A few weeks ago I took to my Facebook page to ask if any of you had any wedding planning woes that I could help you with. To say I was inundated might be the understatement of the century! As I waded through the comments there was a common thread that kept popping up again and again: dealing with difficult family situations. This is just a very small sample of the hundreds I received.
“I lost my Dad four years ago and while my mum is with someone new, who’s really lovely, I don’t feel comfortable asking him to walk me down the aisle. I was going to walk myself down the aisle but the reactions I’ve got off friends and family haven’t been great about the situation. Advice?” Alexandra
“Divorced (and likely to argue) parents on either side! How the heck do do deal with those?” Vicky
“Any advice for having your pops refuse to walk you down the aisle because he doesn’t get along well with your fiancé?” Aja
“Dealing with his family is our biggest stress. We’re having the wedding where we live, a couple of hours drive from where our families live, mine are all coming down and arranging to share a hotel but half of his say they won’t travel that far? I don’t know if there’s some way of making the journey seem less or if he’ll just have to have half the guests I do.” Amy
“We are getting married next year. Our biggest problems are that one parent has said she won’t come if another parent is going…” Georgie
“Having step-parents involved is a big stress for us. I’ve asked my dad to share the responsibility of giving me away with my step-dad, who was there day in and day out for me as I grew up. Safe to say dad didn’t like that idea – what to do??!!?” Aimee Rose
OK people, here’s what you need to do. Stop. Just stop for one second and breathe. Are you doing it? Go on, I’ll wait…
Seriously though, I have always been of the mindset that you can’t please everyone so you shouldn’t waste your time trying. Yes, it can be a harder pill to swallow when you’re dealing with the feelings of people you really love, but if you don’t you’ll end up spiralling into a turmoil of stress, worry and self-doubt… three things you certainly do not want surrounding your wedding!
In an ideal world, everyone you love would just be so happy for you that they’d put their differences aside for one day… and in the majority of instances they will (even if they don’t say beforehand!) Yet it is a possibility that this moment of unselfish clarity will not fall upon your nearest and dearest, and as awful as it is to think about, there is probably nothing you can do about it.
In more practical terms, my advice would be to speak to the people involved way before the wedding, and explain your concerns. You might realise you were worrying about nothing, or you might be able to come to a mutual conclusion that all parties are happy with. However in the unlikely instance that this doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, and as counter-intuitive as it might seem, you just have to let it go.
Honestly, any excuse to include a Frozen reference #sorrynotsorry
Why? Because as much as we might like to, we can not control what other people are going to think or do. If somebody is hell bent on doing that one thing that is stressing you out so much, it’s unlikely that anything you can say will make them do otherwise. Planning a wedding is stressful enough without trying to take on the burden of worrying how everyone else is feeling or what they may or may not do.
Weddings are not meant to be perfect because people are not perfect. That is a ridiculous lie that the wedding industry has been peddling for years. Whenever you get in one room with lots of family and friends (and free flowing alcohol!) there’s potential for differences of opinion or disagreements. It’s just human nature. I promise that the world will not implode if things do not go exactly how you might imagine.
Families can be hard work. Weddings can be massive stress-inducers. For some people, combining the two is a lethal combination. All we can do is have faith that the people we love are able to put their crazies aside for just one day to celebrate with us. For the majority of you, I promise that they will, and for those select few amongst you that don’t, well, at least you’ll have an interesting story to tell the grandchildren!
- Photography: Craig Mcdean for Interview Magazine