#1 Determine your priorities (also known as “pick your battles”)
In my advice for the recently engaged, I told brides that they should identify their lower priorities so that they know what tasks they can delegate during the wedding planning process. Friends, and especially family, of couples getting married should also identify their priorities, but for a slightly different purpose. What purpose is that? PICKING YOUR BATTLES! While you should never push your views on the happy couple, I realize that some folks can’t help themselves. So, instead of making everything a battle, just pick your priorities and express them to the couple somewhat early (but not immediately after engagement). For instance, do you want them to have a band instead of a deejay? Or to wear a family heirloom veil? Just focusing on the major details will help avoid friction. If you stick your nose in every aspect of wedding planning, they’re more likely to ignore ALL your advice and requests.
#2 It’s not personal. Don’t get offended
With #1 in mind, Don’t get offended when your advice or ideas are not accepted. Nothing personal. It’s their wedding, not yours. And if you pull the whole “we’re paying for this so you better listen to us” thing, you’re setting yourself up for a boatload of resentment. Do you really want your son or daughter to bad mouth you behind your back for their entire engagement?
#3 Never, ever speak ill of the future in-laws
Unless if there is some sort of abuse or criminal activity going on, just keep your opinions to yourself. It’s already a stressful enough time without the bride or groom thinking that you hate their future in-laws. So seriously, just keep your mouth shut. Think your daughter’s future mother-in-law has terrible taste? Oh fucking well. Think you son’s future brother-in-law goes a little heavy on the antidepressants? Just keep it to yourself. All it will do is dissuade the bride and groom from confiding in you in the future. Remember, once you say something, it can never be “unheard.”
#4 Offer to help with tedious tasks, like searching for used wedding items on Craigslist
We’ve already covered that you should pick your battles. And that you shouldn’t get offended when your advice is not heeded. Or, maybe they want to plan the entire wedding without any outside help (like we did. Seriously, it was one of our best wedding decisions). But to still show you care, every once in a while, offer to help with something tedious, like addressing invitation envelopes or searching craigslist for used items.
#5 Read recent wedding magazines.
If you got married more than five years ago, do yourself a favor and buy a few wedding magazines the next time you’re at the supermarket. This will help you get acquainted with recent trends, especially in décor and dresses. That way you don’t keep suggesting a large tulle-covered white bird cage from the craft store as a wedding card box.
What else do you think is crucial for family and friends of couples getting married to know?