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Dave Says: No Pay, No Say

Dave Ramsey - July 17, 2012


My fiancée and I are paying for our wedding since parents don't want to help, but they still want to make wedding decisions. What do we do?

Dear Dave,

My fiancée and I are planning our wedding. Our parents don’t want to contribute financially, so we’ve budgeted $7,000 to cover everything. The problem is both sets of parents still want to make decisions regarding the ceremony and how many people attend. How should we handle this?


Dear Anthony,

In my mind, they don’t have a say in what happens or who attends if they don’t contribute. I understand how your parents feel though. How nice the ceremony is or who’s invited can be a painful discussion, but in this case their opinions should only count as long as they fall within the confines of your budget.

Be courteous and gentle when you explain how much you’ve budgeted and what that means in terms of who can come, how many are there, and just how fancy this event will be. Now, it would be really nice to involve your fiancée’s mother in the planning. But at the end of the day, she does not make decisions. Make sure you involve them and their opinions, but it’s you and your bride-to-be who have the power.

I know your parents love you, and they want it to be a wonderful day for everyone. But this is your wedding, not theirs. And by the way, this would be a really good time to consider premarital counseling. It amazes me how many people enter into a lifelong commitment without talking and thinking things through. And part of that should be you guys getting on the same page as to how you’re going to handle interfering in-laws. You both obviously have some!


Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at

Comments 1 comments

debnron said...

09:33 AM
on Jul 17, 2012

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Yes, it is your day. However, remember your parents raised you. Most parents have put in their time, financial resources, and sacrificed for you to be where you are now. Their opinions should be considered and honored even though they may not be paying for the wedding. Also, if you are looking at this financially, unless you have been on your own for some time and are well established, any gifts of consequence will be coming from your parents, relatives and their friends. Not friends that are just starting our with limited resources. I am not saying your parents should have control over the wedding decisions. I am saying find out what is important to them and a way to honor them. It may be something as simple as a picture of you and your bride with them. Being parents of the groom, we were left out of everything involving the wedding...even the pictures...nope not even a picture of us with the happy couple. Our son's wedding was a miserable experience for us. We were excluded in the joy of the day and told to stay out of the way. It was the day we lost our son. After two years we are still trying to put the hurt behind us in an effort to have a relationship with our son and his wife.
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