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How to stop parents, friends, & relatives from taking over your wedding plan

Published Sunday, Nov. 29th, 2020

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

This is not your Aunt Betty’s wedding, no matter what she says (or how loudly). 


This is your wedding, and it should be a day that shouts your love from the rafters… or from the deck, patio, living room, or meeting hall. 


Unfortunately, as weddings get smaller and timelines tighten heading into winter, the easier it is for things to get a little… crowded… when it comes to wedding planning. 



We’re talking about well-meaning but meddlesome relatives and friends, of course. 


It’s the familiar curse of having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” And it happens anytime a group of enthusiastic people try to plan anything together. Only this time, the kitchen isn’t a day-trip, it’s your wedding


Soon, you and your partner’s vision of the ‘perfect day’ is lost in a sea of suggestions, out-dated tips, taffeta and crafting glue… and the ceremony and reception run the risk of looking nothing like your ideal. 


Having too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen is not a problem unique to weddings during a pandemic. But friends and family are more likely than ever to be doubling as wedding photographer, DJ, caterer, cocktail extraordinaire, and wedding officiant. And although this shift does come with a silver-lining--small weddings can offer a sweetness and intimacy sacrificed in large gatherings--it can also be a real pain in the backside when one of your friends or relatives gets too pushy, wants to help too much, or decides to take over part of the planning without asking. 


Even more frustrating is when two or more loved ones decide they know best… but don’t agree on what that means. 
(Asking a Friend or Family Member to Officiate Your Wedding? Read This First.) Have you already been asked to perform a wedding and want to customize the ceremony? Read Tips for Personalizing a Wedding Ceremony.)



Here’s what to do to avoid potential resentment and disappointment. 



To avoid losing your voice in wedding planning, have a plan. Professionals suggest partners decide together early on which things are essential ingredients, and which things are negotiable. Have strong feelings about a venue or music selections? Those are essential. Couldn’t care less about gift bags or table cloths? Negotiables. 


Negotiables can be assigned to parents, relatives, or friends, but essential ingredients won’t be up for further discussion. Having these things defined first will make it much easier for you to stay true to your vision, even when unanticipated events (or meddlesome loved ones) require you to respond quickly. 


When you do want or need help, ask for it directly and be clear about the scope of the task from the start. This might mean letting Aunt Betty know that you love her orange zest cupcakes, and that you’d appreciate her making two-dozen of them for the reception, but that you’ll be deciding on the decor and bridesmaid’s attire yourself. 



Let Aunt Betty know you love her orange zest cupcakes, but that you'll be picking the bridesmaid's dresses...



For inspiration on essentials to personalize your wedding, try Lucky in Love, or check out real weddings on our Wedding Wall. We also post new photos of gorgeous and unique ceremonies every day on Instagram to help get you started. 



Are you the meddlesome or bossy friend or relative?


We get it, we like to help, too… Read Butt-bumps and gift baskets, 6 ways friends and family can keep their distance while showering a newly-wed couple with love.


Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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