Monday, October 20, 2008

Q & A: Is the old adage that the brides parents pay for the wedding still in force?

Q. Is the old adage that the brides parents pay for the wedding still in force? Or have they changed that like they did the thing about the white wedding dress?

A. When you ask if "they" have changed this, I assume you mean "da wedding police". The concept behind the brides parents paying for the wedding is NOT an adage (which is defined as a "saying or proverb") but is in fact one of the very OLDEST and one of the very MOST followed traditions in the world of weddings - however - there IS hope - but first, about the tradition. In lesser days of lesser awareness and lesser equality (and, sorry to say, even today in less aware and liberated countries) TRADITION was based in bias and perceived NEED. It was ALWAYS wonderful to have sons - sons could work the fields or take over dad's business or profession - sons could "carry on the family tradition" - sons could provide for the parents in their old age - sons could... (got the idea?). Then there were the "daughters" - and, while they could cook and clean house, they were generally thought of as more of a present burden than current or future benefit - therefore the "dowry" was born, that marvelous thing that was an incentive to potential suitors to get that girl "out from under foot" - and - to add to the incentive, dad would even pay for the event to get the daughter legally committed to be someone else's "obligation" ... (got the idea?). Well, from those humble and rather primitive beginnings (still practiced in too many areas of the world) - came the TRADITION of the bride's family paying for the wedding. Now to your question - I've got good news... and I've got bad news! - oh yes - the tradition IS still for the bride's family to pay for the wedding and most, but not all, of the events surrounding the wedding. - oh no - this tradition IS NOT written in blood and enforced by "da wedding police" - as a matter of fact, turn-of-the-century etiquette has actually allowed for common sense to help you through this "money matter" (which, by the way, could be an early test of just how well you and yours are about to get through your first years of marriage and "money matters"). Today, more and more couples are paying for their own weddings - more and more couples are realizing the expense of the wedding NEEDS to be shared between families. This "sharing" of expenses is NOT without foundation, and depending on your ethnic and/or national heritage may already be a part of your families' backgrounds. In a number of cultures the cost of the wedding is split between a small group of family members who can best afford the expense. Further, another old "ethnic" tradition is starting to have a resurgence in this country...when it is apparent that the bride's family can not easily afford a "major wedding event" and the bride and groom acknowledge this, a groom's family who may be in an equal or better financial position may offer to "participate in the wedding" by picking up the entire tab, 1/2 the tab or a smaller portion thereof. If this "participation" is going to occur it should be initiated only after the bride and groom have agreed that this could be best - and - they each of spoken with their families (in a very private conversation) about this -- then -- if "feelings" aren't going to be hurt and if "personalities" aren't going to get in the way, the first step should be by the groom's mother speaking with the bride's mother and asking if "they couldn't help with the wedding and the wedding expenses". If both families end up paying for the wedding it is also traditional for the invitations to go out in both family's name. Good Luck

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