Wedding planning family drama


When I was planning my wedding around 8 years ago, I was only 20 years old, optimistic, dreamy, insecure, trying to complete my bachelor’s degree and was barely earning any money. Needless to say that planning a wedding on no money combined with youthful naivety was not really going to give me much negotiating power with the parentals as to what type of wedding I wanted. Sorry, “we” (the husband and I), wanted.

My wedding turned out to be a massive shebang with over 600 people (!!!#$#%) because my husband and I were the first in both families to get married therefore EVERYONE had to be invited. Because it was the polite thing to do.

What I envisioned in my mind was a simple garden wedding, a laid back affair with carpets and floor cushions strewn on the floor with games and flowers and ribbons hanging from trees, a BBQ, and not 600 PEOPLE (!!???*#&%).

Or a wedding on a boat. Why? I don’t know. I was just taken with the idea of a boat wedding. God knows why.

Sitting down with both sets of parents and trying to convince them of our “alternative” wedding plans was met with much doubt. Much questioning. Much confusion. And ultimately it was cast aside for the “practical” i.e. “typical” hall wedding with 600 PEOPLE.

All y’all of ethnic backgrounds understands this conundrum. We do not plan weddings on our own. Every decision regarding the wedding, from the venue to the bonbonierres is made in consultation with the parents. Every. Single. Decision. Plus the complexities of the financials also plays a role in how these decisions are made. Usually the groom’s side is expected to shoulder the majority of the costs in terms of the venue, the bride’s dress etc. This makes pushing what you want kind of awkward because you don’t want to seem ungrateful, or spoilt, or greedy.

This is particularly the case if you are a young couple, barely out of university, without full time jobs.

Add to this the emotional weight that we attach to weddings and things can get very nasty, very quickly. I know of many an engagement to be broken off because the bride’s parents couldn’t agree with the groom’s parents over what kind of wedding to have.

For reals.


So how does one navigate the minefield that is wedding planning?

Here are some helpful tips:

Be willing to compromise Restrain that Bridezilla in you who is obsessed with getting every single tiny detail of the wedding the way she wants it to be. Trust me, on the day, you are not going to care about the colour of the napkins. Plus, allowing your mother-in-law to have something that she likes at the wedding is NOT the worst thing in the world. In fact, it will go to show how you are able to sacrifice what you want for the happiness of your future family member, and you’d want to set up a positive relationship from the start rather than hurt her for the sake of something that ultimately isn’t that important.

Keep it simple Of course a wedding should be a celebration, and a joyous one at that. What it shouldn’t be about is an exhibitionist display of one’s wealth, or some need to have a better wedding than your cousin’s friend’s wedding. Aiming for a beautiful but simple wedding, keeping humility at the forefront of your decisions and restraining your need for over the top table arrangements, a huge flower backdrop and a cake the size of a mini mountain with custom monogram will really go a long way in making the planning easier for everyone involved.

Stick to your guns What if it’s the parents who want the over the top wedding (and this usually seems to be the case nowadays, what with their “but we need to show the community how WE celebrate!!“)? My advice here is to stick to your guns and really have some firm discussions with your parents about what is truly important. Rather than over spend on your wedding (because let’s face it, sometimes parents think that they just need to throw their money around like confetti to have the BEST WEDDING EVER), ask them to donate the money on your behalf to your favourite charity. Or it could be the deposit for a house. Or the furniture for a house. Or a honeymoon. There are so many ways that your parents can be of true assistance to you as newlyweds rather than throwing you a lavish celebration.

It’s not about you Contrary to popular cultural notions that weddings are “all about me” i.e. the bride, weddings are really about the families. Yep. You read right. Weddings should be family affairs. The primary intention should be to celebrate the union of two families, not JUST the union of two people. At a wedding I attended a few years ago, the groom summed up my point so well in his speech when he said:

“This day is not about us, it is about the joy of so many people opening up their lives to us…”

Keeping this in mind when planning will put a lot into perspective and help you let go of the things that really are not important in the bigger scheme of things.

Our wedding day in the end had the usual stresses, nervous excitement, joyous moments, lots of family love and was over in a day, just like every other wedding. We had some photos to remember it by, and it achieved the purpose of celebrating two young people willing to join their lives and their families together in mutual love and respect. If I’d had my time again, I would definitely tell myself to simply relax, not get hung up on small details and to enjoy the process of getting married to my best friend.

What problems with family did you face when planning your wedding? How did you over come them?


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