The most common bridal dilemmas (and how to solve them) part one: family power struggles

In my years as a wedding blogger, I’ve seen it all, from family insisting on bringing unusual pets down the aisle to rogue bridesmaids turning up wearing white! Thankfully those are the more rare problems, but there are some common dilemmas that come up again and again and again and seem to be fairly universal. I’ve probably addressed some of these before but hey, I’m older and wiser and uglier now. So  over the next few weeks, let’s have a look at some of the most common wedding woes – and how to fix them. The first in our series…

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Don’t bring about a cloud to rain on my parade…

The pre-nuptial power struggle

No sooner has the celebratory champagne cork popped than the demands begin. It’s always the same story with different details: family members want to control anything and everything, with varying degrees of involvement, from the guest list to (eek) the dress! The following three scenarios are likely:

1.) The family is paying for the whole wedding and therefore feels they deserve a say.
2.) The family is contributing to the wedding and therefore feels they deserve a say.
3.) You are funding the wedding and the family still feels they deserve a say.

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The path to wedded bliss never did run smooth

Which scenario fits?

If your issue is scenario three, then you can confidently and kindly tell your family to butt out. Accepting suggestions is OK, but if you’re footing the bill then quite frankly while requests are acceptable, making demands is simply unreasonable.

If you’re dealing with scenario one or two then things are a little more delicate. On the one hand, it’s your big day and you want to have the best day of your life. On the other hand, by accepting financial help, are you giving others a stake in the details?

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A wedding is the only time you should be able to have your cake and eat it too!

Nip it in the bud

I find the best, and most tactful way, to handle a pre-nuptial power struggle is to establish boundaries before any money has exchanged hands. Be really frank and open about your concerns and tell your family that, while you really appreciate their help, there must be a certain understanding about who gets the final say. Can a gift be given without any major strings attached?

If the answer is “no” and this is likely to breed resentment, then it’s time to start working on a compromise. Sit down with your partner and discuss the areas of the wedding your family wants to be involved with. Do you really care about the guest list getting out of control? Are there areas in which you’re happy to concede and be usurped in the name of keeping the peace?

If the answer to that is “no” then explore the issue further. OK, so you do care about the guest list, and, for example, you don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry that your parents have ever met to attend over your friends. Is there a way to compromise there? Can you invite more people to the evening party and swallow the extra crowds? Can you agree to invite a number of your parents’ friends if your own RSVP no?

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Don’t let it turn into an argument

And if all else fails

It will come down to good old mediation. Perhaps try to find a neutral friend or family member (or failing that, a willing wedding planner) to chair a discussion and make sure everyone is heard fairly. Every family has its own complexities and dynamics to deal with and it would be a terrible shame to have such a happy occasion cause so much distress.

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