How to Solve Common Parental Issues During Wedding Planning

Disagreements that may arise with the parents of the bride and groom – and how to cope.

Discover three common parent/child issues that may arise before your nuptials, and learn how you can best handle each one.

Photo: Cliff Mautner Photography

Your parents have likely taught you many invaluable lessons about adult life: how to properly remove stains, how to pay bills, and perhaps even how to find the right life partner. Their advice and support has kept you going through the difficult times in your life, and now that you’re engaged, it’s time to celebrate the love you’ve been blessed with. 

Every so often, these caring people that raised you can push your buttons – as all families do – which can be especially distracting during the wedding planning process. We’ve searched the web and discovered three common parent/child issues that may arise before your nuptials, and how you can best handle each one.

Payment Problems
The number one problem you may have disagreements over is the monetary aspect of your big day. This can be due to their financial contributions or even just little disapproving quips such as, “You’re going to spend that much on the caterer?” They may mean well, but money is a difficult subject to discuss with anyone, and it can make for some uncomfortable Sunday night dinners.

How to Handle: Though each situation will be unique, it is important to keep in mind that if your parents are contributing financially, they are going to get some “say” in your wedding. If they offer – you should never ask for their money – you should always have a back-up plan in case the situation changes. While you may feel their extra contribution will create the wedding of your dreams, it is important to be realistic with what you and your significant other can handle. On the other hand, if your parents are criticizing the way you and your beloved choose to spend your own money in regards to the big day, it might be smart to stop sharing all of your details with them. If they insist on hearing only to knock each idea down, gently remind them that it’s your money and you’d prefer this table runner over the other.

Guest List Squabbles
Many brides and grooms have had issues with trimming down their guest lists, but adding parents into the mix does not seem to make things any easier. Some will insist on inviting more relatives or friends than you wanted – or more than the venue allows – and others may be averse to certain individuals that you’ve already planned on inviting. Needless to say, the situation can turn sour very quickly.

How to Handle: As stated above, if your parents are paying for any part of the wedding, they’re going to get to add input. If they want to contribute more money for the purpose of adding some more guests, you need to decide whether or not you’ll accept their offer. If you do, you’ll have to listen to their added recommendations to your original list. If they are trying to invite more than allotted by your venue, sometimes it’s best to show your parents the maximum capacity – through emails with your coordinator, on the venue’s website, etc. – to let them know that you absolutely cannot go over X amount of attendees. On the other hand, if moms or dads have a problem with specific guests, listen to their concerns and discuss with your future spouse. If their reasoning is legitimate, it might be time to rethink whom your save the dates are going out to. However, sometimes you need to sit down with your parents and explain to them why you want Karen and Joseph there – ensuring that they likely won’t be interacting with them throughout the event.

Parent/Child Dance Songs
Usually, this topic of conversation is a sweet and sentimental one: perhaps your father/daughter dance will be to the song your father sang to you as a baby, or your mother/daughter number might be to your shared favorite movie tune. However, from time to time, parents will have a completely different style in mind for this moment. Sometimes, it really won’t fit into what you think works with your own preferences, and you’ll need to have a conversation about it.

How to Handle: In this case, the best advice we can give is to explain your reasoning. If mom is looking to do a choreographed tap number to an eight-minute Moulin Rouge medley, it’s okay to say, “Mom, I’m really too busy to learn a dance like that. How about we twirl around to an old Disney song?” It’s likely that your parent is looking to connect with you in a meaningful way during this aspect of the reception. If those roles are reversed and you envision a Broadway-worthy performance while dad wants to simply sway to a Billy Joel tune, it’s important to listen to their requests and their abilities; you may be asking too much of them, and if that’s the case, editing your dance down should be a priority. 

For other articles concerning a parent's involvement in the big day, check out our guide to all wedding attire, etiquette for the parents of the bride and groom, and our step-by-step guide to your wedding ceremony