Wedding Woes

Do what works for you. Someone may always be disappointed.

Dear Prudence, 

How do couples decide where to spend the holidays? I (she/her) got engaged to my fiancé “Fred” in May, and after going home to our respective families for Christmas the past four years, we’d like to spend December 25 together for the first time. My family is about a two-hour drive in-state, while Fred’s family is a six-hour drive a few states over, so we can’t split the day.

My own plans have always rotated since I have divorced parents, and we’ve always done Thanksgiving with each other since neither side is passionate about it (2018 was with my dad and stepmom, 2019 Fred’s family, 2020 stayed home for COVID, 2021 Fred’s again). Both households feel strongly about Christmas though, with special traditions for Christmas Eve, and we each have a sister who’s die-hard about family time for the festivities. We also have December birthdays that ought to be celebrated too while in town—Fred’s mom, my mom, and myself. We plan to promise whoever doesn’t get the day itself that they get Thanksgiving this year, and next year we’ll be with them, but Fred and I both feel terrible about disappointing whoever doesn’t get the first rotation. Is there anything we can do to make this easier on ourselves and our relatives?

—Holiday Travel Tension

Re: Do what works for you. Someone may always be disappointed.

  • Someone is always going to be unhappy but it doesn’t always have to be you. Is there a potential compromise of swing one family at Christmas and another a few days/ weeks later? 

    We’re going through this now and the o Lu thing I’ve come up with is that I’ve gotten better at saying “I’m sorry that doesn’t work for us; we can do X instead and we’re sorry we’ll miss you on the actual holiday”. I’m done driving all over to have 1.5 hours together before rushing on to the next thing. 
  • Yeah, that's always a hard one. I say keep a consistent schedule rotation and people are going to have to deal.
  • First of all, even if you love your sisters, you need to cancel the noise coming from them.  What they want cannot be near the top of the priority list.  

    Secondly, this is the perfect time to throw out what you've done in the past and come up with a plan that will make Fred and you the least crazy.  

    Third, once y'all make your plan, communicate it and then 'bean dip' any arguments.  "This is what works for Fred, me, and our schedule. Can't wait to see you.  What can we bring?" 

    Furthermore, things may shift and change again as your relationship progresses and you maybe have kids or other things happen.  I get that this is a change for your families, but your core family is now Fred and you.  You get to decide what works for y'all above everyone else. Be firm and confident in the decisions you make.  If you don't allow for persuasion or argument, they will likely stop trying. 
  • You can visit your family not on major holidays. 
  • I've told my MIL from day one that we will never be beholden to a "rotation" schedule.  We'll figure out each holiday as it approaches and do what makes most sense for us.  Sometimes that's multiple holidays in a row with one family, sometimes it's super even - it depends on the year, the kids, work schedules, weather, etc.  She gets pissy all the time about it and honestly, i just don't care. She sucks all the fun out of holidays because of it. 

    I know this is something every new couple needs to work out, but LW you've got to do what works for YOU AND FRED and just tell the rest of them what your plans are.  
  • The time has come for the LW and Fred to make their own holiday traditions.  With no apologies or guilt.  Their families will live and get used to it.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • You can figure out things as they go.  But you can also tell the family members that they are more than allowed to have their feelings but refusal to budge on tradition is not a reason to bend yourselves into pretzels.  

    Make the best decisions for the two of you.   Stick with them.  Those who give you the most guilt will be told that they will be accommodated least. 
  • Tell them all to go to hell and book a vacation in the Caribbean. Then maybe next year they'll be happy with whatever they get. 
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