Our 28 year-old daughter lives at home with her five year-old son with my husband and I. She wants us to throw her a wedding with her boyfriend. Problem is she has a mediocre job, he lives with his mom still, and has a job. I’m against spending money on a wedding without a plan for their future. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. Am I wrong?
Our daughter has never been married. But I think planning for a wedding is premature. Please respond.
There are no rules that require you to pay for your daughter’s wedding. Yes, there is the traditional custom that the family of the bride will foot the bill for the wedding, but context is everything.
It sounds like it’s more important for you to help your daughter prepare for her future marriage than it is to throw a party. While it’s common for many newlyweds to start out with very little, your concern seems to be that they will continue forward with very little and waste resources on the wedding.
If you feel it will enable your daughter and her boyfriend to continue expecting a free handout without trying to improve their situation, then allow this to be an important educational experience for them. While getting married is an event, learning to build a thriving marriage and family takes dedication and foresight. You’re clearly worried this piece is missing.
While you can’t decide for them how they’ll plan their lives together, you can offer to help where you feel comfortable. If they want something more extravagant, then encourage them to help contribute.
Weddings and receptions don’t have to be expensive. If they aren’t aware and resourceful about their own wedding, chances are they won’t be resourceful about their finances after they’re married. Set a limit that won’t leave you feeling used and resentful. Stick to that budget as a way to protect your relationship with them.
If they are entitled about the whole thing, then it won’t matter how much you do for them. If they are gracious and mature, then your efforts will be received with gratitude.
If they were more responsible, would you spend more money? If so, then let them know how their level of personal responsibility influences your willingness to help. Let them know you are concerned about perpetuating a pattern of entitlement.
If their level of responsibility has no bearing on your financial contribution, then just stick to your budget and drop the drama. They are both adults and if they want to get married, then they will get married.
There are plenty of ways you can support them in their wedding and reception without having to break the bank. Be clear about your own limits and motivations for helping. As you stay open and honest with her about the kind of involvement you can offer, you will be supporting her in the most authentic way.
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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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