When Your Parents Clash Over the Wedding

Now that we’re getting close to the main event, my mom is becoming much more involved in the planning process. While I appreciate her eye for detail, it’s making the process more complicated. You know the saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth?" It’s just as true when it comes to bridal plans.

My mom is a sophisticated lady, and her main concern is that everything looks elegant. I think she’s asked me three times if the caterers will use chafing dishes instead of foil tins. She’s all about the details, while my dad is more of a big picture kind of guy. He’s really created this thing from scratch, so he has yet to work out the finer points. Because he’s in such close contact with many of the vendors, he trusts them and assumes they know what they’re doing, while my mom questions everything.

Until we live in a perfect world free from disagreements, here are my tips for dealing with contradicting forces:

1. Stand up for what you want, even if you think it’ll ruffle a few feathers.

It’s important to be straightforward about what you like or don’t like. Recently, my dad and I were finalizing the catering contract and I ran through the expenses with my mom, who immediately raised concerns about a minor detail. Next thing you know, my dad calls to tell me that we’re ditching this caterer to find a new one, per my mom’s advice.

I really wanted the caterer I had chosen, so I fought for it. I had to do the same thing a few weeks ago when my mom suggested a hairstylist who works out of her basement. I knew I had hurt her feelings, and I honestly felt really bad about it, but the last thing I wanted was to look crazy on my wedding day. Don’t sacrifice something that’s important to you for fear of disappointing someone.

That being said, give your parents a break every once in a while. My dad was dead-set on a certain florist and printer, neither of whom I knew. As stubborn as I can be, I decided to trust him and hire them for the wedding. My mom wanted the wedding to start an hour earlier, so I pushed it back instead of making my case for 5 p.m. They’re not trying to sabotage your wedding—they just want to help.

2. Don’t play telephone.

Minimize the potential for drama by going straight to the source. During the catering debacle, I called up my mom, frustrated, wondering what suddenly led her to find a new vendor, only to have her call my dad and then relay new information to me after. If we would have spoken directly, we could have avoided a lot of confusion. If you feel like something sounds off, try to give the person in question the benefit of the doubt until you can confirm it.

3. Money talks.

It’s normal for anyone making a big contribution to your wedding to want to see some of their ideas in action on the big day, but don’t let that make you feel trapped and powerless. My mom has been very generous with her giving, but Michael and I have also been saving money from his deployment to use if we need to. This helps us relieve any guilt we might feel if we don’t follow through with some of their requests. Plus, I know that if they are helping us pay for the wedding, they really just want us to have a special day.

4. Know when to step away from the issue.

Whenever I’m stuck in the middle of a disagreement, I step away from the phone and computer so I won’t send any rude messages while I’m still upset. Then after a bit, I’ll vent to some of my girlfriends, who often remind me that these stressful encounters are normal and will be totally worth it. If you’re still upset, bring it up with Mom and Dad (during a calmer moment) so you can find a resolution.

Keeping this in mind, I’ve been able to persevere through planning with just a few minor bumps in the road. I know that in just a few months, all these frustrating conversations will result in an awesome wedding. But remember, your big day is just that—one day—and they’re always going to be your parents, so don’t sweat the small stuff!

—Lisa Turner

lisa and michael

Lisa Turner is a real bride who is navigating the planning process with her friends and family while her groom, Michael Turner, is serving in Afghanistan. Already married last year, the high school sweethearts will have an official reception in January of 2013 in San Diego when he returns to the U.S. The party will take place in a clubhouse near the beach, complete with Mexican and vintage-inspired touches to celebrate their marriage in a fun and very California way.