7 Awkward Wedding Planning Moments (and How to Solve Them)

You might face these squirm-inducing situations along the way, but here's how to navigate them without breaking a sweat—or ruining relationships.
by aja frost
Groom with arm around boho bride's waist on a bridge, laughing nervously
photo by Getty Images

The wedding planning process can be exhilarating, fun, frustrating, tiring—and sometimes, seriously awkward. For example, how do you tell your niece that she can't bring her on-again, off-again boyfriend? What's the best way to explain you'd rather have cash than, say, a fondue set?

Luckily, we've got the answers. Read on for tricks that'll get you through the top seven thorniest wedding planning situations.

1. Disagreeing With Your Partner's Mom

You don't want to clash with your future mother-in-law, but you also don't want to completely change your wedding plans to make her happy—say, by ditching your dream of having a food truck and an open bar for her hoped-for plated dinner and limited alcohol selection.

How to Handle It: Whether or not she's helping to pay for the wedding (but especially if she is), make sure you tell her how grateful you and your partner are for all of her support and input. She'll be much likelier to compromise if she feels her opinion is being heard and valued. Then, pick your battles. If the bar is far more important to you than the food, for instance, consider letting her “win" on the dinner setup. If you're still butting heads, ask your fiance to step in and talk to her. After all, her "baby" may be way more successful at getting her to stand down than you could be.

2. Telling Your Friends They're Not in Your Wedding Party

Maybe you were your high school BFF's maid of honor but you don't feel that close anymore, or maybe your ceremony will be too intimate to justify making every single girlfriend a bridesmaid. Whatever the case, it's always difficult to tell a pal who's expecting to be in the wedding party that, well, she's not.

How to Handle It: When you break the news, stress how important your relationship is and how excited you are to have her at the wedding. Then, back that up by involving her in other ways. Invite your friend to the bachelorette party; if she's super into music, ask if she'd want to put together a playlist for the rehearsal dinner or reception. You could also suggest she be part of the ceremony by doing a reading, passing out programs or watching over the guest book.

3. Asking for Cash

There are many reasons couples forgo a traditional registry. You may already live together, may not need any linens or panini makers, or might just prefer help paying for the event, your honeymoon or even your first home. Yet telling your guests you'd like cash instead of gifts can feel a little funny.

How to Handle It: Consider creating an account on PayPal as one of your registry choices. You can call it something along the lines of "Down Payment Fund" or "Honeymoon Registry." Then give people the details on your wedding website, just like a regular registry. Your friends and family will be able to send money directly into the account by using your email address or cell number (and fees are low or non-existent—score!). Bonus: You get to skip the awkwardness of your great-aunt or best friend from college handing you a big check in person that you then have to remember to deposit later.

4. Saying No to Extra Guests

You and your future spouse have worked hard to create a guest list you're both happy with—and now your third-cousin-once-removed is asking whether he can bring his girlfriend, 15 guys from your fiance's college frat want to show up and every member of your mom's book club is clamoring for an invite.

How to Handle It: Be honest yet sympathetic as you explain why a last-minute addition isn't possible. For example, you could tell your third cousin, “I'd really love to have your girlfriend over for dinner or drinks so I can get to know her! Unfortunately, we're at max capacity with the venue right now." As for those frat buddies, consider inviting them to the after-party or a bar night to celebrate separately.

5. Not Getting Along With Your Wedding Planner

When you first hired her, you loved both her personality and her ideas. But after a couple months, your initial enthusiasm for your wedding planner is totally gone—it feels like she's not being as helpful or present as she could be. You don't want to lose your deposit or the vendors she's signed, though, so you're wondering how to ensure your day isn't a disaster.

How to Handle It: Figure out what's making you upset. Is your planner not really listening to your feedback? Are you finding it hard to contact her? Is she not doing everything you agreed she'd do? Once you've identified the problem, you should have a calm, professional discussion with her expressing your concerns so you can get plans back on track. It's possible this was a simple case of miscommunication; perhaps she underestimated how often you'd like her to check in or contribute ideas. Now's a good time to get on the same page about your expectations. In this business, word of mouth is everything, so she'll likely do whatever it takes to make sure you're happy.

6. Having a Kids-Free Wedding

Children are great—really—but you're going for a sophisticated, adults-only event. That's completely okay. Just be ready for pushback from parents who may not relish the idea of dropping cash for a sitter (on top of buying a wedding gift) or even realize that their brood isn't welcome.

How to Handle It: Avoid marking the invitation "adults only," since that can rub people the wrong way. Instead, address it to "John and Jane Doe" rather than "the Doe family." This will subtly inform your guests that the wedding is not a family affair, but you'll probably still end up fielding questions. In that case, keep your answer short and sweet: Explain apologetically that you can't include all the guests you'd like to due to "budget constraints." Even if that's not the case, it's a response that tends to work wonders for nipping complaints in the bud.

7. Figuring Out Wedding Party Payments

Maybe your fiance planned his own bachelor trip to Vegas, or you ended up purchasing dresses for the bridesmaids who live out of town. With all the other wedding expenses adding up, it would be great if your friends could pay you back soon—but getting IOUs fulfilled in person can be uncomfortable.

How to Handle It: With the PayPal app, you can avoid asking for checks or cold, hard cash. For example, you can pay for the dresses using Paypal Credit, then have your bridesmaids use the app to send you what they owe directly. Since this method lets you request payments electronically, it takes away some of the awkwardness of asking for money in person—and the burden off of you having to remember to ask your friends to pay up.

The Knot and PayPal have teamed up to bring you Plan Like a Pro, a sponsored series full of insider tips and tricks to help you plan an amazing wedding. To learn more about PayPal's services, check out PayPal.com.

Up Next
Turquoise and pink tented wedding reception next to barn ceremony
Wedding Budget 101
Whether you have $100,000, $10,000 or $1,000 to spend, here's how to budget for the wedding of your dreams.
by The Knot11 min read