If We’re Paying for the Wedding, Shouldn’t We Get to Plan It?

This article was posted on: April 1, 2016

Our daughter is getting married next year, and we offered to pay for the wedding. Shouldn’t that mean we have some say in the guest list and the plans? I feel as if our daughter is just treating us as a checkbook!

As a reader at the wedding of my daughter, it was a special moment to look out over the assembly and see the faces of those sharing in our family’s joy. Friends of mine who had held Erin as an infant sat beside young adults who were close to Erin and Eric. But as much as parents may long to plan the wedding, this sacred celebration is up to the couple. Pick something you really care about and offer to help with a specific task.

A sacrament, not a social event. The sacramental nature of the wedding is evident in the fact that your daughter and future son-in-law will actually be the ministers of the sacrament. The wedding liturgy isn’t a financial transaction in which each party weighs whether or not there has been an even exchange. Read Luke 6:38 and reflect on your gift.

“Filial respect promotes harmony in all of family life.” (CCC 2219) Even if wedding expenses are offered with no strings attached, one would hope that the couple would invite those who have shared long-term friendships with their parents. These individuals have experienced many of the joys and concerns of child-rearing and their presence adds meaning.

Offer assistance to enhance the liturgy. Ask your daughter if there are ways you can assist with the plans, not make them! For example, create a wedding program that allows the assembly to participate in a meaningful way. What Scriptures have been chosen? What songs? This encourages active participation rather than observation. Think of your creation as a rough draft that the couple will modify.

Enter into the wedding preparations with a generous heart: Pray 2 Corinthians 9:7 and remember that “… God loves a cheerful giver.”

by Dr. Cathleen McGreal is a psychology professor and certified spiritual director. 

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