First off, if you’ve read the headline and continued reading, we should clearly be friends.

The naked truth: your wedding is for you and your partner, you’re the people who make the decisions, and what you (collectively) say, is. what’s. happening.  

But back to reality for a moment: weddings can be messy and difficult to navigate, so I want to give you some tools to help you tell people to knock it the hell off. Here are three ways to tell people to fuck off in the run up to your wedding...and still have them talk to you afterwards...mostly...

1 Remember they probably just want to help

Don’t worry, the good stuff is coming in point three. Lots of problems at weddings arise from family and friends wanting to be a part of the day but just not knowing how to do it usefully. So it might be relatives offering to lend you their cake topper from their wedding, or recommending their friend who ‘used to be a hairdresser’, but then turns out to have done 3 weeks of a 2 year beauty course in the late 90s, or any one of a thousand well intentioned ideas, that just don’t fit with your wedding. If you’ve ever tried to stop a three year old from drawing on a wall, then you’ll know that distraction and diversion are powerful tools.  

Here are some examples:

Them: “I’d like you to get married in the wedding dress I got married in in 1974”
You: “Thank you for offering me your wedding dress, I know that must be precious to you. Honestly, it’s just not for me, but would you help me choose between a couple of dresses I’ve been considering? What do you think of these…”

Even if you’ve already chosen and paid for your dress, you’ve listened to their deeper desire to give something precious to you and you’ve let them be part of your wedding. Everybody wins.

Them: “Are you going to use Karen for your hair and makeup? She’s almost finished her diploma now - we’re all very impressed with her new look”
You: “I’m going to hire someone who just does weddings actually, but do you think I should have my hair up or down…?”
Them “Did you call my cousin about borrowing something from his waistcoat collection?”
You: (panicking) “Oh look, a bumblebee!” (runs away).

2 Be honest about difficult or awkward situations

Sometimes weddings have awkward moments and let’s face it, it’s often a family issue. If you’re facing this, it’s usually best to be honest and to do it early on. You might feel obliged to invite someone you don’t want to, or to not invite someone you want to, or be worried about how someone might behave towards someone else, or be pressured into giving someone a role in your wedding that you’re not comfortable with. It’s not your job to make sure people behave themselves, or to balance family drama with the guest list. Just be as honest as possible with people and demonstrate that you understand that your decision might be difficult for them.

“We wanted to talk to you about something difficult, we hope you can be understanding, as this isn’t easy for us. We are going to ask X to the wedding. I know you and him have had differences in the past, we’re hoping that you can both move past them, at least at the wedding. Maybe this is even the time to forgive each other.”
“I know you asked to play your bagpipes at the reception, but we’re going to ask that you don’t, but please help us pick out some gentle background music” (there’s a bit of point 1 in there too)
This one has backstory: “Dad, I know you’re paying for so much of the wedding, and we’re so grateful, I just think it would be so difficult for mum if you brought your new girlfriend with you to the wedding, even if she was our wedding planner - I hope you understand”

In all seriousness, this one is unique to the problems of each wedding, just be honest and respectful of people’s feelings...and then move on to point three.

3 Oh just f**k off will you

Sometimes, and for lots of reasons, people continue to be a pain in the arse. You have tried redirecting what you assume are good intentions, you’ve been honest with them and shown them that you respect their feelings. Now maybe it’s time for the big F-U. There just comes a point where you need to say ‘no, that’s not happening, kindly do one.’

Despite the headline to this article, I don’t think it’s always the best policy to go straight to ‘f**k off’ (sometimes it ABSOLUTELY is, but rarely), but there are times when you need to just tell someone a straight and clear ‘no’ and chances are that it will be a family member or future in-law.  

Thing is, you’re not just setting the tone for your wedding, but actually for the rest of your lives together, as cheesy as that sounds, prioritise your spouse and the people who are important to both of you and present a united front:

“I know you’re trying to help, but what you’ve done so far has actually made things more difficult. I’ll ask you if I need your help again”
“I’m going to be honest with you, we’re just not going to have uncle Murray bless the marriage with an interpretive dance. I understand that it’s what you want, but it’s our final decision.”
“Yes, Karen, I understand that not having organic tofu ice cream at the reception will upset Aunt Casandra, and that’s a shame, but we are just not going to cater for her dogs.”
“I hear what you’re saying; my answer is No”
“In all seriousness, if you pull a prank during the wedding, turn up in shorts, or try to do something ‘funny’, you’ll just have to leave”

If anything I said has raised your anxiety levels, then take a few deep calming breaths, go outside, and scream into the wind. Then you’ll be ready to get back to the relaxing task of wedding planning - enjoy!

About the Author

Joe is a wedding and portrait photographer from Essex in England. He is Father and partner in mischief to Noah, and husband to Danielle.

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