Planning a Family Member’s Wedding

Aisle Planner Planning a Family Member's Wedding
Photo courtesy Anne Kenny Photography

The life of a wedding planner may be thought of as glamorous but we all know that it can be full of stress. Between managing the 1 million things that running a business requires and managing the 1 million more things that happen during the planning process, it can be a challenge to also take on the emotional work of guiding a couple through it all. And, every once in a while, things get even more interesting – like when you take on planning a family member’s wedding.

As a wedding planner or professional in the industry, it is almost inevitable that you are going to be asked to work on either a family member’s or very close friend’s wedding. (You are, after all, the best person they know for the job!) And, as excited and willing as you may be to take on the task, navigating through a personal relationship in the professional sphere can throw you for a loop that you never saw coming.

Over the past couple of years, I have personally been involved in planning my mother-in-law’s, my brother-in-law’s, and my own brother’s weddings. And, to be completely honest, there was more than one moment during the planning process that I asked myself, “Why did I sign up for this?”

I asked myself that question not because I didn’t want to be involved in planning their wedding but, rather, that I hadn’t anticipated the unique challenges that I would face. It is always difficult to mix your personal and professional life and I guess I wasn’t ready to field the types of questions and pressure you get from every couple you work with (you know, the ones that make you audibly sigh) from people that I assumed would “know better.”

So, if you find yourself saying “yes” to a family member’s request to help you plan their wedding, here are my 3 tips to successfully plan (and survive) it.

They’re Not Just Another Client

You can’t expect that your family member is going to treat you any differently than any other client would. And, in fact, navigating through the overall planning process will probably be more stressful than with a regular client. You love your clients like they are your family but, in the end, they aren’t and you can do (or not do) things in ways that might start a feud with a family member.

So, in order to successfully plan a family member’s wedding, you have to recognize the emotional and personal history you have with them. Take the knowledge you have about them as a person and let it inform how you set boundaries, ground rules, and expectations. Because, while working so closely with family can be delicate, working with someone you know also means you have inside information. Use it to set yourself up for success.

You’re Not A Magician

Even though you are extremely well connected and might have a few favors to call in, this might not be the wedding you want to use those cards on. Make it clear to your family member that you can’t fill a ballroom with flowers for $1,000 or magically make that booked venue become available.

Take the time to walk them through a realistic budget and let them know what strings you are willing to pull right out of the gate. Because, if you don’t have this conversation, you might find yourself under pressure to make the impossible happen – and force your vendor friends to save you. Do everyone a favor and set realistic expectations.

Don’t Forget To Take It All In

But, regardless of the unique challenges of planning a family member’s wedding, don’t forget to enjoy the ride. They could have trusted someone else with helping them plan one of the biggest days of their life but they didn’t. They asked you. And, that’s an honor. So, remember to recognize the fact that you are helping someone you love dearly plan one of the most exciting days of their life! And hey, at least it gets you out of a Crate and Barrel run for a gift!


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