Q: Should I ask my sister-in-laws to be bridesmaids?
A: It depends. This sounds like an unhelpful response, but it is totally true. There is no general rule that will apply to every situation. Before you decide whether or not to ask your future sister-in-laws to be a part of your bridal party, take serious consideration.
How large would your bridal party be without them? You will have to determine if you have enough room to include more people in your bridal party.
How many sister-in-laws are there? Adding one sister-in-law into your bridal party is not a big deal. But adding three or four could quickly double the size of your party.
How close are you to your sister-in-laws? If you really love your future sisters, it is perfectly natural to include them as bridesmaids. If you are not that close, do not feel forced to include strangers in the intimate aspects of your wedding.
How do they feel? Laid-back women will not be offended if you do not ask them to be their bridesmaids out of obligation. But others would be hurt if you did not even offer.
If you elect not to include your future sister-in-laws as bridesmaids, be sure to incorporate them into your wedding somehow. These women will be in your life for the long run, so try to honor them in some way on your big day. They could serve as ushers, sing or read in the ceremony, or be specifically recognized during the ceremony.
Q: How do I deal with difficult in-laws?
A: In-laws have a bad reputation. But they are not out there to make your life difficult. Their actions may cause you to think they do not like you or have ill-intentions, but this is usually not the case. It is easy to misinterpret their actions because you do not know them very well and everyone reacts uniquely to stressful situations like weddings. Maintain this perspective and many of your struggles will be eliminated. As you strive to get along with your future in-laws, keep several things in mind:
Don’t release all your feelings, desires, and preferences. While compromise is key, your own opinions are very important. Listen to the voice of your in-laws but keep sight of your own identity.
Communicate with your fiancé. Dealing with in-laws is possible when you are able to candidly vent and discuss the conflict with your love. Nothing is more detrimental than when one individual sides with his/her parents and leaves the other in the dust.
Learn how to say no. Saying no is not wrong. But you must learn how to say no in a respectful and kind way. Choose your battles wisely and stick to your guns on the things that matter to you.
Q: How do I juggle multiple opinions?
A: There are people who have been dreaming about your wedding even longer than you. Your mom and your fiancé’s mom have thought about your big day since the day you and your groom were born. Thus, they have some sort of image in their mind of how the wedding will look. That image could mirror your own, or it could completely contrast it. In order to maintain some sense of control over your wedding plans, establish a plan. For each decision that might include multiple sources of input:
1. Present your viewpoint. Explain to your parents, bridesmaids, or fiancé what you envision and why it is meaningful to you.
2. Listen to the opinions of others. Your closest companions sometimes know you even better than you know yourself. They may present some ideas that you never thought of and thus their opinions are worth listening to.
3. Reevaluate. After receiving input from multiple sources, take some time to think about all your options. No decisions need to be finalized immediately.
4. Meet again. Once you have come to terms with a decision in your own head, meet up with those who offered their opinions and explain your choice. Be firm, yet gracious.
5. Let it go. After the decision has been made, don’t allow yourself or others to reopen the issue. If you spent the appropriate amount of time thinking about the best option, you need not second guess yourself.
Q: What do I do when all the wedding planning falls on me?
A: Because the bride is often very excited for her big day, some of her friends may carry the misconception that she doesn’t want any help, that she wants to make all the decisions and planning on her own. While the bride will likely want to have a part in every part of the planning process, she will also appreciate help in making all her dreams a reality.
If your groom and bridal party are not giving you much assistance, it may be due to this misconception rather than laziness. If you are feeling alone and stressed out when planning your big day, talk to your friends. They may not realize that you need or want help. Approach them not with your frustration, but with the underlying knowledge that misunderstanding may be the simple culprit.
Q: Who should pay for the wedding?
A: While tradition establishes one ideal about who should pay for the wedding, as time progresses on, tradition increasingly flies out the window. There is no longer any expectation about who should pay for wedding expenses. The bride’s family, the groom’s family, the bride and groom, or any combination of these groups can contribute financially. As no standard exists, you should sit down with these three groups and have a candid discussion about finances. You do not want to go along in the planning process with assumptions about who is paying for what, as every individual may be on vastly different pages. Knowing your budget for the ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner, and more is essential and necessary before any planning can take place. It may feel awkward at first, but all involved parties will be glad that the issue of wedding expenses is openly approached rather than ignored. Such a conversation will avoid more awkwardness and stress later on.