My parents paid for our wedding. We didn’t want a big celebration (we were planning on having a small dinner for inmmediate family and close friends) but it was important for my parents that we planned a formalish wedding so both families and extended families could attend. We ended up taking their offer -and solicitation- and started planning a wedding.
We were NOT given a budget. Instead, my parent tolds us to present to them three to five proposals with the venue, food and other expenses we were considering to use. Each proposal should include a spreadsheet with the cost of everything. Then, we would all sit down (parents, Fiance, me) and discuss each proposal until we all agreed on one. We got to share and hear what was important for each part, and since we all had to agree on a proposal Fiance and I had to learn to negotiate and to compromise. For example: my mom wanted beautiful flower arrangements on each table and I wanted just a sigle white rose, we compromise on having some tables with a single white rose and other with many flowers.
The ending proposal had some major changes to the original one since it included pieces of what all of us wanted -including the ones paying for the wedding. We ended having lasagña for dinner, which Fiance and I wanted, but we also extra appetizers and a second dish because my parent’s weren’t particularly fond of only having lasagña. We choose a nice venue that wasn’t that much of the liking of my parents, but my they agreed on it because it had comfortable chairs and a lovely view. And so on.
Maybe you and your husband can try a similar approach. Instead of just giving them the money, make them talk it with you. If you do not agree tell them you’re not paying for that and limit your to three or four things: venue, food, ceremony and wedding cake. After all, this is what actually makes the wedding, everything else is extra. You don’t have to be rude or mean about it, but you need to be firm. Your daughter and her Fiance need to understand that it is NOT your obligation to help them with the wedding, but rather your joy and they way they are treating you -like an ATM- is hurtful and wrong.
Think about the wedding as if you were building a house, you wouldn’t just blantly give out the money to the constructor without knowing what he’s building would you? You would ask to see the plans and get involved when it came choosing this or that. Do the same here. If she wants you to pay for flowers, tell her to come up with some ideas to show you so you can both agree on what you’re paying for. If she wants a DJ, tell her to bring you samples so can be sure that you’re money is wisely invested. If she refuses, tell her that you’re sorry but you can not help them.
Fiance and I wanted chocolate-covered pretzels for our souvenirs. My mom thought I was crazy and insisted we should have a better type of souvernirs -she wouldn’t pay for the pretzels. I hold my ground my ground and paid for them despite not having that much money. It thought a valuable lesson and I managed to get away with what I wanted.