Being mum when wedding bells chime

Being mum when wedding bells chime

Zelda West-Meads weighs up the pros and cons of travelling with your other half or with your whole brood.

When your children marry, it’s an exciting time. Zelda West-Meads, agony aunt for You in the Mail on Sunday, has useful tips to keep this time stress-free, too.

When your daughter or son tells you they are getting married, it is lovely to see them so happy. You might have watched them go through some heartbreak over previous girlfriends and boyfriends and it’s so nice to feel that they have now found the person they want to spend their lives with.

Being supportive without taking over

Planning the wedding can be great fun. It can also be very stressful (and a lot of hard work) and parents and children can fall out over what kind of wedding they want it to be. With a little compromise and negotiation, however, you can keep the fun and minimise the stress.

The most important thing that every parent needs to remember – and it’s not always easy – is that it is your child’s day and they should have the sort of wedding that they want, no matter how different it might be from the wedding you had imagined or hoped for. So listen to the couple’s wishes, and be open-minded.

Remember that weddings are not about putting on a show for friends or a sign of status, but about marrying the person they love. If you are fully supportive and helpful with your child’s wedding plans, you will have much more fun planning the wedding and in fact it will probably bring you closer together.

Who pays?

Traditionally, it was the father of the bride who would foot the bill, but then it became a rather more even affair with the groom’s family also contributing or often sharing the cost equally.

In recent years with couples marrying later and often both of them earning, now many will often pay for their own wedding. However, with the rise in property prices (and perhaps, university loans to pay off) this may well change again, and it may be quite a stretch for couples to pay for a wedding as well.

So, if you can afford it, I think it’s lovely if parents can still pay for some of the wedding, but keep expectations manageable. Hopefully your children will have an idea of your financial situation and won’t ask for a dress that costs thousands or the most expensive venue in town (unless you happen to be in a position to pay for that), so talk to your son or daughter about what you can realistically contribute without breaking the bank.

If you can’t afford the whole thing, that’s fine. Perhaps you could pay for the dress or the flowers or the honeymoon. And if your children are much better off than you, don’t feel guilty if you really can’t contribute much at all.

Who’s invited?

One thing families can fall out about is who is invited to the wedding. Tread carefully here. If the couple are paying most of the costs themselves, then you may need to accept that the invitations have to be restricted to their friends and close family. Even if you are picking up all or most of the bill, then you need to be sensitive to who they want and don’t want.

It’s hard as you may well want to have all your friends as well who have seen your children grow up, but sometimes the numbers are just too many and this just isn’t possible. Ultimately, remember it is their big day and it will be hopefully be a lovely and happy day that your son or daughter will remember all their life.

Love is all you need . . .

Often the best way is to keep it simple.

Weddings don’t have to be flashy and extravagant – in fact I worry when they are. If the bride (or often the bride’s mother) is so focused on having the perfect wedding with every detail in place, sometimes it makes me wonder if they have lost sight of the most important thing – the couple’s love for each other and the commitment they are about to make.

So many over-the-top celebrity weddings seem to last about five minutes. If a couple are truly in love and happy, that love and happiness is infectious and will spread to the guests whether you’ve spent £500 or £20,000.

Have you seen your children get married? What tips do you have for making the day special? Share your experiences in the comments box below.

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