Your wedding is very special event, not only for you and your Future Husband, but also for your parents and future in-laws. Parents can be a huge source of support, from financial to emotional to decision making. But, let’s face it, not every parent is unconditionally supportive. Even in the best of circumstances, wedding planning can ratchet up your stress level. When you add some opinionated and overbearing parents into the mix, things can get especially tense. Some parents go overboard, want to plan the entire event start to finish, or have definite ideas on “the fact” that their way is the right way, and your way is not good enough. The very people who love you the most can end up adding to your stress as opposed to diffusing it.
Here are some ways to manage overzealous parents, which will help you stay sane and avoid jail time:
1. Set boundaries as early as you can. Remind yourself that you are the bride, and ultimately it’s your day. Any final decisions that you and your FH make are precisely that: final. It may be difficult to shift to a more adult relationship with a parent who was always used to calling the shots (may we say “bossy”?) but now is the time to start. However, while it’s okay to voice your own opinions and desires, try to do so in a calm and respectful manner wherever possible. Tears, guilt, and hurt feelings are not conducive to family peace (or a good night’s sleep); these are the people who love you most, and with whom you will probably be interacting with for years to come. If you need to disagree, do so privately. It will only get worse if you are giving FMIL a severe piece of your mind in front of the photographer, the cake decorator, and all the bridesmaids. If you have an issue, find a quiet spot and a calmer time, later, to talk things out.
2. Create lists and assign tasks. Give your parent(s) a task that you are okay with. This way they feel included, involved, and cared about. You can save the bigger and more critical decisions for yourself and gain additional help for the myriad of smaller tasks that still need to get done. Perhaps the parent could be assigned jobs like welcoming the guests, selecting the music for the parents dance, or coming up with the first pass at table seating assignments. Another great way to involve them is to let them help with some DIY projects (trust me— you will welcome the extra hands as the days count down).
3. Diffuse, distract, and breathe deeply. Just because your Mom or your FMIL voices their opinion doesn’t mean you have to agree, or let it get to you. Practice saying things like, “thanks for the advice. We will definitely consider that.” Or, “I hear what you’re saying and I appreciate the input. FH and I have decided…” If there is drama, try your best to ignore it (…this is where the deep breaths might help. Also see point number 4 below.) If you focus on all the small things and the nitpicking, you might go cray-cray.
4. Get help. Perhaps you can enlist a bridesmaid, sister, aunt or cousin to help you manage the interactions (or keep the problem parent busy and away from you, if it comes to that.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help in managing a stressful relationship.
5. Take breaks when needed. Go for a walk or a drive. Go out with friends and do non-wedding-related activities. Go to the gym. Get a massage, or even better, a couples’ massage. Do anything that you enjoy, that will distract you from tension. You can’t be in planning mode all the time.
6. Remember the big picture. The important thing is that at the end of all this, you will be married to the person you love. You will be starting your life together as a team and, with hope, all the drama will be behind you. And it never hurts to recall that in many ways, you are lucky to have parents who are there for you.
Best of luck and try to enjoy the planning, as well as your special day as it unfolds!