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$10,000 Wedding Cash from Mom & Dad

Our wedding budgeting is about to get a whole lot easier. My parents have decided to give me $10,000 cash as a gift for my wedding.

A 2009 New York Times Bucks column asked readers what they would do with cash from parents – use it as a wedding contribution or save it for a vacation or a down payment on their first home. Most people said that they would of course take the cash. I had an inkling that my parents may give me some money (my mom had mentioned something offhand a few months earlier), but I was still pleasantly surprised. My mom and I were chatting on the phone when she brought up the wedding gift topic again and reaffirmed that the money will come before the wedding next summer. When I was growing up, the topic of weddings never came up much and although we knew that historically, the bride’s family paid for the wedding, such things were never assumed – or even discussed – in my household. After I got engaged, CB and I planned our wedding according to what we felt comfortable spending without any parental help, so this money is a boon indeed.

When I told CB about the cash, he couldn’t believe what a generous gift it is. We are both so grateful. It made me feel 100% better about splurging on my wedding dress and helped us make the decision to expand the guest list from 25 to 35-40. The great thing is that the cash is a no-strings-attached gift. My parents have no special requests for how we should spend the money, who we should invite, or how to conduct the wedding. After reading some stories on blogs and wedding websites (and watching family spats on Say Yes To The Dress), I’ve realized that such easy-going parents are not to be taken for granted. Bottom line, the money is ours to spend as we wish.

How does the extra money change our wedding planning? It doesn’t – much. It’s not so much my discipline or frugality as it is the sheer logistics of planning. In many ways, I am glad my mom didn’t tell me about the gift until our venue has been selected and the photographer has been booked. If I had taken the $10,000 into account, it would’ve been much easier to choose more expensive venues, menus, photographer. I probably would have had dancing instead of a dance-free lunch reception. Instead of searching for our photographer on Craigslist, I would have signed with a more established person for double the price. (But I love our photographer, so maybe things worked out for the best). I might have gotten these $200 Badgley Mischka shoes. I suppose now we can hire a professional wedding videographer if we want. All those options are tempting.

If we maintain our current budget, we expect our total wedding expenses to clock in around $6,500-$7,000. Sometimes I wish I can be the type of bride who’d be perfectly happy eloping. Think about the type of vacation we can take for $7,000. But I know myself, and I know I’d want something. Despite all the anti-wedding sentiments that seem to percolate in the blogosphere (if you ever want to see a collective vehemence for spending, just read the comments of some wedding blogs), I do want a wedding, complete with a long white dress, a walk down the aisle, and celebration with friends and family. CB’s family has also generously gifted us $1,000 that we have put into our joint savings account / Galapagos fund, which stands at $9,000+. With our savings and parental contributions, the wedding is paid for twice over.

So here is what we have decided to do: we are going to stick with our sub-$7,000 budget, and then save the rest. Perhaps we CAN start our married lives with a little house fund.

Will your parents help you financially with the wedding? If your parents offered you money, would you spend it on your wedding, a down payment, or a combination of the two?

  • Niki - That is great news and you are to be commended for not deciding to go for broke. I would be really grateful for such giving and non-meddling parents. ReplyCancel

  • Jen - After we announced our engagement, my dad offered a certain dollar amount toward the wedding. He said if we stayed underneath it, we would get whatever part of that amount was left over. I think he offered $15k (we got married in a relatively expensive area, and have a large family – 90 guests?). We kept wedding expenses around $12k so we got the remaining $3k as a wedding gift.

    He had already planned to help pay for my wedding out of "fairness", since he paid for my brother's catholic high school tuition (he didn't have to pay mine, since I had a scholarship). ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Hey it's good to be fair! My aunt who has two children are doing something of that sort – she's paying for one cousin's grad school because he went to a public school and my other cousin went to a private college. ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Both my parents and my husband's parents gave us approximately the amount of money that yours have. We actually had two wedding receptions (bi-coastal family!) so our costs were up in the average-US-wedding range. Our parents had a good bit of say in how the wedding went down though, including large swaths of the guest list, input on the caterers/menus, choosing the invitations, etc (not in an overbearing way though). We didn't end up spending more than a few thousand dollars of our own money on the wedding, though we did pay for our rings and the honeymoon.

    The money our parents gave us was earmarked for the wedding – cash from mine but clearly to be spent on the venue, caterer, etc., and my husband's parents just directly paid for several of the vendors. I definitely would have respected their wishes for however the money should be spent, but if it were open-ended like what you received I'd do exactly as you said and use it to pay for a non-inflated wedding budget and save the rest as a nest egg.

    Congrats on having such generous parents! ReplyCancel

  • cashflowmantra - I am well past the getting married stage, but have repeatedly told my girls and boys that I would give them a lump sum to start life. It can be used for the wedding, honeymoon, a down payment, or whatever. But that is what you get. It is up to you to budget and determine priorities in life. You can come and cry to me to ask for advice or have a shoulder on which to cry which will be free. But as far as money goes from that point on, you are on your own. ReplyCancel

  • onegirl - You are truly blessed to have such awesome parents. Congratulations on your gift. ReplyCancel

  • BooKoo Bucks - Oh, WOW! That's incredibly generous. And extra-awesome that it comes without strings. Sock it away for a down payment!

    My parents told me up front (after the engagement) that they won't/can't contribute, but as I'd planned it out of my own savings, that's not a problem. I prefer it that way! But we're having a tiny wedding with a (relatively) tiny budget. I'm having difficulty accepting a gift from a friend who wants to pay for the cake, 'cause I don't like giving up control. LOL. It's a different scale of planning. ReplyCancel

  • Miss T - Parents are awesome aren't they. We got similar gifts from our parents for our wedding and it really helped take the financial pressure off. It really meant a lot too. ReplyCancel

  • wmwo - That's an incredibly generous gift for your parents to give you! That's wonderful :)

    I know my parents intend to put money towards a for me wedding one day, but I don't think I'll accept it. My mom has been upfront about the money coming with strings attached. Her mom planned her wedding, and even went so far as to go into the shop and change the order after my mom had selected and ordered her wedding dress. My mom was, and still is, livid about many aspects about how her wedding went down. I do not want to feel the same about mine. As long as there are strings attached to the money I'm not touching it. ReplyCancel

  • Putri - That's awesome!

    Both my parents and the hubby's parents did the same for us :-) My parents' contribution was a no-strings-attached gift whereas his mother paid the vendor (the venue, which also includes food and drinks, our biggest expense!) directly. Like you, we did plan our wedding according to what we (or I, remember the hubby was rather carefree with his money…) felt comfortable spending so the parental help really did lower the amount we spent. ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - Lucky!

    My parents and in-laws paid for the wedding and now I realized what a mistake that was for letting them. There were definitely strings attached. I was young and naive about weddings, still, I ended up being quite content and we received many positive comments about the affair. There were important things that I did get, such as a fabulous dress and the perfect ceremony. The ceremony was more important to me than the reception. The whole affair cost under 5k, I believe it was closer to 4k, not including whatever my in-laws spent on the rehearsal dinner/party. Photographer friends did the photos, family helped at the reception, etc. The one thing I didn't stand up to was the location. I had my heart set on several different locations, but one by one they fell through so I ended up at my parents' church. *That* I would have changed, but again, young and naive. If I went back I would have had it in Hawaii and said that whoever wanted to come could come.

    At any rate, you're starting off on the right foot! ReplyCancel

  • Rowena@ Custom Suits - That's a very special gift. If I have to decide on what to do with it, I would rather put it in our bank account and stick to my first budget. It's better to start a life with money set aside for emergency purposes. Good choice. I commend you. ReplyCancel

  • Jeff Sustainlifeblog - That is such a nice gift from your family. For my wedding, H's mom said she would pay for everything that we wanted, but we didnt ask her to do that. We are paying for some of the things, (like the venue) and she's paying for some of the other things (like food). ReplyCancel

  • janinenicolee - Wow! Thats such a nice gift. I would probably split it 60-40 (downpayment-wedding) if I need the money for the wedding. However, I hope that the future-husband and I will have enough saved that we will be able to pay for the wedding in full, in which case I would put some of it towards the honeymoon and the rest towards a downpayment. I say you should definitely put some of it towards the honeymoon, you guys deserve it! ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Congrats! That's awesome. And I don't mean to bring this post down, but I most likely won't get anything from my mom (my dad passed away) because she is very greedy and unless it's for her, she doesn't like anything. ReplyCancel

  • charles - How are you able to do a wedding for less than $7,000? I recently got married this past March and our total expenses exceeded $30,000. At $100 per head for just the reception, that was more than 50% of our total costs. I'm curious how you are able to do it. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - I'll do a detailed post sometime in the future, but it's pretty easy, actually – not easy as in I have magical budgeting powers (don't I wish!), but easy as in we made a few big decisions that really kept our costs down. 1. we have a short guest list – under 40, 2. we're having a dance-free lunch reception at a restaurant whose per-head cost is around $35, 3. we hire an up-and-coming wedding photographer, 4. a family friend has agreed to officiate and do our invitations as his gift, 5. we rented a public space for the ceremony and it's only $250 for everything. We're not doing professional flowers, music, videographer, etc. ReplyCancel

      • TLC - I'm sad to hear you won't be hiring a videographer (from my personal experience). But I understand it's a way to cut costs! ReplyCancel

  • Well Heeled Blog - I think splitting it is nice… something for today and something for the future! ReplyCancel

  • Tea - Great post! When you talk about what you'd do with the extra money, I think it's a microcosm of how people stay in debt and/or make bad choices because those choices are habits. The "you make more" – "you spend more" attitude. I think you're setting yourself up well for wealth and prosperity by saving the money.

    I, on the other hand, would likely NOT save the money. I'd definitely spend it on my wedding or honeymoon. My line of thinking is, I can buy a house anytime, but you only get married once. I'd live it up.

    Thanks for introducing me to a different way of thinking though. I'm still loving all the wedding posts. Keep 'em coming! ReplyCancel

  • TLC - My parents loaned us money for the deposits (that we paid back in full), paid for the alcohol/drinks & a chunk of our honeymoon. My husband's dad dad paid for the DJ (his best friend.. so he got a deal), and his mom paid for the rehearsal dinner. We paid for the rest. Our wedding cost about $7000, our honeymoon $3500. ReplyCancel

  • From Shoes to Savings - wow, what generous parents!! That's so incredible nice to have such a gift with no strings attached – the lack of strings really shows how much they trust and respect your judgment, decisions, and independence!

    My parents had always said they would either pay for a wedding or a downpayment….and they did pay for most of my downpayment, but in the form of a loan with 6% interest, due and payable when I sell the house. And I'm currently single. So I have NO idea what will happen if I end up getting married before selling the house! ReplyCancel

  • Amy K - My parents surprised us by insisting on paying for everything, but after we had decided on a guest list, venue.. pretty much everything. We had everything planned exactly as we wanted it, and thankfully the gift was no-strings-attached – we just never saw the final bill. ReplyCancel

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