- Gender and Relationships
The Unintentional Effects of Your Wedding Day
As a wedding planner it’s difficult to stand by and watch as words are thrown and actions are taken, by any number of people, that will likely have a lasting and sometimes permanent effect on a couple’s marriage and a family’s relationship for a lifetime.
Though high emotions and difficult situations are the name of the game during wedding planning (Do you know of any situation where you can get an entire family together and not have strife?), it is also a fragile time for couples as they are standing as a couple, and are defending this new relationship, sometimes for the first time. The pain and heartache that are possible at this time have the potential of creating serious long-lasting damage that no one can foresee.
The Potential Problems
Parents tend to try to influence the big day one way or the other, typically with the intention of feelings like they know what’s best for their son or daughter. Some don’t see the pain this causes their child, and others don’t care. Many go so far as to demand their “rights” on the wedding day, and some have even caused a great deal of drama on the day of ranging from inciting problems with guests, to cursing, to even physical violence. Of all of the people that can hurt a bride or groom emotional, parents rank right up there at the top, usually being the closest to the child’s heart.
Siblings like to use wedding days to make statements about their feelings regarding the choice of spouse made by their brother or sister. They may do this through violence or drama on the day of, remarks and bad treatment to one person or both in the couple throughout the planning phase, or even boycotting the wedding day altogether. Feelings of jealousy and/or envy are usually the big assists in helping these siblings to make their decisions.
Couples may have to take individuals off of their guest list for any number of reasons, which cause problems. Some of these reasons might be simply trying to lower the guest count for budgeting purposes, eliminating the situation of having to meet new people on their wedding day, or even avoiding chaotic situations by leaving explosive or controversial people at home for the event. This causes anger, hurt and resentment amongst some friends and family members that did and did not get invited. (This is even more pronounced when children are asked not to attend.)
Things may also get out of hand as bridesmaids, groomsmen, family members or friends get drunk and do things that may be inappropriate or uncharacteristic at the wedding. Although this could be as simple as grumbling amongst guests, to as complicated as guests fighting, storming out, or even attempting to destroy the wedding venue, it all has the same effects.
Finally, brides and/or grooms sometimes get out of hand themselves, with each other and others around them, when trying to create a perfect event for their wedding day. When this happens, details tend to take precedence over the meaning and symbolism of the celebration. I’ve been there when couples forget why they were engaged in the first place and end up saying and doing things that end the relationship altogether.
In all of these situations, it is normal for words to be said and emotions expressed that have serious consequences. It is how those are then handled that determines the future for all involved. The wedding day is a BIG one for brides and grooms being the big day where they are on display and celebrating something big happening in their lives with friends, family, and loved ones. When this is undermined or taken away from them, sometimes the consequences cannot be undone.
I’ve seen, and experienced, the effects that these can have for myself. Families that cannot forgive, communicate or reunite, and a strained relationship for the new couple are usually the two biggest losses after a difficult planning and/or wedding day experience.
Where did the problems come from at your wedding?
Some of the Potential Consequences
When a couple hasn’t stood firm in their relationship and defended each other to their individual families throughout the planning process, the typically end up having to deal with parents that try and dictate how they run their relationship, when they have children and how they raise them, and even what they do for a living and where they live, creating the stereotype of “THE in-laws!”
These actions, not taken care of from the beginning, allow for resentment, anger and tons of arguments between the new couple causing a strain that puts a damper on the new marriage right from the start. Sometimes, this ends up causing a severing altogether of the relationship between parent and child as the new spouse has to make a decision between the health of his or her marriage and the relationship with the parent.
Negative words and actions on the part of siblings during this time do the same thing. Their actions may prevent the relationship between the mistreated sibling and the one doing the mistreating to never be close again. They may never talk again, never spend time together or share in any further life events, and holidays may forever be strained, especially if the new spouse of the sibling was treated badly.
Friendships have easily been lost, as getting married already puts tension on friendships with single friends. The resentment from behavior on the wedding day or throughout the planning process may forever keep negative memories in the mind of the newly married friend keeping them from ever being close or talking again.
When one member or both of the couple has behaved badly during the fragile engagement time, if they survive, precedents have already been set by the negative behavior experienced. Counseling may be utilized to heal some of the wounds created, but too many couples choose to move forward without addressing the problems and bad habits developed during planning for how to treat each other end up plaguing the couple for the duration of their marriage.
Being the Solution
Be careful with your words and actions at all times. Take others feelings into consideration, and when standing up for your own choices, be mindful of your tone, word choice and volume.
Be respectful to everyone. I know it’s especially difficult when someone is being disrespectful to you, but you’ve got to know ahead of time that emotions are running high. I wish it didn’t have to be you that was careful, but you can’t expect others to guard their own communication. You can only watch yourself.
Be honest about your feelings. If someone is upsetting you, tell them why respectfully. If your mother’s demands are not what you want and are causing problems with you and your fiancé, tell her. “I know you are just trying to help, but I really need you to know . . .” By no means should you let any disrespect you, but by harnessing your own emotions and telling them the truth, you may prevent difficulties before they arise.
Be understanding. Most people will really honestly be trying to help you get what you want, regardless of how unhelpful they may seem. Try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have good intentions. This is where your honesty will really come in handy. They may not realize the effect their actions are having.
Be forgiving. It is normal for tensions to be high during wedding planning and on the wedding day. For your family, this may be a big day for them as well. You never know what is going on in their lives that may be causing them to act this way towards you. Lean on each other to talk it out and get your feelings out in the open. Your spouse may have a different take on the situation than you do that may help you to understand. Realize that they may simply not understand your relationship, and how can they, they’re not in it like you are.
It’s so important to really stay on top of any chaos and strife during this special time of your lives. There’s no reason that anyone or anything should ruin your precious memories of this time together. Focus on the goal and the purpose of this joyous celebration and lean on each other for understanding and support. By all means, stand up for your relationship and the day that you have planned to celebrate your nuptials, but do it in a way that doesn’t leave pain and heartache behind you.
You want to remember your wedding fondly and be able to share it with all of your friends and family afterward. Although you won’t be able to avoid strife altogether, you can do your part to keep it at a minimum and be the bigger person. If it comes down to it, you and your marriage might be better off without certain people involved in it.