It’s a tale as old as wedding industry time: As soon as you’re engaged, everyone's a wedding planner. With every “Congratulations!” and “Do you have a date?”, there’s an “I know the best photographer!” and “Please tell me you’re getting married in a church.”
Though usually harmless, unsolicited wedding advice is an inevitable part of getting married. Whether it be suggesting you elope or offering recommendations on where to spend your money, it may range from subtle suggestions to strong opinions on the matter. And this all tends to add an additional layer of stress that’s entirely unnecessary.
According to Katrina Allen from Love Blooms Wedding and Event Design, the most common type of unsolicited advice comes from parents or close relatives who are imposing their views on the couple, often regarding traditions that the bride and groom may not want to be a part of their big day.
“This is your wedding,” Allen says. “When you look back as a couple, you’re going to want to know that you did what you wanted to do.”
To enjoy the process (and keep your sanity), below are a few expert tips for navigating unsolicited advice.
Though there’s always the occasional relative or acquaintance who needs to feel involved or simply thinks their way is the only way, it’s always best to assume that the person offering you advice has good intentions. Whether it be sharing your excitement or simply trying to start up a conversation, the motives of your loved ones usually come from a good place.
“Try to realize why that person may think or feel the way they do and educate them on the reason you’re not going that route,” says Allen. “If you take a deep breath and try to find the reason they’re giving the advice, it’s often easier to accept their opinion.”
A lot of unsolicited advice is fairly painless and easy to brush off, but there’s often the occasional pushy parent or friend who thinks they’re always right to swoop in with their strong opinions. Setting boundaries in advance and knowing how you’re going to respond to this type of constant commentary can help reduce stress and make it easier to handle at the moment.
“It’s important to hold your ground,” Allen says. Giving in to parental expectations or the strong opinions of family and friends can often lead to grudges, she says.
For the more extreme cases or when dealing with more sensitive relationships, Allen suggests removing any financial incentives, such as allowing a parent to pay for the wedding. She says referring to a non-biased, third-party (ideally a professional wedding planner) can also help by having them serve as a sort of mediator when conflicts occur. “Not everything has to be a big deal,” she says.
The unsolicited advice and influx of information we receive doesn’t just come from friends and family anymore. With the amount of time we spend in front of our screens, it’s hard not to be influenced by the photos we see on social media and articles we read online.
As with the mixed bags of advice you may receive, it’s important to think about your values and what you most want out of the wedding.
“One of the main things couples do after their wedding is reflect,” Allen says. If you’re including what’s most important to you as a couple, you’re less likely to have regrets when you look back on your day.
“Despite what many think, sometimes avoidance is the answer,” says Allen, particularly when it comes to less significant things, like guest books and table decor. If you know your loved ones have the best intentions at heart and you simply evade addressing their advice altogether, it can cause you less stress and keep them from getting their feelings hurt.
“No one is going to call you out on your wedding day,” she says. “So it’s OK to just let it go or passively let them down.”
As with filtering all the comments and information, it’s crucial to take time for yourselves to focus on the relationship. The process can often be long and it’s easy to feel detached, so make sure to remind yourselves why you’re getting married in the first place. In the end, the day is about you two and no one else.
Understand that unsolicited wedding advice is coming in because, well, you’re getting married! Consider finding humor in the absurd suggestions (and the sheer amount of them) you receive.
You don’t need to listen to everyone, but you also don’t need to get annoyed by everyone. Embrace the infux of information as a part of being engaged and let it roll off your back.