– Ask Cheryl – Should Parents Pay for a Second or Third Wedding?

The Ask Cheryl inbox is flooded with questions regarding encore weddings. Today, Cheryl addresses the question of who pays for a third wedding: where do the parental responsibilities end when it comes to encore weddings? Cheryl’s answer goes beyond the budget, as she reminds all parents of adult children to handle wedding planning calmly, lovingly, and with respect.

Dear Cheryl,

We have a 29-year-old daughter who recently married for the third time. The marriage occurred this summer (2019), and we did not learn of it until one month or so after it occurred. We have yet to meet the new husband.

Our daughter has told us that she would like a “real wedding” in March 2020.

Our daughter would like my wife to plan or help plan the wedding and for us to contribute to the wedding and reception.

She ‘helpfully’ sent us a link to the financial requirements of being the bride’s parents.

Personally, we don’t consider a third marriage to be a parental responsibility, nor a wedding ten months after the marriage to be a ‘wedding.’ We would consider it a ‘reception’ or ‘celebration.’ She wants the traditional bridal dress, cake, flowers, etc., just like one sees in the movies. Perhaps we are ‘old school.’

We honestly and sincerely would appreciate your assessment of the current cultural expectations for this type of event.

Concerned Dad

Photo via Inspired by This, photo by Hipster Wedding Asia

Dear Mom & Dad,

Thank you for writing. Oh my! I sense your frustration. Your line about the “helpful” link made me laugh out loud.

The short answer is that you don’t have to pay for anything that you don’t want to, or feel is appropriate. It is a personal decision.

Now the long answer:

As times have changed, the “who pays for what” lines have become blurred. The tradition that the bride’s parents pay for the wedding is now considered a bit outdated. Many times, the couple pays, or the costs are split between the couple, the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents. It depends on so many factors, with the overriding one being who can afford it and is willing to pay.

You are absolutely correct in that neither etiquette nor tradition suggest that the parents should cover the cost of a second or third wedding. Your daughter has no right to demand that you contribute to her “wedding.” She should ask nicely and do so before planning her event.

Did you pay for or contribute to one of her previous weddings? If not, perhaps this is why she feels that you would be willing to chip in.

In reading between the lines, it seems you may be frustrated with some of her life choices. I get that!

While we often don’t agree with our children’s decisions, we can’t control them. I recommend that you think about your long-term relationship with your daughter. I’m sure you love her and despite her decisions, want to continue a relationship with her.

Only you can decide how to spend your money and you are under no obligation (real or perceived) to give her money for her “wedding.” (By the way, I agree with you that she is already married and should have a reception, not a wedding.) Think about what you would be willing to contribute (if anything). Let any anger and frustration pass. Try to accept her decisions even if you don’t agree with them, and then decide how you will respond to her requests.

Let her know that you love her, and then have a heart-to-heart talk about money (in person, if possible, or on the phone) and explain your decisions. Try to calmly convey why you don’t feel it’s appropriate for you to pay for or contribute to the wedding expenses (if that’s your decision). Some reasons might be that it’s not in your budget and it’s not an expense for which you’ve planned. If you feel you can contribute something, work with her to reach a compromise you can both accept.

If you have questions or comments about gift giving, bridal shower, baby shower, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length and grammar, or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.


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