Wedding 101

How to Talk to Your Parents About Your Wedding Budget

by Stephanie Hallett on

It's true that more and more modern couples are financing their own weddings -- with the average age of marriage on the rise, today's couples often have more cash at their disposal than those who married 20 years ago. However, there are still plenty of couples who need parental support to pay for their weddings, and we know that asking for that support can be tricky. Here is our best advice on making the big money talk as painless as possible.

1. Talk to your partner about the type of wedding you'd like to have. Sit down with your spouse-to-be and have a frank talk about the type of wedding you want to have -- whether it's a small backyard affair, a beautiful barn wedding or a black-tie fete. Details like when and where you'd like to marry, and roughly how many guests you want to invite will help you estimate your wedding costs. With those details in mind, start to research how much you're looking at spending.
2. Decide how much the two of you can afford to contribute. Before you ask your parents for financial support, it's important to determine how much you and your spouse-to-be can realistically spend on a wedding. Do you have savings, or are you planning to put away a certain amount of money each month during your engagement? Whatever the case, you'll want to have a solid understanding of what you two alone can afford. Once you have that number, get a sense of the type of wedding you could have without any additional financial support, just in case your parents aren't able to make a contribution. It's always smart to have a plan B.
3. Ask your parents to sit down and discuss the wedding budget. Schedule a time in advance gives them enough time to prepare for the conversation. And whether your parents are divorced, still married or remarried, you'll want to talk to all of them before accepting any financial contributions or making any decisions.
4. Have The Talk. You and your fiance should present your ideal wedding and share the average costs in your preferred location, tell them how much of your own money you've put aside, and ask them if they’d be able to contribute anything to your budget. Be sure it's clear that you're not demanding a contribution -- you're presenting them with an idea and exploring their involvement. Be grateful for any support and remember that you have a plan B you can finance on your own if they're not able to contribute.
4. Be sure you understand your parents' expectations before accepting their contributions. If your parents offer to support your wedding planning in any way, above all, be gracious. They want only to ensure your happiness. However, you'll want to discuss, before accepting any money, how involved your parents expect to be in your wedding planning. If you know you and your mom will butt heads over everything from the guest list to the favors, you can choose to decline her contribution for your own sanity.
5. Don't put down any deposits until your budget is secure. Once you've had The Talk with your folks and you've squared away all financial contributions, go ahead and start planning your wedding! Meet with vendors, consultants and friends and negotiate your way to the wedding of your dreams. But do not start making financial commitments before your budget is secure. You certainly don't want to reserve a space for a 50-person wedding, only to discover your parents want to invite 200 of their closest friends!
If you want to avoid tricky parental politics and the potential for hurt feelings, the best option may be to pay for your wedding yourselves. If that isn't an option for you, be sure to keep the lines of communication open with your folks. And remember: Your parents love and support you. If they're starting to drive you crazy, it might just be that they're nervous to see their baby tie the knot!
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