Wedding: Relating: Parental Guidance

Your mom and dad acting a little more nuts than usual these days? Don’t worry. It’s just a phase

Sensitivity training

A wedding isn’t just a party, it’s a party that crosses over some very delicate issues. “Weddings bring out the best and worst in people,” says Mark Kingsdorf, owner of Philly’s Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants. “You’re dealing with money, religion, and two people entering their lives together who are still looked at as little kids.” You might not have realized before that your mother actually does care what everyone thinks of this wedding she’s throwing,  i.e., what people will say about the food, think about the flowers, whisper about the invitations. (She may have even been envisioning this day since she found out she was having a little girl, says Kingsdorf.)

And even if you didn’t grow up in an overly religious household, when it comes to your wedding, your parents probably won’t be willing to let go of certain customs. One recent Philadelphia bride, Jewish but from a “very religiously liberal family,” says she and her Catholic fiancé planned to have an interfaith ceremony, something that didn’t fly with her parents. She decided to skip the hora at the reception — and hurt her mother by excluding the tradition. She was confused by her parents’ sudden tie to their religion, until she had dinner with a rabbi who gave her some perspective. “He said that often when their children are getting married, parents become panicked, realizing they might not have imparted certain beliefs and traditions. They feel like time is about to expire,” she says. “I talked to my mom, and she confirmed that’s exactly how she felt.”

When it comes to differences over details and logistics, Kingsdorf says to compromise and keep control at the same time. “Balance what you want and what your parents want. Be proactive and preemptive. Address all issues early on, and pick specific ways you can involve your parents with the wedding planning.” (If you’re unconcerned about favors, let your mom take the reins on that.)

However your parents’ behavior is confusing you, just remember that these issues tend not to disappear; they tend to  explode all over champagne-laced wedding toasts. So don’t let them. “Always have conversations up front,” says Kinsdorf. “Don’t let it go, hoping it will go away. Talking it out helps parents respect their children as adults.”