How to break bad wedding news

Happy Friday everyone! The weekend is here at last and a lot of you will be busy with wedding planning. As much fun as planning can be, it can also be tricky to deflect the well-meaning wishes of your friends and family. In most cases, everyone around you will have their own ideas about how things should be done – and while you’re perfectly at liberty to accept their suggestions, there are times where you might feel very strongly about something and will need to break the bad news to loved ones that you’re going to do things your way. In most cases, politely fobbing people off with a “thanks, I’ll think about it” does work. But there are some situations that require more diplomatic handling. Our readers have been sending in their dilemmas all week – here’s a selection of the trickiest ones and how to handle them.

I don’t want children at my wedding but I know it’s not going to go down well, especially as a lot of my friends have had child-friendly celebrations. How do I explain to my friends and family that they have to leave their kids at home?

That’s one of the most common wedding dilemmas I’ve come across. I’m not going to patronise you and say that most parents will be relieved to be able to let their hair down, because it’s not true. Some will, some won’t – everyone’s different. The first thing you need to do is handle the situation with consistency and fairness as follows:

 You can’t pick and choose – either you have kids at a wedding or not. A lot of people run into trouble when they just want their Godchildren / nieces / nephews present but not guests’ children. Sadly this is the main cause of conflict when it comes to a ban on kids as it is really hard to justify – no matter how irrational it seems, parents will often have an emotional reaction to you allowing another kid but not theirs. A separate play area with an entertainer or someone to look after children can solve the problem of screaming kids at a ceremony if you feel you must have a child that’s close to you there.

It’s also important to note that a blanket ban on kids may mean friends with tiny, breastfeeding or newborn babies won’t be able to make it and may feel left out or hurt by this.

 Define “kids”? Tricky, huh? When most people think of kids they think of babies and toddlers but what about those tricky teenage years? Set an age where you no longer consider people children and stick to that as a general rule.

The second thing you need to take care of is breaking the news delicately and make it doubly clear on the invitations by inviting people by name instead of by family. Even if you absolutely despise children, it’s never a good idea to cite this as a reason. Just explain that you’re having an adult celebration and that you would only like adults to be present for this. You don’t have to justify this any further – if you were having an adult dinner party, you wouldn’t expect your friends to bring their children with either.

Saying no to kids can be really hard, but at the end of the day, it’s your wedding. If you want to have a grown-up party, you say so. If your friends are real friends, they’ll get a babysitter for one night.

When it comes to choosing your bridesmaids, you need to go with your heart! Image © Satureyes 

I only have the budget for three bridesmaids and would like two of these to be close family members. However – I have three close female friends and we are a bit of a group. I can’t choose one over the other two and so have decided not to ask any of them to be bridesmaids. Two of them have been very understanding, but one has taken the news very hard. She insists that if she can be a bridesmaid she will pay her own way, and feels very hurt. How do I let her down gently?

First of all, it’s always quite uncomfortable to put someone under pressure to have you as their bridesmaid, whether you’re best friends or family. It’s such a personal decision and an awkward one to make at the best of times and it’s not fair on you for anyone to make you feel like you’ve made the wrong decision.

Weddings are tricky times and they can really mess up friendships if things are handled badly by either party. The good news is that when they do mess up friendships, it’s often a positive thing – a weeding out of people who aren’t great influences in your life. But if this friendship is very important to you and you want to make things right, you need to just be very straight with her. Basically you need to explain to your friend that it’s an all-or-nothing situation with these particular three friends. If you can’t have all three then you don’t want to leave anyone out by having just one of them as they’re all important to you.

Explain that if she paid for herself and your other two friends couldn’t, it wouldn’t be right. It’s the only fair way to do it and it doesn’t mean you care about her any less, it just means that when people come in a friendship group, you can’t choose between them like that.

If she doesn’t understand after that, perhaps get the other two girls who are a little more understanding to have a chat with her and try to make her see the position you’re in. If that fails, you just need to leave it and hope she comes to terms with it – the ball is really in her court from there.

I hope it works out for you – perhaps there’s some other way that you can signify how important these girls are in your life, like giving them a role that doesn’t require budget, a reading to do together or something similar?

I want my teenage son, not my dad, to walk me down the aisle and give me away. I don’t know how my dad will take the news and anticipate he won’t come – how do I tell him?

Presumably there’s a good reason that you want your son to walk you down the aisle. It’s hard to answer without knowing what your relationships with your son and your dad are like but I would explain to him that accepting a new man into the household could be a difficult step for your son. Allowing him to give you away will help this process and make your son feel more in control and a bigger (and more grown up) part of what’s happening. If you frame it in this way, many dads would graciously step aside to allow this process to happen.

As I said, I don’t know what your relationship with your dad is like, but perhaps you could include him in some other way. You could always have the both of them walk you down the aisle, or have your dad walk you half way to be met by your son who then gives you away, but if you’d rather not, perhaps give your dad another role in the ceremony or place more importance on his speech.

Wedding planning is supposed to be fun (don’t believe the hype that it has to be stressful) so handle these situations tactfully and carefully and there’s no reason for anyone to get upset. Good luck! And if you have a tricky wedding dilemma for next week’s edition, email

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