337- Working with Wedding Donors aka your parents

by Aleisha

Planning a wedding is a bit like participating in an election. Some people self-fund their campaigns and go it alone, while others have well-endowed donors who generously contribute to their cause.

Wedding Donors contribute financially to the wedding budget. This episode shares tips to working out money logistics whilst maintaining control and chill.

Accepting money for your wedding is akin to accepting political donations. There will be people who generously offer money with no requests, guilt or quasi-blackmail. There will be a lot of people who offer money but then want something in return – guest list control, to come to every appointment, to be copied on every wedding planning email.

This is not to say that these are conscious, well-thought-out manipulations triggered by some grand master plan to completely control your wedding, but more often than not the generous contributions by parents or family members can quickly go from “let us help you” to a political minefield.

Listen to episode 337 of Bridechilla

Working with Wedding Donors aka your parents

Photo by rawpixel 

Conditional generosity = faux generosity

I call this conditional generosity, whereby wedding donors generously offer you cash to help pay for your wedding, but it comes with strings attached. This fine print can be things like inviting a bunch of friends that you’ve never met, demanding you get married in a church even though you are atheists, and your mother insisting on shitty chair covers because she thinks the chairs look “tacky”. All of these are real-life examples from Bridechillas.

Perhaps you have experienced conditional generosity in other parts of your life. Someone is nice to you, but you realize that there is a catch, or that their niceness also brings them something. Perhaps you’ve been emotionally blackmailed, when you’ve done something because you think that if you don’t your friendship would suffer, or they will ditch you as a friend. I know I have, and most of the time I didn’t figure out what was happening until much later.

If some of your wedding donors are pulling these moves, there are solutions and ways to salvage the situation without big fights or any drama. I want to reiterate that I am positive most wedding donors don’t do this on purpose, but pulling these moves can cause more trouble and stress than not having donors at all.

Working with Wedding Donors aka your parents

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic

Let’s remember a few subtle but important things about parents, even if they are cool:

In the good old days, the 1970s and 1980s, it was still pretty common for parents to be hands-on with their kid’s wedding and fund it.

When our parents got married (if they did), your grandparents probably paid for it and “managed a lot of details,” including inviting a bunch of their friends.

Pinterest, donut walls, dudes as bridesmaids and ditching some of the formality are probably new concepts to them and challenging the way that they see weddings as a whole.L

Like all Bridechilla problem-solving solutions, this one comes down to communication. So much of the time we argue and get confused because of misinformation and misunderstanding different perspectives. Parents can feel like they are out of the loop and freak out when they don’t know things. They often assume that their kids are going to plan their wedding the way they planned theirs.  Without having access to info, they jump to these conclusions. So, if you don’t tell, they don’t know. When it comes to contributing funds to your wedding, it’s important to have a conversation about their expectations of that money. If you have this conversation, and yes I know talking about money can be uncomfortable, you will all know where you stand.

Questions to ask wedding Donors

  1. Is their contribution to be added to the overall budget?
  2. Do they have specific expectations for their contributions?
  3. Do they want you to pay for specific things – caterer? Wedding dress?
  4. Do they want to see receipts and spreadsheets?
  5. How involved are they hoping to be?
  6. Does this money come with conditions? Guest list additions?

Working with Wedding Donors aka your parents

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Help Donors to be involved without being too involved

I’m certainly not saying that you need to keep them abreast of all moves, decisions, and processes; however, making small changes to communication from the get go can solve a lot of issues. If they and you know how the money is going to be used, and you are open about it, that makes it a lot harder to get confused further down the track.

For many of us, we aren’t always going to agree with how money should be spent. Some people are reactionary and say things that are hurtful, or try and use their generosity to their advantage to get their own way. A typical emotional blackmail tactic is making you feel bad or obliged to do something because the other person has been so gracious to help you out (conditional generosity).

Often calmly pointing out that you are stressed and that their actions might be causing you to feel overwhelmed and pressured, can help them see your point of view and ease the situation. I guarantee if you lay it all out there, sit down with a cup of tea or vodka and have an open conversation about your expectations and the donor’s expectations, that you will all feel more informed and open to each other’s perspectives. Set boundaries. Understand who is paying for what. Are there limits? Are there strings?

If this isn’t something that you think you can do, or your parents or wedding donors aren’t into compromises or hearing your perspective, the simple solution is to not take the cash. Avoid the issues altogether.

Have the wedding you want without the obligation and pressure of having to answer to other people. Sure, their money might be helpful and give you more freedom to do what you want but to what end? Be bold. Open up and own it.

Show image by Gabriel Silvério

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