Emery & Trey wedding-334
This mother of the bride has her OWN expectations … FOR FUN! Thanks to Emery Thibodeaux for submitting this to the Offbeat Bride pool!
As an offbeat bride, I come from an offbeat family, yet I have been amazed at the expectations that have come up from both sides of our families.

 

How do I manage the expectations of so many family members, while still keeping the vision of our own, unique wedding intact?

Summer

Isn't that so weird, how even the most nontraditional of families still have expectations about what a wedding should and shouldn't be? Suddenly hippie mothers are hurt because you're not wearing grandmother's veil, and hip uncles reveal that while they might seem like a non-practicing Jew, they're actually mortified that you're making your chuppa out of PVC.

It can skew both ways, too: I spoke to a UK bride named Sabrina who told me that her free-spirited mother was mortified (…AGHAST!) at the prospect of her daughter having bridesmaids.

I wanted a wedding party, which caused absolute havoc in my untraditional family. My mother kept screeching “Bridesmaids? BRIDESMAIDS?” like I'd suggested roasting babies over an open fire. But I wanted to get married with these women around me; they're part of who I am.

My best advice for how to deal with hitting the brick wall of family expectations is to get into a discussion of why the family member in question has that expectation, and what they really want.

Another way of saying this:

Why do you feel that way about the issue? What feels important to you?

[related-post]In other words, if your father can't believe you're not letting him walk you down the aisle, ask him WHY he wants to walk you down the aisle, and don't let him get off by saying “That's just how it's done.”

This can be a cool opportunity to really get into the nitty gritty and find a solution that addresses the root concern of the family member without sacrificing your vision for your wedding.

With the father/aisle example, chances are good that the desire to walk down the aisle is in part because he wants to be involved in the ceremony somehow, and aisle-walking is the usual role (or expectation) for how fathers are acknowledged. Once you get to that root of the expectation, you may be able to find a way you can address the root desire without actually giving into the superficial demand.

In other words, you can come up with a different and perhaps even MORE meaningful way for your father to be involved in the ceremony. Then it's win/win: your father's root need is met, and you don't have to feel like chattel being walked to market.

Each expectation can be an opportunity to really explore the meat of WHY that expectation exists.

If you have the time and patience for these kinds of conversations, they can be enlightening and even a bonding experience for the bride and her family. It gives your family members a sense that you're listening and care about their thoughts about your wedding, but without you having to change your vision.

Then again, you may get to the root of the demand (ie, “I want you to wear grandma's veil because otherwise I had to and I want you to suffer, too!”) and realize that you still don't like it. In that case, you have to pull out the big guns and just say no.

But that's another post for another day…

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Comments on Dealing with family expectations

  1. My mom wants me to wear a WHITE dress….I want to wear a black one. The black one i want to wear i made myself so i just made a white one and then she told me that it was too sloppy and that she would remake it if i’d let here. its 3 months before the wedding… what do i do? i don’t want to hurt her feelings but i want this to make ME happy, not her.

    • You need to say whatever equivalent of “Mom, I love you and love that you’re so invested, but please fuck off” that works for you. If that’s what you want, it’s a conversation you’re going to have to have, which sucks 🙁

      • Why didn’t you tell the previous bride to tell her dad to fuck off too?? Why do some daughters, easily disagree with moms and not dads?? Why do you people think it’s okay to attack mothers and let dads have their way? This is wrong people. Nov 20, 2017

  2. Offbeat bride with conservative mom issues here. I have full sleeve tattoos, and have had unnaturally colored hair for years… my mother wants me to dye my hair brown, wear long lacy illusion sleeves to cover my ink, and ditch my preferred pin-up makeup for a “natural” look. Basically she wants me to look like a bride in a major magazine.

    We’ve had arguments about my appearance my entire life – and I wasn’t about to let her bully me into being miserable at my own wedding. I refused to let my family pay for my dress/hair/makeup budget, so it was clear they had no say. I also had a discussion with her that flipped the tables – how would she feel if I was trying to get her to make drastic changes to her appearance that would make her uncomfortable and feel like she was pretending to be someone she isn’t? It helped her understand how her demands were making me feel. I doubt her opinions have changed about my choices, she hasn’t brought it up since.

    Talking it out can be helpful if you think they’ll be receptive. Sometimes folks just don’t get how their actions/words make others feel.

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