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Families come in all different shapes, sizes, and lifestyles, which is what makes becoming part of someone else's family exciting — and also challenging. And when it comes to a wedding, the thing that will bring your families together, it can get even more complicated, because money is involved. You want everyone to be comfortable and excited, but that can be hard when expectations and resources don't quite line up. We asked our experts for advice on how to find a middle ground.
Before you plan a single thing, it's important to get everything out on the table. Who will be contributing to the wedding? Who is setting the budget? What are both families willing and able to provide, whether it follows tradition or mixes it up? "Having a candid talk in advance, with your future husband and then each with your respective families, will start things off more smoothly," says Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas. Make sure to talk to one another about how to best handle the situation, as well. Each family has their own quirks about discussing things like money, so be respectful and keep the conversations as comfortable as you can. "Don't be afraid to ask each family member what they are comfortable contributing. It may match what you'd expected, or you might be surprised to find that those with more money are wanting to spend less than you'd thought," Gottsman adds.
When it comes to the planning of the event itself, be respectful of both families' expectations. Get a sense of whether a black-tie bash is what everyone was anticipating, or whether one group or another might feel out of place. You might need to tighten the guest list to help stretch your budget to cover something fancier, or you could focus instead on creating a more casual, relaxed event that's still sophisticated and well-curated. Whatever you do, be sensitive to your budget and stick to it. "Make decisions that won't put either family — or yourselves! — into debt," says Gottsman.