parents kissing bride

Photo: Shaunte Dittmar Photography

You’ve probably already realized this, but your wedding day is just as big of a milestone for your parents as it is for you. While your parents are very likely thrilled to be celebrating this special occasion, there may be an element of sadness that their child is now grown and “leaving the nest,” so to speak.

Show your parents that you’re thinking of them and love them, by including these small details in your day.

Give them a gift
Whether it’s a handkerchief, a framed photo, or a handwritten note, a small token of your love and appreciation will win major bonus points. Not sure what to gift them? Let us help you get some ideas for wedding gifts for parents.

Do a "first look"
Yes, we know, a “first look” is traditionally a photo shoot with your almost-spouse, but you can also have a photographer on hand when your parents see you in your wedding finery for the first time. Their reactions will likely be emotional and certainly photo-worthy.

Take special photos
Even if you decide that a “first look” with your parents are not for you, make sure that you ask your photographer to schedule in some parent wedding photos—include siblings in some of the shots as well. These images will definitely be framed in your parents’ home in no time!

Wear heirloom attire
You don’t have to wear your mother’s gown or your father’s wedding suit. However, by donning a small detail, like your mom’s veil or your dad’s cufflinks, you’re nodding to the past in a subtle way. You can also take a twist on this idea, by wrapping the bridal bouquet in the lace from mom’s wedding gown, for example.

Show your love during the ceremony
Depending on your religion and culture, you may have one or both parents walk you down the aisle. Whatever your wedding processional looks like, be sure to take a moment before the ceremony starts to give your parents a hug. It’s a moment they’ll remember forever.

Thank them publicly
Show how grateful you are for your parents’ support by including a note in your ceremony program thanking them, and/or giving them a shout-out in your reception speech. Here's our wedding thank-you speech guide every couple needs.

Play a meaningful song
During the ceremony, you might consider walking down the aisle to the same song as your parents. Or you might slip their wedding song into your reception playlist. Imagine the looks on your parents’ faces when they suddenly hear “their song.” That will certainly get them on the dance floor!

Spotlight dances
Even if you and your parents aren’t that into dancing, the father-daughter dance and mother-son dance are still important. Choose songs that are meaningful and reflect your relationship with your parents (whether that means a slow, emotional song or a tune more upbeat and perhaps silly), and have fun on the dance floor, even if your moves aren’t Dancing with the Stars-worthy.

Share a family favorite food
Ask your caterer to recreate a family specialty as a fun nod to your background. Whether it’s your mom’s famous crab cakes, or your grandma’s apple pie, serving a little taste of home will bring a smile to your parents’ faces.

Take a private moment
When all is said and done, before you make your grand exit with your new spouse, pull your parents aside for a private moment, where you thank them for all they have done for you over the years, and for being there with you on this important day. You’ll be so glad you took the few minutes to do this—and so will your proud parents.