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Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Updated on August 16, 2010

"Til death do you part" seems like it would be the most difficult part of a wedding, but that vow is nothing when you consider the number of relatives you have to keep happy until you reach that part of the ceremony. A wedding isn't just about the bride and the groom – it's about the merging of families and all of their opinions. But instead of running off to Jamaica or Vegas to elope, here are some ways to cope with families and what they have to say about your special day.

Something Old

When you move into a new home and a new relationship, inevitably, you're going to bring things that you own and mix things that your spouse owns together.  Not all of the pieces will 'go' together and not all of the pieces will even fit in the space you do have – such is the same with families and all of their opinions.

Families know exactly what buttons to push in order to send you off the deep end.  Whether they know your beliefs about religion or what kind of dress you want to wear, they're going to use every opportunity they can during the planning phase of your wedding to point out what they already 'know' – that you need help from them.

But this isn't always the case, is it?  Much of the time, the opinions you get from your family members are simply ways for them to get their agendas into the wedding day.  While most of this isn't done in a malicious manner, it can still be frustrating for even the coolest and calmest of brides.  What makes it even harder is the input from your soon to be spouse's family, as you want to make sure they like you, so you don't want to say no to them.

What you need to do is come up with a plan for your wedding with you and your spouse alone in the planning. Make a list of the things that are very important to you, i.e. your wedding dress or the ceremony, and then make sure that you have the final say in these decisions. Tell your family and your partner's family that these are things that are deeply important to you both as a couple. Whatever's left in the list of things to do or to plan, let your families split these tasks up and then handle them for you. As a bonus, this is going to lessen your workload, while also making everyone feel included.

You might want to:

  • Have a family member handle the invitation designs or shopping
  • Let one family plan the rehearsal dinner and the other plan the brunch the morning after
  • Come up with cards with all of the needed tasks on them and then hand them out among the people who want to help. This will let these family members switch as they feel is necessary.
  • See which family members have special skills that you might be able to use – i.e. does someone do calligraphy? Maybe someone can get you a rental space for a lower price?

Something New

But it's not just your families, is it? Your spouse can also have their own opinion of how things are 'supposed' to be done (often influenced by his family). This can lead to tension between the two of you and often a few disagreements that leave you both questioning your readiness for marriage.

Even if you have fought a few times about wedding things to do, you shouldn't feel alone. More couples fight in the months prior to a wedding than they did in the previous relationship time before the engagement. Actually, you might want to think of this as a good time to begin to learn how to communicate with each other in a more positive way and how to handle situations that are tense and emotionally charged.

In order to make sure you're both a part of the planning process, but also getting the things you feel are important, be sure to leave some things up to him.  Have your partner handle some of the details or some of the phone calls that need to be done – whatever makes him feel useful and like an active participant.  Too often, men can feel like they are being forced into certain decisions, without actually having a say.  When you let your partner have a say, you will reduce the possibility of having troubles along the way.

Something Borrowed

During the planning phase of any wedding, there comes a point in which your families begin to talk about traditions – what they did during their ceremony and what other people did, etc.  While their intentions are good, not always do your desires match up with these opinions.

Perhaps you want to do a secular ceremony in which you're not in a church and following your families' religious traditions – this is certainly going to cause chaos in the planning process.  What needs to happen at this time is compromise – something that you're going to have to learn for marriage anyways.  When you allow your families to have a small say in the way your ceremony will take place, you will show them that you care about them, but that you have certain things you want to decide on as a couple – this is going to set the tone for your marriage.

To make sure you are letting everyone have a say, ask all the families to sit down together (or separately, if that's more convenient) to talk about what they want so that you're clear as to what your options are.  A nice casual dinner (maybe a few drinks) might help to clear up any misunderstandings as well as help to get your planning finished.

Another common problem in the 'something borrowed' section of wedding planning is the opinions on whether or not you should change your new, take a hyphenated name, or keep your own name.  This is plagued more couples in recent years with the idea of men and women both having careers to think about – and when clients or patients recognize your maiden name, it's not always sensible to change it.

But since everyone in your family is probably going to have an opinion about the idea of whether or not you'll change your name, you might want to make that decision right now – before you even start wedding planning.  It seems like a little thing, but the fewer issues you have to deal with, the easier the wedding planning will go.

Something Blue

But even if you plan ahead, try to avoid emotional road mines in your wedding planning process; chances are still good that you are going to find something blue in the process – your mood.

Even the strongest and more organized bride will find herself stressing about the wedding day ahead. To help stay calm and cool, you might want to think about these fun de-stressing tips:

  • Take time for yourself each week
    Whether it's heading out for a facial or a massage or just a trip to the local bookstore, get away from it all once in a while. You need to separate yourself from the families and even your partner in order to keep your head on straight.
  • Take time with your partner each week
    Scheduling a date night can help you to remember WHY you're getting married in the first place (you love each other, remember?). In order to keep your loving feelings strong, make time for each other without doing anything for the wedding.
  • Be sure to exercise
    Sometimes there's nothing better than sweating out your frustrations during the wedding process; plus it will keep your body in shape for your big day.
  • Remember your friends
    If you're the kind of person that tends to want to be in control of everything, stop and see if your friends want to help. People want to help others, if only you'd given them the chance. Heck, you can even invite everyone over to make invitations and vent your wedding planning frustrations.
  • Write out your feelings
    Try to keep a journal of all of the frustrations you've had during the wedding process. It might seem funny to you after the wedding and show you just how much energy you put into the planning.
  • Don't expect perfection
    What creates a Bridezilla is the idea that everything has to be perfect. When you stop thinking that everything needs to be perfect and under your control, you will begin to have fun during the wedding planning.

Planning a wedding can be a challenging time in your life, filled with sleepless nights, stressed out days, and difficult conversations. But remember that while this stress may seem unending, you will get to that wedding day and you will get through it all. Being married is the reward in the end.

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