It’s a familiar trope in modern cinema. A couple gets engaged and suddenly they’re forced to deal with an overbearing set—or two!—of parents trying to hone in on planning every last detail of the ceremony. It’s been retread often enough that it tends to give real-life parents of grooms and brides-to-be a complex about offering up any aid when it comes to their own son or daughter’s nuptials. Other than just the movie stereotypes, however, this trepidation makes a lot of sense. After all, symbolically a marriage also represents a change in dynamics. Your child is becoming the head or his/her very own family. Worry not, moms and dads; your children still need your help. There really are some ways you can offer support that your children will appreciate rather than resent.
First of all, if you can offer financial support, do it. It’s been my experience that many couples are afraid of burdening their parents financially and will attempt instead to fiscally go-it-alone. Not only can this cause added stress to the already stress-filled process of wedding planning, but it can also mean financial peril for a young couple.
With the costs of the average wedding steadily on the rise, it’s become a lot more common for couples to enter a marriage with a mountain of debt. As we all know, financial worry can be a huge strain on any relationship, let alone one that’s just getting started. If you have the financial means to kick in, let the couple know immediately. Don’t waffle around the figure, either. Let them know exactly what you can afford to spend and also let them know that that’s a firm figure. However, if the couple decides they’d rather pay for the wedding themselves, be graceful. Don’t insist, rather let them know that you’re there as a fallback if they find they need extra funds.
Next, it would be a good idea to call for a family meeting with both the bride and the groom. This will be your chance to express any wishes or desires you might have. If there are important family friends that you’d like invited, for example, this will be your chance to give the young couple your list. Come to the meeting prepared with whatever it is that you’d like to see incorporated into the wedding—for example, a candle lighting for a deceased relative or specific elements of the ceremony—but also come with an open mind. Remember, it’s not your wedding. If the bride and groom don’t want to include someone or something, you’ll have to acquiesce to their wishes or risk angering the duo. Keep in mind, a wedding is a celebration of their love, not yours, and ultimately it’s their wishes that should prevail.
Finally, find a way to be part of the service that will be both meaningful and helpful. They might want you to walk them down the aisle. They might not. They might ask for toasts or speeches, they might not. What they will need, however, is help to keep the reception running smoothly. If you are adept at handling, say, a host of employees, perhaps you can offer to be the familial liaison with the caterers. If you’re a people person, maybe you’d be the right one to help get the other guests out on the dance floor or seated at the dinner tables. Think about your strengths and then offer up whatever help you think you’d excel at.
Ultimately, just remember that you are a guest at the wedding. Of course you want to help as much as possible, but more than likely, your son or your daughter wants you to enjoy the moment. So enjoy it. Your child is an adult who’s getting married!
Image Credit: stock photos
Earnest Parenting: help for parents whose kids are about to marry.