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.
Image credit: The Pocket/Flickr