Whether you have 2 parental figures at the wedding or 8, all of them will likely have certain expectations and some firm opinions on your big day, and will want to play a part in it. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of planning your wedding, as juggling the desires of so many people you hold so dearly can be really tough. It is natural to be strongly affected by it, especially if you are relying on their support (both emotionally and financially) to make the wedding happen. When your W-Day is looking set to be more like D-Day, it takes some of the fun away from the process – so here are our 5 Tips for Managing Your Parents’ Expectations.
First and foremost, remember that it’s your day, so it’s imperative that you and your partner talk about what the most important (and realistic) aspects of your wedding are from the outset, and then keep tracking of them with our wedding planning tools. All the way through, keep why you’re doing it in mind, and why it’s all worth it.
Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for and hosted the wedding, whilst the groom’s did a lot of prep and liaison, but times are changing and many couples would rather do it themselves. However, parents would still love to be involved somehow, and it can be done suitably: by visibly taking their considerations on board (though not necessarily putting them into action), and taking the time to understand one another and explain the decision you come to. Try and discuss this with your partner first to predict what your parents may be keen on.
When relationships get really strained, it usually helps to manage your own parent’s expectations, and let your partner deal with theirs. This allows conversations to be held with much more honesty and authenticity, rather than the veiled politeness you may feel you owe your partner’s parents. Also, remember that every relationship is different: your partner’s relationship with their parents is likely to be different to your relationships with yours, so one solution may not fit all. Be supportive of your partner throughout, and they’ll be supportive of you too.
Relatedly, steel yourself for the potential for some tough love if needed. You may be an adult, but in your parent’s eyes you’ll always be seen as their baby – especially in the run-up to a wedding! However, this doesn’t mean they can take over the planning, and you should prepare yourself to have to tell them that. It’s not necessarily a comfortable conversation to have, but at this point, your parents will hopefully remember you’re a fabulous full-grown human in your own right (thanks to them, mostly) and can make decisions for yourself.
Although the key thing is that you both get your dream day, it’s good to remember that that’s all your parents are aiming for too, albeit in a considerably different way sometimes! A nice way of publicly showing you realise how much they care is in the speeches – if you’ve had a rough time dealing with parents’ expectations in the lead up, then acknowledging how grateful you are for everything they’ve done in the reception speech can be a lovely way to draw a line under it. Alternatively, make a joke out of it if you think it will go down well!
Ultimately they want you to have the most amazing day of your life, but if they can have a great day too….well, that would also be lovely. Weddings are crazy, heady, emotional times for everyone, but at the root of it all, it’s all about celebrating you two and your life together – sometimes those involved just need a nudge in remembering that. Now for the fun bits – the cake tasting and the champagne drinking…
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