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Balancing Family Wedding Traditions - Who's Wedding is this anyhow?

Posted by Khush Singh-Celebrity & Indian Bridal Makeup Artist

Balancing family traditions with your own beliefs and values is a key issue new couples face when planning their wedding. Many of the traditions that will come up involve religion or cultural themes (where you marry, what you wear, readings), and you will need to address these complications ASAP.

Whose wedding is this, anyhow?

Traditionally, the parents of the bride pay for the wedding, while the groom’s parents cover the rehearsal dinner. Although these “rules” have changed significantly in the past 20 years, if any parent is contributing a significant chunk of money to your wedding, their input needs to be honored. If your mother is dead-set on you getting married in a church, and you and your fiancĂ© want a secular affair, your best bet is to compromise. Take Mom aside, and explain to her how much you want to honor her request, then see if, perhaps, you can have the ceremony in a church, followed by an outdoor reception with a rock band.

If your husband is firmly against the church idea for whatever reason (he’s Jewish, it goes against his own beliefs, personal reasons), you should still opt for a compromise. See if you can arrange for a priest to do a reading and blessing. If not, have your mother or another relative do a reading. Weddings, like life, are all about compromise. Some couples even have two weddings; an official, religious ceremony, with just close family and friends, followed by a secular affair with a larger guest list; as for who signs the marriage license, that’s up to you.

Taking advice to the limit.
Whenever you say “no” to a close relative, you risk repercussions. Your parents could withdraw their financial support, or, in extreme cases, refuse to attend the ceremony.  You need to be prepared to deal with both scenarios and weigh your options. If your 200-guest affair has been a life-long dream, and you can’t do it without parents’ help, bite the bullet and give in. If either set of parents are asking for something that morally goes against your values, then you need to tone down the wedding, and, in the most drastic cases, change the affair to a long-distance wedding so as to avoid any family conflict.

The last thing you want is strife before your big day, so always do your best to alleviate the issue beforehand. Whatever is requested from a parent or relative, take time to think it over and talk to your fiancĂ© about it, then ask for time alone with the person making the request. Take them out to lunch, or ask if you can drop by one afternoon when they’re alone (no e-mails or impersonal calls). Tell them how much you appreciate the gesture and that you love them, and then politely remind them that it’s your day and your decision to make. Hopefully, they will come around to the idea that they’re not the one in the spotlight.

Smaller requests are a bit easier to deal with. If Mom insists you wear her wedding dress, and you’ve already picked out your Vera Wang gown, offer to wear some jewelry of hers -- a bracelet or necklace or brooch. Should the request be in the form of a 12-piece band or a martini bar, and the two of you are paying for the wedding and on a limited budget, you have to explain the financial situation.

A word to the wise: Before you start major wedding planning, reach out to close family and friends, tell them how much you’re honored that they are taking part in this wondrous event, and ask them if they have any ideas they would like to incorporate into the wedding.  Even though you don’t have to say yes, they’ll be flattered that you sought their advice.


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