Boundaries in Wedding Planning: How to Keep Your Special Day Yours

We've all heard the stories about soon to be mother in laws trying to make all of the decisions about the upcoming wedding.  A sister stealing the show, wanting a special dress to wear while standing up front with you at your ceremony.  A step mother who insists carnations are a beautiful, versatile flower that comes in a variety of colors...perfect for YOUR wedding. Yikes! If you have ever planned a wedding or special event, you know how challenging it can be to make it yours.

Most of the people in your life are truly trying to help, but how to do you manage all of the suggestions and advice without feeling like you are going to offend someone?  How do you see your vision through without catering to everyone else's wants for your big day?  First, take a deep breath. This day is all about you and your soon to be spouse.  It's one of the biggest days in your lives.

Here are a few suggestions to stay above the fray as you plan your big day (hey, it rhymes!!):

1. Remember: they are really trying to help. The moms involved in your big day have been dreaming of this special time longer than you..longer than you have even been alive.  From the moment they found out they were having a boy or girl, they have imagined all of the milestones in their children's lives...a wedding being one of the biggest. They really want to help; they desperately want to be a part of all of the planning. Before you complain to your fiance about how their mom is over the top, take a moment to consider what this time means to HER.  

While other friends and family may not be quite as invested as a mother is, remember that this day means a lot to them too. Not as much as you, of course.  But before you get frustrated, thank your lucky stars that you have people in your life that care enough to make time to help with anything.

2. Delegate. If you have people in your life that really want to help, take them up on their offer.  You can decide how they contribute to the big day. Maybe your Aunt doesn't have the best taste in flowers, but she would be willing to address all of the wedding invitations, ask her if she would! Would it hurt anything to invite your soon to be sister in law along to do some cake tasting? No, and it's delicious. If you need to order a particular favor for your guests, but need to find the best price, ask your mom if she can research prices online for you.

Everyone that is willing to help has something to offer, and they are trying to offer it to you.  Not only that, but there is too much for you to do, especially if you are a bride that works full time (I understand your pain!). You need the help, they want to give it.  Come up with a list of tasks that you need help with that you would be willing to hand off to someone else (and be OK with the result not being EXACTLY what you had in mind).

3. Weddings and Funerals bring out the best and worst in people.  You will find that people are overwhelmingly generous and kind as you plan your wedding. You will be blown away by how people come out of the wood works to bless you. You will also be disappointed in a bridesmaid or two that just doesn't seem all that interested in YOUR big day as much as how their dress will look on them. Sigh.

It's true, some people are more self centered than you realized. That's ok. Just know that emotions are running HIGH for everyone and the way they handle it has nothing to do with you. Relax. If you have people close to you that can't really be there for you, turn to the people who can. Let your cousin obsess over how she will do her hair, your step mom get pampered for the big day in a way that puts any bride to shame. If you have people that are immature in your life, accept that you can't change them. And in the midst of planning a wedding, you are far too busy to try.

If you have a few people that haven't been there for you like you have hoped, take a moment to list ten people who have. Maybe they aren't who you would have expected, that's very common. Now, send them a quick text letting them know how much their support means to you and move on.

4. Set boundaries. You may have a few people in your life that are over bearing...to put it nicely. Somewhere along the line, they got confused and thought that this was THEIR dream day, not yours. A conversation with clear boundaries needs to be had (yikes!!). Now, here is the good news, you are not the only one getting married. You have a man that loves you, has pledged his life to you and is eager to lead you and your future family as your husband. This is great practice! Not that you are copping out. Truly, this is something your husband can and should help you handle. Whether it's your mom or his (usually, well meaning moms are the culprit), he can either have the conversation alongside you or for you with this person, whoever they are. Setting boundaries should include:

  • express gratitude - start out by letting this person know how much you appreciate them. Don't patronize them, make it sincere. There has to be something you appreciate, right?
  • clear expectations - make it clear how things need to look from now until the big day
  • consequences - what will happen if they continue to disregard the boundaries you are setting up? Don't be dramatic and ban them from attending the wedding or anything, but be firm.
  • willingness to follow through - if this person ignores your needs, be willing to follow through
  • be willing to turn down resources - this person may be coming with a financial contribution to your wedding, and therefore feel entitled to calling the shots. Would you be willing to move forward without their money in an effort to salvage the relationship? It may come to that.

5. Don't sweat the small stuff. As mentioned in #2, this is worth repeating. If you asked someone to help with a task, don't re-do what they did if it isn't exactly what you had in mind. If the detail is small enough, realize that on the big day, you won't really notice. Yes this is your big day, so don't ruin it by trying to control every little thing.  Make your expectations known to the people closest to you and trust that they will want to make it the way you want. Trust the people helping you.  Nothing will stress you, and your team, out more than nit-picking everything they do. Just check it off of your list and be thankful you didn't have to do it.