Family Dramas and Your Wedding Day

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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

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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!

Supporting Cast

13 comments

  1. Jade

    Personally I would say just stick to what you want and people will get over it.
    We only had 15 guests (parents, siblings and a best friend each) some family members understood (mostly my side) and some were upset (mostly his). His mum had a family gathering at home after so they felt they were getting to celebrate too.
    After a lot of stress about who would walk me down the aisle (dad or stepdad or both) I realised why does it have to be either. So I asked my mum. She has always been there for me and was so happy she cried not like her at all!
    We’ve been married just over a year and life has moved on. Other friends and family will get married or have babies or do other amazing things and it will soon be forgotten. But for me it was the best day ever flaws and all.

  2. Such an interesting topic!! It’s also a great tip if you have issues like that to tell any suppliers that need to know like your photographer! I learned the hard way on the first wedding I ever shot! Trying to get the ex wife and new wife together for a photo! Major awkward moment which I learnt about after from the best man. Nobody had told me and being my first wedding I didn’t think to ask!

    On a more personal note, although we have no wedding on the near horizon we have often spoke about guest lists and such and it is a cause of stress for both of us! (Although I am a lot less tolerant of family demands than him). His family are very traditional, no babies before marriage, no living together before marriage etc(though we have broke the latter) and are all strong vegetarians yet my family are very liberal, don’t care about sex/living/babies before marriage and quite frankly, Italians i’m pretty sure see vegetarianism as an exotic illness. My beautiful family are the funnest nutjobs around but I do get hot under the collar thinking about them both interacting with each other. Urgh!! My nana trying to twerk on the dance floor for jokes as his family fear for their future family-line on the side of the dance floor! I can just see it!!

  3. Emma R

    Brilliant article! We get married a week tomorrow and have learned to just let the over bearing mother in law, brat of a sister in law and a jeremy kyle worthy auntie get on with it! Its our day and we’re determined to enjoy it!!!

  4. Libby

    I completely agree!! You must trust that you have made the best decisions for YOUR wedding day and be confident with that. And as Kat said, the crazies will make for a great story to tell in the future! Speaking from experience, my dad/step-dad made a massive fool out of himself and although I was horrendously embarassed and completely hurt at the time, I chose to learn a lesson that day as well. It was a painful one, but one learned nonetheless. Make sure the decisions you are making are true to who the two of you are as a couple. Yes, family will have opinions and suggestions, but like life, you will regret the decisions you made merely becuase you thought they would be accepted by so and so. Stay true to yourself and enjoy the day and the process, oh and the marriage you’ve worked so hard to start:)

  5. Lucy

    This has come at the absolute perfect time for me. Thanks so much as always Kat. A family member is hosting our wedding, which is incredibly kind but it certainly comes with added stresses. Managed to have a massive misunderstanding last weekend so hoping to sort them all out when I see them again this weekend. Haven’t slept and have cried more than I can remember. Must just LET IT GO!

  6. Diana

    Can you believe I waited 8 years and 4 kids to finally not care about what my mother/father/etc will think? We are getting married in the church in August, close relatives only, lots of cake and flowers….they should not dare to say something innapropiate…

  7. Helen

    I was determined to be the sort to ‘let it go’ – we decided on the key things (size, location, venue and date) before officially announcing it to everyone so we could stick to our guns. What I hadn’t been expecting was the reaction of some people who said it was a shock and they didn’t know it was on the cards, despite the fact we’d been openly discussing wedding plans for months, including potential dates and venues. For a couple of days it was horrible, I cried lots and felt like I’d upset people even though we’d tried to find a way of celebrating our marriage without having to leave anyone out.
    A few wise words came from unexpected places telling me to forget about those people. It was our wedding, and if they weren’t happy for us and what we wanted to do then that was their problem, not ours, and to stop worrying about trying to make them happy.
    It’s a couple of months on now and it seems it’s all been forgotten for now. When invitations go out I’m sure we’ll have round two (especially from those who think the height of crazy non-traditional weddings is those without table plan!*) but this time I know to ignore the moans and party with those who want to.

    *a close family friend told my sister that she’d been to a very very unconventional wedding where they’d had a hog roast and they’d been expected to get up and get their own food and choose where to sit. God help her when she gets an invite to our wedding party asking her to bake and bring a cake! Haha!

  8. allie lister

    Definitely agree.
    I get married in 3 weeks and I wasted alot of time stressing about my mums opinion and his parents arguing and guests not getting along.
    End result.. His mum and sister aren’t coming to the wedding. My mum is getting married 4 weeks after me, so 8 know having the princess wedding she envisioned for me… but she is.
    We moved our wedding to the other side if the country cause we realised we’d chosen our location for everyone else.

    Do what makes you happy. If the love you and your happiness is important to them they will get the hell over it.

  9. Sarah

    Although marriage is still a way off for us, we are currently bearing witness (via partners’ eldest brother)to the hassle that is a traditional church all family invited wedding.
    And you know what?
    Eloping is so much more appealing.
    Just going to throw that one into the mix.

  10. If you have divorced parents that can’t be in a room together and behave properly, I think it’s fair enough to say to those people, ‘look, it’s *our* wedding. You need to be grown-ups here. If you don’t think you can be in a room together, don’t come.’ In other words, make it *their* problem. If they behave, you’re happy to have them there. Great! If they don’t feel they can, phew – you don’t have to worry about them making a scene. Great!

    I really think it’s perfectly OK *if you are paying for your own wedding* to say to anyone else in the extended family (and friends, for that matter), ‘this is our day. We are doing it like this. I don’t care what you think. If you don’t want to travel or don’t approve of our marriage in some way, that’s really not our problem.’ I really think that if you do what you think other people want, you will never stop regretting it.

    Our wedding was six weeks ago and we did exactly what we liked, and it was completely amazing. We spread the whole thing over two days, had two ceremonies (one civil and tiny, one massive in church), with the stag party between the two. Our policy was to tell everyone on the invitations as much about what we had planned as possible, so that if they didn’t fancy it they could simply not attend. Neither of my parents were there as Dad couldn’t get a visa and my mother is awful (I didn’t even invite her and no-one cared). One of my best friends gave me away, and I did the father of the bride speech myself. I wouldn’t change a single thing.

  11. Emilie

    I didn’t find the advice very useful (only because the solutions mentioned are the things I have already come up with!) but seeing how many other people are having these worries is somehow incredibly reassuring (more than you could possibly imagine), so thanks so much for this! X

  12. Samantha

    I think social media is also adding to the anxiety. With Facebook random cousins and distant family members who in reality play no part in your real world daily life are there in your online space, and so many people feel obliged to invite them in case they see the photos and get offended. This has happened to two brides I know with predicted awkward/disaster moments!

  13. Millie

    I did worry endlessly about this when starting to plan my wedding – I barely know my biological dad, and certainly don’t want him at my wedding, but I do love my dad’s siblings – my aunts and uncles. They’ve all been hugely upset I am not inviting him, and can’t seem to see it from my point of view at all. I did find it incredibly upsetting at first, but I refuse to do anything that I don’t want to – it’s our wedding, it will be our way!

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