A royal wedding can be a royal pain.
With the upcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, all of the factors of a traditional wedding are amplified and in the public eye. There were undoubtedly countless hours spent negotiating details and arrangements far before the engagement was ever made public.
The royal wedding has an added dimension with Harry being a royal and Meghan, a celebrity. The necessary negotiations to navigate this situation are manifold, and fortunately there are plenty of members of the party planning team to handle them.
Royal or not, wedding planning is often stressful. There are many details that need to be taken into account, many feelings that need to be considered and much planning involved, in short, they can be a pain.
Here are some helpful ways to "negotiate" your own (not so royal) wedding preparations:
1. Prepare, prepare and prepare some more.
The preparation starts the moment you and your future spouse begin discussing possibly getting married. You are already meeting your co-negotiators, the in-laws. Through conversations with them and your future spouse, you have an understanding of their expectations for the wedding: their hopes, their customs and preferences. This will help you understand what may or may not be negotiable.
2. Identify your negotiable and non-negotiable points.
While budget may not be an issue for Harry and Meghan, it may very well be an issue for you. What are your absolute musts? What can you do without? Do not necessarily lay out all of your non-negotiable points at one time. This may make you seem difficult. Select your language carefully, using terms like, "This is what I prefer" rather than "This is what I MUST have." Unless you are getting married in a short amount of time, all decisions do not have to be made immediately.
3. Take your time.
Review several options before making final decisions. When making those critical decisions – like location, caterer, date, think about how much others' opinions or desires will weigh on your choice. Will it bother you if some relatives can't make it to your destination wedding? Will it cause a strain in the family? How accommodating do you want to be for other people? Twenty years from now, will you be happy you made those accommodations or annoyed that you "gave in?"
4. Don't forget – this is not just YOUR wedding.
No decisions should be made without discussing them with your future spouse and the other parties you have brought in as decision makers. The wedding is a shared celebration that should include the wants and "must haves" of both people getting married.
Over the course of your planning, your negotiable and non-negotiable points may shift. Be careful of changing mindsets and be ready to make those adjustments when necessary. This is another reason not to be so set on something at the beginning. It can get embarrassing if something you "fought" for is now being eliminated.
6. Beware of emotional reactions and responses.
Weddings are fraught with emotions. Sometimes during planning, it is best to say, "Let me think about that and get back to you." Step away from the moment and allow yourself the time to think about it a bit more objectively than in the heat of the moment. This will give you some time to let emotions cool, and your reaction will be more thoughtful and reasonable than it might otherwise have been.
7. Weddings are about relationships.
Through all your planning, decision making, creating the guest list and choices, you are building relationships with your future spouse, the in-laws and family, friends, and even vendors. These relationships will continue for many years to come. Your reputation will partially (sometimes greatly) rest on how you handle yourself during this time. Don't sacrifice your long term relationships for short term gains. Keep that in mind when sometimes you need to be accommodating for things you do not necessarily like.
While not all of us have a wedding production so steeped in tradition like Prince Harry and Ms. Markle it is important to remember that the ultimate goal is a festive celebration of the love between two people.
Preparing yourself for the difficult conversations and negotiations that lay ahead will not only benefit the entire wedding party, the skills you develop and utilize will have practical applications for all of your future negotiations.
Cindy Wiesel is the Director of Business Development at The Negotiation Institute. She holds a bachelor degree in education and a master’s degree in Math Leadership from Bank Street College. In addition she heads the organization and management of WIN Summit, an educational and professional event presented in academic partnership with Columbia University and The Negotiation Institute.