Paying for the Wedding . . . Opinions, Please **Info Added

Updated on March 27, 2017
M.6. asks from Woodbridge, NJ
43 answers

So, my youngest daughter, who just graduated from the Air Force, also got engaged that same weekend (she had no idea!).

Boyfriend's parents are "well to do." Not wealthy, but I would say upper middle class. He is their only son, and their youngest child. He is their only son together. The two older sisters are quite a bit older, and have both been married for some time, so no really recent wedding expenses for them.

We SHOULD be upper middle class, but because of our 2 youngest sons' special needs, we have no disposable income. All of our money goes to take care of their medical expenses. Plus, we have had a wedding in the last few years (our 2nd oldest got married), have traveled quite a bit recently for 2 military graduations, plus the normal things that pop up like my brother getting married in a different state (destination wedding), etc. We also paid for the 1st year of 4 kids colleges in cash, 2 of which were just in the last 3 years. Needless to say, paying for a wedding was nowhere on our radar and to be honest, we never expected him to propose until at least she was out of AF Tech School, if not until after at least 1 of them graduated from college (he graduates next June, hers is trickier because of her military job coming first right now).

It doesn't sound like anyone, including the boyfriend's parents are expecting the bride's parents to foot the bill. Which is good. However, they are expecting a 3 way equal contribution: us, them, and my daughter's father. Here are my questions on your opinions:

1. Do you think it is fair or unfair that they expect both myself AND my ex-husband to pay 1/3rd. If I wasn't divorced, would they then split the bill in 1/2 do you think? If we are divving up, shouldn't it be 1/2 groom and 1/2 bride? Or no . . .

2. Apparently since they have decided they will contribute, the boyfriend's mom has been helping picking out venues. The cheapest one? $6000 - not including anything important like food or beverage, that is just basically the venue. Of course, my daughter cannot use the good sense God gave her to see that there is no way we could afford to even come close to something like that. How can I gracefully shut this woman down?

3. My ex-husband will promise all kinds of money and help but will never pay a dime. He won't. He hasn't paid a dime in the nearly 20 years our daughter has been alive. Including a single dime for her college education (which he wasn't obligated to pay, but promised and promised). How can I make these folks understand that this man isn't going to pay a single penny and I refuse to cover his share on this - like I have done in the past a million times to protect my daughter.


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So What Happened?

Just to add a little info:

My daughter hasn't asked for anything (except she probably would expect that we would do whatever we did for her sister - which we totally plan to do). It is his family, namely his mom, that is sending her all these links to horrifically expensive venues and she is also the one who stated that the "bill should be split 3 ways." My poor daughter is caught in the middle - not really knowing WHAT do to and of course wants her MIL to be to not hate her :(

I shielded my daughter from her father and his money problem until she turned 18. She never even knew how much I really dislike him for everything he has done, including stealing $17,000 from us. When she turned 18, I shared with her that her dad had promised to pay for her 2nd year of college (which he had also already told her he would). I also shared that I had never had any luck getting any money, but maybe if she talked to him she might have better luck than I ever did, but I didn't think she should count on it. I also told her that we should do some "just in case planning" for her 2nd year of college (we don't co-sign for any student loans for our kids) in case her dad wasn't able to come through on this. Her dad never came through, which is why she decided to join the Air Force to pay for her last 2.5 years of college.

Oh, we were able to pay cash for 4 - 1st year of college educations because we saved from the time our children were born/adopted until they graduated. Just about anyone can save money for 18 yrs if they are diligent about it :) We even started a QTP for my grandbaby the month she was born and we put just $25 a month in it. It wont be enough to pay for a year of college for her (which is her mom's job, not ours), but that is a pretty decent graduation gift from grandma and grandpa!

Featured Answers


answers from Los Angeles on

Do parents really still pay for their kids weddings? I really don't think anyone should be having a wedding if they can't afford to pay for it themselves. And then they should only have the wedding that they can afford. Personally, I would give them a cheque (for whatever amount you can afford), and it would be up to them to plan a wedding within that amount, or come up with the balance themselves. Any other parents can also contribute as they wish. If people are adult enough that they can get married, they need to be adult enough to pay for the party.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I haven't read it all yet but when I got to the part about " We also paid for the 1st year of 4 kids colleges in cash, 2 of which were just in the last 3 years." I am pretty much done.

You paid CASH??? for their college? People who are middle class can't even do that so no, you're not middle class, I would say you're pretty darn wealthy.

That said. She's an adult. She is working and has an income. She should make a budget and stay in it. IF she sees a dress and can't afford it, she can ask if anyone can help her get it. IF she sees flowers that she can't afford, she is welcome to ask for help from someone to get them.

You have to sit down with her and tell her that you spent all the money you had and there isn't any more.

I think kids need to pay for their own wedding if they're out on their own and have a career already. I DO NOT think weddings or dresses or receptions should cost more than a house. I just think that is ridiculous.

I don't know about having a conversation with anyone. That won't mean they get it and understand it.

Sometimes seeing it in writing uses a completely different part of the brain and it is understood differently.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I don't understand all the drama. You simply tell your daughter, congratulations, we are happy for you and we can contribute x amount of money to the wedding.
If they are old enough to get married they are old enough to figure this out.
As far as the future in laws, you don't need to "make these folks understand" anything and why the need to gracefully "shut this woman down?" Just offer what you can and let them contact your ex husband if they want him to contribute. Then they can either make up the difference or adjust their budget.

17 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Don't put your daughter in the middle, there will be so many people tugging on her, don't be one of them.

Just know that every decision they make your daughter will be thinking about how this effects your bottom line, that causes her stress. Traditionally the grooms family pays for the rehearsal dinner and the flowers, those are two huge expenses as well so if they are paying for a third of the wedding and reception from a traditional standpoint they are paying for half the wedding.

In the end your daughter knows how much she can get out of her dad, she is a grown up now, if she doesn't know she needs to talk to him and figure it out. You need to come up with a figure for her that you plan to pay, then they can plan accordingly. If they want something bigger they can take out loans or save for it. If his parents want something bigger then they can pay for that as well. It is just no one should be going around spending other people's money. His parents don't get to say I think you can afford more and you do not get to say I think they can afford more. You give the couple their budget and they figure out how big a wedding they want.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Honestly, I would take a look at your finances and decide how much you CAN contribute. Be realistic. Then let your daughter know what the number is. You could even write her a check and say, "This is what we can contribute." What she does after that is up to her.

She may not have any idea what is realistic. Many people her age don't. So I wouldn't assume she should know.

In this day and age, I don't think there should be any assumptions about who will pay for what. Some people till think the bride's family should pay for everything except the rehearsal dinner. Other families think it should be 50/50. Some couples simply pay for everything themselves with no financial help from their parents.

Give her what you can, and let her take it from there.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

First, they JUST got engaged, and already the groom's mother is researching venues? If she's doing that, then she plans to pay for it!

So, get the kids to breathe, and you try to do it as well. Have a sit-down with the daughter and her fiancé, and ask what they have in mind. Ask WHEN they plan to get married, and that will give you a basic timetable. You can gently ask if they've had discussions about budgets and wish lists and so forth with his family. Discuss what the kids themselves are prepared to save and contribute, if anything. Do you know for sure that they have a set idea of sharing expenses, or did your daughter just tell you this because they had some hypothetical discussions with the groom's parents?

Have you met them? Do you have a good relationship with them? You can invite her and her husband for coffee with you and your husband. Don't invite your ex (your daughter's father) and you can explain to them that he does not participate financially in anything and has not for many years. Try not to badmouth him too much, but say gently that he wishes he could do more and sometimes gets caught up in his desires and isn't as practical as most people would wish. You can say, gently, that you have shielded your daughter from this for 20 years (or whatever it is) but that she's no longer a child and it's important that everyone be realistic. Verify what they are thinking about (don't assume the kids got the story straight or that the groom's family was operating on full and accurate info), and after they respond (important!), them that a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 division among groom's parents, bride's mother and bride's father isn't going to work. Tell them you cannot foot his third of the bill, and you don't want the children exposed to losing their reception hall or not being able to pay the DJ because Daddy didn't come through. It would be heartbreaking and embarrassing to THEM.

I would, if I were you, set a figure with your husband of what you can contribute. You have extreme medical expenses for some children, are owed 20 years of child support, and did not even attend family weddings due to expense. You can decide that you have X dollars to contribute, which should be roughly what your other children got when they got married. If you need a year to save up, fine - tell the kids that. If the kids want to get married in 3 months, there's not going to be much money. If they want it in a year or two, there will be more.

You can ask the young couple how they want to do this. If they want to do the whole thing themselves, fine. But why is his mother out there window shopping before these discussions have even been held?

I think it would be great to invite the parents over to YOUR HOUSE for a little champagne (not high end) and appetizers to celebrate the young couple. And let them see how you live. They can see your special needs kids, and the reality of your circumstances. Don't apologize, don't grovel, don't do anything to belittle yourselves. You are carrying a super-human load, one that any decent person would admire.

Please resist your inclination to make everything perfect for everyone else in the world while taking all the weight on your own shoulders. You don't have to do a "woe is me" meeting, but you shouldn't fake it either to try to appear more affluent. You are who you are.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

It's hard on the siblings of expensive special needs kids. Our daughter's expenses are extremely high, and our son has occasionally raised that issue, primarily when he was younger. It's hard to say "we can't help you buy new tires that you badly need because your sister needs [medication/physical therapy/flight to the Mayo Clinic]". We have tried to not say that, even though it's true. Our son knows it, but sometimes it still seems unfair.

Also, people without expensive special needs kids often don't think about the expenses involved. They don't comprehend wheelchair batteries, ridiculously expensive medications (our daughter took one med for 10 months that cost $5,000 a bottle, and even with insurance our share was $600, and each bottle only lasted 21 days). They don't understand traveling to different hospitals and paying for hotels and airfare or gas. I'm not saying you should lay out a whole sob story, but I don't think it's unreasonable to tell the fiance's parents that your sons' care costs X$ a month, and that you'll do your best to provide a fair contribution to the wedding. Make sure it doesn't come off as whining, but as providing information only.

Does your daughter know that her biological father has never come through on his promises or paid a penny? Some parents hide that fact, so as to shield the child from the ugly truth of how irresponsible and uncaring their biological parent is. If she's old enough to get married and serve our country, she's old enough to tell her in-laws to be that her father will not pitch in anything. Again, for some happily married people, that's a concept they can't fathom.

I'd phrase it as kindly as possible. Say "we are so excited about the wedding and we're overjoyed that our daughter has found such a wonderful fiance. We feel it's best to start off being honest, and so these are our situations." And keep your daughter in the loop - she needs to speak up on her own behalf.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have never understood why the engaged couple would have any expectation of their parents paying for their wedding. We are all capable of working toward our goals; it's not like we have dowries in our culture or that we are wedding off our teen daughters to wealthy noblemen any more....Therefore, I do not understand the idea of couples having a wedding beyond their own means. When I married, we did not ask for or expect outside financial help. Adults who are moving into becoming a family of their own should be able to plan a modest wedding which they can afford. My ex and I did a courthouse wedding and a reception potluck a few weeks later for family. It was a park picnic and we had a great time. When my husband and I wed, we did it at a local watering hole and invited those friends and family closest to us. Both were pleasant events.

Gracefully, I think you schedule a lunch with her and tell her how much you and your husband plan to contribute, period. If she wants to talk with your ex about it, she may. I would not be the liaison for that. Let that be their own understanding.

If she's intent on having an expensive wedding, then let her know exactly that-- what your budget can accommodate, and then, it's on her. Be excited for the young couple, be gracious that she wants something special for her son, and be clear about the total cost you can contribute. She can take it from there, or not. But be very clear about it, so there's no room for misunderstanding.

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answers from Wausau on

You need to have a serious conversation with your daughter and your future SIL, immediately.

My opinion is that adults should plan the kind of wedding they can personally afford, minus any parental contributions. Once they have an affordable plan, should a parent offer something for an upgrade they are free to take it.

Offer your daughter only what you can afford to contribute. Make sure she knows, "I have (this amount) for you two to use for your wedding plans." or "I'd like to cover the wedding (item/service) up to (amount)."

The main thing is that this conversation needs to happen right now, so your daughter and future son-in-law know the reality from the start.

Your child's future in-laws have no say or control over what the bride's parents do or don't do. Once you've had the conversation with your daughter, you can then make it clear to the future-in-laws, "As I've told DD/SIL, we're going to contribute (fixed amount) so they will have to plan with that limit in mind."

(You may also suggest that if her father promises money, she asks for it now rather than later, and not plan anything for cash she doesn't have in-hand.)

Added: I saw your SWH.

Tell your daughter that one should always start a marriage in the manner one means to continue, and that includes dealing with in-laws. If she can't speak up to her future MIL about her own wedding, she's not ready to have a wedding. If her fiance can't/won't speak up to his own mother, he's not ready to be a husband. They need spines and voices, before a dress and a cake.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You tell your daughter "I can afford to give you X amount. I wish we could give you more, but I can't. This will be it from me."

If your daughter brings her father up, you say "That is between you and him. All I know is that I can afford X amount and that's all." And then they can make their choices accordingly.

If your daughter doesn't know by now that her father bails out on her, well, I guess this will be a hard lesson for her. It's a shame it's taking this long for her to learn it, but you can't keep covering for him.

I know it's hard, but your daughter and her fiance are about to start a household together. If they don't understand money and budgets, then it's time they learned. If you are close with your daughter, help her set up an excel spreadsheet with all the expected expenses (flowers, venue, food, church donation, dress, tux, etc) and the amount of $ each family can contribute, and let her and her fiance plan accordingly. There is no money tree, not for them and certainly not for you. Set your limit and stick to it.

ETA: Ohhh, just read your SWH. She and her fiance need to become a team, now. It absolutely must be her fiance who tells his mother to back off. Your daughter cannot do this, nor can you. The fiance needs to step up and say "Thanks for your ideas mom, but we will do the wedding planning." And if she keeps trying to run the show, he will need to be the one to find stronger words to put boundaries in place.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Things like this are very tricky and can lead to a lot of family battles, so my warning to you is to tread lightly and work hard to keep the peace. Here's my take on it:

1. I don't think it's fair for both you and your ex to be expected to pay for 1/3. If the groom's parents want to split the bill evenly, it should be 50% from the groom's side and 50% from the bride's side, regardless of where the money for the bride's half comes from.

2. You need to establish some sort of budget with your daughter. If the most you can spend is $5000, let her know. If it's $10,000, tell her that. Whatever it is, tell her now. That way, she will have a better idea of what type of venues to look at and what she is able to count on you for. Maybe you need to sit down with her and her future in-laws regarding your budget so that everyone is choosing things that are within your means.

3. While I understand that you don't have the disposable income you wish you had, I think you need to make sure that you are doing all you can for your daughter. To me, it sounds like you were able to pay for your older daughter's wedding (or at least some of it) and to pay the medical bills for your younger two children, but are now saying that you don't have anything left for your younger daughter. I think you should make sure you are trying hard to offer her the same support that you've given your other kids, whether it was out of necessity or not. I'm not saying in any way that you haven't been generous with this daughter, I'm just saying it's hard for a child to understand why her parents can pay for one wedding but not another, or to feel resentful of her brothers even though she knows they need your support.

Anyway, sit down with your husband and figure out what you can afford to pay for this wedding, then sit down with your daughter (and potentially the groom's parents) to discuss your budget. Make sure you are being fair to your daughter and offering her what you were able to do for your oldest (or as close to it as possible). Assume that your ex will pay nothing, since that seems to be the trend, and don't even factor him into the decision.

Try not to let money spoil a happy occasion. I know how hard it can be!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

The wedding is your daughter and her finance's. You are taking on WAY too much energy worrying about this and going into elaborate detail about the groom's family, your financial history, the unreliability of your ex, etc.

Just figure out how much YOU can afford or wish to contribute and let your daughter know the amount (if any) she can count on from you. Let HER figure out how the other pieces fit or don't fit together.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Congratulations on your daughters engagement!

I have to admit it is a huge pet peeve of mine how young people invest more time in planning a wedding then the an actual marriage. One will not cherish the wedding if they don't have a marriage.

That said, I have to echo Nervy Girl saying that I am surprised now a days that people expect parents to pay for a wedding. And as B said, I think it's up to the couple to decide what kind of celebration they want and how they are going to pay for it.

I agree with letting your daughter know that you and your husband can contribute XX amount to wedding ( as opposed to pay for) and then leave it up to couple to decide their plan.

This is unless the whole point of paying for wedding is to control the planning of it.....

I think Diane B. makes a good point that you do have a tendency to make everything perfect for everybody else at a great cost to you. With that said, it might be time to stop shielding your daughter from her father. I would keep whatever he decides to contribute between father and daughter/couple only.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

You tell your daughter how much you will give her. That's it.


You tell your daughter how much you will give her. That's it.

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answers from Washington DC on

This is an easy, simplified plan:
1. You decide how much you are going to contribute.
2. Call the x. Tell him what you are paying. Ask him what he will be paying and GET IT UP FRONT! NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTS.
3. Have a simple meeting with the bride and groom. Give them this max $ amount.
4. Bride and groom decide how much they will be contributing.
5. GROOM talks to his parents. He gives them $ amount and ANYTHING above and beyond is on them. If mom can't curb the spending that's her problem.
6. If MIL to be "hates" your daughter because her family isn't loaded, she's a jerk and her feelings shouldn't matter.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

The whole parents paying for the wedding is a bit outdated, many couple now pay for their own wedding with only help from the parents (if they can afford it). My husband was in AF Tech school when he proposed, we paid for 80% of our wedding ourselves. We did the entire thing, including the dress and venue, for under $1500.

That said, don't worry about what anyone else is paying, figure out what you can afford without hardship (even if it is only a couple hundred dollars) and let her know that this is what you can afford to contribute (my mom, for example, offered to pay for most of the food and wine, but she and her sisters did the catering) and that is all you can contribute, the end. Spending thousands of dollars on a party is wasteful when they could be using that as down payment on a house, if they want to do that they can waste their own money IMO.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Oh wow! What nerve! You are not obligated to pay anything. And you are absolutely correct that if you were going to pay, bride's side pays half and grooms side pays half. Otherwise your side is contributing 2/3 of the bill.

My parents told me they were giving me $X as our wedding gift. It was then up to us how we wanted to spend it. It certainly made me more cost conscious than I may have been if they just said they were paying for the reception.

You need to have a frank discussion with your daughter and tell her what you are able to contribute. She should be grateful for any amount. Your daughter is an adult. Adults pay their own way.

$6000 for just the venue seems like an insane price to pay. In my area, prices for food and beverage at a nice country club start at $100 per person.

(We are paying for our girls college so they will graduate debt free. After that, we will help where we can but there is no way will pay for an extravagant wedding. I much rather help with a down payment for a house than an overpriced party that will be over in a day)

Also, I would not discuss finances with your daughter's soon to be In-laws. What you choose to give is none of their business.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I like Mamazita's response.

My family avoids drama and upsets by being flat out honest. That's just how we are, and it makes things far less complicated. Can you not just be honest? I don't mean to be blunt, but it makes life so much simpler.

Just say what you can afford, offer it as a gift, and let the bride/groom do the planning.

Just wondering though - when they say they want to split it 3 ways, are you sure they aren't meaning the bride/groom, bride's side, and then groom's side? Reason I ask is it seems odd to me that the boyfriend's parents would decide who pays what share if they aren't involved in paying at all. Why would they care you pay a third, the father pay a third?

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answers from Norfolk on

My thoughts?
Give them 2 tickets to Las Vegas and tell them to elope.
Respective family s can have receptions after the fact.

When my husband proposed - I was out of college for a few years and supporting myself and he was finishing up college - and he made it clear he wanted to be working for no less than 1 full year before we got married.
So we were engaged 1 1/2 years, saved up money for most of it ourselves, had a simple wedding (we had 75 people at our wedding, our folks coordinated and helped a bit), did a nice honeymoon, and bought our first house 9 months later.
There's no way we wanted to spend heaps of money on a wedding when we were aching to put a down payment on a house - getting out of the apartment was more important to us.

The kids getting married is up to them - and really? all they HAVE to do is see a Justice of the Peace - everything else is window dressing.
There may be no GRACEFUL way of shutting the future MIL down, but you can tell her point blank you can not afford to help with anything she has been planning - it's just way out of your league.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'd give them a number of what you can contribute. I'd also recommend a few venues, that way the MIL can see where your budget lies.

My sister-in-law and her fiancé paid for their wedding. Both of their families are not well to do, and they both saved for it. We all contributed what we could, and it turned out beautifully. The venue was outside in an open field, and the caterer was a friend, so was the florist and photographer. We helped with the cake, and food for the rehearsal dinner.

You do what you can, and they shouldn't ask for more from you.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

First off I would not drag the future in-laws into the drama. Stop being a martyr.

Tell your daughter and future son-in-law exactly what you can afford and leave it at that. This is THEIR wedding, not any one else's.

I agree with Julie 100%! DO NOT put your daughter in the middle of the issues you have with her biological father. it's NOT your place to tell the in-laws to be about him. That's just you being a martyr and making him look bad. Let him do that all on his own. You do your part.

I've read your other posts about your anger towards your ex-husband. You realize this is only hurting you and holding you back? If you need that anger to get by and blame him for the way your life has turned out? Then by all means, hoist yourself on your own petard. Otherwise? Let it go. Stop TRYING to make him look bad. He can do that all on his own. You don't need to stand there and say "see?! I told you so!!" Your daughter already knows he's not going to come through.

I'll state again: You tell your daughter what you can afford. It's her wedding. She should know how to budget and work on that. She needs YOU to help HER not hinder her. You need to be there by her side to help her MIL understand what SHE wants.

In MY opinion? No one should spend $6K on a wedding. I see the shows where the girls spend tens of thousands on a dress and I shake my head. They could use that money for a home or savings. Ahhh to be young.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You don't "Graduate" FROM the Air Force. You graduate from OTS (Officer Training School) or Boot Camp. If she was in college and graduated from college? I'm assuming she is now a 2nd Lieutenant as, I will assume, she did ROTC in college.

Have you asked your daughter what SHE and her fiancé are looking for? Do they want a fancy wedding or something simple?

When I married the first time, my parents paid for it. My former in-laws paid for the rehearsal dinner.

When I married the second time? My husband and I paid for the wedding.

It's not your place to tell them that her biological dad is a jerk and won't pay. They don't need to be involved in YOUR drama. While what you are saying may be true - you don't need to gossip about your ex. You allowed it to happen. He knew you would cover for him so he took advantage. You are as much to blame for this as he is. You enabled him.

As to venues? Why do they have to have some big fancy wedding? Are they getting married in New York City? Is this what THEY want or is this what the MIL wants? Using the KISS method (Keep It Simple Silly) is the best when it comes to weddings. A big, splashy wedding does NOT prepare them for MARRIAGE. Marriage is hard work. It's NOT easy and it's NOT a fairy tale.

As to affording - if you can pay for one year of college in cash - which on average is $25K - you can afford to pay for something.

Good luck! I wish your daughter and her fiancé many happy years and pray that they realize that the wedding doesn't make the marriage - they do.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Myers on

Your daughter knows your financial situation. Some of the nicer weddings that I have been to have been the cheapest. Getting married at the park, on the beach, or in a court house - then have a potluck at someones back yard. Its small and intimate. Get someone to take pictures.

She just got engaged, shes not planning on getting married tomorrow. Breathe. Talk it out with your daughter, son in law, and his parents. You guys can work together and make it a special day. They can always renew their vows down the road and go all out on a big wedding if they want.

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answers from San Antonio on

I think each situation is different. When my DH and I got engaged, we knew his family didn't have any money to help with a wedding.

We would have been fine eloping all I wanted was a minister and two witnesses. I would have loved for my family to be there of course and some friends, but the whole idea was to just get married the wedding didn't matter to me. I was thinking a very small church with a simple cake and punch reception afterwards.

It turns out my mother and close aunt (who does not have any children of her own) well they had different ideas. They talked to me about what I wanted and didn't want in a wedding. I told them 1. to get married and 2. no weedy looking flowers in my bouquet.

They had the wedding of THEIR dreams...I just showed up and smiled...and best of all got married. The pictures are like a fairy tale and it was all them and what they wanted...and I was happy they were happy. (At one point my father offered us a sum of money to just elope and save him from it all...but that would have broken my mother's heart.)

Back to you guys. If you have any money to contribute tell your daughter the amount. You and she knows that her father will pay nothing. If her MIL wants a big splashy over $20,000 wedding she will have to pay for it because it will be HER wedding and not really what your DD and her fiance can afford.

Your DD will have to talk with her fiance and tell him that my parents can afford whatever, my dad (and hopefully they know each other well enough that he knows dad's track record) won't pay a dime. They he can or they can together talk with his mom. They have to and you will have to back them up when she calls you.

This will be a big indicator of how future MIL will handle other things in their lives as they come showers...etc etc etc. Is your daughter willing and able to handle her now? She won't change however she handles the wedding and wedding issues is a big flag and how the fiance handles his mother is another of those big flags...they can be green and good or if they turn red, she needs to remember she not only just gets him she gets his whole family including MIL for their whole marriage.

Good luck!! You can only pay what you can then they need to figure it out. Hugs!!

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answers from Boise on

You already know the answer is simply to tell your daughter and future SIL that you can afford XX to pay for the wedding right now, and beyond that, they need to budget and find other sources of income (his parents, her father, second job, etc., it's THEIR problem).

Now, that said, you also mentioned that this is sort of a "surprise" and that you had expected it to come later, after school. So, why not explain that, then do what you're good at doing and SAVE for a future date? Who says they can't have a long engagement?

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I think people who want to get married should pay for their own damn weddings. If you can't afford the $3000 dress, then don't have a $3000 dress.
I have been married more than once. Every time, my husband and I paid for the shindig ourselves, and only had what we could afford. We did not spend a year's income on an all-day party with prime rib and an ice sculpture.
We wore clothes we already owned or bought something off the rack at a department store, no attendants, kept the guest list to a size that we could afford to feed finger foods and quality adult beverages, and at the end of the day, we were just as married as if we had had a horse drawn carriage and an entourage of bridesmaids and groomsmen.

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answers from Toledo on

I agree with others who recommend you determine how much you can spend and offer that to the couple.

I would also recommend that you offer to be with your daughter when she meets with her future MIL to discuss the wedding. This is such an important relationship. She might need some help navigating the planning of the wedding.

It's easy to say that your daughter just needs to stand up to her future MIL and tell her what she wants and how she feels ... but the thing is, this is her future MIL! The pressure your daughter might feel to make a good impression and have a good relationship could be huge!!! She might not know how to talk to her MIL about this. She might fine, but she might also need her mom.

My mom was a huge help with this. My MIL has very traditional ideas about things and has a little trouble listening to anything I say. Our relationship has really gotten better over the years, but I am so grateful that my mom was by my side during those first few years. Without her help, I might have said things that could have hurt the relationship or just said nothing and never even tried to be heard. At any rate, this is a life-long relationship, and there really is a lot of pressure there.

I also agree to just let them know what you can do and don't worry about your ex. Everyone really should know that you have nothing to do with how much he can or cannot or will or will not contribute. That's not something you have any control over. If there is an expectation for him to contribute, they need to talk to him. You can only control you.

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answers from Amarillo on

I thought weddings were the day of the bride and her mom not the MIL.

My son had a wedding and the bride's mom and dad had a set amount that they gave her to have a wedding. The amount included the dress, venue (garden setting), food, and minister. It happened a bit quicker than anticipated as a bride canceled her wedding and they got it. The back drop had the Rocky Mountains very beautiful. We were not asked to pay anything as my son had it covered including the honeymoon. I drove up to the wedding with hubby who had just come out of hospital to go to the wedding (still under doctor's care). Our budget was very minimal after traveling back and forth to hospital and his staying in hospital for over a month at time.

Make this day very special without breaking the bank. If they do go to Las Vegas they can get a wedding package for about the same amount as the $6,000 for a set number of people and have a good time. Also since daughter is in military she will have a set paycheck to also include in making this day a wonderful day.

Leave out the ex as he has not helped and will not be any different with plans. Also, depending on where she is stationed, she could use the base club to hold the reception. All people will have to send in info on to her for a pass to be on base but it is doable.

Congratulations to the couple.

the other S.
Retired Military Wife

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answers from Binghamton on

Sounds like the future MIL may be upper middle class but she's showing no class now. It's not her place at all to tell anyone who pays for what share. I would shield your daughter and step in and tell this woman that. Your daughter does want her to like her and she's young. But you have bigger things to worry about in life than this woman's meddling. So you dont have to be so concerned what she thinks about you. I would step in and have a planning meeting with her and lay some ground rules.

ETA-$6k for a venue is very cheap by some people's standards and area of the country. So it's possible she doesn't even realize she's picking places that are too expensive. She still shouldn't be this involved though unless she's paying most of the bill.

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answers from Springfield on

the bride and groom need to step up and say that this is their wedding. not the mils, not the mothers, the bride and groom. they are in charge of ALL the planning. they can consult moms for advice but should not expect every parent to contribute 1/3. thats absured.
you can offer your daughter what you can afford and let her bug her dad for more, then that mil can offer up her own amount and the bride and groom should create a wedding within that budget. brides are allowed to say "Its my wedding i want it MY WAY"

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answers from Chicago on

I knew a girl that wanted to make her soon to be mil happy. Her own mom had a horrible relationship with her mil and the girl was not at all close with her grandma. When it came time for the wedding, at first, whatever mil wanted she almost got. She looked for expensive venues--the hall and food was almost $25,000 and the guest list was huge! Then mil even tried to pick the dresses for her to choose from. The cheapest I think was about $2000. One day I asked how things were going and she told me how stressed out she was. I told her she and her groom needed to take control. MIL was not happy when they sat down with her and laid out a budget with max $$ for each item and max guest list. The bride and groom need to take control of this. If soon to be mil is upset about that, she is going to get upset about a whole lotta stuff in the future.

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answers from Chicago on

Wow, you will have to get on top of this now before it gets out of control. You are going to have to be blunt and succinct! 1/3 each is not fair and you cannot finance that. Period. $6000 for a venue is absurd and you cannot start this whole thing by owing 2/3 of that. No way. Your ex has to become "not your problem" at this point. You have to decide how much, bottom line, you can afford and give that. Be clear that this is what you can afford and don't make excuses or hem-and-haw over it. Cut the check now, or pay some every so often, but make it known the bank closes at whatever amount you pre-determine. You cannot afford to stay silent or be polite or procrastinate here! Your daughter can deal with her dad and determine what he is going to give, if anything. But, at least she will know what she can work with once she deals with him and gets the set amount from you. Now, I am NOT saying to go cheap on her - she is as deserving as any other family member for her share of what you offer - just make it known to her what you are able to do. Sorry if I sound a little mean, but I got mad for you hearing about this six grand venue lol!

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answers from New York on

We married in our thirties. We paid for our own. My parents and his each gave a 5 figure gift early in the process which we used to offset costs. We had no expectations that the parents would pay and were happy for what we were gifted.

Be honest with your daughter and if you feel it necessary or appropriate in speaking with your future in laws explain that you are happy for the kids and their plans for marriage and you will be giving them $xxxx towards the wedding.

F. B.

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answers from Houston on

So the MIL has taken charge and decided how the split was going to be without discussing this with you or anyone else. Hmmm....

First, you did ask about the split, in my opinion, it would be 1/3 each. No you are not married to your ex so each pay up. I get where you are coming from but no.

Second, the way the MIL is acting would bother me. I think the whole family (you, hubby, MIL, daughter and SIL) need to sit down and have a discussion. I would tell them this is what I'm able to pay. Nothing more, nothing less. If MIL wants some grand wedding, she can pay for it.

Third, I would tell them that any discussion regarding ex-husband contributing needs to be between them and him. I would say you don't want to be involved with that. If they try to bring you in, I would decline. You have made your intensions known.

We are in the middle of wedding season in our home. Our son is getting married in May. We are paying for the rehearsal dinner and her parents are paying for the wedding and reception. We didn't really discuss anything because my son was like "whatever"... DIL wasn't much better. So its MY rehearsal dinner. =)


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answers from Chicago on

Why aren't the kids paying their equal share? If they are old enough to get married, they are old enough to foot at least half the bill.

If I was you, I would decide upon an amount of money you feel able to give, and then tell your daughter, "we will be contributing this amount. I wish I could give more, but I can't at this time." End of story. I think young people spend a ridiculous amount of money on weddings because they aren't footing the bill. No way in hell would I give a percent. Determine an amount you can give, and tell them up front what it is. I'd then tell them that your ex is mostly talk and if he fails to pay, you aren't covering it. Be honest and direct.

My whole wedding was 5k. Yes, this was 17 years ago, but still. 5k. I bought a $90 dress. We dropped 1500 on roses! and another 1500 on booze. We had it at a country club so we only had to pay for the food, and we served steak. My parents gave $2500 towards my brother's wedding, and that is what they told me they'd give towards mine. We had a courthouse wedding first and would have been very happy with skipping a party for the parents. Hubby and I only invited 10 people total. The rest were my mom's friends. It was about the moms, not about us. We were happy with the courthouse wedding. I think parents should contribute to the expense if they expect to invite long lists of their friends. But I also think the kids should learn quickly that if they are adult enough to get married,they are adult enough to foot a large portion of the bill. We happily paid for half of my mom's long list of friends.

I foresee the next big dilemma in your world being how much you will be contributing to the down-payment of a house....... I'm sure your future in-laws will decide the kids just must have X. Y and Z house even if they can't really afford it. As an aside, your future relations may not be well to do. If you look at stats on actual net-worth stats, they aren't pretty. Most people have more debt than actual money. You just never know......

If they are well to do, they must have a friend that would be willing to host at a country club. Usually there is no venue expense, you just pay for the food and booze you consume. I never thought I would marry at a country club, but we saved tons by doing so. We bought the club member a nice thank you gift.

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answers from Kansas City on

Honesty is the best policy. "Honey, the venues your future MIL is suggesting are completely out of our league financially. We want you to have a beautiful wedding and we are willing to help as much as we can, but there are limits. You can not depend on your father to contribute." (she's a big girl, be honest) I would give her an estimate of the total dollar amount you'll possibly be able to contribute and let her think on it. Her fiancé can talk to his mother and bring her down off the cloud she is sitting on.

Good Luck and Thank her daughter for her service.


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answers from Santa Barbara on

I agree with discussing the budget you are able to afford and work backwards from there. It does not make sense for the MIL to say we each pay 1/3. A third of what, because 1/3 $10,000 vs. $100,000 is a big difference. If the MIL is set at having it at a place she loves, then she may need to pay for more.

You have spent a lot of energy explaining why you don't feel you are in the place to pay for a wedding and listed many details here about how responsible you are and how you have extra medical expenses for 2 of your children.

I like the idea of having the groom's family be in contact with your ex for money. It is not your job to chase down money from him. I am not sure about the etiquette of mentioning the money issues you have had with him to the future in-laws.

This future MIL may be super excited for your daughter and just sending her ideas because it is fun.

I would not argue that they should pay for 1/2 because of your divorce. They are being more than generous to offer to help. I would be delicate with how this is approached if at all.

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answers from Miami on

You have to be honest. You have to tell them together that you will not be able to do what they want here. You can tell them that they may feel that it's unfair, but you cannot change it. You cannot go into debt for their wedding.

If you decide you have an amount of money that you can spend, give them THAT NUMBER and tell them that you will give it to them after the wedding. They will have to front the rest. Tell them it doesn't mean that you don't love them, but you cannot do more.

You must also be honest that your ex will never give them a dime. He always promises, but never delivers. It's easier for him to promise and then hide. You must tell her that you've covered for him many times and never told her. But this time, you cannot.

It will be hard. But if you DON'T tell her this about your ex, she will end up in huge debt and feel cheated because you didn't warn her.

And even if you do tell her, she may be angry at you. No matter. She will have to learn the hard way. You cannot worry about the boy's parents. It's not up to them. But it IS up to their son to be honest with his folks, and you must tell him this. Venues that cost $6000 for a few hours are out of reach unless his parents actually want to pay for this wedding.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I agree wholeheartedly with the other ladies who suggest you simply figure out what you are able to contribute (a $ figure, plus whatever time you could *do* things to help--which if I recall your situation, that's the last thing you have or should be trying to offer as contribution to anyone... you need some down time yourself still. Badly).

I've been married for over 20 years now. Was the only daughter. Raised in the south. Parents were solidly middle class. I swear, sometimes I think I must be some sort of alien species or something, though, because I never really considered taking actual plans from either my own parents nor my future spouse's. Maybe we were older than some couples (we were 28 at the time of the wedding), but it was just never a question that we were planning OUR wedding. I didn't even ask my parents for $. When I broke the news to them (they lived hours and hours away) they were happy. Then shortly thereafter said they wanted to contribute and had $X to give us. They wrote me a check. I spent it where ever it needed to go, and if there had been anything left over it was a gift to spend or save as we chose.

We didn't want an elaborate wedding. And we didn't have one. Very simple, small, almost exclusively family guest list, etc. No big, open-bar reception. We weren't interested in getting "pay backs" on making friends be in our wedding (we'd both been in plenty, and we just didn't want all of that). We spent what my parents gave us, to include renting accommodations for the out of town family (all of the family) who had to drive and stay overnight for the occasion. His family contributed nothing. We had a non-traditional "rehearsal dinner" (we didn't have a slew of attendants, and that left our family, all of who had come from out of town), at our favorite restaurant, that was decorated by a friend for the occasion. My dad picked up the tab for everyone (even though he didn't tell us he would do that). We did not go into debt AT ALL to pay for our wedding (including pictures/photography).

I wan't at anyone's mercy as to where/what/how I planned things. I've never quite understood why the mothers get so involved and want to run everything... it isn't THEIR wedding.
It's like anything else where you are gifting a large sum of money to family (or anyone else). Once you give it, it's no longer yours to control. It's a gift. So, decide what you are able to give, and tell your daughter, "This is what we are able to contribute. This is our gift to you and your future husband. Spend it well. Spend it on what you'd like. Whatever you choose not to spend on the wedding is yours--honeymoon plans, seed money for a down payment on a house, whatever. We love you and wish you both the best."

It doesn't mean she won't ask for your opinion on things. It doesn't mean she won't ask for his mom's opinion, either. But shutting down his mom is something they need to figure out, not you. She (in-law) shouldn't be discussing finances with you, in my opinion. She should be having those kinds of discussions with her son. It might be wise to put a bug in your daughter's ear about future communications with in-laws and how that ideally goes. She and her fiancee are becoming one. Her husband will need to defend his wife (even from his parents) if need be. It should come from him, not from her parents. He needs to learn how to tell his mom "no, thanks, we've got this."

Sorry to ramble on. But just figure out your budget and tell your daughter what that budget is. You don't even have to give her all the money at once. Tell her how you will do it (a schedule if necessary, so she can plan payments to vendors, deposits, etc if necessary). But forego any nonsense with the future in-laws. You are not responsible to them for their missteps. ;)

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answers from Beaumont on

If it were me, I'd speak privately with the boyfriend's parents about what you can afford/intend to pay. Then together get with my daughter and future son-in-law and let them know what you guys together can pay and that they're on their own past that. Somehow reality has a way of paring down the least it should.

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answers from Lubbock on

I think that this is exactly why traditionally there were expenses that went to the brides family and expenses that went to the grooms family. That way, there are no problems like this. Each side pays what they can afford and feel good about.

If they want to volunteer and pay extra, great.

The groom (or his family) pays for the rehearsal dinner, the honeymoon, the bride's flowers, an engagement and wedding ring for her, corsages, boutonnières, any alchohol that is served at the wedding, and a band or DJ.

The bride (or her family) pays the rest. That splits it pretty evenly. Of course, this allows each person to decide what they can or are willing to pay. The bride can choose to serve mints and nuts or a multi-course meal. The venue can be a church hallway or the family home. The dress can be simple and home-made or cost an exorbitant amount.

The groom can go camping for the honeymoon or splurge for a trip around the world, etc.

If the other side of the family doesn't like what is provided, they can step up!

I would not negotiate. I would make it clear what I was paying for.

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answers from Las Vegas on

Haven't read any of the other responses yet, so sorry if I repeat,

You and your husband must sit down and decide what you can realistically afford to give your daughter. Then, you share that information with your daughter and let her know that's the max amount, so she will have to make a budget and work within it.

She and her fiancé will have to share that information with his parents and let them know that this is the max amount they have from her side. They will also have to be honest about the situation with her biological father. If he hasn't paid for anything her entire life, he's not about to come through with this kind of cash, and they should NEVER even consider it, no matter how much he promises.

It's really all about being realistic. You can't make money appear that you don't have, and the sooner your daughter and fiancé realize this, the better. They have to take back control of the wedding planning, and let his parents know that there are FIRM financial limits within which they must work.

If his parents try to insist on expensive venues with an offer to pay for the costs over the couple's budget, then that is a discussion your daughter and fiancé must have between themselves to decide if they want to give his parents that much control of their wedding.

Weddings should be a celebration of love between a couple, one that is shared with their family and friends. If the wedding becomes more about the show than the love, the couple ends up being unduly stressed over what should be a happy event. It's important to remember that the wedding day is an event, the start of the really important thing: a happy life together. I

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answers from New York on

The ONLY person that dictates how much YOU spend on someone else, is YOU! It doesn't matter what the ex- contributes or what the in-laws contribute. DO NOT feel you HAVE TO do anything! Maybe in the "old days" the bride's family paid, but anything goes now. Look at your monthly budget and decide what you can set aside to contribute, if anything. Then, tell them you can budget $$/month, say $100. If they plan to get married in 9 months, then you can contribute $900. If they get married in 18 months, you can contribute $1800, etc. Share this info with the bride and groom. This does not need to be a conversation with in-laws, ex's, etc.

DO NOT go into debt for their wedding and do not dip into your savings/investments.

I am the 3rd of 4 kids and my mom was a single mom. I married an only child with 2 parents. My mom told us how much she could give and my in-laws also gave an amount. We (bride & groom) came up with a budget. We were engaged 2.5 years. We both had full time jobs, so we contributed a lot, too. I would have never expected a dime from either side, but we were thankful for what we got. My in-laws gave about 8x what my mom gave.

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