When it came time to plan my wedding, I hit the parental jackpot! My parents basically stayed out of it altogether unless I asked for help. Mom was available to run errands. Dad came, went, and did as I asked. They paid for the majority of the wedding, but never used that fact as a way to manipulate us into doing the wedding their way.
Eric’s dad was also a gem! He came, did not give us any fuss over where to hold the rehearsal dinner, and kept a kind and jolly attitude throughout the entire affair!
As stories of monster in-laws have emerged with our friends and clients, I realize how blessed we were to have helpful parents who did not need to control us or our wedding. Sadly, this is not always the case. Sometimes well-meaning parents pressure their children into having a wedding which will please everyone. Some parents believe they should have a say in every detail if they are paying – and sometimes even if they are not.
Family Pressure Has Ruined Too Many Weddings
It breaks my heart to see brides and grooms reduced to tears and fighting because of family pressure. Is there a way for couples to stay true to their wedding vision while still honoring their parents? I think so. But, first, we have to determine what honoring parents looks like for adult children.
- Honoring parents does require showing respect.
- Honoring parents does require adult children to listen to their parents and consider their thoughts and concerns.
- Honoring parents does require caring about their welfare.
- Honoring parents does not require that adult children blindly follow every directive.
- Honoring parents does not require prioritizing parents over a fiancé/fiancée.
- Honoring parents does not require adult children to remove their boundaries.
Misunderstanding what you owe your parents can lead to all kinds of squabbles – and the wedding might only be the beginning if you and your fiancée do not come to an understanding of what you will and will not tolerate together. As much as I love my parents, if they started coming between Eric and me (and they have been extremely careful not to!), we would have to set up tighter boundaries to protect our relationship.
Your wedding is one of the first large projects you and your future spouse will work on together. How you handle it will set a precedent for the future. If you and your fiancée give in to every demand, those demanding people will likely continue pushing for their way in your marriage. If you both approach your wedding with an iron fist and refuse any opinions or ideas, you will be sending a message to your family and friends to stay clear.
Eric often reminds me, “You teach people how to treat you.”
If I had to venture a guess, I would say you want to have your wedding your way, but you also want the event to be happy, harmonious, and joyful for everyone – at least as much as possible. Am I right? If you give in to every request or demand, you will not be happy at your own wedding (which is super sad). However, if you stick a “Do not mess with me” sign on your forehead, you will likely hurt many feelings and take away from the joyous atmosphere you want to achieve.
There Has to be a Middle Ground
If you are entering a wedding planning hurricane and you see your dreams and visions blowing away, I would encourage you to take a step back, breathe, regroup with your fiancée, and then consider these ideas:
- Create your ideal vision of your wedding. Write your wedding vision down in detail. What do you want? What do you not want? What will it look like? Who is there? (Who is not there?) What will your color scheme be? What will your decorations be? What refreshments and/or food will you serve? It will be important to have this externalized from your mind onto paper (or digital document).
- Work with your groom-to-be (or bride-to-be) to mesh your ideal visions into one succinct plan. Before you bring other family and friends into the wedding planning process, it is important to know what you both want and agree on how you want to proceed. If your plan is incomplete, others will gladly step in and assert their ideas and opinions. It is easier to say yes or no and hold your ground when you and your fiancée have already created the blueprint.
- If possible, sit down with your parents and have a calm, respectful, and rational discussion about what you and your fiancée would like in the wedding. Having reasons would be helpful as well (e.g., we want a small wedding because our dream venue will only hold 100 people, we want this particular cake because this bakery donates baked goods to worthy causes and we want to support their business, etc.). It is not that you owe them reasons, but the purpose of this meeting is to come together and hopefully create (or restore) harmony. Even though you are grown, you can honor your parents by including them in the process without completely handing over the reins.
- Let your parents know how much you appreciate them, that you do want them to be involved, and that you want to have a splendid relationship with them post-marriage. Starting, or re-starting, the planning season this way should aid in getting the process off on the right foot. Weddings are highly emotional times and people can get hurt through one misunderstanding after another. I accidentally made one of my bridesmaids cry the day before my wedding because I was stressed. Setting the mood early may help mitigate some negative emotions.
- Be prepared to pay. Should your family continue to demand their way regardless of your best efforts and assuming they are paying for your wedding, consider paying for your own wedding. (If they are asserting themselves and they are not paying for it, they have no business doing so. Tell them what they can or cannot expect as the one who is throwing and paying for the party.) This may not be received well, but it is a clear way to indicate that you will not be bullied or manipulated. As always, it can be communicated calmly and respectfully. This is not only you taking the reins of your wedding, but of your post-marital life.
You can have your wedding and still honor your mother and father. This is no guarantee that your parents will come away happy or give in to your wishes, but you can do your part by showing them respect while still creating the wedding you and your partner want.
If neither you nor your fiancée has a vision, then you can hand the planning tasks over to someone who cares and has many great ideas. But, if you do this, be sure you really do not mind (and still make sure to review the ideas and progress). If you think you will regret handing over the reins later, you should take the time and effort to plan your wedding according to your wishes – even if you have to dig deep to find them!
Before continuing to plan, ask yourself this question: “In ten years, what will I most want to remember about my wedding?” Those are the details to highlight most.
How will you maintain the integrity of your wedding vision while still respecting your families?
Picture: courtesy of wordclouds.com