Let’s face it - others are going to have lots of opinions and suggestions about every detail regarding your wedding day. Some you will love; most you will, ehem, not love. You’ll soon discover that learning how to say no… without actually saying “no”, is a skill that will come in handy during your engagement. Here are some of our tips for politely acknowledging other’s suggestions and enthusiasm without both committing to something you don’t love, or negatively impacting your relationships.
Expect all kinds of requests
There’s something about a wedding announcement that can make even the most laid back family members go bananas. People tend to voice their wants and expectations for your big day at some point, and you’ll have the daunting task of filtering the good ideas from the lousy ones. Start by acknowledging that most brides endure this part of the planning process. Your mom may want you to wear an heirloom piece of jewelry that just doesn’t match your dress; your aunt wants to bake your wedding cake, or your good friend has recently adopted a photography hobby and is sharing her enthusiasm with you to shoot your wedding as a gift. At this point you have a few options.
Tweak the request. If your mom is rather sentimental about a particular piece of jewelry, for example, you may be able to find another way to wear it that still honors her wishes, and your desires as well. Possibly it is something you can wear to your rehearsal dinner or in your engagement photos. Another option is reworking the piece with a jeweler and creating a hair pin, or other accessory, like this boutonniere in the photo above.
Repurpose the request. If you auntie is known for her pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving but hasn’t baked a wedding cake once in her life, it’s totally normal to be hesitant about her abilities. Instead of taking her up on making your wedding cake, ask her to put her baking skills to work for the dessert served at your rehearsal dinner. She will still feel honored that her talents are being used to make your wedding week special, and will likely understand that you’d prefer to hire someone who is a cake baking expert.
Swap for a less important day. Your friend may have a pretty impressive Instagram profile, but wedding photography requires much more knowledge about the pace of the day, the lighting, equipment, and all of the other details for capturing that once in a lifetime moment. If you think your friend does have a fair bit of talent, and you’d like to find a way to take him or her up on their kind offer, consider asking them to shoot your engagement photos, or your rehearsal dinner. This way you can still gracefully accept your friend’s gift, but will not risk losing cherished memories from your wedding day.
Compromise. Compromising doesn’t mean that you become a doormat and let others walk over your desires for your own wedding day. Rather, compromising is a great opportunity to step back and evaluate what is important to you for your big day. We like self-reflecting by asking, “Will this be important to me in a week or a year after my wedding?” …if your answer is no, it’s a chance to honor a friend or a relative’s wishes without it impacting what’s most important to you.
Just say no. While compromising may be appropriate for some suggestions, there will undoubtedly be other requests that you feel do not align with your values. Let’s say for example your fiancé’s parents have a strong wish for you to be married in a church, but neither you or your fiancé ascribe to or follow that particular faith. Or let’s say that one of your values is to keep your wedding within a strict budget, but that you parents have an extensive guest list. This is where you will need to stand your ground and let these other people know how you and your partner feel, and why it impacts your wedding. Others may not like your response, but if it’s a decision that you feel is best, then it’s the right course of action.
Delegate your “nos”. The great news is that not all nos need to come from you! This is where a wedding planner can step in and add tremendous value to the planning process. Some relationships, such as your future mother-in-law, or possibly a parent who is footing the entire bill, may be more sensitive to hearing a no from you. A wedding planner is a more objective third party and can explain some of the reasoning behind the decisions without it feeling critical of other people’s ideas. A great planner will not only handle these situations with poise, but will be able to anticipate conversations arising in advance, and will help a couple diffuse something that may have otherwise boiled over.
If you're looking for a little, (or a lot!), of help with all types of decisions during your engagement, we'd love to hear from you! We are a passionate group of wedding planning professionals, based out of Scottsdale, Arizona. We can be reached at (480) 648-0663, or you can drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.