The Vine: April 20, 2016
I'm getting married this summer. I'm thrilled to be marrying my favorite person after eight years together and if I were the sole decision-maker in the relationship, we would simply go to the clerk of courts and get the paperwork filed and it would be a done deal.
However, Fiancé would like to at least have our close friends and family present, so we have opted to have a small ceremony and reception with a guest list totaling about 50 people. We need to keep things on the cheap as we are both broke at the moment and really cannot justify spending more than a grand or so on a wedding…and even that is pushing it.
Unfortunately, it is not looking like this is really a feasible possibility unless we forgo a reception altogether. Fiancé thinks we should ask my dad to help us cover some of the costs. My dad and his wife are fairly wealthy, and frankly, I am surprised that they haven't offered to help us out. But I just don't think it's our place to actually ASK them for a handout. Fiancé and I are both adults over the age of 30, and it's our decision to get married and no one is obligated to help us out with the financial aspect of it. On the other hand, I don't like the idea of not having a reception after the ceremony, but it looks like just the cost of food and beverages alone will put us over our extremely tight budget.
Fiancé's parents have offered to pay for a rehearsal dinner, and they are also gifting us our wedding rings. My mom (who isn't nearly as well off as my dad) has also offered to help as much as she can, and will probably be supplying the cake and some decor. Dad has given every indication that he is happy for us and approves of the marriage and whatnot, but he just hasn't offered to help us with the event in any way. As I said, we're Voting Adults, and I don't feel that Dad is under any actual obligation to give us money, but I am having a hard time not feeling some resentment toward him as a case or two of wine and a couple kegs of beer are easily affordable for him and would go a long way toward making our special day happy and memorable. I'm also his only daughter, this is my first (and hopefully only) marriage, and other than a small portion of my grad school tuition and some emergency automobile trouble several years ago I have not received a dime from my dad in my adult life. So, what do you and your readers think? Any ideas for pulling off a wedding reception on the cheap?
Thinking of picking Daddy Warbucks' pockets
Congrats! [throws handful of bee-friendly seeds]
Well, but: you do feel he's obligated, or this wouldn't bug you like it does. Right? You think he should offer to help without being asked, and you think it's the least he can do having not helped reliably over the years — and you think he should know these things.
Fine! Totally fine. This is how you feel and there isn't anything wrong with it. But he's not reading your mind, or if he is, he's reading the part that would rather just go down to the courthouse and get the important bit done for fifty bucks or whatever. Could be he thinks, based on guessing that that's your preference, that you'd rather not make a big to-do or you want to do it yourself. Could be he considered offering and the wife was like "…[frown]." Doesn't really matter why, because now you have to decide what you want more: the proper reception Dad's money would allow; or the empty "satisfaction" of knowing that, because you shouldn't have had to ask, you didn't.
You don't want the second thing. Call him up and explain that, in order to have any reception at all, you'll need a loan from him. Have a line-item budget prepared, and a time frame for repaying him. I have a feeling he'll cut you off all "absolutely not, it's my pleasure," or at least I hope he does, though you should prepare yourself for the eventuality that he might say no, or take you at your word re: paying him back, but you want two things here that are working against each other. You want your father to be — and to have been, not for nothing — more forthcoming with financial help without your having to ask; and you want the actual help. The first thing is not happening, so if you want the second thing, you will have to try to put the first thing aside and get what you need.
At the end of that day, as you of course know, you are married and everything else is secondary. There is always bullshit like this, people not catching their snaps, other people starting conversations that are really monologues with "I hesitate to say anything BUT [torrent of judging]" — you just have to remind yourself that you'll laugh about it later with your SPOUSE, YAY and move on to the next thing. But if you really want a reception, go get it. Ask Dad for the money. Ask Fiancé to ask Dad, even, since Fiancé is the one who's more focused on a traditional "do."
If that doesn't work? Start moving resources. My "rehearsal dinner" was Chinese food with Bean and Gen while we made sparkler kits; I know out-of-town family "expects" this, but it's your wedding, and if it's that or no booze at the reception, maybe you want to reassign those troops. Maybe the proper cake you had in mind is four times the price of a rack of cupcakes. Maybe you don't tell venders it's for a wedding and you get a lower bid (in fact: always do this; I saved probably a grand telling people it was a weekend-of-the-Fourth party). We can advise you on specifics in the comments if you'd like, but generally, there's a lot of wedding shit people just…do, without questioning it, that you might be able to cut out.
But if you've already done all that and you still need a bridge? Ask Dad. It will be awkward; it sucks that you have to form the words, and I'm sorry about that and I'm on your side. It's worth it, I think. Go. Get. Tell us what happens.
Tags: etiquette pinch that penny 'til he shrieks gurrrrrl the fam