Five of the Toughest Questions You’ll Have to Ask When Planning Your Wedding

It takes a certain amount of toughness to plan a successful wedding. Enlisting the help of people you’ll need, while tactfully rejecting the help of people you don’t need, requires the skill of a tightrope walker. But you can do it. Here’s how.  

“Mom and Dad, can I have some money?” Asking your parents to pay some or most of your wedding costs may make you feel like a small child asking for money to buy a candy bar; but it has to be done, unless you’re independently wealthy. Determine what expenses you can afford with your own money, and list them in writing. Shop wisely for the best value. Then approach your folks, show them that you’ve been conscientious with your own money, and ask them for help in paying the rest. When they see you already have a personal financial stake in the wedding, they’re more likely to be generous with their support.

“Do we really need so many of our parents’ friends at the wedding?”  This question naturally follows the first. Once you’ve convinced your parents to foot a big chunk of your wedding bill, they may want to invite every friend they’ve ever known, including many you’ve never even met.  Don’t like it? Tough! Money talks. If they’ve agreed to pay, and they want to invite a lot of people, they already know it’ll cost them a lot more; and if they’re willing to pay it, they’re entitled to pad your guest list as much as they want.
On the other hand, if you’re paying most of the bills yourselves, you can give both sets of parents a fixed number of guests they’re allowed to invite, and let them choose the ones they consider most important. 

“Can you pay for your own bridesmaid gown?” It’s common for bridesmaids to pay their own way; but it doesn’t make it any easier to remind them of the tradition, especially if they’re tight on cash. Many successful brides will visit a bridal salon, choose a tasteful color scheme, find four or five styles of bridesmaid gown in that color (or those colors), and let each bridesmaid choose the style she believes makes her look best. Don’t force your bridesmaids to wear some silly sailor-themed outfit with a giant bow that they’ll never, ever wear again. The ideal bridesmaid gown is generic enough to be worn socially after the wedding is just a memory. A bridesmaid will feel much better about spending her own money on a gown she can see herself wearing more than once.

“Would you mind not being in my bridal party?”  That’s a tough one. When you announce your engagement, a lot of friends will naturally expect you to ask them to stand up for you. But unless you’re having a cast of thousands, you simply can’t have everyone up there at the altar. Stick to people who live close to you, and people whose schedules will allow them to help with your planning. Someone with a new baby? Out. Someone who will be 8 ½ months pregnant on your wedding day? Out. Be practical. Reassure non-bridesmaids how much you value their friendship, even though your budget limits you to just a small group of attendants. You can always blame the budget.

Ask your friends to play other roles in your special day, whether it’s transportation coordinator, décor supervisor, keeper of your smartphone, whatever. Even if someone is disappointed at not being among the chosen few, let them know their support is vital to you. Your true friends will understand.  

“Would you be willing to attend my wedding in Fiji?” It’s one thing to ask someone to give up a Saturday afternoon and evening and drive 10 miles to your wedding. It’s quite another to ask them to give up an entire week, and pay $10,000 in airline and hotel expenses. Destination weddings are for the very few. Be prepared for a wedding for just the two of you, and hire a videographer to record it, so you can replay it at your “big” reception back home. If a handful of your relatives and closest friends decide they can be there for the wedding itself, consider it a bonus. 

Yes, you’re excited about what will be the biggest day in your lives; but don’t simply expect everyone you know to dramatically alter their lives for you. Make it as easy as possible for everyone, and never fail to show them how much you appreciate them for being a part of your special celebration. 

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2016 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.   

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