Some of us definitely find it harder to say no than others, especially if you're a people pleaser like me! But even if you aren't, sometimes you'll find you've agreed to something before you've had chance to think about the answer that's right for you. This can be especially true when it comes to the emotive issue of planning your wedding and can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress in the run up to the big day.
So, what do you say if your parents ask if they can invite someone to your wedding that you barely know? (This actually happened to me and my husband when we were planning our own wedding).
What if you're asked to allow your young nieces and nephews to attend your wedding when you've asked for it to be a no kids affair?
What happens when one of your bridesmaids decides she isn't going to wear the outfit you've picked out for her?
Or, as I see so often during your wedding accessory consultations, the guests you brought along with you for advice, are *pushing you hard to choose a hair accessory that is more them than you?!
*Just so you know, I'll have your back if this happens during your wedding hair accessory consultation with me!
I'm sure you'll agree, all of this is tricky territory.
But, having been through the wedding planning process myself; being a wedding accessory designer with over ten years involvement in the wedding world; and having planned a fair few big family and friends related events, I've picked up some tips and tricks that are going to help you navigate this minefield, and most importantly, come out the other side with relationships still intact!
1. Buy some time.
Don't rush into a hasty response that you might later regret. When someone puts you on the spot, always buy yourself enough time to consider what you're being asked and settle on an appropriate answer. The easiest way to do this if you're put on the spot without your partner being around, is to say: "X and I have agreed not make any wedding related decisions without running it by one another first."
This genuinely gives you the time to do just that, with your partner helping you to agree on an answer, but also supporting you to settle on a response that you both are happy with and one that you might not have thought of yourself.
If your partner is with you at the time of the awkward question being asked, then simply say: "Our heads are so full of wedding stuff right now, can we give you an answer later once we've had time to put our feet up with a cuppa?" Make sure the person asking knows you won't simply leave them hanging for weeks on end and communicate to them a timescale in which you think you can reasonably respond to their question.
2. Be honest.
Don't concoct an elaborate untruth as to why something can't happen as very often you'll get caught out making the situation way more fraught than it needs to be and making you feel uncomfortable about not being honest.
And don't pass the buck! Blaming parents, or other guests, or the venue for your decision can also result in some uncomfortable truths being discovered further down the line.
If you don't want people you don't know at your wedding explain the reasons why you've decided that. This could be budget related, size of venue related, or that this is an incredibly personal moment in your lives that you only want to share with your closest friends and family.
If you don't want kids at your wedding, that's a decision you're entitled to, but be honest and explain how you came to that decision.
And try to avoid putting up brick walls and just saying 'because that's what we want,' friends and family rarely respond well to a metaphorical hand in the face. When people hear your reasoning they'll usually accept and respect your decisions.
3. Discuss and be prepared to compromise.
Sometimes the best and gentlest solution to a question you instinctively want to say 'no' to, is to tell the person asking that you'd like the chance to chat through why they want one thing and you'd like another.
These discussions very often present an opportunity for compromise. For example, in the case of a parent wanting to invite someone to your wedding that you barely know, it may be because they were invited to that person's son or daughter's wedding and would feel embarrassed by not having the opportunity to extend the same invitation to your wedding. If your instinct to say no is based on budget and your parent is happy to pay for their friend to attend, then that could be an acceptable compromise for you both.
Alternatively, if your reason for wanting to say 'no' is because you only want very close family and friends coming to your wedding, then perhaps there is no obvious compromise, but you could explain your reasons clearly and give your parents an informed explanation to share with their friends if they wish to do so.
Understand that in the uninvited guest situation a compromise is probably the more comfortable option, but although the informed decision might feel harder during the wedding planning stages, it won't feel as hard as having someone at your wedding that you really don't want there!
4. Set boundaries early on.
Almost as soon as you start on your wedding planning journey it's a good idea to sit down with your partner and agree on those non negotiables for your wedding day.
If you'd like you wedding day to be an unplugged, social media free affair make that very clear with your guests from the outset by including that wish in your wedding invites. Perhaps have it announced again ahead of your actual wedding ceremony, and back it up later in the day with some gentle signage that says something like 'we'd love to see your smiling faces not your devices!' And don't forget the arena of compromise! Maybe you opt for just the ceremony being camera phone free and then allow people to do what they like once the reception party gets rolling.
Ahead of your wedding hair accessory consultation with me I'll encourage you to set boundaries with any guests you plan to bring with you to support you during your session. Something as simple as making it clear before you set off for your consultation that you've already decided that you're definitely looking for a wedding crown so there's no point your best friend suggesting you try on three different hair vines. Or telling everyone that you'd like them to wait until you ask for their input during your accessory consultation rather than jumping in with their opinions before you've even had the chance to see what a particular wedding accessory will look like in your hair.
5. Be strong!
Organising any big event can challenge the relationships of those involved but if you can keep focussed on the simple fact that your wedding day is a celebration of yours and your partner's love and commitment to each other, shared with the people who you feel support that love and commitment, and that through taking your time over decisions, explaining how and why your arrived at those decisions, being prepared to compromise over some things and gently and with good humour, insist on others being a certain way, all the while remembering to set boundaries early on, you'll be confident to say 'no' in a way that doesn't ruin close relationships in no time!
Please feel free to share these tips on your own social media channels or on your website, but please remember to credit and / or tag me when you do.