Planning a Wedding

We are deep into wedding planning season and today I’m sharing some of my clients experiences. I hope that these stories will help you navigate your issues more easily.

Alicia and her daughter LeAnne have always had a close loving relationship. They enjoyed lunches, spa days, art fairs and all kinds of mother/daughter activities. Alicia was especially happy that even during her teens LeAnne had trusted her with her dreams and disappointments. They both felt seen heard and appreciated, until the wedding. Alicia and LeAnne’s father promised her a large enough dollar amount to cover 150 guests at a high-end venue. Deposits were paid, arrangements completed and Alicia was told that she would be allowed one table and could invite any six guests that she wanted. She was floored. She was looking forward to sharing this special day with her friends and family. She took a few days to calm down before she tried to discuss it with LeAnne. Could we change to a larger venue? No, this is the one that we want. Could we have the wedding there and the reception at a larger venue? No. Your aunts, uncles, cousins and our friends will be disappointed. You can invite any six people that you want. Alicia was shocked, how could this be the daughter that she had raised? No discussion no compromise and a completely closed mind and heart. She had many sleepless nights and shed an ocean of tears. Then she accepted that there was nothing that she could do to change LeAnne’s mind and still maintain their relationship. She forced herself to not react from her shattered feelings, attended the wedding and let herself enjoy the moment.
On the opposite end of relationships, Frank had never had a good relationship with his step-daughter Nora. Even though Nora’s parents had been divorced for two years before her mom met Frank, she blamed him for the break-up. Frank’s family had done everything that they could to make Nora feel accepted and loved. She got gifts on Christmas and birthdays from his parents and siblings and was included in all family events. When it came time for the wedding she didn’t include any of Frank’s family. Nora was adamant: This is my wedding and I’m doing it my way. To avoid hurt feelings Frank told his family that it was a very small event. Although it broke his heart he knew that he had to let it go.
Everything went perfectly for Chris and Amanda’s wedding. Even though Amanda’s parents were divorced the planning had gone smoothly and everyone had gotten along. Being respectful of his ex’s finances, her father said that he would cover everything else if she would like to take care of the cake. She quickly agreed. The cake was stunning, almost 5’ tall, decorated beautifully and could serve about 8 times the number of invited guests. Although she had agreed to pay for the cake, towards the end of the reception Amanda’s mother went to her dad and gave him the invoice. He paid the bill and never said a word about it to Amanda or his ex.
These stories may sound different but they are all based on life’s most important principal:
Nothing matters more than the relationship.
None of these parents wishes were out of line. Any of them could have put their foot down and insisted on having what they wanted. But what would have been the result? There would have been arguing, bruised egos and hurt feelings. None of them wanted to have their kids look back 20 years from now and have that be part of their wedding memories. So they did what loving parents do, they picked their battles. Each parent decided that getting what they wanted wasn’t worth the damage to the relationship. Then they did their best to let it go.
We all go through emotional ups and downs and we all have times when we are more or less rational. Planning a wedding is notoriously stressful and can bring up a lot of challenging situations. The best that you can do for yourself and your child is, before you say anything, say to yourself: Nothing matters more than our relationship.

10 Comments:

  1. Oh my! This post tugged at my heartstrings with every line.
    I loved how one of my friends whose son got married recently, made a different guest list for each event of the wedding ceremony (and we have quite a few in our South Indian weddings!)

  2. Oh man, weddings can bring out the worst in people, even though none of these scenarios were super ugly. Everybody wants to make it their most wonderful and perfect day of their lives, and more often than not it means disappointing people along the way. It’d be interesting to hear what “the other parties” have to say.

    I call myself lucky. Hubby – then fiancée – and I had enough money to pay for everything by ourselves. My Mom, who is a semi-professional photographer, covered the festivities in terms of pictures, which made her happy.

    In Switzerland it’s customary to invite a larger crowd for the ceremony and cocktails, and the inner circle for dinner, that way you may include more people.

    • Thanks for sharing, Tamara. Your tradition sounds like a good way to share the day with all of the important people in your life.

  3. Victoria, am I reading this right–did LeAnne’s father subtract 144 guests? That would be a huge change. I’m a big fan of gracious responses and negotiated compromises. My husband and I eloped, to avoid bachelor/bachelorette parties and keep everything simple.

    • LeAnne’s parents paid for 150 guests. Throughout their life they had been on the same page for so many things that it didn’t occur to them to tell LeAnne how many people they planned to include. After hearing all of these stories and more, I’m a big fan of eloping.

  4. I’m so lucky that the only thing I fought with my mom about were the invitations because they were too floral for my case. But, it was a wedding so I gave in.

  5. That’s about how life is when it comes to our children. We want them happy and want them to keep the family together on good terms.

  6. Looks like my wedding arrangements would fit well with LeAnne’s. Which is why I decided to move the venue to my catering hall- where I would set the rules.

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