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MANAGING FAMILY EXPECTATIONS
By Nicole Penning

If you haven’t realised it yet, everyone that loves you will stake a claim to your wedding day. You may have your biological parents, and or stepparents, those that instrumentally influenced your childhood, and whether it is a blessing or a curse, you may have family who are paying for your wedding! 

Consider your current relationship with your influential family members – as this will generally dictate the amount of input you might invite your family to have in planning your wedding. 

The key to successfully managing your families’ expectations is to make sure you have your non-negotiables worked out first with your fiancé, on what you want your wedding to look like. You can then share this insight with the important people in your lives. Otherwise, you might fall into the trap of planning your parents dream wedding – not yours! 

Shot gun weddings, elopements, destination weddings, legals only and registry weddings are often not well favoured by family who want to share in your celebrations. If this is your dream style of wedding and you want to keep it a secret – be prepared for the fall out of that decision when they find out the truth. To soften the blow, maybe you can plan to renew your vows later with your family and friends present. 

Having one-on-one conversations with your critical family members will give you dedicated time to having these discussions. 

It is easy to overlook, under acknowledge or unintentionally disrespect our parents when planning. Give them the consideration they deserve and thank them in your speeches, in a hand-written letter, with a gift, a song for you to dance with them at the reception, or by having them be invited up the front in your ceremony to be the very first to congratulate you. Ask them to hold the rings, hold a bouquet or be the legal witnesses. But don’t feel obligated to do such things unless they are relevant and appropriate to you and your family’s circumstances. 

For any concerns along the way that your family might have, simply ask the question, may I ask why that concerns you? They may have unresolved regret over their own wedding day. 

It is worth acknowledging that some parental figures may feel like they are losing their son or daughter, rather than officially gaining one. 

These conversations may result in an unexpected bonding experience alongside a wedding that is meaningful, symbolic, beautiful, and truly intentional. 

Your wedding day should be a true reflection of you both as individuals and as a couple, that represents both of your families combined. 

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