Help Where Brides Need It Most? Or a Hundred Bucks Down the Tubes?

Wedding mediation is apparently the new thing – at least according to the wedding mediators throwing up web sites and trying to attract the attention of brides and their grooms. For those who haven’t heard of wedding mediation, the wedding mediator is basically a counselor who helps the bride and groom communicate with family, friends, and wedding vendors while planning a wedding.

From Positively Wed: “A mediator can help a bride (or couple) discover what’s most important and how to be her own best advocate with vendors and family. How to listen and talk so she can have the wedding she wants without hurting loved ones or herself… Investing an hour learning to communicate better will definitely help you deal with family and friends more easily. And, the bonus is you’ll be prepared to handle hubby, too.”

Interesting, last-sentence sexism aside. A wedding mediator will charge anywhere from under $100 up to $500 for one or more in-person or telephone chats. At Positively Wed, the basic package costs $97 and includes one hour-long meeting via phone and seven days of unlimited email access. That’s not all that much in the grand scheme of things when weddings typically cost thousands and thousands of dollars. And yes, planning a wedding *can* be the most stressful thing a 20-something woman has ever done in her life. Are there people who simply can’t keep the peace while involved in planning a wedding? Yup. Are their brides and grooms who have trouble relating to their loved ones? Yup.

wedding mediator

Is wedding mediation worth the money and the time? Perhaps for some, though I’d recommend that anyone who is having communication issue intense enough to warrant the introduction of a third party consult a licensed therapist.

This is probably going to sound absolutely terrible, but the first thought that popped into my head when I heard about wedding mediation was “Now we need counselors to help us plan parties? For real?” My opinion is that the appearance of dedicated wedding mediators has a lot to do with the super mega over-glorification of the wedding day, which less than surprisingly is one of the big factors in all the usual kinds of conflicts that arise when planning a wedding.

Society convinces brides-to-be (and MOBs and sisters of the bride and the groom-to-be and, yes, even guests) that the wedding will be the most important day of a couple’s life, which in turn causes everyone to have an opinion about how things ought to be, causing all kinds of hurt feelings and almost forcing people to look into services like wedding mediation. I think that if the “It’s myyyyyy dayyyyyyyy!” culture was less powerful, brides and grooms and their families could plan a wonderful ceremony and reception and guests could attend it without their being a need for a counselor to step in lest everyone start poking each other’s eyes out with the nearest sticks.

6 Responses to “Help Where Brides Need It Most? Or a Hundred Bucks Down the Tubes?”

  1. Margo November 6, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    Speaking of sticks, I could save people the cheddar by lending out one of my fierce Aunties to hit people with a clue stick when they acted up.

    Though, to be fair, it’s not the worst idea in the world, but as NtB points out astutely, it’s a bit of a tail-wags-the-dog situation when the wedding industrial complex turns around with another product to sell you to cope with the hoo-ha.

  2. Twistie November 6, 2009 at 9:49 pm #

    Oh NtB, don’t feel bad about your first thought. It was mine, too.

    In general, I agree absolutely with you. If your communication difficulties are intense enough to warrant a third party to help out, get a licensed therapist. If you’re a bit frustrated but bloodshed is not imminent, you might consider getting a book for, oh, about fifteen or twenty bucks…or even just borrow it from the library.

    This strikes me as smacking of people going out of their ways to divorce brides and grooms from cold, hard cash.

  3. class factotum November 7, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    I had a friend who was going to couples counseling with his girlfriend. My (unspoken) thought was that if you have to counseling with your boyfriend/girlfriend, maybe you should just break up.

  4. Never teh Bride November 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    @class factotum Unless the couple has been together for years and years and is basically married without a piece of paper from the state, I have to agree with you. Isn’t that what dating is for? To find out who you’re compatible with? If you’re not compatible when you’re dating, for goodness sake, how exactly will you deal with the stresses and strains of marriage?!

  5. class factotum November 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    NTB. Exactly. Although after I wrote that comment, I thought that there might be more to the story. Counseling might not have saved that particular relationship, but if there are things one needs to change about onesself before one can have any relationship, then perhaps the counselor might suggest therapy.

    Now I’ve just talked myself out of it again. Ellen (oops! did I say that out loud?) just needed therapy. No amount of couples counseling was going to make that relationship work.

  6. Dina Eisenberg December 11, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    Hey, thanks for this post on wedding mediation. I’m sure a lot of people share you point of view. This idea isn’t for everyone. And, I agree with you that the wedding community has contributed to making wedding planning more stressful by focusing increased attention on personalization and unique style. What bride wants to do her wedding wrong?

    Where we part company is around why wedding mediator is useful and not lame or redundant. Seeing a therapist is a great way to express difficult emotions and gain understanding. So, a therapist can help you find answers, but not implement them. Your therapist might suggest that you talk to your partner, but is not likely to help you find the best words to say or teach you how to begin the conversation or how to finish it productively. A mediator can do all that and boost your listening skills so you can actually hear what the other person is saying, instead of assuming and projecting.

    A therapist helps you feel better. A mediator can help you live each day better.

    A wedding is only one day, true. The damage to a bride’s relationships can last a lifetime. Preventing the loss of that seems worth a 100 bucks.