When contributions are forthcoming, for many it is a straight forward decision to accept the money with open arms (and pockets).
In 99% of cases, a volunteered contribution is a generous, no strings attached offer, a sign of love and a helping hand. But before going onto talk about the wonders of the parental (or other relation) contribution, a few words of caution.
Whilst 99% of contributions are a wonderful gesture, in the remaining 1% of cases there may be an ulterior motive. For example, assuming that you accept the money, will the contributors expect to have a major say in all decisions about the Wedding? Perhaps they are doing it to shame other parents/relatives who have little money themselves to make such a contribution. Unlike certain books you may have read, magazine articles you may have seen or websites you have visited, we believe that there is no point in pretending that it is all happy families Ė so if such a situation applies to you, make sure that you think long and hard before taking any decision to accept.
With the words of wisdom over, it is time to think about whether you will accept the offer. In most cases this is a given, but perhaps (as already discussed) there is an ulterior motive behind the offer, or perhaps you do not want to feel indebted to anyone. You may have significant financial resources to be able to pay for it all yourselves, or conversely feel that whilst it is a generous offer, your parents cannot really afford to be making it. Whatever the case, whilst most will accept graciously, if you are going to refuse make sure that you explain your decision carefully and tactfully.
So far we have assumed that the contributions are forthcoming, but what if there is no sign of a volunteered contribution?
If you feel comfortable broaching the subject, you could raise the issue yourselves. Try to do it in an informal manner and donít have any preconceptions about what you expect. Your parents will want this day to be as special as you do but they may have financial commitments that mean they canít give you a blank cheque. So long as you have a good relationship with your parents, you can explain to them that you are asking so that you can best plan your budget. Most parents will understand that Weddings are expensive things (if they are in any doubt tell them to visit our How Much Will It Cost article!)and budgeting will be the element most vital to success.
The alternative to asking is assuming, but you know what they say about people who assume (for those of you who donít know, itís to do with making a donkey-like creature of u and me Ė work it out!). In fact the only time itís advisable to do so is when you assume that your parents will not be able to contribute Ė this way if they can, itís a pleasant surprise and a bit of extra cash. Waiting for an eventual offer of a contribution but planning the wedding based on guaranteed money might not be what you had in mind, but it avoids the heartache of having to cancel bookings close to your big day due to cash shortages. Though remember, even if you are waiting for an all important offer from parents - you can always drop hints!
OK, so your parents have said that they want to contribute towards the Wedding, they may even have used the phrase Ďpay for the weddingí, either way you need to make sure that there is a clear understanding of what they expect to Ďgetí for their money. In order to do this you first need to clarify how much they will contribute and when. Even the most generous parents have an idea of how much they will contribute and their view on the cost of a Wedding as compared to yours may differ significantly.
Sit down with your parents and talk about the type of day that you want, ask them if they have an amount in mind which they want to contribute or if they would rather you work through the budget together to see where they will help out. The following list highlights some of the issues that should be discussed and agreed at this stage:
There is no amount that can be expected. Traditionally, the largest contributions tend to come from the Bride's parents or guardians with a smaller contribution (in certain cases around 50%) from the Groom's equivalents. Other close relatives, grandparents or aunts and uncles for example, do not traditionally contribute but it is becoming more common these days for the odd pound or two to be forthcoming. If people want to pay for individual items, you may find the Who Pays for What? article particularly useful.
For anyone who offers to contribute, whilst not essential, a small gift (a nice bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine for instance) would be a nice touch. Having said that, they would probably be more appreciative of you listening to their thoughts, hopes and views for your Big Day. You donít have to agree to anything, just listen and discuss their thoughts but make sure you explain how you see the day working. Discuss with your partner how you will keep both sets of parents involved and also, (and this could be the hard bit!) ensure that they firm up on their promises.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other wedding planning articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with wedding planners, toastmasters and more.