Miss Manners: Who Pays For The Wedding?


Dear Miss Manners,
Is it still customary for parents to pay for their daughter’s wedding? I have heard that now that is not the norm, due to many families not having the finances to pay for a wedding. She already has two kids from different fathers and is now pregnant with the guy she plans on marrying. This would be her first marriage.

Gentle Reader,
The law requires you to feed and clothe your minor children, but not to sponsor their marital extravaganzas. And etiquette, which is not a system for forcing people to live beyond their means, has never stepped in to make that demand.

When young ladies married while still in their parents’ custody, it was the custom for the family to give the wedding. But doing so was voluntary– as a young lady quickly found out if she chose the wrong bridegroom. It was up to the parents to celebrate in a style they chose and could afford.

A lot has changed since then, as Miss Manners needn’t remind you. But parents have never been required to lose control over their finances. If you would like to pay for your daughter’s somewhat over-due wedding, you should begin by telling her how much you intend to spend.

*******

Dear Miss Manners,
This topic has recently come up and is causing much debate among friends. Please settle this for us. Is there a "proper" amount for a wedding gift? I have heard more and more people say that their gift must cover the cost of their dinner. Is this not just "paying admission" for attending the affair? My 25-year-old daughter (who has just recently gotten a job) is beginning to be invited to weddings of peers, and cannot afford to cover the cost of her meal.

Gentle Reader,
That this idea is widespread does not rescue it from being astonishingly vulgar and crass, for exactly the reasons you mention.

Etiquette recognizes no such rule, Miss Manners assures you. It assumes, perhaps naively, that wedding guests are invited solely because their attending has emotional value, and that wedding presents are selected by the guests from within their particular financial means, solely to please the recipients.

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About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place".
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