Whether your family reminds you of the Gallaghers from the TV show Shameless, or your family is a living breathing Hallmark Card, family dynamics - even good ones - can be a stressful part of wedding ceremony planning. The good news: there’s almost always a compromise that will leave the couple happy with their ceremony and keep the family involved. Below, we offer up a few rules and tips to achieve this. Truthfully, though, when it comes to family dynamics, there isn’t always a “right answer,” and sometimes, it’s just best to compromise. When faced with those choices, consider these pointers...
1) Always remember: this is the couple’s special day and their wedding ceremony is the Crown Jewel in their once-in-a-lifetime event. This message needs to impressed upon everyone as many times as possible. Whatever the family dynamics that need to be dealt with, and whatever solutions are created, should make the couple genuinely happy, or at least satisfied.
2) Create solutions, not more problems. This means that the parties involved need to sit down well before the wedding day and talk in a positive way about what they want, what is possible, and what would work (even if it is not ideal). And yes, this means compromise.
One of our ministers recently performed a wedding ceremony in which the bride’s parents had a nasty divorce. Because the parents would not walk the bride down the aisle together, they came up with the following solution: the mother entered the room and began the processional with the bride, and handed her off to her father once they neared the end of the aisle, who then escorted the bride the rest of the way. Now, that’s not an ideal outcome for either parent, but a solid compromise, and the bride was happy having both of her parents maintain important roles in her ceremony.
3) If unsure how to solve an issue, or you’re not making headway coming up with a compromise, seek assistance. This can be from a neutral family member who can mediate with all parties, a family friend who may be able to get everyone to talk rationally, and/or a wedding planner who has worked through these types of situations in the past.
Regarding the role of the wedding planner, folks are often more comfortable deferring to a professional who has experienced many weddings. Take advantage of her/his authority by cluing them in early in the game, and letting them work out solutions in advance.
4) If the parties involved need a little extra motivation to compromise, remind them that guests have long memories -- especially when it concerns drama. While they will certainly remember a beautiful ceremony, they are even more likely to remember -- and talk about -- the mother of the groom walking out right before the ceremony (yes, this actually happened to one of our ministers).
5) Whatever the final agreement, everyone needs to remember and respect it on the rehearsal and the wedding days. Any drama or issues on the wedding day should not come from family - period. Family should only be there to support the couple. I can tell you from past experience that a negative experience early in the wedding day can really affect the outcome of the wedding, and it’s just not worth it.
6) Continually remind yourself and everyone else: This is the couple’s special day. They will not get another chance to re-create this special, monumental event. Any issues, whether petty or substantive, need to take a back seat to the joyful celebration that is taking place. No couple deserves to have their wedding day tainted with bad attitudes and grudges. So, yes, refer back to rule number 1!