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Money | A Hot Issue


We have an entire wedding budget area to talk about the complexity of money. No matter what your money views, there is no "right or wrong." This very simple award-winning game is worth the emotional awareness you'll gain. A few big "a-ha" moments may greatly help in wedding planning. Learn more

We're Going to Be One Happy Family...Or Else!


A very unique book written by a nationally respected marriage and family therapist who has worked with couples and families for over 30 years. Learn why a mother bought 25 copies for EVERYONE in her family to get everyone on the same page during the most intense, public, family event. Learn more

Wedding Discounts for Marriage Prep


Engaged couples are by their nature extremely happy. But as you know, after the honeymoon, marriage is hard work. We offer many options for marriage prep at many price-points(and wedding discounts from vendors who want to help!) Encourage your adult child to visit our website.Learn more


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Welcome Parents!


It can seem like a flash between children being in diapers and being engaged, and there is more advice available for that early stage of parenting than for the one you are in now. No one has to tell you that planning a wedding is one of the most challenging experiences of adult life. No one has to tell you that weddings are the joining of two families, not just two individuals, or that family relationships are complicated, with lots of ups and downs over many decades.


This generation of engaged couples is more independent than previous ones, older on average and with more income, but they also have more pressures to plan a perfect wedding. They may have mixed feelings about your input, craving it yet wanting to make their own decisions.


Standards of etiquette are up for grabs in today’s world, making it difficult to know the best way to handle the logistics and the people. Our website and book, Take Back Your Wedding, can offer you valuable perspectives on what is happening to you and your family during wedding planning. It can help you navigate the challenges of negotiating for what’s important to you, based on your values, while at the same time respecting the values of the couple and the others involved. Parenting well through the wedding process is a great joy, and we hope to enhance this joy, and maybe decrease your stress, through our program.



Parent Principles on Navigating the Relationship with Your Engaged Adult Child


Be an elder


  • See the big picture when others lose it:  all the stakeholders, a new family is now being formed, in laws take time to understand, the couple will be married at the end of it all.


  • Keep your cool when others lose theirs


It’s not your wedding but you have a stake in it.


  • If it’s a family and community wedding, you are a player and have a voice.
  • Neither passive nor pushy be.


Money is the root of many wedding evils


  • Money is more than money; it’s about emotion, relationships, loyalty, obligation, influence, control, competition
  • Clarity, clarity, clarity (about who pays, for what, when, what if costs run higher?)
  • Money brings influence but not the power to dictate.
  • Those who do not put up money can still have influence.
  • Money should not trump relationships.
  • Don’t use money to blackmail, threat, or manipulate—or you will pay a big price.        


Know your role in decisions.  Three general roles:


  • Enthusiast (couple decide alone, e.g., rings, vows, honeymoon).  Typical response: “How nice.”
  • Adviser (expect information and input, e.g., on color scheme, music, ceremony, and on anything you are paying for).  Typical response: “Here are some thoughts, but it’s up to you.”
  • Partner (fully involved in decision, date, guest list, and on anything you are paying for).  Typical response: “Let’s figure this out together.”


Roles will vary issue by issue and family by family, but should as clear as possible to avoid problems.  Sometimes clarity only comes after a disagreement or conflict.



Clarify roles and decision making with your spouse or co-parent


  • Don’t assume your spouse does not care, even if he/says so.
  • With ex-spouse, focus on what the next generation needs and let past grievances go.
  • Do not make threats to withdraw support or boycott, and don’t be intimidated if threats come your way.


Treat your DIL/SIL (daughter in law / son in law) and their parents/siblings as family from the first day of the engagement. 


  • Develop your own relationship with them.
  • Don’t say or do anything during wedding planning that you don’t want to live with for the rest of your life.


Your relationship with your grown child has now tripled in complexity. Deal with it.


  • New loyalties, influences; more complicated decision making.
  • Major events such as the Holidays will be different.


Deal carefully with wedding conflict; there are many years ahead of you.


  • When there is conflict, blood talks to blood
  • Do not mock the ways of your new in-laws, strange though they may be
  • Impossible relatives in your family will be impossible during the wedding; plan accordingly rather than being surprised and outraged.


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Elizabeth Doherty Thomas, is a co-founder of The First Dance, along with Marriage and Family therapist father Bill Doherty. The First Dance is a 2007 Modern Bride Trendsetter award winner for taking on the complex family dynamics of wedding planning. See what engaged couples and wedding professionals are saying about our book Take Back Your wedding. Our entire website is dedicated to offering advice on working through the people stresses of wedding planning as a couple, with your families, and how to strengthen your upcoming marriage through this enormous first task of married life.