If the Kardashian-Jenner’s and the Bridget Jones’s of the world have taught us anything, it’s that today, the unconventional family is far more conventional than ever before. However when it comes to planning your wedding, many elements only seem to work for a very traditional family set up. Zoe Wells is here today to help us navigate what can be very tricky waters.
If this is your situation then my first piece of advice would be to immediately let go of your expectations and pains that your family dynamic does not living up to societal expectations. As someone planning their own wedding for an unconventional family, I can tell you first hand this part is not easy…but that planning for the inevitable that could play out at the wedding is better than ignoring the enormous elephant in the room.
Arrange for people to meet in advance
Don’t let the wedding itself be D-Day. If your partner’s parents haven’t met yours, if your divorced parents haven’t seen each other since the separation, if either party has a new partner then I’d recommend arranging a meeting before the wedding. This will (hopefully!) mean that any potential awkwardness or conflicts can come about before the wedding and they’ll then have time to work through them, rather than there being a blow out on the actual day!
Gathering in an informal space without the pressures of the big day can really help to diffuse things and will also put your mind at rest. Engagement parties and bridal showers are the perfect opportunity for this.
Set your own boundaries and rules
You may have a few people that are overbearing, so set your boundaries in place early. Know what your non-negotiables are and make these clear in advance with an explanation of why these choices are important to you. Let family members know how much you love and appreciate them but also make your limits known.
Make your own traditions
Don’t be afraid to set your own rules and make new traditions. If you want your sister to walk you down the aisle because your parents can’t – do it! If your best friend is male, definitely forget gender typecasting and have a dude of honour. If you want to have eighteen bridesmaids or two mothers-of-the-bride – go for it! Just be aware that older generations may hold traditions a little closer to their hearts so give it some thought and warn people in advance if need be.
Get the right seating plan in place
Getting the seating chart sorted is one of the most headache-inducing parts of the wedding planning process and it’s only made worse by the complexity of the modern family. In saying this, most of the time, as long as your guests know and get on with at least one person on the table, or have something in common, they should be happy.
Most people will be more than happy to sit wherever they’re put for the duration of the meal but obviously, you don’t want to seat people that really don’t like each other together! There are have many options on how you can address this.
Before you plan anything, you could ask your family and friends who they would like to sit with. Although you should never promise you will be able to accommodate every request or it’ll turn into a logistical nightmare. If either sets of parents are divorced, or have new partners, then ditching the traditional top table completely might be a good option. One idea is to have each of them hosting their own table and you having a ‘sweetheart table’ for just the two of you.
Another idea is to have long tables with guests sitting opposite one another, rather than round ones. This is a good option for limiting the conflicts that can come up in a group seating dynamic.
You could simply mix everyone together with no hierarchy at all, or you could ditch the seating plan entirely and tell people to sit wherever they like! This blended format is really good for encouraging your guests to mingle with one another too.