Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How to ask for money 2: Guilt and manipulation

This month's issue of Modern Bride sports a timely and striking heading: HOW TO ASK YOUR PARENTS FOR MONEY (and get it).
What can I say? I bought the damn magazine, because I need somone to tell me AGAIN to address couples as Mr. and Mrs. Karl von Trapp, and turned to the article, not knowing quite what to expect. A lesson on lowering expections? On the use of please and thank you?
The article starts off well, recommending that brides in the market for parent money approach them with a lot of research and information. But if this fails to swing it, you're going to have to resport to manipulation, baby. Play to their insecurities.
"If your parents are picturing an upscale bash, tell them you may have to skip the champagne toast if they can't contribute ...
Lots of people need to ask their parents for help with the wedding. But you'd kinda sorta hope it would be a respectful conversation, not a ruthless rapier to the site of their social fears in order to get what you want. This short little article left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
On a side note, when I was a teenager and a student and wanted money myself, sometimes I'd ask my father. He'd lean back in his chair, enjoying himself hugely, and quote Charles's father from Brideshead Revisited. "Oh, I really am the very worst person to talk to about money, because I've never been short of it myself. " Grinning from ear to ear, my father would gleefully quote Waugh: "Your cousin Melchior was short of money too. He went to Australia before the mast."
It became clear that that such was to become my fate. And so I arrived in Seattle. And I'd still play the same stunt on one of my kids. For a while, anyway.

11 comments:

Never teh Bride said...

My money talk with the father unit went something like this:

Me: Dad, are you going to pay for the wedding?

Dad: Yes. You have [this much] to spend. You can either adhere to this pre-set amount or contribute more cash yourself.

Me: Sounds good.

TOTALLY UN-COMPLICATED. TOTALLY NON-MANIPULATIVE.

Grown up people should not have to drop hints and bat their eyelashes, damnit.

Twistie said...

It never occured to me to ask my father for money for my wedding. He didn't specifically offer, either. OTOH, when I asked him to provide fruit tarts instead of wedding cake, he refused all offer of funds for making them. He gave us several generous wedding gifts, too.

In the end, I think we said about twenty words to each other about the cost of the wedding.

If you're going to talk to your parents about money, though, for the love of all that's holy TALK LIKE AN ADULT ABOUT IT! This passive agressive crap is childish and manipulative. I'm appalled that a national magazine would give such horrible advice.

Anonymous said...

My conversation about money with Mum and Dad went something like:

Me: Mum, Dad, we're getting married!
Mum and Dad: Congratulations!

*a couple of weeks later*

Mum and Dad: We would like to pay for the reception as our gift to you. We would like a sit-down meal, not a buffet.

Me: Thanks! We think we would like to hold the reception at our favourite restaurant.

Mum and Dad: Great!

Anonymous said...

Ditto. But some parents are wwwaaaayyyy better themselves at the guilt/manipulation/passive agressive crap that it makes it impossible.

1994 Baby sister's wedding: Parents spent $10,000.00; Dad gave sister total out on wedding morning bc he knew she had no business marrying such an insane person. She married.

2004 Baby brother's wedding: Parents spent $10,000.00 on REHERSAL DINNER. Mother still makes vague references to this.

2006 Same baby sister. Nasty divorce/custody fight of only child: Parents spent approx. $92,000.00 on this, most of which sister did repay after divorce.

2006: HELLO!! Engaged 3 months: emailed Mother about flowers & made general references etc. Tried to be patient bc of sister's dilemma. 7-25-6 final divorce. Nothing. Absolutly nothing, not even an engagement card from my parents. But then I am still trying to collect on Christmas gift from 3 yrs. ago. & was denied a small loan for my house before that.

I have enough self respect, pride, & fear of getting my feelings irreparably hurt that I guess I am sol. Oh well! I have an awesome man that I did not think existed who makes me happier than I ever deserved.

im_in_chains said...

Not an easy thing asking your parents to contribute to your wedding!

When I was a teenager, my mother said to me one day, "Don't expect me and your Dad to pay for your wedding when you get married because my parents didn't pay for mine. We had to pay for it ourselves." So, that was me told.

Fast forward to adulthood, setting a date for the wedding and seeing how much my fiance and I could realistically save each month gave us a basic budget for our wedding, my fiance asked, "Right, how much do you think your parents will contribute?"
"Nothing." I replied.
"Of course they will," he argued.
"No, they won't," I went on to tell him what my mother said to me when I was a teenager.
"Of course they will," he dismissed, "You're their only daugher, they're bound to want to contribute."
I wasn't so convinced.
"Do you think your parents will contribute?" I asked.
"Absolutely!" he repliled confidently.

Well, during my parent's visit, my fiance left me alone with them to ask. I hated asking my mother for anything while growing up, even if I desperately needed something, because she'd just bellow, "No! We can't afford it."

So, I took a deep breath and asked if they'd like to contribue towards the wedding. My mother looked at my Dad who shrugged. My mother sheepishly said, "I don't know." That was the end of the conversation.

When I saw my fiance, he was like, "Well...?"
I said, "They said, 'I don't know.'" "What's that supposed to mean?" he asked.
"I don't know," I replied.

A few weeks passed with no word from my parents about the possibility of them contributing. We did speak and the wedding was mentioned but they never said anything about money. After each conversation, my fiance would ask if they're contributing anything. I always said no. So, he decided, "Right. Since we're paying for ALL our own wedding, no-one else gets a say in the arrangements." By that time, his parents had learnt my parents wouldn't be contributing and felt awkward about contributing themselves so their offer which they had previously made was withdrawn.

im_in_chains said...

Not an easy thing asking your parents to contribute to your wedding!

When I was a teenager, my mother said to me one day, "Don't expect me and your Dad to pay for your wedding when you get married because my parents didn't pay for mine. We had to pay for it ourselves." So, that was me told.

Fast forward to adulthood, setting a date for the wedding and seeing how much my fiance and I could realistically save each month gave us a basic budget for our wedding, my fiance asked, "Right, how much do you think your parents will contribute?"
"Nothing." I replied.
"Of course they will," he argued.
"No, they won't," I went on to tell him what my mother said to me when I was a teenager.
"Of course they will," he dismissed, "You're their only daugher, they're bound to want to contribute."
I wasn't so convinced.
"Do you think your parents will contribute?" I asked.
"Absolutely!" he repliled confidently.

Well, during my parent's visit, my fiance left me alone with them to ask. I hated asking my mother for anything while growing up, even if I desperately needed something, because she'd just bellow, "No! We can't afford it."

So, I took a deep breath and asked if they'd like to contribue towards the wedding. My mother looked at my Dad who shrugged. My mother sheepishly said, "I don't know." That was the end of the conversation.

When I saw my fiance, he was like, "Well...?"
I said, "They said, 'I don't know.'" "What's that supposed to mean?" he asked.
"I don't know," I replied.

A few weeks passed with no word from my parents about the possibility of them contributing. We did speak and the wedding was mentioned but they never said anything about money. After each conversation, my fiance would ask if they're contributing anything. I always said no. So, he decided, "Right. Since we're paying for ALL our own wedding, no-one else gets a say in the arrangements." By that time, his parents had learnt my parents wouldn't be contributing and felt awkward about contributing themselves so their offer which they had previously made was withdrawn.

Jude said...

If you really love someone and want to be married, pop down to your local registry office or church and do it!

Loveless said...

Me: So, what are you planning to contribute?

Dad: $3,000

Crickets, no dollars

Me: Well, a year has past since I have been engaged, I was wondering if you had any time frame on the $3,000 since I need to start preparing for the wedding.

Him: Things are really tight right now. (Pauper story meanwhile my dad makes upper middle class salary, so didn't really feel too bad for the "poor" man). I am working on it.

Me: Meanwhile we planned a destination wedding, so I bought everyone's plane tickets. The cost of my parent's hotel and flight as well as for my sister was $2,000. I received a $1500 check whcih didn't cover their flights or hotel.

Crickets for months with parent's owing me $450 for remaining balance on flight and hotel.

Dad: I am sending you the remaining $1,500. So doing the math, really he is contributing $1,000 and taking a free trip with his family bundling his flight and hotel as part of what he is contributing to my wedding.

I am tired from playing bill collector and mind games, so I think I will just say thank you. Meanwhile thinking thank you for stringing me along on my biggest day while I wonder what my budget will be and feeling rage that my father is so concerned about saving $2k and making me feel guilty about how he doesn't want to take his money out of mutual funds.

SO UNLIKE NEVER THE BRIDE, MY SITUATION WAS HURTFUL, STRESSFUL, MANIPULATIVE, AND COMPLICATED.

Anonymous said...

My Dad said he would $3000 and (they are divorced) my Mom $2000, but my finace's parents have offered to pay for all the booze and a portion of our honeymoon, roughly $8000 in all. I feel with me being the bride that my parents should offer to contribute at least a little more, and i KNOW they can afford it. I just dont know HOW to ask for more. I dont want to seem ungrateful, of course every little bit helps....Any advice??

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Meg said...

My situations is similar to the one above with the siblings...in 2002 my parents shelled out around 20 grand for my older sister's wedding (she's now divorced), and then contributed an unknown amount to my older brother's in 2008. I recently got engaged, and am worried that because I am almost 30 with 2 kids my parents may not be willing to pay for my wedding and i have no idea how to ask. It might be easy to ask my dad in an adult manor, but my mother does everything she can to take as much of my money as she can ( i live with her ) and she is incredibly manipulative, so im not so sure an adult conversation with her would go so smoothly

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