Weddings are expensive, and having parents contribute some (or all!) of your wedding budget can really help ease the burden. But there comes a point in every wedding planning process when contracts have been signed, deposits and checks have been mailed, and the budget dwindles away. If you’ve maxed out your wedding budget and there are still items left to pay for, how can you tell your parents? Our experts have a few tips.
Hopefully you’ve made it most of the way through your planning process by this point. A good planner and a well-organized budget spreadsheet will help you stay on-track, and should make sure your budget is enough to cover everything you’ve booked. But whether you’re short a few hundred dollars to hand out tips on your wedding night, or need a few thousand more to cover the catering or the bar, running out of money (and having to ask for more!) can be totally awkward and uncomfortable.
Begin by making sure you’re prepared. Double check your spreadsheet and contracts to make sure every penny is accounted for. Confirm what is and isn’t included in your budget, and make sure all of those miscellaneous purchases have been catalogued. Having a clear picture of where the budget has gone will help you start the conversation. Then, figure out what is included in the outstanding balance. If you are going to ask your parents to contribute more money to your wedding, you’ll want to know exactly what that money is for before you even ask the question.
Then arrange to meet with your parents in person, or talk on the phone if you don’t live nearby. Share your budget spreadsheet with them so you can review an itemized list of what their contribution has been used for. Be sure to clarify which costs were unexpected (such as extra alteration fees if your dress still doesn’t fit quite right) as well as anything you added on to the budget that you hadn’t originally accounted for (like longer photography coverage or place cards when you realized you needed a more formal seating arrangement). Did something come in much higher than the amount you’d allotted? Be ready to answer questions about why, whether it’s because you added an intermezzo to the menu or chose a different selection of beers and wines for the bar. You should also know which details are now set in stone, and which you still could go back and adjust to get costs down.
You should also consider how much money the two of you would be able to contribute, and mention that as a part of the solution up front. If you can’t cover all of the outstanding costs, you should at least offer to pay for a portion of what’s left instead of asking your parents to foot the entire bill. And remember, if they are not willing or able to provide any more money for your wedding, you’ll need to work out a solution on your own. Weddings aren’t worth going into debt over, so talk to your vendors about ways you might be able to lower their fees. That may mean cutting back on some of your plans, but saying “I do” without taking out a loan is worth ending your party at 11 instead of midnight.