An Emotionally Sustainable Wedding Part 3: How to Train Your Parents

Dear Thriving Bride,

I am getting married in 22 days, and I want to talk to you about “training” your parents.  My suggestion might stir up some heavy emotions and make you think that I am suggesting that they go through an emotional boot camp before your wedding.  Don’t be silly, I would not suggest that unless they needed it.  Note to Brides: MOST PARENTS DO NEED IT!  So yes, I am not only suggesting, but asking you to consider it seriously.  Here’s why?

Most traditional (it’s still traditional even if you are wearing a hippie dress and you picked flowers straight from your garden and even wrote your own vows)  weddings involve the part where someone “gives the bride away.” This is both literal and metaphorical.  You may choose to walk down by yourself, but many brides choose to have some male relative in their blood or chosen family do the deed.  So, why do you think this is done?  It’s because this is that last stage and you’re fully grown now and the umbilical cord has been cut again and everyone is so happy, but they are also losing their minds.

Weddings make people go crazy (i am talking to you too bride), and I like being proactive and toning down the crazies before they start.  You are now really “someone else’s” and you are now really “starting your life.”  I would love to go on about how this isn’t how every family is, but let’s cut the bullshit and admit that anyone reading this probably already knows this.  If I spent much time disclaiming everything I said, I would not have the time to write this.  I think it’s more important to write this. Don’t you? Good, were on the same page!

I once dated a guy who simply told me that every person has to “train their parents”.  I was shocked but pleased with the idea.  No, they are not children.  No, you don’t want to assume anything about how they will or will not behave during this time, but instead it is about setting expectations and letting them know when your boundaries have been crossed.

Do you want a band at your wedding?  If the answer is no, tell ’em now and be firm.  If they try and insist, tell ’em that you are honored that they want to be involved, but their current involvement is not adding to your happiness. If they persist, you may have to fire them.

This does not mean they will not come, it just means that the resume they presented you with (“willing and able parent able to help my child achieve and manifest his or her wedding day vision”) has turned into a different kind of resume (“willing and able parent able to make my child do what I want them to achieve and manifest my idea of his or her wedding day and hopefully make them think it’s what they wanted all along”).  If an employee did this, you’d have to speak with them and make requests.  If nothing changed, what would you do?  Hopefully, you’d transfer them to another department or fire them.

Transferring someone to another wedding department isn’t so bad.  If music for your wedding is not your mother’s strong suite, what about sending her on over to flowers and decorations.  The truth is, this process is all about assigning people to a job that they are best at. I hear the view is still very nice there, and the flower lady sometimes serves really hot and delicious coffee.  Bathroom breaks are allowed, and I think there might even be a gift bouquet for mothers.

The point is, feel free to fire or transfer.  This does not give you the right to pick at every last thing and make life miserable for people who want to help you. Life is short, relationships (if based on real love) will endure and as you cut this next umbilical cord you will not only have begun healthy and emotionally sustainable wedding day traditions, but you will have embarked on healthy means of communication and boundaries from this moment forward.  I think you can’t lose here.  And here’s the best part: After you’ve “trained” them, they can take off their training wheels and ride smoothly into the next phase of this life with you as people who support you and your desire to live an emotionally healthy life.

Warning to Brides: Not all parents are capable of helping you achieve your vision. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that subject in an upcoming post. I’ve told you about my parents, but I have not told you all the ups and downs in this process. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that!

Exciting Updates at Thriving Bride: Thriving Bride is starting Bridal Giveaways!  For any cash strapped brides who need a wedding band, watch our Facebook page for an upcoming giveaway (www.facebook.com/thrivingbride)