• Wedding Budget Panic: We’ve lost $10,000

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    This week our wedding budget suffered a huge blow. My parents reduced the amount they are offering to pay for our wedding from $10,000 to….zero. To be fair, my parents never actually promised us the $10,000. When we got engaged, I told my mom that I would like her to tell us how much they would be willing to contribute by April 15. Between then and now she has repeatedly said she would like to give us $10,000 but that she and my father were having trouble agreeing on an amount. April 15 came and went with no mention of the money. So a few days later I called my mom and reminded her that we will need to know exactly how much they can give us and when, so we can accurately plan our wedding budget. She seemed to have forgotten all about the April 15 deadline and sounded a little put off by the request. Still, she promised to give me an answer soon.

    On Sunday night, she called. She sounded more chipper than usual and made some small talk before announcing that she and my father had decided on their wedding contribution. Then things started to take a turn downhill. She began by stating some facts:

    They are 70 and 72 years old. They are still working, and cannot stop working because they do not have much money saved for retirement (I do not know how much but it isn’t more than $50,000). Their health is failing and they are afraid they will be forced from their jobs. They have borrowed the full amount available from their home equity loan (not for any sort of emergency, but for Christmas gifts and the like) and they will have to make monthly payments of $1500 for two years in order to pay off that debt. They have no money set aside for our wedding. And they cannot give us any money for the wedding.

    Part of me feels abandoned. They have made bad financial decisions their entire lives, and did not plan for their retirement or our wedding. I feel like if they cared about me, they would have saved some money for our wedding. My mom even had the nerve to suggest we should elope. How could she so easily say she doesn’t care if she’s at our wedding?

    Part of me feels angry. How can they be surprised that I would expect them to help pay for our wedding? We’ve only been out of college for two years and are already burdened with $1000 a month payments for the student loans my parents forced me to take out (because they saved nothing for college, either). I’m angry that my mom kept hinting at a large gift, than cheerily told me we’d be getting nothing.

    Part of me feels relieved. I am aware of their financial situation and know that they really cannot afford to help us. This is probably the first financially responsible decision they have ever made. I foresee that I will be expected to care for them when they run out of money, so this thrift will help delay their dependence on me.

    Most of all, I feel panicked. The typical wedding costs around $25,000 and I don’t see how we can do it for much less, especially in Chicago. Of course there are ways to cut costs, but it takes a lot of cutting to halve the budget. We have $4,000 saved up for down payments and a quarter of that will go to reserve the church. That doesn’t leave much for reserving the reception hall and everything else. We both agree we do not want to take on any more debt to pay for the wedding, and estimate we can save up around $15,000 ourselves if we try very very hard.

    On the phone with my mom, I couldn’t help but cry. I didn’t want to say anything I would regret so I told her I had to go. Then she heard me crying and sounded shocked. “You expected us to pay for your wedding?” she exclaimed. I told her again that I needed to go and I hung up. I have not called her back yet. I don’t know what to say to her. I’m just so hurt.

    Any suggestions from our readers would be appreciated.

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