Wedding Wednesday Q&A: How Much Say Do Parents Get When Paying For the Wedding

Wedding Wednesday Q&A by Jamie Chang Destination Wedding Planner of Mango Muse Events and creator of Passport to Joy online step by step wedding planning course for couples

Q: My parents and I have very different ideas of what we want for the wedding. So much so that there have been some very heated conversations. My parents are paying for most of the wedding, so I know they get a say. But, how much say do they actually get? How do I have the wedding I want and the wedding they want?

I’m so glad you asked this question, because you are not alone! There are so many couples who are in this same situation.

So first, you are correct. If your parents are paying for the wedding whether partially or fully or something in-between, they do get a say.

Now not all parents need a say, but most will have opinions. And they’ll expect you to not only listen to their opinions, but take them as well.

The problem most couples face (which you are facing as well) is that you and your parents are not on the same page.

They likely want something more traditional. Something their friends and family will expect. Something they think is tasteful and elegant.

You on the other hand, likely want something more non-traditional. Something fun and different. Something more casual and non-stuffy.

Guest in a unicorn costume at a fun wedding reception in sonoma by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events creator of Passport to Joy the online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit: Arrowood Photography)

Now regardless of who is paying, it’s important you know that it’s YOUR wedding. And so it needs to feel that way.

So, no matter what, you have to make sure it feels that way throughout.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t also appease your parents.

So to answer your question, it’s not really a matter of how much say they get. Or how much they win vs. you win.

The real question is – How do you marry what you want and what your parents want?

The easy answer is compromise. Which I’m sure you already knew.

The question is HOW?

Bride and father of the bride walking in the wedding ceremony processional by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events creator of Passport to Joy online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit: Chrisman Studios)

Now I’m going to assume that you’ve already discussed with your parents about what your vision is. And they respect that and want you to be happy.

But, they also have their vision. And you respect that and want them to be happy too.

If this is not your situation and you have parents hijacking a wedding or being unreasonable, that’s a topic for another day. And we’ll be sure to come back to that.

But, for now, let’s talk about marrying your two visions.

So, here’s what I want you to do.

Sit down with your partner and write out what the most important things are for your wedding. What you really care about.

Maybe that’s the size of the wedding. Or maybe it’s the location. Or perhaps it’s what the ceremony will be like.

Create a list and then rank that list.

At the top should be the things you just cannot compromise on. The must haves.

Have your parents do the same.

And then come together and see what is a must have for them and a must have for you. And then talk about it!

What you’re trying to do here is make sure both sides get what is most important.

Bride and groom excitedly celebrating on their wedding day in San Francisco by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events creator of Passport to Joy the online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit: Jerry Yoon Photographers)

Think of it like finding a house or an apartment. There are all kinds of things you want, right?! A walk in closet. A big kitchen. An enclosed garage.

There’s usually a big list.

But, unless you have unlimited funds, you won’t be able to find one that has everything. It just doesn’t work like that.

The key is getting the most important things.

You want to do the same thing here.

So, when you have that discussion you’ll be able see where you come out.

Some things will be easy to give. And some won’t. The ones that won’t you’ll need to work on together to create that compromise.

So, if flowers are important to your mom, but not for you, then that’s an easy one.

But, if you both care about guest count size, maybe the compromise is a different guest list for the ceremony vs. reception.

Clear tent with twinkle lights at a Hawaii wedding reception by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events creator of Passport to Joy the online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit: Marina Miller)

Marrying what you want and what your parents want is really just about understanding what everyone actually cares about.

Because no one REALLY cares about everything.

There are always particular things that matter to someone for whatever reason.

And compromise is just about figuring out a way to make both sides happy.

When you understand what matters to you and what matters to them, it will be easier to find the solution. Because all the other stuff gets pushed to the side.

Allowing you to focus on the important stuff.

And in the end, everyone has a say. Everyone wins! And you still have a wedding that feels like you even if your parents are paying for the wedding.

Are you planning your wedding and feeling overwhelmed? You’re not quite sure what you should be doing or if what you’re doing is right? Does this sound familiar?  

We understand and we want to help make wedding planning easier and happier.

And here’s how you can get started:

Take the wedding quiz and find out if one of the three common pitfalls is holding you back or causing unnecessary stress.

So you can enjoy your engagement and also keep all your hair.

Take the free wedding quiz to learn your #1 wedding pitfall and how to overcome it and get your Passport to Joy

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