The Roles of the Parents: Nontraditional Roles

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2001

While many couples and their parents find comfort in sticking with the familiar, established roles and duties, just as many do not. More and more weddings are being financed by both sets of parents, as well as the couple. At the same time, weddings are growing increasingly complicated,with out-of-town guests planning longer stays, and more parties and other events being planned to keep them busy. With this in mind, a word on nontraditional roles is in order.

The parents of the bride and groom should make an effort to lend their own expertise to their children's wedding, whether or not these contributions are among the traditional expectations for them. The father of the bride can help with travel arrangements and accommodations for out-of-town guests, for example, if he's especially knowledgeable about these things.

The father of the groom might be the man to draw up signs to the reception site and post them along the route where needed. Parents can bake, or sew, or make a special wedding keepsake -- any of which would add an especially memorable touch to the event.

Or they can simply lend their advice. When Amy Roseman was planning her 1998 wedding, she had settled on Pachelbel's "Canon in D" to accompany her walk up the aisle. One day her future mother-in-law pulled her aside and said, "Pachelbel's great, but listen to this." And she proceeded to play selections from compositions of Corelli,Vivaldi, and Handel.

"It was magical," recalls Amy. She decided then and there that Handel's Water Music would take her down the aisle, and that Vivaldi's "Primavera" from The Four Seasons would accompany her and her new husband back up it. Amy looks back on her mother- in-law's job as classical music arbiter with nothing but satisfaction. "It made things so much more personal," she says.

The parents of the bride and groom have less visible assignments as supporting actors on the wedding day -- but they should realize that the term supporting is not used cavalierly. As any bride and groom will tell you, parents who understand that their chief role is to offer firm shoulders and wise words throughout the planning process -- and during the actual event -- are the keys to a harmonious, happy wedding day.

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