As we're emerging from the festive engagement season, lots of you might be starting your wedding planning in full force in these early weeks of the new year. Or perhaps you've been planning for a while and might need to recharge those batteries. Either way, today we're going to shake up the wedding planning with a little dose of extra thoughtfulness for your loved ones.
Just a little note before we get started, today we're talking about how to involve parents in wedding planning, but we know not everyone has perfect relationships with their parents. If that's the case for you or your fiance, we hope you'll think about these ideas for the most special people in your life whose hearts will be warmed by being included.
Wedding planning can wrap you up like a whirlwind, only to set you down the day after to realize you haven't thought about anyone but yourselves for months! So today we're taking a step back to think about your parents and how to make them feel included and special throughout the wedding planning phase. We have a few ideas you and your family will cherish for years to come.
1. Ask Them for Help
It may seem obvious that you would ask your parents for help in the lead up to your big day, but we're not talking about asking them to haggle with the caterer or begging them to tell your Uncle Bob to go easy on the peach schnapps at the reception. They might be more than willing to help with those more unpleasant tasks, but consider asking them for meaningful help.
When I got married, I asked my father to choose the song he wanted to dance to for our father-daughter dance. He sweetly took the responsibility very seriously, giving it a lot of thought and research in the months leading up to our wedding day. At our reception, he gave the song choice to our DJ (you might ask him to do this earlier if the DJ isn't your brother!) and we danced to the surprise song he chose. Likewise, you and your father could choose a song together, deciding on a song that has meaning to both of you that might just make you tear up every time you hear it!
2. Give Them a Project
When you're in the thick of wedding planning, you might feel that you have to do it all yourself, or that you should be able to do it all yourself. In reality, your parents likely want to help you reduce the stress and pressure you're under but don't always know where to start. A great way to make them feel included is to ask if they could take responsibility for a project. It might be something you could do together, but it doesn't have to be. Many parents, when they show up on the day of your wedding, will have an extra sense of pride in having checked something off your to-do list for you in the months before.
Because my in-laws live out of the country and only arrived a week before the wedding, their input in the wedding planning was minimal. But we asked my mother-in-law if she could put together a tissues for the church ceremony (we're a sappy family!) and she loved that she was able to help, even at the last minute. Those packs of tissues were each tied with little ribbons and displayed in the loveliest basket and it's something she and I both love remembering to this day.
3. Bring Them Along
There is a large spectrum of visits you might have to make in your wedding planning - to the florist, the cake maker, the venue, the caterer, the dress store, the tux store. The list is long, which is great for this little tip. Bringing any of your parents along to one of these will give them a special place in the planning process. Just remember, if you bring them along they'll probably want to share their thoughts on your choices. If this is the case, choose a task that suits you best. If you don't have a strong preference about the cake, consider bringing your parents along to that appointment, where more opinions might be helpful instead of difficult.
4. Ask Their Advice
It may have been decades ago, but your parents likely had a wedding of their own and have a little experience to draw on. Ask their advice about a problem or question in your wedding planning, and it instantly will instantly make your parents feel special and included. You don't necessarily need to heed their advice, but do listen to what they have to say. If nothing else, having someone to process the problem with can help you see a solution you might not have previously.
5. Share Romantic Stories
There is probably no more romantic time in your life than when you're planning your wedding, so it's a wonderful time to chat with your parents and grandparents about their romantic past. Ask your parents to tell you how they met or how they got engaged, you might be surprised at how romantic your parents were before you came along! And your parents will likely enjoy reliving their early days as a married couple. My parents loved re-telling the story of how my dad pulled my mom out of a party to (unceremoniously) give her the engagement ring he'd just bought because he was so excited! Open a bottle of wine, and sit down with your parents or your fiance's parents and relive years past as you're about to start a new adventure together.
6. Say Thank You
In the months leading up to my wedding day, I was a big ball of emotions and found myself getting so sappy about finally leaving the nest - and my parents. I knew I wanted to thank them for raising me and taking care of me for so long, so I wrote them a little note and left it in their room before we left for the ceremony so they would see it when they returned home at the end of the night. My mother left her parents a bottle of wine for them to enjoy together after the wedding ceremony was over. It's a nice opportunity to thank your loved ones for everything up to that point, and to give them a little distraction when their little boy or girl is finally hitched!
Are there ideas you'd like to add? We'd love to hear. Weddings are such a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and these are just a few ways to bring you even closer - instead of farther apart - before your big day.
Emily Westbrooks is an American-born writer and blogger based in Dublin, Ireland. She is the Online Editor for Confetti Magazine, one of Ireland's top bridal magazines. She also writes her own lifestyle blog, From China Village, where she chronicles her adventures in Dublin, travels around Europe, DIY projects and Irish design. She shares her home with her husband, one cat, and four sassy chickens!