An actual publicity still from the original “Father of the Bride” movie, featuring Spencer Tracy spanking his on-screen daughter Elizabeth Taylor. Yes, this is real. No, I haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor yet.
Last week, I told you how to deal with your parents when they take over the wedding, especially the guest list. Here’s a little refresher:
It made sense, way back then... People got married very young. So young, in fact, that they didn’t have a single cent to put toward their own wedding, so the parents paid for the entire affair. And because they paid, they decided: where they would host their event, what food their guests would be served, how the room should be decorated.
Well, it’s another day, and I’m back to talk to you about some of the other reasons we really need to let go of what engagements and weddings were, and look at how they actually are.
1. You barely knew the person you were marrying…
One upon a hoop skirt, engagements were a total surprise. Remember how shocked Elizabeth Bennet was to receive proposals from Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy? All three times?! Before you accepted, it was likely you hadn’t had all that much time to get to know the person you were marrying before you were locked in for life. Engagement was the (albeit brief) period when you were figuring out what it was going to be like to be married to this person.
Yes, I did spend an hour yesterday selecting my favourite Pride and Prejudice memes.
Nowadays, engagements are anything but a surprise. One of my favourite stories is from a friend who micromanaged her engagement to the point that her fiancé told her he almost didn’t propose, because she kept ruining the moment by reminding him what kind of ring she wanted. It’s cute that people still try to surprise one another with the proposal, but the thrill of the risk, of “what if they say no?!” is simply gone.
Okay, except that one time…
2. Because religion wasn’t really an opt-in/out thing way back when, couples were married by a religious leader and were required to take courses with him.
I’m by no means advocating for organized religion (you do you!), but when we only focus on planning the event of the wedding, and ignore the fact of being married afterwards, it can lead to a lot of *ish* down the line. Because the engagement likely wasn’t a surprise after a few months of longing glances and accidental hand-grazing, I’m sure you and your partner have had more than a few conversations about your values. Heck, in this increasingly polarized world, I bet you’ve had lots of ‘em. But have you sat down and really thought about what your expectations are of your partner as a wife/husband/legal partner or even as a parent? Have you considered the division of labour, finances, and whose career could lead to major changes down the line? What about your aging parents – what’s the plan? Are you in agreement about it?
There are a million conversations to have with your partner, and you won’t have time to have every single one before the walk down the aisle. Think about what’s really important to each of you, the main things you already fight about, and the hurdles that you haven’t considered and that will surely arise… And remember: you aren’t just planning a wedding. You’re planning a marriage.
3. The parents planned and paid for everything.
The tagline for the original 1951 version of Father of the Bride was, “The bride gets the THRILLS! Father gets the BILLS!” And while the 1991 version definitely had Steve Martin worrying about the expense, the taglines were much improved: “Love is wonderful. Until it happens to your only daughter.”
And my favourite: “A comedy about letting go.”
Yup, I’m going to bring up boundaries again. While your parents likely aren’t footing 100% of your wedding bill, remember that if they invest at all, they’re going to feel they have a say in how the wedding day goes. And even if they don’t invest, here are just a few reasons they are going to take carte blanche to give you their opinion on absolutely every aspect of your wedding:
Historically, it’s always been done that way. Their parents did it to them, all their friends did it to their kids, and they will do it to you. In short, it’s the status quo.
They’re older and wiser and they believe they know better than you.
One way around this catastrophic situation is to hire an actual expert to help you plan your wedding. That way, you can make me the bad guy, like so: “Well, I see what you mean but the wedding planner says…” Truly, go for it. Just don’t give them my phone number.
The other ways: pay for it yourself, set boundaries, and present a united front with your partner.
I know that might feel icky or impossible, but I promise you that it’s not. It’s possible to have a wedding within your budget. It’s possible to slim down your guest list without offending everyone you know. It’s possible to set boundaries without alienating your family, and while still acknowledging how special this day is for them. And what makes it possible is having an expert in your corner, whispering in your ear exactly how to do it.
I’m launching a virtual offer for you so that you can do exactly this – plan your dream wedding with an expert and a coach in your back pocket, and do it your way. It’s a six-month plan, with lots of 1:1 time with me so I can remind you to enjoy the journey to the day, and that’s just what I called it. The Journey launches next week, and will get you the engagement and wedding your friends (and parents) wish they’d had.