In my work as a wedding planner, I’m typically working with the couple directly. In many cases, their parents may be paying some or all of the wedding costs and often that means that the parents feel that it is their wedding too. Don’t get me wrong, this is an important day for the couple, their friends, and their family. However, the day should be primarily about the two people about to join their lives together. There will be a lot of opinions flying around about what the wedding should be: what it should look like, who should attend, where it should be, and on and on. Ultimately, here are a couple of things I think parents (I’m not really picking on moms) get wrong about their children’s weddings.
The Guest List: The biggest note of contention in wedding planning typically comes down to the number of guests. Your parents may feel that because they are chipping in for costs, they have the right to decide on how many people (and in fact, which people) get to attend. The thing is, since the day should really be about a loving couple, shouldn’t they get to invite the people that matter most to them? Shouldn’t the introverted groom get a say in whether he parties with 50 or 300 people? Shouldn’t the bride who’s lived across the country since college get to invite her local friends to her wedding as opposed to all her mom’s colleagues back home? If you stop and think about it, the answer is undoubtedly yes, and yet, this is an argument I’ve seen play out time and time again. If you’re wondering what you can do about it, I have a few suggestions, but it will ultimately come down to a conversation with your parents and how you communicate with them. Not every situation is identical, and you don’t want to alienate your parents for something that may not mean as much to you. 1) Before you begin wedding planning, let your parents know your wishes regarding the guest count and guest list. Provide them with your rationalization and outline the plan for them. If you have a plan and can clearly articulate your wishes, it will help remove some of the friction. 2) Give your parents a specified guest count that is just for them. For example, if you’re having 150 guests, can you set aside 25 guests for each set of parents? You don’t need to micromanage who they invite (up to the 25), and they feel that they can truly invite the people that matter the most to them as well. 3) Have an honest conversation about the costs of the wedding and why they want to increase the guest list. For this, you will listen more than you will speak. It’s important that their feelings are also taken into consideration and some compromise may be necessary.
Planning and Assistance: Let’s face it: most parents want to help. However, are they the best person for the job? Wedding planning can be a daunting undertaking, and unfortunately typically falls to the partner who cares the most about the wedding. I’m going to say this as clearly as I can: you will need assistance to plan your wedding and it should not be attempted alone. Whether you choose to pay for that assistance is a choice only you can make, but what I can tell you is that I get a lot of calls from couples who thought they could do it on their own (or that their mom or best friend could do it) and then realized that professional assistance would restore sanity. No matter how much your mom tells you that she will help with all the planning, there are some things she just won’t be able to do on the day of the wedding. Ultimately, I feel that your parents deserve to enjoy the day as much as you do and that isn’t possible if they are also working on your wedding day. That doesn’t mean you should cut them out of the planning process entirely! Please help make them feel like it’s a special day for them, too. For example, ladies, please go dress shopping with your mom if it’s possible. It seems like a little thing, but I’ve seen it cause hurt feelings when moms get left out of the process. When it comes to full-service planning, remember that you’re going to be hiring a whole team that will be a part of a very important day in your life. If one of your parents is a part of the wedding industry, then by all means let them help you plan. Otherwise, you risk creating a mess, lots of hurt feelings, and potentially ruining this big day by employing an easy, cost-effective solution.
Weddings are big, important milestones imbued with meaning and full of emotion. It’s easy for all parties involved to get led astray by their own perspectives and forget what they day is supposed to be about. It’s a tricky landscape to navigate, but I believe that if you lead with love (and good sense), everyone involved can have a fun, happy, and memorable experience. Want to learn more about other potential wedding issues? Sign up for the blog and keep reading!