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My daughter’s wedding plans are getting way out of control. What can I do?

WEDDING
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Nobody wants to start off her marriage paying off a wedding loan, right?

Q. My 24-year-old daughter is getting married next spring and her wedding plans are getting way out of control. She’s an otherwise smart girl but she’s determined to have the most extravagant wedding our money can buy. My wife and are well off but we’ve worked all our lives to get here and we became financially comfortable by not spending outrageously, something my daughter fails to understands. We’ve had to put a limit on this budget and now my daughter wants to take out a wedding loan to cover expenses that we “refuse” to pay. I don’t want my daughter to start off her marriage paying off a wedding loan when she could be paying a mortgage instead. My wife and I can’t seem to convince her that this is wasteful and a really bad idea. If we don’t help her she’ll take out the loan but at the same time we don’t think it’s reasonable to expect us to pay $100,000 for a wedding.

A. My main concern is her instance that you and your wife bend to her will and open your wallet,  followed by the threat of a wedding loan if you don’t oblige her. This seems to show some level of immaturity that perhaps indicates she doesn’t fully understand the sacrament she’s about to undertake.  

A wedding is a public declaration of mutual love and the beginning of a new family. It makes sense that you’d want to start this journey off on the best possible foundation; hopefully, not one built on exorbitant debt. You’re right: both ideas are evidently bad ones — a wedding loan and spending $100,000 on a wedding.

A wedding is also a sacrament and as such is an initiatory rite into the married life. It should be approached with reverence and solemnity, not a boastful display of wealth. Borrowing huge sums of money to have a wedding beyond your financial means is a huge mistake and you’re wise to steer your daughter’s budget away from such an expense.  

While you can’t physically stop her from taking out a wedding loan, you do have control over how much of  your money you’ll be able to contribute to the expense. Tell your daughter what you and your wife are able to afford and then suggest your daughter either adjust her budget and expectations or she can start a wedding savings account instead of taking out a wedding loan.

Young people aren’t as traditionally minded as their parents these days, so I would assume that the groom and his family plan to contribute in some way. I also think that if your daughter and her future husband are expected to monetarily contribute to their own wedding they’ll quickly begin to see the wisdom in scaling back on some of the extravagances.

I remember being newly engaged with a head full of fairy tale expectations, but once I started serious planning the shock of how expensive everything was quickly brought me back down to reality. Your daughter could use a healthy dose of reality and to have her priorities reorientated around the sacramental nature of the ceremony. A good place for her to start is the many pre-Cana wedding preparation materials that are easily available, as well as the Catechism.

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