Let’s face it: mother-in-laws can be difficult. Planning a wedding with your future mother-in-law and her unsolicited opinion is a pretty standard occurrence. Ivy Chin, Chief Wedding Planner at Dream Wedding, says it’s very normal for the bride and her MIL to disagree about wedding planning.
In fact, she even once had a client who was notably sullen during the wedding ceremony because of tension between her and her MIL. That’s when she had to step in.
“All parents love their children, so I emphasised to the bride that no matter what your MIL has done, she has done it based on goodwill towards you and your husband,” recounts Ivy, adding that the bride’s mood lifted after that.
How to reach a consensus
So how do you reach an agreement without ruining your wedding or damaging the relationship with your in-laws? Cindy Leong, Relationship Coach at Relationship Studio, advises not going head-on with the MIL in any way.
According to Cindy, the groom should take on the mediator role, since he would have the best understanding of what both sides are after. As in most negotiations, it’s all about the give and take.
For example, if you don’t want to do yum seng, an element of traditional Chinese weddings that some couples choose to skip, maybe appease the parents with another table for their friends or distant relatives they wanted to invite.
“Someone has to be the good guy and someone has to be the bad guy and in these situations…it’s easier for the son to talk to his mom.”
Agree to disagree
Things get a bit more complicated if your in-laws are funding your big day. You might not have as much leeway when it comes to their suggestions, but we’ve got you covered with some ways to reframe your refusal.
“Give a reason that is more positive and individualised so [the parents] can’t fault you for it,” advises Cindy.
Instead of saying “we don’t want that”, try:
- “Because it’s our wedding, we would prefer to do it this way instead” and;
- “We want to do our wedding differently and not the same as everyone else’s, which is why we have decided to do it this way.”
“You have to take the wedding as your practice,” says Cindy, because once you start buying houses or having children, both sides of the family will have some input – solicited or not.
As husband and wife, you’ll have to face these situations together, and “having a mutual understanding…and drawing boundaries can help”, along with designating good cop/bad cop roles in future situations that involve in-laws. In Ivy’s books, a successful wedding is one where all parties are happy, so in the end, making compromises to keep the peace may also mean keeping your sanity.
Sometimes, coming to an agreement can take a village. Ivy says that she enlists the couple’s nearest and dearest to keep the peace. She mentions that having their help to “maintain the joyous occasion is very important, because… it’s much easier for them to convey [difficult] messages.”
Text: Claire Soong
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