Weddings are occasions meant to gather family and friends in celebration of love. In many cases, the couple’s parents are considered guests of honor with reserved seating and a few minor roles. But what if the happy couple wants their parents to be a more significant part of their day?
After all, Mom and Dad have watched their little ones grow up, find love, and embark on new chapters of their lives. It’s only natural if you want to celebrate their role in your love story!
Since the average wedding has evolved to factor in modern family dynamics and increased financial independence, many couples are paying for their celebrations on their own. But where does that leave parents on the big day?
If you’re looking for a way to honor your parents on your special day, here are a few suggestions from industry experts to incorporate into your wedding experience.
Invite Them To Play a More Prominent Role
While there are traditions that include parents, like the ceremony processional and family dances, there’s no reason your parents can’t play a bigger role on your wedding day. Wedding photographer Jessica Feiden shares, “A few ways I have seen parents (and even grandparents) incorporated into the wedding day are by including them in the wedding party. It is becoming more common for the groom to have his father as his best man.”
“I have also experienced a few grooms give the special honor of officiant to their father,” Feiden adds. “It’s always sweet to hear the dads give advice as well as have them recall how the couple’s relationship blossomed during the early years.”
Include Them in the Fun
Not everyone is comfortable in the spotlight, but your parents don’t have to be the star of the show to feel like a part of it! Instead, consider inviting them to join the wedding party for the fun activities leading up to the celebration, as Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss recommends.
“If relationships are healthy and their presence is wanted, include parents in getting ready!” she says. “Moms love being included in hair and makeup, and Dads will rarely say no to golf! Ask parents if they would like to give a toast or be a part of the wedding processional!”
Ask Them in a Memorable Way
While the wedding day may be the main event, the planning process can be a meaningful bonding experience with parents as well! A sweet parent proposal serves as an extra special touch to the journey if you want them to be a big part of your day.
“Is your parent or family member sentimental? Write them a special handwritten note to share how much they mean to you, along with why and how you want to incorporate them on your wedding day,” suggests Olivia Marceau of The Treasury on the Plaza. “If they are far away, you can record a video message and send it to them with all the details on how you would like to include them in your wedding.”
Honor Those Who Can’t Attend
For couples who have lost parents, it can feel difficult to incorporate them into what’s supposed to be a joyful celebration. The Soulful Wedding’s Maureen Cotton encourages couples to “see their grief as a dimension of love.”
“Couples may consider adding a simple remembrance ritual to their ceremony, like lighting a candle next to a photo of their loved one,” she says. “Remembrance rituals open everyone’s hearts so profoundly that they can then experience the joy of the day on a much deeper level.”
Plan Your Wedding Day Accordingly
No matter how you intend to include your parents on the big day, it’s important to consult with your planner to ensure the timeline allows for it.
“Oftentimes, your parents are the hosts of your wedding reception, so they are typically focused on your guests while you’re doing post-ceremony photos,” explains Angie Johnson of Sapphire Celebrations. “If they have larger roles on your wedding day, this focus may have to switch to another member of the family.”
“If the parent or family member has something that they want to surprise the bride or groom with on the wedding day, we recommend talking this through with the bride or groom’s fiancé and their wedding planner,” Marceau adds. “The wedding day timeline is usually planned out well in advance, and a surprise may cause other plans to be delayed.”
When in doubt, follow your heart. As Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates says, “In the end, what is going to honor them most is going to be something that is special to you and your parents—something that reflects your unique and special relationship.”
Remember that your wedding is your day to personalize however you see fit! Discuss parental roles and responsibilities with your partner to land on the best solution for your families. The two families will soon be one, so togetherness is essential!