Dear June: Who Pays for the Wedding?

When a family's financial circumstances are a constraint
January 25, 2021 Updated: January 25, 2021

Dear June,

My wife is about to retire and I am already retired. We’re “middle-middle class” economically and have less than six figures put away for a savings cushion. Our 30-year-old daughter is a full-time college loan officer professional at $55K per year and will have her MBA next year as well. She has lived on her own and has been financially independent since age 19. She is distance dating (they see one another several times per year) a younger college man who comes from wealth. He will soon graduate and we are anticipating wedding bells soon.

In today’s society, am I wrong to ask her to pay for her own wedding? How is it handled these days? We simply could not afford a wedding and really feel she should handle this under the circumstances. We prefer to come as guests and give a modest gift. We’re thinking (ahead) that the groom’s parents would likely foot the bill as an alternative for “appearance’s sake,” but we do not agree with that either. Should we frankly lay out these concerns to our daughter and express our feelings beforehand or not?

Mr. and Mrs. Stressed 

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Stressed,

I don’t think customs need to dictate who pays for a wedding.

Without knowing your daughter, I would not assume what her expectations might be; although I would assume she is aware of your income and not ask you to spend beyond your means.

If she does, then, of course, you may explain your circumstances and at the same time, offer to help her out in other ways.

There are so many things only a parent can do, to support a bride before, during, and after her wedding day. For example, help make a photo collage or video about the couple to show at the wedding—it could even be a surprise if you think she would like this. And if nothing else, write a really good speech to welcome her husband to your family.

If the groom’s parents want to pay for the wedding, that, of course, is their choice. I would accept their decision graciously and without any judgment about their motivations. Also, for wealthy people, something like this is not a big deal and might give them great joy.

If your daughter is going to marry a good and wealthy man, this is certainly a blessing for her and for your family. There are also many blessings that come with smaller incomes as frugal lifestyles can nurture many virtues.

For your own well-being and to strengthen your family bonds as your daughter approaches this new and important chapter, I would focus your thoughts on what you can give, instead of what you cannot.

In fact, you might go ahead and start writing your wedding speech as a way to remind yourself what you admire about them and hope for their future together.

Sincerely,

June

_____

Dear June,

My almost 9-year-old grandson still calls his father “da-da.” It is appalling and embarrassing and I’m worried about how he is and will be perceived by teachers, coaches, and peers. When I had the courage to bring it up to my son several years ago, he blew it off saying something about “we think it’s cute,” so I dropped it. I’ve prayed about this through the years of course. Now, his younger 5-year-old brother is doing the same. Yes, there are other signs at home of dysfunction. This one is the most outward manifestation. My husband said to let it go, we can’t change their thinking and we might offend them and they might pull away from us. Please help.

Sincerely,

Worried

Dear Worried,

Certainly “da-da” is not very age-appropriate beyond the toddler years, and I can see how this would be embarrassing. However, as an outsider judging from your description, I don’t see anyone being harmed, so I do not understand what exactly about this situation feels appalling to you?

It seems like your son and his children are all happy with the term. I would expect that if they felt social pressure and it bothered them, they would change.

However, you also mentioned other signs of dysfunction. Are they more serious? What does your husband think? Do you have anyone else you can seek an opinion from?

But before you start asking though, I would try to take any emotional charge out of the situation. The Serenity Prayer by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr might be a good starting point:

“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world

As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.”

I think as women, one of the most powerful ways we can affect change in the men close to us is through our warmth. Our warmth is like the sun in the fable of the sun and the north wind: no matter how hard the wind blew, it could not get the man to take off his heavy cloak but all the sun had to do was shine and the cloak came right off.

Sincerely,

June

Do you have a family or relationship question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Send it to DearJune@EpochTimes.com or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.

June Kellum is a married mother of two and a longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.