Hijacked! When parents take over the wedding
by Jean Angus, 1 July 2002

In an Asian society like Singapore, a wedding is usually a large family affair in which the parents of the bride- and groom-to-be play a significant role. In fact, many couples find that their parents take over the planning so efficiently that they have little to do but show up in their bridal finery on the wedding day. Here's how to cope when your parents attempt to hijack the wedding.

  1. Do your homework. If you are holding a joint family meeting, think carefully about what you and your intended want before getting everyone together to finalise the details. A meeting with no agenda is a waste of time, so ask your parents to think about their own wishes ahead of a wedding meeting. If you anticipate a tough time with the negotiations, try to come up with more acceptable alternatives in advance.
  2. Set clear boundaries. Make it clear that while you respect their wishes, it's your wedding, not theirs. Even if they are footing the bill, you and your intended should still be involved in all wedding-related matters.
  3. Be flexible. The key to throwing a successful wedding is to be open-minded to all viewpoints and suggestions. You don't have to agree with your parents, but you should at least listen.
  4. Don't take sides. Not all in-laws can get along, and a wedding meeting is prime time for a quarrel. Don't get embroiled in the hostilities. It's your job to make sure that a compromise can be reached if they can't see eye-to-eye. The last thing you want is an argument flaring up during the wedding banquet, so be sure to iron out what each side wants, well in advance of the wedding.
  5. Consider holding separate events. If no middle ground can be established between the parties involved, consider holding more than one celebration. This way, everyone can have the wedding they want. While this will inevitably cost more than holding just one celebration, it is likely to solve most parent-related wedding problems.
  6. Grin and bear with it. When negotiations break down and your parents prevail, the best thing to do is to put on a brave front and try to enjoy the festivities. Strangers at the banquet? Take the effort to make them welcome and get to know them. Traditional rituals? Do it for your parents' sake. Tolerance is key, so do your best to make the most of the situation.

Thankfully, not every couple has to face the trauma of a parent-hijacked wedding. But if you are one of the unfortunate few, all is not lost. You can still have a wonderful wedding. Just be prepared to make a few concessions to your parents. And, if all else fails, you can always celebrate your first anniversary by renewing your vows - the way you and your significant other want it.

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