Advice on handling family problems (from brides who’ve been there)

So, you and your betrothed have announced your engagement. Having expressed their joy with dewy emotion, the members of your family have proceeded to go — in a word — bonkers. Now, your mom is phoning three times a day with ideas for your dress. Your dad has added 18 members of his “Lodge” to the guest list. And your prospective mother-in-law wants to know how you propose to entertain her cousins flying in from Tulsa.

Leaving you to wonder: Is it too late to elope?

Relax. Here, handpicked from a local grapevine of seasoned wedding veterans, are valuable tips for surviving Your Happy Day.

Like a good CEO, delegate.

No bride (or groom) is an island. Preparing for a wedding is a lot of work — so put away your Superwoman suit and enlist the aid of friends and family early on.

Helpful tasks to assign: Picking up flowers from the florist, helping to ferry out-of-town guests on The Day, greeting the caterer. This strategy also may allow you to re-channel vital energy now being wasted on unsolicited advice. Example: “Mom, I’m still thinking on the dress. But you know what would be a lifesaver? If you could collect quotes from three florists.”

If your friends are talented and willing, you may even consider having them fill in for such roles as Wedding Photographer and Cake Baker. Not only is this usually less expensive, it can also be wonderfully meaningful.

There are things worth fighting valorously for. Fondant frosting may not be one of them.

A Solomon-like Groom suggests three words to live by as you plan your day: Pick your battles.

“If the buttercream/fondant frosting question does not perturb you, let it go, and save your strength for insisting on a live band instead of a DJ, or whatever is important to you,” he advises. “If you care about food, nix the watercress sandwiches, but let your mother-in-law hire the Royal Canadians.”

When your wedding has more people flying in than an international air show.

A local Hostess with the Mostest Bride wanted her wedding to be “a casual, mini-vacation for guests.” To help with planning, “I sent out these little questionnaires that asked people what they would like to do when they came to Asheville.”

Choices included items like shopping, golf and visits to Biltmore Estate. This allowed the wedding couple to minimize guesswork, and it made guests feel cared for.

With tons of out-of-town guests to entertain, you can save money by replacing the standard rehearsal dinner with something more casual. One couple rented a bowling alley the night before the wedding. The couple chipped in a couple kegs and plenty of soda, and all the local relatives brought “two pies” from their favorite pizza place. The night was fun, and guests got to break the ice before the big day.

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