What’s your relationship like with your spouse-to-be’s family?
Depending on the factors of distance and personal dynamics, how close you feel to your in-laws-to-be might range from remote to already feeling like family. If the merging of your parents and siblings is on your mind as you and your beloved prepare to become your own distinct family, consider ways to cultivate closeness and peace within your circumstances. Here, suggestions for developing relationships with your in-laws.
Introduce (or re-introduce) everyone.
Even if your parents have met in the past, inviting them to celebrate your engagement and discuss wedding plans with you and your fiancé is both practically and relationally fruitful. Treat them to a dinner out, where they can chat and--if you’re newly engaged--speak about each other’s expectations and financial contributions for your wedding.
For siblings, a meetup before the big day can forge friendships and, if any are members of your wedding party, facilitate plans. Inviting them to a more active or project-centered activity like a hike, painting class, tasting, or sports event can help conversation flow more easily.
If distance makes face-to-face time unfeasible, a gesture as simple as a group text can keep everyone in communication. Planning a pre-wedding event like a happy hour, bonfire, or hour of Adoration for out of town guests also conveys good will and a spirit of hospitality during your wedding week.
Family and friends are so often eager to help with your preparations. Specific projects that acknowledge their strengths are great for minimizing your personal to-do list and, more importantly, honoring your future in-laws with the gift of inclusion and attention to who they are.
If you’re the bride, you and your family are likely to have more responsibilities and appointments, yet the family of the groom--particularly his mom!--frequently desire to be sure they’re also contributing and a part of the anticipation. If members of your fiancé’s family are skilled in party-planning, cooking, calligraphy, or otherwise, and have offered their assistance, consider asking them to take on some of these duties for events leading to your big day.
See these principles of delegation and DIY brought to life in Katherine + Ian’s rustic wedding, with handmade statement florals and a reception catered by family.
A toast at your rehearsal dinner or reception, thank you notes or letters of appreciation, and a time with each other’s parents on the dance floor (whether informally or as a request that your DJ include an in-laws dance in the timeline) are all meaningful gestures of love and of gratitude to your in-laws for raising your beloved into the person he is.
What if one--or both--of you struggles with family relationships?
Life’s milestones can emphasize the pain of tense relationships in a way that makes you wish your situation was otherwise. While not every sensitive matter can or will be resolved by the day you approach the altar, know this: your nuptial Mass, regardless of circumstances, will afford every one of your guests a glimpse of the heavenly wedding feast; a banquet free from brokenness and sin.
Pray for peaceful discussion as you plan your wedding, and for reconciliation to transpire according to the Father’s will. Communicate with your fiancé about healthy boundaries regarding relationships and planning decisions, and find consolation in knowing your family’s wounds and struggles have a purpose--even if that purpose is revealed only in eternity.
What actions and gestures have you made to develop a relationship with your in-laws? Families vary, and through honest community we can strengthen one another as sisters. Share your stories in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.
Read more about bringing your loved ones together for your wedding: How to Involve Non-Catholic Family in Your Wedding | Fostering Relationships Among Your Bridesmaids | Family Photo Tips from a Spoken Bride photographer