Theres no questioning that 2020-2021 has been a little different for engaged couples. COVID-19 has brought challenges that we didn’t even know were possible. For the wedding industry, it’s made couples, families and vendors question pretty much everything. As an intimate wedding & elopement photographer, I’ve been able to help couples navigate this tricky season and pivot their large wedding into a small elopement or micro wedding. In the midst of broken hearts & plans something really beautiful happened. Nearly 100% of my couples that shifted their weddings to smaller celebrations laughed (and cried) with me on the day of their ceremony and told me that “this was WAY better than we originally planned – it felt like us.” One couple even said “we didn’t really want the big wedding” we were just doing it because it’s what we thought our family wanted, but when we sat down with them to explain where our hearts were at, they couldn’t have been more supportive of our choice.”
I decided to interview my favorite guy, my Dad – who is a former counselor and marriage and family therapist. I really wanted his perspective because he is the father of a woman in a committed relationship (hi, thats me) and also works directly with young adults, many of which are engaged or planning on getting engaged. I knew he would have a steller perspective on this and I’m so excited to share it with you!
That’s us in Chicago before Pandemic life ??
Here’s a recap of our conversation:
Le: Hi, can I ask you a few questions to help me help my couples?
Dad: Of course, honey.
Le: As a father, counselor and therapist – how would you recommend going about telling your parents (and your partners parents) that you’ve either decided to shift your big wedding to a small elopement or micro wedding due to COVID-19? My heart breaks for my clients because I know what it feels like to have to change something you’ve been dreaming about for years so I want to ensure they still have a fabulous day, ya know?
Dad: Ouff. Yeah, I hear you. This is such a difficult time for the family unit. Here’s what I’d say. Don’t anticipate the reaction of your parents. A lot of times parents don’t get the benefit of the doubt for how they will react. If you’re putting off having this conversation with them, stop that! 🙂 Give your old folks a little credit that they may react better than you think. Secondly, I think entering the conversation with appreciation, love, and understanding of how you got here and what role parents had in your life is a great way to intro the chat.
Le: Ahh, amazing point. You’re so right. Regardless if you’re 27 or 65 you want to feel valued. Okay, tell me more.
Dad: Thank your parents. Tell them you love them, be vulnerable. It’s okay. After this, express your concern for their safety given the current circumstances and why maybe you want to not be bound to your original location since the venue isn’t allowing it or that you just want to have it be a super small intimate ceremony without anyone else (except you as their photographer of course). Bonus points if you can say this without calling your parents old!!
Le: HAHA what?!
Dad: Um ya, of course! Parents don’t want to be told their old, BUT it makes us feel good to know you care about our safety.
Le: *still giggling Ok, ok – got it.
Dad: Okay so once you’ve announced your plan or what you’re proposing, explain a bit about why this kind of marriage ceremony or experience is important to both of you and your relationship. It always makes us feel good to know that big choices come from thoughtful discernment. Take into account that there may be a good amount of disappointment in their voice, and that’s okay – don’t lean away. Give them time to express their concerns and allow them to feel how they feel while also leaving space for a dialogue to unfold. You can always say something like “I know you may be disappointed which is totally understandable, so we wanted to propose doing a re dedication ceremony (i.e a reception at a later date) next year when things are safer and we’d love your help planning it, we really want to celebrate you two because we wouldn’t be here without you!”
I think it’s really important to outwardly ask for their blessing. You could use this script — “We know this is such a challenge to hear but we love you so much and it would mean the world to us to have your blessing for this new plan, how do you feel about that?”
Lastly PLEASE do this over video chat or in person if it is safe and possible – not text or call. And, allow your partner to do most of the talking to their own parents, this will make it feel more personal and less of an ambush. Love you, sweetie.
La: Thanks, Dad! Love you!
I hope this helps you with your decisions during this difficult season. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to book your wedding or elopement with Leandra Creative Co. Photography!
– Your photographer & Mark (Dad/Mr. Rosica/Best blues guitar player in upstate NY)