reader questions: do i have to invite my male bridesmaid to all of the bridal events? even the ones for girls only?

Yelena from Santa Barbara, CA writes:

Dear Wedding Therapist,

         I'm getting married and I've asked one of my close gay male friends to be a part of my bridal party.  He's a bridesmaid and I don't want to offend him, but do I have to invite him to the girl's only events? I also have a bunch of gay friends who I want to invite to the all female bridal shower but I don't want it to be awkward. Please help! 


My first response is: yes.  Yes, you have to invite him to all of the fesitivities surrounding your wedding.  He is a bridesman, afterall.  You've asked him to play a role that is traditionally for women only so you should make the exception when it comes to girls only events.

My second response is: GIRL, what are you thinking?!  This is your friend who must be close enough in order for you to have asked him to actually be in your wedding.  Is there someone in your family or a guest who would be uncomfortable with him joining in because he's gay?  Is it because of religious beliefs?  I'm assuming that you don't have an issue with it since he is in the wedding.

One of the hardest jobs that a bride has is trying to please everyone.  If you want to have your gay male friends at your bridal shower, have them at your bridal shower!  If someone has a problem with them attending the all female events, that is their problem.  Those are not your issues.  You can't please everyone and I certainly wouldn't be worried about pleasing people who are uncomfortable around gay men.  Remember, you're only the bride for one day and you don't want to damage your friendship due to awkwardness long after the wedding is over. 

when your fiance's family doesn't like you because of race

Is your fiance's family unhappy about your engagement because you're a different rance than they are?  Do they make ignorant comments? Does your fiance defend you or does he let it go?  Let's talk about it!

for the bridesmaid who is dealing with a bridezilla

For those of you who have been a bridesmaid to a bridezilla, this one is for you.


reader questions: how to incorporate religion into the wedding when one is not religious

Mariah K. from Atlanta, GA writes:

Dear Wedding Therapist:

         My fiance is Jewish and I'm not any religion.  The whole time that we were dating, religion never came up but now that we're planning the wedding, he wants to add a bunch of traditions into the ceremony that I really don't want to do.  What should I do?


Girl, how did religion never come up during your entire relationship?!  Certainly, it MUST have come up at least once!  Sorry, I'm just a little surprised that you two never discussed religion during your relationship.  Ok, now that the shock has worn off...I think incorporating his religious traditions into your ceremony is the least of your worries. 

A lot of times there are "warning signs" that people ignore because they want to get married so badly.  You two need to sit down and really have an open and honest conversation about what part you want religion to play in your lives.  Clearly, when it comes down to important events in his life, it is important that his religion is present.  This doesn't end with your wedding.  Look down the road five years from now when you have children.  How will you raise them?  Seriously, put the planning on hold and have a long talk.  Religion is a deal breaker for most people.  Maybe it isn't for him now but it may be in the future and you want to know what you're walking into with both eyes wide open.

Oh, and once you have the talk and you're both on the same page, you should allow him to throw in some of his religious traditions into the wedding ceremony.  Again, the wedding may be your first compromise religiously but it won't be your last. Good luck!

how to deal with death during the planning process

Death is one of those things that I don't think anyone can prepare themselves for.  Whether it is expected or not, I've learned that when a death occurs there really isn't a guide to follow that makes the pain go away or makes it any easier.  I recently lost someone who is extremely close to me and his brother is getting married this summer.  His fiance is very supportive and jumped right in when it came to funeral preparations and just support in general. 

I'm not so sure if the things that I learned during this time apply differently during a wedding or not but I thought I'd share:
  1. Show up.  Whether you are a friend, estranged family member, fiance, boss, etc...SHOW UP.  Be available as much as possible.  Emotionally, mentally, physically.  
  2. Life is short and sometimes holding on to a grudge isn't what is important.  Unfortunately, death makes us face some of the petty and not so petty issues in life.
  3. The wedding will still go on.  Details can be discussed later.  Reschedule meetings, fittings, tastings, etc.  There will be time for those things later.
  4. It is ok to enjoy the wedding.  Death is always sad.  It is ok to be sad at the funeral and to not want to talk about wedding details.  Take your time.  Don't feel guilty when you start enjoying planning again.     

reader questions - how do i discipline my fiance's child

Katie G. from Chicago, IL writes: 

Dear Wedding Therapist,
My fiance's son is driving me insane! He doesn't listen to anything I tell him to do and his father doesn't make him behave.  He feels bad disciplining him since we only have his son every other weekend.  I believe in spanking, my fiance doesn't.  I really think the ONLY thing that can help is a swift swat on his behind.  It is starting to get in the middle of my relationship with my fiance. Please help!


First, this is a very common issue amongst engaged couples so you aren't alone.  This is one of those things that you two have to agree upon.  If you believe in spanking and your fiance doesn't, then you can't spank your soon-to-be stepson.  Bottom line.  Clearly, you need to have a conversation with your fiance because this is going to be a point of contention when you decide to have children together. 

I suggest that you come up with a timeout  area.  Kind of like a "naughty corner" that he has to sit in.   Whenever he isn't listening to you, you send him to timeout. Every.Single.Time.  Then you two have to get on the same page about what is a comfortable amount of discipline for both of you.  Bad, undisciplined children are never fun to be around...for ANYONE!  If spanking isn't an option and the naughty corner is too much for your fiance to handle, you might have a bigger issue on your hands than his unruly son. 

how to deal with jealousy during the wedding

I previously wrote a post about "How to Deal With a Jealous Sister During the Planning Process" but there is so much jealousy from all sorts of people in your life during the planning process, I decided to give a bit more advice!  Enjoy!

how to make two homes one

Alright, you've got the wedding planning in full swing:  venue picked out with the deposit put down; caterer chosen and the tastings are out of the way; final dress fitting, done!  It seems like things are going just as planned until you remember that you now have to figure out how to combine your two houses into one.  

As women, most of us like our space to be organized and neat.   It kind of seems like most men are still living with the college dorm mentality.  Shot glasses from his roadtrips with the boys.  Baseball cards that he's been collecting since he was 15 but hasn't looked at since he was...well, 15.  These things seem so meaningless. You begin counting down the days until you can start throwing them away.  You're thinking, "I mean, who really needs 23 shot glasses?!   Our house will look so much better without all of those stupid tchotchkes!"  Right? Well, not really.

Let's look at this a different way.  If someone walked into our house and started throwing our things away, we'd be ready to kill!  Now, I'm not saying keep all of his knickknacks.  I think it is important to first have a talk with him about throwing his stuff out.  Then I'd have him pick out maybe 5 of his favorites.  He'll probably be more flexible with letting go of some of his things because he's a guy and probably just doesn't care as much as we do.   

When you get engaged, you have to remember that you're combining your lives together.  That means bank accounts (if you decide to go that route), debt (we'll talk about that later) and your houses.  He'll appreciate that you consulted with him rather than just tossing his things in the garbage when he isn't looking. 


how to deal with divorced parents at the wedding

I received numerous emails from brides who needed a little bit of advice on how to deal with their divorced parents at the wedding.  This is such a common issue with many couples who are getting married.  Some divorced parents hate each other and some are civil.  Today we're talking about the not-so-civil divorced parents.

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how to "uninvite" family and friends to the wedding

Recently I had a bride call me who was pretty upset because she and her fiance decided to have a small wedding but they could only invite 30 people each.  As she started making her list, she realized that she would have to "uninvite" people who assumed they would be at the wedding. She started getting calls from her friends asking for details about the wedding.  She freaked out. She considered booking a bigger venue to accomodate more people but after consulting with her fiance, they decided that they were going to keep their vision of an intimate wedding.  Believe it or not, this is a very common issue with couples when making their guest list.  Here are a few suggestions on how to handle this situation as it is very touchy.

First, make a list of the people who you can't live without having at your wedding.  Kind of think of it as a boat dinghy and the ship is sinking and you can ONLY save 30 people's lives...yes, it feels this deep.  Then make a list of everyone else who you would love to be there but know you can't invite.  Now, send all of those people an email or a card letting them know the situation but also expressing to them how much they mean to you two. 

The reason that you'll need to do this is that people want to know that they're special to you and that they are important in your life.  They'll understand and many hurt feelings will be avoided if you confront the situation before it becomes a problem.  There will still be hurt feelings but at least you will have done your part.

how to deal with a meddling future mother-in-law

Ok, you’ve found the man of your dreams.  You’ve got the ring.  What you didn’t realize is that along with that gorgeous man and ring comes his mother…your future mother-in-law.  Sounds cool, right? WRONG! Your future mother-in-law is not the one who keeps her distance and asks, “How high?” when you say, “Jump”. She’s the one that movies are made of.

We’ve all heard the horror stories.  The mother-in-law whose sole mission is to break her son and his fiancé up.  Aside from disagreeing with every decision the bride makes when it comes to the wedding, she’s constantly offering up unwanted advice from how to spend their money to the type of career the bride should have.  Putting the son in an awkward position, he’s going to defend his mother…she did give birth to him after all.  Don’t let his mother get in the middle of you and The One!  Here are some necessary steps to take when it comes to dealing with your future meddling mother-in-law and to ensure that you and your fiancé begin your lives happily:     

First thing’s first: Make sure that you and your fiancé are on the same page.  I promise, this whole process will be so much easier if you approach it as a team and not alone.  
Second on the list: Set your boundaries! Now that you and your fiancé are on the same page, you’ll need to consult about your desired boundaries and how to lay them down. Now is not the time to be petty.  You can’t really stop her from giving unwanted advice but you can ask her to call before she comes over. Also, make sure that your fiancé is the B.S. “Boundary Setter”.  She’ll be more receptive to change if it comes from her son and not you.  

The final step is: Acceptance.  Listen up honey, your mother-in-law isn’t going anywhere.  Waging war against her will only cause heartache for your husband-to-be which ultimately trickles down into your marriage. It is much more fun planning the next twenty-five wonderful years with your husband rather than doing twenty-five to life with your mother-in-law.

It’s about the journey, not the destination…make it a good one!

how to deal with a jealous sister

You know all of those movies where the bride and her sister are best friends and they do all the planning together and whenever the bride tries on her dress or veil, they cry? Ok, that’s not who we’re dealing with today…Let’s talk about the jealous, the jealous sister comes in all forms.  She’s the one who got married before you did, had kids before you did, bought a house before you did but somehow she’s jealous of your wedding, fiancé, dress…you name it!  She’s also the sister who isn’t married, has never had a boyfriend, or who recently went through a break up…Translation: she’s alone.  Dealing with sisters is super tricky.  Believe me, I have three.  Dealing with a sister during your wedding, and a jealous one?! Oh man!  
First, you need to be realistic about your relationship.  I get it. Now it’s your time. Your special day.  She should be there for you the way you were there for her, right?  Not if she’s the jealous sister.  I understand that it hurts and that you wish she would do things for you because she cares and blah blah blah.  By now, you know her.  Jealousy doesn’t normally just come overnight.  Take her how she is and don’t try to make your relationship something it isn’t because that will only add further injury and conflict.

Second, be compassionate.  If this is the sister who is alone, she may really be having a hard time seeing you happy while her heart is either broken or she’s longing for what you have. Jealousy is a very interesting emotion.  I once broke up with a boyfriend the day before I was hosting a good friend’s bridal shower.  I called one of the bridesmaids crying and saying I couldn’t throw the shower.  Girl, real life tears streaming down my face.  I should have won an Oscar for that. I pulled it together about an hour later and threw the shower with a smile on my face.  It was rough but I made sure to hide it. 

Next, make a decision.  How much do you want her around during the planning?  If you want her around a lot, be ready to deal with the jealousy which comes in all forms.  If you don’t want to deal with it, try not to talk about the wedding and all the details every time you see her.  I’m sure there are plenty of other people who would love to hear about the font on the invitation and how it matches the font on the program.  She’s just not one of them and that’s ok. 

Now, accept it!  It isn’t fun or “fair” but it is what it is.  Your sister may be jealous for numerous reasons.  Be happy that you are in a different place in your life and that you have the support of your fiancé.  Don’t let her ruin your day.

how to get your fiance more involved in the planning process

There is nothing more confusing to me than a groom who wants to be a part of every single step of the planning process.  I’ve been doing this for years and I’ve only seen it twice.  My first experience was with a couple who were professional cheerleaders.  They were so excited about getting married that not only did she enjoy the planning but he did too…all the way down to adding to the itinerary, that he put together, when I was going to eat lunch.  The second was a groom who wanted to be copied on every email between vendors, attended all décor meetings and all fittings…yes. All the fittings. Needless to say, that couple fought constantly and it made their planning process an absolute nightmare.

I get it, ladies.  You want to know that he cares and is just as excited about getting married as you are.  Picking out the flowers and napkins doesn’t really prove that he’s excited about the wedding or marrying you.  It just means that he’s doing it to make you happy or to avoid a fight.  Don’t get me wrong, he needs to be more involved than, “Tell me when and where and I’ll be there.”  I think the real question is: how involved should he really be?  How involved do you need him to be in order to make you feel that he cares about the wedding and/or marrying you?   
Alright, here we go…first, look at your “to-do” list.  I want you to add every single little thing that you can think of…transportation, cake tasting, finding a planner, getting your guest list together…everything.  Believe it or not, your list continues to grow throughout the planning process.   

After you’ve added everything that you can think of, pick out three items that you would like your fiancé to handle.  If you have a specific transportation company that you would like for him to check out, give him the information along with his list of three.  Also, he can’t count the cake tasting or the tasting with the caterer to his completed list…everyone wants to be involved with tasting delicious cake for a few hours.  Now, you have to be detached when you hand over these tasks to him.  What we’re trying to do is prevent silly fights that he may start because he hasn't finished his list.  
Now, you need to consult with each other about how important it is for him to complete these tasks and give him a deadline.  This is the point of getting him involved.  He’ll appreciate the fact that you only gave him a few tasks and trust that he can handle them without your micro-management.  You have your own list to think about.  Once he has completed his list, pick out three more tasks to add to his list.  Wait about a week before you present the next three tasks.  Remember, you can’t micro-manage him!

It isn’t odd that your fiancé isn’t dying to match the ivory in your dress exactly with the ivory on your invitations.  Most men aren’t into those things and it is ok but your fiancé will appreciate this structure and he’ll do it with a smile because ultimately, he wants to make you happy.