Helping Pay for Your Child’s Big Day

Well it happened…Your little prince or princess is gearing up to march down the aisle.  This one special day, surrounded by loved ones and questionable plus ones, is the beginning of a new chapter and surely deserves a celebration!  Yet it is still just one day in a sea of many more days to come.  Planning a wedding often involves just as much stress as excitement and especially when it comes to money.  This stress can be shared not just between the bride and groom, but grow and start to creep into the whole family tree.  

Here are four common ways that we see parents tackle helping pay for their child’s big day: 

    1. The “Full Shot” – In this situation, within reason, you agree to foot the whole bill.  Your other goals are in great shape and you find yourself in a position, with a desire, to pay for  all the costs associated with the wedding.  We don’t see this approach as frequently anymore as the cost of a wedding has continued to sky rocket!  
    2. The “Do What I Can” – In this situation, you may not have or may not want to commit to what role you are willing to play just yet.  You may help pay for the dress, put the deposit down to reserve the venue or maybe cove the flowers.  Doing these things is very generous, while at the same time, being so open ended can make it harder for the bride and groom to plan and know what expenses will fall on them. 
    3. The “Surprise Gift” – In this situation, you have not committed or have said you are not helping to pay or chip in for any of the costs, thus leaving it to the bride and groom.  This approach works great for parents who do not want to get tangled up in how their money is being spent.  Maybe your child wants an ice sculpture heart with a flaming arrow through it for the coctail hour.  Hey, it’s their day after all!  As a gift though, you give what would have been your contribution.  Now that the day is done, your gift can likely be put to use differently.   
    4. The “Set Dollar Amount” – In this situation, you agree to provide a set/fixed dollar amount.  Maybe it’s $0 or maybe it’s $10,000, but you are upfront and transparent about your contribution.  This is the most common approach we see and the one we most frequently recommend as the certainty makes it easier for everyone to plan accordingly.  

(Aside – Don’t forget about how many times you will be doing this!  If you want to have an equal approach with all your children, the “Set Dollar Amount” is a practical way to go.)

A forward looking financial plan should help answer the question “how much can we help” years before anyone gets down on one knee.  Knowing that answer should make deciding which method above feels most appropriate and comfortable.  Oh, you also might want to help them buy a house in order to get them out of your basement. 🙂 

Happy Friday!  

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