3/14 Ask Heather: Asking Your Family For Money

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Alexander Cornelious

Dear Heather,

I just discovered The Broke Ass Bride and I’m happy. I really needed a website like this. My fiance and I had been together for 7 years, lived together for 4 and have a 3 year old son. We got engaged last October and are planning our wedding for next December. The problem is it is really going to be a low budget wedding. Most of everything, including my dress, the catering, flowers, the music, the photographer, the cake, some decoration, and even the alcohol has been covered by relatives since my fiance’s family is extremely close and really love throwing parties and helping each other in every way, including economically.

The problem is this: my family is big, my fiance’s family is huge. After taking out every single person that does not HAVE to be there, our guest list is 205 people. My fiance and I have been facing a hard time economically, which happened after we started planning and set a date, so we didn’t know we were going to have money problems. This is causing us to have a very hard time paying for a venue and we may not have a honeymoon right away. We will also need money for decorations, his tuxedo rental, and my dress accessories and alterations. A LOT of people have been telling us that if we need anything we should just say so because THEY WILL help with something for the wedding, but they don’t come asking what we need or offering anything. However, we need that help now or otherwise we will miss the venue due to availability. Plus, some relatives have made arrangements already to spend the holidays here because of the wedding.

We are trying to decide if we should write a note politely asking for help with the wedding planning instead of wedding gifts, since we don’t need anything for our home. The only thing we need is help for the wedding, be it money or other kind of help. I have read that it is always wrong to ask for money; that if I don’t have it, I shouldn’t be celebrating the wedding. I don’t want a big wedding. Right now, everything I need for the wedding to happen is the money for the venue.

What should I do? This is really stressing me out. Your response would really be a blessing.

Thank you very much!!

No Money For Venue

Dear Money,

It sounds like your main struggle right now is finding money for the venue you want. Is this particular venue nonnegotiable? If you haven’t considered all of your options, including finding a less expensive venue, do that first. If that venue is the only one that will work in your area, then you should talk to your fiance’s family. Since they’ve already offered money for various aspects of the wedding, ask if some of that money could be transferred to paying for the cost of the venue, especially if you have your heart set on a particular place. If they’re amenable to that option, then work on decreasing the cost of the other things they were going to pay for. Find a less expensive dress. Downscale on flowers and use only things in season. Talk to your caterer about ways to make the menu less expensive. Hire a more affordable DJ (or do an iPod reception) and photographer.

Once you’ve done all that, realize that it’s extremely unlikely that everyone on the invite list will attend. You said that you don’t want a big wedding. I’m not sure what constitutes “big” to you. While I don’t think that your invite list of 205 will ever turn into a 15-person super-intimate ceremony, I also don’t think that you’ll truly have 205 guests. Obviously, though, if you can cut the invite list, it will make other things more affordable, what with fewer meals, tables, chairs, centerpieces, etc. If you cannot cut the list, though, prepare to cut everything else, as referenced in the previous paragraph.

Speaking of invitees … some of them have offered to help. Take them up on it! When it comes to weddings, people want to help, but they need to know what you want. It’s extraordinarily unlikely that anyone will come up to you and say, “You know, I really want to do [x] to help with your wedding.” Instead, they make general offers of assistance, and it’s up to you to take the next step. Figure out some ways they could help – put the crafty ones to work on making decorations, have your seamstress friend help with dress alterations, tell the friend who makes jewelery what you want in regards to accessories and let her run wild – and give them specific tasks. The key here is that you have to actually ask them to help and give them achievable jobs.

You mentioned that you might not be able to afford a honeymoon right away. While it sucks, this is not the end of the world. I would suggest doing some sort of mini-moon; maybe see if there’s an affordable nearby bed and breakfast that you could escape to for a couple of days immediately after the wedding. And then, on your one-year-anniversary, take a bigger trip.

As for asking for money – I agree that writing a letter and explicitly asking for money is a no-go. However, there are plenty of registries out there now that let you ask for cash. We actually did a post recently about Present Value, which you should check out. I think something like that could serve you quite well.

Have you had friends or family offer to help? Did you take them up on it? How did it go? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Heather Herrington is the advice columnist for The Broke-Ass Bride. When she's not satisfying the inquisitive nature of the BAB readership, she's likely crafting, trapped with at least one of her pets (one dog, two cats) on her lap, trying to ski but being unable to stop, or dreaming about where she wants to travel next. Feel free to stalk her at her website, on Facebook, or on Pinterest.