Family Matters: Shouldn’t My Parents Help Pay For My Wedding?

April 19, 2016  |  



There are all kinds of customs and expectations when it comes to getting married. Having a color scheme. A wedding party. The bride wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. And then there are the cultural things that others remind you of. Like my fiancé’s mom telling me that she was supposed to pay for my dress or the idea of having a traditional ceremony before the actual wedding. But what happens when you, the bride, want to follow certain so-called customs, but your family members don’t?

According to traditional expectations, the bride’s parents are supposed to pay for the church ceremony and the reception, but in the case of a woman I recently met and hung out with, as she was preparing to plan her big day, she found that her parents were awfully quiet about how the arrangements would be paid for. Knowing that it’s probably not a good idea to assume anything, she asked them if they would be able to contribute to covering those costs, and her father told her, “probably not.”

She said he told her that if truly needed, they would help out where they could. But considering that she and her fiancé are over 30, make decent money and don’t have more than your ordinary bills, loans and responsibilities to cover (no kids yet), they should be able to fund the wedding of their dreams. However, the bride-to-be is a little hurt by the move. She’s their only child and expected that more would be done by her parents to help her celebrate one of the biggest days of her life. She understands that both of her parents are retired. Therefore, money isn’t flowing and growing on trees. But she almost feels as though they’re not as excited about this milestone as she is, or they would have jumped at the chance to help pay for her church and reception costs. She doesn’t feel like this is the right time for them to teach her and her future husband a lesson about being responsible and covering the expenses of the things they really want for themselves. She’s their only daughter for goodness sake…

I would have to say that I would probably be a little salty. And I hope that they’re not forgoing helping out more because she’s getting married after 30 (because the woman does wonder if they would be more giving had she met someone and tied the knot in her earlier twenties…). Still, at the end of the day, I think it’s best to go into these types of situations assuming that you and your spouse will be the only ones trying to fund your wedding. Assuming other people will step in and step up will only leave you disappointed and sour (trust me) and in even larger amounts of debt. Both of my parents are actually retired too, so I didn’t expect them to be able to really help out at all for my upcoming nuptials. But they’ve both said that they would contribute financially in different ways, which I definitely appreciate. But just their presence on my wedding day and their support is enough. Because while parents may be obligated to pay to house you, clothe you, feed you and raise you as a kid, as an adult, they’re not obligated to pay for anything, let alone your wedding.


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