Managing the Parents When Planning a Wedding

Managing The Parents While Planning Your Wedding

Planning a wedding can be both a lot of fun and a source of a great deal of stress. Not only do you have to balance the wedding of your dreams with your fiancé’s vision of what he foresees for your wedding, but parents often want to be part of the process as well. When the parents are also contributing a significant amount to the wedding budget, it can lead to conflicts with them over what, where and how the bride wants to create for her own perfect wedding. If your parents are paying for the wedding, they should have some say but if you spend some time articulating your dream wedding description you may find they get on board to support you!

Here are some tips for effectively managing those wonderful-but-overly-domineering parents and in-laws during the wedding planning.

When Your Parents Are Contributing Significantly to Your Wedding Budget:

1. Talk to your parents about their role. Take the time to clearly describe your dreams and visions of your wedding plans to your parents. If you spend some time calmly explaining how you anticipate your ideal wedding will be, you may find they are less likely to try to make you do things their way. Expect them to want to be involved, and ask how they see themselves participating.

Sometimes parents don’t realize you’re more on top of things than they know or they think that their vision is the same as yours. Communicating clearly and persuasively can help smooth that potential bump in the road and you may find they will support you in achieving your goals!

When there are major discrepancies in your visions for your wedding, you might say something like: “Mom, I know you picture me getting married in our church, but I've always loved the beauty of the mountains as being so spiritual and moving. I’ve always dreamed of a mountain top wedding, and that’s where [fiancé’s name] proposed to me so it’s even more special for us both. Please understand and support me.”

“ Communicating clearly and persuasively can help you find they will support you in achieving your goals! ”

2. Look for Ways to Compromise. Find ways to compromise with your parents in small ways. You might not allow them to pick out your venue, but you could let them have a vote when you narrow it down to two or three places if you can’t decide. Allowing your Mother to be part of the final decision on the bridesmaids’ dresses may make her feel like a welcome part of the planning process or perhaps your parents are against you serving alcohol at the reception- opting to serve wine with dinner or a champagne toast instead of an open bar might bridge both your visions.

3. Ask for Their Advice. Before making any major decisions, consult with them for their opinion. They’ll feel more comfortable when they know you’re using their years of experience and not just jumping on the first option you come across. You’ll impress them with your maturity too and they’ll be more inclined to trust the decisions you do make on your own.

4. Solicit Their Help with Some Choices. Use their experience as a valuable strength. Find some tasks they can do and allow them to do the research for you on those aspects of your planning. You could let them talk to florists or photographers or the caterer about the menu and bring you what they discover and be part of the final decision. This saves you time and helps direct their well-meaning energies to something positive. It also confines them to the parts of the planning process that aren’t as important to you too. You may also find that when they are included in your plans, they’ll be more supportive of your vision because they are being included.

5. Enlist Other Family Members to Help. Don’t be afraid to call in the reinforcements from your aunts and uncles to your own siblings if you need it! Ask your other family members to help advocate for your autonomy and act as a buffer between you and your parents. For instance, if you know your Dad is intent on a live band and you really want a DJ, you might have your brother talk to him and tell him he likes the DJ you’ve selected and remind him it is your wedding.

6. Enlist the Help of a Wedding Planner. You will find that engaging a wedding planner, may go help a great deal when it comes to both promoting your choices for your wedding and mediating between you and your parents. They are there to help you create your vision, not your parents'. They can also be objective when the two of you might be emotional and can provide solutions or compromises that you may not have considered.

7. Choosing the Guest List. When your parents are footing a significant portion of the bill for your wedding, they will want to invite their friends as is reasonable. Make a list of the guests you want to invite and armed with that, as well as your parents and future in-laws lists of guests, sit down together and make an equitable plan of how to be fair to everyone involved. Perhaps your parents will be willingly to contribute more to the budget to include all the guests they wish to have at your wedding, or everyone may have to limit their guest list to some degree.

8. Hold Your Ground on the Important Details. If having a certain venue type is important to you, or you have your heart set on a certain shade of pale pink, advocate for it convincingly. Its sometimes called ‘picking your battles’ but when its something you really have your heart set on, then it might be something to stand your ground on, while things you’re not as determined have to be just so, would be a time to refrain from fighting with them. You may not win every battle but your goal is to have your wedding your way.

9. Tactfully Remind Them That This is Your Wedding, not Theirs. If none of the above seem to be working for you, you might try saying: “Mom & Dad, I love, respect and appreciate you, but you have to remember that this is my wedding, not yours. [Fiancé’s name] and I have a vision of what will make this day special for us, and we want to do things so that we can enjoy our wedding day and its memories. You do want me to be happy, don’t you?”

When You Are Self-Funding Your Wedding:

Avoid Starting Arguments. If your family is not contributing financially to the wedding, to prevent potential arguments, keep the talk of it to a minimum. Inform them of any necessary information, like their role, the date, and time, but try to avoid the specific details of your plans when at all possible. Though your wedding is important, it is not worth creating unnecessary stress by initiating arguments over your choices for your special day.

If they resist your subtle attempts to avoid the subject, you might say something like “You know, the last time we talked about the wedding, everyone got really upset, but I will say that [fiancé’s name] and I think you’ll be pleased with what we’re planning and we’re really excited about how it’s coming together. Now can we talk about something else?”.

Whether Self-Funded or Parental-Funded Work to Be As Understanding as Possible. Your parents probably care about you very much and have dreamed of your magical wedding day for most of your life. Try to understand that as you are growing in your maturity, to them, you are still their baby. You may have to show them you are a responsible adult now with the ability to make good decisions. You have similar goals, you both want you to be happy, so remember, that as important as your wedding is, it is only one day, but they are your parents forever.

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