With the news breaking today that Ms Meghan Markle’s father may not be attending her wedding to HRH Prince Henry of Wales on Saturday, most of us can empathise with the stress surrounding family issues that often occur at these events.
Planning a wedding should be an exciting time for a bride and bridegroom, but so often it can be tainted by family feuds.
Here are the seven most common areas of disagreement along with some etiquette advice on how to overcome them:
The guest list
Contrary to what many people believe, guest number allocation is not in proportion to the monetary contribution. The rules are that family come first on both sides, even if one side has more than the other, followed by close friends.
Inviting children from a previous marriage
A discussion should be had with the ex-partner about whether it is suitable for children to attend. This can be one of the most highly charged discussions during the arrangements, but consideration must be given to the children and on no account should they be used as pawns in an acrimonious relationship. Remember, they grow up quickly and will soon learn whether there were ulterior motives in the decision.
All divorced parents should be invited to the wedding of their child. We would hope that, regardless of the pains of the past, they are capable of setting their feelings aside for one day to prioritise the happiness of their child.
Balancing fathers and step-fathers
Some brides have the challenging dilemma of who to give them away, especially when she has had the support and love from both her father and step-father. A solution to this is to ask one of them to give her away and the other to deliver the father of the bride speech.
The invitation wording
The invitation is a reflection of who is bearing the cost. The good news is that nowadays the wording can be adapted to reflect this and it is quite common to see both sets of parents, or even the parents and the bride and bridegroom, as hosts.
The involvement/input of the groom’s parents
Traditionally a wedding was paid for fully by the bride’s parents and therefore the groom’s parents involvement was limited. Nowadays, the involvement and input from the groom’s parents may well be correlated to their financial contribution or simply because the bride and bridegroom would like them to be.
Seating during the Wedding Breakfast
‘Top Tables’ are becoming less common now and this is due to an increase in the number of parents who are divorced and a reduction in the level of formality. The subtle signification of hierarchy within the family can be a great cause of distress!
Instead, many opt for a number of ‘top tables’ where family can be grouped together, with the bride and bridegroom hosting their own table with the best man, bridesmaids and ushers.
The best etiquette advice I can give is to try and foresee any issues before they arise and, preferably, early on in the planning process before emotions run too high.
Often the bride and bridegroom will have to mediate between older family members following situations such as divorce and remarriage. As long as the communication channels are kept open and consideration is given to everyone’s needs then most problems can be solved.
The most important word in planning a wedding is COMPROMISE!