by Karen White, New York Times bestselling author
A lighter look at generational differences magnified and mitigated by a major life event.
My thirty-year-old millennial daughter, Meghan, was born in 1992. The “Millennial generation” is known as much for their techno-savvy and self-confidence as they are for their self-absorption and avid consumerism.
I was born in 1964, the final year of the Baby Boomers. However, my sensibilities are firmly planted in Gen-X ground, the generation that started the year after my birth. I’m techno-savvy enough and struggle sometimes with being heard. Despite the material excesses I enjoyed in the eighties, my Depression-era parents drilled into me the importance of more saving and less spending. Gen Xers work to pad their savings accounts and value time over all else. Millennials value individuality and earn to spend.
When Meghan announced her engagement, I girded my loins. My daughter is a smart woman of excellent taste (I raised her, after all). But she’s from a different generation with different expectations. She had a Pinterest board of wedding ideas long before she met her future husband. She also had firm ideas for her vision for her big day.
I married my husband in 1987 when I was twenty-three. There was no Pinterest, but I did get a subscription to “Brides Magazine”. My mother-in-law and I did all the planning. I even did the rudimentary calligraphy on both the programs and invitation envelopes. I knew without asking that Meghan, as a true Millennial with a firm belief in her own uniqueness, required something different. Not better or more, just different.
Survival Tips When Planning a Millennial Wedding
Accepting our differences and working together alleviated most of the tension, allowing us to focus on the fun aspects of planning. These pointers from my experience may help other mothers with Millennial daughters. The goal is not just to survive, but to enjoy the process of planning a memorable and exciting celebration.
Adjust your expectations.
Your Millennial daughter will not want to wear your mutton-sleeved shoulder-padded circa 1987 dress. She won’t even need you to take it out of the box in which you had it lovingly preserved for your future daughter. Donate it. Or keep it in the hopes she might want to use part of it for a Christening dress for a future granddaughter.
If the budget allows, hire a professional planner.
Not because you need organizational help, although that’s certainly a bonus. The reason is you might need a referee during negotiations with your Millennial.
This is her wedding, not yours.
Deal with it. Gen Xers are known for their ability to compromise. Channel it.
Keep your opinions to yourself about the cake
Just because carrot cake is your favorite doesn’t mean the happy couple will want that for their wedding cake. If they want boring gluten-free vanilla, fine. You can always bring your own slice of carrot cake in your evening bag. I didn’t do this, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider it.
Understand that a palette, not just two colors, will be necessary for the theme
My wedding colors were red and white and dictated the floral colors and dresses for the bride and bridesmaids. Accept that two colors is not sufficient. The Millennial bride, in her bid to be more unique than other brides, will have an entire palette. The color choices will expand to include not just flowers, but to stationary, table linens, groomsmen, reception signage, dog collar, and more. Just smile and say, “Of course,” as in, “Of course, the dog needs to match the wedding party even if the dog is boarded on the big day.”
No one wants your input on the music
The happy couple does not need or want your input on music for either the ceremony or reception. No one cares that ABBA is your favorite band or that you believe Salt-n-Peppa’s Push It is the best dance song EVER. There are no guarantees any of your choices will be included in the song list. In fact, the bride will most likely inform the DJ that under no circumstances are they to accept any sort of bribery from the mother of the bride. Hint: Ask your friends to make song requests for you. Just avoid eye contact with the Millennial as you’re dancing and singing along to Dancing Queen.
Accept that the wedding registry and any related information will be online.
You will need to remember the website address and I recommend you write it down because you won’t be able to recall it, This way, you can tell your friends and older family members who also won’t remember it.
More Things to Help Avoid Conflict Between Mom and Millenial
My daughter wasn’t a Bridezilla; she was raised better than that. Nor was I a Momzilla. It helped that Meghan is very much a traditionalist. This meant we purchased engraved invitations and reply cards and used real stamps. She didn’t choose china, crystal, or silver patterns though. As she helpfully pointed out, she will inherit mine and my mother’s. Are all millennials morbid or just mine?
Meghan was conscientious about staying within the budget which further helped us to avoid some conflict. She did however ask for a few extras because that’s what Millennials do.
She was patient with me in terms of our communication styles. In typical Gen-X fashion, I prefer emails and she’s all about texts. Like most of my generation, we apparently have fatter thumbs and find texting coherently problematic. My future son-in-law walked me slowly through the online guest list and seating chart and despite initial frustration on both our parts, we emerged victorious. All guests were eventually seated appropriately with very little swearing on my part.
The End Goal When Planning a Millennial Wedding
Most importantly, we focused on the idea that Meghan’s wedding was a celebration of love to be witnessed by her closest friends and family. Falling on her face while walking down the aisle (she didn’t but I told her it “could” happen) would simply be a funny story to laugh about later. Just like her veil slipping off her head in the middle of the ceremony, which actually did happen (I had to surreptitiously pin it back on), and the tone-deaf cantor, these are all part of the memories of a very special day. And, of course, a professionally filmed and edited video of the entire day to watch over and over through the years.
The end result was the wedding of her dreams, a goal on which we both agreed.
About the author:
Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the Tradd Street series, The Last Night in London, Dreams of Falling, The Night the Lights Went Out, Flight Patterns, The Sound of Glass, A Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. She is the co-author of The Lost Summers of Newport, All the Ways We Said Goodbye, The Glass Ocean, and The Forgotten Room with New York Times bestselling authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. She grew up in London but now lives with her husband and a spoiled Havanese dog near Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more about Karen HERE.
Photo credit for wedding photos above – Harwell Photography.
Interesting Facts About How Millenials View Weddings
Today’s weddings for our millennial children seem very different than the weddings we planned for ourselves in the 70s and 80s. Here are some of the major differences observed and shared by our readers.
Technology and Social Media
Millennial weddings tend to embrace technology more than older generations. They might have personalized wedding websites, digital RSVPs, and interactive guestbooks. Social media plays a significant role in documenting and sharing wedding moments, with couples and guests actively posting pictures and updates.
Sustainability and Eco-Consciousness
Millennials are more conscious of environmental issues and are likely to incorporate eco-friendly elements into their weddings. This might include using recycled materials, opting for sustainable catering, or choosing eco-conscious venues.
Millennial couples often prioritize personalization in their weddings. They may choose unique and non-traditional venues, create custom decor, or craft personalized vows that reflect their individuality and values.
Millennial weddings might feature more modern and relaxed dress codes. It’s not uncommon to see the bride wearing a less traditional gown, and grooms may opt for more casual or themed attire.
Millennial couples tend to be more inclusive and open to incorporating diverse cultural, religious, and non-traditional elements into their weddings. They may blend customs from different backgrounds or create entirely new rituals that resonate with them.
Emphasis on Experiences
Millennials often prioritize experiences over material possessions, and this can be reflected in their weddings. They might allocate more of their budget to creating memorable experiences for guests, such as interactive entertainment, food stations, or unique activities. Destination weddings are very common.
While some millennial couples still create traditional registries, others opt for online wedding registries that offer a broader range of options, including honeymoon funds, charity donations, and experiences.
Smaller Guest Lists
Millennial weddings sometimes have smaller guest lists compared to previous generations. This may be due to factors like budget constraints, a preference for more intimate gatherings, or a focus on spending quality time with close friends and family.
Remember, these differences are not absolute, and every wedding is unique to the couple’s preferences, regardless of their generation. As time goes on, Generation Z (post-millennials) will likely shape new trends and traditions in their own weddings.
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