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Offspring Equality: Should Parents Give the Same Wedding Gift to Sons As Their Daughters?

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Parents often struggle in an attempt to treat their children equally. Because circumstances differ — and the children themselves are different people — this becomes difficult when approaching parents’ financial “responsibility” regarding their kids’ weddings. The decisions that parents make can often influence their relationships afterward.

Dear Wedding Guru: “Our daughter’s wedding cost about $10,000, and we also gave her and our son-in-law $2,000 as a wedding gift. Since we’ll spend considerably less on our son’s wedding — we’re paying only for the rehearsal dinner, alcohol, groom’s cake (if he wants one), and some of the corsages and boutonnieres — we’re not sure how much we should give our son and future daughter-in-law as a wedding gift. I think we should give more than what we gave our daughter to ‘make up’ for the money we spent on her wedding. We don’t want to do the wrong thing. Can you help?”

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Dear Valley parents of the groom: First off, let me say how lucky your children are to have you as parents! Your generosity and attempt at fairness is commendable, and I hope they appreciate their good fortune.

That said, what you spent on your daughter (including the price of the wedding and the amount you gave her as a present) were gifts. Neither was your obligation. That holds true for your son as well. According to the strictest etiquette, you’d actually be correct in spending less in total (i.e., wedding expenses plus wedding gift) on your son than on your daughter. However, the times have changed! Today, parents of bridal couples veer away from differentiating between what they give a son as opposed to what they spend on a daughter. Equality is the name of the game.

So… if you have the financial wherewithal to give your son and future daughter-in-law a gift that equals the total of what you gave your daughter and son-in-law, go ahead and do it if you’d like! Treating your children equally can never come back to “bite” you. Of course, make sure you remind them what great parents you are!

» Hudson Valley Weddings 2011
» Submit a question to the Wedding Guru
» View our Wedding Guide

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