1/24 Ask Liz: Complicated Parents are Complicated

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wilbur family

Photo: We Are The Parsons

Hey Liz, 

I’m getting married in April and my parents have had a rocky, nasty relationship for the past few years, which has led to their not-so-wonderful relationship with me. They are once again together, against the advice of most of our loved ones. Now, my mother wants my father and her to walk me down the aisle together. She sprung this on me after she insisted on paying for multiple aspects of the wedding. I’m very torn on how I feel about anybody walking me down the aisle, but I feel like I have no choice considering their financial contribution. 
I was just wondering if it is proper etiquette to go with her wishes. 


A Long Walk Down the Aisle

Hey Walk,

The good news is that etiquette has nothing to do with it. The bad news is that it’s all about being honest with yourself and your feelings about the situation. I know — FUN. Basically, what you’re asking is if it’s okay to tell her that you don’t want them to walk you down the aisle. And, yeah, it is. You do have a choice, no matter how much money they gave you. But, every choice has consequences. Yes, you’re probably going to hurt her feelings and possibly cause a little extra drama. Yes, you might feel guilty that they’re helping you pay for the wedding and you’re rejecting them, but I’m not sure there’s a reason to. If you let them walk you down the aisle, though, are you going to resent them for “forcing” you to do it and resent yourself for going along with it? Because if you do decide to go along with this, you need to take responsibility for your choice and you have to let the resentment go. Otherwise, it is going to fester, forever.

And, if you’re trying to figure out how to tell your Mom “No,”, keep it simple. You want to walk down the aisle alone, that’s how you’ve always pictured it — you walking down to your fiancé, alone. You don’t have to be angry, just clear and final. You may have to repeat it a few times, but stick to your guns, “This is what I want.” Make sure to acknowledge your parents and their help in some way during the wedding or reception, though — that part is where etiquette comes in.

Dear Liz, 

So I have the start of a big problem with my future in-laws. They are starting to brainwash my future husband into thinking they get to plan our wedding. His family was bummed I didn’t involve them in picking out the cake, or my wedding dress and such. They aren’t contributing money — they want us to use what was leftover from his sister’s wedding last July. Now his dad wants to take him suit shopping and help him pick out his rented tux. 

I know I’m going to hurt some feelings by telling them that their ideas just don’t fit into my vision. Is there an easy way? I don’t want to look like a Bridezilla but I have a feeling i’m going to have to be to get my point across.


From Zero to ‘Zilla

Dear ‘Zilla,
I’m not sure where the “brainwashing” is coming in. Plus, that word is a dangerous one to use when you’re describing him, mostly because it implies that you’re now facing off against each other. They are brainwashing him, which means he is against you. Trouble.
Rule #1: You’re a team, and you need to see yourselves as a team. Team members stick together, team members agree on a plan and stick to that, too — so you have to give him the benefit of the doubt, just as you would expect him to give you the benefit of the doubt. Once he starts turning into the enemy in your head, you’re screwed.
Think about this in another way: You also have to remember that these are his parents, and like most parents, they want to be involved in their child’s special day no matter how much control they have on the outcome. And since they don’t have any control on the outcome, there’s no problem. Look, wedding planning wedding causes a lot of emotional pressure, and it is easy to feel like you’re fighting a war. But, you’re not fighting a war, you’re planning a party! Brides become Bridezillas when they feel like they are losing control of their wedding, but you’re not, and you’re not going to.
Deep. Breath.
When his parents ask questions or offer their own ideas, just tell them you and their son are doing it another way, and you’re really happy with those plans. Full stop, emphasize the Happy. Remember, they don’t have any control on the outcome.
Finally, you should let the tux shopping thing go. Decide, as a team, what type of tux he is going to get, and then let him go shopping with his dad — it’s something that dads and sons do.

Are you having trouble with your parents or in-laws? Or, just trouble with my advice? Let us know in the comments below!

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.