Planning Your Wedding? How to Handle Controlling Relatives

Planning Your Wedding? How to Handle Controlling Relatives

Don't let the "over-stepping" family ruin your day.

Are pushy relatives ruining your wedding planning? Sometimes a parent, sibling, or other close family member with too many strong opinions can take what should be a fun time in your life and turn it into a nightmare! While they might mean well, if your family is telling you where to get married, dissing your dress, and demanding to sit at the head table, your whole wedding experience is in jeopardy. In order to keep your sanity intact, and retain your familial relationships, it’s important to learn how to deal with over-reaching loved ones.

Advice on how to handle controlling relatives and pushy parents:

Be Honest, But Kind

When you have a pushy relative, don’t avoid it. Your frustration will only brew and fester until you boil over like a tea kettle! One day you will just snap and wind up in a major fight that could have been avoided. Tell your loved ones that you know they only want the best for you, but you feel like you are missing out on the wedding planning experience because you’re not allowed to make your own decisions. You can be honest without being brutal. For instance, if your mother is pushing you to get a certain wedding dress, explain exactly why you are not comfortable with it and how much it means to you to have YOUR perfect dress on your wedding day. Be firm when you speak, without name calling or screeching, and repeat yourself if necessary until your message is heard. Make your boundaries clear, so there is no confusion about how much advice you appreciate, and when it’s too much for comfort.

Be Prepared to Foot Your Own Bill

Sometimes relatives feel they have the right to guide your wedding decisions because they are helping you pay for the event. Like it or not, in order to stop a pushy relative from offering her opinions, you may have to return her donation. If the money comes with too many strings attached, it might be less stressful to just foot the bill yourself so you can salvage a familial relationship.

Visit Vendors Alone

If your future mother-in-law isn’t at the flower shop with you, she can’t spend 20 minutes trying to talk you into ugly flowers. Leave your pushy relative out of visits to wedding vendors if necessary. Explain that you and the groom wanted to make the decision without any outside opinions. If her feelings are hurt, explain that your intention was not to make her feel left out, but that you wanted to make all final decisions as a couple as practice for how you will compromise and make choices as a couple once you’re married.

Assign a Buffer

If it’s not possible to leave the pushy relative out of the visit to a dress shop or other vendor, bring along a close friend to serve as a buffer. The buffer can temper the atmosphere if things get a little tense, or “just so happen” to distract the pushy relative at the exact moment you need her out of your hair. The buffer should be someone who won’t add to the confusion, and is good at diffusing tough situations. Having a buffer is also a good idea at your wedding – the buffer can chat up the pushy relative if she’s in the way or calm her down when she tries to tackle the caterer.

Learning to cope with a pushy relative will be best for everyone in the long run. You won’t fill with angst and steam until you have a break down, and your family member can’t claim that you never told her she was being overly pushy if she finds out you told someone else she crossed the line. Remember — even thougth family can drive us crazy sometimes, they are also an important support system. Don’t burn any bridges during your wedding planning, because once it’s over you still want to be invited over for Thanksgiving!

Need more advice for coping with the stress of a pushy relative? Give me a call and make an appointment, or schedule online.

About Jennine Estes, MFT

Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653