Wedding etiquette for parents – the do’s and don’ts
Wedding traditions always used to be reliable roadmaps for parents and the roles they played in their child’s wedding. The bride’s family paid for the wedding and reception, while the groom’s family spotted the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon. But nowadays, nearlyweds get married older and pay for their own weddings, forcing traditional parental roles to (often) take a backseat. While blended family structures call for nearlyweds to eschew tradition to accommodate for stepparents.
So, as a parent, how do you know what your role is in an era of weddings with so few guidelines?
When it comes to money
DO be transparent with how much money you can contribute (if at all). If you can contribute, offer a set amount for a specific thing. Give this much for the flowers and favours. Or this much towards the wedding venue and entertainment. By doing that, you avoid losing sight of where your money’s being spent, which in turn minimises the risk of an argument.
DON’T attach strings to your financial contribution. Even though you might not like the flowers your money has bought, it’s not your place to say. Sure, you might want to gently express what blooms you’d like to see in the bride’s and bridesmaids’ hands. But ultimately, it’s not your choice.
When it comes to the other parents
DO put in the effort to include the other parents. Given the usual wedding traditions, it’s not unheard of for the groom’s parents to feel left out. Traditionally, their role is minimal compared to the bride’s parents – the mother of the groom hosts the rehearsal dinner, that’s it; and who has those nowadays anyway?
So organise a casual family dinner before the big day to break the ice. These occasions are also a chance for you to confirm your parental roles with the happy couple, so you know what’s expected of you.
DON’T let personal grievances mess up your child’s big day. If you do dislike someone within the intimate wedding party – say your ex-spouse and/or their partners – bite your lip. The last thing any child wants at their wedding is to break up a shouting match between their mum and stepmum, or their dad and future dad-in-law.
When it comes to the aisle, first dances and speeches
DO respect your child’s decision. If they want both their father and stepfather to walk them down the aisle, accept it. The same goes for who they want to have their first dance with, and who they want to give a speech at the reception.
DON’T take your child’s decision personally. Remember, wedding traditions and etiquettes are looser now. Ultimately, your child wants to share significant moments of their big day with the people that matter the most. If that means sharing the honour, so be it.
When it comes to the receiving line and invitations
DO rotate the receiving line, especially if stepparents are involved.
DON’T get annoyed if your names aren’t on the invitations. Nowadays, especially if you have a blended family, it’s easier for nearlyweds to simply put: ‘Ken and Barbie, along with their families, would like to invite you to…’
Despite wedding traditions and etiquettes becoming more fluid as time goes on, the principles at the heart of every wedding remain the same. Through respect, consideration and honesty, as a parent, you can support your child through the process, and work out any difficulties you might have along the way.
Are you struggling to adapt to your parental role in the modern-day wedding? Or if you’ve succeeded, do you have any tips for others who are navigating their child’s wedding right now? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your insights in the comments box below.