Q: I recently got engaged and I’m just starting to think about my wedding. I’m meeting up with my parents soon and figure I should have a chat with them about the wedding. What should I talk to them about? And is this going to be an uncomfortable conversation?
Haha…I love your question. It’s such an honest one and also an important one. The parent conversation about your wedding can be quite uncomfortable. I’m not gonna lie. It’s usually most uncomfortable if you aren’t close to your parents. But, you have to get over it because it’s a really important conversation to have. You need to understand going into planning your wedding what their expectations are. And you can’t know that without talking to them.
So, what do you talk to them about? There are really 3 main things you want to discuss – the budget, the guest list and their involvement in the planning process. Before we dive into each one separately, I want to mention that to make this process smoother you want to have a clear idea of what you want. Before you have the parent conversation, know what you want for your wedding including your budget, guest list, and their involvement. So, when you have the parent conversation you can discuss that as well.
Let’s start with the budget. We talked about creating your wedding budget in the past, so we’re not going to go over that, but it’s important to understand who is funding your wedding. Are you paying for your wedding yourself? Are your paying for part of your wedding? Or are you expecting your parents to pay for your wedding? Many parents will pay for or pitch in for your wedding, but not all. And some couples don’t want their parents to pay for their wedding. Figure out where you stand on this before you talk to your parents. Because if you are asking for money that is a different conversation than letting them know your plans to pay for it yourself.
If you do need to ask for money, do so tactfully. Talk about uncomfortable, this can definitely be the most uncomfortable part of the parent conversation. Many parents will just come out and say what they can or can’t afford right off the bat. So, sometimes you’ll be off the hook. But, other parents won’t and that’s when you’ll have to ask if they were planning on helping with the wedding. Don’t demand anything, be respectful in your asking and of their answer. It might not be what you want to hear, but then you’ll know and can move forward.
The Guest List
When it comes to the guest list, you want to have an understanding of the size wedding you want and how many people you want to invite. You can check out this post about creating your guest list if you need some help. You want to think about both the family and friends you want to invite and see what you come out to. Most parents will have some people they want to invite on top of your list. Others may not and just want certain family members invited. Everyone is different, but it’s important that you figure out what you want before you talk to them.
If you need to discuss cutting the list once they’ve shared who they want to invite, have that conversation now. It’s important you come to an agreement on the list before you start planning as your guest count will affect almost everything else. Now if your parents are paying for the wedding or for most of the wedding, they do get a bigger say in the guest count, so you may have to compromise a bit. If you’re paying for the wedding, you should take their wants into account, but ultimately you can do what you want.
How involved your parents will be in your wedding usually is a function of if they are paying for it or not. Now this isn’t always the case, but if they are footing the bill, they’ll want more of a say like with the guest count. I wouldn’t give them full reign, but you will have to involve them. Find out what they want to be involved in and what they care about. Those are the areas you’ll want to include them and get their opinion.
Make sure you understand how involved you want them to be before you have the parent conversation. This is important so that you know going in what you’re hoping for and can explain or compromise when talking with them. And if they aren’t paying for the wedding, find out what they care about anyway. This is so you can manage their expectations and not end up having an upsetting conversation later.
(Photo credit: Sabine Scherer Photography)
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