Working out your wedding budget means tackling some tough issues — how much you want to spend total, who pays for what, what's worth the splurge, and so on. In the process, things can get a little personal. We compiled some of the most important budget questions that brides and grooms must ask their parents as they plan, straight from our etiquette experts.
The days when a bride's parents would bear all the nuptial expenses are gone. Instead, many couples pay for a large portion of the wedding themselves, with additional funds sometimes coming in from both sets of parents. Even those parents who do set aside a nest egg for their daughter's (or son's) first wedding are much less likely to do so for the second. But if your family's financial situation is good, there is nothing wrong with sitting them down, describing your vision in detail, and asking what they would be willing to contribute. Just remember to have a backup plan: You can't be completely surprised if the conversation ends with you covering the bulk of the costs yourselves.
Have your fiancé sit down with his mom and dad alone, since they may feel awkward talking about such a touchy subject around you. He should discuss the type of wedding you would like to have and the estimated budget, then ask them if they were thinking of contributing anything toward it and, if so, how much. Maybe they are the old-fashioned types who think that the bride's family will pay for the whole enchilada (which is a rarity these days). Whatever their response, he should be gracious and not gripe. If the amount is meager, you may have to get creative: Consider scaling back your wedding, or start brainstorming on the best ways to save.
That "tradition" of the bride's family footing the whole wedding bill has pretty much passed. So first, give your parents a really big hug for paying for the whole shindig. Now, how to handle your future mother-in-law: She is being unreasonable and needs to be told that, but to protect your relationship with her, your fiancé should do the talking. He should express support for what your parents are doing and explain that the guest list is equally split between the two families. Hopefully that will be enough to get her to trim her list. If not, your parents, working with your fiancé have a right to whittle down her guest list themselves. Another option is for your fiancé to go to his mother with the reception's per-person cost (including tax and gratuity). Then she can decide how important it is to her to invite the extra guests and write a check (before the wedding) to cover those costs.