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Divorced Parent Budgeting for "Kids" Weddings
Old 02-02-2015, 07:59 PM   #1
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Divorced Parent Budgeting for "Kids" Weddings

I’m divorced with 2 kids that are now in their 20’s, out of college, and are finally self supporting through their own contributions (employment). My oldest (DS) is getting married this Fall and I have no idea how much cash I should give the happy couple as a wedding gift. So I would appreciate input from any other divorced parents on what they have done for children’s wedding gifts, or have set aside as one time expenses.

I am not involved in the wedding planning (or funding) at all (Thank God) but from what I’ve heard from DD and DS the total cost (everything from tuxes, photographer, venue, DJ, food, booze….) is going to be in the $25K range. Based on very limited data points from DD, DS, and EX it sounds like my Ex (I talk to her the least), DS, my EX, and the Bride’s parents are dividing up the costs. So I’ll just assume it’s 1/3 for each.

Anyway I was wondering what would be an appropriate cash gift? I was thinking $5K. Plus the rehearsal dinner which will probably be in the $1K to $2K range based on the number of people I’ve heard will be there. I was also going to Budget in $10K as a onetime expense for DD when/if she gets married. (DS does not have Techy degee so she is not making big bucks like DS).

Does all this sound reasonable? I’m totally clueless on all this and tired of internet searches and coming up with no useful information. Wish there was a calculator for this decision.

My basic financial picture: FIRE’d, with an ~65K/yr (2014 dollars) after Federal Tax Budget. 65K does not include “bucket of proceeds money” from my recent home sale which I will probably use to buy a house in a lower cost of living area. My “nest egg” is in the $1M area.

TYIA
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:25 PM   #2
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I am divorced and do not choose to maintain contact with my ex. Our only child, a daughter, married in 2009.

I just assumed that my ex would not contribute anything. I asked around at work to see how much others in my salary range were paying for their daughters' weddings. Most said about $10K, except one sweet Italian-American lady who spent $50K+ for her daughter's wedding. I removed that as an outlier and averaged the rest, and that came to $10K. Bear in mind that this was in 2008, among female scientists and engineers earning salaries in the upper 5 figures. It might be closer to $15K by now.

So, I paid $10K towards the wedding, which my DD arranged because she wanted it in Portland, where she lives. I have no idea what my ex paid and honestly, I don't care. I just wanted her to be happy and she was. The wedding was absolutely beautiful so he might have paid the same amount as I did. At least, I knew she had enough from me to get the job done and anything from him would just make it nicer. I also spent money for the wedding gift, and paid for travel to Oregon for myself and my boyfriend to fly out there for the wedding, and paid for my Mother of the Bride dress. So, overall I'd say it cost $12K-$13K, but $10K of that went to the wedding itself.

As for the gift, she had a registry and all I had to do was select one of the most expensive things on the list. She loved it.

To compare our lifestyles, my retirement spending has been about $30K + income tax.

I think your spending plans are probably about right. If it was me, I'd ask around among other parents you know in the area. I have no idea what parents of boys spend. Given your situation am guessing that somewhere between $10K-$20K for your DD might possibly be about right.
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:37 PM   #3
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From what I have seen a modest wedding is best.

Then every few years on the anniversary throw them a bit bigger party. Or just give them a nice gift every fifth anniversary.

I've seen to many people drop 10 to 30 thousand on a marriage that didn't last more than two to three years.
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:29 PM   #4
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The ironic/sad thing about this wedding is that I have had several discussions with my DS about all this and he would be happy with a JP thing and maybe a small reception at someone's home and use all the "Wedding Money" for a nice 2 week getaway to some tropical resort. It's my Ex and the Bride's parents that have "pushed" the more formal wedding. (not too sure about where the Bride to Be stands on all this).

He's already getting stressed out by having to be involved in the decision/selection making (searching/pricing/visiting/getting reviews/references for all the wedding things like photographer, caterer, venue, DJ, flowers, guest list...) I wish he hadn't "caved".

PS, thanks for the data point W2R. Maybe I'll bump my numbers a couple of $K. Or maybe I'll just remind them they are each getting half of whatever I have when I keel over which could be millions or could be nothing LOL.

I agree Chuckanut, $25K for a one day bash to celebrate/honor something that has a 50/50 chance of survival.... Take the money and run, that's my DD's wishes when/if she get's married.
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:41 PM   #5
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Take the money and run, that's my DD's wishes when/if she get's married.
I offered to let my DD and her (now) husband spend the money on something else, if they wanted. A trip, a new (used) car for her, or whatever. But she is the type of girl who dreamed of her eventual wedding for a long time. So, she spent it on the wedding.

When I was married (back in 1975), I'd rather have had the money but my parents never offered that option.
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:41 PM   #6
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My DH & I considered what we could afford to spend and told each of the kids that was our limit. They could spend that $ in any way they wished. DD threw a big bash which she and her in-laws funded in large part, but then that was appropriate for he community she married into and her profession. DS's wedding was much smaller. Again in keeping with he and his bride's resources at the time.

DH & I come from a culture where weddings are modest but elegant affairs. It is our opinion that the money spent is not predictive of the stability of the marriage.
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:53 PM   #7
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I've told my daughter that my opinion is that expensive weddings are stupid, that if/when she decides to get married it needs to be a small ceremony with just close friends and family, and instead of an expensive party, put money toward investment for their future.
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:56 PM   #8
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My 26yo daughter is getting married, retired military, gainfully employed, has been living with the young man for a year, in Seattle area. My wife, not daughters mother, and I discussed as this will set a precedent for the three remaining children (we each have a boy and girl). Both sets of children have other parents with means to match our gifts. When she mentioned wedding the first time we quickly decided on what we thought we could afford (X4) and told her up front that she had $7k to spend however she chose. There was no discussion with the other parent as it didn't really matter to us what they were willing to do. She seems pleased and appreciated knowing up front what she had to work with. Setting limits is hard, but knowing that this may repeat three more times made it easier to arrive at a number.

Good luck and congratulations. (I would pay extra if the other parent wouldn't show up )


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Old 02-02-2015, 11:40 PM   #9
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I don't think there's a set amount, if it was me I would gift $5 to 10k - PLUS the cost of a lawyer for a prenup agreement!
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:11 AM   #10
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Does all this sound reasonable? I’m totally clueless on all this and tired of internet searches and coming up with no useful information. Wish there was a calculator for this decision.

My basic financial picture: FIRE’d, with an ~65K/yr (2014 dollars) after Federal Tax Budget. 65K does not include “bucket of proceeds money” from my recent home sale which I will probably use to buy a house in a lower cost of living area. My “nest egg” is in the $1M area.
$5k plus the rehearsal dinner is a nice gift. What does your son expect from you?

There is no calculator, and the ones getting married should share some responsibility for paying for their wedding but make sure the total cost stays affordable for all.

We chose to give a cash gift to our children and let them use it to pay wedding expenses, save it, or do anything else. We also made that clear long before they ever thought about getting mariried.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:56 AM   #11
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I don't think there's a set amount, if it was me I would gift $5 to 10k - PLUS the cost of a lawyer for a prenup agreement!
LOL...I haven't asked him about a pre-nup, or brought it up. But I doubt there will be a pre-nup. I doubt his net worth has hit 100K yet. Her's is probably $0. Oh well, they've been together about 6 years, hopefully it will work out.

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$5k plus the rehearsal dinner is a nice gift. What does your son expect from you?
......
Not massive quantities of $$'s I hope. I paid room and board (equivalent) for his 4 years at a State Univ (~60K, plus $5K to buy a used car) so he could get his high paying Tech job and not have any student loans when he graduated. (His summer job $$'s and Mom covered incidentals). DS grew up living with Mom.

Did the same for DD except my Ex didn't contribute diddly-squat to her incidentals (cell phone, car insurance,...). DD left Mom at 13 and showed up at my place with her suitcase one Friday evening and never looked back. She moved out last Spring 2014 and got a nice Apt. with her long time BF when their careers got going.

I appreciate everybody's posts. I feel better now. It sounds like the numbers I had in my OP are in the Ballpark.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:50 AM   #12
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When we were formulating our retirement plans we also considered the potential future cost of a wedding for our DD. She has been out of college and supporting herself for about 10 years now. We did an internet search last year and there was a website where you can put in your zip code and get an approximation of the average wedding cost in your area. It turned out that $20,000 was a fairly all inclusive cost, so that is the number we decided upon.

Since we are now retired we wanted to get this potential "expense" off the books so to speak, so we sat down with our daughter and had a discussion. We told her we would gift her the $20,000 now with the understanding that the gift was considered by us to be for a potential future wedding. However, there were no strings attached, she could spend or invest the money any way she wished. She understands that our "obligation" to cover wedding costs is now fulfilled.

DD was very happy with this arrangement and graciously accepted the gift. Of course, if there ever is a wedding in the future we would give a very nice gift as well.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:55 AM   #13
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When my daughter was married in 2011 I gave them $5,000 for their modest wedding, then gave them an additional $5,000 as their wedding gift for their retirement. They didn't use it for retirement..but put it toward the down payment on their first house.


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Old 02-03-2015, 12:17 PM   #14
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I'm not divorced but I personally think it is insane imprudent for most people to pay $20k or more on a wedding. Basically it is spending a huge amount of money for a party.

It isn't that I don't think marriage is important. I do, but you can have a great marriage and a wonderful wedding without spending a huge amount of money on it.

I've told my kids that I am not paying for a large wedding. That they will get a certain amount of money and can spend it how they want -- on the wedding or not.
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:48 PM   #15
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I'm not divorced but I personally think it is insane imprudent for most people to pay $20k or more on a wedding. Basically it is spending a huge amount of money for a party.

It isn't that I don't think marriage is important. I do, but you can have a great marriage and a wonderful wedding without spending a huge amount of money on it.

I've told my kids that I am not paying for a large wedding. That they will get a certain amount of money and can spend it how they want -- on the wedding or not.
While I am in complete agreement with the above, we paid ~$20k for DD's wedding 15 years ago, and I'm glad we did.

The problem with those of us who think (correctly ) that an expensive wedding is a waste of money is that we are probably in the minority. My DD has to live with her in-laws (who are most definitely in the majority) and I felt it would be unfair of us to force our frugal mindset on her if we had the means to give her the wedding she wanted - within limits. We still retired early and the extra $ we spent on her wedding made no difference to our long-term financial well being.

YMMV...
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:17 PM   #16
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We didn't budget for kids' wedding costs. It never even occurred to me since it isn't something DH or I would ever personally spend a lot of money on. If it comes up I guess we will just play it by ear. They will graduate with degrees in STEM fields, no loans and nice cars we paid for, so I was kind of hoping that was enough for us to fund. If any additional support was needed I'd be more willing to maybe help them with a house or condo purchase.
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:34 PM   #17
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DW and I each have a son from previous marriages that have recently gotten married. My son chose to elope to Las Vegas and nobody knew they were getting married until after it was done. We decided to give them a $10,000 wedding gift, followed by and additional $2,500 that Christmas to spend on their delayed honeymoon. Her son and his bride wanted a nice wedding and we offered to pay for it. We ended up spending around $27,000 for everything, including putting the bride's family up in the hotel the wedding was held at. We plan on giving them the same $10,000 gift as soon as we can have a discussion on the hope they will use it for starting an investment portfolio.
Was it worth it? It brought a lot of family together and that seems to happen less and less, so we think it was. DW has also had good fortune with stock options recently, so the financial impact was not a large burden to us.
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:37 PM   #18
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My experience (of two weddings) is that there is an inverse relationship between the amount spent on the wedding/honeymoon and the success of the marriage. DW and I were just talking about that about two hours ago. My first wedding I spent about $6k on in 1978 and the marriage was over five years later. I spent about $1.5k on the second in 1988 and that will be in it's 27th year this July.

Just a point to ponder....
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Old 02-03-2015, 01:51 PM   #19
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DW and I each have a son from previous marriages that have recently gotten married. My son chose to elope to Las Vegas and nobody knew they were getting married until after it was done. We decided to give them a $10,000 wedding gift, followed by and additional $2,500 that Christmas to spend on their delayed honeymoon. Her son and his bride wanted a nice wedding and we offered to pay for it. We ended up spending around $27,000 for everything, including putting the bride's family up in the hotel the wedding was held at. We plan on giving them the same $10,000 gift as soon as we can have a discussion on the hope they will use it for starting an investment portfolio.
Instead of an extra $10k on top of the $27,000 already spent, wouldn't it be more fair to give couple #1 the extra $14,500 ($27,000 - $12,500) you spent on couple #2's wedding?

(FWIW, we spent more on DD#2's wedding than on DD#1, and to be fair gave DD#1 the difference in cash - which they used to help with a down payment on a house.)
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Old 02-03-2015, 02:06 PM   #20
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Instead of an extra $10k on top of the $27,000 already spent, wouldn't it be more fair to give couple #1 the extra $14,500 ($27,000 - $12,500) you spent on couple #2's wedding?

(FWIW, we spent more on DD#2's wedding than on DD#1, and to be fair gave DD#1 the difference in cash - which they used to help with a down payment on a house.)
Perhaps. But as in most things in life, there is a lot more to the story.
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