Article by Pam Black owner of Celebration House.
Parents often report that they are amazed to find that their son or daughter’s engagement period is fraught with such emotion. This is especially true if the announcement of the engagement has come as a complete surprise.
Many parents are also uncertain regarding their role during the time leading up to the wedding, and to assist those who have just entered this stage of their lives, here are some useful hints and tips I’ve gleaned over my years in the wedding industry.
Times have changed
Although it’s not going to be easy, do try and remember that this is your daughter or son’s wedding day, not the one you wished you’d had thirty years ago.
Every parent wants to ensure that their child’s wedding day meets his or her expectations, but it’s very easy to have differing viewpoints on what constitutes the ideal wedding.
While you may be envisaging a top-drawer reception at a five-star hotel, complete with all the trimmings, it can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that the newly-engaged couple’s idea of an ideal wedding day would be to celebrate their nuptials on the beach!
Be honest from the outset about the amount you are able to contribute toward the wedding. The last thing you want is to have to go into debt in order to pay for the occasion. I guarantee that if I asked 10 fathers of daughters what a wedding costs, fewer than half would know the answer, yet after her education, a wedding probably represents the largest amount of money a father will ever spend on his daughter.
No small price
Many fathers are horrified to find that an average wedding today can cost almost as much as a small car, and it’s not unknown for those who are determined to give their little girl the wedding of her dreams, to resort to taking out an extra mortgage in order to pay for her special day. To avoid overspending, some parents offer the couple a set amount towards costs, and leave it to them to decide exactly how they want to use it.
As the father of the bride, don’t feel that it is your obligation to shoulder the majority of the expenses. While traditionally it was always the bride’s father who paid for most of the wedding, it has today become far more acceptable for both sets of parents to share the costs.
If the groom’s parents offer to pay towards the wedding, thank them and accept. No one will think any less of you for doing so. A wedding is about two people ? a bride and a groom ? and often, if they can afford it, the groom’s family would love to be more involved in their son’s wedding and to contribute towards it.
Although many still maintain that the main reason a father tends to cry at his daughter’s wedding is because of what it is costing him, most fathers’ report that seeing her on her wedding day, all dressed up in her finery, and then escorting her down the aisle, is a very emotional time for them. The same applies to making a speech at the reception. If you battle with your emotions and are at all concerned about getting through a speech, there is no reason why you can’t assign this task to a close friend or family member.
What to wear
Many mothers of the bride and groom are concerned about what they should wear to their children’s wedding. Before choosing their outfits, it’s wise for the mothers to discuss (with each other and with the bride), the colours and styles they will be wearing, bearing in mind that it is inappropriate for either to wear a white or cream outfit.
They must obviously also be careful not to upstage the bride in any way. When making their choices, they should take into consideration the colours the bridesmaids will be wearing as well. I always advise the mothers to take a sample of the fabric of the bridesmaids’ dresses with them when choosing their own outfits, to ensure that the colours do not clash in any way.
As your offspring’s wedding is a very special occasion, it is well worth investing in a specially made garment, instead of buying one off the peg. I have heard stories of mothers faced with the embarrassing situation of arriving at the wedding wearing the same outfit as a wedding guest.
What the newly-engaged couple need more than anything during the engagement period is the loving support and guidance of their parents, and it goes without saying that a lot of diplomacy and tact is often required. The Dale Carnegie three C’s formula – don’t criticise, condemn or complain – works wonders when dealing with an emotional bride or groom.
Keep up to date
It’s important for parents to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of weddings. In just the last decade there have been enormous changes in wedding styles, and sometimes parents who are unaware of this are concerned about the choices made by their children. At Celebration House, I always enjoy seeing a mother and daughter sitting side by side, paging through our collection of books and magazines and chatting about different ideas.
Without a doubt, the key to planning a successful wedding is to keep the lines of communication open. Stress the importance of this to the couple and ask them to keep you in the loop regarding all their arrangements. If you don’t like having surprises sprung on you, tell them. One of the best ways to ensure a stress-free wedding is to make sure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.