The definitive guide to keeping everyone happy at your wedding

Communication is key when it comes to solving awkward issues

The groomsmen want to party, bridesmaids want their own way, and parents usually have their own agenda. All you want to do is marry the love of your life and sail off into the sunset on honeymoon.

If comments such as ‘I think I’m going to wear white too, you don’t mind do you?’ and ‘Let’s go to New York for your stag, yeah?’ are plaguing you, fear not. Help is here.

Section One: Stag & Hen party turmoil

Stalled Stags

“My best man organised my last night of freedom and from the outside, it looked like he was dragging his heels. Some covert conversations later and I found he’d planned this epic trip to New York months ago, but no one had paid a deposit and it’d understandably stalled. Turns out, he’d been saving up for all 30 deposits. I felt so sorry for him. Best man for a reason, eh?”

In these effortless times of digital banking, there’s no excuse for hens and stags to quibble over deposits or for the best man, woman or chief bridesmaid to handle financial burdens alone. Download a financial planning app called KiTTi, add your stags and hens to a group and ask everyone to pay their way towards deposits. At the end, one elected person downloads the funds onto a card and pays in one go.

Huffy Hens

“My bridesmaid stopped speaking to me ahead of the wedding and the hen party was the root of the problem. She wanted us to go abroad on a girls’ holiday, but as a higher earner she priced almost everyone out of the trip. Rather than telling me, she got the hump. It’s certainly affected our relationship now I know she punished me needlessly!”

Couples need to be as clear as possible about what they want for the hen and stag party. Lorraine McGinlay, a COSRT Accredited Relationship Therapist, says: “Communication is key here. Talk to your bridal party about what you want and ask them how they feel about your suggestions. Be upfront from the start about what is expected of your bridesmaids, best man and ushers. Keep communicating with them, give them a voice, remember you asked them to be involved and they will have a point of view.” Don’t forget to ask them if they are comfortable steering from the helm, because it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

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Section Two: Parental advisory

White Fright

“My mum bought her wedding outfit about three weeks before the big day. When she emerged from the dressing room in white from head-to-toe, I didn’t know what to say or want to hurt her feelings, so I kept quiet. She doesn’t seem aware of the faux pas!”

If your mum wears white you will still be the focus of the celebrations. When Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in 1840, she set the trend for statement white gowns, and broke the wedding norms of heavy brocade in silver or red. You can bet there was some wannabe in a silver frock or decorative red pantaloons trying to upstage Queen Victoria that day. But wearing white dresses, holding white flowers or slathering yourself in white paint, has signified a spiritual and significant event as far back as Ancient Greece. A millenia of experience tells us: don’t wear white to someone else’s wedding.

Internet Issues

“Our wedding day was perfect and we loved every moment, but in the days that followed, a member of the family posted scathing reviews of the venue on TripAdvisor. Embarrassingly, their complaints were mostly passive aggressive criticisms of us, focused on the traditions we omitted and running order of the day. All stuff we could’ve sorted in the run-up to the wedding!”

If guests lash out on the web, there’s nothing you can do except flag the unreasonable reviews and statuses with the hosting website. But couples approaching the day can dry-up puddles before any mudslinging begins with regular contact and consideration. If family demands are against your wishes, that’s when it gets a bit messy.

Lorraine says: “Parents may want some traditions or customs followed, and that’s fine, but at the end of the day it is your wedding and therefore your decision if you want to include their wishes. You need to sit down with your families and say ‘we love you, but here is what we want, and we hope you will be happy for us and supportive of us.’ Tell them you will consider suggestions, and maybe even politely say you won’t respond to dictations. Do listen to what they have to say, and explore opportunities to negotiate. There’s no reason for it to become a battle unless people let it.”

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Section Three: Melodrama in the congregation

The Unconfirmed Table

“We’ve at least 25 guests definitely attending, but all of them have unconfirmed plus ones. They won’t tell us if they’re bringing one or not.”

When it comes to the guest list, ‘cruel to be kind‘ is a tactical way of avoiding great swathes of emptiness at your wedding ceremony and reception. Take the 10-month trick  as a rule of thumb. If you haven’t seen or spoken to a potential guest recently, scratch their names off the list.

For friends you see regularly in isolation, don’t fall into the trap of awarding them a plus one, and instead sit them next to friendly guests on your table plan. If guests don’t RSVP, firmly nudge them a final time. Remind them that unannounced plus one might not get lunch, or even stand during the ceremony. How embarrassing! Alternatively, rope in an assertive member of the family, or bridal party to put the pressure on.

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