Skip to main content

These Are the 6 Things Your Parents Will Not Understand About Your Wedding

Times have certainly changed since our parents' and grandparents' nuptials. Here are some of the modern-day elements that you might need to explain to your elders.

mother and daughter hugging on wedding day

That moment right after you got engaged when you had to use all the willpower you could muster to call your parents and tell them the big news before posting your #ringselfie to all of social media? Total 2018 moment. Get ready for so many more of those moments as you make your way through wedding planning, coupled with lots of confusion and maybe even a little resistance from older generations. It’s likely that your grandparents’ and parents’ weddings were quite different, and they may have some concerns about how you’re planning your big day.

From flowers to RSVPs, the times have changed—here are a few modern-day elements that will likely differ from your parents’ wedding.

Your Venue

When I was booking my wedding, my mom kept sending me phone numbers for what she was referring to as “halls” in my hometown. “Halls.” I didn’t know what a “hall” was (nor did I plan on making a phone calls—hello mom, heard of email?), but I knew I wasn’t about to get married in one; I had my sights set on something with built-in character, like a rustic barn or cool converted mill downtown. While getting married in local gathering spaces  is still a popular choice, today’s couples also think outside the hall for venues and don’t limit themselves to only places marketed as wedding venues, meaning breweries, museums, farms and summer camps are all fair game. Your mom might not get it (mine didn’t at first, either!) but tell them to rest assured, it’s the love that makes a wedding (plus chairs, food, dancing and decor), not the venue!

Your Must-Haves

When it came time for your parents’ wedding, the “must haves” list probably only included the obvious items and nothing more—like, the “hall,” band, bar and officiant—today’s list tends to run a little longer. What might have been considered optional additions to weddings of the past are becoming basically de rigueur today, making planning and budgeting more complicated. Older generations might not understand that features like photo booths, videographers, personalized logos and more are absolutely essential to your wedding—but if you do, you’re not alone. Most couples today are right there with you, so feel free to tell ‘em not to shoot the messenger!

Your Social Media "Obsession"

You can try to explain your fixation with posting every step of your wedding planning process, and with figuring out the perfect wedding hashtag, and with deciding whether or not to have an unplugged ceremony. Or, you can just accept the fact (and gently ask that your parents, future in-laws and grandparents accept it too) that social media is hugely a part of our lives today—and probably theirs, too! Whether your dear elders love it or hate it (and whether you yourself love it or hate it), social media and weddings are almost inextricably linked these days. It doesn’t make you vain or a slave to your phone, either—wanting to share your wedding bliss with your friends and fam, trade inspo with other brides and even coordinate some of your planning over FB or IG is just how modern brides do it! If you’re getting significant flak from dear old dad over your so-called social media obsession, consider tucking your phone out of sight during family time wedding chats. Or not. :)

bride walking down aisle with parents

Your Wedding-Day Schedule

Your parents’ wedding probably followed a pretty traditional flow: Afternoon ceremony, wedding photos while guests enjoyed cocktails, evening dinner, dancing, sayonara. Today, couples and savvy planners are mixing things up to fit the vibe of the couple and what they want for their big day, rather than forcing every couple to fall in line with some cut-and-dried itinerary. For example, some couples do portraits before the ceremony, so they can enjoy cocktail hour with their guests (makes sense to me!), some couples are hosting brunch weddings because they just love waffles, and some couples are hosting entire wedding weekends with super-stretched out itineraries that throw caution to the wind! Older generations might be a little confused by this straying from the status quo, and you’ve got to give ‘em a break, they’ve been to a lot of weddings in their lives, and most have probably gone the exact same way! Just plan your day how you want it to be—forgetting “the typical flow” entirely—and assure your fam it’ll all work out and get done!

Your Registry

Decades ago, most couples didn’t live together before marriage, so the registry for your parents’ wedding wasn’t just a nice-to-have, it was essential to help couples gather the items they needed as they prepared for their first home together. Nowadays, couples are getting married in the midst of all sorts of living arrangements, and also have all sorts of opinions on what kinds of gifts they expect from wedding guests. Turns out, millennials aren’t always interested in registering for china patterns anymore! We’d rather ask for cash to go toward a down payment, or excursions that’ll go toward lasting memories on our honeymoon. Some of us would rather forgo gifts altogether and ask that our guests donate to the charity that matters most to us instead. Your grandmother might not get it—whatever will you eat off of if you don’t ask for plates?—but remember, it’s your wedding and you get to decide what you want for gifts.

Your Look

The bride always wore white and a veil, the groom always wore a tux, bridesmaids always wore the same dresses—that may have been the wedding uniform a generation ago and beyond. But as we bend the rules in all the ways I’ve listed above (and more!), we’re also becoming more creative with how we style ourselves as the couple of honor and our wedding parties. Today’s bride may break tons of “rules” her grandmother or mother won’t understand—like choosing not to wear a veil, or wearing a formal jumpsuit in lieu of a dress—while grooms may opt to dress more casually in vests and sneakers, and bridal parties may show up in complimentary mismatched attire. At first blush, your elders may not love the idea of you wearing blush or carrying a bouquet of ferns instead of white roses, but try to remind them that trends evolve over every generation and this is simply what’s in vogue today. (After all, you probably wouldn’t love their 80s puff-sleeve gowns of yore, either—you just weren’t there to disapprove!)