(Closed) Suddenly Dad won’t pay for wedding, hands us the bill. How to handle?

posted 10 years ago in Family
Post # 17
5789 posts
Bee Keeper

I think there was a definite miscommunication about what he meant when he said he’d pay for everything.  Whether or not he realized the reception would total what it is, he may have been told by his friends that he could have great wedding at that venue for $10,000. To many people,the ‘wedding’ is the reception. Does the amount include anything other than food, bar and venue? Do they provide linens, centerpieces,cake…??? Some places offer a total wedding package,with exchanges and upgrades available.

Since the wedding is over a year away, it seems like there’s enough time to save up some money or DIY some things yourself. Invitations can be done inexpensively, as can florals (if not included)……you can always find a good deal on a photographer and a DJ….you can adjust the guest list as well,or postpone until a later date to be able to add to the amount your Dad is offering to pay.

I’m sure you’ll work out what will best for you both. Good luck!

Post # 18
5822 posts
Bee Keeper

$55 per person including a four hour open bar is incredibly cheap for a wedding at a country club.  It would be hard to find a better deal!  (Ours was $118 per person for example).  I think that you should figure out how much it will cost you to cover everything else, then go to him with that budget and ask if there is anything else he can help you with.  It sounds like a little bit of “Father of the Bride” fever where your Dad made an offer without understanding what he was comitting to.  Now he’s realized that the reception is very expensive, but if you could show him some of the other things, perhaps he will offer to cover some additional things.

As far as cutting down, I think the biggest budget saver is flowers.  Flowers can cost $8k if you do floral centerpieces, bouquets, decorations, etc.  But just keep it down to bridal party bouquets and bouts and you can keep it under $500.  The guestlist is usually the next to go, and that is because each guest you cut also saves you money on invitations.  For invitations, you can save a lot of money by simply purchasing the DIY kits from Michaels.  You don’t need all the calligraphy and letterpress and everything.  (And sadly, your guests really won’t notice your invites anyway…)

Post # 19
523 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

@ FutureKMM

I never called the choice of a bride’s parents to pay for a wedding a dowry, I think it’s great.  It was referred to when I said that the refusal of the Future In-Laws to contribute on grounds that ‘it’s the bride’s familys job to pay’ is like an expectation of a modern day dowry.  An expectation that all money come from the bride’s side is extremely similar to the old expectation of dowry.

And you can penalize someone for being traditional when those traditions are sexist.  Any tradition that penalizes one person over another in a significant way on the sole basis of gender is sexist.  We would never tolerate this if it was based on race.  Excuse me for suggesting the option to not blindly give a nod to tradition.  It was traditional for women to lose all property rights to her husband upon marriage.  Should we nod blindly to that one too?  If your Future In-Laws wanted that, should we go along with it?  Maybe you think creating tension is not worth standing up for a sliver of gender equality, but some people do, and I was putting that out there as an option.

My Future In-Laws also refused to contribute on grounds that ‘it’s the bride’s family’s job’ at first too.  My Fiance talked to them and explained to them that we thought this was sexist.  It was fine if they didn’t want to contribute because they had no money or they just plain didn’t want to contribute, but they had to apologize me for that remark.  I’m not sure they realized how sexist it was until we pointed out that we were offended.  They came around, we get along fine now, and we’ve worked out a scheme that does not derive its entire basis from which genitalia each of us has.

Post # 20
404 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

Sorry- I am a little confused.

Have you signed a contract with the venue in Buffalo yet?

Did you commit to buying that dress?


Post # 21
347 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

Here are a few ways we cut costs:

-do a TON of research online to hire an up-and-coming photographer whose rates are cheaper. We ended up snagging our photographer for $950, and that includes an engagement session, full coverage on our wedding day, and all our our photographs released to us immediately after the wedding, so we can print them out as we chose. That saves a ton of money as we don’t have to pay to buy through the photographer. As a comparison, the photographer I wanted to book before I found her was $2,400 for half day coverage, and the rights to the photos wouldn’t have been released to us until a year after our wedding.

-get creative when it comes to invites. I had a woman on Etsy design my invites and response cards for $25. She emailed me the PDF and I took the invites to Kinko’s to print them. It cost approximately $100 to print 100 invitations. I purchased special paper and envelopes at a stationary store for another $100. Total cost: $225 for 100 unique and professional looking invitations. You can use the paper Kinko’s has if you want to save even more money.

-flowers – Look on CraigsList for a florist (be careful, but you can find great deals!). We ended up going with a woman who is a Stay-At-Home Mom and does flowers out of her home. Her work is awesome, and half the price of any bridal shop around here. Also, only go with flowers for the bridal party/parents to save more money.

Post # 22
13094 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

@chicagobride092010 – We’re going to have to agree to disagree.  I don’t find the choice of a Fiance parent’s to not contribute to a wedding as sexist in any way shape or form.  I think it is silly to insinuate that these families view this as a modern day dowry.

No one should feel forced to contribute to the cost of a wedding for any reason.  A bride and groom should expect no one but themselves to pay and be very grateful for anyone who chooses to help.  If the FI’s family doesn’t make this choice, they aren’t sexist and they shouldn’t be penalized by their future daughter-in-law.

Post # 23
411 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2011

I’m going to agree with the OP that $55 a person is hella expensive. Ex: my reception is $29 a person (at a country club as well), which includes the hall, food, open/unlimited bar, and centerpieces. The midwest is just that much less expensive than everywhere else.

I’d suggest crunching some numbers. Call vendors in both Buffalo and TN and find out the average cost. If you can hold your wedding in TN by yourself for the same cost you’d pay for everything except the venue in Buffalo, why not move it? Once you’ve figured out numbers, make your decision. Don’t freak out just yet.

Like others have said, there’s hundreds of ways to cut back on costs. Figure out your priorities. When making a cost list, use two columns – “what we want” “what we can live with” – use the second column as the cheapest possible alternative.

Post # 24
1297 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

No offense, but you need to be grateful that your family is even offering to pay a penny.  

I do understand that you are upset that your father made you choose the location, and he should have told you beforehand how much he would’ve covered, rather than making you think he would cover everything.  I do think that it’s really unfair that your fi’s parents (if they are indeed financially ok) will not contribute just because they expect your family to.  Maybe you should consider talking to them and letting them know that you will not get to the wedding of your dreams with the little help you are getting??

If you really can’t do the rest on your own, and if your parents and the fi’s parents do not help any more–Maybe you shoud reconsider what type of wedding you want or wait until the time is right by pushing out the wedding until you and your fi can contribute more. 

I strongly believe that no bride or groom should go into debt or make anyone else go into debt just for 1 day.  With that said,  my fi & I are paying for our wedding 100% on our own. If I were you I’d be thrilled that the reception cost is being covered.  Just take whatever help you can and look to see if you can get everything else on a budget.

Post # 25
617 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

I live 35 minutes from Buffalo and lived there for the last 8 years. I’ve been in the area for my whole life and $55 per person is quite pricey for this area – you have to take location into consideration (for those that said that is really cheap). Average wedding costs around here I would estimate to total $13-16k. A huge majority of locations in the Buffalo area (COUNTRY CLUBS INCLUDED) charge around $35 per person for food and alcohol. It’s just a matter of looking around. That is a huge chunk of your wedding, and I would take it. If you need more help than that, why don’t you ask your parents to just contribute $9k and find a place less expensive. There are a ton of options and I could recommend some.

Post # 26
46 posts
  • Wedding: August 2010

First off, I’d say be thankful to have your family contributing financially – in these times that’s a big thing.  I understand, though, that you’re disappointed about having to change the vision for your wedding based on having to contribute yourself.  If you haven’t signed the contract, see if you can negotiate… or look elsewhere, so that you can stretch the $9,000 that your parents are gifting to you.  If you’re bound to it, then save or be frugal where you can.  What I did (in addition to saving ahead of time) was that I made a spreadsheet with every “hard” cost I had (gas, car payment, rent, utility bills, etc) and then added in a bit for food/more flexible costs.  I then took the remainder of my paycheck and have it directly go into savings each month so that I don’t even see it.  That’s what’s funding the wedding.


Take advantage of the DIY Michael’s kits (don’t forget to register for e-mails with 40% off coupons – they’ll be your BFF) and VistaPrint specials for invitations.  For flowers, check out grocery stores if you need.  Enlist your friends to help – one of my pals is putting together our centerpieces, for example.  Find an up-and-coming photographer – maybe check the schools around Buffalo for students?  You’ll be able to do it – just do more research and take ownership in your decisions 🙂

Post # 27
2865 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

I kind of tend to agree with other posters that – yes it sucks that he isn’t paying for the ENTIRE wedding but also he’s paying for MOST of it – food and venue rental are usually the biggest expense.

The things that you’re going to be responsible for are things you can control cost on. Don’t spend a ton on a dress, don’t get custom made invites, don’t have huge centerpieces.

Plus you were going to pay for a wedding in TN somehow so I’m assuming you’d need a dress, centerpieces and invites for that AS WELL as paying for a venue so really you’re in better shape than you would have been than paying on your own.

Post # 28
1774 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

It stinks he wasn’t clear, but let’s focus on what you can control, rather than what you cannot.  The way I see it, you have two choices.

1. Your parents pay for the reception in Buffalo, you pay for everything else.

2. You have the wedding in TN and likely pay for everything. 

What is more important to you?  If #2 is your choice, I would go with what gionetto said.

Good luck and let us know what happens!

Post # 29
573 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

Wow there’s a lot of heated opions on here!

I think you should re-evaluate your options. Would you be able to pay for the wedding yourself (in either city)? It sounds like you might not be able to afford a large wedding, even if the reception food and drink costs are paid (think of cost per person for invitations, programs, centerpieces, cake, etc.).

Are prices in TN low enough to afford to host yourselves? If not, you’ll need to work on the Buffalo situation with your dad. Explain to him that you can’t afford to have so many guests and give him a break down of the other costs associated with number of guests.

A third option is if you are a member of a church, you could talk with your pastor about having the reception at the church (many have community centers, which often have full kitchens and would certainly allow you to bring in your own food which other venues would not).

Post # 30
536 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

My first thought was wow ONLY $55 a person in a country club!  Thats so cheap compared to where I live!  You may want to look around at other venues if you can find it cheaper, but if your dad signed a contract that might be a problem.  It sounds like you need to sit down and talk to your dad about this.  It might have been a shock to hear that you need to pay for some of your wedding when you expected not to, but at least he is helping you in some way! 

Post # 31
45 posts
  • Wedding: June 2010

It’s crazy that to think of what $55 could get a person in a restaurant vs. at a wedding.

That being said, my caterer is $10/person, not including servers.  With four servers and a bartender, it comes to $15 a person.  We bought our own booze for them to serve, for about $3 extra dollars a head.

We are not getting married at a country club though, just at a beautiful bed and breakfast near a lake.  I know that we, as brides-to-be, are told all of the things we NEED for our wedding.  It’s pretty outrageous. 

This is less in response to the OP’s original dilemma, and more in response to people who have said how cheap $55 a head is.  In real, non-wedding money, it just isn’t cheap. 


Check out this blog, which makes even me feel pretty wasteful: http://2000dollarwedding.com/

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