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Navigating Wedding Preparations: Dealing with Difficult Relatives

Encountering challenging relatives is a common experience that many of us can relate to. Whether it's a mom, stepmom, sister, stepsister, cousin, or grandmother, difficult family dynamics can make wedding preparations and dress shopping a stressful ordeal. Personally, I've had my fair share of encounters with difficult relatives, one of which involved having to intervene when a drunk mom made hurtful comments during a fitting, causing the bride distress. Fortunately, with the help of the bride's friends, we managed to address the situation and create a more supportive environment.

Navigating such mean-spirited behavior, especially during wedding preparations, can be incredibly taxing. It is essential to surround yourself with positive and encouraging individuals, your "cheerleaders," during dress shopping and alteration appointments. These are the people who will uplift you, provide constructive feedback, and support you wholeheartedly during this special time.

To gain more insight into handling difficult relatives, I sought advice from a couple of friends. Here's what they had to share:

Advice from Katherine Garcia Crumity

It makes sense that tensions are high and and family members are bound to bump heads; especially a mother and a bride. Firstly, if you’re experiencing this- you are not alone! It happens. A piece of advice I can offer as you embark on your special day or as you make your way through the planning process is to go easy on yourselves, give each other lots of grace, and set boundaries! Chances are if you’re a mom who might be a little too involved in your daughters wedding or are feeling the urge to take over the planning process, it is likely that your intentions are pure and you just want the best for your baby girl. However, this is her moment to shine! Trust that you’ve done your part and she is ready to take this on, and she will ask for your support when needed. Brides- if you find yourself engaging in a power struggle with your mom, boundaries are your best friend! On the other hand, if your mom is respecting that this is YOUR day, it may be of value to find ways to make her feel included. Remember, a little goes a long way. Ultimately, this can ease strain on the relationship and will make this time even more special for you all. Happy wedding planning! --

Katherine Garcia Crumity, M.A., AMFT, APCC Graduate of Counseling Psychology Graduate of Sociology & Counseling and Social Change Alt. Email:

Advice from Elise Dukes

I think my general advice for brides with difficult families is to 1) Find your safe people and let them in on what you need from them. Do you need them to distract a difficult family member? Do you need them to stand up for you? Do you need them to offer a safe place to be or vent after an exhausting conversation or experience with a difficult family member? Let the safe people in your life know they are your safe people and then be super clear on how they can show up for you. And since they’re your safe people, they will jump at the chance to help you in any way they can! 2) Pick your battles and give the difficult family member(s) small “wins” that don’t mean much to you. For instance, if you really care about how the dress looks but you don’t so much care about the flowers, then ask for their advice (preferably before they give it to you unsolicited) on the flowers. They’ll feel included and valued and are more likely to defer to you or keep quiet about things they weren’t asked to contribute towards. It’s not a guarantee but it’s worth a shot! And lastly if the difficult family members are in your in-law side, consider having a serious talk with your intended about them handling their side of the family for you. That means super clear communication about needs and boundaries and trusting your partner to show up for you by fielding their family members and protecting you as much as they can.


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