How to cope with other people's expectations for your wedding
25 Apr 2017
Whether welcomed or unwelcomed, you'll hear a lot of other people's opinions during your wedding planning. Here's how to deal with it...
People often mean well, but nothing quite adds pressure on brides- and grooms-to-be like the expectations, judgement and unsolicited opinions of others. The advice of friends and family may be invaluable in the run up to a wedding, but sometimes the weight of other people’s ideas can add a whole new facet of stress to the proceedings, especially if you are surrounded by strong personalities.
Allow us to put your minds at ease. Holly Ashby, from the stress-busting transcendental mediation company Beeja Meditation, has some tips on coping with the extra tension that other people’s expectations can bring.
Recognise what’s useful, disregard what’s not
Weddings are a very personal thing. We can all put too much onus on ourselves to pull off the perfect day, and it’s all too easy to become over-sensitive when faced with a bit of constructive criticism. For example, you may have set your heart on a reception venue that’s inconveniently far away for the people you want to attend; if someone brings this up, it will help you make a decision that works better for everyone. It isn’t always easy to recognise what’s a good bit of advice and what’s unnecessary meddling, but it’s important to distinguish between the two.
The first thing to do is to remember your initial thoughts about what kind of wedding you wanted. If you began your engagement thinking that you wanted a laid-back wedding, but have found yourself adding details and expense because of the suggestions of others, re-think their advice. Secondly, talk over any suggestions people have given you with your partner and other friends - they can let you know whether something is sensible, or advice you can happily ignore.
Anyone who has tried to save money, or have a less formal wedding, will know the dismay it can induce. At the other end of the scale, expensive and extravagant weddings can be met with a similar amount of tutting. “But you have to have a sit down meal”, “Your bridesmaids can’t have dresses that don’t match” or “That’s a ridiculous amount to spend, you could put a deposit on a house” are all comments you may encounter.
At the end of the day, you have to let your own judgement guide you, and simply do what you and your partner want. The unfortunate reality is that, whatever you choose, everyone will have an opinion on it.
You want to make sure everyone feels appreciated, but don’t let them dictate the day
Noone wants to think that people are having a horrible time at their wedding, or that someone you care deeply about feels neglected and overlooked. On the other hand, you’ll be making a rod for your own back if you give in to everyone’s wishes. Perhaps your father wants to walk you down the aisle, but you’re an ardent feminist who’s uncomfortable with the idea of being 'given away'. Maybe a close friend is upset that they aren’t a bridesmaid, but you only wanted to have one. There will be moments you have to compromise, but don’t let anyone dictate how your wedding is going to go ahead.
You could give the offended party another important role in the wedding in order to make them feel like an appreciated and important part of the proceedings. There’s always a way to meet in the middle, and if an individual still chooses to pout, gently remind them that the day is meant to be a celebration of love and any decisions you make aren’t meant to be hurtful - they are either practical or in accordance with your principles.
If you are the bride, make sure people know your other half has an input too
In heterosexual couples, the male half can feel frustratingly sidelined when it comes to wedding planning. Furthermore, the assumption that the future bride will be in charge of the whole thing can be an exhausting one. Everyone from wedding planners, venue owners and mutual friends may well have the expectation that the bride will be organising it all, putting you in the unenviable position of being in charge of everything.
If this bothers you, nip it in the bud early on. Provide any relevant services with your partner’s phone number rather than your own, make it clear that any decisions will be jointly made, and let people know that it’s not your job to manage everyone. A family drama, problem with the cake or quibble about the seating plan isn’t your sole responsibility, and recognising this will stop you from becoming an unpaid event planner and - even more challenging - emotional counsellor.
Remember, this is meant to be fun
The advice from those who have also recently married can be invaluable, but with all that organisation fresh in their mind and strong ideas about what they wanted for their own wedding, sometimes the advice errs from helpful tips to flat-out fear-mongering.
A bit of realism is important, and you will meet some challenging moments, but remember that planning a wedding is meant to be exciting. You are gearing up for a lifetime with your one and only, and focusing too much on the finer details of one particular day could put you in danger of taking all the fun out of it. Keep a clear plan of what’s most important to you and what can be compromised on, don’t worry too much about the small stuff and let other people’s unwanted judgements go over your head. Then you can focus on enjoying yourself and crafting the day you truly want.