Parents of the Couple

    If anyone’s more excited about your wedding than you are, it’s your parents. More likely than not, they’ll want to be involved in making your big day as special as possible.

    Traditionally, parents pay for the events of the wedding, have a strong role in the planning process, and take part in the ceremony and reception. We’ve detailed the traditional roles of each parent in the wedding party. Look them over, talk them over, then decide what works best for you and your family.

    Parents of the Bride

    Traditionally, the bride’s parents host the wedding ceremony and reception. If you’re a parent of the bride, you might:

    • Pay for the wedding ceremony and reception
    • Discuss the budget/number of guests with the couple
    • Help plan the wedding in any way the couple asks you to
    • Plan a meeting with the groom’s parents
    • Draw up a guest list from your extended family (but yield to the couple on final guest list decisions)
    • Help communicate with the guests about wedding logistics and where the couple is registered
    • Follow up with guests from your side of the family who are late to RSVP
    • Escort the bride down the aisle

    The mother of the bride has special status in the wedding. She plays a big part in the bride’s support system. She helps the bride pick out her wedding dress, attends the bridal shower, helps the bride get ready the day of, and provides emotional support and advice throughout the process. To go with her glowing smile, the mother of the bride often wears a distinguishing outfit to the wedding, like a long, beautiful gown.

    The father of the bride also looks distinguished on the wedding day, usually in a suit or tux that’s possibly coordinated with the groomsmen’s attire. He shares the father-daughter dance with the bride after the couple’s first dance, and gives a toast during the reception.

    Parents of the Groom

    While they usually don’t pay for or host the majority of the wedding, the parents of the groom play an important role. As parents of the groom, you might:

    • Pay for and host the rehearsal dinner
    • Discuss the rehearsal dinner budget with the couple
    • Help plan the rehearsal dinner in any way the couple asks you to
    • Meet with the bride’s parents
    • Draw up a wedding guest list from your extended family, but yield to the couple on final decisions
    • Follow up with guests on your side of the family who are late to RSVP

    The mother of the groom also traditionally shares a mother-son dance with the groom following the first dance and the father-daughter dance. 

    It’s good practice for the groom’s parents to steer clear of the wedding planning process unless the bride and groom explicitly ask them to participate. Wedding planning is stressful to begin with, and any unsolicited opinions or involvement on the parents’ part can make things even worse.  

    Yes, we’ve all heard that wedding planning is notoriously hard on the family, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The key to keeping the peace: communication. Talk with your partner and your parents openly and often. Make sure everyone is clear on their financial role as well as your wishes as the couple.

    And, if your parents are generously contributing to your wedding, thank them often. The stresses of the event can cloud the bigger picture: you’re all here to celebrate love and family.

    While definitely not mandatory, having a wedding party is a great way to honor your most important people. Take some time with your partner to learn about the traditional roles of the wedding party. Think about if and how those traditions are important to you, and who you want to stand beside you on your big day. Then, by all means, make it your own.

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