Tradition may help explain at least one element of this. Until very recently a wedding was the purview of the Bride's Mother. Since historically the tab for the festivities was picked up by the Bride's Parents, all decisions relating to location, style, food, drink and budget were theirs (in fact they decided everything with little reference to the pretty girl in the frilly white dress and even less to the handsome young man in his suit).
Your plans for your day may actually embrace some hefty traditional elements (in fact you may have confidently already broached the whole 'Daddy/Daddies, how much are you contributing?') but to be sure that you are moving forward with everyone on the same page of the metaphorical wedding planning manual it may be good to run through the following checklist…
- Who is contributing to the costs of the wedding?
- Does that contribution come with any desire to control or influence any decisions?
- Do any members of the wedding party have expectations for being able to influence your plans – with or without financial input?
- Are there issues that you know are contentious? Have you minimised fallout by acknowledging and discussing these as early as possible? For example…
- Has Auntie Flo looked forward to making your wedding cake since you were in short socks (or trousers)?
- Will Granny understand that vows taken at a civil ceremony are just as binding as those uttered in church?
- Have you made bridesmaid promises that you wish to retract?
- Does your small intimate ceremony and sophisticated wedding breakfast conflict with anyone’s idea about invitations for the second-cousins-once-removed who invited you to their wedding in the village hall?
- Will your chosen location, date, style, dress design, budget etc. upset or offend, and if so is there anything that you can do to mitigate such reactions?
If you have found that these questions have elevated either your heart rate or the hairs on the back of your neck the first step must be to discuss it between yourselves. If you don’t proceed from here on a united front then the opposition will triumph on the divide-and-conquer premise. You may well know that there is going to be disagreement, you may know exactly how to mitigate the fall-out but you may well just not give a damn. Before the discussions begin you need to draw that line in the sand - together.
If we assume for now that no such difficulties have been swept under the metaphorical carpet (and parents and in-laws are totally in sync with each other and your plans), are there other unexpected stakeholders that you need to be prepared for in the weeks and months ahead?
Sadly yes there are. Just about anyone who has either got married, helped with the planning of a wedding, been a best man or bridesmaid or even just BEEN to a wedding will have a view on how you should be planning your Day. Worse still they will feel the need to SHARE that view with you, whether or not you have asked for it and/or invited them to your wedding!
In a world where many of our most personal details are regularly ‘shared’, think carefully about exactly how much of your planning you wish to make available on social media. Nobody will be neutral on your choice of venue/dress/menu so if you aren’t feeling robust enough to deal with dissent then choose the channels carefully. ‘We are planning to surprise everyone’ is a great excuse for keeping the sharing and uninvited comment to a minimum – you cannot fail…!
Cautionary Tale – sad but true.
A bride arranged for the suit fittings for the groom’s party only to be told that her prospective father-in-law was less than happy with the gold waistcoat she had chosen for everyone. Her irritation got the better of her and the famous last words of ‘wear it or don’t bother to come’ resulted in 17 guests not appearing for the wedding.