I have come to the conclusion that there should be some kind of family pre-wedding planning therapy. Therapy to help foster communication, and express to the parents that what the children want may not be what the parents want, but it is important that the children get to have their own wedding. Therapy to explain to the children that it is important to the parents to invite their friends to their children's wedding. Therapy will be even more important in the cases of split homes - "your child's wedding is not your opportunity to seek revenge on your former spouse..."
I think that the way this could be most beneficial is in fostering better parent-child and parent-couple communication. Twice recently, my father has misstated something in a way that hurt my feelings. I stewed over it, and eventually explained to him that I was upset, and he explained what he meant. We are not going to be winning any blue ribbons at communication, but eventually things worked out and I felt better after we talked.
Wedding planning is probably one of the most stressful "happy" things a family goes through. Funeral planning is tough, but its a lot easier. Nobody has an agenda. Nobody feels the need to invite all of their college frat buddies to their father's funeral. Wedding planning is a constant emotional tug-of-war.
While we struggle to include our parents in the planning, to give them some kind of input in our venue hunt, to encourage them to ask us questions or express their concerns, we also struggle with trying to tell them what we want. Sometimes it just seems easier to pick the venue, to choose the dates, to buy a dress, to generally shoot first and ask questions later. Eventually, people will be happy...but why steamroll people in the process?
So far, the best way I have come up with to tell anyone who says something like, "I like using X venue/space, etc." is to snottily reply, "but you already got married." This is not a good method. Somehow I think it sounds better than saying, "but this is MY wedding and its about what I want!" (Mark hasn't been with me at any point where this happened, otherwise I would have said "this is OUR wedding.") It's hard to not come across as a bridezilla when all you are really trying to do is have the wedding you want.
When brings me to another key point of "how to help your child plan a wedding". NEVER call your daughter a bridezilla. Never. It is mean, and hurtful, and really, unless she is angry that the flowers are the wrong shade of pink or she is requiring you to exactly measure the sand in the centerpieces because "they all have to be exactly the same", she is not a bridezilla. You don't know bridezillas, and its not funny or a joke to call them that.
I think that with all of the etiquette books that are out there, there must be one on how to treat your family properly and maintain family harmony during the wedding planning process. At the very least, I think we could come up with some general guidelines. So let's hear them - what are some of your rules for avoiding familial discomfort in the planning process? The dos and don'ts, glamour style, if you will.
1.) Don't call your child a bridezilla.
2.) Don't tell your child that you are going to plan her wedding and she can plan her kid's.
3.) Don't hang up the phone on your child or parent mid-conversation about wedding stuff.
4.) Do ask your parents how much they want to be included in your search for a venue, dress, caterer, etc.
5.) Do invite your parents to do stuff, even if you know they can't. Often, effort is half the battle.
Additions? We could write a book here.