You’re holding your wedding at the zoo, you’re walking down the aisle as a couple wearing his-and-hers hairy hobbit feet, and–oh yes–your wedding cake is made entirely of pizza. You may be thrilled with your decisions and how well they represent your unique love story, but there remains the little detail of explaining it to your more traditional family members. If you cringe at the idea of breaking the news to your pop that he won’t be walking you down the aisle after all, here are some ways to make it easier.
Appeal to Love
Start by sitting down individually with each of the most-traditional members of your guest list in a calm, personal setting. Let your guest know ahead of time that you have some important wedding details to discuss, but don’t break the shocking news until you’re both sitting comfortably with no distractions. It may help to invite your guest to lunch and have the discussion over a nice meal.
Whatever you do, don’t invite more than one naysayer to the discussion. If you do, they’ll use each other to fuel their indignation about what they think a traditional wedding should look like. Remember, the goal isn’t to prove anyone right or wrong; it’s to encourage your guests to respect the wedding choices you make about your important day.
You may want to start by asking, “Do you know anyone else who’s exactly like me?” After all, since no two people are alike, no two weddings should be, either. And chances are, if you’re a creative enough person to want to design an unusual wedding, your relatives already have an inkling that you march to your own drummer. (In fact, you may be planning to march down the aisle to a drums-only version of “Here Comes the Bride.”) Appeal to the love that exists between you, even though one of you is slightly more conventional than the other. Weddings are celebrations of love and acceptance, so you may as well start celebrating now.
Try to Understand the Objections
When your mother puts her foot down and says she absolutely can’t attend a wedding where the bride is wearing pants, don’t just scream that she’s never understood you and stomp away. This is your opportunity to bridge the gap between you two (which is doubly meaningful during a major life occasion like a wedding), and to try to understand her objection.
Sit down in a quiet moment when both of you are feeling calm and charitable towards each other. Ask as non-judgmentally as possible, “I notice you have a very strong reaction to my wedding choices. Since you’re important to my life and it means a lot to me to include you, could you help me understand your reasons?”
You may find out, for example, that your mom’s objection stems from a fear that you’re not taking your marriage seriously. If you help her understand the ways you honor your relationship and the commitment you’re making, she may decide that your choice of fashion isn’t as important as your vows, after all.
You may also find out that the objections come from a real and important place–your décor choice of white lilies, for example, may remind your grandmother of her husband’s recent funeral–and you may decide to change your mind. Even if you don’t come to an agreement, at the very least coming to an understanding will prevent a wedding-day blow-up.
Include More Friends
Sometimes family members’ objections to untraditional weddings simply stem from unfamiliarity. “A kazoo flash mob at a wedding,” your father might say, “Who ever heard of that?” He’s immediately worried about what the gossips will say about his family and their bizarre weddings. After all, if he thinks it’s strange, won’t everyone else in town? But the secret to calming his objections is to give him a feeling of ownership–in doing so, you make the “strange rituals” seem not so strange after all.
Take Pop aside and let him know, “You’re the only one we trust with this incredibly important job. Your sense of humor; your timing; your ability to keep a secret; you’re perfect for it! Would you please do us the honor of passing out kazoos to all the guests at the appointed time?” By framing the unusual element as a personal honor, it becomes a lot harder to refuse–and a lot easier to embrace. By the time your guests break into a kazoo serenade at your first kiss, your father will be grinning hardest of all.
Don’t Get Disappointed
Remember, you may not get everyone completely onboard with your crazy wedding. You may have had your heart set on your entire bridal party dressing like “Star Wars” storm troopers, but there’s no convincing your maid of honor to give herself helmet-hair. Know when to put aside your dreams of the “perfect day” (even very traditional couples have to learn this trick) and compromise for something achievable. (Maybe you can use storm trooper figurines as cake toppers instead.) The important thing to remember is that your day will still be “perfect”; that is, filled with happy memories and love. Don’t lose yourself in disappointment with guests who don’t agree with you. Instead, concentrate on achieving a healthy balance of unique details and happy guests–and maintaining your own delight and excitement!