They're fine with telling brides and grooms that they need to serve the generic "chicken in beige sauce" as part of their reception dinner, but they won't see you out grocery shopping and say, "Oh, I think you should really buy eggplant this week. This just seems like an eggplant kind of week for you." They're fine with saying that you need to have your bridal hairstyle be an updo (and done by a professional), but they would think that saying, "Sweetie, I love you, but I think you would look so much better if you dyed your hair a bold purple and added lime green highlights" is rude.
The majority of families don't even question your choice of partner as much as they question whether or not you're going to have matching napkins, chair covers, and tablecloths. They don't tell you what job you should be doing. They don't tell you how to decorate your apartment or house. For the most part, they see you as a competent adult. But when it comes to weddings, all brides and grooms are clearly seven-year-old children who can't possibly make decisions for themselves, and when they do something different, it can't be because of a meaningful choice they made — it's such a silly idea, and they'll regret not having a photographer/doing a bouquet toss/wearing white/having a formal meal, etc.
With that in mind, one of my bridesmaids (who was married last October) has given me five rules for wedding planning that are incredibly sensible. Here they are:
Stop talking about your wedding.
No. Seriously. Stop talking about your wedding.
Shut the f*%k up about your wedding.
Find your team of yes-men. These are the people to whom you can say, "I want to get married while skydiving and have a tea-and-cake reception inside an Easter Island head," and they will reply, "That is SO you! I love it!" If they have a safety or budget-based concern, they will mention it, but otherwise, they just tell you how wonderful your ideas are. Your team of yes-men does not have to include your parents, and it does not have to include your bridesfolks.
Make your yes-men sign confidentiality agreements. Or, barring that, make sure they don't regularly talk to the drama mamas in your family and circle of friends.
This has saved me from feeling like I have to justify anything to anybody. Having most people not know the details is taking a load of stress away from me. Unless they absolutely HAVE TO know, I have no problem not telling.
My bridesmaid says that the criticism does usually come from a place of love. People love you and want you to have a beautiful wedding day. The problem is that their idea of beautiful is absolutely nothing like your idea of beautiful, and they fail to recognize that. On occasion, it is jealousy or someone being malicious, but, on the whole, when Great Aunt Gertie gasps and gives you a three hour lecture on the virtues of matching napkins to your manicure, she just wants your wedding to be beautiful for you.
Are you doing anything special to quell family drama?