The following guest post is written by Rachel Wilkerson of Lover.ly, a curated search engine that lets brides-to-be search, save, shop and share all things wedding-related.
These days, the cliché of the bride’s father paying for her wedding is quite outdated. In reality, more and more couples are paying for some or all of their wedding costs.
The uncertainty of what, if anything, parents will contribute can leave couples feeling awkward, as they want to start planning but are avoiding talking to their parents about cold, hard cash. Here’s our step-by-step guide for dealing with this uncomfortable but necessary topic.
Set a Budget
Come up with a ballpark number. Talk to your fiancé about the kind of wedding you want to have (size, location, style, etc.), then discuss what you both can afford to contribute. Next, come up with your best guesses for what, if anything, you think your families may offer. Don’t get too attached to this budget; you have no idea what your parents might say. Going into the conversation with high expectations can result in major frustration for everyone. Right now you’re just trying to get a basic idea of the total number you might be aiming for, with or without any help.
Think of some different ways your families might contribute money. Some parents may feel more comfortable giving a set dollar amount, while others may want to pay for specific things that are important to them (such as the photographer or a venue that holds their extended family). Also consider having the parents pay for the bigger deposits up front while the couple saves up to make later payments. It’s good to have some different ideas in mind before you have the money conversation so you can be flexible based on your parents’ desires.
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Talk openly with your partner about whether your families’ contributions will come with certain expectations about how that money will be spent. If you know that your parents will offer to cover the cost of the entire thing … and will also expect to dictate the guest list, location and decor, you and your fiancé need to be on the same page about that well in advance. It can be good to talk about nonnegotiables with your partner in advance so you are able to say to your parents, “While we’d love to have you pay for the food, we’re not comfortable hosting the wedding in your city, so we may have to say no to your generosity because having the wedding close to us is our number one priority
Don’t spring the conversation on them. Do your folks a favour and give them some time to prepare! You could shoot them an email saying that you’d like to talk about it over Sunday dinner, or ask them when would be a good time to discuss. If you do bring it up in person, make it clear that you’re only starting the conversation, and that you don’t expect them to give you an answer on the spot. They may have already discussed a number, but it’s always better to give them time to think about it.
Avoid bringing up what your partner’s family is contributing. Weddings bring up a lot of expectations and social pressure for parents; telling them exactly how much your partner’s family can afford can really sting. So avoid mentioning it and try to keep the conversation focused on the number that makes them most comfortable.
Bring up the research you’ve done with regards to how much your dream wedding would actually cost. Give the specifics of what you’re hoping the day will look like and make it clear you have done your research. Let them know that you researched several different venues in different places and share what corners you’d have to cut to work with a smaller budget.
As you start talking numbers with your families, keep in mind that there might be a little shock and awe. Many older generations are completely unaware of what an “average” wedding costs today. Don’t get angry or snide if their jaws hit the floor. One thing that can be helpful is sharing the cost of weddings you’ve attended as a family. (If you know those numbers, that is.) Of course, the point of using that information is not to talk them into spending more than they are comfortable with, but it can be helpful to give them a sense of what someone else’s wedding cost.
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Have a Backup Plan
Be prepared for your families to say no. They might not be able to (or want to) help pay for your big day. If your parents are willing and able to help pay for your wedding, that’s great! If not, that’s O.K., too. You’re not entitled to a big wedding hosted by your parents, and it’s completely inappropriate to throw a fit based on the number they give you. During your initial conversation with your fiancé, talk about what you can afford to pay and get comfortable with the idea that that might be your entire budget. Remember that even if your parents have it, they don’t have to give any of it to you for your wedding. If they do offer to contribute, thank them. Repeatedly.
Once they’ve given you a number, nail down the specifics. If they agree to pay for the photographer, let them know when the deposit is due and confirm they are O.K. with that date. If they say they’d prefer to give you a lump sum, ask them how and when they are most comfortable sending that your way. The more set the details are, the easier it is to avoid miscommunication and stress as the wedding nears.
While asking for money is something most of us avoid, it’s a necessary part of setting your wedding budget. Work out the details sooner rather than later so you can spend more time focusing on the fun parts of planning your wedding and preparing for marriage.
This story was originally published by LearnVest.