By Meredith Moss – Dayton Daily News – 01/06/2011 – 8:47pm
In the course of planning a wedding, it’s no secret that close relationships can become strained.
“Emotions can run wild around weddings, there is so much excitement and so many expectations involved that you’re bound to run into problems,” says Sue Fox, author of “Etiquette for Dummies” and “Wedding Etiquette.”
We’ve asked Fox to share some of the relationship problems that may arise, and offer solutions:
1. Your sister and best friend disagree about the bridesmaid dress you’ve selected.
Remember you want these people around for years to come to help you celebrate your anniversaries. Even though it’s your day, it’s polite to focus on “we” rather than “me.”
Pick your battles carefully and don’t sweat the small stuff — that’s true in this case and with all other details of wedding planning. These days, it’s common to see the wedding party dressed in the same color scheme, but different style dresses. The goal is for bridesmaids to feel beautiful and comfortable.
2. You need to cut the guest list.
Your best friend calls and wants to bring her “new boyfriend” to the wedding and you’ve already given your final number. Or your father wants to bring his new girlfriend who is younger than you and your Mom refuses to come.
Figuring out who to invite and who to cut is never fun, but it may have to be done. If you just cannot refuse your best friend or saying no could damage your friendship, take another close look at your guest list. If you cannot allow another person to attend without cutting the final list, or you must cut a number of guest for financial reasons, review the list and look for the following:
If there names you don’t recognize, check to see if you can remove them from the list.
Look at co-workers, bosses and business acquaintances.
Look at your list of friends. Do you see or speak with them often? Do you see yourself staying in touch with them after your wedding?
Look at distant relatives. After checking with your parents (especially if they are footing the bill) take them off the list.
3. There are children in the picture.
If either the bride or groom have children, consider speaking with them about your marriage plans as soon as possible, even before you talk to your parents. Children may need time to understand what your marriage will mean for them. If you have an ex in the picture, you need to tell him or her, too. Even if your children have spent a lot of time with your spouse-to-be and they seem to get along great, tread lightly. You can try dropping a few subtle hints to see how they feel. But, depending on their age and maturity, expect some unpredictable reactions, confusion, reluctance and possibly even initial anger
4. Do you tell people you’re engaged if they’re not invited?
Yes, it’s fine to share the news. Most people today are aware of the financial cost of having a wedding and understand that you can’t invite a cast of thousands. If you anticipate that your wedding will be small, you may want to mention this fact when you announce your engagement. That way, you can avoid disappointment.
5. If you have a loved one who disapproves of your engagement.
If for any reason a close friend or relative refuses to talk to you about their disapproval, set up a time for a private discussion as soon as possible. This kind of situation isn’t something you can sweep under the rug. Before you talk to your loved one, though, take some time to think about the following guidelines, they can help you and your loved one move forward:
Be sensitive to fears about your marrying someone of a different culture, race, or religion, but seek to educate and diffuse potential issues, such as arguments about which religion you’ll choose for your children’s upbringing.
Be willing to listen to your loved ones without judging them. Hear them out and let them know you’ll try to look at the issues from their perspective. Do your best not to make matters worse by arguing. Reassure them how much you love your spouse-to-be and that you are certain you’re making the correct decision for you. If you’re comfortable, you can add that it would mean a lot to you to have their approval and blessings. r, honesty is the best policy.
6. Allowing children to attend your wedding.
Questions regarding the attendance of children have triggered legendary family feuds, so think carefully about the implications of not including children on the guest list. Be aware too, that not inviting children may cause the parents to turn down the invitation.
Before you make the decision decide on the type of wedding you’re having. If it’s a black tie affair and your reception is in the evening with a sit down formal dinner you’ll most likely have to deal with a few meltdowns from tired kids.
If you’re certain you do not want to invite children, consider hiring a sitter to watch the children for the guest. Arrange to have some activities and food.
7. Canceling the engagement.
A wise person once said, “It’s much better to have a broken engagement than to have a broken marriage.”
Planning a wedding can bring about a number of opportunities for you to discover a lot more about your spouse-to-be than what you saw in the dating stages of the relationship. If you discover issues about your beloved that you don’t like, or that may cause you serious concern, don’t feel obliged to go ahead with your plans.
If you begin to question the relationship, take a little time to do some soul searching and be honest with what you’re feeling. You may just have a case of the marriage jitters. In the end, the decision is only yours, so follow your instincts.
If you do decide to break off your engagement, call your family first and let them know. Then tell your friends. Keep your explanation brief, and remember to be fair to your ex. Simply say that the decision to break off the engagement was mutual, even though that’s rarely the case. Your family and close friends can spread the word by making phone calls. You should speak with the officiant, the people you’ve contracted for services, and the people who’ve agreed to be part of the ceremony as soon as possible.
8. Should I return the ring?
If the woman breaks the engagement, she should return the ring to the man. Period. However, there are some cases in which her ex will let her keep it. Think hard about what is the most appropriate for the situation. If the man breaks the engagement, she may keep the ring, although she often returns it because she doesn’t want a reminder of the relationship. However, she may be able to exchange the ring for another piece of jewelry.
If you have already received gifts, be sure to keep notes about who gave which gift and return all gifts as soon as possible.