“The Talk”

You’re engaged and now it’s time to have the talk. Now you say? Wasn’t that back when I was in Middle School? This talk may prove to be even more awkward than that talk.

I recently sat down with a newly engaged couple and asked the prospective bride what her wedding looked like in her mind’s eye. “On a beach, barefoot in a simple gown with a few family and friends,” she cooed. “And you?”, I asked as I turned to her fiancé. “A big hall, loud music, lots of people.” This was the beginning of “the talk.”

Mention weddings in a group of young women and you will hear very definite ideas on their dream day. I don’t know any young men who even think about weddings, no less talk about them. Usually they base their ideas about weddings on those they have been to as a guest. But this doesn’t mean their ideas about their own wedding day should be discarded. Before they begin to talk how, when and who, couples need to know where they are each coming from. If they are open and honest about what they each want at their wedding, the rest of the planning will come easier. This is the best time to discuss budget too. Never start the planning without being honest about what you both can reasonably afford.

With the bride and groom settled, it’s time to share their ideas with their families. It’s not surprising that mom and dad have a few ideas of their own…including a guest list. Since many families assist in the wedding planning process with a check, some assume the dollar amount of the aforementioned check is directly proportionate to their say in the wedding planning. Actually, not so much. Parents need to remember whose wedding this is and try to let the happy couple have the event they want. Of course, it’s important not to offend a close relative by leaving them off the guest list, but other than the very closest family members everyone else should be negotiable. Short of lewd and disgusting, the engaged couple should be allowed to have the final say in each and every aspect of their wedding. I’m not saying parents can’t have an opinion but idea sharing shouldn’t be stressful. Couples should also be respectful of things that seem incredibly important to their families. If there is a tradition that Mom and Dad would really like included and it doesn’t change the flavor of the day, compromise will lead to happier planning days ahead. Everyone should be honest from the beginning about what is important and what can be negotiated.

I usually advise couples to only ask for ideas on those parts of their wedding planning where they need input. If it’s definite the flowers will be purple and pink, don’t ask what people think of that. In other words, don’t ask the question if you aren’t prepared to hear the answer. Of course, many people will be very willing to give unsolicited advice. Instead of defending a point, just listen, nod and say, “Thanks that is an interesting idea.”

In the end, wedded bliss depends a lot on a couple’s relationships with parents and in-laws. Families only want what they think is best for each other. Calm, thoughtful communication at this time of a couple’s life, may lead to years of harmonious holiday dinners. Open minds and open hearts will always win in the end.


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