Wedding planning is hard enough. Throw in some well meaning family members who try to help by pushing their ideas on you and you're done for.
Now, not all family members and friends are like this, of course; I'm talking about the ones that complain about the date you've chosen or the venue being too far away. The ones who try to dictate which flowers you have or tell you that it'll be embarrassing when nobody eats the food as what you've chosen isn't traditional (we had that one!).
The expectations are high. Before you know it, you're waiting to walk down the aisle behind a harem of flower girls, kindly donated by your friends as their babies would "love to be part of your big day", carrying a bouquet that your aunt paid for, so she got the say in which flowers went in, and wearing pieces of jewellery donated by relatives as your something old, when you'd had your eye on wearing your something new.
Maybe that's a bit extreme. But it happens, in bits and pieces. People have their own idea of how a wedding should be and look and they desperately want you to have the best, so they tell you what they think is best. For them.
So what do you do? Do you say no and make them mad? Or do you people please, say yes and go along with it for an easy life?
Yes, I know, the second option is easier. It starts off ok but before you know it you're in the downhill spiral and wondering where the hell you found the money for 12 flower girl dresses.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to please people. But where do you and your partner come in to it? Are you pleased with your decisions?
The "no" option is tougher. And scarier. But it will help you to get what you actually want instead of being swept up by well-meaning people who, from their heart, really do just want the best for you.
So how do you do it without coming across rude? Without the whispers of "Bridezilla" behind your back because you dared to stand up for yourself?
Gentle assertiveness, my friend. It just takes a little practice if you're not used to standing up for yourself, which I know I haven't been on many occasions.
I heard something on a podcast this morning where a woman said that she considered people pleasers to be liars. She had a very valid point. When we say yes to something that we really don't want to do, we ultimately end up giving ourselves a hard time about it and end up resenting the person or activity we've said yes to. She said that her friends had more respect for her for saying no, even if they were caught off guard.
People really do mean well and may not even realise that their input is overwhelming or stressful for you. Preparing and practicing a set statement may help, and the more you practice, the easier it'll be to say it when you most need to.
Maybe don't do what I did, which was this: "We'll have the bloody Mezze platter for our dinner because that's what we want. I don't care if no one eats it. You're not paying."
Hmmm. I was lucky to still be accepted into the family. My response wasn't put in the kindest way, but I'd had enough.
Here's what I could have said, had I been thinking clearer: "Thank you for your suggestion, I appreciate what you're saying. However we've chosen that food for our wedding as it represents us and we're sure you'll really enjoy it too."
Side note, everyone loved the food. Everyone ;)
It's hard when there's a financial guilt trip on you too. Maybe a family member has granted you a significant sum of money towards your wedding and feels they get to dictate what happens with it.
That's a tricky one. It's important to stand up for yourself though. Being thankful and letting them know how much you appreciate their offer is a good starting point, which you could then follow with your intention. Sometimes a gentle reminder that the day really is about the two of you and that you're sure they only want you to be happy may do the trick. Maybe even come to a compromise that they could make a smaller decision about the wedding, or help you pick out something to go in your bouquet or on the menu, without taking over the whole thing.
If it all feels instinctively wrong though, you should try to be brave and be honest about how you feel. What's the worst that could happen? By nature, we humans desire connection with each other and knowing you're suffering with all the demands may help them to realise they've gone a step too far.
If that's not working though, it may be best to decline the gift. As hard as it is, you don't want to resent the person that's offered it or look back on your special day wishing you'd done it all differently. Things will work out, you may be surprised. We had to do this once with an offer of money to help us with our mortgage. It came with so many conditions that in the end, we had to turn it down, which was really hard.
It all worked out though. It somehow just finds a way. Perhaps the pressure of trying to please everyone being lifted off your shoulders helps you to think clearer and be more productive.
The key is setting out your values together, as a couple, and then sharing them with your friends and family when you need their help. Most people just like to feel included and don't mean to stir up trouble. It's your day and you can choose to spend it however you wish, no apologies and no excuses. Your well-meaning people will soon realise just how lucky they are to be part of the first memories you create for yourselves as Mr and Mrs.
And I'm pretty sure they'll love every minute.