Wedding planners play a pivotal role in keeping the varied generations involved in wedding
planning focused on the end game of love.

Several years ago, I watched a lovely bride-to-be come out of a bridal shop dressing room. Her bridesmaids, mother, grandmother, and I, her wedding planner, had gathered to put our approval on her choice of gown. The look on her face said, “I’ve found it! This is THE dress!” The dress she wore was a gorgeous, lacy confection, sleeveless and with a sweetheart neckline. She looked absolutely stunning.

What followed her revelation? The mother of the bride said she loved the dress but then started tugging at the bodice to see if the dress could be sewn to bridge the gap of the inch or so of cleavage. Granny asked if her granddaughter, instead, should choose a gown that covered her shoulders, as the wedding would be held in a church.

Here was a generation gap. Both mother and grandmother had their preconceived ideas of what was “proper” for bridal wear; and the bride had her own modern vision. How could I help bridge the ideas and wishes of three generations, based on the norms of different eras, to create a harmony that would support the bride but acknowledge their differing ideas.

Generation Granny
Weddings in our grandmothers’ era had an unwritten set of rules. There was a dress code for starters. Brides had to convey an image of modesty and virginal purity. Dresses had sleeves. Backs and bodices were covered. Veils were virtually obligatory and were an ancient symbolic reference to consummation. Any bride that, unfortunately, “had to get married” because she was pregnant still had to wear white and also held a cascading bouquet of flowers to conceal a burgeoning baby bump.

There were other rules—weddings were usually held in places of worship in the area where the bride lived. A man was needed to ceremonially “give the bride away,” even if the bride had been brought up in a fatherless household. Expectations extended to the guests, too. Guest lists needed to include friends of the parents as return favors, even if the young couple had never met them. Formal wedding invitations would be sent out months in advance, and information about wedding registries were included.

Generations X, Y, and Beyond
As the song goes, “Times they are a changing.” At one point, wedding planning was largely in the domain of the bride’s mother.  Today’s couple, often supported by a wedding planner, plays a major role. Couples see their wedding as a celebration, just as their parents and grandparents did, but also as an opportunity to provide a meaningful and fun experience for their friends. Destination weddings are increasingly popular and guest lists are pared down to close friends and family.

Many of today’s couples have lived together before they wed. Weddings are still important, but most pregnancies are no longer hidden. Frequently children of the couple are part of the wedding party.

Gifting customs have also changed. Many couples that are living together already have acquired all the household items they need. As one bride put it, “There is a limit to the blenders, toasters, or vacuum cleaners I could ever use.” Instead of including gift lists and wedding registries in the invitations, requests for money gifts to be used for specific charities or a special honeymoon trip, are increasingly common. For some guests of previous generations, bringing a wrapped gift was the polite norm and giving money was considered “tacky.” The wedding planner or another might offer a gentle reminder that money and charitable donations are practical, memorable choices that are appreciated by the couple.

Creating Harmony
Sometimes, loving negotiation between the couple and parents can help re-focus the event on what is special for the couple. Couples also should consider including older family members in the preparations for their wedding. Wedding consultants can help with this.

Although certain wedding customs such as the garter toss and guest favors are becoming less popular, keeping them can be a way to involve older generations in the wedding excitement. Organize a meeting to get family members together to reminisce and talk about their own weddings. This is a special gift to everyone. Could one of their customs be incorporated into the current wedding? Perhaps new traditions could be formed. Maybe a grandparent can assemble a table of previous family wedding photographs and memorabilia to display at the reception.

And the Greatest of These is Love
Eventually, the sweetheart dress was given loving approval by the bride’s mother and grandmother, because of an open and caring discussion about respect for change. Although there will always be differences between generations in terms of values, attitudes, and lifestyles, family members have much in common. Wedding planners can have a unique role in bridging any gaps between family members, by gently refocusing on the love that a wedding is celebrating. Across all three generations, what is valued most is love, family, integrity, and the greatest of these, love. WPM
Milena Santoro, CWP™, MS Productions, Canada and Italy

This content is restricted to site members. If you are an existing user, please login. New users may register below.

Existing Users Log In
 Remember Me  
New User Registration
*Required field