Families: Make sure to put the couple first

When a bride-to-be says “yes” to her fiancé, she’s also saying “yes” to his family and vis-a-vie. But when planning the wedding, the betrothed’s families must heed a few simple rules.

  • Be helpful, but don’t dominate the planning. Type A personalities take heed: no bride wants her wedding planning taken over forcibly. Instead, ask her what she needs help with planning and offer suggestions. But don’t get pouty if she decides to go in another direction. If you’re paying, your wishes should considered but if the happy couple is footing the bill, defer or find a compromise. Help by preparing invitations to go out, assembling favors, choosing flowers, or sponsoring a “girls day out.”
  • Don’t be a bully. Wedding planning is stressful, especially for the couple. As a family member, it’s not your call where they decide to wed. If the couple chooses to wed in a location away from home, don’t threaten to “not come” or corner the bride and offer “alternatives”. Instead, smile and find a way to be part of the Big Day. Make the wedding a fun vacation instead.
  • Don’t undermine the couple. Perhaps they want a string trio, but you want a big band. Maybe they’ve chosen to give to a charity instead of giving chocolate favors. Or maybe they’re going with a simple and elegant theme. Don’t tell them how to do it better, or belittle their choices. Be supportive, not a nag. And don’t talk behind their back. That’s tacky.
  • Find out the expected guest count before putting together your invite list. Shrinking budgets and reception restrictions may make it impossible to invite everyone in your family or all the family friends. Ask the happy couple how many people they can accommodate and be respectful of that figure. And don’t forget the couple will likely have friends they’ll want to invite too.
  • Temper your excitement… a bit. Sure, you’ll be really excited about the wedding, but telling everyone you know could result in hurt feelings down the line, especially if close family friends expect they’ll be invited. If they can’t be fit into the guest list, share photos of the Big Day.
  • Don’t invite people to bridal showers who aren’t coming to the wedding. It’s proper etiquette to only invite women to the bridal shower who have been invited to the wedding. Bridal showers are meant to be an intimate gathering of women who mean the most to the bride, the groom and their families. A shower is not a chance to haul in the loot. Think how it would feel to be invited to a shower — thus expected to bring a gift — and not be invited to the wedding.
  • Do not upstage the bride or groom. When choosing your Big Day attire, keep in mind that this is a celebration of two people coming together, not your chance to shine brighter than the bride. Choose clothing that fits into the color scheme, the feel of the wedding, and which makes you feel beautiful. Consult the couple about the details — colors, the theme/atmosphere of their wedding, and then choose a beautiful and appropriate outfit. And — unless your bride okays it — don’t choose an all white dress.

Do these things and your couple will not only thank you for and they’ll never forget how special you made them feel.

Story by Debra Bell, Marry ME magazine editor