Weddings and juggling family politics seems to go hand in hand. So much so that may be feeling like wedding planning is more of an exercise in negotiating family dynamics than a celebration of love. But don’t worry, Rock n Roll Bride is here to help!
You’ve set the date of your wedding and you’ve already decided that it’s not going to be a traditional affair. Your wedding is going to be special, out of the ordinary, something that you’re both going to be proud of. You’ve decided on the theme and it’s all going so well: you and your fiancé agree on all the things you want and you’re kind of wondering what all those brides before you were making such a fuss about. This is fun and easy!
But then something unpleasant happens. It’s like when your smoke alarm goes off when you thought nothing untoward was happening on the stove. Suddenly, everyone has an opinion on your choices and obstacles like anxious bridesmaids and meddling mothers get in the way. In expressing their ideas, they seem determined to destroy yours. Sometimes it’s just the sighs and silent shakes of the head which can crush you even further.
I remember the strained words we had over our wedding song. You would not believe that a three-minute bunch of crotchets and semibreves could cause such a rift. Mum laid the back of her hand across her forehead, much like a Renaissance figurine, “You can’t have THAT song!” she cried, “for heaven’s sake, it’s a wedding!”
You might think I was planning to play a funeral march, or the Hokey Cokey. Dear Lord, no. I wanted Queen, I Want to Break Free‘ I don’t think my mum got the irony.
So how do you keep your frustration contained so that your fist and your mother’s nose don’t meet? Firstly, it’s important to take a step back to see all the angles of the situation. Giving you advice, albeit accompanied with huffs and puffs, is your mother’s way of keeping ‘her role’ intact. In her mind she wants to feel needed, wanted, and important. If the tactless comments stem from an over anxious mother who can’t sleep because she fears things will go wrong, then you can forgive her.
Don’t worry. There will be other problems; there will be table plans and guest lists. There will be big storms in tiny teacups.
Presenting my mother with our table plan resulted in her face becoming contorted in agony, like I’d just plucked out one of her toe nails. “WHY have you got Uncle Keith sat next to Judith? It’s Martin who plays tennis!” I looked at her, unable to see why people can’t talk about other things other than tennis. Needless to say this was very much a ‘first world wedding problem’ and one which wasn’t worth risking a row. And so I called on my best resource – my lovely hubby-to-be – who sat down with my mum and ‘helped’ her sort it out.
Mother-in-laws can come with their equal measure of frustrations too. One poor girl I know was told by hers that “We didn’t have a fancy wedding so I don’t see why you should!” Anything with a bit of red, taffeta, or sparkle was ‘over the top’. This can have its benefits: you have FULL control when you take on the FULL bill. Any negative comments can be muted by just ‘zoning out’, very much like pressing ‘skip’ when an annoying song comes on the radio during a long car journey.
Also, bridesmaids might suddenly become very vocal. You might even hear squawks of dismay in the distance: they may not like their hair; they may not like their dress, they might not like their (your) hen weekend. Some bridesmaids have been known to think that it’s their day. One of my friends had to deal with a bridesmaid going on a crash diet who then cried “That sort of dress won’t flatter me!” So beware of anyone who says they’re a 12 when really they’re really a 16. Just because they want to be a 12, it doesn’t mean the dress will fit. Late night alterations before the big day are surprisingly common. Every bride needs a ‘go to gal’, aka a maid of honour with her head screwed on. She will be your mediator between you and any other disagreeable bridesmaids.
Although planning a wedding can be rife with family dramas and politics, remember that at the end of the day your wedding should be representative of you, your fiancé and everything you hold dear. After all raised eyebrows are a sure sign that your wedding will be memorable!
About the Author
Kathryn Player is an English teacher and writes satirical news stories for The Big Pickle News during her spare time.
This article originally appeared in Rock n Roll Bride magazine, issue 10, which you can now pick up for FREE via our online shop (just pay postage). You’re welcome!