parents, the wedding budget, and control

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shakinros Posts : 30 Registered: 1/5/09
parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Oct 19, 2009 12:46 AM

Hello everyone,

This is perhaps more of a warning story than a question. Just thought I'd share it anyway. I think it will help me to vent.

9 months ago when we got engaged, FH and I started thinking about a fun party wedding with good food, plenty to drink, and far-flung friends hanging out with us. My parents offered to give us some money for the wedding, his didn't. Awesome - we weren't expecting anything from his parents, and I knew my parents would want to help. They came back with a much larger number than I had ever thought of, and we accepted gratefully, thinking we could have a nicer fun party than we originally thought.

Fast forward. We've paid 50% deposits on the venue and a coordinator, bought my dress, and verbally committed to a photographer though not signed anything. We are also committed, by virtue of using this particular venue, to use their alchohol and pay per consumption. My parents have been great throughout, asking questions, listening, sharing their thoughts when asked. They feel out of their element, though I try to include them. Originally, they said they would write me a check for the full amount of their offer, but instead, they've written me checks and paid deposits piece-by-piece as needed.

Well. Two weeks ago we had an argument about the holidays. I'm not planning to visit this year - too tired, stressed out, need a break from travel. This did not go over well at all.

Since then, I've had two catering tastings. Called both times to share the details (also trying to smooth over the holidays issue) and suddenly, parents are hypercritical of our choices - "halibut what? well, that doesn't sound very good. no, we wouldn't like that. I think you should try a different caterer." Right after telling them how much I liked this caterer. Today they tell me that they don't want put down a catering deposit before the holidays are over because they think more than two months out is too early. Meanwhile, my wedding coordinator is telling me that we're behind for our area and budget, and we need to book it soon or we're not going to have good options.

Obviously, had my parents written the check for the amount they had originally offered, FH and I would book the caterer and be done with it. As it is, we barely have the money to pay off the vendors we're already committed to. Forget about opening up more contracts. Hands are tied then on moving forward with any more planning.

Here's the moral, as far as I can tell - no matter how good the parental intentions are in the beginning, when money is in the picture, they will get involved in ways they promised not to and it will probably be unpleasant.

Here's the second moral - when family offers a set sum of money, thank them gratefully and graciously and GET THE CHECK. Do not book anything until the money is in your hand.

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Oct 19, 2009 2:07 AM Go to message in response to: shakinros

"Here's the moral, as far as I can tell - no matter how good the parental intentions are in the beginning, when money is in the picture, they will get involved in ways they promised not to and it will probably be unpleasant."

I don't think that this is always the case (wasn't for me) but I think that you are right in that this is OFTEN the case - especially if you know that your tastes tend to differ from your parents. It worked out better for me because my mom and I had a lot of the same ideas of what a wedding "should be"...so that is something to keep in mind. Does your vision match your parents?

"Here's the second moral - when family offers a set sum of money, thank them gratefully and graciously and GET THE CHECK. Do not book anything until the money is in your hand."

Great advice. Unfortunately we've seen this problem way too often on these boards, so I can say that you are right on the money with that one!




P.S. I have no idea what is going on in your life, so I am making no judgements, but I do think that if my child wasn't planning to visit for the holidays because she "is tired" or "needs a break", I might feel slighted. Not because I didn't believe her, but because I might think "Hmmm, everything else in her life is worth making time for and getting tired over, but not us". I am not saying that this mindset is right of fair, just that it could be what your parents are thinking . So maybe try to be sensitive. Why not invite them to visit you? Even if you are 99% sure that they won't or can't come, the gesture might mean something. Just a thought :)

P.P.S I give you this opinion because my sister-in-law is always talking about how busy she is, how overtired she is from all of her activities (which are choices, not obligations) then can't even make time to call us back, e-mail us back, etc. And I do end up thinking "So we're not a priority?". So I may be biased when talking about this. :)
Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Oct 19, 2009 9:56 AM Go to message in response to: shakinros

Dear Shakin,

The moral of the story is that money always comes with strings attached. The only money over which you have complete control is money you yourself have earned.

If you are not willing to accept the strings attached to the money, then don't accept it in the first place.

My best suggestion to you, now, is to look at the money you and FH have in your hands, now, under your control and make wedding plans accordingly. Go forward under the assumption your parents have decided that if you don't have time for them, they don't have money for you.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Oct 19, 2009 12:18 PM Go to message in response to: shakinros

You know, my folks were awesome. My mom gave me a check, no questions asked, one lump sum that went straight to my bank account.

My dad and stepmom gave me a series of checks. They told me how much to expect, in total, and roughly the amounts to expect, each month, and they were always exactly as they'd told me they'd be.

But, my mom knows how to guilt trip me when she wants to, and the money she gave me, and I accepted, is a tool to do just that.

And my dad and stepmom had a list of people they wanted to invite, and I never said no. I implied that I needed them to be reasonable, but I never said no, not even after the checks had cleared, cause I knew I would have heard about it in some form, in some way.

Now, I'm not someone who believes that it's okay to manipulate with money, and I get annoyed sometimes at the idea that giving money is a way of buying input. But the truth is, people always feel vested in the money they give, and I have never, ever found an occasion to the contrary.

Sorry you have to change your plans. And thank you for the warning -- I think there are a lot of brides who need to hear it.

__________________________________________

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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myra Posts : 5,550 Registered: 3/28/06
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Oct 19, 2009 3:06 PM Go to message in response to: shakinros

when family offers a set sum of money, thank them gratefully and graciously and GET THE CHECK.

I agree that getting the check up-front, with no strings attached, would be the ideal situation. Unfortunately, real life often is not ideal!! Actually, for our daughter's wedding, my husband and I did exactly what you would like to have happen--we handed over a check as a lump sum and my daughter handled all of the payments, accounting, etc. Fortunately, we agreed on just about everything, so there were no conflicts. Her husband's family also offered a sum of money. They came through eventually (and were very gracious, in general), but getting the promised funds took some tooth-pulling and down-to-the-wire moments (their finances were not, unexpectedly, in the best shape). What, whatch'a gonna do--you can only spend money that you actually have. All of these relationships are based on trust. Unfortunately, some people aremore trustworthy than others.
myra at www.classysassyweddings.com

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NJ4Life Posts : 3,358 Registered: 8/10/07
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Oct 19, 2009 3:57 PM Go to message in response to: shakinros

I agree it's very important to plan with the money YOU have until you have any promised money in your hands. My parents gave us a chunk of money. But it came in the form of deposits here and there and payments. And then my mom gave what was left as a lump payment to our venue. Honestly I'd rather my mom say "I'll pay the next payment for you, whats the address?" than worry about paying it myself with money she gave me. I am not sure why....but it just feels easier to me.

My ILs also offered us money but we didn't know how much until the very end. We had to ask them a few times the actual amount just so we knew how much to set aside ourselves. They did come through and were also generous with a gift which was unexpected.

I have heard talk about my ILs footing the whole bill for SIL's wedding whenever she gets married which I find odd since they kinda gave us a hard time about it even after they offered. I think they are just "old school" that the bride's parents pay for everything.

New Jersey: We have dumps, bays and cement boots and we know how to use 'em

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Melange Posts : 1 Registered: 2/23/10
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Feb 23, 2010 10:50 PM Go to message in response to: shakinros

Sweetheart, my daughter and her new husband were married last year in a beautiful wedding that was the happiest of days for all of us. Along the way, my daughter and I both had some things to learn. Fortunately, we started with a loving relationship. One of the things I had to accept was how sensitive she was to anything that felt like resistance to her ideas, even when I only meant to offer alternatives, and that she often was working on one aspect of their wedding while I was waxing enthusiastic about another, resulting my standing on her last nerve. One thing she had to learn was that I had feelings, too. As we are not wealthy and were paying for 2/3's ($10,000) of her wedding, we were making sacrifices for her, because we love her very much. Along the way, one thing to which I found myself reacting was her not making time to be with us - we live 7 hours apart and really treasure the times we're able to see her, and herein lies the problem you're having with your parents. Heads up: when you're someone's mother and you're really putting yourself on the line for your daughter's wedding and she doesn't even come see you at Christmas, it REALLY HURTS. And you get mad. I would've cried all Christmas! I think when you didn't go see your parents, they felt unappreciated, rejected, and taken for granted. And mad. And, of course, their enthusiasm underwent a revision, even though they still love you. You made a major boo-boo, sweet pea. You show your appreciation for what they're doing for you with your presence. Believe me, if you're the parent (meaning, a human being who feels things just as much as you do) of a grown daughter who lives a long way away and you love your kid, you never never get to see her as much as you need to, and that longing can be very intense, especially when your kid is getting married. What's a good guideline? My mother always said she could go a month. I can make it 6 weeks OK. 2 months gets to be pretty hard. I don't whine, complain, nag or emit other annoying behaviors - it's just hard. My recommendation is that you very maturely (non-defensively) tell them that you acted like a thoughtless doofus, that you're coming to see them this weekend to make up for Christmas, double up on the thanks, and whack yourself in the head a time or two. Before you pulled the Christmas dis, they were clearly enjoying it, as were you. So get back to that! If they say it's not Christmas, ask until you find out what's bothering them! You know, when you guys get grown, we actually expect you to pull your load in our relationships. Fortunately, my daughter did want to include me in all the excitement, for which I felt very grateful. We had a blast! It was smooth sailing after a few tearful heart-to-hearts early on. My very best wishes, honey! It sounds like you and the 'rents have a basically good relationship and should be able to get these hard feelings worked out.
Elizabeth's Mama

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IDzine01 Posts : 26 Registered: 2/27/09
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 1:27 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

"Now, I'm not someone who believes that it's okay to manipulate with
money, and I get annoyed sometimes at the idea that giving money is a
way of buying input. But the truth is, people always feel vested in the
money they give, and I have never, ever found an occasion to the
contrary."

I'm right there with you Ms.D. People have manipulated with money (intentionally or not) since forever. Engaged couples will excuse it because thier only other option is to not accept the offer. The only solice I can offer our couples who are dealing with this is the confirmation that they are right to be hurt and upset. Parents will do it, children will suck it up, but it's not okay.


“Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free til they find someone just as wild to run with them.” -Sex and the City

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 1:45 PM Go to message in response to: IDzine01

"Parents will do it, children will suck it up, but it's not okay."

Not all parents, and not all children. Still, parents graciousness, time, generosity and help for their adult kids shouldn't have to be endless or continually one sided. OP hasn't been back in a long time, however, the excuse for not visiting at all at Christmas because "i'm tired" really does sound like an exceptionally lame, and probably hurtful, excuse.




 Proud Member of P.O.O.P.,  People Offended by Offended People

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IDzine01 Posts : 26 Registered: 2/27/09
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 2:18 PM Go to message in response to: cyndi33

"Not all parents, and not all children. Still, parents graciousness,
time, generosity and help for their adult kids shouldn't have to be
endless or continually one sided. OP hasn't been back in a long time,
however, the excuse for not visiting at all at Christmas because "i'm
tired" really does sound like an exceptionally lame, and probably
hurtful, excuse."

Agreed. It's totally a two way street and while I do get irked by parents for the above mentioned reasons, I'm equally miffed by ungrateful children. Not saying this is the case here... just generalizing.

The Christmas thing is another issue. I agree with the others that she is probably unintentionally hurting her mum's feelings. Of course only she knows just how tired she is... Tired as in inconvenienced... or tired as in on the verge of a total melt-down? If the latter, then it's best to stay home and take care of yourself but if it were me, I would be darn sure to have plane tickets booked for some mother/daughter bonding by March.
“Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free til they find someone just as wild to run with them.” -Sex and the City

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: parents, the wedding budget, and control
Posted: Feb 26, 2010 6:14 PM Go to message in response to: shakinros

Ladies,

As most of you know, I am the mother of two adult children.

There are various situations out there for parents giving money to kids for a wedding.

1. Kid is financially responsible and more or less lives life according to my values. (ie Shows up for Christmas, unless there's a real good reason, etc)

My reaction: Hand over cash and trust kid will spend it wisely.

2. Kid is financially irresponsible but more or less lives life according to my values. (ie Kid goes into debt, "borrows" money and never repays it, etc.)

My reaction: Decide, carefully, what I am willing to do for kid, set a limit and deal directly with wedding vendors myself. Vendor sees me as customer, not kid. Kid cannot call vendor and upsize without my agreement.

3. Kid is financially responsible, but does not live life according to my values. (ie "Too tired" to see Dear Old Mom at Christmas might be one example.)

My reaction: Suggest, in a loving way, that kid plan pay for own wedding. I will gladly attend as a guest, unless wedding involves satanic worship or nudity.

4. Kid is financially irresponsible and does not live life according to my values. (ie Drug Addict)

My reaction: Keep pocketbook slammed shut, unless it's for a reputable rehab facility.

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