Being the parent of the bride or groom can be complicated. Especially on the wedding day.
It’s a role filled with lots of unspoken responsibilities and rules, lots of joy, and sometimes sadness. While you’re experiencing all sorts of emotions and expectations, so are they. As someone who had a rough relationship with my mom (even outside of wedding planning), I know how easy it can be to just brush over how important some of their ideas may be.
The bottom line is that parents want to feel appreciated and included and considered. I’m going to talk about a couple of specific moments that happen a lot, and then I’m also going to break down some ideas on how to make it even more special.
Other ways you can involve them in the ceremony is to ask them to give a blessing or do a reading. It may even be really meaningful to ask a well-spoken parent to officiate your marriage.
Make sure you ask your parents about any special traditions that have been passed down in the weddings of their families, or even their own wedding. Even if you don’t choose to use any of them, sometimes listening to them and understanding them is enough.
There are even lots of ways they can help leading up to your wedding day. Whether it’s finding and organizing the hotel blocks and activities for out of town guests, helping with a reception party or rehearsal dinner, consulting them on food and beverage pairings, or having a super organized parent help with the RSVPs and getting last counts to caterers and bartenders – they can be amazing people to delegate wedding day tasks to!
One of the most common things that we find when we photograph a wedding, is that parents expect to be part of the “getting ready” process, while their children never even thought about it. This can be an unintentional cause for hurt feelings on the wedding day, and is one of those areas where we recommend having a conversation before you start creating your timeline. Does Mom want to help the bride get into her dress? Does Dad want to help put on the tie and the boutonniere?
This is usually a time parents are given for busy work – readying the ceremony and reception area, running last minute errands, doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes to make the day ahead amazing … but it can mean that they aren’t even in the room. If helping you dress for your wedding day is important, make sure you find that out early on and can plan a setup team or timing around that. It’s such a little thing that can really mean so much (and I cannot explain how painful it is to watch/hear a parent find out that they weren’t part of this. Offering to stage it again with them included can only do a little towards fixing that).
Try even to set aside a few minutes where you can connect with your parent while you get ready. Some brides plan a special first look with Dad, some grooms with Mom. Buy them something heartfelt or handmade, or even just write them a letter telling them how important they are to you.
During the Reception
Another time that we hear a lot of hurt feelings is during the reception. We’ve put together a quick list of ways to make sure your parents feel included on your Wedding day (and not just as the writer of the checks).
Make a point to talk to them at least once while you’re mingling.
Dance with them.
Take a photo booth photo with them.
For parent dances, ask if they have specific songs they love.
Ask them to make something you can use as your guest book. I’ve seen incredible things created by parents – old guitars repurposed, benches, beautiful signs, etc.
Some couples choose to do a unity ceremony during reception that symbolizes the merging of both of their families – the couple, and their parents take part. Whether that is a tree planting, a sand ceremony, or even creating a painting for the new couple’s home.
Do you have any creative ideas on how to include parents on your wedding day? I would love to hear them (and I’m sure our couples would, too), so please leave them in the comments below.