How to handle the in-laws during wedding planning

Wedding planning can drive even the most reasonable person a little loco at times. When it’s your BFF, it’s easy to pull them back into line. But when it is your future mother-in-law or even your own mother who is playing up, things can get a bit tricky. Here’s how to handle parents and the in-laws when wedding planning goes south.


The future in-laws are a very important part of your partner’s past and present, and will become an important part of your future, so it is best to try and handle any problems or conflict of ideas or personalities with as much composure and grace as you can.

Likewise with your own parents. You may not have always seen eye-to-eye while you were growing up, but your wedding is the last moment in your life when you want to let any strain come between you.

We have looked at a few of the most common differences of opinion that arise between couples, their parents, and the future in-laws, and have come up with some suggestions on how to diffuse the situation without hurting too many feelings (and still getting most of what you want…).

Your mother in-law wants you to wear her dress

If this suggestion, or more forceful expectation, had come from your own mother and she has a sense of humour, you could easily say you would rather not wear a puffy-sleeved ’80s tulle-fest.

But if there is a dress that has been in the family for generations, it can be a little harder to pull the plug on the idea.

Likewise, if your future MIL never had a daughter, she might feel like you are one of her own and want to bestow the honour of passing her dress on to you.

In both of theses cases, you will need to employ a little more tact and rather than detracting from the look or age of her gown, which will still have a  lot of sentimental value for her, thank her kindly for the offer.

You might choose to say then and there that you would like to buy something that would suit a particular style you had in mind for your wedding, or you may have already found the gown of your dreams, and you could offer to take her to a fitting so she can see it for herself. When she sees how happy you are in the gown and how stunning it is on you, she might change her tune.

If she is still insistent on you wearing the dress or balks at what you have chosen, you can politely say that this is what you would like to wear on your big day.


They have a different vision for your wedding

You want something small and intimate while the parents or in-laws wants a grand church affair with all of the bells and whistles.

Weddings have changed a lot in the past decade and traditions are being skipped over or replaced with more modern alternatives, so it is very likely that your wedding will be very different to the one your parents and your in-laws had.

If they would like to stay informed of your wedding plans and even be included in them, it is important not to dismiss any or all of their ideas outright. Not only will this hurt their feelings, but it might create a mountain out of a molehill and make the rest of your wedding planning an uphill battle.

Let them feel like their ideas are at least being heard. Once they say their piece, you can smile and acknowledge what has been said and even say you will take it into consideration. You never know, among the dozens of dud suggestions there may just be a speck of gold that could end up being a very important part of your big day.

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What element of your wedding are you spending the most money on?

If they continue to persist or get too pushy with their ideas, politely remind them this is you and your partners big day and disengage before your temper flares.

Financier = Director

Things do get trickier if your parents or in-laws are contributing financially to the wedding or have even offered to pay for the whole affair. It may make them feel like they have a controlling stake in the production of your big day.

To help reign in their expectations, you could show them your budget breakdown early on, and when they see how much has been allocated for something like the venue, they may back down on insisting you book that ultra-exclusive resort.

If it is a matter of taste or even arguing that you have allocated your money incorrectly, present a united front with your partner and politely tell them this is what the two of you want and that you would love their support.

Ultimately, if money is the root cause of all the issues, you might want to consider declining their generous offer and funding the wedding yourself so you can sever all of those expectation strings.

The in-laws want to add another 50 guests

Your wedding could be the first excuse in a while for your respective parents to gather all of the extended family together for a celebration and they may wish to cease the opportunity to show off how grown-up their child has become – especially to great uncle Sam who moved to the other side of the country a decade ago.

For the sake of your budget and your venue options, you will need to nip the insane guest list in the bud by giving her a guest-list cap and laying out a few rules up front.

Avoid asking them outright who they would like to invite, because that is giving them carte blanche and it will be harder for them to cull when it gets too exhaustive. Perhaps you can suggest they have a set number of guests they can invite once you know the capacity of the venue you are going to book. 

Some brides-to-be have even opted for allowing a free-for-all to an outdoor ceremony with the understanding that only invited guests can attend the reception later on.

Reverse psychology

It works on just about everyone, so let’s employ this in a wedding situation. If your parents or future in-laws simply won’t back down or feel like they are being excluded as you are not taking their suggestions on board, keep them busy.

Designate jobs to them that are easy to carry out and they will feel like they are making their own decisions about things, when really all they are doing is ticking things off the list for you.

They will probably be so caught up in their job, they will not have enough time to criticise or comment on other aspects of your wedding planning.

Communication is key

A lot of the time issues happen because people don’t realise how they are behaving, so sometimes you’ve just got tell them.

There’s no need to be rude or aggressive about it, but if your parents or future in-laws are being overly opinionated and you are struggling to share their view, you can say that while their advice is valuable, you would like to consider their idea before committing.

If “no thanks” no longer flies with them, consider the more assertive phrase “That’s not going to work for me,” and follow up with an explanation why.

Remember, keeping the peace doesn’t have to equate to being a push over and if you set your boundaries early, you might be able to avoid any potential bumps in the road and everyone will know where they stand from the beginning.

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