Q&A with Geoff: My irresponsible daughter wants me to pay for her wedding

q&a with geoff Dec 02, 2021

Question

Our 28-year-old daughter lives in our home with her young son. She wants us to throw her a wedding with her boyfriend.

The problem is she has a mediocre job, and he still lives with his mom and also has a mediocre job.

I’m against spending money on a wedding without a plan for their future. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. Am I wrong? She’s never been married. But I think planning for a wedding is premature.

Answer

There are no rules that require you to pay for your daughter’s wedding. Even though there are cultural customs that might say that the family of the bride will foot much of the bill for the wedding, it’s not an automatic requirement for you to do what everyone else is doing. Context is everything. 

It sounds like it’s more important for you to help your daughter prepare for her future marriage than it is to throw a party. While it’s common for many newlyweds to start their new lives with few material possessions, it doesn’t sound like they have much of a plan for not only the wedding festivities but also going forward with their lives.  

If you believe it will enable your daughter and her boyfriend to expect a free handout without trying to improve their situation, then allow this to be an important educational experience for them. While getting married is a one-time event, learning to build a thriving marriage and family takes dedication and foresight. You’re clearly worried this piece is missing. 

While you can’t decide for them how they’ll plan for their future, you can decide how much you want to contribute to their wedding fund. If they want something more than what you can offer, then allow them to resourceful and make it happen. 

Despite what you may see going on around you, weddings and receptions don’t have to be expensive. Set a limit that won’t leave you feeling used and resentful. Stick to that budget as a way to protect your relationship with them. Your daughter may believe it’s your responsibility to give her the wedding of her dreams. If this is the case, this entitlement won’t end after the wedding is over.

It’s better to address the bigger issue of entitlement and expectations now than deal with it every time they’re in financial dire straits. 

Also, if they are entitled about the wedding, then it won’t matter how much you do for them. If they are gracious and mature, then your efforts will be received with gratitude. 

If they were more responsible, would you spend more money? If so, then let them know how their level of personal responsibility influences your willingness to help. Let them know you are concerned about perpetuating a pattern of entitlement. 

If their level of responsibility has no bearing on your financial contribution, then just stick to your budget and drop the drama.

They are both adults and if they want to get married, then they will get married. There are plenty of ways you can support them in their wedding and reception without having to break the bank. Be clear about your own limits and motivations for helping.

As you stay open and honest with her about the kind of involvement you can offer, you will be supporting her in the most authentic way.

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