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.

C.,

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,
C.
pax

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.

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