Broke-Ass Tag: family drama


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Most couples planning a wedding have been there at some point: Just when you’ve come up with The Perfect Wedding Plan, family finds a way to foil it! One of our BAB readers has such a dilemma:

Dear BABs,

I am hoping you can help me out. I am from Houston, TX, my fiance is from a small town in northern MN (near the Canadian border) and last year we relocated to South Dakota. Because we don’t really have any connections here yet, we have opted to have the wedding in his hometown where it’ll keep the costs down, compared to Houston. My friends and family are going to have to travel, and my family seems to be the most upset about it. I know that for any wedding, you can’t make everyone happy, but I feel like they’re going above and beyond to not be excited about this. They would have been okay with a destination wedding to Colorado or Montana, but are just being completely horrid about it being in MN. Is it because his family doesn’t have to travel or because they won’t be able to help as much with planning (not that they would if it was where we live or another destination)…? I’m just over trying to plan things and everyone being angry with me for my choices. We’re getting married in September and are really just getting things planned out, ceremony and reception venues have been chosen, photographer is good, we do catering and tent choices next month and it’s done. But they’re making me second guess all of my decisions. Any advice you can offer?


Wedding Doubts


Dear Wedding Doubts,

I’m so sorry that your family is being uncooperative about your plans. Of course you’re questioning your decisions! Family is your own flesh and blood, you love them, and you want them to be happy! But … do they feel the same for you, your partner and your wedding day?

Some families do get very upset when it seems that wedding plans are being made more in favor of “the other side.” The reality is that wedding plans rarely work out to be 100% equitable for both sides of the families, so although we can understand a bit why they might feel that way, it’s just a fact that life ain’t fair.

Do you know for certain that your family would have been okay with traveling to Colorado or Montana? If they’ve said so in so many words, then you’re absolutely right — it’s very possible they’re just being horrid. Family does not get to pick your wedding location! (Unless they’re paying for it, then all bets are off.) On the other hand, if you don’t really know why they’re acting the way they are, then the first thing to do is have a sit-down with the anti-MN-ers. Meet with the people who oppose the destination, but also bring along an ally — your partner, or someone in the family that supports your decision. Ask what the concerns are, and just listen. You don’t have to defend your choices — and doing so might make matters worse. Just let them vent about whatever their issues are, and remember to filter their responses before they make their way to your ears! Whatever concerns family has about your wedding decisions are not about you — they’re about them. Be a duck, and let it all just roll off! (like water off your back)

It’s not your responsibility to please everyone (or anyone) on your wedding day, but it can help to let the naysayers know you hear and understand them. You don’t have to change your plans — just let them know that while you’re sorry it’s an inconvenience to them, it’s the best plan for your own needs, and you’re the one footing the bill. (Or even if not, you’re still the ones getting married, though the waters get murkier if they are the ones footing the bill.)

If you do happen to learn something in talking with family that you didn’t know or hadn’t considered and you decide you’d like to make a change to better accommodate their needs, take some time to think through the options before changing your plans. Enlist help from your partner and family in brainstorming creative solutions — most of the time the one that works best isn’t their way or your way, but a third way that hasn’t been discovered yet, and it might not even require any changes to the plans you’ve made.

Here are a few possible solutions that might help if you’re considering this route:

  • Help your family to find discounted airfare — Maybe they’re not yet aware of sites like Priceline, Expedia, or Orbitz, so send ’em the links. (But don’t get involved in making all the family travel arrangements – you’re not a travel agent!) 
  • Help them find deals on lodging — Ask your in-laws to provide some suggestions, or try AirBNB.
  • Come up with a solution for ground transportation — Book a local shuttle, ask the in-laws to help with airport pick-ups or help to organize car pooling for anyone who needs a rental car.
  • Help them get excited about traveling — Create a wedding website and include links and images to local landmarks, attractions, hot spots, historical sites and more.
  • Create a “who’s who” graphic –– Add photos for both sides of the immediate families and the wedding party, along with names, hometowns and roles in the wedding. Families love this because it they can study faces before ever meeting!
  • Consider “comping” close relatives — If there are only one or two close relatives upset about the decision and you can manage the additional expense, consider comping their hotel room or some other portion of the travel. Let me be clear here: You are not expected or required to cover the expense, so it would be a generous gift if you choose to offer it.
  • Give them VIP treatment — If they’re feeling jilted, you can spin it your way by making family feel special with travel care packages (for the flight), welcome bags (for their lodging upon arrival) and with special shout outs during the wedding events. Thank them publicly for traveling all the way to Minnesota for your wedding. Often that’s enough of an olive branch to satisfy traveling guests.
  • Give family an out –– Sometimes people get (understandably) cranky because they feel stuck between a rock and a hard place — missing a close friend or family member’s wedding vs. struggling to find the cash to pay for the travel. If the destination issue is really about money, give family a couple of “outs.” Let them know that their presence is their gift to you, and that you don’t also expect them to offer gifts. And also, if some of the family members complaining about the travel are extended family, it really is okay if they can’t (or don’t want to) attend. Let them know that while you’d greatly miss them at your wedding, you understand if they can’t make it due to the distance. Just the reassurance that you won’t hold it against them (but would still love to have them there) might be enough to ease their minds and let them make the decision that’s right for them. Then consider an informal backyard get-together in your home town for those family members, during which you can share photos and stories about the wedding day.

It’s my experience that when guests (including family) feel like their needs are understood and taken care of, they’re less likely to create drama. It might be that if you can figure out what those needs are, you can get creative to help meet them without changing any of your existing plans or taking any extraordinary steps to accommodate your family. Of course you can’t please everyone, but at least you can sleep easy knowing that you’ve tried your best — and then just relax knowing your planning is ALMOST DONE!

Party on!

– Lisa 

Planning a wedding in Northeast Ohio? Here’s where you can find me for wedding planning assistance.

Have you come up against any pushback from family? How have you been dealing with it?

  • 9/10

    Affiliate Disclaimer Newpolice-love-blue-sign-etsy

    Sign available from Etsy seller HeroSigns

    Every 53 hours, says the statistic. Every 53 hours a life is cut short, a family is torn apart and brothers and sisters behind the badge mourn one of their own. Every 53 hours an officer is killed in the line of duty.

    I understood this statistic going in. I accepted the responsibility to wait calmly and patiently when incidents kept him late, to graciously understand weekends being stolen, and to give twice the hugs and “I love yous” on holidays while smiling and explaining, “He’s so sorry he couldn’t be here.” I was ready to be a law enforcement wife.

    It’s not that that’s changed; I am still ready to be a law enforcement wife. What I am not ready to be is a law enforcement widow. It sounds trite. No one is ready to lose their partner. It’s just that 53 hours has gotten awfully short in the last few weeks. Officers are being gunned down in the streets and in their homes. They’re being ambushed, not as a part of a pursuit or investigation, but simply by virtue of the uniform they wear. Now that I am mere days away from being married, these stories shift the fear from bad weather and melted buttercream to the paralyzing fear of losing the love of my life.

    I have to say, the title Law Enforcement Wife gives me a certain amount of pride. I am proud of my soon-to-be husband because I know he’s a good cop. He is smart and aware. He is compassionate and deliberate in his actions. He is a go-to for assistance, for instruction, for advice and for action and he never forgets the duty he has to every person with whom he comes into contact. He is unendingly considerate to me. A good cop starts his or her texts with “I’m ok … ” before explaining why they’re going to be late. When you love a law enforcement officer, the text or call that says “I’m coming home” is second only to the moment they darken the doorway on the list of things that keep you sane. I’m proud because I know I bear a different role on occasion. When my husband comes home to me and I ask how his day was, I don’t know what horror waits on the other side of that question. I don’t know what he omits for my peace’s sake.

    The title makes me proud because it implies something about me, too. There is a patience and understanding that’s a little different from the typical virtues a loving partner provides. When he goes to work, many of the people with whom he comes into contact wish him ill. The fact is, many of the people with whom he comes into contact wish me ill. Most of the time they’re merely blind threats, but the phrase, “When I get out of here, I’m going to kill your whole family,” is a go-to assault on officers.

    That’s a stress on his day most professions don’t experience. Part of my job – and do believe it’s a job – is to mitigate that stress. I have to respect the fact that his protective instincts are a little more specific than most. My fierce streak of independence and self-sufficiency has to take a back seat if he throws his arm in front of me and tells me to get back before we round a corner. I can’t call it paranoia when he explains tactical plans to thwart a potential intruder (and has me rehearse them). I know to remain calm, look straight ahead and be prepared to leave an unfinished drink or meal when he spots a former inmate who might cause trouble. I’m not submitting out of weakness or being “less than;” I am respecting his knowledge and training and trusting that he only wants to keep me safe.

    During the first week in September, several social media pages encouraged readers to wear blue and post pictures tagged #backtheblue. Hashtag activism isn’t my favorite means of support, but I saw an opportunity to use my position to offer some perspective. That post opened up a conversation that had only been implied between the two of us. I saw both love for me and disappointment in himself as I explained that sometimes I’m just so scared.

    Real Bride Shannon Back the Blue

    Now the line I walk is a fine one between letting him know I care and adding to his worry with mine. Where once I was happy to have my man in blue make a pit stop after work, there’s now trepidation that the three stripes on his shoulder and badge on his chest leave him a marked target. Statistics show that 2015 is actually on pace to be one of the least deadly years for law enforcement on record, but so much has happened in such a short time. We’re all aware of it, so rather than further grinding the issue into his brain, I try to be a steady source of love and support. There are moments in my day where I am brought to tears by thoughts, images and words. Most days I can dry the tears before he gets home. I always try.

    Many would think that there’s a problem sharing emotions in our relationship. Quite the contrary. It’s simply that my burdens will always be his, and likewise, his are mine. Yes, the weight can be heavy, but that’s why there are two of us. Rather than live in fear, we carry on by acting in love and remember that – sometimes – it’s all right to pocket the words related to emotion and settle for a long hug.

  • 5/25

    For Mother's Day, my mom and I went away for the weekend.  We had nice time, and chatted here and there about the wedding. While we don't argue, I will say we are totally not on the same page. We aren't super close, my mother and I. We aren't estranged, but we also aren't Rori and Loreli either! The wedding is just an example of how…

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    As brides, we have a lot to stress over. Whether it's the environmental stress of an industry demanding we spend, spend, spend, the intimidating task of pleasing everyone, or the stuff we completely make up (I'm not alone in that, right?), planning a wedding can wreak havoc on your chill. I knew before I got engaged, hell, before I was even sure that I was…

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  • 12/5

    Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I found out that the current number of Mrs. Coopersmiths would soon be increased by one  -- my husband’s little brother got engaged. Yay! But then I looked at the calendar again and frowned. Two weeks before Thanksgiving. Seven weeks before New Years. Here we go. The best part of the Holiday season is the number of chances you'll have to spend…

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    The holidays tend to bring out that big, nasty stress monster in nearly everyone I know. Even Metro and Dolly are a little more catty. All of this hustle, bustle, pressure and travel can often lead to taking the ones nearest and dearest to us -- who also tend to be our own personal shelters from the storm -- for granted. And that's pretty sucky. This…

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    Hi all! First of all, let me apologize to my friend, Rachel. Rachel got married a few years ago and I was hurt that she didn’t invite me or any of her other friends from junior high through high school. Now, as a Broke-Ass Bride, I totally understand and apologize for being mad. OK, let’s talk about one of the most difficult aspects of your…

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  • 6/27

    Jennifer Yin via Flickr Creative Commons Dear Heather, How do you handle a seating chart with multiple family situations and conflicts making it mind numbingly hard!? Shelby Dear Shelby, You have two main strategies here: (1) Seat people wherever the hell you want and assume that they are grown-ups and can handle themselves for a single day; (2) Knock yourself out and do your absolute…

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