How to Tell Family No, You Don't Want Their Help

Etiquette, Moms, Relationships
How to Decline Help from Family

Photo: Getty Images

Speak now or forever hold your peace, brides! While it's not always easy to say no, particularly when it comes to the wedding, sometimes you just want to do your own thing, and oftentimes, that means having to do the toughest thing of all: tell family members thanks, but no thanks. Whether you're a total control freak or your mom is itching to take the reigns, national etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas, has a few words to the wise.

The type-A or style-obsessed bride with a specific vision
You like what you like, and you like it done your way; it's as simple as that. Sound familiar? If so, Gottsman suggests relaying the message with a light tone of voice and a big smile on your face. Acknowledge that you can be a bit inflexible with your opinions, and say, "I appreciate the offer, however, I have a very clear vision in mind and am more comfortable executing it myself." In fact, you already have every last little detail planned out! "The goal is to graciously decline, yet show gratitude for the support."

The chill bride with a full-time planner
Wedding planning? Psh, ain't nobody got time for that! In this situation, Gottsman recommends gently explaining to family that you've hired a full-time planner to take the pressure off of everyone. "Tell them thank you for the offer to help and assure them that you're in really good hands, as your planner has all your vendors, likes and food preferences down." Let them know the best way to lend their support during this special time is by simply relaxing and enjoying the journey with you.

See More: 6 Things You Should Never Say to Your Husband

The bride who isn't super close with her family
It's not necessary to explain that you don't feel close to your family members. Your job is to just be polite and avoid starting a family feud, instructs Gottsman. "Perhaps assign some special jobs, but don't feel obligated to include every cousin, aunt or even your mom in every single detail (if any) of the decision making process." Say, "I'm happily overwhelmed with offers of help. If you really want to lend a hand, I would specifically appreciate XXX."

The bride with an extremely opinionated mom
According to Gottsman, you have several options here. Depending on the particular situation and your mom's tendencies, try one of these templates:

"Mom, I know you have good intentions, but I'd really prefer to handle the wedding planning, as well as any conflicts that come up, on my own. I value your opinion, however, I'm very emotional right now and I need you to support me, not make things worse by getting my vendors and bridesmaids upset."

"Mom, I'm going to have to ask you to consult me before you take matters in your own hands. I'm receiving calls from the caterer saying you've called several times asking for changes to the menu. I'd prefer you keep track of the RSVP's (give her a task she's good at so she feels included) and let me know who has responded. Please leave the rest to me."

If your mom calls with shower ideas, say, "Mom, I'll pass along your thoughts, but I'm leaving the planning to the hosts of the shower."

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