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Q and A

By Francie Hartsog-Dolack

Posted: Monday, Apr. 26, 2010

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Photo by Diedra Laird

Francie Hartsog Dolack, M.A., L.P.C. is a professional bridal counselor who helps brides sail through their special day before, during and after the main event. Here, Francie answers your most pressing questions about your wedding.

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Dear Francie: Five years ago my mother left my father and filed for divorce. My dad was devastated. He is OK most of the time but has a hard time if her name is brought up or if he has to see her. My mother has a boyfriend, and I am dreading my father having to be around my mother and her boyfriend during the wedding. I would like pictures of me with both my parents, but I’m not sure that’s going to be possible. I am scared my dad is going to get upset or there will be a scene. Please tell me how to handle this.

McKenna
Wedding Date: May 2010

Dear McKenna: I’m sorry you have to deal with this during such a special time in your life. Unfortunately, the pain of divorce doesn’t go away easily. Although your dad is OK most of the time, it’s understandable he feels upset when he is around your mom. But he may be stronger than you think, especially when his little girl’s happiness is at stake. I have a feeling if you talk to your dad about your concerns, you may be surprised to learn he is prepared to handle the situation. Talk with him and find out what he is comfortable with and if there is anything you can do to make him feel more at ease. It will be helpful to have a talk with your mother too. If people know what to expect before the ceremony, there won’t be as many awkward moments or surprises.


Dear Francie: My fiance and I do not want children at our wedding. I don’t want to sound mean, but I don’t like cute little flower girls, and I definitely don’t want screaming babies ruining the ceremony. I don't understand why people look at me like I have three heads when I say there will be no kids at the wedding! There are lots of children in my extended family and almost all my friends have kids. How can I stick to “no children allowed” without causing hurt feelings?

Heather
Wedding Date: June 2011

Dear Heather: It’s impossible to please everyone and some parents may not understand why children will not be included in your wedding. There may even be people who feel hurt or get angry. But it’s your wedding. You have the right to have an adult-only ceremony and reception. Most people will understand and be completely fine with it. If there are people who are upset, they have the option of declining the invitation and staying home with their children.


Dear Francie: My fiancé and I have suffered from the recession and have been struggling financially since we got engaged. We’re both working, and I’m going to school part time. We’ve decided to have a very low budget wedding. My sister has offered to let us have the reception at her house, and it’s going to be very casual. Unfortunately, I have several wealthy family members who keep making snobby comments. For example, my cousin asked me “Who is your florist?” and I said, “Me!” She laughed and rolled her eyes. When my Aunt found out I was having paper plates and plastic forks, I thought she would faint. She’s insisting I am making a “big mistake” by not hiring a wedding planner and told me I would regret having a “tacky” wedding. My feelings are hurt, and I have no idea how to handle these comments. Why can’t people just be happy for me?

Emma
Wedding Date: November 2010

Dear Emma: I really don’t know why people can’t just be happy for you and keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves. But you can choose to be happy about your wedding plans, and you can choose to ignore such petty comments. Try not to discuss wedding details with people who are not supportive. If they ask, “Who is doing your cake?” just smile and say, “It’s a surprise!” Change the subject and don’t play into their attempts to put you down. Your wedding is not about impressing anyone. It’s about celebrating your marriage with the people who love you. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from doing just that!


Dear Francie: I am getting married in three months and I am starting to freak out about everything. Makeup, hair, dresses, shoes - you name it. I obsess about everything. I have stacks of bridal magazines and books everywhere, notebooks full of lists, and more wedding websites bookmarked than I can keep up with. I literally feel asleep at my computer last night. I wake up in the middle of the night and start going through my lists. I can't concentrate at work because I am thinking of the wedding. I have been forgetting to eat because I am always working on the wedding. It's insane, I know! How do I stop this?

Fiona
Wedding Date: June 2010

Dear Fiona: Girlfriend, you've got to get a grip! I understand you're feeling stressed right now, but you're going to make yourself sick. You need to be healthy, relaxed and confident come June! So, how can you calm things down?

First, I want you to decide a set amount of time each day to devote to wedding planning. Write down all the things you have to do during the day (work, school, family, etc.) and add up how much time it takes you to accomplish your daily tasks. Add eight hours of sleep and one hour of relaxation time to your list. How much time do you have left? Decide how many hours a day you can devote to wedding planning and then stick to that time frame. If you have to set an alarm, then do it. Once the alarm goes off, stop wedding planning and pick it up the next day. And try to not do your planning too close to bedtime. In fact, I would suggest saving your hour of relaxation before bedtime to prepare for a good night’s sleep. Read a novel, listen to music, watch TV. (No wedding shows!) It's important you take good care of yourself during this time.

Next, get rid of all the wedding stuff you aren't using. If you've already looked through magazines, throw them away. Keep one master to-do list and get rid of all the paper you don't need. Limit your Internet surfing to a few favorite websites and only visit those sites during your wedding-planning time.

Try spending more time thinking about marrying the man of your dreams. That is the most important part of this whole process! It's impossible to control every detail in order to make things perfect. If you find you absolutely cannot stop obsessing and are losing sleep or having feelings of anxiety or depression, I recommend you talk to your minister or a professional counselor. This is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. Do whatever it takes to make sure you are a happy and healthy bride.

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