Ava
VIP May 2022

Gifts with strings

Ava, on April 1, 2021 at 9:02 AM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 58
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I was raised with the mindset that a gift is just that: a gift. Once given, the person giving it no longer has a say in how it’s used/what it’s used for. In other words, gifts don’t come with strings attached.
So while my parents are graciously funding the majority of our wedding, all decisions on how the money is spent is strictly up to FH and myself. Since joining WW I’ve seen numerous stories of parents gifting money towards their child’s wedding, but then leveraging it to force the couple into doing what they want. I’m curious how many of you have actually encountered this. Is this a common thing?? And did you know that was the case when you accepted the money?

58 Comments

Latest activity by Q, on April 20, 2021 at 5:37 AM
  • MK
    Expert September 2021
    MK ·
    • Flag

    I've seen a lot of this on WW, as well! There seems to often times be a catch, rather than a generous gift, whatever the gift may be.

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  • Dj Tanner
    June 2021
    Dj Tanner ·
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    I think it’s interesting when I see some of the responses about people saying things like “your parents are paying, so they can invite however many of their friends they’d like”.... It is thee most uncouth, tacky, inappropriate thing to do. For example, I would never insist on taking a friend out for their birthday but then telling them that they can’t order the steak and they can’t have unlimited drinks. If someone offers to pay for some thing, then that means you’re offering to pay. Do not pass go do not collect $100. You’re paying for someone else’s wedding point blank. No that doesn’t give you the right to pick what the cake flavor is and no you cannot invite your coworkers from work to your children’s wedding. You also cannot offer to pay but then set unreasonable price limits, i.e. a $10,000 wedding only either. If you can’t afford to pay for someone’s wedding, then you shouldn’t offer to pay for someone’s wedding.
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  • Lisa
    Super October 2021
    Lisa ·
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    I’ve seen this posted on WW ALOT! My fiancé and I are paying for 99% of the wedding ourselves; I had zero expectations that my parents would contribute. They split about two years ago and my mom has given us a few hundred bucks and says she’ll do her best to give more. We are very grateful and I asked her how she wanted us to the money, she did care as long as it helps and she doesn’t want to be acknowledged on the invitation as someone hosting the wedding. My fiancé’s parents haven’t helped financially thus far except yesterday gave us the deposit for the rehearsal dinner (they say that’s what the grooms parents are supposed to pay for so that’s what they are doing). They haven’t forced any plans on us {yet} except for all out of town guests and bridal party will be invited. I can see both sides of the argument but really think the final decision should be up to couple.
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  • MK
    Expert September 2021
    MK ·
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    Agree with this! The only thing I would add is the difference in paying for someones wedding and contributing to their wedding -- If my parents say they are giving me a "$10,000 budget" for my wedding, that to me means they are contributing that much and I'm responsible for paying beyond that. But I agree!!

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  • Kristin
    Devoted December 2021
    Kristin ·
    • Flag
    I’m torn on this topic.


    I do think if parents are paying completely for the wedding they should get some say. They should be able to say no to certain things that are excessive and not necessary, especially if it doesn’t fit in the budget discussed. I also think they should be allowed to invite a few people if they want. Obviously not the majority of guests, but maybe some. In my area hora loca is a common thing with fire dancers, drum lines, people on stilts, etc and I think it would completely be reasonable for the paying parents to say they won’t pay for that.
    However, when it comes to the overall theme/feel/look of the wedding, that should 100% be on the couple to reflect who they are. The contributors can have an opinion but that doesn’t mean they get the final decision. My parents are graciously paying for some items and I allow my mom to have an opinion. She does respect that when I say no to something (like a harp-long but funny story), I have the final say and that’s that.
    And in contrast to PP, I think it is totally ok for someone to set limits on what they will spend. Nobody else should pay more than they can comfortably afford for your wedding.
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  • Dj Tanner
    June 2021
    Dj Tanner ·
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    Oh yes, absolutely! But I’ve read threads on here where the second someone tries to take over and pay towards their own wedding the parents get all upset and offended… So I guess I’m referring more towards that. But yes absolutely if parents say hey we can only afford 5K but we hope this helps, that’s wonderful. And in-turn The receiver of the gift shouldn’t be upset if their parents can only contribute 5K.
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  • SHY
    Master January 2022
    SHY ·
    • Flag

    My mom's paying for half of our venue cost, so I knew going in she'd use it as leverage since she's done that my whole life.

    I was just honest with her and told her we were grateful for her helping us, but she didn't get to make huge decisions for us for OUR wedding. I told her she could help us pick a venue and that was it, and I thought it was reasonable since that's what she's helping us with. We just wrote down what her 'must haves' were and went from there. We ended up finding the perfect venue that we loved, that also checked her list off, so it was a win-win!

    She's tried to wiggle her way into making more decisions, but I nipped that in the bud REALLY quick lol. At that point I had to threaten her that she wouldn't be included in anymore wedding planning if she was going to act that way, and she got the message lol.

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  • L
    Lady ·
    • Flag

    I think it's more nuanced than "they're paying so they get to pick everything". I do think that it's 100% reasonable that whoever is paying influence some of the decision making in terms of the overall vibe and size of the wedding, including inviting some of their friends (which i think is the right thing to do even if parents aren't paying). I also don't think it's fair of the bride and groom to accept an offer to pay for the wedding and just assume they can spend whatever they want like PP mentioned. Just because my parents could afford 50k for a wedding (and I know that) doesn't mean they want to spend that much or should just because it's what I want.

    Seems like it all comes down to communication.

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  • Dj Tanner
    June 2021
    Dj Tanner ·
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    So weird that you’re saying this because my FH‘s parents said that too, about how they were supposed to pay for the rehearsal dinner. I’ve never heard of that before. Needless to say, my fiancé and I declined because A. We don’t want anyone else financially involved in our wedding, and B. It’s already been paid for as it is included in our venue. But I never know that that was a thing
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  • Ava
    VIP May 2022
    Ava ·
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    This is something that was done back when couples were young and it was expected for the parents to pay for weddings. Items are broken up into brides parents responsibilities and grooms parents responsibilities. Rehearsal dinners and honeymoons were typically the grooms parents responsibilities (plus a few other strangely specific items LOL). For some reason, it has lingered as “a thing”. I would say at a majority of my friend’s weddings, the grooms parents have paid for the rehearsal dinners.
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  • Lisa
    Super October 2021
    Lisa ·
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    My understanding of old traditional weddings “who pays for what” etiquette is .... brides family pays for the wedding. Grooms family pays for the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon. But we all that is not true today as many couples pay for the entire day or days themselves!
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  • T
    Super April 2021
    Tiger Bride ·
    • Flag

    You must have read my other thread, lol.

    I think this depends on some things. If you cannot afford a wedding and have the expectation that your parents will pay, then they have a bit more influence over the wedding, e.g. we can't afford that caterer or this florist. If you don't need your parents' help, but they give you some money anyway, I feel like it's reasonable for them to expect a few invites for people they really want there. What I really take issue with is parents all but demanding to pay, and then dictating what the event looks like.

    My ILs are paying for the rehearsal dinner and the alcohol. Thankfully they gave us free reign on what kind of booze we wanted, but as I mentioned we are having considerable trouble with the RD guest list. They also pushed and pushed on who got invited to the actual wedding. While I am grateful they offered to pay, I wish it didn't come with all of this drama/strife.

    Edit: my parents have offered to pay for the rest of the wedding, whatever it costs, carte blanche. We will gratefully accept some but I do feel we ought contribute as well. They have given me absolutely zero requests for anything, other than "make sure you get enough food".

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  • Ava
    VIP May 2022
    Ava ·
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    I think that’s a good compromise – allowing your mom to have some feedback in only the item she contributed to. That’s great you were able to set boundaries on her input though, and she actually listened (even though it took a tiny threat LOL)
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  • Ava
    VIP May 2022
    Ava ·
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    I think your parents are doing it right! If they offer a monetary gift towards your wedding, I think you should be able to use it at your discretion, since after all the entire celebration is yours and about you! I just can’t wrap my head around giving someone a gift, but putting stipulations on it (or weaponizing it!). Seeing how prevalent that mentality is with so many parents, it’s no wonder so many people hate wedding planning!
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  • Ava
    VIP May 2022
    Ava ·
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    Haha! Reading your response, I just got a mental picture of taking a friend out to dinner and when they order the steak saying “oh no, you don’t want steak. You you want the salmon” 😂😂
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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag

    Yes a gift is a gift. However many people view monetary gifts and contributions toward wedding expenses completely differently. Before you accept the money, make sure you and the giver both agree that it is a gift with no strings attached and that you are able to do as you wish with it. If there are strings attached (manipulative parents for example who act the way they do on a regular basis), thank them and decline the money, paying for it yourselves. Most couples pay for the wedding themselves anyway, and when they do get assistance, there are rules that come with it. If they don't like the rules, it's best to just decline the "gift".

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  • Ava
    VIP May 2022
    Ava ·
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    I know everyone has an opinion on the subject, but I’m just curious how many people have actually experienced this, and whether they knew there would be strings attach when they accepted the money. Or if it was presented as a gift, then the strings came after they had already accepted it.
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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
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    Many people don't tell you there are strings until after the money is spent and then you have to reimburse them. That's been the experience for people we know.

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  • Ava
    VIP May 2022
    Ava ·
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    What?! So parents “gifted” the couple money for their wedding, but then required them to reimburse them?! And the couple had no idea prior that was the arrangement??
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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
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    The parents didn't require a reimbursement. The couple decided it was better for their conscience to give the money back. But the parents didn't say anything until the money was set aside and spent that it had to go toward X, Y, Z.

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