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How to Handle Overbearing Parents When Wedding Planning

If your parents seem extra overbearing while wedding planning, you’re not alone. Here are our favorite tips for handling the complexities of parents while planning your wedding day.

By Rachel Varina

How to Handle Overbearing Parents When Wedding Planning
Photo by Dawn Marie Photography

Planning a wedding is stressful on its own, but add an overbearing parent to the mix and it can turn into a real headache. If you’re dealing with overbearing parents when wedding planning, there’s a chance you’re feeling all kinds of frustrated. From practicing good communication, to “giving” on smaller ticket items, to paying for things you disagree with, here are some of our favorite planning tips for when parents get a little too involved.

How to Handle Overbearing Parents When Wedding Planning Photo Credit // Renee Cancy Photography

Be As Adult As Possible

Heading into wedding planning, it’s important to showcase compassion, strength, and a level head. Planning a huge, emotional event with parents and in-laws can bring up all kinds of feelings, and the last thing you want is to be seen as anything other than a capable adult. This is a great time to start setting boundaries as you and your future spouse start a new family together.

Try not to resort to tactics used when you were a child. Instead, discuss conflicts rationally, avoid name-calling and tears, and take a break if needed. If you showcase how mature you are in the face of stress, there’s a good chance your parents will start to see how competent you are with wedding planning and beyond.

Divvy Up Tasks

A great way to help alleviate the wedding planning battles with overbearing parents is to actually give them some control. Maybe you don’t care what wedding vendors you use or what linens are at your reception. Asking for your parents’ help in areas you don’t have strong opinions about is the perfect solution. If they’re left entirely out of the loop, overbearing parents might be more curious and assert themselves in plans you’d rather handle solo, so consider this a compromise.

Consider Their Perspectives

Whether it’s pushback on all of your ideas, a disagreement on how or what the budget should be spent on, or just a clashing of heads surrounding a big decision, getting on the same page as your parents can be tough. While it might feel like you’re suddenly back in high school and fighting about curfew, they probably feel the same way.

For some parents, planning a wedding is highly emotional because it’s symbolic of letting their child go. Add to that the pressure of impressing their friends, potentially shelling out a lot of their hard-earned money, and possibly making up for the wedding plans they didn't get to have, and chances are they’re feeling the stress as well. While this doesn't mean you need to give in to their every whim, understanding their perspective will help you see their decisions, suggestions, and requests with a little more empathy.

Limit the Wedding Talk

One trick to utilize when parents are being overbearing in the face of wedding planning is to limit unnecessary wedding talk. While it’s bound to come up from time to time, especially when you have to make decisions or they have to write a check, try to avoid casual wedding chit chat, especially if your parents are the controlling type. If they hear that you’re torn between invitations, stressed about the guest list, or debating whether or not you want a videographer, they’ll likely take that as a cue. Unless you want their advice or help, don’t bring up a topic to keep things as civil as possible.

Pick Your Battles

When it comes to wedding planning, not every decision is created equally. Some things, like a wedding dress, wedding venue, or the wedding location is more important to a couple than items like the table runners or ceremony readings. Instead of standing firm in every single decision, relinquishing control of lesser value choices will ultimately make your loved ones feel included without causing you to feel like you’re losing control of planning. By picking your battles you can ensure you’ll have the emotional energy and pull to fight for the components you feel are essential.

Pay Your Own Way

Unfortunately, the finances of wedding planning can really complicate things. In a dream world parents would hand the couple a check and tell them to spend it however they’d like in preparation for the wedding, but unfortunately, that’s not usually how it works. Most parents or family members who are contributing to a wedding not only want to know what the money’s being spent on, but they also want to be a part of the decision-making process.

If you’re butting heads on something you want or your parents won’t budge on an expense, consider paying for the item yourself. While this could potentially ruffle some feathers, try to present it as a compromise. While it might not seem fair, when it comes to planning, the person paying the invoices usually has the most control. If you want to be calling all the shots, the best decision is to pay your own way.

Have Open Communication

How to Handle Overbearing Parents When Wedding Planning Photo Credit // Dawn e Roscoe Photography

Ultimately, the most important tool for dealing with overbearing parents when wedding planning is to practice good communication. Listen to their wishes and concerns, and do your best not to react when emotional. Express your feelings calmly, and try to come to compromises when possible. While it’s your wedding, the event probably means just as much to them, and they’re feeling the stress, too. Some topics might be easier to talk about than others, so use good judgment and timing when bringing up hot-button decisions or task items.

Chances are, your parents are being overbearing during wedding planning because they want you to have the very best celebration possible. While you might disagree along the way, do your best to be an adult, have good communication, and be willing to pay for any must-haves. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it come time to celebrate on the big day.

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