I take the major national professional responsibility exam on Saturday morning, and in the course of my studying, I came across the rule about 3rd party payment for representation. That is, when your parents foot the bill for your divorce or DUI or your company pays for your lawyer, how the lawyer should treat the client and who is in fact the client when somebody else pays. The short non-legal-advice answer is: the person you represent in court is always the client.
So then I was thinking about weddings and third party payment. For lawyers, when somebody else is footing the bill, the person paying CAN'T try to influence the lawyer. The lawyer can't think about where the money comes from. The lawyer's obligation is to do what is best for the client. Where the money comes from is irrelevant.
Then I realized something. That is the dynamic that all wedding planning should encompass. This is how wedding planning is going for us. My parents are footing most of the bill, but they have told me, consistently, that it is our wedding and we need to do what is in our best interest. I love that they do not make demands and expect them to be fulfilled because they are paying. I realize that they are unique in this aspect, but I think it's time for more parents to understand these rules.
So how does this approach work? We let the third party paying know how the representation is going, without breaching confidentiality, and with the informed consent of both parties involved (i.e. is it okay if I show my parents the invites I liked?) Additionally, we have developed a rule against ex-parte communications. I do not talk about the wedding with my parents without my partner, and vice versa, unless I am relaying something previously agreed upon. I am always free to say, "Mark and I have not discussed this yet, so we'll let you know what we decide." This way, there is no getting one of us alone to strongarm us into your opinion.
It occurs to me, looking at the wedding boards, that all of this is unusual. That my parents are...cool? (Well, that's not true, but they are at least pretty great.) I wonder if this is because my father is a lawyer and he understands this rule, fundamentally, is a good one, not only for lawyering but for everything else. I think that they also realize, because they had parental tensions surrounding their weddings, that nothing they could possibly want from our wedding could ever be as important as our happiness. Because the answer can't possibly be that my parents are cool.
How does your arrangement with your third party payers work?