The moments when planning a wedding are some of the most fun and incredible times of a woman's life: trying on beautiful dresses, tasting cake, planning hen parties and deciding on colour schemes. Then, in the middle of my bride-to-be daydream I'm reminded of the terrible family issues that are starting to emerge already and I take a deep breath and try to focus on what my Emmy shoes will look like and on the man who will be standing at the end of the aisle waiting for me.
Although magazines tend to touch on family issues, they often only mention divorced parents or basic tips for tackling the seating plan, and I wonder if anyone else has it as bad as us – surely I can't be the only bride-to-be facing this dilemma!..?
Let me explain a little to put you in the picture: one uncle doesn't get on with one of the parents, the other dislikes my Grandad, yet another uncle has fallen out with another parent and one I've never met is estranged from the family. My brother doesn't speak to my father, my mother is going through divorce, my gran left her husband of 30 years last year, got married in secret and is bringing her new husband – of course the previous husband is now bringing a date and since all of the people involved are ballroom dancers, I'm fully expecting a dance-off on the big day! We’ve managed to work out a total of 16 potential conflicts at the wedding! I hope this is painting the picture of my seating plan hell!
The worst part is everyone cares so much about their own problems and who they want to avoid that I've been bombarded with questions such as "who am I sitting next to?", "can you make sure I'm away from him?" and "who am I going to travel to the venue with?" and I want to say "I don't know, I don't care, I'm the bride – just turn up, smile and tell me I look beautiful or maybe, just don't attend at all…".
I'm at my wits end, especially with some of the declining RSVP's we've received: over Facebook an Uncle contacted me to say since he runs a cleaning company and January is the busiest month (eally?) and Saturdays are so busy they regret they will not be able to attend. I typed back "Uncle Jack, my wedding is on a Friday" to which my computer informed me "Jack is typing…." for some time before his answer came back saying "yeah, Fridays are busy too."
I really am trying not to take it personally as I know people are just worried about who is attending etc but I feel so let down – after all, it's just one day (in fact only a total of ten hours) and I just want it to go so smoothly. I've had family members avoid the hen party, people made a big deal about taking a Friday off work (I had no idea it would be this stressful arranging the wedding). My step Grandfather got in touch to tell me our invite was "too over the top and unnecessary!" and he finished the phone call by saying "and on the day if I don't like your dress I'll say something about that too!". Several people have got in touch saying they've lost their invites and when is the date again? It is giving me a pretty good idea of how much we matter to these family members! So what is the answer? Because all of the magazines say the answer is a sweetheart table instead of a top table but this is so much more than that and we feel really let down by our family – with only two weeks left to get our RSVP's in.
More than once I've had a bit of a cry about it and my lovely Fiancé has suggested we run away and get married! After all, we cannot really afford our honeymoon so it's painful to realise we could have had that amazing honeymoon in Italy and married whilst over there without any of this hassle: ah, the benefits of hindsight!
I find it daunting reading the big magazines because I find most of the weddings follow a certain format and traditional style that just isn't "us" and certainly not our family and there either doesn’t appear to be other people struggling with the same issues or it’s simply that nobody talks about it – we've even asked our photographer to avoid formal family shots as the stress of it all is too much.
I know that our wedding is about marrying my wonderful man and starting a future together but I would be lying if I said I didn't care about the reaction we've received from our relatives and every single 'no' I receive or someone playing up is like a paperweight on my heart.
With three months to go, when I think about my wedding day I feel a little sick rather than excited. Incidentally, the other day we received a reply from a friend saying "your invite is incredible, I can't believe you've invited us! We are so thrilled to attend" and it really lifted my spirits and made me feel better about things: you know what they say, friends are the family you choose so maybe we will have a top table with our friends and put all of the family at the back – or perhaps, with 13 weeks still to go, we WILL run away and do it privately, just us and the pooches! What do you think?
Does anyone else out there have a family politics nightmare on their hands, and if so, how on earth are you handling it without calling in the hitman?!