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Budget Weddings: Big Family, Little Wallet

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There is a budget for every wedding — and expectations to match. Unfortunately, sometimes other people’s expectations don’t quite work with our wedding budget. What to do?

A Hudson Valley bride asks: “My fiancé and I [have a limited budget]. My parents can’t afford to throw us a big wedding, nor would I expect them to, so they’ve kindly offered to pay for our honeymoon. Here’s my problem: My fiancé’s family is very large and tight-knit, and their tradition is to invite even extended family to every wedding. They expect us to do this for ours. They’ve offered to cover the expense of renting a venue — but that still leaves us having to pay for all the other things, like flowers and music.

As a way of saving money, my future mother-in-law suggested we cook at home and bring food to the venue. (I think this is distasteful — I’d rather have a small wedding than a tacky one.) We think if we “give in,” it’ll establish a bad precedent with them in the future. We agree on saving our money for other things. What can we do so we don’t alienate my fiancé’s family, but still stick to our guns?”

(Our answer on next page)

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The Wedding Guru answers: Oh boy… this one’s tough. I understand your concern that “giving in” might lead to “being stepped on,” but compromising allows both sides to give a little — without setting a bad precedent.

A scaled-back wedding reception is very appropriate, particularly in a time of recession. Could you ask your parents to put some of the honeymoon money towards a reception instead? You can also consider trading your reception hall for a restaurant with a private room. These are usually more reasonably priced; plus, you can go without the extras like flowers, music, and decorations without sacrificing a lovely party atmosphere. Another idea is to host the wedding at the reception venue (even while the guests are in their seats for dinner). Talk to the restaurant manager for details on the logistics.

Once you’ve decided which options best suit you, sit down with the groom’s mom and explain how you’ve compromised — and that they also need to do so. Based on your budget, give your future mother-in-law a firm number of guests that she can invite and explain that she must work within that number.

If none of these ideas work, you can always consider eloping — but I hope it doesn’t come to that!

Read more articles on budgeting at HudsonValleyWeddings.com’s Wedding Guide: “Your Wedding Budget and Budget Issues” might be helpful.

» More on weddings on a budget
» More from The Wedding Guru
» Submit a question to the Wedding Guru
» Hudson Valley Weddings 2012