What to Do When Your Wedding Plans Conflict With Your Parents' Wishes

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Photo: Jocelyn Filley Photography

Planning your wedding can be one of the most exciting times, but it can also come with some pressure of trying to make everyone happy with your decision-making. When you add in the conflicting wishes of your parents (who may or may not be footing the bill), it can be tricky to decide on a safe in-between. Luckily, our wedding experts are here to share their top tips on settling conflict when your plans clash.

"We only allow one person to sign our contract for planning services, which designates that one person as the one who gets the final say in all decisions, including on the wedding day. I highly recommend this for any vendor, but it helps with couples, too, if they have a conversation with the parents about who gets the final say on decisions in general, budget decisions, or based on different areas of the wedding planning. Deciding that up front allows everyone to be clear on what is important to them and how they'll go about working through any conflicts that come up." —Wendy Kidd, Each & Every Detail

"When there is a conflicting plan between our couples and their parents, we advise our clients to loop in the planning team to help. Your wedding planner is the perfect experienced, third-party opinion that can help couples and their parents come to a compromise if there are any conflicting plans regarding the wedding day! Oftentimes, we are able to bridge the gap of understanding between two plans and advise on how both parties can be happy at the end of the day." —Khloe Jackson, W Events

"While it is 'your' wedding, and I do fully support a couple honoring and including what they want and what is important to them, there may be times when it is important to have conversations about why your parents have such strong opinions. For instance, if you want a more casual cocktail-style reception, but your parents want a seated dinner, you may both need to express your reasonings. Your parents may have concerns about their friends or elderly family members having a place to sit throughout the reception. A possible compromise could be that you reserve a few tables or seats for specific friends or family members while the rest is open seating." —Juls Sharpley, Juls Sharpley Events

"I always ask my couple and their parents to explain to each other why something is important, not just that it has to be a certain way. Once you understand why something is important, it's easier to either accept it or come up with a compromise. Remember that it's hard to explain sentimental attachment to wedding ideas. Perhaps your mother has always wanted you to cut a cake so that you can use her grandmother's cake knife. Maybe you don't care about a cake at all — but maybe you could cut a small one to get this moment for your mother and serve everyone else espresso martini shots." —Cathy O’Connell, COJ Events

"As a planner, I often discuss being the middle person or even a mediator. Lean into your planner if there becomes a conflict to see if the planner has any insights or maybe has experienced a similar conversation before. We are a resource in communication and decisions. We understand on both sides how emotional weddings can be - as well as possibly stressful or a lot to handle on top of life in general. The planners can help in difficult conversations that may lead us to a solution that is best for everyone." —Penny Haas, Penny Haas, LLC

"Ask for assistance. Many times, the conflict between wedding plans and parents comes with financial implications that are out of range for the couple. It's helpful to be open and honest about this and see if the parents are willing to pay for the additional cost that their wishes would add to the wedding." —Vijay Goel, 440 Elm

"Suppose your parents are coming up with ideas vastly different from your own. In that case, you can lovingly and respectfully remind them that it's your wedding with your peers, and although their ideas sound lovely if they were to hold their vow renewal, it isn't aligned with your vision. You can discuss ways to incorporate an element they love into part of the day if it is workable with your planner, and let them know you're setting up a special surprise to honor their desires. You can always set up a separate tent or location at the venue with an extended cocktail hour and fantastic lounge setups with music that befits your parents' sensibilities." —Sarah Chianese, Mangia and Enjoy!

"Ask yourself how important the item that is causing the conflict is to you as a couple. If it is not really important and does not change your overall wedding, you might want to just make the compromise. A wedding is meant to be a wonderful experience. Where love between two people is the reason you are celebrating. It should not be a day that leads to conflict between couples and their parents, sometimes conflicts that leave hurt feelings for years to come. It is best to decide early on who has the final decision and remember, small compromises can go a long way to create good memories that will last a lifetime." —Tonya Hoopes, Hoopes Events

Remember the reason for your celebration, and try your best to find some common ground. For many couples and parents alike, this may be the only big event and wedding they’ll ever experience, and one that comes with a hefty price tag. Keep things respectful, and bear in mind that your wedding pros are there to help!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.