Congratulations on your engagement! Now to the planning! There are so many questions when it comes to planning a wedding from what dress you're going to pick out to the desserts at the reception. One of the biggest stresses is how to ensure your two families “get along” not just throughout the planning process but on your wedding day. Joining two families is hard, especially when there are a lot of different personalities and beliefs.
We at Phoenix Party Bus asked some of the top wedding and event planners in Phoenix some tips to making this process as smooth as possible.
“Bringing two families together for a wedding can be very stressful on a couple. What advice do you have for any bride and groom to avoid family drama on the big day?”
"When bringing two families together try your best to create a setting that is comfortable for both families. IE if one family is a little more "upscale" in their party expectations and one is "laid back" try making some accommodations in the details of the big day for both by merging their lifestyles in a fun way! Above all be sure to set expectations with the family that it is the couples big day and make sure you stick to what is true and best for the couple."
Weddings are stressful regardless if the families have known each other for years or just a few months (I've even had some that haven't met until the day before!). Keeping those stress levels down to a minimum takes a little work, some pre-planning and worse case scenario an un-involved third party.
Couples can be pro active by introducing their families to each other, in person or even via Skype - have an engagement party, meet together for a holiday or a fun relaxed family picnic or BBQ.
Know your family - if one side of the couple knows that their family will be hurt or upset that they weren't the first told, the first asked about a detail, the first involved then give them those bragging rights. Ideally, each side of the family will be given information/asked questions at the same time (or as close as possible), but when that can't happen, take the high road and just reach out to the family most likely to be hurt first.
Finally, use that un-involved third party to help deflect the stress. If you have a planner or coordinator, let them know that there is the possibility of some stress and drama and tell them what the stressor is likely to be. We can't help if we don't know about the issue, but we are really good at taking care of it once we know about it."
-Brandy Blackford, Wedding Day Management Specialist, Sweet I Do's
Planning a wedding is stressful in itself, but then the thought of the blending of both families on a big day such as that compounds the worry. A couple things to stave off the potential stress is to promote the importance of everyone being their to celebrate YOU! “We are so blessed you could all make it to our wedding, this means a lot to us!” Also, be proactive. Plan your seating chart to keep certain members from others and open the line of communication a week before the wedding to air any concerns others may have. Respond before you end up having to react.
As a wedding concierge, I suggest my clients include both sides of the family by giving them each projects to manage. Allow mom to help you address invites, while your in-laws help you with the seating chart. And invite the ladies from both sides to the final dresses fitting! Getting families involved makes them feel included and reduces stress.
My biggest piece of advice for avoiding any type of dramatic situation on wedding day is communication. There are a lot of logistics involved in a wedding and people can easily become overwhelmed by all of it. Questions always come up regarding where they need to be and when, getting ready, transportation, how to walk down the aisle, when to give toasts, etc. I personally think the best way to avoid this potential overwhelm (which tends to lead to the dramatic situations) is to be clear with expectations and responsibilities well in advance. Too often I see couples waiting until the last minute to communicate important details to family and friends, which not only overwhelms the family and friends but the bride or groom as well. So being upfront and organized with both sides of the family (and wedding party) when relaying information and expectations is my biggest piece of advice.
Hire a planner! Having a professional on your side to put out or look out for any potential "fires" on your big day will stop drama before it even starts. It also helps if your planner is also a therapist who understands interpersonal dynamics and the scope of human emotion, like The Wedding Therapist!
Be smart about your seating chart! Are your parents divorced and can't stand the sight of each other? Maybe don't sit them at adjacent tables. Does grandpa get grump and take it out on everyone else when the music is too loud? Far away from the speakers would be best for him.
And finally, focus on YOU! This is your day and no one should take that away from you. And even if something does brew between your feuding aunts, you most likely won't notice or remember 10 years from now. You'll only remember your perfect day with your new spouse.
-Carina Inganamort, The Wedding Therapist, Event Planner
Your wedding day is a very special moment for the bride and groom to become one. So of course you do not want any drama on your big day. My advice to you is before the big day both families go out and mingle to get to know one another. Go out bowl, eat, maybe even play miniature golf just to get the awkwardness out. The most horrific thing is to have your future in laws at each other’s throats on your big day. Getting to know one another is priceless. Be excited! Now you don’t have to worry about if everything is going to go smoothly. The worrying is long gone and now you can enjoy your nuptials. Happy Wedding Day!
Bringing two families, or even one family together can be very stressful! To avoid family drama I recommend two things. First, hire a planner or day of coordinator! That way you can let us know the family dynamic, some background information, and anticipated possible issues with potential problematic individuals. As a planner we will discuss with you how you want these possible issues handled if they occur and create a game plan before the event so we are completely prepared! We will help you plan and coordinate certain activities to keep them apart and more importantly happy. As your planner we will keep an eye on the potential problems throughout the event and quickly attack any issues that arise with the game plan we previously set forth, hopefully comforting the bride and groom enough they can relax and not worry about potential problems. Second, I highly recommend talking with those family or friends that have shared drama separately and calmly, but firmly, explain how much your wedding day means to you, how much time and effort you have invested, and your desire to have them ignore any drama that may arise. Maybe consider offering them a reward after the event if they stay drama free for the entire night! Bribery can go a long way. 🙂