"Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about us?" Aisling Keenan on how to avoid the wedding rabbit hole and getting so swept up in planning that the whole thing turns into someone else’s wedding
It starts with the typical stuff. Your dad wants to invite three of his pals from golf. Your sister will only wear pastel colours. Your florist thinks a large, rustic bouquet would suit you better. Your maid of honour thinks paddle boarding in Mayo would be a fantastic hen party idea.
You field the suggestions and requests as politely as possible, laughing them off, but they keep coming. You haven’t been to mass since 1988 and yet, somehow, here you are chatting to the parish priest. You specify no willy paraphernalia at the hen and all of a sudden there are L-plates everywhere and you’re whacking a willy piñata with all the might you can muster. And you’ve no idea how but your parents have managed to fill three full tables with guests you hardly know.
Time to put the foot down, right? But the thing is, you don’t want to get the Bridezilla tag. Flipping out and throwing a strop won’t work, so what will?
Sit down with your other half and decide what are your big non-negotiables. Whether you want a church wedding is generally a pretty big one. What sort of band you want could make or break it for you. Articulate what it is you care passionately about, listen to your partner’s side, and decide together the key things you won’t be swayed on.
Hannah*, 29, regrets not making it clear to her fiancé that she didn’t want his sister as her bridesmaid. She says: “My fiancé’s sister was determined that I’d have her as one of my bridesmaids, forsaking one of my best pals in the process. She is one of the most stubborn people ever and made him feel so guilty about it. In the end, I gave in for the sake of an easy life. Biggest regret from my whole wedding.”
Hopefully at this stage of the game, you’ve decided to marry each other so communication should be simple enough an undertaking. However, when loved ones get involved, all bets can swiftly be off. So agree with your other half to keep the lines of communication open, and agree not to make any decisions without consulting each other first.
Aine*, 33, admits she found the wedding rabbit hole to be very stressful, and as a laid back person, people took advantage. “Because I wouldn’t be overly outgoing, so many people would just talk over me and almost make my decisions for me. I wound up being really stressed about it all and I hate to admit it but it caused lots of fights between me and my other half. I should’ve spoken up more, but I was worried about appearing too demanding. Very silly of me, in hindsight.”
A good way to fend off unwanted ‘help’ with your big day is to just ignore it, or politely forget some things. Claire*, 30, got married last October, and her mother-in-law insisted on making the cake for the wedding
“She’s not a baker, she’s just a Great Irish Bake-Off enthusiast with notions… you can see why I didn’t want my real name used,” jokes Claire. “But she was adamant she’d save us money by baking this cake. What I ended up doing was ordering the cake I wanted, saying that her cake was accidentally left behind on the day, and then serving her one on the second day of the wedding so she was placated in some way. It worked like a charm!”
Hopefully, heeding these bits of advice will turn the wedding rabbit hole from negative to positive, and instead of winding up with a patchwork quilt of other people’s plans and ideas, you’ll get lost in planning the wedding of your dreams.