Some of the weddings I’ve done have showed me the difference between those families who know what being a family is all about and those who put the “fun” in dysfunctional.

I could write a book on parent dynamics. I’ve done weddings where both sets of parents are still with their original spouse; where one or both sets of parents is divorced but everyone gets along; another where both sets of parents were divorced and while 7 out of 8 of them tried to do what was best for their children, one of the birth parents just seemed to want to make things more difficult then it should have been; and yet another where both sets of parents were divorced and while one set had each remarried there was still such animosity between them that they had to be separated at the ceremony and the reception – they didn’t speak the entire two days I saw them. Yet  another set of parents who, while divorced for many years, got along well and for the sake of their child walked out together hand in hand to be introduced as the proud parents of the bride. Doing that brought their daughter (and me) to tears.

At another wedding it was difficult to get one of the families to cooperate.  Siblings were in the bridal party and and it seemed that whenever they were asked to do something (“wait here the processional is about to start” or “it’s time for pictures”) they would disappear. At one point, the brother who was the best man, started shouting at me in the middle of cocktail hour. There was no groom’s family picture with the bride and groom because they couldn’t stand still long enough to gather everyone. My associate and I were discussing this later and she said “they just seemed to have their own agenda” and she was right.

During the planning process of any wedding you can tell who’s going to have their own agenda and who’s going to do their best on behalf of the happy couple. Many times I’ve heard brides lament “Can’t she just let me have one day? Why does it always have to be about her?” I would include the he/him aspect but I have to say, IMHO, it’s always another woman who can’t handle not being in the spotlight for a few days. Most of the time it’s a relative (sister, cousin, aunt), sometimes it’s a friend or even mom (!).

There was one wedding where in one breath mom would say “All I want is for my daughter to be happy” and in another breath would say “I don’t like that, I’m not paying for it” after the bride had made a decision or comment about something she wanted. Meetings with professionals would take agonizing hours because of this. The bride would finally just give up and say “I don’t care anymore. Whatever she wants is fine.”

That’s so wrong!! I’m all about the bride (as long as she’s not a bridezilla – then all bets are off) and I want things to be as perfect for her as possible. If she asks my opinion I’ll be happy to provide it. If I think one (some) of her ideas is a little off the wall I will probably say something but will always acquiesce if that’s what she really wants. Why? Because it’s not my wedding!!

If you’re part of a family that’s planning a wedding try to keep that in mind as the planning process moves ahead.  If you’ve already had your wedding try to remember what it was like as different people tried to pull you in different directions to get you to do things their way rather then yours. I still remember my mother not allowing me to have any color in my flowers. I wanted some pink flowers in my bouquet and she told me “no you’re the bride, you get all white.” My wedding was spectacular – my parents were very generous but I’ve been married 35+ years and I still remember this. If you haven’t had your wedding yet, then your day will come and you’ll want to be the one making the decisions as does the bride you’re trying to help now.

The spotlight belongs on the bride and groom. Be happy for them and with them. Weddings are a truly joyous occasion and time for families to come together from near and far to celebrate the expansion of their family as each side welcomes a new member.