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Just Said Yes October 2021

Financial help & weird family dynamics

--------, on August 28, 2020 at 1:50 PM Posted in Planning 0 25

Edit: Yikes, the comment section on this forum is rough, huh? Lol - to clarify, we don't plan on ASKING for the help. That's 100% not our style and it's never something we'd expect. HOWEVER, we WOULD like to know at what point do parents typically offer that sort of thing. If they never bring it up, we would NEVER in a million years ask. We just need to know for example, if they haven't said anything within the next 2 months, do we decide "okay, we have $10k, let's work with it"? Or how did that discussion go with anyone else in a similar situation?


Hi all! First time poster here looking for some budget advice relating to unusual family dynamics. My fiancé and I just got engaged 2 weeks ago. We’re both really excited to start planning but wanted to take a few weeks to relax and just celebrate being engaged first. But of course – I can’t help myself and have been doing tons of research on venues anyway. I knew weddings were expensive but I guess I never realized HOW expensive. We live in the suburbs of Chicago and are expecting between 125-150 guests and I can’t seem to find a venue that would cost less than $10k (food, drinks, ceremony, etc. included). We’d love to pay on our own but can only afford between $10-$15k without going into debt (this would have to include venue, photography, DJ, dress, etc.) so we’re considering asking for help but not sure HOW to do it given some weird family dynamics.

Both of our moms as well as my dad would give us the world but aren’t in a place where they could help financially so we don’t even want to ask. His dad and step-mom on the other hand do VERY well for themselves. When my fiancé’s grandma passed away 2 years ago, they sold her house and his dad divided what would have been his portion of the money between my fiancé and his sister but specifically insisted we save it for big things like a down payment on a house or a car (which is 100% what we intend to do with it and don’t want to use it for the wedding). His sister seems to think he didn’t even mention weddings because it goes without saying that he would help. BUT he’s always been very traditional and I’m worried he might just expect to pay for his daughter’s wedding but not his son’s.

The part that worries me here is that for a few years, my fiancé and his dad had a very rocky relationship. When his parents divorced, his dad moved to Florida, quickly married his new wife and moved in his step-daughter, leaving my fiancé and his sister to feel sort of left behind. They actually went a few years without talking and only over the last 2 years have been working hard to repair their relationship. I know that if we were to get married and didn’t have financial help and then a couple years from now his step-sister and her boyfriend were to get married and his dad helped, it would throw a HUGE wrench into their relationship. He feels like if his dad would pay for his step-son, in-law’s wedding but not his own son’s, it would say a lot. And I can’t really disagree.

Anyway - we got engaged the day before we went on a 5 day vacation with them, his sister, step-sister and her boyfriend and kind of figured at some point they would bring up the wedding and that they’d want to financially help but that never happened. His step-mom did mention a few times to let her know when we start planning but I couldn’t tell if that was more of a “we need a date so we can make sure we’re available” since they live in Florida and are both busy people OR a “once you have a better idea of timing, we can talk finances”.

So my question is, how do you go about asking for help? We likely won’t see them in person until closer to Christmas (we’d like to have the venue booked by Oct.) so it would have to be via phone call. I’m thinking we call/message them (they’re super busy people and always prefer texts but this feels like more of a call convo) and let them know we’re thinking of an Oct 2021 time frame (Covid dependent, obviously) but final date depends on the venue and we’re still trying to determine our budget and what we can afford. Hopefully this will give a big enough hint and they’ll bring up whether or not they plan on helping.

I know we should just come straight out and ask but it feels SO weird to do that with in-law’s that I’m not close with and it feels weird for my fiancé since he’s still in the process of repairing that relationship and doesn’t want it to feel like he’s using them for money (not that we have any inclination that they’d ever think that).

Any advice from anyone who has been in a similar situation (or just someone who is good at advice lol) would be really helpful! Thanks Smiley smile

25 Comments

Latest activity by Maggie, on August 31, 2020 at 12:02 PM
  • J
    Master October 2022
    Jana ·
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    You really can't ask other people to finance your wedding. If they offer to pay, that's one thing, and they have grounds to decide where and how the money is spent. If no one offers on their own, be prepared to pay for it yourself. That means either getting very creative on a limited budget, which is done everyday, or wait a year and save money for what you want. Paying yourself means you get final say in all decisions.
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  • Katie
    Expert January 2021
    Katie ·
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    If anything, it’s up to your FH to have that conversation. How much they make really doesn’t have anything to do with it. Unless they have implied in the past that they intend to contribute, I’d be cautious about asking. Either way, definitely a convo to be had between him and his dad privately.
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  • Samantha
    Devoted September 2020
    Samantha ·
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    With it being parents I would just explain to them how you did now. This is the reason I opted for an out of state wedding versus Chicago. It doesn't hurt to ask. The worst they can do is say no.

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  • Caytlyn
    Legend November 2019
    Caytlyn ·
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    You don't. You're both adults deciding to get married, you're responsible for the financial burden that it entails. If someone wants to help financially, they will offer, but it's very rude to ask. Have the wedding that you can afford or wait until you can afford the wedding that you want.

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  • --------
    Just Said Yes October 2021
    -------- ·
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    Thanks! I think I may have worded it wrong. We don't intend on asking them to give us the money or anything. More so, IF they are intending on helping, we'd like to know sooner than later. Just not sure how to ask if they're planning on it. In other words, when do we decide, "okay we have the $10k to work with, let's book the venue and cut the guestlist" and not have to worry about booking something and then having them offer to help after the decision has already been made and the contract is in place. Hopefully that makes more sense!

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  • Hanna
    VIP June 2019
    Hanna ·
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    I obviously don't know anything about your FH's family dynamics, but if your FH's dad paid for his step-son's wedding and in-law's wedding, then I don't think it would be unreasonable to gently bring up the question and ask. But that should be a conversation between your FH and his dad, not you. The worst he could say is no. In that case, you'd have to get creative with what you can do for your budget. Definitely don't go into debt for a wedding!

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  • --------
    Just Said Yes October 2021
    -------- ·
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    Thank you! I really appreciate the advice. Agreed on it being a discussion they should have. He's always relied on me a lot to help bring the two of them together since they've begun repairing their relationship so I think it's just awkward for him to do it alone and feels more comfortable with me there but I agree that it should be a private father/son discussion.

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  • Molly
    VIP September 2020
    Molly ·
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    I would use the money from his late grandma's house. You don't have to tell his parents that you used the money.

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  • Futuremrsn
    Devoted October 2020
    Futuremrsn ·
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    My FH and I didn’t ask anyone for help, and didn’t expect help. My mother and stepfather were the only people to offer to help pay for our venue, so we were very appreciative of that! It’s just kind of annoying to us because both my father and my FH’s father made mention they didn’t have the money to help out when we first got engaged, but now both of them talk about going on vacations and buying houses. We would never bring up finances with them, and in fact never asked. I always thought parents were supposed to at least help a little with their child’s wedding, but that wasn’t the case for us (besides my mother and stepfather offering what little they can). I hope it works out for you!
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  • Stacey
    Super May 2021
    Stacey ·
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    we’re considering asking for help but not sure HOW to do it

    How do you go about asking for help?

    I know we should just come straight out and ask

    You don't ask. They know they can offer. Plan the wedding you can afford (you definitely have the right idea on not going into debt Smiley smile ), and if they offer to help out it will be a nice surprise! I don't think there's anything wrong with casually mentioning you're looking beginning to into venues and beginning to plan. If they take the bait - great! But if not, just move forward assuming they will not help. Good luck - wedding planning will become your new favorite hobby!

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  • M
    VIP January 2019
    Maggie ·
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    I see your edit says you never were going to ask, but you did include this in your original post: "So my question is, how do you go about asking for help? . . . I know we should just come straight out and ask but it feels SO weird to do that with in-law’s that I’m not close with and it feels weird for my fiancé since he’s still in the process of repairing that relationship and doesn’t want it to feel like he’s using them for money (not that we have any inclination that they’d ever think that)." So, I can see why everyone would say you shouldn't ask when you requested advice.

    Really, the bottom line is, since you shouldn't ask or expect money or other assistance from people, you really should just plan your wedding with the money you have saved plus what you can realistically save between now and your wedding date.

    Frankly, there are dozens of posts on this site about people with crushed dreams who relied on the hope/dream/even promise of money that never materialized. You and your future spouse will be saving yourselves so much angst if you stay within your own means.

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  • needmorewine
    Expert May 2016
    needmorewine ·
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    Asking them if they're planning on helping really isn't any different than asking them to help. It will still come across as asking them for money, just in a roundabout way. Unless they specifically approach you about it on their own just assume that you won't be receiving any financial help from anyone and proceed with planning the wedding you can afford to pay for yourselves.

    One more thing - if they do offer assistance do not plan anything to use their money on until you have it in your hands/bank account. This way if they do not follow through with the funds you won't be stuck trying to pay for things at the last minute that you weren't expecting to pay for yourselves.

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  • J
    Master October 2022
    Jana ·
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    Cross that bridge when you get there. For now, get price quotes from vendors you are interested in using your existing budget to get a ballpark of what you would be paying. If parents decide to help (they will make the initiative by letting you know) sit down with them and say "this is how much we have, this is how much X costs. What can be done to make it work?" You do similar when negotiating with vendors.
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  • Yasmine
    Master October 2020
    Yasmine ·
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    I think you should just plan to use your budget. If you actually get money from your parents or anyone else, great. But plan to not receive anything
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  • A
    Super February 2020
    Andrea ·
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    Agree with pps. Don’t expect family to contribute. There are so many posts I’ve read of previous brides heart broken because someone promised to give them a dress or help with the venue. Then when it comes time to pay they don’t, and the bride is on here asking for advice on how to get the money family promised to give. Focus on what you guys can pay now, cut anyone from your guest list you think you can, or focus on a venue somewhere else. Best of luck!
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  • Lisa
    Rockstar July 2022
    Lisa ·
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    If they don't offer to help out financially, and you don't think your current budget is enough, is delaying the wedding an extra year or two an option? That would give you more time to save up some more cash so you can afford the wedding that you want. Otherwise, if you're not willing to wait another year, and you're working with a set budget, there are many ways to cut down on expenses for a wedding. Check out non-traditional venues, buy a dress secondhand (many of them are from people who changed their mind on the dress and it may even still have the tags on it), decrease the size of the guest list, etc. And like other people have mentioned, if anyone does offer to contribute financially, do not count on that money until it is in your bank account.
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  • Lena
    Devoted May 2021
    Lena ·
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    I get what you're saying. My fiance and I decided together on how much we were comfortable spending and went with that. Parents offered to help after we chose our venue and we basically stuck with the same budget, if no one offered we would have been fine. I would just do that. Smiley smile

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  • Jeni
    Devoted July 2021
    Jeni ·
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    So, as you can see, this forum is very sensitive about money! 😄 For a realistic perspective, it really depends on your relationship with your family. Some families are very open with finances, some don't discuss them at all, and some fall somewhere in the middle. It sounds like you and your FH have some complicated family dynamics, but I do agree that each person needs to talk to his/her/their own family about money. You can give a pep talk or what have you, but the question/discussion with FH's family needs to be done by FH.


    In my own experience, we asked for money. Why? Because that's not taboo for us. Our conversations were, "Hey, we're beginning to plan our wedding budget. If you're willing and able to contribute, please let us know by [date] so we can plan and start making deposits." We had a budget in mind to fully pay for our wedding ourselves, so we weren't depending on it. The conversation was casual, open ended, and without any pressure. There was no pressure for them to contribute, and we never brought it up a second time. The ball was in their court. Not all families work like ours, but we're both very thankful and lucky that we were both raised in families that provided us with some financial literacy through being somewhat (and age-appropriately) open with money growing up.

    As far as location goes, look outside of Cook County. Prices drop significantly, especially tax!
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  • A
    Devoted October 2021
    Adrienne ·
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    Not trying to be brutal, but plan as if you are not receiving financial gifts or aid from anyone. You should look at wedding planning at this moment as only having the $10k you referred to. And even if you did get offered any help, don't count it into your budget until you have that money in your bank account. I say this because my parents said they would give me some money in installments, but then my dad passed away and I haven't brought money up to my mom since, as I am not sure of the financial position his passing puts her in and don't want to assume I can get everything they promised. So we are planning the wedding as if it comes from ourselves.

    Prior to being told our parents would give us some money, we told them all about the things we would do to save money, like hire a family member or student photographer to do photo/video, and my parents were like absolutely not, we will give you XXX for this thing. This might be a way for you to bring it up to your families to get their wheels turning.

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  • Martha
    Devoted February 2024
    Martha ·
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    Hi there I'm originally from Chicago and north suburbs, I wanted to share this it helps give you pricing estimate, I'm using it for my sisters quinceanera as my venue in MN is set.

    https://www.eventective.com/ -- you can search by cities, ps Lake Forest/Glencoe is where my family is but the venues are crazy around there.

    As for finance help for the family I would advise to not count on it and if you need to move the wedding out move it out, or prepare to make cuts.

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