My guide for parents of engaged couples
Your daughter or son is now engaged, how do you feel about that? Are you happy with the person that they have chosen to spend the rest of their lives with? Do you have a good relationship with their other half? Do you support their marriage? Will you be getting involved in the wedding planning? Will you be supporting them with a financial contribution? So many questions and just a little bit of advice…
The other half…. regardless of whether you like or do not like the chosen partner for your son or daughter, that person has been chosen for a reason, and your son or daughter love them and want to spend the rest of their lives with them. So even if you may not have chosen that person yourself, remember it is not your choice and if you want to support your grown child, then you need to support their decision. Imagine, if you didn’t maintain your relationship with your son or daughter, you didn’t see your grandchildren grow up..how would you feel? And that could happen if you do not support them and their chosen life partner. As a Mum I know I’m going to find it difficult to let go and I know noone ever will probably be good enough for my son or daughter, but that said, I would respect their decision and as long as they are happy in the future, then that would make me happy. I would try to build a relationship with their partners so that I could understand what my children have seen in them to fall in love and hope that I would appreciate them for who they are.
Getting involved….this depends entirely on your relationship with your son or daughter and perhaps their other half. Some couple’s like to have their parents involved, others I watch and you can see them visibly switch off every time their parents open their mouths. I suppose sometimes though it depends how this is done. Couples do not like to be patronised, after all they are grown adults – old enough to get married and so old enough to make decisions on what will be one of the best days of their lives. So I would suggest talking to your daughter or son, and asking them how they would like you to be involved. Don’t become too overbearing as they will only push you away.
The financials…this is always a difficult conversation to have, and whilst traditionally the Bride’s parents paid for the wedding, this is invariably no longer the case. In the weddings that I have seen just this year, some were paid for by the Bride’s parents, others were paid for by both the Bride and Groom’s parents, others were paid for by the Bride and Groom, or a combination of all, sometimes even a Grandparent, Sister, Aunty or Uncle has contributed. The important thing is to have that conversation early on in the planning – work out a budget with an allocated contingency amount, and stick to it. If you can’t afford to contribute money, you can instead contribute your time and support, these will still be appreciated. Be careful not to dictate to the couple what they need to spend your money on, after all if you have offered to contribute then you should allow a degree of flexibility in what that money is spent on.
Inviting guests….some parents expect to invite people to their children’s wedding, others are happy to let the couple decide but then are disappointed when one of their friend’s or family are not invited. Remember again, it really should be the couple’s choice, but if you are adamant that someone should be invited, broach this carefully with the couple and ensure they are happy with this decision. Couple’s do not like to invite people who haven’t bothered with them for years or haven’t been a part of their lives, even if they are friends with their parents.
Enjoy their day…this may sound obvious, but the amount of times I find myself telling parents in the early stages of planning not to worry, that I will ensure the day is perfect, that they don’t need to clock watch, that they don’t need to remind the suppliers what they should be doing, and instead they should trust that we have everything under control, that we know what we are doing and that they should relax and enjoy their son or daughter’s day – cherishing every moment so that it can be remembered for a lifetime. It’s all true, this day should be the most special day of your child’s grown up life, and that moment should be shared with parents so that you can wish your child well in their future with their chosen partner, and remind them that you will always still be there for them, unconditionally.