Susquehanna Style
Wedding Wise

January-February 2009

by Susan H. Moran, Wedding Designer

Reprinted with the kind permission of Susquehanna Style

Let's face it, no one's family or friends are perfect, and somewhere along the way in planning your wedding, there will be people that bring drama into this already stressful time in your life. They are usually the people closest to you that believe they are just trying to help or are wanting to share their opinions or dreams for your big day. Wedding designer, Susan Moran, offers expert advice on how to keep perspective - it's your wedding, your way…


In today's world, divorce is a fact of life in many families. Emotions can and do run high, are often raw and must be taken into consideration as the wedding is planned. If this is the case in either the bride's family, groom's family or in both families, knowing family dynamics early in the planning process is invaluable and truly necessary. It must be emphasized that the primary focus be on the happiness of the bride and groom and that all concerned are expected to collectively celebrate the joy and happiness of the union of their children. Everyone's sensitivities and needs, however, must be factored into the equation.

The most successful way to accomplish this is to underscore how important it is that each parent and step-parent feel respected and valued in the unique place(s) they hold in the lives of their children.

Utilizing appropriate etiquette in the wording of the invitation is an extremely effective manner in which to set this tone. Creating meaningful representation or participation in the ceremony, i.e. a special reference in the ceremony program book, selected readings, unity candle lighting or even including favorite music, often soothes delicate feelings.

Also, proper etiquette dictates a certain order in the seating during both the ceremony and the reception and employing these guidelines takes away potential hurt resulting from any hint of subjective choice.


Via the internet and television, the wedding industry has exploded out of the bounds of reason. The extreme emphasis on extravagance and excess has resulted in a set of contrived standards that has left many couples confused and frustrated.

Your wedding should be a meaningful and creative vision of who each one of you are as individuals and who you are and hope to be as a couple. "Have to's" should be non-existent (with the exception of obtaining your Marriage License!) "Want to's" should be your focus. To keep things totally realistic, follow your budget…one that you set together. Eliminating the stress in the process of designing your wedding is key…having fun with the process is what matters! Within this framework and mindset, you will clearly be able to have your wedding, your way!


Whenever emotions are high, as they clearly are during the planning and production of weddings, interpersonal "flare-ups" often happen. As you begin the selection process for your attendants, bear in mind the personalities with which you'll be dealing. Take note of the established divas, existing conflict between prospective maids, and any other known emotional red flags as you make these choices. As there is often pressure to include those who do fall into the above categories, you'll be able to make these choices with your eyes wide open! An indisputable fact is that everyone has a gift to give…a talent to offer…something unique and special to contribute. Identify this in each of your attendants and make certain that they know how much individual value you place on your relationship with them and how much you need and want their involvement in your wedding. Knowing that they have a special role in the festivities should lessen the potential of conflict. This may be conveyed in the many creative and distinctive ways in which you may ask them to be a part of your "team."

Determining your choice of bridesmaids' attire must be made in a thoughtful manner with respect to the "comfort zones" of all concerned…body type, weight issues, tattoos, etc. Since too many opinions tend to be counterproductive, an option is to decide on your color scheme and offer a selection of style possibilities (shoes and dresses) with which you'll be content. This will take research on your part, but will be more than worth it in the end.

Even with all of these precautions in place, if and when problems do arise, directly addressing the issue with a cool head trumps avoiding it or simply hoping it will go away. Should this approach be unsuccessful, consider enlisting someone who is objective to intervene. Stressing the need for everyone to do their part to make this a happy occasion may be enough. There are cases, however, where the only solution is to offer the troublemaker an ultimatum. Remember…no one…repeat…no one…should have the power to steal your joy at this moment in your life!


Post your questions or comments for Susan for other brides-to-be to see on Susquehanna Style's Facebook page ( or, email her directly at: or give her a call at 717.645.5700.