We consulted Dr. Jane Greer, New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship to discuss the five groups of people that might be as emotionally invested in your wedding as you are—so if there are any random tears, outbursts or reminiscing sessions, now you’ll know why. Yes, a wedding is about you and your partner—but as one of life’s biggest moments, it’s also one of the greatest indicators of change, not just for you, but for various loved ones too.
Your wedding likely means a lot to your parents. Whether they played a large or small role in your life, no one ever seems fully prepared for the day their child gets married. While you’ll always be a part of their family, you’ll be starting your own family too—just you and your spouse. So if your mother has been acting strange, distant or unusually controlling lately, think about cutting her some slack. She might see this as the last piece of your life she’ll have any influence over. If your father is acting weepy and standoffish a la Steve Martin in Father of the Bride, step back and look at the bigger picture—and don’t forget to get them a nice thank-you gift too.
Your partner’s parents probably feel the same way about their son or daughter as yours do about you. They may have a hard time letting go, and this may result in a few, small awkward interactions between you and them when it comes to planning. But hopefully, your future in-laws are happy for you both and consider this marriage as gaining another child. But they could also be defensive at times and see it as you taking their “baby” away from them—especially if this new marriage includes a move outside of their zip code. Whether you’re faced with an opinionated mother-in-law who offers her unsolicited advice or the father who gives you the cold shoulder, it’s important to consider their feelings (even though their thought process might not be so clear at the time.) Give them the same courtesy you did your parents—take a couple of steps back and try to gain some new perspective.
Whether they have 10 grandchildren or you’re their only one, grandparents have a special place in their heart for every single one of their grandkids. Grandparents have often gone through a lot to see their children and grandchildren get where they are today, so your happiness means everything to them, and they love to see you smile. Don’t forget to give them a little extra love and attention throughout planning and on your wedding day.
Bringing kids into a marriage can create an entirely new vibe—your child might not feel like the most important person in your life anymore. “Kids can both be excited at the prospect of their parents getting married, as well as jealous and/or resentful of their new parent-to-be,” says Dr. Greer. This marriage means a new person permanently in their lives, and while kids seem surprisingly resilient, they need time to adjust just like we do. Here are some great ways to make your children feel included in the wedding day.
Brothers and sisters can sometimes have the weirdest reactions to marriage. They, like your parents, have a unique attachment to you. Even if you have one sibling or seven, a wedding can feel like they’re losing a member of the pack. “Wedding planning affects your siblings because they can start to feel competitive with one another,” says Dr. Greer. They may also feel abandoned, lonely or slightly jealous—here’s how to deal, if so. But hopefully, they’ll want to be there for you and celebrate with you every step of the way.