It is evident that I have made some colossal mistakes in my previous post.
Primarily, I made an error in communication. I did not express myself accurately. Re-reading my post now, I see how I have painted myself as a greedy, granny-robbing bridezilla. Wow, was that un-cool. Our readers were right to call me on my sense of entitlement and the insanity of expecting money from parents who do not have it.
I was not aware of the severity of my parents’ situation until my mom told me. Previously, she had been planning my dream wedding for seven years and had been hinting at a $10,000 wedding gift for four months. They did not express concern for their future, so how could I have known? I assumed they had been saving money aside since our engagement. After all, that’s what we’ve been doing. I expected them to give us a wedding gift because they said many times they would, not because I have deformed sense of entitlement.
To be clear to our readers, my parents are doing poorly only because they have heinously mismanaged their money. For example, they purchased cars –twice in the past 6 years- equal to their annual income, financed entirely with new debt. And the Christmas gifts they purchased with their home equity loan were along the line of $600 satellite radios and $2000 garnet bracelets (no, not for me). They aren’t blameless for their situation and it isn’t fair for them to expect me to be their retirement plan. That’s why I am angry.
To those who take issue with my choice of words, “the student loans my parents forced me to take out,” all I can say is that it’s true. My parents used the money I had personally saved up for college in order to make minimum credit card payments after my mom decided to redecorate the house on a lark. They also pulled some “creative” tax stunts that made me ineligible for financial aid, causing me take out private student loans at high interest rates. Their greed cost me $36,000 in additional student loan principal. While attending my inexpensive college, I worked as many as four jobs simultaneously. I had scholarships. I had assistantships. Newsflash: a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees are expensive no matter how much assistance you receive.
My post also incorrectly emphasized the $10,000 amount. What was truly bothering me was the symbolism of zero. I felt my mom was removing herself entirely from my wedding, and passively expressing disapproval of our marriage, and that hurt a lot. I want my mom to be part of our wedding and supportive of our marriage, money or no money. If she had said, “I can’t give a financial gift but I’d love to help you arrange the flowers,” that would have changed everything. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the relationship.
I ended the phone call with my mom because I was crying and I did not want her to hear me and feel guilty. I knew by then that she could not afford a gift and I did not want her to give us anything out of guilt. But I was also reeling from the shock of a huge budget reduction and my parents’ emotional detachment. I tried to end the phone call before she heard me, but she kept me on the phone until it was too late. Despite our differences, I care very much for my parents. Their financial security is important to me. Knowing the severity of their situation now, I am going to try to help them maximize what they have and make sound financial decisions in the future.
I called my mom back today. We talked for a couple of hours and everyone is okay. I acknowledged that my expectations were unreasonable and my mom acknowledged that she is responsible for not having a financial plan. She clarified that the zero dollar amount was not symbolic of anything and that she wants to be included in the wedding planning. I brainstormed lots of ways she can be involved without spending any money, like arranging flowers from Costco, helping me do price comparisons at the stores in her area, doing the lettering on our invitations, etc. I made it clear to her that her involvement is far more important to me than cash. In her heart, she wishes she could throw a huge fancy wedding but I reassured her that isn’t necessary. If she does give us an inappropriate gift, Him and I have agreed not to accept it.
Him and I have been talking this over all week and we have a new plan. Instead of reserving our venue right now, we are going to wait until the end of the summer when we estimate we will have saved enough money ourselves. We are going to refocus our search for venues that provide a better value for less cost. We are still planning to book our ceremony at our church. We are members there, it has great sentimental value to us, and God is first on our guest list. We also believe in the mission of the church and it makes us feel good to give them our donation. We are going to purchase flowers from Costco and I’ll arrange them myself (in vases I can later sell on eBay!). We are going to make our own invitations. I will purchase a second-hand gown. We will register for our honeymoon in lieu of gifts. We will negotiate everything. We will pay for our wedding ourselves (we were always planning to pay for the bulk of it ourselves anyway) and it will all work out.
To Him, I apologize. I did not show my post to Him before hitting submit and I greatly embarrassed Him. I wrote so badly that even Him was confounded. It took about 12 hours of me explaining (and Him saying, “But that’s not what you wrote!”) before we were on the same page. Fortunately, Lakeshore Drive has enough gridlock that we had ample time to discuss everything. I am grateful to Him for being patient and trying so hard to understand my garbled emotional baggage and help come up with a new wedding plan.
Thank you to everyone who made genuine budget-cutting suggestions and shared their stories of meaningful, financially responsible weddings. Your stories are an inspiration and we appreciate your links to good information.
To those who have sensationalized my post, editing wildly to make a headline story on your own blog, shame on you. My post needed editing, but not by you. Yelling at me for things I never said helps no one.
Money and relationships can be thorny. As our blog is at the intersection of these topics, conflict and miscommunication are inevitable. It would be easy to throw in the towel on this blog. We work hard on our finances and relationship, so we’re going to keep working hard on this blog.