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Setting Boundaries

By Nicole Penning

Managing the expectation of others can be a hard hitting and sensitive topic when planning a wedding. Most of us will have a moment where we need to manage our own expectations with those of our family and friends; all while trying to stay present and celebrate the moment. In this article I want to share with you my tips on setting firm and fair boundaries so everyone can stay focused on what’s truly important – celebrating the commitment you’re making in front of those you hold dear.  


CONGRATULATIONS YOU ARE ENGAGED! But wait, don’t tell anyone just yet! 


Firstly, I want you to picture your dream wedding day: how does it look? Imagine the way you want to feel on your big day. What’s most important to you and your fiancé? Now that you can picture it, share it with the world!  


Being clear on what this day means to you and the feelings you want to evoke means you can start to set expectations from the very first phone call, text or social media post. While you and your partner will be wrapped up in your love bubble, opinions and unsolicited advice from well-meaning loved ones can start to flood in and it’s usually before you’ve even thought about any of the nitty gritty! 


And it all comes back to the main point of this article – this is your day.  


Setting the boundaries with our family, parental figures, besties, and friends wanting to party, needs to happen from the very beginning; because whether you have realised it or not, you are not the only one who has pictured your special day. 


Ask yourself the big questions, like do you want to elope? What season do you want to be married in? Do you want a morning or evening wedding?  

It‘s best that you’ve thought about these things before you talk to others about them so you and your partner feel ready to take on the opinions of everyone else who loves you. 


Tell them straight up, and as soon as you can, what your plans are. Be confident, be strong, be excited. And then, if you’re not sure, you can go into each conversation seeking the right advice and asking constructive questions that will bring you closer to your perfect day. Be firm in your non-negotiables and share these so your loved ones are aware of your boundaries and limitations from the very beginning.  


Discussing the ground rules for your wedding together, and agreeing on them from the very beginning, is a failsafe way to make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn book and helps avoid unnecessary tension. 



 My first tip is know your budget. A well-meaning loved one can have all the ideas in the world, but if it blows your budget, then that aint’ happening! Know how you’d like to finance the wedding and if you’re able to accept help from others, you’ll need to consider how you can involve them in the decision making. Have a discussion on what their contribution means to you and ask what the financial involvement means to them? How do they see you spending their hard-earned? Be open to suggestions and if they don’t align to what you envisioned, then you need to politely decline their offer – thank you, but no thank you.  




Out of respect you may be open to some ideas from your loved ones, just maybe not all of them. There are always ways to appease loved ones and follow traditions or suggestions by adding your own flair (and I dare say you’ll get a lot of ideas from this very magazine).  



The easiest way to make a loved one feel important, heard, and appreciated (and often that is all they are really wanting) is to ask them for help! They will cherish the time spent with you and look fondly back on these moments before your wedding day has arrived and long after it has come and gone. 



Find that one person who can mediate and be the neutral third party to help make the tough decisions stick. As a celebrant, I often tell my couples if this is what you want then blame me! Tell them your celebrant “said so”, and often there will be a well-tested and qualified reason why it should be so.  


Kindness matters 

Be strong but polite, firm but grateful – a thank you can go a long way.  

Remind yourself that those that love you really just want you to have the best day possible. Show your appreciation in thoughtful ways like a gift, a mention in your speeches, a special role to play on the day or a dedicated dance at the end of the night. 


The memories of their time spent with you leading up to and on your wedding day will mean more to them than they probably realise, and you will get to spend your day calm, happy and in love! 

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