Rosemary Mac Cabe discusses the (in)delicate art of putting your foot down to get your day, your way!
One would be forgiven for thinking that your wedding, of all occasions, is the one thing you get to do your way. Sorry to burst your bubble, but get ready to have all of your assumptions shattered as family, friends and parents’ acquaintances stick their oars in and start planning your dream day for you.
In fact, there are certain interjections that you should expect – your immediate family, especially your parents, can often be found placing the weight of their own expectations (often, but not always, tied to religion and tradition) on your shoulders as your nuptials approach. But not every attempted encroachment needs to be greeted with World War III. Consider this the ultimate guide to getting your own way – with diplomacy.
Pick your battles
There are some fights worth fighting – and others that are not worth fighting. If it’s something you don’t care all that much about – maybe your prospective mother-in-law is really into prayers of the faithful during the religious service (a service you’re only having because the in-laws are staunch churchgoers) – it might save you trouble to just give in.
It’s very much against the spirit of ‘your day, your way!’ but lookit: if you’re not religious, what are a few prayers of the faithful between friends?
Stick to your guns
On the other hand, there are certain things that will be on your high priority list, and these shouldn’t have to be compromised on. A firm, “we’ve already thought about that, but thanks so much” will usually suffice (with normal people), but there are always going to be those who ignore your subtle cues.
Take the “the kids can’t wait” cohort – who are clearly ignoring the fact that your invitation didn’t include the little ones. This is the kind of stealth attack that needs to be dealt with swiftly. Make no bones about it, this is not a mistake – this is an attempt to railroad you into making your wedding child-friendly.
This requires a phone call and, whatever you do, don’t apologise. “Hi, listen, I just wanted to clear something up – we’re not having children at the wedding! We thought it would be a nice chance for everyone to catch up without the kids in tow.”
Ignoring is bliss
So your aunt Mary has decided she doesn’t want to sit next to aunt Clare, because of that whole rigmarole around Christmas with Beth’s toddler and the precious antiquities she got in Lourdes and is demanding that she get put at a table with the other side of the family.
Guess what? If she turns up on the day and is sitting at the same table as Clare, she’s either going to have to swap with someone or just get on with it. Our money’s on the latter – and you’ll be none the wiser. The magic words: “I’ll see what I can do.” Then file in the “ignore this” pile and move on.
Engage the services of a professional “no” woman (or man)
Here’s where your servants (aka bridal party) come in handy. On the day, you’ll need to have a designated “no woman” or man to stand between you and the plethora of irritating requests you’ll get from friends, family and all those between.
When a flustered friend comes running up to tell you that the waiting staff are late with the Prosecco, or that she thinks the flowers would look better if they were moved around slightly, you can say things like “ah, yes, Jane was just about to organise that” and walk. Away. Quickly.
If all else fails? Be really – really – clear
The polite version? “That’s a great idea – you should use it for your own wedding!”
There will always, however, be someone who won’t take no for an answer. For those people, you bring out the big guns. “This is such an exciting and lovely time for us, and you are being demanding. We love you and we want you to be a part of our day, but if it’s difficult for you to be happy for us and accept our wishes, then maybe you’d prefer not to come.” Harsh but fair.
It’s important, however, not to use this line on your prospective mother-in-law. Trust us on this one.