Today’s question is from a newly minted Mother-of-the-Bride. She and her husband are paying for their daughter’s wedding and want to know their role in wedding planning.
My husband and I are paying for our daughter’s wedding. We are trying to help them find a venue, but they don’t want us to be involved. We want this to be a special day for her, but since we are paying for the wedding, we want to be involved and help pick the right venue. How should we handle this?
Dear Cheryl G.,
You ask a difficult question that is more of a relationship than an etiquette issue, but I will try to help.
The key is good communication. I believe the first step is to sit down with your daughter and set up some guidelines. Start with the budget. This over-arching factor should be discussed and decided upon before any planning begins. It will help determine how much should be spent on the venue and might be a good time to discuss what type of venue each of you has in mind.
You can then ask her why she doesn’t want you to be involved in the wedding planning. The current trend in weddings is that couples express their unique style with their wedding. Therefore, she may not feel that it’s necessary to consult you on her decisions. Let her know your desires and hopefully work out a compromise. Communicating expectations is crucial and helps to avoid hurt feelings. During the discussions, try to learn what is important to her. After that, you can also set up some parameters — things that are just not acceptable to you and your husband.
When my daughter was married recently, we paid for her wedding, and I did just what I’m now advising you to do. She is in her early 30’s and a designer, so she had a clear vision for her wedding day. We talked through our expectations. My husband and I wanted her to have what she wanted but also told her we wished to have “veto power.” If something was too far out of our comfort zone, we could say no.
Honestly, we agreed on very little. But I took a big step back and let her wedding vision come to life, and it was absolutely beautiful. When something came up that I thought wouldn’t work, we talked about it, and I tried to figure out her motivation. Here’s one silly example: She wanted no soft drinks at the reception. That didn’t make sense to me. Some people don’t drink alcohol, so we needed alternatives. It took a few tries, but I finally learned her reason. She had seen 2-liter soda bottles on the bar at an event and thought it was ugly. Sidebar: If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s all about the pictures to most couples. It was an easy fix. We just talked to the caterer and said no plastic bottles and keep the sodas out of view.
Here are some relationship-saving suggestions from many Mothers-of-the-Bride:
- Hire a wedding planner. This person can be a good go-between and advise both of you on best practices.
- Set the budget and let your daughter make her choices within that budget. It will be challenging, but it could help avoid conflict. It is her day, so I think it’s best to allow her to determine what she wants that to look like- within the budget and agreed-upon parameters.
My daughter is a minimalist, while I prefer – let’s just say- abundant decoration. It broke my heart not to add flowers to the aisle way, but after I suggested it (and asked her if she was sure a zillion times), I let it go. Even if you don’t love her choices, that’s not what you will remember. What you will remember are the special moments you shared. Building positive memories is what will last.
Also, please read my article, What’s Your Role? Tips for Mother-of-the-Bride and Mother-of-the-Groom. Best of luck, and I hope this is a joyful time with your daughter.
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