If Your Parents Help Pay for Your Wedding, How Much Control Do They Get?

Young man photographing family at outdoor wedding.
Neustockimages / Getty Images

You’re freshly engaged and beyond excited to start planning your wedding. While you’re grateful your parents or future in-laws want to help pay for your big day — or pick up the entire check — you’re a bit nervous about their level of involvement in the planning process.

The national average cost of a wedding was $28,000 in 2021, according to The Knot Real Weddings Study, so you’ll definitely want the financial help. However, you also want your wedding to be your dream day — and your parents might have a very different plan for it.

Whoever Pays Has the Final Say

As the ones getting married, you and your partner are the stars of your wedding. However, Aviva Samuels, owner of  Florida-based wedding and event planning company Kiss the Planner, said the wedding host is the person or persons paying the bill.

“If that’s mom and dad, then wedding etiquette dictates that they have the final [say] when it comes to the wedding guest list,” she said. “Obviously in the ideal situation, parents and couple are in perfect agreement with the entire guest list, but if there are any differences of opinion, the parents retain the veto power.”

Alternately, Samuels said you might foot the bill for any additional guests you want to invite if your parents aren’t keen on them.

Make Your Money Work for You

“In the case in which parents want more of their friends or family to attend, they can take the couple’s desires into account, but ultimately the decision lies with them,” she said.

If they’re paying for the wedding, Samuels said the wording on the invitation is also up to the parents.

“As with any difference of opinion, a compromise might be worked out,” she said. “But when it comes to wedding etiquette, the couple should bow to the parents’ request.”

Sit Down and Talk Before You Start Planning

Samuels suggested getting on the same page with parents paying for your wedding, so you know where they stand.

“Since they hold the purse strings, proper etiquette suggests that the wedding couple speak with their parents long before any spending takes place,” she said. “It’s important to set up an expectation of just how involved they’d like to be.”

In the event they want to be fully involved in the planning process, Samuels said you need to accept that and take their suggestions gracefully.

“If they request that the couple run things by them prior to breaking out the checkbook, the couple should abide by their wishes,” she said. “Only should the parents request to stay out of the planning, should the couple handle the decisions on their own.”

Tensions can rise if you feel like your parents are taking over your wedding, but try to maintain your cool. If you’re feeling frustrated, that’s okay, but Samuels recommended engaging in a bit of self-reflection to help focus on the big picture.

Make Your Money Work for You

“Are you going to regret the disagreements when, all in all, the wedding will be special regardless of all the details, knowing that you have [the] love and support of your friends, family and your future spouse by your side?,” she asked.

It’s definitely not fun to feel like you’re making compromises left and right when the day is supposed to be about you and your fiancé. However, your wedding is one of the most important occasions of your life, so try your best to enjoy the planning process — even if overbearing parents are essentially taking the reins of your big day.

Try to look on the plus side, which is that the two of you don’t have to foot the bill for your entire wedding — and maybe aren’t paying anything at all. When you take that into account, little frustrations might not seem like that big of a deal after all.

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