Families… they can bring out the best and the worst in us, sometimes all at once too. Being in the wedding industry, we have seen our fair share of brides and grooms busily prepare for their big day. We know that emotions run high, and we know that weddings are just one of those momentous occasions where you can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try.
Recently, news that Tom Cruise had banned ex-wife, Nicole Kidman, from attending their son’s wedding made headlines. Of course, it’s been said that religious differences are the reason behind the snub, however others claimed Tom just simply didn’t want his ex-wife there. Most families have some amount of hurt or tension, and it all seems to come to a head when you’re planning a wedding (or even worse, a funeral). Whether the tensions are caused by theological differences, divorce or other specific incidents, or there’s just an inexplicable family feud, you’ll want to be considerate when planning your special day to accommodate all your loved ones, whether they all like each other or not.
We’ve been lucky enough to see plenty of nuptials start and end without a hitch, so here are some of the things we’ve learned about managing family conflict in the lead up to a wedding:
- A couple united can’t be divided – You and your fiancé are the ones making a lifetime commitment to each other. This is your special day. Make sure you’re both on the same page with how you want the day to proceed, who you want to be involved in the ceremony and reception formalities, and how you want everything to come together. Speak with your family and friends together, as a united team, and make sure that each person understands your wishes, and how much this wedding plan means to you both. Be firm, but sensitive when approaching delicate issues.
- Don’t feel obligated to fulfil every tradition – Traditions can be beautiful. Some you’ll have dreamed of since childhood, and they can be included in your day. Some may not be relevant to your life or family situation now, and you should never feel obligated to do anything just because it’s tradition. Be confident in making your own family customs and do things your own way. For example, if the bride has multiple father figures and can’t decide who should walk her down the aisle, consider other options, such as the bride walking herself down the aisle, or have mother-of-the-bride do the job.
- Show a little flexibility, care and compassion – Whilst it is your special day, and your wishes trump everything, it is important to consider the feelings of friends and family, whether they are financially contributing to the event or not. If your mother is feeling uneasy about seeing your father with his brand new, much younger girlfriend for the first time, be sensitive and appreciate that this is a little hard for her. If your dad hasn’t seen your mother since she left for the mail man 15 years ago, understand that he’s going to need some consideration too. Families are complex and imperfect, and a little bit of compassion and planning goes a long way. Everyone CAN get along for a whole (wedding) day, with open communication, tolerance and kindness. By helping all parties understand that this is your special day, they will focus on your union, and less on their politics or history with other family members/guests.
- Smart seating charts – it may be a tedious task if you’ve got lots of “complicated” relatives, but seating charts are your friend. Be smart about them. Don’t place people together if you know they’re likely to argue and make each other mad. Limit the amount of big personalities on each table to just a few. The time you take here will be time well spent! Once you’re happy with the seating plan, lock it in. No changes.
- Find a support person – If you’re struggling to negotiate with strong willed, opinionated family members, consider enlisting the help of a neutral, third party or friend to politely tell family members how it’s going to go. This is your day, and as long as your requests are reasonable and spoken with consideration, your family should really accept these decisions and support you. If not, the firm tone of a friend or wedding planner may be able to get the message through more effectively.
- Keep your sense of humour good – Humour is an amazing life tool. Planning a wedding is hard work, even without considering the human relationships factor. There’s a lot to plan and organise from venue to flowers to cake and outfits, the list is already extensive. Add family drama to that, and you’re going to be run off your feet. Keep a good sense of humour and understand that it is human nature to have conflicting personality types around. Everyone else involved may lose theirs, but you’ll enjoy the experience much better if you keep your sense of humour. Rise above the obstacles and stay in control.
In a perfect world, everyone would get along with everyone, but this is no perfect world. It takes all sorts of bright personalities to make life this interesting, and the best thing you can do when planning a wedding is embrace it. Don’t fight it. We love watching our brides and grooms at Buttai Barn make lifetime commitments to one another in front of those they love most. We’ve seen happy gatherings in spite of family history and conflict, because everyone came along for the right reason, to love and support the couple taking their vows.
If you’re planning a wedding, we wish you all the best and hope that your special day is all you ever dreamed of. If you’re still looking for a venue to accommodate the whole family (big or small), Buttai Barn specialises in just that. Check out our wedding packages brochure for more information.