Just Ask Sian: Big-Day Dilemmas

Got a planning problem? Not anymore!

    Life coach Sian Jaquet solves readers’ planning problems. Got a question for Sian? Email [email protected] For more etiquette advice from Sian, see our Winter issue - on sale now!

    My fiancé’s parents and mine are contributing equal sums of money for our big day, which was fine until we started to finalise the guest list.
    I have a big extended family, and when it comes to weddings, we always include all the aunties, uncles and cousins. My fiancé’s parents, however, have lots of issues with their family and only want to invite his dad’s brother. Now the guest list looks really skewed towards my guests, and his parents are refusing to contribute as much as they originally said they would. What should we do?

    I think the best thing to do is a pro rata system: you pay for who you’re inviting, each set of parents pays for their guests. Everything else associated with the day is half each. Except your dress – paying for that is usually the father of the bride’s perogative. There is another option: only invite people who you both actually want to be there… just an idea.

    My fiancé has his heart set on getting married in eight months’ time, as his brother, who lives in the UK, has already splurged on a six-week visit for next summer. It didn’t take long for me to realise that all of my favourite vendors, from the photographer to the florist and the cake designer, are fully booked all summer. My fiancé doesn’t care – he says photos, flowers etc are secondary to having all our loved ones there. But you only get married once, and I don’t want to compromise the perfect day for the sake of one guest – albeit an important one. Any advice?

    I’m going to cut straight to the chase and challenge you on the facts. Are all of your favourite vendors fully booked, every day of the week? The first lesson in marriage is about compromise. How about starting with compromising on what day you have the wedding? Many vendors are fully booked for Fridays and Saturdays, but will be more than happy to accommodate you mid-week. List everything in priority, choose five mid-week dates, contact vendors and see which one works best. I’m going to suggest your fiancé takes on this task too, working the phones with you and considering the options. Please listen to your fiancé – he needs his brother to be there, and he’s family, not just ‘one guest’. One day if you have children, you will want with all your heart for your children to be friends… I think you might be marrying a man who will know how to teach them! Oh and one more thing, said with love: it’s not just ‘your’ wedding day. 

    My sister-in-law has three small children and she’s been hinting about having them involved in our wedding as a flower girl and page boys. We don’t even want to invite children to the wedding (although we’re willing to compromise and have kids to the ceremony) but I really don’t want to have kids in the bridal party. How do I let her know where we stand without hurting her feelings?

    You and your fiancé should meet your sister-in-law for a coffee. Tell her that you both her and her partner to truly enjoy your wedding. Tell her that it would be lovely to have the kids at the ceremony, but she needs to arrange for someone to pick them up afterwards. Say that you’re so insistent she has a good night that you’re happy to pay half of the babysitter fees, and you’re going to shout them their hotel room for the night. Works every time!

    My fiancé’s sister has always treated me like I’m not good enough for her brother. I want to start our marriage with good relations with everyone in his life. How can I get her to come around before the wedding?

    Consider how important she will be in your future on a scale of one to 10. If it is more than a five, tell her how you feel. Explain how much her brother means to you, then leave the rest up to her.

    My fiancé’s mates are big party people, but my family doesn’t drink at all. I’m worried about his friends getting out of control with the booze at the wedding (especially the groomsmen) but don’t know how to best navigate this situation. Any advice?

    This is a worry many brides and grooms have. Firstly, manage the amount of alcohol available; don’t set yourselves up by offering free alcohol throughout the entire day and evening. Secondly get some support from your fiancé and his dad. Share your concerns with the best man, listen to his suggestions and ask for his help. Leave him under no illusion that if anyone gets out of control, he’s responsible for managing the situation – it’s part of the best man’s job description.

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