Experts Reveal How To Deal With Difficult In-Laws When Planning Your Wedding

Sad young bride

Your mother-in-law wants orchids, you want roses, and your dad wants a minimalist display of twigs. That's just the half of it. It's often part for the course that wedding planning can cause a rift with your in-laws and make for a generally tense time. Maintaining a level head when planning such an emotionally charged event, and keeping everyone satisfied on the same page is not an entirely impossible task, however, despite how rough and tumble it may seem. There are ways to de-rift, so to speak, if the nuptial prep is becoming a battlefield. (But love is just that, as Pat Benatar says, right?)

As Amy McCord Jones, wedding planner and florist of Flower Moxie tells Bustle, when tensions arise with your soon-to-be-in-laws it's best to let your beloved handle their family, and you handle yours, depending on where the bad feelings are stemming from.

"As the new-comer (on either side) it's easy cause hard feelings and permanently strain the relationship with stress that comes from planning a wedding," Jones says. "Allowing your fiancée to set boundaries shows the family that you two are a team, and it shows you that they will have your back, too!"

Lauren Schaefer, founder of YWbL, a month-of wedding coordination company serving New York, Nashville, and Chicago says that she quite often experiences parts of the process of planning that cause major stress and high emotion.


"When wedding planning has begun to create familial tension I find that it is best to remind my clients that no one directly means malice," Schaefer says. "Tension stems from everyone wanting the best wedding possible and it is a matter of finding common ground in defining what 'the best wedding possible' means."

Finding a way to acknowledge the strain openly so you can learn how to communicate kindly is really important. As Deborah M. Merrill, professor of sociology at Clark University, and author of Mothers-in-law and Daughters-in-law: Understanding the Relationship

and What Makes Them Friends or Foe, tells Bustle, for both parties, it's really helpful to step back and think about trying to create a situation that will lead to a better relationship in the long run.

"Keep in mind that they want to try to set the stage for a good relationship with the other person [while planning the wedding]," Merrill says. "The best way to do that, in my research, is to remember that what's usually happening with the in-law in question is that they want to feel like they are still important in their child (or sibling's) life."

It's a difficult time, and they are often concerned that they are no longer as relevant or important to the loved on getting married. To the extent that you can, try to keep them involved and realize that it's a big emotional experience for all who are intimately involved. Make sure people feel like they have a role to play.

And if you happen to be the in-law, Merrill says, remember that this is an opportunity to show that you are not going to be overbearing, that you can instead be gracious, open, and supporting. Allow room for the the couple to make their own choices.

Remember, while you're marrying your partner — you are kinda marrying the family, too. Making an effort to pave the way for future good times — over the nitty-gritty of place settings — will always be the best bet.


Amy McCord Jones, wedding planner and florist of Flower Moxie.

Lauren Schaefer, founder of YWbL, a month-of wedding coordination company serving New York, Nashville and Chicago.

Deborah M. Merrill, Professor of Sociology at Clark University.