Common Sense Today, more couples are waiting until they're a bit older and established in their careers before they get married. Where once a bride was either fresh out of college or even younger when she took her wedding vows, it's more likely these days to see a bride who has been out in the real world, earning some real bucks for quite some time. As a result, she can afford to contribute extensively to her own wedding — or perhaps (along with her fiancé) even pay for the entire thing. Your parents may have scrimped and saved for your wedding — but it doesn't have to be that way for today's brides.
One Big Happy Planning Session What about the bride and groom who are able to pay for part of the wedding, but who are also expecting some help from one or both sets of parents? How do you go about splitting the bill three ways? Does it have to be exactly even? Who takes the initiative on which parts? First off, you need to know if the groom's parents are even interested in making a major contribution to the wedding. You will not call and ask the groom's parents; it's up to your daughter and her fiancé to take care of these arrangements. Then, several situations present themselves:
What happens in the end will be the result of who trusts whom and who feels comfortable doing what. In other words, if you and the groom's family barely know one another, don't expect them to hand you a check for several thousand dollars a whole year before the reception.
Did Someone Say Happy? Alas, what happens when three different parties converge in an attempt to pull off the wedding of everyone's dreams? Sometimes, the end result is a fairytale wedding; other times, the planning process is so nightmarish that the bride and groom wish they had eloped. Your role as MOB, you'll remember, is to help your daughter. You're trying to help her pull off the wedding she wants. The groom's family, however, may not be in touch with this minimum standard of conduct, and if they're pitching in on the event, they may just feel as though they've been given the green light to do whatever they want.
The Rules of Planning So, how does one diplomatically dictate the terms of planning? Very carefully. Your job here is to stay out of the head planner's seat, even if you really are the one who is doing all the legwork and making all the calls for your daughter. The bride and groom are the ones who need to express their wants and needs to his parents. After all, the money the groom's parents are handing over is really a gift to the happy couple — it doesn't belong to you, per se, even if its real purpose is to alleviate your financial burden.
You really shouldn't get involved in this particular matter until the bride gives you the go-ahead. (Hopefully, she will have made the first foray into the topic with her future in-laws already.) Once the bride and groom have some idea of where his family stands on the issue of money as it relates to this wedding, they can either give you the go-ahead to contact the future in-laws, or they'll let you know that you're on your own.