Parents and Wedding Planning
As a wedding planner and having planned over 60 weddings now, I have seen A LOT. I’ve seen a lot of joy, a lot of laughter, and whole lot of goodness. But I have seen my fair share of drama and couples feeling stressed about their wedding. In my experience, 90% of the time that stress comes from a parent or parents pressuring the couple to have the wedding they think their child should have. As you can imagine, conflicting ideas equal . . . well conflict. So I felt it high time to post my thoughts about the subject. This blog post isn’t about discouraging parents from having an opinion, not at all; but it is about encouraging awareness, communication and understanding. Also just as a side note, I am by no means saying that the majority of couple’s parents I work with need to heed this advice. I’ve worked with a whole lot of super supportive parents whose number one priority is their child’s happiness and helping them plan a wedding authentic to their personality.
Times They are a Changin’
Wedding have changed a lot over the last 30 years. What is trendy now may seems totally absurd to parents. “Why would you want to get married in a rickety loft downtown when you can get married in a chic ballroom?” Fair question. But what seems like a dodgy disheveled space to one may be a unique character filled venue to another. So parents, please, open your minds. I totally understand when you see a very blank space with nothing in it, it can seem a little underwhelming. So get your imagination hats on and try your best to see the positives in the ideas that excite your child about their wedding.
Listen Up, Ask Questions
Listening, in general, is a good thing. People want to be heard, understood, to feel important. I get it parents, you want your opinion to be heard, but before bulldozing ahead, I think listening to the opinion of your child should come first. I am not saying don’t express an opinion, but maybe listen first before pipping up or you may be putting a damper on the planning process. And how about asking questions? By asking questions, you can begin to understand your child’s opinion on their wedding and this might shine a light on what makes them happy (and really isn’t that what is most important?) and how they envision their day.
But I’m Paying
Ok I am going to say some things here that parents really might not like, and I respect if you disagree with my opinion on this. But just because a parent is contributing or even paying for the entire wedding, does not mean they have control over decisions made. Here is why; a wedding is a reflection of a couple, their relationship, and how they want to celebrate the love they have found in each other. If a parent feels entitled to have the final say in all decisions, my thought is that the wedding will ultimately feel inauthentic to who the couple is. And I just don’t think that is cool and goes against the whole point of a wedding. If parents are paying, I think they should have some say in who is invited (but not everyone!!) and of course being involved in the planning process is always a nice gesture, but final decisions should come from the couple.
Your Opinion Matters
I think a lot of time, parents feel left out of the planning process and that their opinions aren’t being heard or respected. But trust me, they are so important. I am pretty sure most couples getting married want to make their parents happy, they want their parents validation, they want so much to please them. Parents, you must understand how much your opinion means to them, and how much your words impact their state of mind during the planning process. With great power comes great responsibility, so use your words wisely and kindly. On a side note, I am going to get a little freudian on your here. The more you push ideas on people, the less they will ask for them and listen to them. But if you wait to be asked your opinion, the more value it will hold to the receiver. Ok I don’t actually think Sigmund Freud said those exact works but you get the gist.
It’s About the Experience, Not the Spectacle
There is a lot of pressure when planning a wedding, because like it or not, with weddings come judgement (but that is whole other blog post brewing in my mind). Parents, I know you have important people coming to this wedding, and your aunt who owns a castle in the south of France has high expectations, but guess what, you can’t please everyone. I’ve seen parents poo poo on venues because exposed brick just isn’t refined and won’t impress anyone. Well this is bollox. Weddings are about creating a fantastic experience for guests. There should be a good atmosphere, good music, good food, and everyone should feel comfortable. But it’s not a gosh darn spectacle. It’s not about out-doing the last wedding you went to, or showing the world how much money you have, or a challenge to get into wedluxe. It’s about love, joy and experience.
It’s Not Your Day
I know you thought I was going to say this, and you are right, it’s not your day. Parents, you are such an important part of your child’s wedding, one of the most important parts. But it’s not your wedding day. Just keep that little nugget in the back of your mind before you shoot down an idea or contribute a negative remark. I know weddings are exciting and it’s so easy to get wrapped up in it all and daydream about how you see everything turning out. I totally 100% understand, it’s fun to put on a party, but at the end of the day, it isn’t your day. So I am going to ask you to put on another hat, and this time it’s one of support and love. Cause nothing can go wrong when this is your main priority. And I know you have it in you.
So I guess this blog turned into an open letter to parents who have children getting married (or at one point will get married). I’ve just seen such a fun and exciting time turn to mush because of a parent who has forgotten some or all of the points above I just chatted about. I know you’ve got your child’s best interest at heart, it might just need to be re-framed a touch here and there. Thank you for reading and thank you to any parent out there who read this with an open mind and heart.
By Certified Wedding Planner Alexandra McNamara