Dilemma: My future in-laws have offered us cash instead of paying for a big wedding, which they had always promised to pay for. My fiancée’s two sisters have gotten married in the last few years, both with great weddings, and now grandchildren are taking the family’s attention. The money is enough for a down payment on a townhouse we could buy instead of renting our apartment. We both have good jobs, but haven’t been able to save much.
My fiancée wants the wedding. She has always wanted to walk down the aisle with her girlfriends as bridesmaids, and a big party to celebrate. Don’t suggest we make it smaller. That was my idea. But she thinks she’ll miss having had what her sisters had for the rest of her life. And then be mad at me for making her give it up.
I, on the other hand, can picture us starting our life in a home we own … and the cash would make it possible. I’m at a loss as to how to persuade her. I really don’t want a big wedding. It’s a waste. My family is small and not very pretentious. Is there a formula that can convince her? Or some math that could show her the reason?
She has promised to listen … but is not changing her mind.
Meg’s solution: I wish this could be solved with simple math, but that’s not happening.
It’s an emotional issue, and not all emotions can be swayed monetarily, although some certainly can. This is all about having what her sisters had, as well as fulfilling a lifetime dream of being the Bride with a capital B. I get it. And I totally get your point. It’s a matter of perceived value.
When I was young and engaged, my future in-laws offered me a fur coat, (in the days when fur was PC) or some shares of a stock as an engagement gift. Of course, I took the stock. My friends thought I was nuts. It’s all in how you see things.
Do I have an answer for your dilemma, or an easy solution? No, I don’t, but I do have ideas for a discussion.
First of all, no guilt allowed! Make a deal with each other that whatever the decision you make; you’ll each be able to stick with it without punishing the other one. She won’t bemoan not having the bash every time you go to someone’s wedding, and you won’t guilt her next time your rent goes up. If you’re going to start your marriage out with a score, then I’d reconsider the marriage … or readjust your priorities. Seriously.
How people deal with each other; what they bring to the table thought-wise, value-wise and emotionally, plus their level of maturity can set the stage going forward for peace or strife. And money will almost always be an issue in any marriage, especially if you’ve been raised with a different value system. You two might want to do some pre-marriage counseling to flush out the issues and see if you’re really on the same page and in synch. If you’re not, you need to know it right now. Personal surprises are mean after the knot is tied.
For your sake, though, please recognize that some young women dream of their wedding their whole lives, even practicing a walk down the aisle with dolls and such. If it’s that important to her, you might want to go with the flow and let her have her dream. But at the same time, both of you should begin to save for a down payment for a home.
The wedding gifts could help tremendously. Also, you can agree not to spend a dime of your own money towards any of the wedding. If it’s a hefty budget, and she can be clever, she can have her dream wedding, and you may end up with some new savings towards a down payment. How nice if you could actually have it all.
Got a dilemma? Email email@example.com. Meg Green, CFP, is a wealth manager with offices in Aventura. Her Money Dilemmas column runs monthly in The Miami Herald.