Asking Your Parents to Help Pay for the Wedding
Setting a budget is arguably the most important wedding task for soon-to-be-weds. Since your wedding budget dictated every decision, it's one of the first items you should tackle following your engagement. Since your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, it's important to set a budget that is both comfortable and realistic. Plus, keep in mind that couples don't always pay for a wedding all on their own...in some cases parents may contribute to the budget. So, how do you ask your parents or in-laws if they will be assisting?
Budget conversations can certainly feel overwhelming at first as money can be a sensitive topic. It's important to approach all discussions with an open mind and a respectful attitude. If you're not sure how to ask your parents if they will be offering financial assistance, we would like to offer our top tips on approach the conversation of the wedding budget.
Do Parents Help Pay for a Wedding? Are parents and your future in-laws are obligated to help pay for the wedding you might be wondering. This decision varies entirely from family to family, couple to couple. According to The Knot 2019 Real Wedding Study, which surveyed over 25,000 newlyweds in the United States, couples paid for approximately 47% of the wedding, while parents covered the remaining 52% of the budget. Keep in mind that this is a national average, though, and the specific breakdown will be different for every couple.
Traditional wedding etiquette indicates that the bride's family pays for most (or all) of the wedding. However, more modern couples are updating those dated wedding "rules" when it comes to budget. These days, we see more often that not, couples working with their families to find a realistic plan for everyone involved.
Speak With Your Fiancé First Before you approach the parents, talk to your fiancé to ensure that you are both on the same page. Money is a tricky subject, so the best way to avoid miscommunications is to be upfront from the start. Keep in mind that you are a team, approach this task together as a united front. It's important you decide what exactly you'd envision with your wedding. If you want a weekend-long celebration with multiple events, prepare for a much a larger budget. The same is true for those who want their guests to have special experiences like trendy decor, celebrity chefs doing the catering or live entertainment. If you're planning an intimate wedding with a smaller guest list, its likely that you will have more wiggle room within your budget. However, before broaching the budget conversation with anyone else, make sure you and your significant other have the same understanding of the vision of your wedding day. If your partner is reluctant to ask their parents for wedding money, find out why. If they think their parents are unable to contribute financially, there are other ways to make them feel involved. It's not a requirement for parents to help pay for the wedding, so it's important to have a clear answer from the start. Once you know where your parents stand, you can move forward with finalizing your budget.
Create A Core Guest List Come prepared with a sample budget before you ask your parents or in-laws for financial assistance. According to our data, the average cost of a wedding is about $35,000, keeping in mind that this is the national average. Wedding costs vary by season, region and style. Just use this number as a starting point to kick off the conversation. Keep in mind that your guest list will have the biggest impact on the overall cost of your event. While you don't need to bring a finalized headcount and guest list to the initial conversation of financial assistance, it is best to have a general idea of how many people you would like to invite. The higher the guest count, the higher the budget required, so this is a vital detail to share with anyone who might contribute financially.
Set Realistic Expectations It's imperative to set realistic expectations during these early budget discussions with your fiancé. Consider your current financial situation and from there determine what you can afford to pay prior to having a discussing with your parents. Research the average cost of wedding essentials like your venue, flowers, entertainment, and photography in your area might be. This will help to put things into perspective. Having a clear understanding of the average prices in your area will help you plan accordingly. It's also helpful to have an idea of what your wedding day will look like if your parents are unable to contribute money. Work with your fiancé to have a Plan B. This way you are prepared for all possible outcomes.
Prepare Conversation Ideas Since you'll be leading the discussion, it's important to have a plan of what you're going to say and how much money you're going to be asking for. While it can be tricky to narrow down a specific amount without knowing what your parents can contribute, have a ballpark figure to start off with. When asking for financial assistance, discuss the additional details that might impact the overall cost. For example, if you and your fiancé are planning to get married on a Saturday during peak wedding season you'll need to account for higher costs in your budget. The more information you can share with your parents, the better to help facilitate the discussion.
Be Direct It's best to be straightforward when asking for money. Don't dance around the subject. This only leads miscommunication and often confusion.
Here are our top tips for starting that difficult conversation:
1. "We've prepared a general wedding budget and would appreciate your help reviewing it. Will you be able to contribute to our day?" Asking your parents to review your budget is an easy way to start the conversation. If they don't offer financial help after reviewing the budget, ask them directly if they are able pay for some of the expenses.
2. "We found a venue we love, but it's a little over our price range. Would you be willing to help cover the cost?" Some parents may prefer to know exactly how their money will be used in the budget. Asking them to help cover a specific vendor is a clear way to show them how their money will be factored into the budget.
3. "We're asking our parents to contribute 1/4th of the wedding budget. Is this something you can help with?" This question indicates that every parent will have a shared role in paying for the wedding. This can also be a conversation starter if you have divorced parents and are talking to each person separately.
4. "How would you like to be included in wedding planning? Are you able to contribute financially?" Your parents might not be able to contribute money, and that's okay. This question opens up the conversation to other ways they can chip in to the planning process. If they can't contribute financially, they could contact vendors on your behalf, address and mail invitations or help organize pre-wedding events like a shower or the rehearsal dinner. Together, you can find a role that works best for your family.
Keep the Conversation Respectful Money can be a stressful topic, so keep the conversation respectful. This should be a top priority for you so no one is left feeling ill at ease. Don't approach a discussion like this expecting a certain amount. Be sure that they know that any financial help is greatly appreciated. If they can't offer money, let them know how much you appreciate the offer of their time. Most importantly, have an open mind and be willing to work with whatever help they are able to offer you.
Keep Your Parents in the Loop If your parents will be contributing financially to your wedding, keep them in the loop throughout the planning process. Traditional wedding etiquette indicates that whoever gives money to the wedding also has a say in details like the guest list, the venue and other details that can impact the price. This is one rule that remains true today. If your parents are helping pay for the wedding, it's important to take their ideas into consideration. They'll appreciate having some input in how their money is spent. Listen to their thoughts, and work together as a team to make the best decisions for your big day.