This time of year for me is all about family. Time together, sharing good food and drink, enjoying each others company even if it does occasionally turn into the Griswold family Christmas! Family is important to me and it’s one of things I love about shooting weddings. Family tends to be important to my couples as well and a wedding is one of those occasions that brings everyone together for better or worse! It can be a worry though. How to keep everyone happy? I thought I’d share some tips for family management on your wedding day that will keep everything stress free and plain sailing.
If you are lucky enough to have your grandparents still with you my first piece of advice would be to ask them about their wedding. What meant the most to them and how did they celebrate their day? They may have something that they would love for you to carry with you or maybe they would like to do a reading. Nick carried his grandfathers air force wings and his grandmothers ring. Sarah’s grandfather gave a wonderfully moving reading at her ceremony.
If your grandparents are no longer with you there are lots of ways they can be remembered and included. Remembrance candles are lovely and bouquet charms are a beautiful way to keep loved ones close by.
I also love the idea of family photos. Mitch and Miriam displayed wedding photos from their parents and grandparents on a vintage ladder decorated with flowers. It was a lovely touch and I saw lots of guests stop to look through all the images.
Remember that your grandparents will need looking after. Make sure there is always somewhere for them to sit. Let your photographer know who is important and who may struggle to stand for photos. It can always be arranged to have your photos with your grandparents sitting and to do them first so that they don’t have to hang around waiting for pictures.
Depending on your situation this can be very straightforward or very complicated! I’ve known very extended families who all get on perfectly and much less complicated arrangements that turn out much more difficult. I always ask my couples if there are any family situations I should know about. I’m not just being nosey! If your parents don’t get along very well it’s awkward if I call them for photos together. Talk to your photographer and work out a plan for family photos. If you can, let your parents know what the plan is and talk it through. It will make everyone much more comfortable if they know what to expect.
For your parents it’s often an emotional day and sometimes they are quite nervous. It can help to give them clear jobs and let them know exactly what to expect. Make sure they don’t take on too much though. Mums in particular have a tendency to run themselves ragged. Look out for family members who are on the periphery and don’t really know what to do with themselves. Mother’s of the groom and step-parents can feel a bit lost. They want to be helpful but they don’t want to intrude and it can leave them hanging. Make sure they know what is or isn’t expected of them and assign them a task if they want to help.
Personally, I love kids at weddings. They make everything a bit more informal and are generally hilarious. Babies are no trouble at all as they don’t need a meal and everyone will want to cuddle them. Some venues can be awkward about them though so check first. Toddlers are a bit more difficult and if you have any more than about six young children then I would advise some form of entertainment to keep them busy. I’ve seen lots of options from a toy corner to a full-on creche.
Don’t feel you you have to invite children though if there are none that you are close to. They will talk during the service, run around on the dance floor and won’t eat what everyone else is having. You either love all that chaos or would feel much better without it. It’s totally up to you.
Sorting out a seating plan can feel like organising a World Trade Summit. Remember that there are no rules nowadays. Traditional would be to have both sets of parents and your maid of honour and best man on the top table. But if that won’t work then there are lots of other options. You could have just your bridesmaids and groomsmen on your table and sit parents with your families. Or one of my favourites is to have a sweetheart table for just the two of you and then everyone else wherever you like. That seems to work really well and you can decorate the sweetheart table to make it extra special.
Finally, remember to talk to your photographer and let them know what and who is important to you. It can even be a good idea to send your photographer some pictures so they know who they are looking for. It always makes my job easier if I know right from the beginning of the day who the important people are so I can get more images of them. Talk to your family. You don’t want to get too bossy but make sure there is a plan and that everyone knows what is going on. Lastly relax. You can make perfect arrangements but you can’t force people to enjoy themselves. Remember that it’s your day and everyone who loves you will be happy for you, so enjoy it.