Ahh, wedding planning. It's one of the most joyous and exciting times in your life, but it's also stressful and exhausting. Planning your dream wedding almost always involves working together with your parents (and maybe even your fiancé's parents) to get the job done. The only thing that can complicate things even more? Who's paying. "When engaged couples have a certain vision for their wedding, but the parents are paying, there can be some tension involved," says Kimberly Lehman, wedding and event planner at Love, Laughter & Elegance in Massillon, Ohio. So what exactly do your parents have the say over and what's left in your control when they're writing the checks? We asked three wedding planners to weigh in.
Parents do have a say when it comes to venue.
If they're paying, this is likely the biggest expense they will have throughout the entire process. That being said, it's important that the couple is happy with the choice in venue. "You may go back and forth about certain aspects of the venue, but ultimately you should come to a compromise," says Myriam Michel, owner of Boston-based M&M Elite Events. "For example, if the bride and groom are leaning more towards one venue, maybe give the parents more leeway to choose the food you serve."
Parents don't have a say in ceremony or vows.
It doesn't get more personal or intimate than the ceremony and vows. "The support of a couple's family is of the utmost importance, however, at the end of the day, the couple should decide what they say (and don't say) in their vows," says Lauren Chitwood, wedding and corporate event planner and owner of Lauren Chitwood Events in Louisville, Kentucky.
Parents do have a say in the wording of the invitation.
When Mom and Dad are paying, they're technically the hosts, which means they should be comfortable with the invitation that's being sent out. "It's important to work closely with parents on the invitation, as it sets the tone for your wedding and is sent to the entire guest list," says Chitwood. "I strongly advise my clients to work with a credible stationer to navigate politics of how to word an invitation, especially when divorced families are involved."
Parents don't have a say in the attire of the bridal party.
The bride's wedding dress and the bridesmaids' dresses are personal decisions. While they often end up being a collective decision because the bride wants input from her friends and family, she's the only one who should have final say here. "The bride should be able to choose the dress she wants and how she wants her bridesmaids to look on her wedding day," explains Chitwood. "That being said, I've never to see a bride make this decision alone—ultimately, parents, family and friends help her decide on attire."
Parents do have a say with the wedding guest list.
"I think it's important that hosts have a strong say with the length and composition of the guest list, however, the couple has the right to determine the size and scope of their wedding," explains Chitwood. In other words, if the couple wants a small, intimate wedding, the hosts should grant that wish. "Inviting business contacts and family friends can be very important to hosts but doing so should not dramatically go against a couple's wishes on wedding size."