Yes, you are the bride and groom, yes, you are the ones getting married and yes, you are entitled to a beautiful wedding. But spare a thought for the two mums who brought you both into this world.
Gone are the days when every bride lives at home and is married-off to her betrothed in a ceremony that says more about the childhood she is leaving behind than a future life she has chosen. Gone, too, is the assumption that the bride’s parents will foot the bill for the complete wedding. According to users of this site, only 12% of weddings are paid for by the bride’s parents alone.
Most couples contribute in some way and so do the parents of the groom. Some mums move into ‘operation wedding’ the moment you announce your engagement and you wish they would let you have a say. Others are so nervous about treading on their child’s toes that they give the impression of being disinterested in the whole event when you are desperate for help and advice.
Most couples will have at least the odd strained conversations about wedding preparations with both sets of parents. Others find themselves embroiled in rows about guest lists, who should be bridesmaid and where to hold the reception. Similarly, many mums just do not understand the pressure a bride and groom are under to keep everybody happy.
What you need is compromise.
Start as you mean to go on. Your wedding is one of the most significant rites of passages of your life, but it is also a hugely important occasion for mums. You may have felt grown up since your first kiss but your wedding signifies the end of your childhood for your parents. Different mums react in different ways but all need a little reassurance that you love them and still need them in your lives. If you communicate at the beginning of your plans then you have more chance of still talking to each other by the end!
Decide how involved you want the two mums to be and explain to them how you feel. Be sensitive and understand that your parents really do want the best for you, they are probably a little overwhelmed at how the world of weddings has turned into such a big business and they may even hanker after a similar day for themselves so don’t feel victimised if they are being a little over-zealous in trying to help out.
Money, Money, Money
From spending money on an engagement ring to preparing the mortgage payment of a new home, young couples Parents do not have the divine right to dictate that your big day is organised in the way they dream it should be but neither do you have the divine right to expect them to foot the bill for an event they are not comfortable with. One of the first things you need to do is sit down and discuss the style of wedding you want and then work out a budget.
Find out who wants to pay what before you start planning anything and you will avoid many conflicts (see our Who Pays for What article for more advice). Decide whether parents want to be informed about each cost or if they want to provide a lump sum that you can divvy out as you see fit. If both sets of parents are contributing then it might be nice to allocate each pot of money to a certain area of the wedding so they can see something tangible from their pounds and pence.
This is also a great way to keep mums involved and asking for help without being overwhelmed. If the groom’s parents are paying for the flowers, say, then ask your mother-in-law to-be to collect together some quotes from florists and recommend flowers that fit in with your colour-scheme and taste. You are not losing control, but you will be grateful for a chance to delegate some of the work as you get closer to your big day and you must tell her that.
Pick the Battles to Fight
First rule of weddings: if you aren’t bothered about something then don’t fight about it. There are so many decisions to be made over the coming months that you are bound to disagree about something so why spend all your energy quibbling over an issue that doesn’t mean anything to you? Listen to what the mums have to say and ask yourselves if their request is something you could live with.
Do you really care if they want to sit Aunt Maude with cousin Joe or change their outfit for the evening reception? If you accept some of their ideas and compromise on others then you are in a much stronger position to dig in your heels when you feel passionately about something. This also means you must learn to..agree to disagree.
Why do you expect to agree about every little detail for your big day if you have always fought about what constitutes a ‘sensible’ shoe or how to wear your hair? If you find a permanent stumbling block then agree not to discuss it and either find an alternative or drop it from your plans.
Make It Fun
If you are constantly on the phone to each other bemoaning the planning then neither of you will be very constructive about what to do. One of the best things about the two days spent shopping for my wedding dress was that my mum and I took our time and made sure we had a coffee break, a leisurely drink or some food between each shop we visited. I will treasure the memories of that time. We are both so busy and work so hard that we rarely have such concentrated time with each other anymore and we really enjoyed it.
Not only could we discuss the various gowns that I had tried on without feeling pressured in the shop but we also enjoyed the transition from a mother and single daughter to two marrieds. Why not arrange a weekly or monthly girlie night where you can discuss wedding plans, draw up a bite-size list of things to do and not lose sight of the happiness a wedding brings to a family.
Don’t Get the Wedding Out of Proportion
This is supposed to be fun, not the Killing Fields. If you find yourselves arranging place cards at dawn then it’s time for a break. Reminisce over your baby photos or have a wedding-free lunch together to clear the air. If it all gets too overwhelming then sit down together and write down your biggest worries or bug-bears.
Put a stopwatch on the table and take turns to speak for two minutes about each issue without any interruptions. Then swap and give a two-minute response. As long as you are constructive then this will stop every conversation disintegrating into a slanging match. Although, the odd full-blown row can often clear the air and is as therapeutic as a good cry!