Should Your Parents Have a Say in Your Wedding?

Should Your Parents Have a Say in Your Wedding?

If we had to name the most common issue couples encounter while wedding planning, it’s probably navigating other people’s opinions. And at the top of that list, is parents. We get a lot of questions about this one, and covered it on the podcast here! Understandably they have a vested interest in your day going off without a hitch, but should your parents have a say in your wedding? And if so, how much? Well the answer, in a word, is maybe. As far as we’re concerned, it all depends on your relationship, how much you trust their opinions, if and how they’re contributing to your day, and what kind of wedding you plan on having. Keep reading…

Should Your Parents Have a Say in Your Wedding

Should Your Parents Have a Say in your wedding? | One Fab Day
Photo by Katie Farrell Photography via One Fab Day

Weddings are sadly seen by some people as a shop window of sorts, displaying how well you’ve done, or how great you look, so it’s understandable that parents want to show their children off in the best light. There might also be a sense of worrying about what others will think. While their intentions are largely good, parental involvement can lead to frustrations, and sometimes all-out confrontations.

So before it gets that far, we are going to troubleshoot the most frequent collision points between parents and their engaged offspring, and talk about ways to manage expectations and include your parents in your day, without having to make huge compromises. Oh and, if you’re interested in this topic, make sure you listen to our podcast episode titled, Parents and Weddings: How to Deal.

Photo by Miguel Soria via One Fab Day

1. Money Talks

We’ve got lots of tips and advice on how to manage wedding budgets, but when it comes to this topic, the most important things to note are;

  • If you relinquish some of the expense of your wedding to your parents, it’s inevitable (and only fair) to relinquish some of the control too. For example, if your parents have splashed €15,000 on your wedding meal, you can’t begrudge them asking a couple of friends along to share it with them.
  • How much of a say your parents have in your wedding often correlates with how much they’re contributing financially.
  • While you might be really grateful for their offer, if you think your parents are likely to take over, or you know you won’t agree with their opinions, think carefully before accepting their cash to cover your big day. You might have to look at other ways of financing your wedding, such as delaying it so you can save. But if it means you get the day you want that might be worth it.
Photo by Weddings by Jason via One Fab Day

2. Set Expectations

This came up in our post about what not to do when you when you’re newly engaged;

  • To avoid issues with your parents, it’s important to set expectations as early as possible.
  • If you know you won’t be having a church wedding, won’t be inviting extended family, or will be doing things a bit untraditionally, let your parents know as early as possible.
  • Catching them off-guard, or promising them one thing and delivering another can be unfair on them, and it can also set you up for disputes!
Photo by TréCreative via One Fab Day

3. Be Understanding

Getting married outside with a humanist celebrant, followed by a barn reception with food truck catering might not sound very radical to you, or your friends. But to your parents, your ideas might be entirely new, so allow them a moment to catch up. Don’t get annoyed if they have lots of questions on your choices. They’re probably not trying to criticise, they’re just trying to get a picture of the day straight in their minds to settle their nerves. Remember: parents get the jitters too!

Photo by Pawel Bebenca Photography via One Fab Day

4. Get Them Involved (But Not in Big-Ticket Items)

It’s not only inclusive, but also really helpful to get your parents involved in the wedding – this is particularly important for in-laws too.

  • Involving both sets of parents in the wedding helps build excitement for the big day, and lets everyone feel a part of it.
  • Whether it’s stitching bunting and baking cakes, or sourcing suppliers and running errands, more hands on deck are always appreciated.
  • Avoid passing on the responsibility of any major items to your parents – this is especially important for couples living abroad leaning on their parents quite a bit for help with the planning.
  • When it comes to the venue, the photography, the menu, and the music, unless you really trust your parents’ taste, delegate to like-minded siblings or friends instead. Your dad’s opinion of the perfect venue or wedding band might differ vastly from yours!
Photo by Peter Carvill via One Fab Day

5. A Need-to-Know Basis

Your first dance is to Iron Maiden, your wedding cake is made of Rice Krispies, and you’re forgoing flowers for lots of foliage instead. You might be excited about these choices, but think twice before you share them with your folks.

  • If there are certain details about your day that you don’t think your parents will appreciate, just don’t tell them.
  • While this probably won’t slide for key elements like the ceremony or the catering, do try keep smaller personal touches that may be contentious to yourself until the day itself, when there’s a high chance your parents will either a) really enjoy them or b) not even notice them c) notice them but keep quiet as they realise it’s too late to say anything.
  • The same goes for how much you’re spending on certain aspects of your wedding – no one needs to know how much your dress/hair/photographer/cake cost!
Photo by Studio Brown via One Fab Day

6. Take Advice Graciously

You might think your parents don’t know anything about throwing a modern wedding (your mum isn’t even on Pinterest!). But don’t forget, they’ve likely been there themselves and they’ve attended dozens of weddings over the years, so they will have an idea of what works, and what doesn’t. While they might not be up to date on all the latest wedding trends, they might know a thing or two about suit tailoring, how long the speeches should be, and what flavour of wedding cake actually gets eaten. In short, you might not want to give them a deciding vote, but you should certainly be open to hearing their sage advice.

Photo by Rubistyle via One Fab Day

7. What Will The Neighbours Say?

There are certain things about weddings that parents get really hung up on, often it’s whether or not you’re having a religious ceremony, following certain traditions, what you’re wearing, or what you’re serving for dinner. Frequently, their concern comes from stress about what other people will think (which incidentally, is often the same reason couples get stressed with wedding planning!).

It’s good to settle this one early on, and let your parents know you’re not too fussed what other people think, you won’t please everyone, so you just want to give as many people as possible a great day out. Once your parents know that your uncle Paul’s lamb aversion isn’t high on your priority list, they might knock it off their own, too.

Photo by Love Like Crazy via One Fab Day

8. The Guest List Conundrum

This is the area that causes the most friction between parents and children planning weddings – who to invite. It’s a good idea to make your own guest list with your other half first, before you speak to your parents, just to see where you’re at, then take it to your parents.

  • Remember, it’s not about getting their sign off, it’s about being respectful and consulting them.
  • If they want to make additions but you’re limited with numbers or trying to create an intimate atmosphere, do your best to explain that why you don’t want anyone you, or your other half, don’t know very well there.
  • When it comes to issues over which extended family members to invite, or reciprocating invitations to weddings your parents have been to, that’s when you need to be more firm.
  • Tell your parents that you’re limited with your budget or venue or that you’d rather give fewer people a great day than more people a good one. Hopefully they will understand, and if you’re really stuck, the Afters is always a handy compromise for additional guests!
  • Finally, what should you do if there is someone on your guest list that your parents don’t want added? This is one of those dilemmas that can only be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but generally speaking, it’s about weighing up whether it’s more important to you to have that guest there, or to have your parents at ease for the day, and making that call.
Photo by Cassandra Lane via One Fab Day

9. A Word on Food

Food is another bone of contention with parents, particularly if you’re serving something a little ‘out there’. It can be hard to talk some parents around, but often the proof is quite literally in the pudding. Bring your parents along to your tasting if you can, and let them see that, while it’s not quite their preferred beef or salmon, your pulled pork and swordfish menu options will still go down a treat with your guests.

Photo by Stephanie Joyce via One Fab Day

10. If You Do Argue, Argue Well

Every couple deserves to have a smooth time planning their wedding, and to have a big day that truly reflects their style, but that doesn’t mean you can be careless with other people’s feelings.

  • If any disputes do arise during the planning, take a deep breath and deal with them as calmly and kindly as possible. Choose your battles, try not to take things personally (as hard as that may be!), and while you shouldn’t have to defend yourself, it can be helpful to have go-to points (and pictures!) ready to illustrate why you’ve made certain choices.
  • If there are traditions that you know are really important to your parents, do try to meet them in the middle where you can.
  • Ask your parents why certain sticking points hold so much meaning for them. For example, you might learn that your dad has imagined walking you up the aisle since you were a child.
  • Identify the issues that are most important to you and stand firm on those. It’s good to compromise on some elements, but it’s your day, after all!
Photo by Primalux Photography via One Fab Day

One final thing to keep in mind is is that almost everyone we know who’s had a wedding says they hit one or two friction points along the way with their parents. But after the day has been and gone, we promise your parents will be so chuffed with how it went, and realise that any of your unusual choices were actually well thought-out, well-executed, and a total hit with all your guests!

Don’t Forget to Ask for Help

If you need financial help bringing your dream wedding to life, AIB is always here to help. AIB have personal loans from €1,000 – €30,000; you can apply online and in app. You can use AIB’s online loan calculator to see how much you could borrow and even set your own repayment schedule – weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. If you’re getting married and need some support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the loans team. For more information, check out AIB online to calculate how much you could borrow.

You can apply for an AIB personal loan today and make your dreams become a reality. Head to the AIB App or check out the online loan calculator on the AIB website for more details.

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