Wedding planning is like running a marathon. Occasionally, you hit a wall and you just don’t think you can go any further. Here’s when thoughts of eloping start to creep in. Take a deep breath, dry your tears (unlike baseball, there is lots of crying in weddings) and stay the course. It’s not a sprint, so you’ll need endurance and steadfastness. Hey, the pay-off is a beautiful, romantic wedding with your soul mate. The bumps in the road are just that; they will be under your tires and behind you just as quickly as they came.
We already told you about the 10 most stressful parts of wedding planning (that no mag will ever tell you!), and now we have some solutions for each. You will survive, we promise!
1. In-Law Drama
The Problem: Your in-laws are demanding that their wants and wishes for the wedding be met. From adding more names to the guest list to re-arranging the seating chart or bashing your venue choice, your in-law’s words can be hurtful and seem to derail your plans for a “dream” wedding. Passive aggressive or just plain aggressive, in-law drama is a common source of planning stress, so don’t feel alone if you are clashing with yours.
The Solution: Use your fiance as a buffer. Before you exchange words with mom-in-law, have a conversation with your fiance and make sure you’re on the same page. Then, go to your in-laws as a united front, and (try to) have an adult conversation about the issue at hand. They want to invite distant cousins from Canada, but the guest list is already over budget? Don’t let emotions get involved, use your business savvy and treat the discussion the way you would a work problem. Rationally and calmly get your point across — and expect to have to compromise a little. Remember, you’ll be seeing these people every holiday for the rest of your life.
2. The Guest List
The Problem: The guest list is usually not an arbitrary number; whoever is financing the wedding has figured out exactly how many heads they can afford to feed/entertain. And at $250 a plate, a few add-on’s here and there can really add up. You were thinking you’d only have 75 guests, but that quickly becomes 100 – and with all the names on your parents and in-law’s lists, it quickly becomes double. Add all those unexpected Plus 1’s (there will be many — expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed), and last minute guilt-invites (like bosses, ailing relatives and couples who invited you to their wedding) and you’ve got a real humdinger on your hands.
The Solution: The good news is, you’re not alone — this is a commonly disputed aspect of weddings. Here’s how to handle it: draw the line and use the budget as your excuse in all cases. Be explicit about this with both sets of parents, and give them an exact number. Draw the line at first cousins. Draw the line at people you’ve seen in the last 5 years. Tell your best friend, I’m sorry, you haven’t had a boyfriend in 3 years, you can’t bring Mr. Match.com as a Plus 1.
3. Misbehavin’ Bridesmaids
The Problem: Common bridesmaid offenses include: being difficult about the dress, complaining about expenses related to the wedding (travel, gifts, etc), inviting unexpected (or invited) plus 1’s, getting too drunk at the wedding, being generally difficult and not helpful (that’s what they’re there for, right?!). Maybe your MOH totally dropped the ball on your bridal shower or your bachelorette party. Before you demote her to a bridesmaid, or kick anyone out of the bridal party, read these tips:
The Solution: Have a heart to heart with the offender, when alcohol and other bridesmaids are not involved. Speak candidly about what’s bugging you, and if the words don’t sound like crazy Bridezilla babble coming out of your mouth she should react in a reasonable manner. Maybe she’s jealous that you’re getting married, and she hasn’t had a steady boyfriend since college? Maybe your MOH isn’t a planner by nature, and needs a little help from the other bridesmaids. Maybe she just got let go from her job and really can’t afford the dress, the hotel or the bachelorette. Hear her out before putting the smack down on. Find her a cheap dress (we’ve found pretty ones for as cheap as $20 – swear!). Get good bride karma and cash in on it when you really need it — like the day-of.
4. The Weather Report
The Problem: You’ve been stalking weather.com, the Almanac and Al Roker’s Twitter, and the weather for your big day does not look good. Like, torrential downpour, hailstorm, tornado not good.
The Solution: If you are planning an outdoor wedding, you need to rent a tent or have a back-up space for your ceremony and/or reception. Also, buy oversized umbrellas — we love these striped golf umbrellas ($20) — to transport guests from their cars. They actually make for really gorgeous wedding photos. Once you’ve dealt with the practicalities, remember: not even rain can ruin your day. It’s actually good luck!
5. The Seating Chart
The Problem: Seating charts are a huge headache, no matter the size of the guest list or the shape of the tables (yes, long tables are just as hard to seat as round). Parents and in-laws have their own expectations about who should sit with who, so problems will naturally arise. Gold help you if there is a family feud or divorce involved, and people need to be seated miles apart. This can get messy.
The Solution: Allow each stakeholder (you, your groom, your parents and in laws) veto power on 1 seating issue — and that’s it. It’s only a few hours someone will spend at a seat, so keep that in mind and convey it to your parents when disputes arise. Try your best to seat guests so they will enjoy themselves by pairing them with at least 1 person you think they’ll get along with. Beyond that, you’re off the hook. It’s up to your guests to make conversation from there. If you have tables where nobody knows each other, consider leaving table games out — Etsy has tons of wedding Mad Libs and crosswords that make great icebreakers.
6. Bad Vendors
The Problem: Vendors can be the source of a number of issues: they overcharge you, they don’t deliver as promised, they are generally difficult to deal with, or they have to cancel at the last minute.
The Solution: Don’t panic! If your vendor cancels, you’re in a better position than you realize. Some wedding vendors – like venues or photographers, will offer special discounts to fill in those last few weekends in their calendar. Check out sites like BrideRush for special last-minute deals in your area. If you want to fire a vendor, first see how much it will cost you (you should have a contract and/or deposit), then put your feelers out on Twitter and Facebook and see if friends or family can make a recommendation for a replacement. Look out for tell-tale signs that a vendor is difficult to work with or shady early on, and don’t be afraid to fire them right away.
7. Your Mother
The Problem: This is an age-old problem that plagues generation after generation. You will have at least one near-tears encounter with mommy dearest during the planning process. Whether she wants you to wear her wedding dress (and it’s fug), or she wants to micromanage every aspect of your day, down to the color of your nails — there will be tense moments where you have to appease her. If she hates your groom or you have vastly different tastes, hold on to your hat – it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
The Solution: Unlike your bridesmaids, with whom you can speak candidly and with a slight bridezilla attitude, you have to wear the kiddie gloves with mom. Being totally direct, to the point of telling her she’s wrong, isn’t the best way to play this. Moms are in a particularly fragile state when it comes to wedding planning – be gentle with them! When a problem arises, try to see an immediate solution, so she’ll stop worrying. “Yes, mother, exotic orchids are beautiful, I totally agree, but peonies are more on par with our budget.” Find ways to compromise and appease her; maybe her the parents table or her corsage could feature the exotic blooms? Maybe she just wants to feel a part of the planning, so make her feel included by giving her 1 task she can “be in charge of” (preferably, something you care the least about).
8. Your Fiance
The Problem: The ideal groom is like a personal assistant; organized, a Yes-Man, and helps you execute your dream day by taking on tasks like booking hotel blocks, copy-editing the invitation, acting as a buffer to in-laws, printing address labels and tracking RSVPs in an Excel spreadsheet. If your spouse-to-be either has absolutely nothing to contribute, keeps dropping the ball with even the most mundane of tasks, or has TOO many thoughts and opinions (how dare he?) this could cause problems.
The Solution: In either case – delegate! What are his/her areas of expertise? If it’s food and booze, put him in charge of menu planning and signature cocktails. If he loves to travel, he can handle guest accommodations and welcome bags. If he wants to leave his stamp on everything, kindly explain to him that you’re thrilled he wants to be so involved with the wedding, but it’s your big day (first and foremost), and you’d really appreciate it if he didn’t give you grief over little details like table linens. It’s the bride’s job to be difficult!
The Problem: Uh oh – there’s a national cheerleading conference in town the weekend of your wedding, and hotel rooms are going fast.
The Solution: Reserve a block or rooms tout suite, and make it larget than you need. Even better idea – reserve a few blocks of rooms at a few different hotels with different price points. Then put the word out to friends and fam that they might all have to bunk at Aunt Millie’s house unless they act fast!
10. The Budget
The Problem: For many engaged couples (and more importantly, their parents) the budget is just a random figure they throw out there before they realize exactly what everything costs in the wedding world – and the finally tally is several zeroes away from that original figure. Wedding expenses can quickly spiral out of control – and you don’t want to begin married life thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. (Don’t let your parents cash in their 401K to finance it either.)
The Solution: Stick to the rule of 3. What are the three things you refuse to compromise on? A designer dress, gorgeous flowers, and letterpress invites? Or maybe a gourmet meal for your guests, an open bar, and a gorgeous garden venue? Fabulous – now find ways to cut back on everything else. Opt for printable invites instead of letterpress to chop a digit or two off your stationery costs. (Check out our favorite wedding printables here.) Serve wine and beer, and a single signature cocktail, instead of an open bar. For even more tips on how you can get everything on your wedding checklist for less, click here.
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