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Who is Paying for the Wedding

Who is Paying for the Wedding (and How Much of a Say Should They Get)?

It used to be that the cost of a wedding always fell to the bride’s parents, but the last decade has seen a shift in the financial responsibilities of wedding festivities. As the average age of marriage increases, and more brides and grooms are finding themselves independent, established, and in their 30s prior to saying “I do,” it’s becoming more and more common or them to pick up the tab as well.

Of course, it’s also still plenty common for one or both sets of parents to chip in, or even to pay for the whole event. But with mom and dad’s money comes a question of whose event this really is?

If your parents are paying for your wedding, how much of a say do they get in the details of that big day?

Back when it was simply expected that the bride’s parents would pay, they often got to have a lot of say over how things panned out. The guest list likely included friends and co-workers of theirs that the bride may not have even known, the caterers and venue were selected only with their approval, and everything from the dress to the table linens had the bride’s mother’s signature all over it.

While that level of control may still exist in some weddings today, it certainly isn’t the norm any longer. Brides and grooms have maintained autonomy over their wedding day’s that didn’t exist before, implementing their own ideas and simply inviting mom and dad along for the ride.

Which may be part of the reason why more couples are paying for their own festivities.

It’s an interesting dynamic, though, because as the level of monetary contributions goes up for either set of parents, the say they want also seems to increase exponentially.

Of course, every wedding and family is different, but on average, it is a trend I have noticed within the industry. The more the parents contribute to the wedding day, the more involved they want to be.

There are still plenty of weddings where parents are adding onto a guest list the bride and groom believed to be complete, or where they are dictating venue based on religious preferences or cost. And for some brides and grooms, that feels completely acceptable. They are grateful for the contributions their parents are making, and are willing to sacrifice some of their personal vision in order to keep everyone happy. After all, isn’t there that whole saying about the wedding being for the guests anyway?

Well, yes and no.

You are throwing a party that will be attended by all your friends and loved ones, and keeping the most important of those family members happy will absolutely go a long way to ensuring the seamlessness of your big day.

But if you want my opinion? The wedding day is still your day. And if your parent’s contributions are going to wind up meaning you have to relinquish control of the wedding of your dreams, you might want to consider at least sitting them down early on to discuss the expectations of all involved. Outline your non-negotiables, find out what theirs are, and then decide if you’re going to be able to come to a place of happy compromise.

If that doesn’t seem possible, start thinking about paring your wedding down so that you can fund it yourself. Because at the end of the day, this is still your day—and you deserve to have the wedding you’ve always dreamed of, even if that means operating on a much smaller scale.