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How to honor my parents, without shaming his?

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Question - (29 October 2015) 11 Answers - (Newest, 1 November 2015)
A female United States age 26-29, anonymous writes:

Hi, Aunts and Uncles.

My fiance and I are tying the knot this January in Las Vegas. We've been engaged for years, but have put off getting married because, like everyone else, we've been struggling a lot financially. Knowing how badly we wanted to be married, my parents came to me in early summer and very generously offered to foot the cost of our nuptials. They are THE reason we're able to do this. On the flip side, the groom's parents are paying for absolutely nothing. My fiance and I have even agreed to partially cover the cost of their trip out West -- which is fine, I understand that they're hard up. My problem is that during the reception, I'd like to say a special "Thank You" to my parents and present them with a gift, or otherwise pay tribute to them somehow for making our wedding possible. But how can I do this without shaming the groom's parents? I don't want them to feel badly about their inability to contribute financially, but at the same time, I want to publicly honor my parents. Advice?

View related questions: engaged, fiance, wedding

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A female reader, Abella United States + , writes (1 November 2015):

Abella agony auntyou will best honor your parents at the wedding by demonstrating what they have taught you about life and about respecting others.

You recognise that your proposed course of action could appear to (potentially) shame your future parents in law.

Whereas if you choose to be a gracious caring woman at your wedding and behave in a way that demonstrates your respect for all the persons at your wedding, regardless of their level of material wealth then you will have truly risen well above any potential pettiness.

There is a time and place for everything.

One occasionally sees wild out of control weddings on the internet and it certainly brings down the tone of a wedding if guests start a fight at a wedding or start throwing verbal insults.

I can not imagine a worse outcome for a wedding to degenerate into one side being aggrieved by the other side.

If you want your wedding to be memorable for all the right reasons then

you need to find ways to rise above actions that could be considered mean or might cause resentment. Anything mean will also betray tension on your face.

Instead I hope that you can try to remain serene and accepting and loving towards all your guests on your special day

Your parents will be proud to see their lovely daughter get married.

Demonstrate their wonderful caring upbringing by choosing to not be divisive and by choosing to be inclusive and gracious toward all your guests at your wedding on your very special day.

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A female reader, Abella United States + , writes (1 November 2015):

Abella agony auntWedding should be a joyous event, filled with love.

You can sincerely and privately thank your parents. I doubt that your parents would be expecting a gift. They want you to be happy on the day.

If you were to make a big presentation and thank you to your parents, in front of your new in-laws and any guests, at the reception it would leave a bad impression and poison the event for guests, as people would be likely to feel uncomfortable with you singling out your parents and praising your parents.

And leaving all to wonder if there was already bad blood between you and your inlaws.

A few weeks ago I posted a comment in the DearCupid Forum about my first wedding.

My then fiance were well aware that my mother had said enough to cause us to realize that she would not contribute any of the cost for the wedding. My father had died a few years earlier. She did say that to us and we believe she thought it would cause us to delay the wedding.

My mother was in a good job at the time, dressed well and had some investments that provided her with additional income and owned her own home, so lack of funds was not the issue. I never gave it another thought and certainly did not debate the issue with her.

I accepted her position, and so I just got on with the planning, in discussion with my then fiance.

My then fiance and I were both over 21 years when I married so there was no possibility of us needing my mother's permission for me to marry.

We took my mother at her word and paid for everything ourselves though it was very low key. We wanted our wedding to be small and affordable.

My father in law to be paid for the drinks.

My Aunt offered to make the cake in lieu of a wedding present, which I thought was a very big help, so I thanked her for her generosity, which I appreciated very much.

Our wedding went off well. We never discussed with any of the guests who had paid for what. We simply relaxed and enjoyed the day.

I spent a lot on the flowers as I love flowers. We were married in a small 100 year old chapel that only seated 40 people.

Our reception had a gathering of people and a buffet meal, not a sit down meal which would have been too expensive for us, at the time. But there were enough seats for everyone to sit and converse. It was a very informal event. Which suited us.

We purchased gifts for my bridesmaid and the best man as a thank you to them.

We also spent money on a man who took some lovely photos.

When we purchased the invitations I also had the thank you cards printed. Then I addressed two sets of envelopes. (one for the wedding invitation and one for the thank you note later - I kept a record of who sent which gift)

That way, when I wrote in each thank you card I was able to reference the gift and include our sincere thanks for the gift.

It was not as much work as if I'd had to write individual letters (and address another envelope later) of thanks to each guest who gave us a present.

Only three refusals - two very elderly Great Aunts and a Great Uncle who I loved, but they were not able to travel. I doubted they would attend, but as a courtesy I sent them invitations. They told me they enjoyed receiving the invitations.

I hope your wedding goes very well and I hope you and your husband and all your guests have a very enjoyable celebration following the wedding

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (31 October 2015):

Well in England (2015) where I am from it is still the tradition and most done thing that the bride's family pays so is not that special! Also why should they feel gratitude?! Your parents are doing it for you not them, get off your high horse!

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A female reader, celtic_tiger United Kingdom + , writes (31 October 2015):

celtic_tiger agony auntI don't want to be rude OP, but I get the impression that you feel your partners family are a little inferior and should be very grateful for your parents coughing up the cash for the wedding.

You are right, it is 2015, and the outdated notion that the brides parents should pay (essentially a dowry) are very outdated. But that doesn't mean that his parents should have to pay either. Many modern couples pay for everything themselves without parental contributions.

It just seems, from what you have written that you have a subconscious anger towards your partners family for not being financially well off, a little judgmental and that they should publicly praise yours for being able to do something which they may want to do, but cannot. This bit is particularly telling "like potentially my in-laws, from expressing their gratitude" Its a bit like rubbing salt into a wound, and possibly a little callous.

If you have never been truly poor it is difficult to explain how it feels when other people take financial security for granted. Even those who think they are not that well off like your parents, have more than people who are only just on the breadline. People can only give what they have, and to be made to feel inferior, or not good enough because they can't keep up is the worst feeling you can imagine.

If I got married right now, my Mum couldn't contribute a thing as she just does not have it in the bank and I wouldn't expect her to, because after my parents divorced every single penny she had went on keeping a roof over my head, food on the table, and enabling me to get a good education. She wouldn't contribute with money, but would help in other ways. Some things in life are worth more than money.

As I see it myself, a wedding is just one day. The big party is just an excuse to burn money, and if you do want to save for a house etc, WHY waste so much on one day? You have already been together for such a long time, would that money not be better put towards a deposit on a house?

The real point is the marriage, and the lasting relationship. Really the wedding is just the start. I would rather have a cheaper reception and have all those people who I loved and meant something to me and my partner present to share the moment with us. It is amazing what kind of atmosphere you can create for a simple budget, you just have to look beyond the glossy magazines and the fancy facade.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (30 October 2015):

It would be a very bad start to a new marriage to unintentionally embarrass or slight your new in laws.

You don't need to shout who paid from the roof tops, it is irrelevant really, this is about a marriage and this can cost very little on a budget,unless you opt for the matching unessesaries. I know many people want the perfect day with doves and all, but I would also honour your new parents on their special day as well, seeing their son marry and welcoming their new daughter in law.

Never honour money and what it can do for you,honour people.

Have a wonderful day and future.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (30 October 2015):

Hi, this is the Original Poster.

We've debated the idea of doing a civil ceremony and having a bigger celebration later, but my fear is that the formal event will fall by the wayside, as other things (like buying a house, paying off student loans) take priority. Besides, who's to say our financial situation will be better in the future? As my in-laws have demonstrated, they can certainly get worse as you get older. My fiance and I are not attention-seeking people; we've never really held the spotlight, or sought it, for that matter, but our wedding is something we weren't willing to compromise on. We want a party! We've been together seven years and now we're getting married! This doesn't mean we have to spend a lot of money (we're not, and my parents aren't rich, not even relatively speaking), but our LV nuptials are definitely more than my fiance and I could afford on our own, but still less than doing something comparable in San Francisco. BTW, neither set of parents live here.

I see now that the reception is probably not the best time for ME to thank my parents. I hope this doesn't stop anyone else, like potentially my in-laws, from expressing their gratitude, because my parents are not doing this just for ME, but for my fiance, too. They love him. And I call BS on the "tradition" that the bride's family pays for the entire wedding. It's 2015!

Thanks for the advice!

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (30 October 2015):

Traditionally it is the bride's parents who pays anyway so it wouldn't be wrong just to thank them some point throughout the day.

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States + , writes (30 October 2015):

Tisha-1 agony auntYou don't need a lot of money to get married. All it costs is the marriage license and whatever your state requires prior to issuing that license. You might need a lot more money to have a fancy reception though.

So is this about getting married or paying for a wedding?

You are in your 20s, you are struggling financially "like everyone else" including your in-laws to be. if they can't help to pay for your big party wedding, they can't pay. Anyone who is close to you will know the situation and if they are flying out to Las Vegas.

If you are struggling financially then acknowledge that you are in the same boat as your in-laws to be.

If your parents are as generous as you say, then they will be happy to see you happy on your wedding day. They aren't necessary for the marriage to happen, they just happen to paying the bill for the party.

I would say something like "To our amazing parents, thank you so much for all your support. We would not be here if it were not for your all of your love and help. None of this would have been possible without all your love and support. Mom, Dad, I love you so very much and thank you for everything you've done for me. To Josh's Mom and Dad, I am so happy to have you to have you officially as my Mom and Dad in Law. "

You don't need to spell out who is paying for the wedding. Which, by the way, is usually the bride's parents, or these days, the happy couple themselves.

Why not get married where you live? Why Vegas?

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A female reader, celtic_tiger United Kingdom + , writes (30 October 2015):

celtic_tiger agony auntWhy does your wedding have to cost so much money? It is possible to get married on very little, it just takes planning, and budgeting. And honesty about what is actually important.

If you really want to be married, can you not just have a simple ceremony without all the bells and whistles?

Marriage is not about the reception, or the cake, or the party - it is about the commitment to each other.

IF this issue is bothering you so much, why not have a simple ceremony, with just the very close family in attendance. When you are able to afford the reception (say as a 1 year anniversary) get everyone together, and then have a huge expensive party.

Wealth can be a very thorny issue - some have lots, others have little. A good marriage is not based on how much money is spent, or can be afforded. Neither is love. You are very lucky that your parents are wealthy enough to be able to offer that, but that does not mean that your partners parents are any less important, special or caring towards you as a couple. If they are sat on a pile of money and wont, that is one thing, but if they cannot afford to spare anything, is it really right to make them feel like the poor relations on what is THEIR sons big day? It is not just your wedding, or your family wedding but his too.

Imagine, being sat at the top table, when your new daaughter-in-law starts to publically gush to the assembled crowd about how this wouldn't have been possible without your ever-so rich parents helping you. Do you not think that would be a little insensitive and embarrassing? People would talk, and they would assume things...

Personally, if I wanted to be married, and could only afford a small ceremony. I would work within my budget. But that is just my opinion.

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A male reader, Denizen United Kingdom + , writes (29 October 2015):

Denizen agony auntThe answer is you can't. You need another plan. Your wedding is not about money or anyone's ability to pay anyway. Who can say which parents care the most? Who can say what has been involved in your and his' upbringing. The journeys for you both from when you and your fiancée were tots to the present day have been filled with highs and lows, and probably great sacrifices by both sets of parents.

On your wedding day you honour them both for the love they have showed you both. It's not really about having the means to fund your, 'special day'.

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A male reader, confusedAF South Africa +, writes (29 October 2015):

It is admirable that you want to honour your parents with a gift and kind words, it is truly amazing what they have done for you! The only problem with that is that it might look like favouritism or that because one has no money, you are less loved, which is ridiculous of course! My solution would be to do what is in your heart and honour your parents at a private party or function before the marriage! Invite those that will actually like to hear the praise you have to give and enjoy that moment! Then, at the wedding, you make mention to both sides of the family equally so that you enter the rest of your lives free of inequality or resentment, but in peace and love!

Congratulations and good luck!

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