31 answers

Wedding Etiquette - Groom's Parents Are Paying

My son is engaged to a girl that we love. It is her second marriage and her parents will not pay or contribute to any of the wedding expenses. As the groom's parents (it is our first wedding) we are paying for at least half the expenses. We are paying for all of our guests and half of everything else. The engage couple are paying for the balance of the expenses. The bride’s parents want to be involved in the decision making/planning. Because the bride does most of the leg work, the bride and her mother seem to be making the decisions. I am feeling left out. I had a talk with my son and he seems to understand but I guess does not want to rock the boat with his fiancée. Should I push this further or just let it be? What is the etiquette when the groom’s parents are paying ½ and the brides parents are not contributing?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

weddings are tricky times and lots of families can divide over these matters. I will advise you to be as supportive as possible to the couple and not rock the boat. Trust me, you will all be happier in the end.

if you are worried that maybe they will spend too much on certain things and it getting out of hand, maybe you can just offer a set amount of money, and then they will have to make the decision on how much more they want to spend.

I don't know etiquette wise though... i can't imagine being her mom and making plans without giving the couple any money... though I do understand that if they already paid for one wedding, they wouldn't have more money. I didn't have to deal with this stuff because I paid for my wedding myself, and my husband and I made most of the decisions.

It's this woman's wedding I am not a fan of who pays gets to make the wedding plans. I say let this woman plan her wedding and enjoys the whole process and the wedding day.

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My husband I got married at 25. My parents were not in the financial position to help us at all. My husbands parents gave us $10,000 to help us with our wedding expenses since they knew my parents weren't able to help. The rest came from us. My mother-in-law was involved in a lot of the decision making...less so than my own parents.

I definitely agree with some of the other people who wrote that you should agree to a SET amount of money. It is ok to be involved as the MIL. Make it fun and have a little "female bonding time."

Good luck!!

C., It is traditional that the bride and groom make the decisions about their wedding. The groom's parents usually only pay for the rehersal dinner/party and the booze at the reception. Of course in today's ecconmy all this is flexiable, but you should not contrubute any more than you are comfortable with. You need to talk to your future daughter-in-law. Be honest and don't turn on the guilt card...tell her that you would LOVE to be more involved and that you are feeling left out. If you wait for your son to speak up you'll end up feeling worse. Now is when you set the tone of the relationship you will have with your daughter-in-law...don't start it out with hurt feelings! Best wishes.

The bride's mother needs to grow up and be more responsible... you don't get to make decisions if you're not going to be paying for it.
I think you have a very big right in this - so continue to push. Maybe you can talk to the bride alone. I'm sure she is just excited and wants her mother to be involved, but if she understands your feelings (1 on 1) she might be more willing to reach out. Don't get your son involved in the emotional aspect, or the relationship between the 2 of you... you have to establish that on your own. And guys always just seem to repeat things the wrong way and mess things up! :)

Maybe you could offer to help with specific things for the wedding. I know my inlaws paid for the whole rehearsal dinner and gave us our honeymoon as our wedding gift. We decided who to use for the caterer since they were from out of town and just gave my mother in law the contact information and she took care of the rest. Also, we asked them for what they were comfortable with paying for the honeymoon and chose something within their budget. Just talk to your future daugher in law and tell her that you would like to be more involved with the planning and ask her for some specific things that you can help out with. It doesn't have to feel like you're forcing your decisions on her. We all know how stressful weddings can be since there's so much to decide on. Approach it as you genuinely want to help her out and take some of the burden off of her. I'm sure she will appreciate the help as long as it's approached from a "I want to help, what can I do?" aspect instead of a "I'm paying for half, this is what I want." aspect.

Money is always a tricky issue, especially when it comes to something with big emotions tied to it. If someone offered me money for my wedding I would be grateful, but I wouldn't want strings attached (ie, I wouldn't want to have them approve my expeditures). I would have an idea of what "I" wanted my wedding to be like and would want the freedom to accept others ideas regardless of whether or not they were paying. If I had to get approval for all the wedding decisions I would not accept the money.

So may two suggestions would be 1) to talk to your son and/or DIL and say that you are excited about the wedding and would like to be involved in some aspect of the planning. Maybe suggest one or two areas that you are interested in - requesting a few special songs, helping with the menu, etc. 2) If it seems to you that the expenses are running on the high side, revise your offer and contact your son asap. Let him know that you hadn't considered the costs would be as high as they are. Maybe your new offer could be something like, "Unfortunately we can't afford all that you are planning for but what we will do is pay for our guests and a lump sum of "X" to cover other costs." If you want to have a say in the planning to regulate costs, I think you will be on the losing end of that battle. There will be a lot of hurt feelings on all sides. Best wishes to you.

It's this woman's wedding I am not a fan of who pays gets to make the wedding plans. I say let this woman plan her wedding and enjoys the whole process and the wedding day.


Been there, as the bride. My parents contributed a little, in fact I had to ask my dad to help (it didn't occur to him to 'donate'). His parents offered to pay for specific things, and the rest we paid for ourselves.

I would say this: have a conversation with yourself and ask yourself if you want input on things on principle, or if you want input on things specifically.
If it is on principle - take a deep breath, and let it go. If the bride isn't asking your input, it's a shame, but it's what it is, and there is no need to ruffle feathers.
If you want input on specific things, adapt the funds you give. Paying for the flowers, for example. Usually flowers are a good chunk of the expenses. If you pay for them specifically, your daughter in law will say "my in-laws paid for this." Perhaps you won't have input on what KIND of flowers, or what arrangements go where - but you have that automatic recognition of your contribution. However, in order to approve the spending, the flower people will HAVE to have a conversation with you - you are writing the check, you have to sign off on the final bill. Also, if you do something specifically, as the bride - me personally, I would feel weird having only my mom and me in on the decision. That's me, and maybe she won't have that insight. You also have to be okay with this scenario.

The other big chunk is the food. Do you really want input on the menu choices? If you do, that's fine, just say "we'll pay for the food, and we'd like to be in on the menu." Who would deny that? You're PAYING for IT. Not just 'half' of everything. Otherwise, just offer to pay for IT.

You have been generous. Now you must decide to be selfish with your generosity. If this is still an option, then by delegating your funds, you in a way delegate the part you play in the decision making.

Otherwise, by lumping it and saying 'we'll pay for half' then you must let go of that desire.

Best of luck in this situation,

I feel it is the bride's job to plan the wedding. It is ultimately her day and should be the way she wants it. Think back to your wedding. Did you want someone else dictating the way things should be? If you want to keep things cordial with your soon to be daughter in law, I would let her make the decisions and include whomever she wishes in the decision making process, even if it is not you. This is a wedding not pay-to-play politics.

weddings are tricky times and lots of families can divide over these matters. I will advise you to be as supportive as possible to the couple and not rock the boat. Trust me, you will all be happier in the end.

I would definitely say something. You're paying for half of it and her parents aren't paying a thing. I understand her mother wanting to be involved, but she's not paying for any of it so she doesn't really need to be as involved in the decision making and planning as you do. If your son won't talk to her then I see no reason why you can't.

Your paying the money, you get to help in the decisions. It is clearly economics. Her mother is not paying she should have no say in the wedding. You have to pay to have the say now a days. Rock the boat or not, that is not the way to start a long term relationship with all the families, it is going to set up resentment and harbor ill will between you and the bride's family even if you don't mean it to. It is time to sit the bride and bride's mom down and tell them how it is...you are paying and you are also paying to be in on the decisions. They may not be purposefully leaving you out. Good luck!

Hi C.,

You are the mother of the groom. Your responsibilities are to buy your dress and your husband's suit.

That's it.

Why do you want to take on this responsibility of being financially responsible for your son and his financee?

How old are these young people?

Step back and reassess the situation with your husband. What can you reasonably afford?

Go to your nearest Co-Dependency Anonymous support group and learn how to say no.

Good luck. D.

I don't think there is an etiquette for this. It depends on each family and their beliefs as to what they should do for their children. If you pay for half of the cost, I assume there is a budget so you know how much you will contribute.
As for decisions, I would say ask your son and daughter in law if you can help out with the planning. They should take the decisions since it is their wedding. If they need help, they will know that they can turn to you. There shouldn't be any strings attached because of the financial help. Let them know that you are there for them if they need anything.

I think that you should give the money as a gift, not as a way to control the wedding. If you feel left out more emotionally, b/c you want to participate and be with the bride, just tell her you'd love to help out and tag along to appointments, etc. But don't think that you're buying decisions--start out on the right foot with your new daughter in law. Good luck, congratulations.

There really is no ettiquette these days. I would have a talk with your future daughter in law and let her know how you feel, without bringing out anything with the money. Just let her know that you want to be as involved as her mother because this is your son's first (and last) wedding and because you care so much about her you want the enjoyment of planning too. Be honest and let her know you're feeling a bit left out. Obviously a mother and daughter have a different bond but you want a part too. Just be honest. I'm sure you don't want to be right in there with every single decision but it would be nice to be thrown a bone once in a while, right?

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

chat and events within 2 hour radius

Is your son and future DIL paying for the other half? It is her wedding. I think you can offer to help with anything possible and tell them what you are able to contribute financially. Otherwise, I think it's up to the 2 of them how they want it planned. Our wedding was paid for by both my parents and my in laws but they completely took over and ruined planning for me. My husband and MIL planned more than I got to with my own Mom which only left me bitter.
Offer your help...otherwise I would suggest stepping back and allowing them to do as they wish.
Enjoy it!

How about this approach. Tell your son and your future DIL than you plan on contributing X amt of dollars to their wedding fund. The rest is up to them. Let them plan it and offer to help/give opinions/shop whatever they need. That way you get no wedding surprise costs....
Honestly I have seen this type of thing completely blow up in parents faces. I know you want to help and be involved but it may not be obvious to you future DIL. In the future, she will remember your kindness of helping with the expense of the wedding.

I hope that this does not come out sounding crass but while I understand the bride to be wants to share things with her mother, her parents are helping with none of the cost and should not have much say so in the wedding. It is one thing to aske for ideas and what not but you should be included as this involves all of you and you and your husband are carrying at least half of the cost of this wedding. Ultimately the decision shoudl fall on the bride and groom and whatever fits into the budget which would obviously involve talking to you. I think that maybe your son should say something to his fiance and let her know how you feel or maybe you should as well. It does not have to be rocking the boat by saying something. I also feel that it is disrespectful that your son will not say anything to his fiance about how you feel or he feels for that matter. I hate to say it like this but either everyone can get along and share ideas or maybe you should rethink paying for at least half the cost of theri wedding. I am sorry to sound like that again but you should not be disrespected in any way when her parents are contributing nothing but adivce about the wedding. Good luck and I hope you can be included.

Have you said anything to her? Maybe you could ask her if you could go along with her. Explain that you would love to go along, but just to be with her. Not to give your opinion unless she asks. My Mom and MIL helped me and I think it made us closer. My MIL had 2 boys, so she didn't get to help plan a daughters wedding. Just be open with her, but be sure to be a silent bystander unless she asks for your opinion. It is her big day. :)

Wow, opinions all over the board on this one, probably because their is no such thing as "etiquette" anymore. I'll forewarn you that my response is lengthy, but I want to explain my rationale so as not to come across as preachy :)

My question to you is what is driving your feelings - do you want to be more involved because you want to help control costs, because you feel like you can be helpful in specific areas, or simply because you love this couple and want to feel closer to them? If you are clear about why you are having these feelings, then you can have a positive heart-to-heart with your future daughter-in-law. This is a great way to build your relationship with someone that you mention that you already love.

The other piece of advice that I can offer is that I screwed up in this area when I got married. For me it was less about who was paying (we had a fairly traditional split between my parents, my husband's parents and us) than it was about the relationships involved. I bounced a lot of ideas off of my mom because we were close, because the reception was at her house, and because she expressed a lot of interest. On the other hand, my mother-in-law was much more quiet on the topic, neither asking questions nor offering opinions (which I came to learn was her way unless she was prodded). Only after the wedding did I learn how much I'd hurt her feelings by not pulling her more into the process. I guess the point of this story is that your future daughter-in-law doesn't know what you're feeling unless you tell her. You don't mention whether you've tried to express any interest to her yet, so does she know that you want to help?

Finally, when she does begin to include you (since I'm confident that she'll respond well to your request) be clear about how you'd like to help. Rather than wanting in on every decision (which may come across as either pushy or penny-pinching), suggest areas where you have experience or interest that will come in handy. Better yet, ask where she needs the most help and be willing to pitch in whether it's something you love or not.

One last thing that you may or may not have already considered is her relationship with her previous mother-in-law. Although she is probably not consciously comparing you to her, she may have emotions from the last wedding she planned that she hasn't acknowledged yet.

Once again, sorry for being so long-winded. I just wanted to provide a positive spin :) Hopefully there is something helpful here, and this isn't all stuff that you've already considered. Most importantly, remember how special this day is for your son and for your family - whatever happens with the planning, be supportive their special day and have fun~

If you are paying half and the bride's parents aren't paying anything...who is paying the other half? Your son? Im sorry...maybe I'm missing this or reading this wrong..

I say you ABSOLUTELY have a say...the MIL is making decisions about how much to spend on YOUR dime? Yuck!

Maybe it's too late, but what about scaling it down, encouraging a "destination" wedding, or heck....encourage them to elope? LOL (that's what my hubby and I did!)

Whatever happens good luck to you...:)

I hear from you that your motivation is to be involved in a wedding that is your son's first and hopefully possibly only one. You are VERY gracious to be paying half and I can tell you aren't feeling entitled to anything because if it, just sincerely left out, because...they ARE leaving you out, and it is your son's wedding as well as the bride's.
But that is the snag. Since the groom is automatically sort of not involved too much in the planning, the bride and her entourage get to do everything.
HOWEVER, they should be reaching out to you out of courtesy to include you. I cannot imagine treating my husband's mom this way, ESPECIALLY if she was paying and my family wasn't, and she's not even nice, but I would still include her. That said, I would want to choose everything myself about how the day went (which wouldn't be possible with her because she is a control freak, so thank god she didn't pay anything for our wedding, no one did, we drove through Vegas). But anyway, this brings me to what I think you should do.

Your DIL wants to choose everything, her mom is in like
Flynn by default as are all bride's friends etc. she probably just isn't seeing past all her excitement to be super courteous. If you were to assert yourself in any decisions about things that "show" like decor, dresses etc-- unless you have the exact same taste as her and can offer better options than she could find while also being totally hands off and not emotionally attached to the outcome and still letting her choose-- it will rub her the wrong way to have you wanting things your way in any way.

You sound like a sensitive person who is already being very nice about this breach in respect. I think you should assert yourself into the mix-don't wait for invite- as a positive breath of fresh air who is sort of just there to compliment everything they are doing and help. Once they see that you really aren't opposing or choosing anything, you're helping and fun, they would be true a-holes to ask you to butt out.

You can still have the quality time and participation and involvement as long as you don't choose anything. It's hard to break the ice without suggesting wedding stuff, so just call and ask how things are going-"any good gossip? Anything you can do? What's next? Can you come along to look at this or that?-not to decide but just to enjoy the experience?" Ask them the type of things you wish they would be offering.

I would spell this out up front asap. Call your DIL or her mom or both and say, "Look, I am so excited my son is getting married. I really want to participate in the planning. I know this is your day and I would not in a million years go against anything you decide or choose, I'm here to support, and I want to spend some time with you guys..." etc. Don't bring up the dough, hopefully they will get it that you do have the right, and you just want the memories and to be involved. Who knows-they might end up asking some advice.
Good luck and congtrats!

I have mixed feelings about this. I hate when people say that the wedding is the bride's day and her job to plan the wedding. I feel that the bride & groom should make all the decisions.

I do feel though that if her mother is involved and you are not, that is not right. You are helping to pay and the bride should include you at least to say thank you. You need to at least let her know that you would like to join her & your son in something. Let her know that you want to be involved in your son's wedding day. Maybe if you say it like that it won't feel like you are imposing in 'her day'.

My MIL was more involved in giving her opinion than my own mother and it basically ruined my wedding. This is a big day for them and you really need to know when your opinion is asked for or needed before giving it.

And one other thing - if your son doesn't want to rock the boat as you say, then when will he? He needs to know when to speak up. If he agrees with you, then he needs to say so to his fiance.

Who is paying the bill counts for something, in my opinion. Still, it is wise to be thoughtful of your future DILs feelings. I think if you are paying for all of your own guests at the reception it is fair to ask about the menu and offer an opinion if you feel strongly about it. It might be a good idea to pick specific things to pay for, rather than splitting everything in half. This way you can influence the outcome of what is meaningful to you. In other words, if you have an interest in the decor of the room offer to pay for the decorator/florist. If you are interested in the entertainment offer to pay for the DJ/band. Then involve yourself in a positive way. Vendors will corospond directly with the person paying their bill.

if you are worried that maybe they will spend too much on certain things and it getting out of hand, maybe you can just offer a set amount of money, and then they will have to make the decision on how much more they want to spend.

I don't know etiquette wise though... i can't imagine being her mom and making plans without giving the couple any money... though I do understand that if they already paid for one wedding, they wouldn't have more money. I didn't have to deal with this stuff because I paid for my wedding myself, and my husband and I made most of the decisions.

i would absolutely push it! youre paying for this wedding and you deserve to be involved. you said you like the girl he is marrying so could youtalk to her about it? tell her how you feel, she probably doesnt know you want to be more involved. my inlaws left my parents to pay for absolutely everything and it would have been nice if they would have come to me and asked to help more.

If she's not a selfish girl, she might not even realize what she's doing if she's all wrapped up in the planning. Weddings are definitely not what they should be now a days. someone always gets hurt in the planning process. i feel sad for you.

I suggest you forget about the money you're putting in since you already offered it... just leave that part out... focus on the fact that you really want to help. maybe suggest having her mother and her over to help make favors, or something like that... try to be active and if you feel like that isn't working just make sure that you tell her that you would like to be involved in something if she wants you and keep telling her that your there if she needs you to do anything until the day of the wedding. she might end up needing you when it really counts...
Good luck...

Hi C.,

I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling left out of the wedding planning. Nonetheless, I feel that the only person who should get to make any decisions about the wedding is the bride (& groom if he cares)...regardless of who's paying.
Personally, I had an idea of exactly how I wanted my wedding to go & I wasn't interested in anyone else's opinions. If someone had offered to pay for something but then wanted a say in the decision making, I would've refused the money. I'd rather have control of my own wedding plans than have someone's money. I don't know that this is the case with you (where you want to make decisions because of the money that you're contributing), but if it is I don't think that you "get a say" just because you're paying. I agree with others who say for you to give a set amount. That will be the easiest way for you not to go over budget & be sure you're not being taken advantage of. Just agreeing to pay half for everything without setting a budget first can be pretty tricky & could lead to hurt feelings or bounced checks.

If you feel left out simply because you want to be involved & think that planning would be fun & exciting (& you can leave your opinions out of it)...then talk to your daughter-in-law & see if you can tag along on some appointments. If you know that they're going to look at cakes, call her up & say "I heard you're going to look at cakes on Thursday. Would you mind if I came with you? I love looking at wedding cakes, it's amazing what they can do with icing these days." If she says yes, go & have fun, but don't give any opinions unless you ask. If the bride wants chocolate & Aunt Agnes is allergic...too bad for Aunt Agnes, let the bride have her chocolate cake.

My mother-in-law wasn't involved in any of our wedding plans. In fact, no one was but my mother & I, & even then my mom was around for the fun of the experience...not to give her opinion (unless I asked for it). My husband & I paid for our own wedding & my mother paid for the reception...she did not make any decisions about the reception. She only offered the advice that she'd prefer if we had a buffet rather than sit-down because you get more food for your money. If my mother-in-law had wanted to come with us to appointments & ooo & aww over pretty wedding things, I would have been fine with that (although she never asked & I never offered). If she would've wanted to come & then say "I think you should have fish instead of chicken. I really like the purple flowers instead of the pink. Why aren't you having a band instead of a dj?" It would've driven me crazy & ruined the whole experience for me. My mother & I had a great time planning my wedding together. We had fun, we work well together, & we got a lot of compliments about the wedding. It was a special time for the two of us & helped to give some closure when I got married & moved out of her house.

I think it's great that you're helping out your son & DIL with the wedding. Just remember that it's their day & that they should be the only ones that get to make decisions. Be involved in the planning for the sake of having fun...and if that's not possible, let it slide & have a great time at the wedding.

God bless,
A former bridezilla : )


I just have one question for you. What exactly are looking to do for the wedding? Pick the food? Pick the decorations? I think if you are contributing money for your guests then you already have say in the guest list (which is fabulous). Let the bride plan the rest. Long ago our are the days where the parents rules the weddings. Today's Bride/Grooms are much more hands-on with their weddings. Take solace in knowing that your son is marrying someone that you truly do care about and that either way the event will be wonderful. Don't stress over a 5 hour event when you have the rest of your life with them.

Best of Luck

hi C.. having to pay for all of my own wedding, i personally think its very generous for either parent to offer anything financially towards the wedding. in my situation, had my parents or in-laws offered to put money towards it, i would have been extremely grateful and i would have then asked them specifics, like if they had any suggestions or ideas, ect. that would have just been "my way" of showing gratitude.

everyone is different though. putting myself in your future daughter in laws shoes... i would not have been offended should you approach me wanting to come to an appointment or be more involved. sometimes i think people are just honestly absent minded. she may not know you well enough and possibly thinks you want to contribute by helping financially and that's it? and it could possibly explain why she's not "bugging" you about plans?

i would give her the benefit of the doubt and just casually invite yourself along next time. i think its a good idea just to get everyone on the same page. perhaps if her mother is not contributing financially, its because she really just cannot afford to? it's just a thought. you did say they "will not pay" so i didn't know the specifics, just offering possibilities.

i read some of your posts and a lot of people seem to be jumping to conclusions about your future in laws. when in all reality, maybe the brides family cannot afford to contribute to this 2nd wedding, and maybe the bride's mother is just genuinely trying to donate her 'time and help' to her daughter, to make up for her lack of a financial contribution?

i wish you luck and certainly am impressed with your generosity towards your son and his new bride. please let us know how it turns out. best wishes on a happy wedding and life together, and that everything gets worked out!

This is sad. I feel for you. I would have a talk with the bride to be and tell her your feelings.If you have that close of a relashionship it shouldn't ruffle any feathers.
Her Mother has some nerve making decisions on someone elses' bank book! Your soon to be daughter in law has alot of nerve not including you! You are paying half! She should be grateful! You're being very generous. It makes me wonder what kind of person she is not to appreciate your generosity? I hope your son thinks this wedding through before he goes through with it. Peoples' true colors come out when any event is being planned.
I would have spoke up by now. But, that's just me.
Make sure you set a dollar amount budget with them before his fiancee and soon to be mother in law break your bank account!

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