Dear Parents: It’s Not Your Wedding (even if you’re paying for it)

Parents paying for a wedding, making wedding planning stressful

Dear parents that are paying (or helping to pay) for your child’s wedding, 

Your child’s wedding day is a huge, hopefully once-in-a-lifetime moment in their life, and while it’s likely important to you as well, it’s still their wedding day.

Sadly, more often than not, we hear from brides and grooms about how stressed or upset they were planning their wedding, because they felt pressured to do everything their parents wanted simply because their parents were helping pay for the wedding. 

We’re never surprised (but always disappointed) to hear that a parent is holding their “gift” over the heads of their children to make them feel like they have to do something – or invite someone – to their special day.

This is a trend that needs to end.

Your money does not equal YOUR wedding 

Parent, no matter how much you are contributing to your child’s wedding, you are NOT the one getting married, and you shouldn’t act like you are. Frankly, to use your financial gift to your children as a way to get what you want is manipulative and just plain wrong.

If you’re going to pay for the wedding, pay for it.

It’s very generous of you, and it can be a huge help in making the day perfect for your child. But if you for some reason cannot keep yourself from controlling any aspect of your child’s wedding, you may need to have a tough conversation with them about not being involved at all in the planning/finances of the day.

Demanding specific things because “you’re paying for it” is like taking someone out for lunch, forcing them to eat something they don’t like, and expecting them to be grateful for it.

Yes, your child should be grateful for your help. Beyond grateful. But this is their day, and every decision is theirs to make (without any pressure from you or anyone else). 

The expensive extravagances that you’re paying for don’t make it an important day. It’s important because your child, whom you claim to love wholeheartedly, is marrying the love of their life. Your money does not add or take away from the importance of the day, but overbearing opinions and requests can distract your child from what really matters.

Your child’s wedding shouldn’t be a reunion with your high school best friend and college roommate

One of the biggest areas of tension between parents and children, when it comes to wedding planning, is the guest list. Far too often the bride and groom feel pressured into inviting people to their wedding, simply because their parents are demanding it. It suddenly becomes a game of “invite this person so they aren’t offended and my parents don’t get mad,” instead of having the people that they really care about and who really care about them. 

Parents, this is our encouragement to stop making the guest list about your friends who you want to see, or who you don’t want to offend. To put it plainly, it’s selfish to make your child surround themselves with people they barely know (or sometimes blatantly dislike) on such an important day in their life.

Some parents care so much about how people see them and which of their friends get to come that they totally ignore what their children are clearly telling them. This is your child’s day. They want to be surrounded by their loved ones.

Support their dream – don’t tell them what it is.

Your personal attachment to “wedding traditions” & your personal style are not important on your child’s wedding day. The dress they choose or the way they choose to decorate is just that – their choice. 

Weddings are not about outdated traditions or the latest trends. If they want a dress that’s not white, who cares? If they don’t want an open bar, don’t force them to. If they feel like electronic invitations are sufficient, don’t pressure them into sending physical ones.

You should be asking your child what their dream day looks like, not telling them what your dream day for them looks like. The wedding is about two people deciding to spend the rest of their lives together. Stop making it more than that. 

Your “simple” request might be adding unnecessary stress.

Whether you think your request is warranted or not, any outside pressure can add to the stress that your child already feels during the planning process (and believe me, they already feel a lot of stress). They get so many opinions and requests from people who aren’t family, so why would you want to be the one to add on to the challenges of their wedding day?

Even the seemingly smallest request can be a wedge that you’re driving between you and your child. It shows them that you’re focused on yourself, instead of being focused on them. If you truly care about your child and their wedding, be careful not to ask for what YOU want and start asking what THEY need.

If you are a wedding guest:

All of these points above also apply to every individual attending the wedding. Whether you are a parent that’s not paying, a family member or friend in the wedding party, or simply a guest that is invited to attend (or not invited), you have absolutely no say in how the couple plans their wedding.  

Stop asking why you can’t bring your kids.

Stop asking for a plus one when you weren’t given one. 

Stop hinting that you want an invite if you haven’t been invited. 

Stop complaining about your dress or suit that they chose. 

Stop assuming you’re in the wedding party. 

Stop making passing comments about things you would do differently.

Nobody’s wedding is about anyone other than the couple getting married.

To the couple who feels stressed planning their wedding:

Dear couple, if you are reading this because you are getting married, and this hit way too close to home for you, we have a few suggestions on how to talk with your parents/guests about the things that we’ve listed above.

  1. However you decide to talk to them about this, we recommend doing it gently and thoughtfully. Remember that your parents love you and are giving money to you for your day. Be grateful, but also don’t let them push you around just because they are holding their money over your head.
  2. Write out what has been frustrating you before you chat with them, so you can remember everything you want to say. That way, your parent can’t dictate how the conversation goes or veer the discussion away from your main points. 
  3. Decide what is actually stressing you out or being forced on you and stick to those things. Don’t bring up arguments just to pick a fight. 
  4. Put your foot down on issues that really matter to both of you. Talk to your fiance about what has been bugging him/her. Consider sitting down together with your parents and explain how you’re feeling and how you think that can change. 
  5. And lastly, if they will not listen to you, you may have to decide to pay for the wedding yourselves. Having a less extravagant wedding that you love is WAY better than planning the wedding that your parents want. 

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