The Top Family Fights When Planning a Wedding (And How to Avoid Them)

A young couple sitting on a couch and holding their heads in frustration.

Wedding planning should be a fun and exciting process for you and your partner, but it can sometimes get complicated when other family members are involved. Since your parents, siblings, and other relatives love you very much, it can sometimes be difficult for them to take a step back and let you plan and coordinate your own day to your liking. Here are some subjects that may cause some dissension before the big day—and some ways to potentially avoid those pitfalls!

Settling on a Date for the Wedding

The very moment after you get engaged is when questions about your wedding begin—most specifically, “Have you picked a date yet?” Although you might think that something as simple as choosing a day to get married would be conflict-free, you’d be surprised how many opinions your family might have right out of the gate. People may feel strongly about a certain season, a certain day of the week, and even your chosen date’s proximity to other important days in your family. A good way to avoid some of those concerns is to ask a trusted family member if there are any dates or times that might be a good idea to rule out right off the bat, such as family holidays or anniversaries. Knowing these important things before you start to decide on a date yourself can help you avoid arguments from the get-go.

Choosing a Venue for the Ceremony or Reception

A green field with chairs and an arch set up for a small wedding ceremony.

There are many reasons families might create conflict around wedding locations, particularly if you and your partner are living far away from one or both of your families. A good way to avoid or minimize conflict surrounding your wedding location choice is, most importantly, to be on the same page with your partner and go into all potentially difficult conversations as a united front. If you’re choosing a location that is closer to one of your families, consider offering to travel closer to the other family for a wedding-related event, such as a bridal shower, to help make those family members feel like they are more involved in the process. You may think a destination wedding would solve that problem, but often people can take issue with that solution as well. If you’ve chosen a destination wedding and people are expressing opposition, this is often because of the cost of travel and expenses for such an event. If you’re able and it’s something you’d be willing to do, perhaps offering to help with the financial load in some feasible way (using airline points to help your immediate family members with their flights or handling the cost of suits or dresses for siblings in your wedding party) might help calm the conflict.

Creating a Guest List

Few things can cause more conflict around a wedding than the dreaded guest list dilemma. Parents of the couple will often expect to have a say in the guest list and will likely want to have input in this area, particularly if they’re contributing to the event financially. A good way to keep your list reigned in but also involve your parents is to give each set of parents involved a concrete number of invitations you will include on their behalf. Or, if you’d rather not be that loose with the parameters, you could also explain that you have limited numbers, but that you’d like for them to take a look at your list and see if you’re missing any major players that you may have left off the list as an oversight.

Creating a Seating Chart

A wedding seating chart made out of a gold frame with tags strung between.

Once the guest list has been finalized, another subject that can get folks riled up is the seating chart. Family members can feel really strongly about who sits with whom, and it can cause conflict if you’re not careful. A good thing for all parties to remember as you’re putting the chart together is that people won’t be sitting at their tables for too long, so really take a look at which things feel the most important to fight for and what you can let go of. Maybe it’s very important to you to have all of the parents at one table, but you can let your siblings sit with their partners rather than each other.

Honoring Traditions

Wedding traditions, which are steeped in history for many people, can be a particularly hot-button issue for families. Perhaps you’ve always envisioned walking down the aisle alone, but you’re worried that your father would be crushed to hear he won’t be walking down with you. Or maybe your family has passed down a piece of jewelry for generations, but it really isn’t your style and you’d rather wear something else. The tricky thing about these traditions it that they are so linked to emotions for people. The good news, though, is that you can be proactive about what’s actually going on and can be ahead of the curve as you look for solutions. If you’d like to walk down the aisle by yourself, for example, perhaps you can find another way to honor your dad that feels more true to you and your values, such as a special reading during the ceremony or an individual thank you to him in the program. Coming up with solutions that make your family members feel special will help soften the blow around any traditions you may not be choosing to include in your day.

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