I was interviewed recently for an article on the AARP's website about how parents can speak to their adult children about contributing money toward a wedding. It's a thorny issue, for sure. Generally speaking, the only rule is to talk openly and honestly about expectations clearly before accepting any money — is the money a loan? A gift? If it's a gift, does it come with stipulations or expectations? Talking about money is uncomfortable and awkward for everyone, but it's critically important for parents who might be contributing to weddings to be VERY clear about what their expectations are. Do you expect to be able to control the guest list? The decor?
While it’s uncomfortable to talk about the expectations around money, ‘it’s way less uncomfortable than dealing with control issues later on in wedding planning,' Stallings says.
Some ‘predatory' vendors target parents as well as the couple, Stallings says. ‘There is a lot of messaging out there about what weddings need to have, and parents can often fall prey to enforcing these commercial traditions on couples who don’t relate to them.'
She says couples can have awesome experiences educating their parents about which wedding traditions just aren’t needed. Brides on her website ask for advice on how to convince parents that it’s OK not to carry flowers or wear a veil.
You can read the full article here: The Knotty Issue of Wedding Costs: How to handle who pays for your adult child’s nuptials. When I was talking about the more “predatory” types of wedding marketing out there, I was referencing this post:
And when it comes to Offbeat Brides educating their parents about skipping certain traditions, one reader shared her experience here:
I just wanted to express thanks to you for saving me from my mother. She had been pestering me to carry flowers down the aisle, which I had absolutely no interest in at all whatsoever. After many impassioned pleas and fights, I decided to email her a link to Offbeat Bride — particularly the response you wrote to the girl who didn't want to carry anything on her trip down the aisle.
My mother called me and told me that she had never even considered that flowers were optional — it just seemed like something you had to do. Long story even longer, she spent an hour perusing Offbeat Bride and told me how much fun it all looked, and how she just assumed since she had always seen things done a particular way, it had never occurred to her that it didn't have to be that way.
I don't know how you managed to get it across to her, but you've not only opened her eyes, you've helped me to be more understanding of where she's coming from. Thank you so much for making this ridiculous and incredibly arduous process a little bit more human, and a little bit less stressful. – Trish
P.S.: When I walk down the aisle with no flowers in hand, I will be secretly whispering, ‘Thank you, Ariel!'
I'd love to hear from readers are dealing with parents helping pay for their wedding — how did you navigate the conversations? How did you deal with the awkwardness?