Wedding planning can be trying enough as-is. Imagine trying to combine not just two families, but two cultures and two religions. Well, welcome to my impending wedding. And did I mention that our families have never met?
Whatever your story is, chances are high that your soon-to-be husband and you differ somehow. And when it comes to weddings, parents often exacerbate these differences (without intending to) by coming off the bench and taking a forward stance to assert their position on: bridal parties; ceremony location; buffet dinner; you name it. Sure, it’s done out of love, but that doesn’t make it less annoying, for either you or your soon-to-be.
I found myself a nice Peruvian boy with great values, charming manners and, as my grandmother put it with a wink and a nudge, a “bit of Latin flare.” I felt like I was living my own personal fantasy straight out of the crazy adventures of Lucy and Ricky on I Love Lucy. Little did I know that Giorgio’s “Latin flare” came with a few wedding expectations from more conservative family members. More than seven months into the wedding planning process, we learned some valuable lessons about communication, handling delicate cultural divides and staying unified through thick and thin.
Divide and (politely) conquer
When Giorgio realized his parents were much more receptive to the needs of their own children, he suggested that the two of us stop letting each other be the messenger, and take ownership over communicating with our respective families. Turns out that dividing and conquering is not only successful — it also helps prevent straining in-law relationships. (I remember the day we told Giorgio’s traditional Catholic family that we would not be having our white wedding in a church. At first they could barely comprehend what I was saying; next, they had a million and two questions. This is where Giorgio suggested that he handle his own family from there on in.)
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Practical advice for many things in life, and just as useful here! To master this step, Giorgio and I had to identify what constituted “small stuff.” We sat down and made a list of what were our (not our parents’) top priorities. If our parents’ ideas conflicted with our own, we reserved the right to suggest mutually beneficial compromises, if not outright veto.
Try to be creative with compromise
Sometimes, you can make everyone happy (enough). Within a week of the church debacle, we came up with a compromise that suited both families while ensuring that Giorgio and I were not sacrificing our vision for the big day. We opted for a small family-only service on the Friday, followed by the rehearsal dinner (at which our families will meet for the first time!). Saturday, the big shebang, will be our civil wedding. While it will remain mostly non-denominational, we’ve got a splash of holiness for the Catholics, and a whole lot of love to share with all the friends and family that will be joining us.
As my wedding day approaches, the most important piece of advice I can share is to never lose sight of the wonderful reason you are enduring the chaos. A wedding is about two partners that love each other and have chosen to form a life-long bond. Even if your day ends up more My Big Fat Greek Wedding than Hollywood Glam, you’ll always leave with great memories and twice the family!
Amanda Garbutt is a bride-to-be living in Toronto. Amanda is an entrepreneur who runs The Hot Plate, an online cooking resource and recipe development company. Her upbeat attitude and attention to detail keep her busy whether she’s in the kitchen or planning her urban Toronto wedding. Follow her @TheHotPlate.