Announcing an engagement is a beautiful moment you get to share with your family and friends as they wish you the best on the next step of your life’s journey. It should be a purely joyful moment; however, for some folks, it’s also a chance to sneak in some unsolicited wedding finances advice. Keep a cool head by knowing your responses to some of the most common comments ahead of time.
“Stop Being So Cheap.”
Your bridesmaids just insisted on free dresses and airfare. Your mom wants to invite seven of her best friends at your wedding. Your coworker asks if it’s ok to bring her eight children, two dogs, and a parakeet too. When you try to put the brakes on your out-of-control guest list, you hear: “Stop being so cheap.” But unless you’re a billionaire, you have to put your foot down somewhere. And that means disappointing some of your invitees.
Sure, it’s a rude comment. If you feel like answering in kind, let the speaker know that they’re welcome to pay for their own dinner, favors, and entertainment if they want to see what “cheap” actually looks like.
However, it’s much classier (and often more satisfying) to take the high road. Explain that, as much as you would love to invite everyone in the world, treat your dinner guests to unlimited Dom Perignon, and pay for your entire bridal party to attend a bachelorette weekend at a swanky Jamaican resort, it’s just not in the cards for you at this stage in your life. (You may also want to hint that you share the speaker’s appreciation for the finer things in life if he would like to take responsibility for making them happen.)
“I’ll Chip in for an Icelandic Harp Player.”
While generosity in all its forms should be appreciated, sometimes wedding finances contributions come with more stipulations than an eccentric millionaire’s endowment to his alma mater. Your wealthy mother-in-law may offer to give you 5,000 dollars–but only if you spend it on the Icelandic harp player she wishes she could have afforded for her own wedding. Your grandmother may offer 10,000–but only if you promise not to wear that awful dress you love so much.
When you find yourself jumping through stressful hoops to “qualify” for wedding gifts, step back and reevaluate how much you actually need the money. Sometimes an understated wedding celebrated in your own style is worth much more than an extravagant wedding that’s meant for someone else. Never be rude when turning down an offered gift, but look carefully into your own heart as you decide whether to say thanks or no thanks.
“Great. Another Wedding to Attend.”
Believe it or not, invitees who are currently caught in a “dreaded wedding cluster” sometimes think it’s appropriate to joke about their financial and scheduling burdens with the very friends who invited them. You may hear your invitees moaning and groaning about expensive plane tickets, dwindling vacation days, and the wretched task of picking out presents for their burdensomely large social circles. You may even start to get the feeling that you have greatly inconvenienced your friend by inviting him to share your joy.
Unfortunately, wedding clusters happen. Especially if you have a lot of friends in their second or third decade of life, you might find that your weekend days in May and June contain more weddings than not. But that’s no reason to complain! Remind the complainers that they’re very lucky to have so many close friends who want to share their important life occasions and that they’re under no obligation to buy expensive gifts for everyone (and of course, if they resent the invitations that much, they’re under no obligation to attend!).
Keeping Your Cool and Control Your Wedding Finances
Remember, arguments over money tend to bring out the worst in people. If you can, steer the conversation away from finances and try to focus on your relationship with the person making the comment. See if you can get to the root of the problem–chances are, the financial sticking point is only a symptom of an emotional issue that should be discussed.
For example, the people who accuse you of being cheap when you can’t afford the bells and whistles they suggest may feel, deep down, like you’re telling them they’re not important to you. You can help this by letting them know how much your friendship means to you and how much you appreciate their interest in your wedding. The person who tries to control your wedding through financial contributions may just be making up for the loss of control over her own wedding. Ask her whether she had to change anything about her wedding for other people, and if so, how it made her feel. She may realize she doesn’t want to do the same thing to you.
Even if your wedding budget is tight, you can still address your friends’ needs by making them feel valued and appreciated. Remember to make time for your loved ones even in the busy days leading up to your wedding. The more you take care of your relationships, the easier it will be to weather the occasional unwanted comment.