10/17/2012 06:56 pm ET

Colin Cowie Weddings: Bridal Guru Answers Your Family-Related Questions

HuffPost Weddings has teamed up with Colin Cowie (yep, the bridal guru behind nuptials for everyone from Alyssa Milano to Jennifer Lopez) to bring you sage advice on every aspect of your Big Day.

Each week, Colin will be answering your questions right here on The Huffington Post.

Got something on your mind? Email, tweet it to @HuffPostWedding or ask it on our Facebook wall.

This week, Colin answers your questions about handling your family members during wedding planning.

My parents went through a very acrimonious divorce about 10 years ago and barely talk to each other. I love them and have managed to have stable relationships with both of them and ideally would like both of them to walk me down the aisle. That said, I don't want them to be uncomfortable.

To avoid awkwardness should I choose one of them to walk me down the aisle and honor the other one in some other way? What would be another honor? - Via Email

I love this question, and I understand your concern. That said, there are 365 days in the year... and after 10 years, seeing that this is your ONE day to walk down the aisle, both parents should put their differences aside and honor YOU. This is your moment and it’s their responsibility to support you unconditionally and altruistically.

If you think this will be impossible to do with both of your parents, here are other ways you can honor both your parents in some way:

• You could have your mom walk you down the aisle and do a father/daughter dance with your father. Or the flip, have your dad walk you down the aisle and do a special dance with mom.
• Or, perhaps your mom can be the one to give the toast if Dad does the dance.
• Luckily, there are lots of ways mom can be involved with the wedding before the big day, if that’s easier for you. She can: go wedding dress shopping with you, be a consultant on family rituals or traditions you can incorporate into your big day, help with the guest list or just be an ear for you when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Remember, what’s most important is that they’re both there for you. They can set aside their problems for one day -- and seating them across the room from each other won’t hurt!

For more about wedding etiquette surrounding parents, read this article about mom and mom-in-law’s responsibilities, this one about "Dad Dilemmas Solved" and "Step Mom or Dad at Your Wedding 101."

Best of luck!

We've never been close with my dad's side of the family, but now my parents are insisting we invite them to the wedding because it would be rude not to -- including LOTS of cousins. What do we do? -Via email

If they are not part of you daily life or if you have not been close with them you do not need to invite them. This is about being honored in the presence of those who are close to you and part of your family and social circle. This is YOUR wedding!

Be firm, yet friendly, and tell your parents honestly that you’re not sure inviting them makes sense since you’ve never had a close relationship with your cousins.

For more about navigating family politics and meeting in the middle with your parents or new in-laws, click here. And for tips on composing your guest list, click here.

All my best,

How do you tell your mother-in-law that you don't want her to come dress shopping with you? - Via Email

This is a tricky one, but not unmanageable by any means. Explain to her that you have a specific vision in mind, this is something you have always dreamed about doing and want to share the moment with __________ (fill in the blank, perhaps your mom, sister or best friend?).

Assure her that you will be happy to share with her when you have found the gown of your choice, if you choose. This way you can embrace her and let her feel like she’s part of the process without necessarily having to be part of the process. The most important thing is to be honest, straightforward and gentle when you deliver the news. And think of other ways you can include her in the wedding planning process, in a way that you’re comfortable with.

Maybe she loves to garden and could be helpful when choosing flowers. Or maybe she’s a foodie and could be great to consult with for menu planning or picking the cake?


My fiancé’s mother always complains about her flower allergies. I don't want her to be sneezing throughout the ceremony, but I can't imagine my wedding without flowers. What should I do? -Via Email

I have been in this situation before and fortunately there is an easy solution. Begin by finding out which types of flowers your future mother-in-law is not allergic to. They may not be your first choice blooms, but chances are there will be a few good contenders to work with. Tailor your bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces accordingly. If the selection is limited, add some extra interest with fresh fruits and herbs.

As an extra precaution, be sure to have allergy aids such as Claritin or Benadryl on hand in case of emergencies.

Remember, flowers aren’t the only way to dress up your bouquet or add interest to your tables!

All the best!