding planning, get advice from relatives you trust to help you pick out diamond engagement rings.
- Get on the Charm Offensive — Your family loves you. You love your partner. Ideally, your family should also love your partner. That’s not always the case for many families. Your family may not be a fan of your partner or vice versa. If you’re in a situation where you don’t like your future in-laws or your in-laws aren’t a fan of yours, for your peace of mind during wedding planning, it’s best to keep the peace. Get on the charm offensive by being kind and respectful to both families, which also goes for both you and your partner.
- Setting Boundaries — While it’s important to be patient and respectful even with the most irate of in-laws, it’s also just as important to be able to set boundaries. That goes beyond just wedding planning, but that’s a whole other topic. When setting boundaries for the wedding, keep it kind, brief and firm. If someone gives you input that you don’t plan on taking or don’t want to say whether or not you’re taking their advice, you can tell them something along the lines of, “Thank you for your advice. We’ll definitely keep that in mind.”
With all of these tips in mind, you’ll be able to confidently make wedding planning decisions together as a couple and with both of your families. You may find that not only will you be able to preserve the family dynamic, but maybe even improve the relationships during the time before and after the wedding.