Lesson #2 to Parents: Let the bride decide.
I’m not suggesting that she gets to decide the budget. Coming up with a reasonable budget is definitely a family matter. But the bride should be the one who decides how to allocate the budget. Treat her as if she is the CEO of this wedding. Depending on her personality, she may want to collaborate about the decisions related to the ceremony with you. Please be careful how you give input. If you are used to being in control as a parent, make sure you understand the difference between influence and manipulation. Let her decide in a guilt-free zone. Everything from the color of the bridesmaid’s dresses to the song selection is going to be important to her. At times she may lean heavily on the advice of her friends, or someone else over what you might suggest. Don’t take it personal. As a matter of fact, it might be good during the engagement process to write the phrase, “Don’t take it personal” somewhere where you can see it everyday. Maybe you should even get it tattooed on your hand.
For some brides they have thought about their wedding for a long time, for others they are going to just “feel their way through it.” Either way, there are so many decisions that will need to be made and they are coming so fast, there will definitely be a level of stress built into this process. Do everything you can to take away whatever pressure you can, including any strong opinions about what you think should and shouldn’t happen at the wedding. Remember, you are her parents and no one can ever replace your role in her life. And the way you parent during the next phase of her life will impact the quality of relationship that you have with her for a while.
(side note: If you happen to be the groom’s mom and you are reading – this applies to you too, especially the phrase, “Don’t take it personal.” You too have the potential to have a positive and unique relationship with your daughter-in-law, so handle this season carefully.)