How to Ask for Money for Your Wedding

Tips for newly engaged couples on asking friends and family to contribute.

In another article I pointed out that you can’t afford NOT to ask for help with your wedding. In this one I want to share some ideas on HOW to do it. The assumptions here is the same as in the prior article—you have relatives who want to come to your wedding and have enough money to contribute something to paying for it.

You Don’t Need Help.

The goal of asking for financial help is not that you need it. You can always go to the court and get married. You could move in together without being married (enough people do it). You could also date indefinitely until all the stars align and you can have the wedding of your dreams. So you don’t NEED help. There’s nothing wrong with any of these options, and if you can’t get much help you will be stuck with one of them anyway.

However you must choose a path first, because you are an adult who wants to get married. Marriage certainly doesn’t have to wait till you’re rolling in the dough. Once you have made a choice—based on your finances and your finances alone—you can ask for help. Since you can get married without help, the primary beneficiary of your request are the people being asked. Because you’re still coming up in the world, they have the opportunity to make your life better. But you will get married no matter what—it’s important for you to know this.

Who To Call. How To Ask.

Call your close friends and relatives whom you respect highly—you could also do this by mail. Let them know that you have great news. You have found someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, and plan to get married in the next [less than two years]. Let the people know that you would like to invite as many of your close friends/family as possible to share in this event, but that you would appreciate their help making it the best it can be.

Point out that the greatest gift they can offer you is their presence, and that is why you write/call. If these are your older relatives who want to show you off to their friends, keep that in mind. In many cultures adults look forward to seeing their children get married, and they’ll put their hard-earned dollars toward that goal. Some of you have already been asked repeatedly when you’ll get married.

To financially stable adults (more so than you), point out that you are raising money for the wedding. Mention how many other people you are asking for money, what amount you are trying to raise. You never want any one person to feel burdened. Rather, they should feel that every dollar helps.

If you’re an older adult reading this, you might wonder how much is too little to contribute. My answer is that there is no such thing. Here’s an idea: join together with all other givers and collectively provide a gift. The amount has to be disposable to you—big enough to be count, but small enough that you don’t feel entitled to children being named after you or anything else like that.

Point out what the major expenses are. Some of these people will know ways to get deals or they might have points to give away. You should give the impression that this is their wedding gift to you. Most people get a lot of gifts at their wedding, but you are a responsible self-supporting adult, so you have covered all items that are low on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Again, their help might allow you to afford an expensive dress, but it’s not as if you would otherwise exchange vows naked. Don’t negotiate the nuts and bolts of your wedding.

You might also ask teenagers and young adults for help. Weddings usually take a lot of work from a lot of people. Remember that everyone who cares about you can contribute something—but your relationship has to be such that you can ask.

People Close To You. Only.

These requests should only be made of people close to you. If you ask people that have never seen you vulnerable, they might think that you’re just being a leech. Money is taboo with most people, so be careful. Forty people can contribute $500 each to pay for a $20,000 wedding, but it’s not good to ask for help with expectations.

Figure out who you can ask. Ask for help. Be grateful for whatever they give. Don’t judge their contributions.

If someone asks you to not get married because you don’t have enough money, then they don’t understand this process. Don’t explain yourself, just respectfully disagree. This is a request, not a negotiation.

No matter what happens, follow through on your marriage plans with whatever resources you put together.

 

Read more in Weddings on The Good Life.

Image credit: The Pocket/Flickr

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About Albert Okagbue

Albert has devoted his life to understanding money and wealth, especially how they mix with culture. He writes Studentloancpa.com and is the author of Stop Budgeting Start Living: How to Sync Your Money and Your Life. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and has a Tax & Financial Planning practice in Houston.

Comments

  1. Then again, you might just throw a party within your means. Consider that it might be a good start to a marriage that involved living the same way. Radical notion, isn’t it? No doubt I’m some sort of socialist/terrorist/America-hater…

    Ivan Illich wrote, “In a consumer society, there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.” Historically, marriage has often meant the enslavement of the woman to the man. More recently, it’s included the enslavement of the man to the female sexual agenda. Now it includes the enslavement of both to the American delusion: that wealth is the greatest and highest possible good.

    No wonder Americans suffer a 60% divorce rate.

    • Bryan, your comment is full of cultural assumptions. Why not just never get married then? Why not marry a man if you can’t find a woman? The bottom line is that for everyone a wedding has specific characteristics. If yours only has to have the bride, groom, and the officiator, that’s great for you! It would be unwise to spend lots of money on it. But for other people, a marriage is meaningless without the participation of many other people…as a result, their “means” has to be redefined, unless they choose to wait, or not get married.

      I should also point out that one of the reasons marriages fail is that they lack the endorsement of successfully married adults. THESE are the people who HAVE to be at the wedding…

  2. Thanks for explaining this new trend. I will do my part to keep it from getting off the ground. I will not be funding an actual wedding unless it is for a child that I raised. If a couple does not have parents to throw them a wedding and must pay for it themselves, then they need to downsize it according to what they can afford. If this means that most of the hoped-for guest list gets only an announcement, so be it. If this means a larger group is invited to an afternoon wedding with cake and punch, rejoice in it.

    I’m really tired of wedding creep. First it was the destination wedding, now the pay-to-play. I say no to both.

  3. “If a couple does not have parents to throw them a wedding and must pay for it themselves, then they need to downsize it according to what they can afford.”

    It seems you’ve reduced a complex issue to dollars and cents….if only life were that simple!

    • Albert, it’s not a complex issue at all. Wedding festivities cost money. They are for the benefit of the bride and groom, NOT the guests. The couple will remember it all of their lives, the guests, not so much. Culturally, a wedding reception is an event that is hosted and the attendees are guests. There is a cultural obligation to provide food and/or drink to invited guests, by hosts. The symbolism of the cake is that it’s a first meal that is shared between the couple and the guests.

      But even if the parents host it, they will surely have budgetary constraints. The price cannot be ignored, otherwise you would not even be suggesting to brides and grooms that they find somebody ELSE to pay for what it is that they want.

      Tell me, in what other avenues of life is it permissible for adults to ask other adults to freely give them money to buy the things that they want, with the expectation that the donors will be pleased to have helped them not provide for themselves?

      A wedding ceremony and a marriage are two entirely separate things. I think you are creating a complex relationship where absolutely none exists.

  4. “A wedding ceremony and a marriage are two entirely separate things. I think you are creating a complex relationship where absolutely none exists.”

    Absolutely? Actually MOST cultures I’ve seen have big weddings…with lots of family present, so I’m sticking to my points.

    I’m just a finance guy. People decide that they want to have big weddings or small weddings….I’m the one who has to figure out a way for them to do it without going broke.

    At some point you have to respect adults for choosing their cultures and values. We can let them know what the consequences will be, but nobody responds to your almost-condescending attitude.

    It’s like telling someone to buy a motorcycle if they can’t afford a car; you have to respect that the person’s standard of safety is ONLY met by a car. They can rent a car, or ride the bus – but a motorcycle is out of the question.

    This article is about borrowing a car. I’ll let you tell them to ride a bike or walk on the highway. Maybe they’ll listen to you. ;)

    • Well Mr. Finance, hopefully you understand that when you BORROW something, you later RETURN it. Possibly with some added, for interest. I don’t see you advising these couples on returning the money to their benefactors. How is it condescending of me to expect people to pay for the things they want to have the use of? There is no store that will let somebody walk in and say, I want that so can you please give it to me because it will good to you provide it for me at your expense. I leave it to you to fund anything that you feel people are entitled to, but please do not suggest that I must pay despite my disagreement with your idea.

      I think you greatly misunderstand US culture. Your idea for couples to ask the guests for of money to pay for their wedding festivity of choice should indeed help–people will say no to these immature, rude and selfish people, and they will stay home. As the guest list shrinks, so will the cost of the event.

      • You say I misunderstand U.S. culture – but what exactly is US culture? FYI – however you define it, there are many readers here who won’t fit that paradigm.

        My article takes a broader view of culture and I say if people (outside the couple) require a big wedding, they should be given the opportunity to pay for it. Generally speaking, Generation Y is still more broke than their parents (who they are moving in with). If I want to have 100 people at my wedding, but my parents want another 50 people to come, they can pay for it. That’s the simple idea.

        As a professional I have to respect the needs of all cultures, and it is not my place to judge. My idea of how to ask for help is just that…an idea. Obviously it won’t work in your family, but it works in many others. Those who REALLY have to have a big or expensive wedding typically have no difficulty finding people who see this differently from the way you do.

        • Maybe in some other cultures this would be acceptable but in my own culture (middle class, Anglo-American culture) asking for smeone to contribute financially to one’s wedding, other than one’s parents, would be beyond shocking. I suspect most people would be so offended they would not come to the wedding. Or if they came, they would be very angry about it, and might not ever speak to you again.

        • Valter Viglietti says:

          Albert, it seems to me there’s a strong cultural clash playing here.

          I seem to understand you (or your family) come from a non-Western place, and I know there are many cultures worldwide when families and relatives are VERY involved with the newly married and their marriage (especially in the East). And, for those people, your advice might be solid.
          OTOH, in most Western countries it’s different, and while families can be involved in the marriage, contributing money (and – even more – asking for it) can be awkward (see Sarah comments above and below).

          While I agree your advice can be valid for SOME cultures, maybe you forgot that it isn’t very suitable for the average american (the higher number of readers of this site, I think).
          Maybe a foreword about different cultures, and where this advice works best, would have helped to give a context to your advice.

          • Valter, It is probably inappropriate to assume that GMP articles are for some particular demographic of people. Remember that “Western” cultures are not the norm in the world, and Americans often immigrants. My writing is based on a multicultural perspective from which I have found something I think is universal.

            In every culture that actually NEEDS a big wedding, there will be people close enough to the couple not take offense when you ask for help. Often they expect to help and have plans to give you gifts anyway.

            All the people who “disagree” with this article are the ones who can get away with a $35 wedding – in which case they don’t need me to write them an article! If you need a car but can only afford a Camry, you buy THAT – but if your family insists that you drive a Mercedes, you should ask them to pay for it.

            This is true in virtually all cultures – in fact wealthy “Americans” pay for their children’s weddings all the time.

  5. I would be shocked if someone asked me for money for their wedding. That’s just about the tackiest idea I’ve ever heard. Maybe next time I invite friends to dinner at my house, I should ask for contributions to pay for the food. Really, you should never, ever ask friends for money except in the most dire life or death circumstances. You can get married at the courthouse for what, $35?

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