Money is a sensitive subject best not spoken about, but does the rule change when a wedding is involved?

By Nancy Mattia
January 23, 2020
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JGI/Jamie Grill

If you're anything like most couples, you probably felt uncomfortable asking your parents if they were planning to contribute financially to your wedding; even so, you took a few deep breaths and started the conversation. They ended up offering a generous amount. The same scenario played out at the groom's house, but with one exception: His parents offered far less than yours. Should you tell his folks and yours about the other's contribution? The answer is a resounding no, says Aleeza Singh, a senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in Davenport, Iowa. "Unless there's a specific reason or rationale to share that information, talking about numbers should be avoided."

Disclosing disparate dollar amounts will likely make the parents who are paying less feel uncomfortable.

They may think they're letting you down by not contributing more, even though you know that they're in serious saving-for-retirement mode. (Even before their child gets engaged, it's helpful if parents were upfront about what they see as their obligation towards the wedding, says Singh.) Instead of acting disappointed, applaud them for being prudent and planning for their future. No one should spend money they don't have on a wedding, whether it's their own or their son's or daughter's.

It's no one's business but yours.

Stay mum if either set of parents asks how much the other side of the family is giving. Even if the monetary contributions are comparable, it might cause embarrassment, depending on their culture. "There are some families who are open about money," says Singh, "and others who don't talk about it." Explain that you're not sharing that information with anyone, but you will share the budget with them.

It's not a competition.

"Nothing has greater potential to bring out the best and worst in people than money," says Singh. Pitting one family against the other works for a game show but not in real life. Also, more money contributed doesn't mean more love.

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