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Inspiration Detail | A Modern Take

A Modern Take

What a joyous occasion when your engagement is announced! But once the excitement settles down a bit, it is time to discuss the nuts and bolts of planning the wedding. Instrumental in that discussion is developing a realistic budget for all parties participating in hosting the various events that surround this special occasion. At the center of the discussion is the wedding couple. There are a variety of approaches to handling expenses, so the bride and groom need to thoughtfully consider what is best in their particular situation. 

Traditionally, the parents of the bride have been called upon to pay for the majority of expenses with the parents of the groom traditionally contributing only to certain minor expenses. But is that still the case? What is the “new norm” for financing weddings? Considering that the average wedding in the Midwest can cost upwards of $30,000, engaged couples are setting aside the traditional standard in lieu of establishing a budget based on a variety of factors. 

The first step in managing budgetary guidelines is having a candid conversation with the families involved. This is truly the only way to make clear and comfortable financial arrangements with all those participating in the financial support of the events surrounding the occasion. Interestingly enough, it is clear that the traditional arrangement has not been replaced with just one alternative, but rather, families are taking a more customized approach based on a variety of factors. Considerations include financial resources and capabilities, the age of the bride and groom as well as the family dynamic. If the bride and groom have divorced parents or a blended family, these factors also play a role in the allocation of wedding expenses.

Typically, step one is for the bride and groom to initiate a discussion with the bride’s parents to explore what they have in mind as to budget and contribution. Step two would involve sitting down with the groom’s parents. It will eliminate stress for all involved if the couple comes to those meetings prepared with any high priority must-have items for the wedding. This information provides a much needed point of reference for all involved in the discussion about an appropriate budget and necessary funding of the wedding. 

Following the initial discussion with parents of the bride and groom, the couple will be able to develop a more specific game plan and thereby allocate financial responsibility for each element of the budget. Having these details reduced to writing for all involved will eliminate much concern and frustration for the couple as they navigate through the decision-making process. 

Some of the more common formulas for allocating the wedding budget include: (1) the traditional arrangement, (2) the 50/50 split and (3) the three-way split, but there are clearly other options. 

The traditional arrangement is one in which the bride’s parents pay for the vast majority of the wedding. A recent sampling of area brides indicated that about 40% of weddings continue to be paid for in this manner. The 50/50 split is an arrangement in which the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom each pay one-half of the wedding costs. The survey found that about 16% of today’s weddings are financed this way. The three-way split is when the costs are paid for equally by the wedding couple, the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents. The sampling results reflected that about 22% of today’s weddings share expenses in this way. Other methods include the wedding couple paying for the majority of wedding expenses or the groom’s family paying for most of the wedding expenses. 

Whether you are planning a small intimate affair or a full-blown soiree, the details of who will be handling the costs are critical in making the transition from engagement to wedding one of enjoyment rather than frustration. The approach can be customized to fit the situation, but should always include open and honest communication by all involved. The key to a solid plan is that it is understood and agreed upon by all parties responsible. 

While determining the financial arrangements for your wedding day may initially seem uncomfortable, having the conversation with your parents first to develop budget guidelines will certainly help relieve financial stress. There is no clear common standard for financing today’s weddings, so choosing a realistic approach that suits you and your families will ensure that you will have the stress-free wedding of your dreams! |NWD|