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Planning a Wedding. Who's in Charge?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4

Planning a wedding is an emotional time, especially when everyone has different expectations of what should happen.

How do you really keep peace in the family and survive that special wedding day?

Wedding Day!

I have another daughter getting married, again!  With five children and four of them daughters, you get pretty good at wedding planning.  Especially when they decide to do it more than once!  That is what I am experiencing right now. 

Having been down this road before, I was quite surprised when the future mother-in-law started making all of the decisions.  I had never experienced this before and being a red personality it just wasn't sitting quite right with me.  Maybe I was just really lucky in the past with the other mother-in-laws as we seemed to have no problems with the wedding planning, or maybe I was such a steam-roller that no one dared try to slow me down. 

I will admit that I do have an aspect to my personality that once I start planning something that I really don't wait on others if they have wishy-washy ways!  If they have a suggestion, I will listen and maybe if they are lucky I will even implement it, but I hate sitting around trying to finalize things.  Make a decision and get it done, is my attitude.  With this attitude, it was really difficult for me to come home from vacation to find that the mother-in-law had already started the ball rolling with the wedding plans!  The colors were decided on, the decorations were being planned, the menu was planned, and I hadn't been consulted!  She was a steam-roller and I didn't know how to handle it.

Thankfully, I have a husband that has a very calming attitude about these things.  "What's the big deal?" was his remark while I was ranting and raving.  Brakes on!  Really, what is the big deal?  I was sputtering and muttering about the time schedule, not liking where it was going to be held,  who was doing the decorating, what kind of flowers were being used, and again was asked, "What's the big deal?"  This time I stopped ranting and really thought about it. 

Our future son-in-law is the first person to be married in his family.  So, his mom wants to make sure it's the perfect day.  My daughter wants to please her future mother-in-law and is really pretty easy-going about things so was perfectly happy to have her start the wedding planning.  I had already done one wedding for her and she thought she would give me a break this time.  Boy, was I feeling lost and left out.  Maybe it really wasn't so bad...

A few times in planning past weddings for other daughters, I had to remember that this is not my wedding or my big day, it's hers. 

As a way of suggestion, to help things go smoothly while planning that big day for your daughter, there are few things that I have learned that should be considered:


Immediately, sit down with the future bride and groom and discuss the budget. 

  • What are their expectations? 
  • What can you afford? 

Now is the time to be brutally honest to avoid problems later.  Everyone has a different view on how much to spend on a wedding and who should pay for what.  The days of the old wedding etiquette is out.  The bride's parents shouldn't be expected to mortgage their home to put on a nice wedding. 

Personally, I set up a realistic budget and I stick to it.  If the bride wants to spend more on the dress, then she will have to spend less on her wedding photographer.  Itemize all planned expenses realistically.  This might take some time, but it is important unless you have unlimited wealth.  In that case, don't bother reading this, just hire a wedding planner and write a very big check!

Family Relationships

Often our children marry someone that we don't know well.  It's important to establish a good family relationship, not only with the spouse-to-be but with the future in-laws.  If you haven't done so, spend some time with the other parents.  Plan time together to discuss the wedding plans.  Work together as a team on this.  Sort out what is expected of each other.

I had one daughter that had a mother-in-law who planned an open house in their home because of the long distance from our home.  I honestly think it was more beautiful than the reception that we planned.  But, she consulted my daughter on everything she did and she really went the extra mile to have everything reflect my daughter's tastes and styles.   She also insisted on taking care of the costs because she felt it was too much of a burden for us to do it all.  How considerate and caring she was!


Work Together

Planning a wedding can truly be a special time with your daughter.  You will spend time looking for gowns, looking at reception centers and churches, taking pictures, attending wedding-planning events, and all of the other things that are important in making this a very special day. 

When you find that your ideas are falling on deaf ears, maybe it's because she has her own ideas and you will have to stop and remember once again, it's her day.  Make memories while you plan and organize.  Take pictures along the way.  Build and strengthen your relationship as mother and daughter. 

Oh, and buy a wedding guide and planner.  It might be the best money you spend on the whole wedding!  It will keep you on track and help you remember those silly little details that can be easily overlooked. 


When emotions start to run high, walk away.  Take a breather and go do something else.  Do something fun with someone not related to the wedding planning!  Forget the wedding plans for a day and relax.  Talk about differences of opinions.  Discuss issues quietly with everyone involved, maybe do so in a restuarant so tempers don't flare.  Stop and ask yourself if the issue is really that important.  Oftentimes we get hung up and angry over silly little things.  Laugh at yourself.  Agree to disagree.  Treat everyone involved with respect.  Just because you are under a little stress, it does not give you the right to be rude to anyone!


The key to a happy and joyful wedding day is in having everything well planned and organized.  This takes time and thought.  Don't put anything off until the last minute.  Get everything done and then your day will go... well, there's always going to be something unexpected, but it will go better! 

  • Be on time, better yet, be early! 
  • Keep detailed lists.
  • Stay within your budget.
  • When you run into snags, get help!
  • Ask advice from the pro's - mothers who have been there, done that!
  • Don't build mountains out of mole-hills.
  • Take care of the small things first.
  • Keep a journal.


Isn't a wedding all about love?  Well then, that is what you should do.  Love the new in-laws.  Love the wonderful experience of planning a wedding.  Love the day you add a new family member.  Love the decisions your daughter makes.  Love yourself!  Spend this time giving hugs and kisses and spread the "love!"




Feb 17, 2011 8:17pm
love the pictures! Thanks for this great informative article!
Feb 17, 2011 11:12pm
Thanks Sookie! That is a daughter that was married a few years ago (and still is!). Appreciate your comments.
Feb 22, 2011 10:43pm
Great information and a beautiful bride! Wonderful article!!
Jul 4, 2012 9:52pm
I'm the groom to be. What do you do when your fiance's parents started on an agreed to amount for the people and the amount of the reception. We purposely picked a place that would stay within a number they could manage (120-130 people, cost around 10,000.00 to them). My fiance and i agreed to cover the miscellaneous stuff, photos, dj, cake etc., they would cover the reception and my parents would pay for the bar (her parents have a thing about alcohol) and rehearsal, as well as honeymoon.

Everything is set.

Well, then they invite a massive amount of family, i mean like we were at 90-95 people already just their family, but they said they had it and they would make it work. This likely guarantees a 150 person wedding. (mind you this is after I had to shoot down a country club, which would have been $60 more a person)

Then they change the package we picked so they could add a second dinner (fish, which I and most of my family will not even eat), but this adds 30 more a person.

Now, we went from a 10,000 commit to them to about 18,000. All along I hear we got it. I say all along to her, I'm not raising a stink because they say they got it.

Until today.

Now it's they don't possibly have it and they're telling her we could have to cover over 150 people.

Our budget all along was based on certain costs that we could predict, but this would add 4-5,000 over our budgeted contribution.

I've said no, and really drawn the line in the sand on this. I mean, we went out of our way to make it something they could afford, and they kept increasing the cost and increasing the cost some more, all along saying they got it, and then potentially passing it off.

My mom sounds much like the poster here, and she basically thought they were being ridiculous but she stayed out because she's the groom's mom. She wanted a tight budget, but they kept saying they had this part and my parents didn't have to contribute directly.

What complicates it is my parents and my childhood was very financially stable, my parents buy what they can afford and save money, therefore they have money. Her's spend credit and don't have money but live like there is plenty of cash around.

That caused this whole problem. She feels terrible and is mad at me because she doesn't want to say no to her parents and keeps telling me we should take on the extra to make them happy.

I just think that is a bad idea, and the kind of bad precedent to set in dealings in the future. I said we need to cut the list as invites haven't gone out and have the wedding we can afford based on reality. I even asked my mom and she said that cut some our family because she is so floored by the situation and is trying to help me.

This has caused an epic fight, but I feel like this is not unreasonable and is what normal people do when planning a wedding. Set the people you can afford and go from there.

I don't know anymore, but I don't just want to go along in order to put the fight behind us and appease them when the consequences impact us, not them.
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