“It’s the most beautiful day of your life!” “You can’t put a price tag on love!” “Go ahead, your parents are paying anyway!”
Any of these sound familiar? That’s because the wedding industry thrives on promoting weddings as being one of the most memorable days of a person’s life. But for the many Australian parents actually footing the bill, wedding bells can sound more like alarm bells.
According to recent estimates, the average wedding in Australia costs $36,200, with close to 52% of the costs going to food, alcohol and the venue1. According to a survey on wedding financing, 56% of respondents paid for the wedding thanks to contributions from their parents, while 60% had to get a loan and 82% used large chunks of their savings2.
It’s clear that no matter what your income level is or your expectations are, costs can quickly get out of hand. So how can parents contribute while still keeping things reasonable?
Have ‘the talk’
Yes, it may get awkward to discuss such private topics with your children, but it’s better they hear it from you than from someone else. You’re not made of money and your budget isn’t limitless.
That doesn’t mean you won’t do your best to give them the wedding they’ve always wanted. It just means you’ll do so within reason, planning and budgeting according to your own means and your own financial stability.
This is particularly delicate for parents of the bride, who traditionally are expected to pay for most of the wedding. What is a reasonable amount? How much is enough? Are there any ways to keep costs down? Can someone else chip in?
Before you volunteer to cover part or all of the wedding’s costs, have a good think about how much you’re willing to put in and stick to that budget. Weddings can get out of control fairly quickly, so it’s best to discuss all possibilities, including specific dollar figures, to avoid putting yourself at financial risk.
This is especially true if you’re at a point in your life where you’re increasingly focused on paying off your home or thinking about your upcoming retirement.
Avoid some common traps
Once you’ve drawn clear wedding plans and budgets, you’ll have to avoid a number of common traps so that simple money matters don’t turn into complicated family matters.
My parents are paying, budget is no issue
Remind your children of the crucial difference between celebrating and going overboard. Hundreds of white doves may seem like a great idea on paper, but they may be just a bit over the top.
Big weddings are a tradition
Traditions are changing, as is the idea that getting in debt for a wedding is unavoidable. There are many ways to split the costs of the wedding without sacrificing any of the magic, regardless of how many guests are invited.
Find other ways to help
Creativity goes a long way. You can offer to pay for certain key items such as the band or the church fees, and you can contribute with your logistical, organisational or even culinary skills.
It’s all about support
Weddings can be overwhelming – they are very important events, so being a sounding board, giving advice or simply staying out of the way can be as helpful as a cheque.
No strings attached
It’s important to not expect too much in return and to avoid overstepping boundaries. Once you’ve clarified the type and amount of your contribution, let the couple make their wedding all about them. Even if you’ve paid for the entire event.
We have the resources
It’s easy to get carried away about the material aspects, but it’s important to remain happy and excited about your children’s journey into married life.
We have several ways to help you manage your money so you can focus on enjoying an unforgettable experience. And if you need more help, speak to your financial adviser, find a financial adviser or call us on 131 267.
1 IBISWorld (April 2012), Industry Report X002 – Weddings in Australia.
2 MoneySmart (September 2014), How much can a wedding cost?, https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting/simple-ways-to-save-money/how-much-can-a-wedding-cost
Is our use of social media driving us to engage in conspicuous consumption? <br>Research shows it does.