6 Tips to Manage Family Expectations During Your Wedding

Wedding on skis

A lot of times when I work with couples and their families to plan their big day, there is a disconnect between what the bride and groom want and what the family is prepared to expect (and this advice can be applied to the holiday season as well!).

I’ve had brides whose relatives have asked them ON the day of their wedding if the bride or groom will pick them up at the airport (the answer, if you’re wondering, should be no). I’ve had families who have attended a Montana wedding expecting black tie and have been confused when jeans and cowboy hats abound (check the invitation for clues about attire). I’ve even had families who fail to enjoy the wedding day because they are so invested in preventing anything from going “wrong” that they forget to enjoy everything that is going right.

Here are a few tips to help ease your family’s expectations on your wedding day (and give yourself some sanity as well):

1. Assure them of the importance of their support. A lot of times, family members care deeply about your big day because they care about you and your happiness (what they don’t realize, is often they are the cause of that unhappiness). Assure them, either on the day of the wedding or when you see them during wedding week that you are so excited to have them present on this special day, and that their support and love is more than you could even think to ask for on your big day.

2. Make it clear what your wedding is about. If you’re going for Montana chic (aka cowgirl boots and an outdoor venue), make it very, very obvious well ahead of the wedding the vibe of your wedding. Your grandmother still may want to wear her evening gown and her string of pearls, but as long as you give her a heads up, she’s less likely to feel out of place when everyone else is wearing sundresses.

3. Take one for the team (the team called “your own sanity”). Mom upset that you want to use online RSVPs exclusively instead of traditional paper invites? Dad buy your wedding dress without even consulting you? Let ’em have their way. Weddings should be about you and your partner, yet our family is still important and still will try to exercise their wishes. Task your mom with collecting and tracking RSVPs (mom’s LOVE projects) and tell your dad that you love the dress enough to wear it for the ceremony, but you want to have a reception dress as well. They feel like an important part of the process, and you get to keep your sanity.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. The more information your families know, the better and more involved they feel (and the fewer questions they’ll have for you during the week of your wedding). If you feel like you’re overcommunicating, you’re probably doing it right.

5. Thank them again and again. Sometimes, all our family wants is the acknowledgement that they are important to you and present on your big day. And often, with everything else going on, we forget how far people travel or how much they put on hold to be with us and supporting us on our wedding day. No matter what feeling your wedding has, gratitude is always in style.

6. Know that a wedding is temporary and a marriage is a lifetime. Often, when I have couples who are stressed by their families’ involvement, I advise them that this wedding will be gorgeous, they will be married no matter what, and it will definitely provide funny stories in the years to come.

Do you have anything to add? Have you ever been in a situation where your family expected a totally different wedding than what you planned? Comment below and tell me about it!

(image: Lauren Brown Photography)

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