5 Conversations to Have with Both Your Parents and In-Laws Before the Wedding

Make sure everyone is aligned on these key elements long before the big day arrives.

large white tent wedding ceremony space with white chairs and floral decor
Photo: Mike Cassimatis Photography

You probably already know that there are several conversations you should have with your parents before you start planning your wedding. You will want to sit down with both sides of your family to talk about things like big-day timing and financial contributions, but you shouldn't forget to discuss a few other key elements, too. We asked four wedding professionals to lay out the conversation topics that you should absolutely cover with both your parents and your in-laws—together, if possible—before you get too far into the wedding planning process.

1. Longstanding Family Traditions

According to Tifany Wunschl, an etiquette expert with Gourmet Invitations, you should talk to your immediate family to find out if there are any important family dynamics, personal requests, or traditions either side wants honored. "You might learn that your mother's only request is that you say a special prayer for a loved one," she says. "Or you might learn that your future mother-in-law insists that everyone wears yellow because it is her favorite color. With all things in life, talking about plans and expectations in the beginning stages is key to lasting relationships—especially when money is involved."

2. Money as a Percentage, Not a Dollar Amount

You might already have a plan to talk to your parents and in-laws about money, but consider approaching it with a percentage, instead of a dollar amount. "If money is the root of all evil, your guest lists are the trees and branches," Wunschl says. "Your budget is dependent on your guest list."

Here's the thing: If both sets of parents agree to pay for half of the wedding, but one family makes up 20% of the guest list, while the other defines 80%, issues are bound to arise. Get ahead of this by identifying your guest list—and then discuss money through those percentages. "In this circumstance, you might want to suggest that each family covers that percentage of the wedding costs," says Wunschl.

3. General Expectations and Big-Day Roles

Jamie Chang, a wedding planner and owner of Mango Muse Events, says many sets of parents don't even meet until their children become engaged. If that's the case, bringing them together before or directly after that moment happens will help them get on the same page about what you deem important. "This way, going forward, both parents know what to expect and it doesn't become a tug of war," she says. Each side should have a clear idea of what is important when it comes to the wedding—and what they can expect their roles to be in the planning process.

4. Religious Traditions

When it comes to differing religions, it is especially important to communicate each family's priorities so that you can accommodate them from the start. According to Kristen Gosselin, the owner of KG Events and Design, "following up this discussion with ways that you can equally incorporate both religions is the most practical thing to do."

5. Day-of Logistics

You may be surprised to learn that your families have thoughts on who should give a toast—or where your grandmother should sit—which is why you should include these types of conversations on your list of must-have talks. Identify the moments that are particularly high-impact to you and your bride- or groom-to-be, and then share your thoughts for feedback; even if you end up disagreeing, giving your parents and in-laws the opportunity to weigh in on how the day unfolds is the most respectful course of action.

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