You are freshly engaged and can’t wait to share your news with your family and friends. You are so excited to start planning every single detail of your wedding… and so is your mother-in-law! Yes, brides-to-be, this does happen. Count yourself lucky if this is not your case.
A wedding is of course, a super happy and exciting event that everyone looks forward to. Parents look forward to the day when their children will marry their soul mates and start families of their own. Moms are ecstatic with excitement and want to make the grand event as perfect as possible. I single out moms here, because more often than not, it’s the moms who tend to push the envelope on their own ideas of how your wedding should go. Sometimes other family members bud in with their opinions, but the real meddling is predominantly a mom thing.
And what’s worse than mom’s unsolicited advice? Your future mother-in-law’s unsolicited advice. At least with your own mother you are better equipped to manage the situation. But with your partner’s mother, planning your wedding is not exactly the ideal time for encountering uncomfortable disagreements.
Go Big or Your Own Way
You may have one vision in mind, say a small, intimate get-together, but your future parent-in-laws are totally against it and say they will not attend unless you plan a huge 400-person wedding in the city’s most elite hotel. I have actually witnessed this before — I won’t reveal names, but they are friends of mine! The groom’s Italian family was pushing for a traditional, large-scale event, while the bride, who is not Italian, was hoping for something way more low key with only close friends and family, in a cozy setting.
The groom sided with the bride, but in the end, after several months of bad blood with his parents and his dad threatening not to attend, the couple gave in to a quasi-compromise: They did have their more intimate nuptials, but a few weeks later, had a huge reception in one of the city’s most elaborate halls with the works. Though the event was nothing short of spectacular, the couple would have been happier not to have had it at all.
Another huge issue are the in-laws inviting armies of people that the couple may not even know, let alone care to invite to their wedding. I have seen brides feeling so uncomfortable on their wedding day, because they don’t know half the people they are greeting. How to keep in mind that this is an important day for both families, while setting some very important boundaries on things like a ballooning guest list?
Because dealing with in-laws who overstep their boundaries is such a sensitive topic, there needs to be care in handling this situation. But, if you find yourself pressured and manipulated, there’s no reason you or your partner should have to succumb – It is your day after all, and no one should ever lose sight of that.
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page. When the problem is with your partner’s family, it’s imperative that this doesn’t cause a conflict between the two of you, so talk it out first before facing the disgruntled party.
Be honest, but respectful
Be honest about your feelings, but acknowledge that you are very grateful for their suggestions and all the help they are offering. Tone is the cause of most conflicts getting out of hand, so make sure you keep a generous, non-confrontational tone when addressing the issues, and try to understand that they’re super excited and just acting on what they know. However, though you’ll be opening the lines of communication, it’s important to gently reinforce that yours is the last word, despite your openness to their opinion. Let them know that you have a vision, but have them get involved in specific details to make them feel include in the process.
Assign special tasks
Let them know that you have a vision, but have them get involved in specific details to make them feel include in the process. Your in-laws will feel like an important part of the wedding if you assign special tasks that are theirs to carry out. Use this to your advantage and get the help you need for things that you don’t mind passing onto someone else. They can help assemble and mail out invitations, keep track of RSVP’s, or even help you to choose the cake or flowers. They may make suggestions that you don’t agree with, but at least, they are heard and don’t feel left out of this important celebration.
Accept as little financial assistance as possible
Some couples have no choice but to take as much financial assistance as possible. Problem with this is that it makes it trickier to veto suggestions from the in-laws if they are the ones footing the bill! If you are able to pay for the wedding yourself, it makes it a lot easier to decline ideas that are forced upon you.
Getting along with in-laws may be very challenging for some, but it doesn’t end at the wedding planning. You have to keep in mind that the wedding is indeed just one day, but they stay your in-laws for life (or at least that’s the intention!) Use this time to develop your diplomacy and improve communication skills that you might need in the years to come. But most importantly, remember that your wedding should be enjoyed by all — not the least of them, you!
Fingers crossed that all goes well!
Rita Wong is a wedding and events planner and owner of Rita Wong Events. Based in Montreal, she also plans many weddings every year for brides living in Toronto and abroad. She is a dedicated follower of new trends and her goal is to give each bride a wedding that is fresh, unique, and a personal reflection of who they are.