How to Deal With Wedding Budget Guilt

I was never the girl who dreamt of having a big wedding, or a wedding at all for that matter. My parents didn’t have money for theirs, so they eloped in a backyard – and I always found that idea to be endearing. I also couldn’t fathom spending hard-earned money on one day, even an important one. But you know what happens when you have parents who weren’t able to afford a wedding? They spend their lives saving for yours. Mix that in with a fiance who never turns down a party, and here I am, in the middle of planning a wedding and spending my parent’s hard-earned money (and my own, because I wasn’t OK with not matching it).

It’s a #firstworldproblem through and through, I understand that, and I’m not looking for pity (poor me, my parents want to help pay for our wedding), but if I’m feeling this way that means others have to be as well, right? It’s simply not always fun spending someone else’s money, or your own.

So whether you’re paying for your own wedding, having it fully paid for by family, or somewhere in the middle (as we are), here are 3 ways to ease the wedding budget guilt.

 

Start out with an honest conversation and don’t put anyone out

Whoever is pitching in for the wedding needs to take a serious look at their finances and figure out a budget – even if that’s you. And not a budget that’s fluid – it’s one that needs to be stuck to in order for each party to feel comfortable.

First, we came up with our own budget (the max we could spend and still maintain a stable savings account). Then, I asked my dad to do the same. Knowing that what my parents were pitching in wouldn’t leave them in debt or anxious eased some guilt.

 

Focus on what’s meaningful

It’s easy to get sucked in and go on autopilot with booking vendors or following suit to traditional wedding ideas – but try not to. I knew I had a (fairly small, relatively) budget to stick to and that getting every single “normal” wedding vendor wasn’t an option for us.

My fiance and I sat down and decided on what was meaningful to us, and then didn’t stress about the idea of not having flowers or a videographer. Not only does this keep us in budget, but I don’t feel like we’re wasting money on anything just because.

 

Remember that people want to do this for you

A few months into planning, I had a breakdown – which I hear is pretty normal. But it wasn’t the stress of picking a dress or a wedding song; it was a guilt breakdown. How could I be allowing my parents to spend the amount of a car on one day? How could I ask my close girlfriends to spend $200 on a bachelorette party?

My dad thankfully calmed me down after explaining something in a very simple manner: he’s doing this for me is because he wants to. He’s saved for it specifically, it makes him extremely happy, and he wouldn’t be doing it if he couldn’t afford it. My friends said the same.

Hearing those words directly from them made me feel much better, because I could relate to wanting to spend money on a loved one to make them happy – and have!

 

When someone offers to help with your wedding, don’t say no just because you feel guilty. A friend offered to help with signs as a wedding gift, and I reacted super fast and said “No no, don’t worry about that!” She asked me a few times after that, and eventually I said yes because it became apparent that she really wanted to do it.

We get so used to being independent that it’s sometimes hard to accept help from others, especially in the form of money that they’ve worked hard for. Just know that people who offer to help genuinely want to do things for you.

 

Have you struggled with accepting money or help from others? Budget guilt for spending your own cash?

  • Taste of France

    We were borderline poor when I was growing up. So when I married, I felt that as I was a bit older, and earning my own living, that I couldn’t take money from my parents. The wedding was very simple, just family, before a judge, with dinner at a restaurant afterward. What I realized later was that my dad was crushed. It was his chance to walk me down the aisle and show me off to his friends. Not about me–about him. In trying to spare him financial pain, I hurt his pride.
    I wish I had done a slightly bigger wedding, to make him happy without going crazy. Almost nobody will remember your expensive dress, flowers, decorations, reception after a year, and certainly not after 10. I’ve been to plenty of fancy weddings, and not one of them lasted. It isn’t the wedding that counts, but the life you make after.

    • The Everygirl

      Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Kelly

    Thank you so much for this! I just went dress shopping with my mother and I walked away from the dress I wanted because I couldn’t bear to have her spend so much on a dress I’d only wear once. (She offered repeatedly.)
    I am frugal by nature and spending so much one one day feels frivolous to me, especially when I don’t like being the center of attention.
    Thank you for sharing this – it helps remind me to put it in perspective.
    My wedding is not an inconvenience or an imposition.

  • Kellie

    I completely relate to this post. Thank you so much for writing this!

  • This is such an interesting topic. We got married last year and were set on paying for everything ourselves. My parents had said every once in a while “Let us know if you need help because we do have something saved up,” but I never once thought of taking them up on their offer. Then a couple weeks before our wedding, my mom presented us with our gift: a certified cheque for an amount that would’ve almost covered the entire wedding. She explained that she and my dad had put this aside for our wedding expenses, but since we didn’t need it it’d be our gift and go towards the down payment on our next home. In a way, I’m glad it worked out that way because while my husband and I thought nothing of spending our own money on a single day, I would’ve felt serious guilt spending my parents’ money on the wedding, knowing how hard they worked and saved. Now those funds are earmarked for something more “substantial.”

  • Mandi Cohen

    When we had our wedding I remember feeling so strange about our wedding showers and all the gifts that flowed in. Why? I didn’t EARN this. I didn’t ACHIEVE this. We were lucky to find each other. But then a mentor phrased it in a way that completely changed how I felt about it. They said: think of these gifts not as a gift for earning anything. Think of them as your friends and family saying: we believe in your relationship. And we’re happy and excited to help you start out on this life. That helped me a lot!