This is a challenge and dilemma some couples face. In the past, it was more customary for parents to pay for their childrens’ weddings, which I feel mixed about. I think these days, couples want to step away from the norm and even certain traditions. Like the cringeworthy garter and bouquet tosses. Parents don’t always have the means to pay for weddings, and many couples are just taking care of business themselves. Parents paying for weddings or helping couples pay can be a lovely assist, or an invitation of trouble and control. A lot depends on the relationship.
Most couples I meet don’t want a huge wedding with hundreds of guests. They value personal connections with those in attendance, rather than guest collecting. Also, once they explore venues and available space, costs, smart couples know managing their guest list is smart budgeting. Whether paying for the wedding themselves or receiving assistance from parents. The truth of the matter is this:
When parents pay, they have a say –
It starts with a realistic couple having the event they can afford. I don’t think most expect a large ballroom event with 300 guests. The median guest count for most of my weddings is maybe 125. If the couple has a sensible vision and wants to personalize their event so they enjoy it, and have personal connections with each guest, that’s great! That’s how it should be in my opinion. If the parents see and respect that vision, but offer guidance when needed, that’s a healthy balance. If part of that involves a financial contribution, great! When it becomes an aggressive takeover that they feel entitled to do because they paid, it may not be in the interest of the couple to accept their help. The latter scenario is not ok.
I’m not suggesting parents should feel obligated to pay and give their kids their way. But I’ve heard of cases where the parents paying for weddings changed the complete vision and wishes of the couple, usually to the more upscale side, when the couple wanted a smaller farm wedding. Then the parents invite their friends who the couple barely even knows. They pick colors and decor, they have a say in anything and everything. What the hell is that about? In a case like that, that’s helicopter parenting, and I’d rather pay myself. That way Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have a different taste.
Conclusion about parents paying for weddings –
Do what is right for you, have the event and experience you want. At no point of the process should you begrudge your own wedding. The best way to prepare for paying for the wedding yourself (if that’s the best or only option) is to create a realistic guest list, provide a fun and comfortable experience for all, and pick your splurge items. Other things you can skip or do cheaper options.