The Wedding Fund

If your in-laws want more at the wedding, then they should pay more. A side job at Marshalls would do wonders for the floral budget. See if your father-in-law is interested in applying.

Your in-laws have so many “needs”: top-shelf alcohol, a live Peter Gabriel cover band, authentic Scottish bagpipes, and a choral rendition of “Danny Boy.” The list never ends. All of this adds up to one thing: the dirty green monster called money. Mr. Cha-Ching.

There are several different financial models for weddings. Each one has its perks. And its oh-my-god-just-shoot-me-nows.

Scenario 1:

You’re Paying for the Wedding

There are three reasons why you’re paying for the wedding:

1. You’ve got all the dough:

You’re rated one of Barron’s top 50 young bankers.
Your grandfather invented Campbell’s Soup.
You matched 12-36-8-11-20 and won Powerball — payday!

2. City Hall = 100 bucks. No one is going to tell you what to do.
3. You’re a finalist on The Bachelor and the network is paying.

Regardless of how you were crowned the Big Kahuna of your wedding, now you have complete freedom to host the party of your dreams. All your coin and independent spirit earned you a giant foam middle finger. Anytime your in-laws or family cast doubt or complain, whip it out and wave it in the air. Who’s the man now, dog! If they don’t like it, they can kiss your financially independent bridal butt.

Scenario 2:

Your Family Is Paying for the Wedding

Your parents are thrilled. You’re no longer a doomed Jane Austen spinster. A man has extended his hand. A wedding must be planned! Signal the bell tower! Saddle the horses! Alert the chambermaids!

Ah, yes . . . the dowry tradition: giving away daughter = spending cash = shindig. Your proud parents are delivering you into matrimony the Elizabethan way, with bountiful foods, savory wines, and the finest threads. Bravo!

But why is your family the exclusive source of funding four hundred years after the plague? Didn’t the in-laws get the memo? Or are they still waiting for a message from the king? Either your family clings to tradition and insists that no one else pays (for honor and for country), or your in-laws tout tradition and prefer to keep their money invested in the NASDAQ rather than the totally awesome wedding band Short Bus.

Milady, don’t be offended if your in-laws don’t offer to pony up cash. It doesn’t (always) mean they disapprove of your union or that they’re cheap. They might be respecting the wishes of your old-fashioned family. See, chivalry isn’t dead after all.

Scenario 3:

Your In-Laws Are Paying for the Wedding

Your in-laws are paying for you to marry their son. Hey, you’re way ahead of the curve: they adore you so much, they’re making a proper woman out of you. (Someone should.)

Having in-laws who exclusively pay for the wedding is unusual. Extraordinary circumstances must be in play, such as:

Your parents are in jail or at sea. Either way, they’re busy.
Your family doesn’t approve of your “outrageous” union. His family does.
Your parents are still paying off your William & Mary tuition.
You sniffed out cash like a police dog at O’Hare and found gold. Digger.
There are nine girls in your family. No way. No how. No more girls.
Your in-laws love a good party. They weren’t nicknamed “Kegger Kim and Ken” for nothing.
Now that you’re tied to your in-laws’ coin purse, you’re also tied to their whims. They’re gunning for steel drums, a nondairy mint cake, and a five-minute swan parade. It’s par for the course.

But be mindful: an in-law-funded wedding can drive a wedge between you and your family. So involve your own brood as best you can in the details. If your mother would like to contribute “a little something” to offset the cost of your dress, accept graciously. If there’s zero cash flow from your folks’ direction, simply because the river is dry, make sure they know that just because they didn’t bankroll the party doesn’t mean they’re not VIPs in your book.

Scenario 4:

You, Your Family, In-Laws, and Step-In-Laws Are Paying for the Wedding

You’re a pinball wizard — and just scored a multiball! With so many relatives ricocheting in all directions with money to burn, you’re convinced you’ll host the perfect wedding. Wrong. Too many targets with flashing lights. Too many people with opinions. Gutter ball. Game over.

How can you harness the raw animal strength of the multi-headed wedding monster to plan the day of your dreams? Two words: clarify expectations. If you’re lucky, everyone rips out the same page from Martha Stewart Weddings magazine and presents it at your inaugural planning meeting. But if that doesn’t happen, how do you blend multiple checkbooks into one event?

Get everyone on the same page with a budget. It’s simple. Except when it’s not. But if you have “The Number,” you can always — ALWAYS — point to it in times of stress. “We’re sorry, you guys, but there’s just no more room in the budget for life-size cardboard cutouts of your dead relatives. Remember the budget? It hasn’t changed. Nor will it.”
Determine what each family can afford. Lo and behold, weddings evaporate money. Credit limits are raised. Yes, this is a very important day in your and your in-laws’ lives, but there are car payments, rent checks, and grocery bills to tend to the morning after.
Designate. Joint budgets work best when each party has a specific task assigned. Your own parents love to garden, so put them on florist watch. Your in-laws love to dance? They’ll enjoy providing the band. There are eleven major pillars to wedding planning: transportation, ceremony location, attire, rings, flowers, catering, music, reception location, cake, photographer, and honeymoon. Match an investor to a cause, and then stick to it.
Copyright © 2007 Dina Koutas Poch

From the book I Heart My In-Laws by Dina Koutas Poch Published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC; June 2007;$15.00US/$18.95CAN; 978-0-8050-8279-1 Copyright © 2007 Dina Koutas Poch