When groom's family pays

staciejeanApril 11, 2010

The bride's family has backed out of paying for most of the wedding - they are only paying about 1/5 of the wedding, saying that we and our son are reponsible for all other costs.

We are trying to stick to a budget so that we can continue to pay for our traditional groom's family expenses, i.e. rehearsal dinner, transportation and help with honeymoon. The bride has shot down many of our suggestions, as well as our son's. We are wondering how much say the bride and her family have in some of the wedding plans, i.e. china versus hard plastic, rent versus buy linen, $30 centerpieces versus $10, bargain shopping versus "must haves", etc. When is it okay for us to put our foot down?

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"When is it okay for us to put our foot down?"

Now -- Actually, a long time ago.

You have no obligation to pay for a wedding at all, especially if the bride and groom are spending more than you're comfortable with.

The best way of getting out of the middle might be to decide on an amount of money you are willing to contribute, give them that amount, and wish them luck.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 7:48PM
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You don't have to "put your foot down" in the sense of having a confrontation. Just let the couple know how much you are willing and able to spend, and then go over the plans with them. Let them decide whether they would rather spend the money on dishes or flowers, etc., as long as they stay within the budget.

Believe me, I feel for you -- our son just got engaged, and they are planning to have the wedding in our city, not the bride's family's, so I am getting ready to deal with similar issues.

That having been said, I would avoid the pitfall of worrying about "traditional" expenses for the bride's and groom's sides. That always gets people into trouble. Just decide how much you want to/can offer, based on your own resources and desires, not the sex of your child, and let them work with that figure.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:10PM
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I agree you shouldn't have to pay for everything. Nowadays no one pays the whole shot, but traditionally the brides parents paid the biggest shot.

I also agree that you should set what ever you are comfortable with as your limit and let the couple know they will have this much and no more.

It is not necessary to have a rehearsal dinner. When my son got married, we bought a couple of bottles of wine. I made finger foods, a few squares and sweets and tea and coffee and served them in my home. The only ones invited were the bridal party, priest and ours and the brides family. The rehearsal took place in early evening.

It is also not necessary to help with the honeymoon. My son and his bride had 1 night in a hotel and had their honeymoon 6 months later when they could pay for it themselves.

It astonishes me just how much people want to spend on weddings. It is possible to have a lovely wedding without breaking the bank. Just think back to the weddings you've been to. Do you remember all those expensive extras people pay for. Chances are they are a blur. What you do remember is the over all picture and the reception

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 6:59AM
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Ya, what they said. Figure out a dollar amount that you want to spend, write out a check to your son, and tell him and his bride to plan whatever they want with that money, her parents' money and whatever money they want to throw in.

No matter who pays, there is no rule that says the bride and groom have free reign to pick out whatever they want regardless of cost. No matter who pays, there is always a limit to the funds.

Personally I would not want to engage in arguments with my son on issues like china versus hard plastic, rent versus buy linen, $30 centerpieces versus $10, bargain shopping versus "must haves", etc. That's between him and his bride. If they have a budget to work within, then they can decide what their priorites are. And after all, they need to learn to live within their means anyway, so this is a good way to start them off.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 10:08AM
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I agree with the others - tell the couple how much you have to spend or write them a check. Anything beyond that amount they pay for themselves. I wouldn't get into disagreements about plastic vs china, etc. I also wouldn't pay for the honeymoon. The groom's parents haven't done that for years and years.

As an added note, I was interviewed for an article on wedding costs that appeared in the New York Times on April 4. The reporter talked with the president of the Association of Bridal Consultants, which does surveys of various aspects of wedding planning. According to him, today only about 10% of weddings are paid for by the bride's family. That is down from 27% in 2003. The vast manority of weddings are financed by both sets of parents and the couple, though not usually by an equal amount for each.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 11:17AM
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Sweet pea, that was you in that article? Congratulations.

Your remarks are exactly what is happening here: Just this morning, my recently engaged son (Thing One) called and delicately asked whether we will be contributing to the wedding and if so whether we could give them an idea of how much they could budget for. He told me how much the two of them plan to spend of their own money, and how much they think her parents will contribute (estimated based on how much they are contributing to her sister's wedding this year -- a safe bet, I would think, as it is also going to be in the groom's home town, not the bride's). We will be contributing, and there will probably grandparent help, too. So it seems we fit right in with the trend.

It's hard to figure out what to offer, because I assume, but I'm not sure, that we will be hosting the "rehearsal dinner," too. I put that in quotes because, although I recognize that in many communities (geographic and ethnic) the rehearsal dinner is just the wedding party and spouses, in my community it always includes all the out of town guests and usually also any in-town close relatives and often close friends who are helping in major ways (housing people, hosting showers, parties, or hospitality suites, etc.). I'm not saying everyone has to do that, but in our community it is definitely expected that you include anyone who came from far away in anything you host the whole weekend. Besides, we WANT to! It's really so much fun.

So it's really hard to figure out how much to offer. Of course, what we can afford is the first factor to consider. Whether we are hosting the rehearsal dinner comes next. The number of guests comes after that -- but that's a real chicken and egg question, isn't it?

What really helps is that Thing One and Future Mrs. Thing One are very sensible, undemanding kids without any royal fantasies that we've detected so far (although weddings do tend to encourage that, don't they). They want a fairly big wedding, though, so it will take some money no matter what style the wedding is. Add in that we need to have kosher or dairy food, and they want live music, and we are already into expensive territory even if they aren't thinking extravagantly in flowers, menu, etc. I have learned that although it seems like a more formal wedding would be more expensive than a more casual one, it really is usually about the same.

I will be needing everyone's sage advice and experience here now that it is finally my turn to be a MOG. Thanks in advance ...

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 12:19PM
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Thank you so much for everyone's input. I should have clarified a little bit. We have a budget set, and my son is being very cooperative and is paying for part of the wedding himself. The bride is having a hard time sticking with the budget, fighting us and our son through most decision making. She's been part of our family for five years and we are all very close, and I am afraid that this wedding is causing too much stress on the newlyweds because he budgets and she wants. None of the money is coming from her. I think from the wonderful advice I have received, I have a very good idea. I will take the money from our centerpiece, dishes and cake budget and write her a check and tell her she gets to pick everything out, and that is the money she has to spend on it. This way she can learn a little budgeting herself. I will sweetly tell her that she should have fun, but be careful not to go over that amount because all the other money is being spent on the other vendors, etc. Gellchon, this wedding is taking place out of state - our home town, where all of my family lives. I have recruited my sisters to assist in fun things they can help with - don't be afraid to ask family or friends for help. They love it. I have three sons, so I am having fun with being a wedding planner - I thought I would never get the pleasure of being so involved in one of my children's weddings. :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 12:44PM
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umm.....are we sure this wedding should go forward?

Sounds to me as if the bride-to-be and her family are being less than exemplary -- always a bad sign. Then, again, if you've known them for five years, I guess you must have that part down. Why are they "backing out"? Did you mean that they were once on-board but changed their mind....or they were never on-board? Combined with the bride's apparent idea of entitlement, I get a bad feeling from your description.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 2:20PM
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I also have reservations when the bride is placing demands on the groom, and the fact that he budgets and she wants. Have the couple considered pre-marital counseling? That is one way for a neutral third party to discuss their divergent money styles. If they don't resolve some of those issues before marriage, their marriage could be a tug of war over every issue and she could begin to see him as the "bad guy," the one who always says "no." Without seeing the error of her ways, she could feel he is trying to control through money, which is rarely the case when you have a spender and a saver married to each other.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 3:22PM
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So, money is coming from bride's parents, groom's parents and groom. Bride who is contributing no money is pushing to spend more than the budget allows. What's wrong with this picture?

It sounds like the next meeting shouldn't be about china vs plastic but about setting realistic expectations and how to stay within a budget. Although I'm not sure that as the future in-laws, it's your place to have that conversation. The couple needs to sit down and figure this out together, and if they can't do that, then I agree that pre-marital counseling is probably the next step.

gell, I'll be watching your son's wedding progress with great interest. I'm certain that whatever you're involved with will be classy and elegant. I'll be taking notes!! :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 3:59PM
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As usual, Lowspark put it perfectly (and wisely):

"I'm not sure that as the future in-laws, it's your place to have that conversation."

We don't know anything else about this bride anyway -- she may be a fabulous person who is getting a little silly and entitled as her wedding draws near and will come back to herself later. She wouldn't be the first one!

lowspark, thanks so much for your sweet words! I don't know how much, if any, decision making I will be doing. It's a struggle not to say too much, especially because I'm the one who lives here. There is a wonderful wedding coordinator here; she did our kids' bar/bat mitzvahs, and I don't even want to think about doing this without her. Thing One and Future Mrs. Thing One were concerned that a coordinator might be too expensive; I told him that it is OUR PLEASURE to pay for her. Given all the players and cities involved, it's clear to my husband and me that she is going to be the key to keeping everything smooth and everyone happy, so I hope that they accept that offer.

Hey ... wait a minute ... aren't you the leading proponent of the groom's mother backing off (based on your own experience)? LOL! You are making an exception for me; that's quite an honor.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 9:08PM
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Best wishes, gellchom. We married off our daughter in 2005. Both sets of parents had eloped (45 years ago today for us) and so we had little experience or knowledge of weddings. Our daughter's friends advised her to allow a year at least to plan the wedding in her hometown from upstate to avoid stress. So she chose to be engaged for 18 months. During that time, I did all the leg work and used the computer extensively to email her websites and pictures. Every trip home, we did the next big task: venue, dress, florist, cake, band, photographer, etc.

We really knew nothing when we began. We did not even know what we did not know. But it eventually all fell into place. The consultant had some good sources for us, but we had made many of our decisions before she came on board, which the hotel required. I am so glad my daughter used plenty of time to plan with me, and as a result she had a good time doing it all. Everyone complimented us on how much fun they had at our wedding. We were the talk of the groom's hometown for the rest of the year. The bride and groom relaxed and had a great time at their wedding too.

So my question is, has your young couple allowed enough time to educate themselves, research and make decisions without feeling stress from the pressure of a tight time table? That could be a big help to the bride and groom.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 12:12AM
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LOL gell! Right you are! I firmly believe that the groom's parents should not IMPOSE their views on the bride. That's not to say they shouldn't be involved at all, especially if the bride and groom ask for them to be. What it means is that if the groom's parents' tastes differ from the bride's, they should just keep their mouths shut.

My experience which scarred me involved arguing over such things as what color the groomsmen would wear. WHY oh why did my future MIL want to insist on HER tastes for my wedding? Not only did she lose, but it gave me a bad taste in my mouth regarding how she viewed her role in our (me and her son's) life. It set a bad tone.

It's different if the people footing the bill (regardless of who they are) put a limit on spending, or if the GM is asked to help with planning and makes SUGGESTIONS or puts forth IDEAS. If asked, then of course, one should get involved. But never to the point of insisting on making the decisions which belong to the couple, or even of trying to talk them into things.

And gell, I KNOW you would not do that!! I think it's great that you are offering to pay for the coordinator and I'll bet they'll take you up on that generous offer. It's still early days and I'm sure that your son and his fiancée are still just trying to get their heads wrapped around the enormity of the process of planning a wedding.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 10:40AM
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Happy anniversary, sheilajoyce! Congratulations to your whole family.

Yep, they are figuring about a year and a half, so they are in good shape. We know that the synagogue is available on the day they are talking about (it had better be! My husband is the cantor!), as are the coordinator, a really good hotel with a ballroom that fits the bride's preferences, in case they want the reception there instead of at the synagogue, and the photographer they like. They have all said that they will let us know if anyone else asks for the date and give us the option to put down a deposit then if we want it. So they really don't have to make any decisions yet; the only other things I can think of that need to be buttoned down way ahead (especially for a holiday weekend) are the band and the caterer, and if their first choices on those are taken by the time they make their choices, there are plenty of other good ones. It is really nice of everyone not to demand deposits at this point; now they can take their time without worrying.

Lowspark, you are too kind to me. I am all too inclined to give my opinion in ANY situation -- and this ain't just any situation! It's frustrating because we have seen literally hundreds of weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc., and we do know a lot about what worked and what didn't, and which caterers, hotels, bands, florists, etc. in the area are great and which you can't trust. That is one of the main reasons I want the coordinator involved. She knows all I do and of course a lot, lot more. But coming from her, it's professional advice. Coming from me, it is hard for it not to sound like personal preference, and harder for them to disagree. So I know she will steer them right (= avoiding problems, NOT matching my tastes!), assuming they agree to work with her.

And I can only hope that they and/or her parents don't decide on pastel plaid groomsmen's clothes, wedding party tattoos, or ...

... you know what's coming ...

a cash bar. :-)

You definitely nailed it with "I'm sure that your son and his fiancée are still just trying to get their heads wrapped around the enormity of the process of planning a wedding." They seem to be bouncing back and forth between not wanting even to think about it until after her sister's wedding in June and not being able to resist doing research and making plans. Exactly how I would feel!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 1:49PM
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Aw, c'mon gell. I've read enough of your posts to know that you KNOW what the right thing to do is! Of course, I can completely identify with the idea that KNOWING is one thing and DOING is another, especially when it's a personal emotional situation such as your son's wedding!! I have every confidence though that you will come through with flying colors.

LOL at the pastel plaid groomsmen's clothes, wedding party tattoos, and most especially at the cash bar!! I know you raised your son better than that!! Too funny!!!

Wondering about the OP... how's everything going?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 2:15PM
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We're doing well. Since my last posting, I sat my future DIL down and told her exactly what the budget is for linen and tablewear, including centerpieces. I asked her to research prices on renting versus buying, plastic versus glass, and to get back to me when she finds out which way is the best way to go, and we will go from there. This will avoid me giving her my opinion, but she will see for herself. She has been waiting for me to do all the foot work, i.e. be her wedding planner, and I told her that she needs to jump in and have fun. I gave her all my research info on the local wedding cake vendors in the town where the wedding is taking place, and asked her if she didn't mind taking care of all the cake details herself, and I am here if she needs me. She's as sweet as can be, but she has a hard time finding direction and where to begin. I am excited to see everything fall into place, and I believe it will.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 7:25AM
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Well, one suggestion from our early stage of awe and shock at knowing we were lost in planning a wedding: We started out with a huge armload of bride magazines from me to our daughter. That seemed to get the juices going and she had fun browsing through them too, as did her roommate.

Also, I went to lunch with a friend whose daughter had just married at a lovely wedding. So I picked her brain, but alas it was of limited value as the bride had done almost all of it and mom did not know all that much. Nevertheless, she got me going with a little confidence and a few beginning suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 7:03PM
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