Weddings and Family

#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?


A Fleeting Moment of Guilt

by Melissa on October 5, 2011

The other day I was talking on the phone to my mom just about regular old stuff. She had recently gone to a funeral for a distant relative and saw some of her cousins there. My mom and her one cousin are close in age (62 and 64) and this same cousin’s stepson had just gotten married the previous year.

As they were getting caught up on things, the cousin said to my mom:

“Well, you must be really busy with the wedding coming up soon!”

To which my mom replied with a short, “No.  No I’m not.  They’re taking care of everything themselves.”

Then my mom’s cousin started telling stories about all the tasks she had to do for her stepson’s wedding and how busy she was in the months leading up to the wedding.

Two thoughts occurred to me as my mom was recounting this conversation.

1) Shit. Should I have done more to involve my mom?

2) What am I doing “wrong” in this whole process that I’m not needing to reach out to others for help?

I mean, sure, my fiancé and I are busy doing stuff we wouldn’t normally have to do, but it’s not like overwhelming us or requiring us to reach out to others for help.  And I know typically you’re supposed to enlist the help of your bridesmaids for wedding-related projects, but never once have I felt the need that things were so crazy busy or overwhelming that I needed others’ help and regretted the decision not to have bridesmaids.

And I guess, because I haven’t felt overwhelmed, I didn’t involve my mom that much either. Well, there may be a few reasons for this upon further consideration.

1) My mom and dad don’t have much money and my dad’s health has been tumbling for the last two years. My dad’s medication is very, very expensive (think $1200/month for just one medication), and they always have to go through a laborious process to get it subsidized.  Therefore I never, ever wanted them thinking even once about paying for something for the wedding given that they can barely afford medication.

2) Money is a very, very taboo subject in my family (which is the polar opposite of my fiancé’s family who all talk very openly about their credit card debt and bankruptcies). Therefore, I never had the budget “talk” with my parents (or my fiancé’s parents for that matter) after we got engaged.

3) I always feel like my parents are judging me when I spend money, so I have barely told them what I’ve even purchased for the wedding, so I guess that also led to me not involving them much.  They always buy things cheap, no matter the long-term cost. For example, they’ll pay a few hundred dollars to get their car “halfway” fixed, only to have to pay even more a few months down the road to get it fixed again. The judge on “The People’s Court” has an interesting phrase, “The cheap becomes expensive.”  Anyway, I digress. I’ll give you an example when I’ve felt judged. I discovered that buying linen tablecloths was cheaper than renting them, and I told my parents about it. When they asked how much they were, I said they were $8 each to buy and that I would need about 30 of them. They immediately encouraged me to just buy those plastic roll tablecloths because they would be much cheaper. And, they about flipped out when I told them how much our photographer cost (which, I didn’t even tell them the real amount, of $2900. I just said it was “about $2000”).  My mom also firmly believes in the cash bar concept, because if people want to drink, they should pay for it themselves.

So, to avoid the judgment, I just stopped telling her about the things I bought. Because seriously, if she knew we spent $41 on custom luminaries from Etsy or that we spent $290 on 7 cases of wine (even though that’s a great deal!) the judging would continue.

All those things compound I guess to not involving her much at all in the wedding.

But what do you think? Should I have involved our families more in the wedding planning process?