How to Set Family Boundaries While Planning A Destination Wedding

April 10, 2023

I recently received a heartfelt letter from a couple struggling with the challenges of planning their dream destination wedding while navigating family expectations. Here’s the letter they shared with me:

“Dear Sidney,

My fiancé and I are currently planning our destination wedding. Our hearts have been set on Maui, HI. We love the luxury of having a variety of landscapes at our fingertips. Plus, we really want to keep our wedding small and intimate. The problem is our parents have different opinions. They think it’s selfish of us to fly so far away from the mainland, as it would exclude many of our family members. My fiancé and I have done our best to explain that we simply don’t feel the need to spend a lot of money on a traditional ceremony, and would rather keep our wedding open to those who are very close family and friends. We’ve done everything short of simply saying, ‘why would I invite relative X and relative Y? I haven’t seen them in 7 years.’ It’s starting to feel like our wedding is for everyone else but us.”

As a Destination Wedding Photographer based in Grand Rapids with a decade of experience, I understand how important it is to set boundaries while wedding planning. So… what do you do? Many of my past clients have had similar issues when it comes to wedding planning. Here a some things that worked for them, and should help couples like you navigate these challenges and stay true to your vision for your destination wedding. Plus, who could say no to this gorgeous Maui landscape! 👇

kaanapali Maui Hawaii Cliffs

Communicating openly and honestly

Open and honest communication is essential when addressing concerns about your destination wedding. Share your feelings and priorities with your parents, explaining why having a wedding in Maui is important to you and your partner. Furthermore, explain how you feel about the fact that there’s tension in decision that’s very important to you. We all have an innate desire to be heard. Being heard often makes us feel loved. When we feel that we aren’t heard by others, and more importantly our parents, it can put a real toll on our mental health. Wedding planning should be fun and joyous. Although stressful at times, a sense of relief can come from vocalizing any negative feelings in a healthy and positive way.

Finding a compromise

Try to find a middle ground between your desires and your parents’ concerns. Consider holding a small, intimate destination wedding in Maui, and then hosting a more casual celebration or reception back home for extended family and friends. Granted, I use the word compromise lightly. Compromise can only come with very good boundaries. For example, if you’re planning a destination wedding to save on certain expenses and place them else where, then you may be defeating the purpose of that choice by having an addition reception back at home. My favorite phrase is, “I love you, but no.”

Prioritizing the relationship and wedding vision

Stay focused on your relationship and the reasons you want a destination wedding. As a Destination Wedding Photographer, I have seen firsthand the magic that unfolds when a couple remains true to their vision for their special day. “Expectation delayed makes the heart sick.” You have to guard that vision you have with you partner. When the wedding starts becoming about everyone else, it will show up in sneaky ways the day of the wedding. It’s hurt my heart to see brides of the past sad or disappointed because their day wasn’t everything they dreamed of.

Eastern Floral Bouquet by Molly Tiesma

Seeking support and professional guidance

Build a network of supportive friends and family who understand your perspective and can offer advice or reassurance. Consult with a wedding planner or other professional who specializes in destination weddings to help you navigate family dynamics and create a memorable event that meets everyone’s expectations.

Setting clear boundaries

To maintain a sense of control and reduce stress during the planning process, it’s crucial to set clear boundaries:

  1. Communicate your needs and establish expectations with your parents regarding their involvement in the wedding planning process.
  2. Be assertive and respectful in your decision-making, standing firm in your choices while preserving the relationship with your parents.
  3. If necessary, designate a close friend or family member as a mediator or point of contact for discussions with your parents to help maintain boundaries and manage communication.

Setting family boundaries while planning a destination wedding is essential for a successful and enjoyable experience. By following the tips and advice shared in this blog post, you can stay true to your vision, create a wedding that truly reflects your love story, and ensure a smooth planning process. As a Grand Rapids Wedding Photographer, I am here to support you and capture the beautiful moments of your wedding day, no matter where your love takes you.

With Love,