Thursday, August 03, 2017

Dealing with Unwanted Wedding Advice

Written by  David Egan

When you tell people that you’re getting married, they often think of the wedding they had, the wedding day they wish they had, the wedding they’d have today, the wedding they want you to have, and maybe, if you’re lucky, they’ll think about the wedding that you want to have.

This isn’t very helpful.

It only gets worse when it’s your family.

Some family wedding “traditions” have little grounding in what makes for a good wedding. It’s been my experience, working with several hundred couples, that families, however well meaning, sometimes perpetuate antiquated customs and misunderstandings about proper wedding etiquette. That rarely works in your favor.

Your family may think that a bouquet toss is de rigeur, but do you really want to do that? Many brides don’t.

If the thought of hands snaking up your leg to retrieve a wedding garter makes your skin crawl (it does mine!), don’t do it!

If you don’t want that big, splashy formal introduction of the wedding party at your reception, don’t do it! It’s that simple.

People might have expectations about your wedding, coming out of family culture or simply self-interest, that are not at all what you have in mind.

Are you expected to invite those cousins with whom you otherwise never ever visit or connect to your wedding just because you were invited to theirs? Break the cycle of pain! Who you invite to your wedding is entirely up to you. (See my columns about the guest list from last December and January.)

Are weddings in your family transformed into family reunions, no matter the desires of the couple? It doesn’t have to be that way!

So, what to do when advice or “guidance” is offered?

All you need do to is smile, patiently listen to whatever they have in mind, and say, “thank you for your good thinking,” while you’re thinking, “there’s no way on the great green earth that I am going to do that thing!” Really. That’s it. If you’re questioned about it, it’s easy to say that you and your sweetheart need to talk about it – later.

Nobody needs to know until your wedding what you actually have or have not done.

Are your parents giving you money? Great! What a lovely gift. Like all gifts, the giver’s control of it ceases the moment the gift is given. Wedding money doesn’t buy stock in your wedding or create a board of directors.

Being clear with yourself and with your contributors about who controls the wedding money will go a long way toward maintaining your sanity and keeping your stress low during the planning process.

If there are strings attached to that money, my thinking is that it’s more important to have the wedding that you want that you can also afford rather than the wedding that someone else wants you to have – that you don’t – which they are willing to finance.

What are the consequences of ignoring “advice” from family and friends?

No matter how loud the outcry beforehand, by the time your wedding guests are coming through the door, everyone has usually resolved to behave appropriately, at least for the moment. They may well have forgotten about the thing they wanted you to do. Even if they didn’t, you can bet that they will show up, happily eat your food, and drink your drink. If there is caterwauling after your wedding, so be it. The experience of your wedding and the memories you’ll cherish are what’s important, and those memories will last much longer than any family upset.

All of this is not to say that family and friends don’t have good advice for you. Many of them do! To be clear, lots of families and friends are genuinely helpful, clear-thinking, and supportive, and know when to keep silent and when to offer guidance.

Now you know how to deal with all the rest with love, grace, and honor.

Next time: where to find great wedding professionals.

David Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a historic Baltimore wedding and event venue. Visit, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook! Send your comments and questions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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