Six Ways To Maintain Peace With Your In-Laws During Wedding Planning

Six Ways To Maintain Peace With Your In-Laws During Wedding Planning

If you’ve looked at our Q&A page recently, you may have noticed that we have recently introduced some new expert panel members in order to answer your questions and help you to have a smooth journey towards your big day.

Amongst the new faces is Nicola Beer, an internationally renowned expert in relationship transformations who has been featured on sites such as Huffington Post and Wall Street Select. As BCME’s Family & Marriage Relationship Expert, Nicola will be writing about all of the complex relationships that you may encounter when you make the decision to share your life with somebody else. Be it your fiancé, your parents or your in-laws, Nicola is here to guide you towards positive relationships throughout planning your wedding and beyond.

Today, in her first post, Nicola broaches the often difficult topic of in-laws. Some of you may be lucky enough to feel almost as close to your in-laws as you do your own parents, but sadly, others may have a somewhat strained relationship, which can reach breaking point when dealing with the pressure of planning a wedding. Added to this is the fact that here in the UAE there are many culturally mixed relationships which can lead to added tension over what the wedding should entail and traditions that may or may not be adhered to.

If you find yourself in this situation, rest assured that Nicola is here to help! Read on to discover her six excellent tips for maintaining peace with your in-laws during the wedding planning process. Enjoy!

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Your in-laws-to-be are an important part of your husband’s history and your future together, so maintaining peace with them throughout the wedding planning process will be best for everyone. However, this is often easier said than done. Here are some guidelines that support drama-free planning and some advice on how to deal with any conflict before it escalates.

Involve your in-laws

The biggest complaints from in-laws are always about feeling left out. I have never come across a man or woman who complained to me that they feel too included or that getting involved in the wedding is too much. If you don’t include them, they will typically either complain or look displeased on the day, which won’t be good for anyone. Get their opinion, ask for their thoughts, and share your ideas. Being open doesn’t mean you have to follow everything they say, it just shows that you value their opinion. Most people simply long to be listened to and often this act is enough for them to feel included and respected. Starting off on a good foot with your in-laws will be key to maintaining good relations for years to come.

Communicate clear expectations

Ask yourself what role you want them to have, what role you want your family to have, and what roles you want to leave for yourself or other significant people.

Not so long ago, there were traditional divisions of wedding responsibilities. It used to be the bride’s family who paid for the wedding and the groom’s family who paid for the dinner. Things are now different for most people getting married. More and more couples save money themselves and wait for the family to offer their help and typically accept what is offered. However, they may have set expectations and want to assume traditional roles that you are not keen on. For example, a couple I was doing pre-marital counselling with were arguing over the fact that the bride-to-be had not invited her future mother-in-law to go shopping for the dress and bridesmaid dresses. She had not thought to invite her because her mother-in-law lived in a different town and it was something she wanted to do with her best friends. This caused tension between the couple. So, we ironed out together exactly what the expectations might be and what they both wanted and how then to communicate this.

The best way to approach this is to say something like,“we are both so excited and overwhelmed with the planning and we want to make sure everyone is happy. We wondered if you would be willing to look after this for us… and play this role…”.

Many women have told me that they allowed their in-laws to take over and regretted this decision after the fact because they wanted to take charge of everything and the couple couldn’t make their big day their own.

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Blood to blood is best

If there are issues between you and your in-laws, it is always best to follow the rule of ‘blood to blood’. So, let your fiancé do the talking. When I share this with brides they often respond with, “I can’t do that because he isn’t very good at communicating,” or, “he doesn’t want to get involved, he’s left it up to me.” In my experience supporting countless couples through these situations, it’s time for him to learn and take that role. You want him to be able to discuss things delicately throughout your marriage both with you and your in-laws so now is a better time than ever to learn the skills. It’s important that your fiancé can stand up for you and themselves in a way that doesn’t cause offence. The best way to approach it is with compassionate communication. Stating, “we feel…”, and, “we would like,” and, “we wondered if you could…”

Your wedding planning is meant to be a time of excitement and a celebration of what’s to come. It’s also an important time for consolidating your relationship skills and setting in place habits that will support your growth as a couple over the coming years and decades.

Work out the financial side of things

As I mentioned above, in the past the bride’s family used to pay for the wedding and take over all the wedding planning. However, in-laws today are equally likely to contribute. Sometimes when in-laws pay for the wedding or parts of the wedding they may do so with strings attached. One bride, whom I was helping with her wedding anxiety, felt trapped because her mother-in-law fired her wedding planner and took over the job of wedding planning herself. She didn’t feel like she could say anything because without her in-laws’s financial support the couple couldn’t afford to get married for several years. Another bride’s in-laws were paying for the wedding reception in a beautiful vineyard and because of this felt justified in inviting all their friends.

If either of these scenarios happen, there are a few things that you can do. One option is to speak to both sets of parents, see what they want to contribute and try to put all the money into a pot, rather than them ‘owning’ something. This way, it is not a case of one side gifting this or that.

If your in-laws want to get something specific, ask them if they have any expectations or requirements for the aspect they are contributing to, so you can get a sense of whether they want to control it or not and whether they want something in return.

Lastly, consider having an emergency budget in case it really gets too much and you have to decline their offer, or if they withdraw it. Of course, this is the worst case scenario, but it does give peace of mind to know that you are not beholden to anyone.

Pick your wedding planning battles

There are some things you may not want any advice or input on, such as where to get married, who to invite, who will be in the wedding party and when finding your dress. On the other hand, there may be things that you are not too bothered about such as wedding favours, where to buy candles and flowers or what tablecloths to use. In this case, you may follow your in-laws’s suggestions. Allow them to influence you in the small areas so that they leave you to make your own decisions in the most important areas.
If they ask you to wear something of theirs on your big day, pick something you don’t mind wearing like a bracelet or a hair piece as opposed to a wedding dress.

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Make them feel important

Often, I have soon to be married women come to me saying that their in-laws have said some hurtful things. Things like, “I wouldn’t have chosen that dress”, “you’re spending far too much”, or they “wish you weren’t getting married in that location.”

There are also things that couples hear their in-laws saying to other people about them, such as, “she doesn’t want our help”, “we’re not allowed to get involved but her Mum is doing everything”, and “we don’t know what’s happening, it’s all hush hush.”
It’s often different for each bride, but you get my point. This may infuriate you at first, but realise that communication like this is a call for love. What they actually mean is “I’d like to feel more important and included in the wedding planning”, “I’d love to be considered and feel that I matter.” Many fear losing their son and see how you plan the wedding as a sign of them losing all importance and influence.

All it takes is a few phone calls and sharing what is happening to make their week. Keeping them up to date makes them feel happy and important, and this then will make your relationship stronger and the big day more joyful.

If, however, the wedding plans are becoming so fraught with tension, sometimes the only way to deal with it is to revert to the parenting technique of a ‘time out’. Schedule a day together to just be, do your favourite activities and take your mind off it. Have a chill out day and watch Netflix and order in, so that wedding planning is off limits and only romance and fun is allowed. If you remember why you love each other and are getting married, it will help you get through challenging moments and not lose your cool.

If you have any questions for me, post them below! If you would like relationship tips, get my free relationship eBook, ‘7 Secrets To A Great Marriage’ here.

Xx Nicola xX
Looking for more expert tips and advice? Click here.

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