In light of my last post, I figured I’d write kind of a how-to follow up for people who maybe haven’t had the big money talk with their families yet. It can be a really hard thing to talk about, especially because there’s kind of this general idea floating around that the love and happiness of your big day shouldn’t be tainted with talk of dollars and cents, but really, when it comes down to it, the bottom line can be a really big deal and one of the first things you should deal with when planning so that it doesn’t cost you a huge amount of grief later.
So my tips for “The Talk”.
1. Be united – Before you go in to talking to either set of parents, talk things out with your partner to make sure you’re on the same page. Work out the things you might need help with and then, when you go into the talk, have the person whose parents you are talking to take the lead in terms of navigating the conversation. There is nothing more awkward or unfair than forcing your honey to hit up your parents for cash.
2. Be serious – It is so easy to forget this and default to your base reactions when dealing with family. After all, there are things we do and say to our family we wouldn’t dare pull with anyone else. However, when it comes to weddings where a lot of money is changing hands, try your best to keep your feelings out of it. If you’re immediately reaching into your emotional arsenal and pulling out old family fights as a reason you should be given a certain amount of money or using the big pouty lip face as a way to strike up a deal, the uglier things are going to get later as your folks are likely to feel taken advantage of. Would you fake cry to your boss to get a raise? Treat it like you would a contract negotiation and you might find things go a lot smoother.
3. Be clear about both sets of expectations – What are you expecting from them and what are they expecting from you when it comes to your financial arrangement? Are you expecting them to give you the money and be hands off? Are they expecting that their money entitles them to decision making power? Is it a gift? Is it a loan? Be sure you know the answers to these questions before you cash that cheque.
4. Be reasonable – Your parents have bills to pay just like you do so when you’re planning, keep that in mind. Some parents will cover the entire cost but some will be on tighter personal budgets and perhaps can only help out minimally. Whatever the case, be respectful of their situation.
5. Be upfront about your projected costs – Before you sit down with your folks, do a bit of research on what wedding related services in your area cost so you can actually talk real numbers with them. If you spend all your time talking in vagaries and then they get slapped with a jacked up catering bill, it’s going to be upsetting for them, so let them see where their money is actually going.
6. Be able to back up your wants with facts – It helps immensely if you can put things into context for your parents. Say for example, you’re interested in hiring a wedding planner but your parents aren’t too keen? If you can remind them that not only will a wedding planner make things less stressful for everyone involved, not to mention wedding planners often help you secure vendor discounts, they might be more willing to agree.
7. Be flexible – Your parents have probably imagined you getting married since you were a baby and they probably have ideas about what it will be like, so when they make suggestions (and they will make suggestions), consider incorporating some of them into your big day. You don’t have to do everything they suggest, but realize that listening to them and perhaps adopting some of their ideas or participating in certain cultural traditions could mean a lot to them.
8. Be willing to let it go – You will never agree on everything and, at the end of the day, they are still your family. In the heat of the moment, everyone gets into silly little fights but, as much as humanly possible, don’t let disagreements about fluffy little wedding things affect your personal relationships. Do you really want to spend Christmas dinner arguing with your mother about napkin rings? If not, learn to step back, take a deep breath and let it go.
9. Be ready to pay for it yourself – If there’s something that you really want for yourself, pay for it yourself. You won’t have to deal with any contending opinions if you’re the one who’s slapping down the cold hard cash. Plus, the idea that you are the one footing the bill might make you second-guess some of your more frivolous purchases.
10. Be appreciative – Whether or not they pay for the whole thing or partially contribute, your parents love you and are trying to help you. Show you appreciate it by having them over for a really nice dinner or by presenting them with their own wedding album post-wedding.