Weddings are expensive, and how couples choose to pay for them is often as diverse as couples themselves. Whether you’re paying for it fully on your own or are relying heavily on financial support from others, money can have a huge impact on your planning process and experience.
But what happens when things start to get a little rocky? What if it’s only one side of the family that’s contributing, and they’re paying for the entire thing? If you find your parents or soon-to-be in-laws are trying to run the show and it’s complicated by the fact that they’re paying—we’re here to help.
Before accepting any money from your parents or in-laws (or anyone, for that matter), be sure that you have communicated the intention behind the cash. While in a perfect world you’d be free to use the money however you like, others will contribute specific amounts or things as specific as music, florals, or food. While how the funds are allocated might be reasonable, ensure that there are no other strings attached. If they want to be involved in wedding planning, be sure to ask what level of involvement they are hoping to have, and evaluate if you are comfortable with that or not.
For example, if your in-laws are giving you money for music but with it are insisting you hire a band rather than a DJ, there needs to be a conversation right away. Talk about it, invite them for a night out to go hear the band/DJ that you prefer, or try to find alternatives to consider together. While their generosity may be kindhearted, it doesn’t allow them to run the show, and perhaps you’d prefer to not accept the funds if they come along with red tape. As with anything, up-front, clear, and consistent communication can go a long way.
Be Open and Honest
Honesty is so important in fostering any relationship, especially with your in-laws. While money tends to often complicate things, being transparent in your feelings is essential. It must begin with your partner. Ensure that they understand where you’re coming from, your feelings of frustration and loss of control, and that you’re on the same team. If you’re not united in understanding one another’s feelings and perspectives, it will only make things worse. Once you’re on the same page, you’ll be able to communicate as one that you would like to handle things differently and regain some control over your wedding, which is just that: yours.
Rely on Your Partner
Since they’re your in-laws, obviously your partner knows them much better than you do. Rely on them to help smooth things over. Ensure that your voice and concerns are heard, but you don’t need to be the mouthpiece here, and in many cases, you shouldn’t have to be. Talk with your partner about communicating as a united front. If you’re finding this difficult (keeping in mind it can be tough to be caught between the love of your life and your parents), there’s no shame in seeking outside help, especially if things are getting tense or unpleasant. Wedding planning should be a time to enjoy and can also set the precedent for relationships and roles moving forward.
When you decide to voice your concerns, plan what you’re going to say or your call to action, and also plan for the responses you might need to be prepared to hear. As long as you are united and strong, your communication will be much more effective.
While some may say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, if the gift horse is pushy, overbearing, or disrespectful, there are alternatives, as unpleasant as they might be. There’s no reason to suffer through wedding planning, or even the wedding itself, it it’s turning into something you would never have wanted. If you do so, chances are you’ll end up with resentment and ill will toward your new family, and who wants that?
While to many money equals power, always remember that this is your wedding, and you as the couple should retain the creative control. If the money came with contingencies and it doesn’t feel right, consider declining or returning it and instead opting for options you can afford on your own, or perhaps waiting until you can save up some more to have the wedding of your dreams without strings.