So…you thought it was all about you? Wouldn’t that be simpler! But there are a load of haters and critics and people who just want to mess with your equilibrium in the world, and, hey, some of these people might just be your own relatives or soon-to-be in-laws. You know… the people on your GUEST LIST! If only they would act like guests….you know politely, and like they are actually pleased to be included on one of your most special days.
STEP ONE: Accepting Reality
The first step in handling wedding-related criticism is to accept that it is inevitable. You won’t be able to please everyone even if you really wanted to, and I really hope you don’t want to. So ACCEPT that there are critics and haters and ACCEPT that you are not pleasing everyone and ACCEPT that is all very OK!
Big Truth: It’s Not About You! Most of the time…
Even if it’s true that it’s about you, learn to depersonalize criticism by automatically realizing it’s most likely that it’s about the person speaking and their hang-ups and not really you. This takes the emotional sting out of it if you internalize this big truth. So take a large step back when someone says something critical or mean. If a toddler or small child can tuneout a shouting parent because their attention is elsewhere, surely you can as an adult focus your heart on the things that are truly important: your wedding journey and your heart.
STEP TWO: Identifying Who Counts and Who Won’t Because You Choose That They Don’t
Decide whose opinions or critical observations really matter to you and why. Some people you just don’t need to even take seriously. Let’s face it, there are people who if they are breathing they are criticizing and sharing their unwanted opinions. Good thing Aunt Dorothy has a full oxygen tank, because she has a lot to say about how much make-up the bride and bridesmaids are wearing! But if your sister’s snark about the price of your dress cuts you to the quick, maybe you need to work on not letting her opinions hurt you so much. After all, you can’t duct tape her mouth shut and paint smiling lips on top … no matter how fun the image may be! But when it comes to your dear grandma, the one that seemed to be there every time you were sick or hurt and who was your favorite babysitter, you might want to listen to her if only to show your love and respect for her. Small things like wearing the pearl necklace and great grandma’s gloves are gestures that go a long way when it comes to family love even if they won’t win modern style points. And really, acknowledging someone’s criticism and taking it seriously even when you don’t agree with it is a very loving and selfless thing to do. Definitely don’t waste your efforts on just anyone, however. Be thoughtfully selective and true to your heart..
STEP THREE: Making Battle Plans
Hopefully, this won’t be mission impossible, but if you anticipate criticism and have a plan on how to acknowledge and respond to it, you will feel calmer and be able to handle it gracefully. Catching you off-guard or when you’re most vulnerable and likely to explode seems to be some people’s only gift in life, so now is a great time not only to identify those offenders, but also to have a plan in place for their snark and criticism. Sometimes if you know someone is going to claim you hurt them with your decisions, the best thing to say is, “I’m sorry you feel hurt.” Then just leave it at that, no if’s, and’s, or but’s.
NEW TREND: DIS-invitations! You are NOT invited notifications! 😮
Haven’t your heard of a preemptive strike? Well, some people have taken it upon themselves to formally DIS-invite people from their weddings. I almost envy their brash confidence and in-your-face attitude. I really hope no one I know uses this service. I do, however, understand putting out the un-welcome mat when it comes to some personalities.
STEP FIVE: Pick Your Battles
Most of the time, acknowledging someone by saying, “I’m sorry you feel hurt” or “I can see why you would say that” is enough to deflate and defuse problems while keeping your relationships intact. However, there are lines that should not be crossed, and some lines that most definitely should be crossed. After witnessing a groom’s brother making fun of his brother’s bride, and then watching that person pick away at the bride’s well-being over the course of a few years, I will say it is in a marriage’s best interest for people to be checked before someone gets wrecked. Once you’ve allowed someone to hurt or damage your loved one, you may not ever recover from the loss of their esteem. At some point, you have to protect the ones you love. Never let a family or friend openly or corrosively criticize a love one. I hope it doesn’t come to breaking people up, but I have seen people push things till it was an “it’s either her or me” bromance brawl. If someone had laid down the law early on about what line not to cross, I’ve wondered if wedding day arguments, rough marriage patches, and even a divorce could have been avoided.
STEP SIX: Leaving the Baggage
I was going to say drop the baggage of guilt, but honestly, train yourself NOT to even pick it up in the first place. So what! You made a mistake in someone’s name or you forgot that a date was a bad time for Uncle Ralph, CPA. It’s ok if you don’t want people’s children at your wedding. It’s ok if you don’t want their teens! And, this is the hardest thing for nice people out there to accept, but it really is OK that other people get their feelings hurt. It’s life. They largely do it to themselves. So don’t pick up the baggage of guilt or anger around your wedding. Definitely don’t take that baggage with you on the honeymoon!
JUST A THOUGHT: ELOPE!
When a friend of mine decided to elope, my reaction was not “How sad! Not to have everyone you care about together for a great event!” My reaction was “THAT IS COMPLETELY AWESOME!” And having researched elopement specials to places like Key West, Florida, I have to say again, “THAT IS COMPLETELY AWESOME!” I know others have to have family and friends at their weddings, and they are great fun and they have all these great family memories and there is great food and dancing and silly stories afterwards. I know they have their favorite churches and great locations that have sentimental value. I love pouring over those stories, and the beauty of it all does leave me in awe. But going back to accepting reality, IF you have a complicated family or IF you have complicated anything or IF you just want a beautiful, personal moment all to yourself, consider the perfection of eloping to Key West or somewhere else. Life is so extra busy these days, and people seem to be so stressed, I think a small wedding at a resort sounds like perfection. I never needed or wanted a hoard of people. Sometimes you just want your honey! So consider places such as Little Palm Island for a Steal Away package or Hawks Cay for an Intimate Wedding package.
May your wedding day be the source of many precious memories that fill you with joy at remembering them. All my best, Dawn Dickson Van Ness
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