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Dealing with W-Day "Negative Nellies"

Words by Elaine Hilbelink

It’s true when people warn that weddings can bring out the best and worst in people. Many brides and grooms get blindsided by opinionated loved ones and hurt feelings can ensue. We’ve answered several questions about how to handle certain situations that arise which are unique to destination weddings...

Q: My soon to be mother-in-law was very outspoken about us having a destination wedding and even went as far as to say we were being selfish. We realized early on that everyone would have to travel to our current hometown anyway, so selecting a destination seemed like a fun way for the family to have a vacation together. I am at a loss as to how to handle this situation. Any suggestions?

A: Perhaps you and your fiancé should sit down and have a calm discussion with his parents about the reasons for their objections. Are they concerned about the locale you have chosen; the travel costs for family members; the fact many of their local friends might not be able to attend; or the difficulty for elderly relatives to reach your destination venue?  Depending upon circumstances, any of these issues might prohibit certain family or friends from attending your wedding. One solution might be having a destination wedding at your chosen locale for immediate family and the closest of friends, with an at-home reception to include more guests. Another solution might be choosing a destination which is accessible to more people.  For example, if you want a beach wedding, host it in California instead of Hawaii so more guests can attend. Communication with all immediate family members early in the planning stages about your destination plans can prevent discord later on.

Q: One of my bridesmaids is demanding I pay for her travel expenses for our destination wedding. We’re already paying for the bridal party’s clothes and subsidizing the cost of the beach house we have rented. Am I really supposed to cover this as well?  If not, how do I communicate that?

A: According to traditional etiquette, when someone agrees to be an attendant in a wedding party, they are responsible for the costs of their attire, the accommodations and the travel expenses. As the bride, you are already being gracious to provide the attire and subsidize the cost of accommodations. For your bridesmaid to demand you pay for her travel is totally unacceptable. I would politely let her know you are unable to subsidize her travel and you would fully understand if she wishes to forgo being in your wedding. Another point of consideration with her "demands" is what you do for one attendant, you need to do for all. Friction between friends and family can occur if you subsidize the expenses of one person and no one else.

Q: My fiancé and I have decided on Mexico for our destination wedding. Unfortunately, our older relatives are concerned about our choice and telling us that it is unsafe. There are currently no travel warnings being issued and I have never experienced a safety issue during my vacations there. I want my relatives to come, but my heart is set on Mexico. What should I do?

A: If your heart is set on Mexico and older relatives do not want to attend, you might choose to have a very small, intimate ceremony at your destination and choose the at-home reception option for family unable or unwilling to travel. If relatives are reluctant and grumbling, it can create a negative atmosphere at your celebration. There are ways to make the at-home reception festive and a continued celebration for those who don’t want to travel.

Q: I’ve exhausted my resources to find the perfect bridesmaid dress, color, cut, etc. for my ladies. One of them can’t seem to be pleased with anything! It is too expensive, too blue, too short or too long. I just don’t know how to make her happy. Can you help?

A: As the bride, it is your prerogative to choose your colors and style of dresses for your wedding. Today there are designers who have options of styles in the same color so that different body types might be accommodated and bridesmaids can find a perfect silhouette to suit them. It sounds as if this person wants to wield a little too much power! As the bride, you make the final choice and know that you can’t please everyone all of the time.

Q: We are having a destination wedding and my fiancé’s family is pushing back on the cost of hosting the rehearsal dinner for the wedding party, family and eight additional guests who would be attending. It seems silly to me, but cost is a concern for them. How do we find a happy medium?

A: There are several options which might appease your future in-laws and keep the peace. As the host for that event, they are responsible for determining the venue and the costs involved with whatever they might choose. They might:

     • Choose to host the night before all out of town guests
       arrive so it is just attendants and immediate family.

     • Choose a more casual meal for the rehearsal
       (e.g. a barbeque at a park or the beach or a cocktail party with heavy appetizers).

     • Or, you might choose to pay for the extra guests if they want a more formal dinner.

Your wedding is a special day, a milestone in your life. With family and friends being at your side to celebrate, chances are you will have an amazing time. You can’t control the attitudes of those around you, only how you handle yourself. Keep a level head, take a deep breath and remember the day is about the union you’re committing to and that is the most important thing.

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