Emotions run high around weddings! I hear questions from couples all the time about family politics—from who makes the guest list to where Uncle Phil sits at dinner. It can be stressful, but it helps to remember that people love you and just want to be there for you. Here's another tricky issue that often pops up: My relatives want to help with the wedding. How can I involve them without losing control? You need a lot of help planning a wedding—that's true. But you want to make sure it's the right help. Well-meaning (and sometimes very insistent) offers can be hard to turn down. Here are my tips for getting the help you need and ensuring that your loved ones feel included along the way.
Focus on strengths.
Don't just assign tasks at random to appease people. Make the most of the talents and interests of your loved ones. Does your sister have amazing handwriting? Ask her to address save-the-dates or hand-letter table numbers. Is your grandmother an unparalleled baker? She can make treats for the rehearsal dinner.
Do it together.
I like getting a group together to cross something big off the list. Ask all the cousins to come over to help wrap favors, make centerpieces, or double-check RSVPs, for instance. Do it over a bottle of wine or some pizza and it'll be a really good time. You'll get to bond, and—bonus—oversee everything without feeling like you're micromanaging.
Be respectful, too, of what's right for each eager assistant. Maybe your cool uncle really wants to be involved, but he's across the country or works long hours. Ask him to come up with a few playlists. It's a job that can be done just about anywhere in free moments (and you don't even have to use them all, but can pull from them for inspiration).
Be honest and open.
A lot of people will say they want to help, but in reality some can have a hard time coming through. An aunt who jets in from out of town and hasn't seen her old friends in ages, for instance, might swear she would love to help you with your night-before checklist, but then she's tempted by last-minute dinner plans. It always helps to communicate frequently via phone and in writing to be sure expectations are clear—and reasonable.
Don't forget, it's your wedding. If your dress is your top priority, sure, let your little cousin come shopping, but not in place of your fashion-smart best friend whose advice you can really count on. For those most important tasks (like managing your wedding website!), do what you want, not what others impose upon you.
This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.