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Old 10-07-2015, 11:45 AM   #21
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Anyway, how much money should I give them as a wedding gift? I was thinking $500 in cash and then also buy them a few gifts.
I think that would be quite reasonable and generous. The gifts at my daughter's recent wedding averaged around that I think. Singles and younger people a little less.
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:50 AM   #22
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Everyone should do what he wants re weddings, cars, college expenses, whatever--every family is different and no one can say what other families should do, only what works for their own families.

It would however prevent any sad surprises to let the kids in on the projected decision as early as possible--like, when they are middle school, start telling them, "in our family we pay only for instate tuition" and repeat. Same with weddings before dating starts (so the kid doesn't think the decision is tied to a particular girl or boy). You can always kick in something later.
Excellent post.

I'd add that one of the things that can kick the cost of a wedding up is guest list. My dad offered my sister a fixed amount towards the wedding costs. The problem came when my mom wanted to add a bunch of her friends (friends of my mom's, strangers to my sister) to the guest list - but didn't want to up the contribution. That made for some challenging discussions. My mom ended up pairing back her guest list additions to people who actually knew my sister and my dad loosened the purse string a touch. Based on that experience I chose to have a microscopically small wedding and made it clear from the get go that it was family and a very few very close friends only. No friction because expectations were set from the beginning.

I have sons, but have set aside some funds for wedding costs - if they aren't needed, they can be a gift to the couple.
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Old 10-07-2015, 12:20 PM   #23
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The fact that folks in this thread are suggesting $20-40K weddings are acceptable shows just how skewed this issue has become.
I agree that weddings are a waste of money. However, if you are going to have a mid-tier wedding, $20k to $40k is the norm.
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Old 10-07-2015, 12:24 PM   #24
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Wow...I definitely travel in a different crowd. I can't even imagine a wedding in the six figures!

Originally DH and I were in the camp of offering a defined $ amount and letting DD decide if she wanted to spend on a wedding or save/invest/?.

However, DD just married her partner in August. They already had a civil union and were just waiting to be married legally. DD is 32 and DIL is 28 and they bought (buying) a townhome outside of Portland.

DD sent me their projected budget earlier this year and DH and I agreed we would help (although would have preferred they use the $ for something more practical). I knew the first swag at the budget was optimistically unrealistic, but these girls still managed a very nice wedding for less than $20k. They were very creative in keeping costs low but still having their dream wedding. I had the pleasure of shopping for the cut flowers (wholesale flower market in Portland) and MIL and I creating our DD's bouquets. We also created the bridesmaids bouquets and other floral decorations for the wedding and reception (how we spent the early morning hours the day of the wedding). Their friends donated their talents in hair styling, makeup, decorations, singing, etcetera. They selected and we helped pay for a nice wedding venue, DJ, photographer and caterer. DH and I picked up the alcohol and set up the bar and helped in many other ways as did the other parents (including clean up after the reception). DIL is Native American so her father did a smudging and a ceremonial blanket presentation that was part of the ceremony. I provided an Irish wedding blessing that I discovered during DD and my trip to Ireland in June. The officiant knew them personally and added many poignant details throughout the ceremony. Remember, we are talking about Portland, Oregon so different is good
I was a bit skeptical at first, but was pleasantly surprised at the warmth and love demonstrated throughout the wedding and reception. Everyone felt included in the event (100+). 95% traveled from out of state to attend.
Many friends and family commented on what a great time they had and how they loved the ceremony.
We probably paid for 40%, in-laws 40% and the girls probably paid for 10%. Both girls had their dresses designed and made in a small shop in Portland. They were individualized to their personalities and beautiful (and much less $ than they could find at bridal stores). Parents were included in the final fitting with linch at a local winery following. (DD dress, shoes, undergarments and earrings were under $1k).

We went down 4 days early to help and it was definitely a lot of work, but
being that involved in the decorating, setup and cleanup brought us closer to DD's in-laws and the girls. I have all good memories! So proud of them.

As others have said, "YMMV".




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Old 10-07-2015, 12:40 PM   #25
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@Dog. Sounds lovely. Congratulations. It certainly can be done for a fairly reasonable cost, as you have shown.
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:23 PM   #26
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The last two weddings I went to cost about 2k or less.
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:36 PM   #27
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Both our kids and their spouses wanted very small weddings. They didn't want the stress of planning a big wedding. But more importantly, they wanted it to be more intimate and personal, not about whether to invite crazy Uncle Jim or have a DJ. There was no pressure to do otherwise from family on either side. And it certainly had nothing to do with money. They knew we would pay for whatever kind of wedding they wanted (within reason).

One wedding was at a park in San Francisco, with just immediate family and the bride and groom's best friends. "Reception" was at a restaurant less than a block away. No dancing or speeches. I'm not even sure there was a cake. Other people at the restaurant kept sending bottles of champagne to our table. It was an amazing day.

The other wedding had about 30 people, with the ceremony and reception at our house. Same immediate family plus some grandparents. Still no crazy Uncle Jim, but a lot more of the bride and groom's close friends. Everyone brought side dishes and I grilled steaks and chicken. This one did have a few speeches, dancing, plus lots of flowers, decorations, and a cake. Total cost for us was right at $1K and most of that was for booze and steaks. I bought the chicken on sale at Kroger for $0.99/lb.

Both weddings were amazing. Exactly what the kids wanted. Great memories and everyone had a fantastic time.
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:38 PM   #28
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When my DD got married a couple of years ago, we offered $15K. She got to decide how she spent the money and how much to keep. The total wedding cost $8K which included venue, photographer, flowers, dresses, tuxes, catered dinner for about 50, beer, wine and a DJ. It was a great wedding! Reception was at the same place as the wedding.

Even though we could have easily afforded a $50K wedding, she seemed really happy with what she had - and even happier with what she got to keep. For us, things didn't get expensive until the grandson showed up
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:46 PM   #29
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I have 3 daughters. We gave each of them $7.5K towards their wedding costs. 2 of them had approx. 100 guests. 1 stayed right on budget and 1 went over about $1500. The 3rd daughter is getting married next mo. and her future husband comes from a very large family so they will have about 200 guests. They are footing the difference and will have a total all-in cost under $15K. These costs include church, reception, DJ's, Photog, dress, reception meal, alcohol, etc.
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:54 PM   #30
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The last two weddings I went to cost about 2k or less.
Sounds extravagant compared to my second wedding. Only 4 of us. City hall plus nice dinner. Probably around $500. Of course that was in 1995 and my net worth was probably still negative. Even my first wedding at my parents house probably cost $500 or less.

So if you average the 3 weddings I have paid for, the result is more in line.😀
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:56 PM   #31
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We have had 3 nieces getting married in the past 18 months, and my daughter wedding is coming up. The costs are from $20K to $25K as my best guess (for 75 to 100 guests), and they are all nice. Much of the wedding cost is recovered from relative guests who give cash gifts. Everybody has a good time, and in fact would feel insulted if not invited.

As always, YMMV.
That's pretty much the tradition with my extended family and many of our friends. Weddings and receptions are not "extravagant" but almost always include dinner, open bar, music and dancing, etc. Guests consider it a time for renewal of friendships and/or a chance to say hello to the out of town cousins you only see at weddings and funerals...... Most that accept invitations are generally generous gifters and understand what it's costing to have them there.

I can certainly understand where folks with smaller families or families that are less close would want to keep things smaller. If you're stretching to come up with a guest list without including folks that neither the bride, groom or their parents are really close to, why force the issue? Just keep the ceremony and celebration small, send out post-wedding announcements and insist on no gifts.

I don't think these kind of cultural decisions are a "one size fits all" thing and I'm a little surprised at some of the folks here who seem to feel everyone needs to think their way on this issue.
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The big ticket wedding...
Old 10-07-2015, 02:13 PM   #32
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The big ticket wedding...

I'm not really in to weddings that much so suggested Justice of the Peace for my daughter's upcoming wedding. Surprising to me that the cost for this is about $15,000 so far. Oh well I tried. 😎
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:24 PM   #33
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Lol, my friend's planning her wedding and wanted to keep the budget at less than $10K which is how much she and her fiance can afford on their own. Her mom's convincing her to have a bigger wedding (mom will pick up the tab for the remainder) because mom wants to invite all the relatives (they've got a *huge* family). So far, my friend's winning.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:29 PM   #34
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I'm not really in to weddings that much so suggested Justice of the Peace for my daughter's upcoming wedding. Surprising to me that the cost for this is about $15,000 so far. Oh well I tried. ��
'Splain that will ya? $15k for a JP to tie the knot? Somethings not passing the common sense test here. total cost should be less than $100 including marriage license and the American cheese on white sandwiches brought from home to munch on after the ceremony.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:38 PM   #35
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The big ticket wedding...

Apparently these days the Justice of the Peace requires you to meet at a nice location, with food, and have about 100 witnesses.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:50 PM   #36
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weddings vary so widely based on location. I can't even find a place in my local home town area that would cost more than $20/pp, but had a hard time finding a place in Chicago that was less than $35/pp... like real estate.. location location location.

ie my nieces wedding cost about $3500 and I paid for about 1/2 which covered the food. I had my first wedding in Chicago in 1995 and I know they paid $75/pp for the food alone.

As for wedding gifts, it really all depends on the family.. I had a friend shell out $50k for a wedding at Brookfield zoo and they hardly got a single gift because it was one of theirs second wedding.. they are currently not making ends meet, both own homes that are 50% under water, one of them lost their job and the wedding was only 3 years ago.. oh boy.. yeh lots of financial discussions going on NOW in that house.. too bad it wasn't earlier.

My niece freaked out when I offered to pay for the food.. she's like that's my parents responsibility.. but her parents are deadbeats and always have been so that wasn't an option. She deserved a nice wedding as she worked her butt off; however, I told her it was a gift, no strings attached. She could use it for food or whatever else she wanted. She didn't have to ask my permission or get any input from me... personally I think that's the best way for people to give a gift like that... no strings attached. As its no different than someone writing them a check and then them immediately blowing it on a ridiculous vacation or a car they total 3 days later... you have to trust they will make the best decision or not give the money in the first place.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:55 PM   #37
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Apparently these days the Justice of the Peace requires you to meet at a nice location, with food, and have about 100 witnesses.
Oh..... Must be a West Coast thing! Well, might as well enjoy the festivities!
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:07 PM   #38
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Ok so I was married for almost 30 years and yep I had a big wedding. 300 people, most family. I paid for my dress, 3 grand. We had a DJ, live band, open bar, sit down dinner.
It was absolutely beautiful. I will not criticize some one for some thing I did myself.

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Old 10-07-2015, 03:23 PM   #39
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Ok so I was married for almost 30 years and yep I had a big wedding. 300 people, most family. I paid for my dress, 3 grand. We had a DJ, live band, open bar, sit down dinner.
It was absolutely beautiful. I will not criticize some one for some thing I did myself.

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I'd take that another step...... If a big wedding was what you wanted and you could afford it (you could make it fit with other life plans) and you didn't do it, I'd criticize you for that.

Given the ways and means, it's what YOU want to do that counts in the long run.
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:30 PM   #40
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I never understood and (I still don't understand) why people like to have weddings. I am a born introvert, I guess, and the thought of being on the spotlight, being watched by so many people, doesn't interest me (it sort of frightens me.) This is not to say anything is wrong with weddings. I had a friend whose answer to the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was a "bride"! (I know! It's not like it's a profession, but there was nothing more she wanted to be/do but to become a wife of some guy! This was in the 70's in Japan though...) Her wedding was absolutely beautiful. She looked stunning (Had her wedding ceremony at a Japanese shrine in a traditional Japanese wedding dress (her husband looked like a samurai!), and then she changed into a western wedding dress at a reception hall.

My wedding was small (I didn't want to have a wedding at all, but my mom insisted I should so that I would have something to tell/show to my future children, so she set up a small gathering with relatives and took a bunch of photos, and also set up a professional photo session at a wedding photo gallery of some sort (They put makeup on my face, dressed me up in a wedding dress and took photos with glossy finish). I still have the photos somewhere. We didn't have any children though, but if we did, I had some photos to share with them...
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