My mom is demanding I have big wedding, but she isn’t paying for it. How do I put my foot down?

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For Love & Money is a biweekly column from Insider answering your relationship and money questions.
This week, a reader wants a simple, affordable wedding — but their mom wants something expensive.
Our columnist says it’s important to put yourself first on your wedding day, even if it feels selfish.
Got a question for our columnist? Write to For Love & Money using this Google form.

Dear For Love & Money,

I got engaged last fall. Our tentative wedding date is in October of this year. I say tentative, because we can’t seem to nail anything down. Neither of our parents are financially contributing to our nuptials, but they both seem to have strong opinions on how things should go.

My mom especially is pressuring me to have a big wedding, but I don’t want one. I also don’t feel it is a financially responsible choice. I was never that girl with the wedding binder hidden under my bed full of plans for “my big day.” I just wanted to find my soulmate, and I did. I feel like a 10-person ceremony by the duck pond at our local park will be as meaningful, if not more meaningful, than a $10,000 venue to celebrate our love.

My mom disagrees. She keeps saying that she doesn’t think my partner really wants a small wedding either, but I have asked them multiple times, and they keep assuring me that they’re fine with it. I keep coming back to the fact that this is my partner’s and my money, our wedding, and our future — but my mom keeps adding new names to “her share” of the guest list.

At this point, I feel like we’re putting off planning and setting anything in stone because we are hoping eventually, our parents will realize it’s too late and stop trying to force their preferences on us. But I want to marry my partner, and I want to do it in October. The idea of dragging our feet as a form of passive resistance to my mom’s bossiness feels so self-defeating. How can I draw the line with all of our parents once and for all?

Sincerely,

It’s Just One Day

Dear It’s Just One Day,

Are you ready to have your life changed? Because I’m about to introduce you to three words that will radically shift the trajectory of your wedding plans. Those words are, “It’s my day.” You may have heard them before, sarcastically employed as the watchword of bridezillas everywhere. Because of this unflattering stereotype, you may find yourself shrinking from the idea of being that person. But here’s the thing: “It’s my day” is just the truth.

Your mom, your soon-to-be mother-in-law, your best friend, really anyone in your life outside of your partner — they’ll remember this day as just another wedding. If you go big, they’ll enjoy the open bar or not. They’ll catch up with old friends in five-minute snatches of small talk. They’ll feel a pleasant pang of sentiment when they watch your first dance, and spend the next day or so evaluating whether or not everyone, including themselves, had fun.

I agreed to be a bridesmaid — then I saw it would cost $2000 »

And that’s it. That’s the extent of how much your wedding actually matters to them. They may not realize this yet. They tell themselves they’ve waited their whole life to watch their baby walk down the aisle or share a first dance.

But when it comes down to it, they’ve been to dozens of weddings, and they’ll go to many more, and while this time they may be closer than usual to the happy couple, this is still just another wedding they are attending. It’s not their wedding. It’s yours. One could even say that it’s your day.

This is why your day needs to be everything you want it to be, because you’re the one who will relive it time and again as one of the most important days of your life. Whether you remember it as the day you and your spouse promised one another forever or as the day you blew what could have been a down payment on a house — it’s your memory to carry. And so, it’s your memory to make, according to your specifications.

I’m a financial planner — this is the worst advice I see people give brides to be »

I imagine you’re nodding in agreement even as you think, “Easy for you to say. You’re not the one who has to look my mother in her eyes and tell her ‘no’ when she casually mentions inviting her entire book club to the wedding.” And so, I’ve come up with a couple of strategies for, in your words, drawing that line with your parents once and for all.

One way to address the issue is to make it all about the money. Reading your letter, it seems like finances significantly contribute to your desire for a small, intimate wedding. Tell your mom this. Let her know that your budget is set and that it is based on you and your partner’s shared vision for the future — a future that goes well beyond your wedding day. Any time she pressures you to have a big, traditional wedding, simply tell her you can’t afford it.

I can afford a house or a nice wedding. How do I decide? »

Another way to communicate this boundary is to have a direct conversation. You and your partner could invite your parents for dinner to discuss the wedding. Together, you can tell them that while you know they were expecting a big wedding where they could invite all their friends, that simply isn’t what you two have decided on doing. If anyone protests, listen to their concerns, validate their disappointment, and then reiterate that the decision has been made.

A great way of beginning this conversation is to go ahead and pick a date. You said the reason you hadn’t yet was a form of “passive resistance”. Instead of continuing to kick the conflict down the road by continuing not to marry the love of your life, I suggest you take direct action. Commit to October. Commit to doing it your way — with 10 guests by a duck pond and two people who love one another enough to promise forever.

Rooting for you both,

For Love & Money

Read the original article on Business Insider

​Personal Finance, Money Stories, For Love and Money, Personal Finance Insider, PFI Freelance, PFI Storytelling  

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