For some couples their wedding day is a wonderful, romantic adventure - two soul mates 'becoming one' forever, their families joined in harmony. For others, the wedding is not so much 'A Whole Lotta Love', as the beginning of an avalanche of emotional anguish, aggrivation and annoyance...
Your engagement can signal the start of many a family feud, testing your closest friendships, not to mention your relationship with your betrothed. Still want to get married? Of course you do, because this sort of horror only happens on those Wedding Nightmare TV shows, right? Well, if you don't fall into any of the following categories you should be okay...
'Bridezilla' and The Disinterested Groom
One of the first areas of friction in the wedding planning can appear between the bride and groom themselves as they discover, like many couples before them, that she is becoming neurotically obsessed with the organisation of the day, while he is starting to exhibit clear signs of cold feet and/or a general lack of interest in the whole thing. He's done his bit and bought the ring, and now it's over to her. The groom's horror at his emerging Bridezilla may account for a certain amount of his concerns, and if he had already been worrying about making such a lifelong commitment, his new bride-to-be's head spinning round is certainly not going to help restore his peace of mind!
From the now desperately stressed out bride's perspective, she may be having second thoughts about her groom, as he seems so disinterested in the whole thing all of a sudden (and it was his idea, she thinks!). She may feel let down at his lack of assistance while also being secretly filled with a sense of dread at what the best man has in store for her beloved... For some women, the thought of a debauched night of strippers or lap dancing is the stuff of nightmares. That alone can be enough to turn a once sweet, quiet girl into a raging, hormonal Bridezilla.
Grooms - Be sensitive to your girl's concerns and see if you can take some of the pressure off her, as planning such a huge event is a big deal and she does want some input from you... even if it's just food and wine tasting - and yes, even you can manage that!
Brides - Tell him how you want him to help with but not in a spreadsheet or an email and don't expect him to just know - he's not a mind reader. If he really doesn't want to help with the wedding planning, nagging him is not going to change his mind, except about whether you really are 'the one' for him.
Why Bridesmaids should be 'unattractive yes women who don't mind bad smells'...
The ideal bridesmaid, as far as the bride is concerned, should be (ideally) less attractive than her, enthusiastically helpful, willing to enter a small toilet cubicle at anytime to assist with 'dress-lifting duties' as needed, even if the bride needs more than a wee... She should be willing and able to organise a fabulous last night of freedom for the bride, involving all things the bride loves, not just activities she (the bridesmaid) enjoys. She must be willing to wear whatever manner of unflattering outfit the bride dictates, and be happy to give up every weekend ahead of the big day to assist the bride with her essential wedding shopping. All this, while offering words of calm to ease the bride's stress, particularly about the stag do, walking down the aisle, first dance, best man's speech, and so on...
Bridesmaids - You're her best friend/sister/chosen one and secretly loving your starring role in her wedding. Be her slave until the morning after the wedding and then get your own back when you ask her to be your bridesmaid, because, after all, you know you're prettier than she is really...
The 'Bit of a Lad' Best Man vs The Suspicious Bride
The Best Man may be the groom's oldest friend; they might have been through many a childhood scrape together, and, although in the groom's eyes he is the best friend he will ever have, in the bride's eyes, he could be a jealous, scheming trouble maker with a penchant for strippers, hell bent on breaking them up. While the Best Man is probably not that opposed to his friend finally being made an honest man of, he still might just do his level best to steal him away from her, at least for the duration of the stag do! And with any luck he won't leave the groom naked and tied to a lamp post the night before the wedding.
Best Man - He loves her and you can still be his best mate. Be a good best man and don't tie him naked to anything. He'll only get you back for it at your wedding.
Brides - Don't worry, your groom is marrying you, not his best mate and whatever he gets up to on his stag do, it's you he loves and you he is marrying.
The Overbearing Groom's Mother vs the 'New Broom Sweeps Clean' Bride
The groom loves his bride, the groom also loves his mother. So why cant the bride and his mother always just get on? The answer to that question is all about how much these two women both want to be number one in his life. The poor groom may feel caught in the middle of two strong women, both wanting him to do things their way. They have very different pulls on him too - his mother has offered her unconditional motherly love his whole life, whereas his bride has captured his heart, not to mention what she's done with his rude bits! The groom's mother may feel that his choice of bride is just not right for him, that perhaps he should be with someone more... like her for instance, or perhaps someone kinder, gentler, more maternal even... just like her!
Brides - You're never going to replace his mother so don't even try. He loves you, don't get him to make a choice.
Mothers - However much you may disapprove of your son's choice of bride, he is madly in love with her so whatever you say will only make you look jealous in his eyes. Try to trust his judgement - he's a big boy now and he makes his own decisions.
Grooms - Diplomacy is everything in this situation. Try to calm the waters and feel good about being loved so much by two women. Good luck...
The 'Out laws'
Not so many moons ago, weddings were organised, paid for and hosted by the bride's parents. Today's parents of the bride and groom might have had their own weddings planned solely by the bride's mother, which may go towards explaining why so many mothers, of the bride in particular, feel that their son or daughter's wedding is in fact their wedding to organise and host and invite all their friends to, and not the happy couple's day at all! The mother of the bride might be insistent on the choice of venue, guest list, food and even have something to say about the bride's choice of wedding dress.
Brides and Grooms - If you're hosting your own wedding, as most couples do these days, explain that, although you're very grateful for their offers of help, you are organising your wedding your way.
Children at weddings
Perhaps the most controversial of all guest list decisions is the often highly unpopular 'no children rule.' While it may seem like an easier option inviting only adults, it can strike pain and anger into the hearts of parents of babies and small children and present them with the real problem of what to do with their little darlings while they are out enjoying themselves as adults again, that is if they feel they can get away from their offspring for more than a couple of hours.
Some new parents don't have anyone to leave the kids with for a whole day and evening, other new mums will be exclusively breast feeding and not be able to leave their babies at all, which invariably means they won't be able to make it to the wedding unless they bring their baby. Some new mums get so upset at being asked not to bring their baby or children that they see the no kids rule as something of a personal affront. They may misread the 'adults only' invitation as a way of the bride and groom saying we don't want your offspring at our wedding, therefore we don't really need you there either.
It's a tricky one and I have seen it upset a lot of people, both the guests with children who can feel so offended, and the bride and groom themselves when it causes so much upset that they just cannot understand (particularly if they don't have children). A childless bride and groom might want their wedding to be a grown up adults only celebration, perhaps none of their close friends have children yet and they're not that bothered about seeing their new niece again or maybe they're worried that their cousin's feral sons will scream through the ceremony and throw tantrums during the speeches.
I have to say as a mother of young children who has taken them to several weddings, the parents are usually so desperate to keep the little people quiet and well-behaved that it's a rare occurrence to have a ceremony or reception disrupted by a child. Invite them, you won't regret it.
Bride and Groom and Parents of children - Kid's activity packs are the answer!
So Brides, dear brides, if your Groom makes some effort to help you with the wedding planning, your less attractive bridesmaids don't mind seeing your bottom, your groom loves you more than his mother, your parents understand that this is your wedding and not theirs, your best man is not trying to steal your groom away from you and you've invited hundreds of children to your wedding, everything's going to be just fine.