In an earlier post, It’s Their Wedding Too, we talked about how to involve your family/relatives and your spouse’s family in the wedding planning on your terms. Yet, we know that no matter how carefully you plan their involvement, at some point it will feel like interference. So, this post is to equip you to navigate whatever situation may come up.
In the presence of interfering relatives, planning a wedding may start to seem like a battle of wills and of egos. Some of the weapons you’ll find brandished at you are emotional blackmail (do this one thing to honour me); culture (that’s not how we do things where we come from); threats (this can take the form of withdrawal of financial or emotional support) or outright anger.
Whatever comes, be ready with a strategy that will get you through your wedding without burning bridges or leaving you burnt out.
You need a lot of patience when dealing with people, but even more, patience when dealing with relatives. People often complain about how intending couples turn to ‘monsters’ during the wedding planning stage. They even coined the word ‘bridezilla’. But we bet most of those brides and grooms had no intention of losing their head. Hence, the need to practice patience. You must be able to “calm down,” as Nigerians say, and listen to everyone’s suggestions before you reply.
Patience is not something you get in one day; it’s something you work towards achieving. Of course, there’ll be days where you’ll lose your cool, but you should never be too proud to apologise if your behaviour gets out of hand. It’ll show you in good light.
Planning a wedding with relatives is politics. And, in politics, you have to be diplomatic. Always choose your words carefully but, still, stand your ground, and you will be fine.
If the other party is being stubborn, you can come to a compromise that suits both of you. For example, if you want a chocolate cake for your wedding and your mother thinks a strawberry cake is a better option, suggest she makes strawberry cupcakes to be distributed at the wedding. The success of this all depends on how you tell her. You can say, “That’s a good idea. Not everybody likes chocolate cake, but I’ve already contacted the baker and our friends are pretty expectant. Is it possible to make smaller cakes available at the wedding?”
There are many reasons relatives may insist that their way is best. Two things you can do–make them see reason (with kindness, of course) or see if you can create a small space for them to “do their thing”. But be careful not to give too much room to people or you might find yourself at a wedding with eight cake options.
Choose your battles wisely
Knowing which issues to give attention, which to outsource and which to ignore is another skill you need to master. It’s the art of picking your battles wisely so that you aren’t burnt out before your wedding. Before the full planning begins, assign roles to relatives/friends so other relatives know who to discuss with. This will reduce both the number of issues and people you have to deal with. Just make sure the people you’re deputising are trustworthy and have the same preferences as you do.
Take care of yourself
You need to be in the right frame of mind to even attempt dealing with relatives. It requires a lot of self-control to handle people without stepping on any toes, and it’s a lot harder if you’re not physically and mentally healthy. In the weeks leading to your wedding (and at all times, really), maintain a healthy diet with lots of fruits and water, exercise, get a lot of rest, carve time out to just breathe, and, most importantly, find someone to talk to. Sometimes you need to rant to let off steam; find yourself a sounding board.
No matter how folks make it seem, know that planning a wedding doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It can be a smooth ride with only a few bumps, but the only way to achieve that is by preparing yourself for conflict and planning how to resolve them in a way that’s acceptable to everyone.
Trying to make everyone happy is unrealistic; what’s more realistic is trying to make them understand why things have to be a certain way. With understanding comes acceptance.