Ask Brittany: How do I manage others’ expectations for my wedding?

    I just got engaged. The idea of having a huge wedding isn’t attractive to me and never has been. My financé is really supportive, but I can’t help but feel like our families are disappointed. How do I find a compromise between what I want for a wedding (small, intimate) and what my in-laws want for us (bigger celebration with friends and extended family)?

    First and foremost, this is your day so you get to do what you want and you don’t need to apologize for it.

    It’s wonderful you want to include the in-laws. It’s smart, as they’ll now be a part of your life forever. Just as we have visions for our own milestones, we also envision our children’s milestones. Hearing that your child has found someone that he loves and wants to spend the rest of his life with is exciting. Also, acknowledging that they’ve raised a child who is ready to go out and start his own family is kind of a big deal – it makes sense that they would want to share that with the people who helped get him there. I think communication is key to preventing the least amount of hurt feelings. Though in all honesty, it’s rare to have such an emotional and life changing event without some moments of friction.

    Tell them that it’s important to you that they feel included in the process but you already have strong ideas on what you want.

    Since marriage represents the joining of two people, forever, you should start by talking to your fiancé about family dynamics and what he thinks is fair and appropriate.

    I had a girlfriend who was really put off at her father in-laws insistence on her (now husband) wearing a kilt at the ceremony because her fiancé had never put any emphasis at on his Scottish heritage and they had no direct ties or any relatives living in the country. It eventually came out that the kilt was a family tradition even the husband didn’t know about and that particular kilt was worn by a great grandparent and passed down. Of course it changed things for her – but a family pow wow would have saved a couple headaches.

    Before you bring it up with family and friends be clear about where your hard lines are in wedding planning and what you’re willing to compromise on so there’s less confusion. If you want to have your wedding ceremony take place in your childhood church then wedding venue discussions are off the table. Make sure you’re able to articulate why these things are important to you so you don’t come across as a bridezilla.

    Since marriage represents the joining of two people, forever, you should start by talking to your fiance about family dynamics and what he thinks is fair and appropriate.

    Then, have a small family wedding pow wow. Tell them that it’s important to you that they feel included in the process but you already have strong ideas on what you want. Ask them if there are any traditions that are really important to them or any strong “wants” they have. No decisions need to be made immediately, but it will give you a better idea on what exactly they’re imagining and more importantly why! You can keep these things in mind for event planning down the line. Again, I can’t stress enough, ultimately make the decisions that are going to make you feel best on your day.

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