I think every bride has nightmares about wedding day drama. Will the soon to be Mother-in-law get along with your sister who is a little free of speech? Will Dad and Mom be able to be in the room together without arguing about your new, younger step mom? What about your bridesmaids, will there be jealousy issues that they weren’t chosen as the Maid of Honor? Will the cake arrive on time, and will it be as beautiful as you dreamed?
The stress of your wedding can turn an otherwise calm, quiet family into a bar fight waiting to happen. I’ve seen a bride hide in the bathroom in tears because her father won’t be in the same picture as her mother.
Your wedding day is going to be the best day for you and your fiance’. All of your family and friends are going to be there to celebrate your love. You have been planning this day for months, maybe even years, and it is going to be amazing.
The one thing I can promise you is that things will go wrong. I have photographed a lot of weddings, and if I gathered all of my brides in a room and asked them about their wedding day, each and every one of them would have a story to tell you about the flower mix-up, or the cake that fell over in the sun. I think that each of my brides has shed a tear or two on their day, and not just happy tears either.
What can you do throughout the planning of your wedding and on your wedding day to make sure nerves are calm and everyone has an enjoyable time? I’m offering a list of 10 suggestions that I have learned through being a wedding photographer for the past 10 years.
Expect that there will be things that will go wrong.
My husband and I are often frustrated with our children not doing the chores or homework we’ve asked them to do. When I’m on the phone expressing my frustration, he often reminds me to lower my expectations. It sounds terrible to say, but if you expect your bridesmaids to show up a little late, your mind will already be in the mindset to handle the challenges. If you plan that everything will go off without a hitch, you will be upset when the smallest problem comes up.
Give them a way to be involved.
A lot of the family drama comes from feeling like opinions aren’t being heard or appreciated. So, redirect their energy and give them something to do. Give them power over something that isn’t high on your importance list. Maybe you don’t care how the gift table is handled. I bet your future mother-in-law has some ideas for that! Maybe crafty grandma can make a card box. We all want to feel included, showing them that you appreciate their need to be a part of this big day will go a long way in making family drama on your day disappear. Gently remind them that when it comes to the decisions that are important to you, your word is law. Your opinion is the one that matters!
Research your wedding vendors.
Using your best friend’s uncle to make your cake maybe isn’t the best way to reassure that your cake will arrive in one piece, at the right time. (Unless your friend’s uncle is a reputable cake decorator). Ask your future vendors for a list of references. Make sure they have a plan A, B, and C for your wedding in case something goes wrong. Don’t hire a professional for your day without signing a contract that will save you later on if something goes wrong.
You are surrounded by imperfect people.
Your bridesmaids are imperfect, your DJ is imperfect, your wedding planner is imperfect, even your perfect groom has imperfections. When the inevitable happens, step away from the drama and remember what this day is about. It’s about you and your sweetheart committing to love each other forever. Take a few deep breaths, go shed a tear in the bathroom, splash some cool water on your face, then square up your shoulders and put on a smile. The way you handle the mistakes made by imperfect people will make or break your day.
Hire a wedding planner.
When I was in labor with my first child, the nurse whispered in my ear that it was okay to make her the bad guy. If I wanted a guest to leave so I could get some rest, I was told to call on her and give her the code word and she would take care of the situation without making me look bad. Your wedding planner can do the same thing for you. Let her know the dynamics of your family. Let her know who to police. Let her know who to keep away from the punch bowl!
Talk to both sets of parents about the photographer.
The photographer has been hired to do pictures that will be memories for the bride and the groom forever. Unless specified in the contract, the photographer is not there to do a family portrait session. Wedding days are always on a time crunch. The time shouldn’t be spent on individual portraits of each family at the wedding. Talk to them about the importance of being where the photographer needs them to be at specified times, but when they aren’t, don’t stress it. I’m not stretching the truth when I say I have NEVER, EVER had the entire wedding party ready for pictures at the pre-arranged time before the reception. I try to stress to my brides that the reception pictures are most likely not going to be hung 30×40 in canvas on your family room wall.
Get your families together prior to the wedding for a casual meeting.
Throw a barbecue, go bowling, or have a movie night to help them get to know each other better. Understand, though, that they are going to have different personalities and their interests are going to differ from each other. My family loves outdoors. My father loves motorcycles, snowmobiles, and boating. He is the grandpa that will steal the grandkids’ noses and crack jokes at the dinner table. My mother loves to scrapbook, play volleyball and softball, and loves spending time with her daughters and daughters-in-law shopping or scrapbooking. She loves her family. My father-in-law loves to work in his shop and is a gentle, quiet man. My mother-in-law loves to travel and is passionate about her family and her church. They may not go away being best friends after this, but maybe they’ll leave with an understanding of what makes each other tick. They may not call each other and plan get togethers, but they will have a mutual respect for each other. They do have one thing in common, they love their family so much.
Have a heart-to-heart.
With all the tenderness and love you can muster, sit down one on one with your families. Help them understand that this day is so important to you. Express your desire for them to swallow any differences they may have with any family members, even if it means being in the same room with an ex-spouse. The day is about loving their son or their daughter and supporting them in this amazing day.
Don’t stress the small stuff.
When it boils right down to it, the day is about you and your future spouse. Even if your flowers aren’t the right color, the officiator will still marry you, and you’ll have a great story to tell your children later! Life is going to happen, your reaction to it will be what people remember. No one is going to remember that your cake was 3 tiers instead of 4!
Take a moment.
When it all starts to get to be too much, grab your spouse by the hand and find a quiet corner to just sit back and watch it all happen. It will help you remember that this group of people are all here because they love you. They want you to be happy. That is all that matters. LOVE.