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How to help with the costs of a family wedding

Amanda Angus / 03 October 2016

If you’re not sure how much you should contribute, this guide should help point you in the right direction.

Two grandmothers hold the bride's hands on her wedding day

If you've just received an ecstatic visit or phone call from a just-proposed-to child or grandchild, after congratulating them and perhaps shedding a tear, you might find yourself wondering how much money you might be expected to contribute to the upcoming nuptials.

The good news is that you probably won't be expected to contribute at all - especially if you're the grandparent. The days where the parents were expected to pay for their daughter's wedding are long gone; that said, weddings are expensive beasts, and if you wish to put some money towards the costs, it would probably be incredibly appreciated.

So if you would like to help out, here's our guide to help you along the way.

Decide how much you're comfortable giving

Don't start the conversation without knowing how much you would like to offer. You'll find yourself in a hugely uncomfortable situation if you ask the happy couple how much they'd like; they could be worried about looking greedy or grasping and may tell you they don't want help.

Alternatively, they might ask for more than you can afford, putting you in the awkward position of having to say no, or negotiate them down.

Better to decide what you'd feel comfortable parting with prior to the conversation, and tell them you'd like to put X amount towards the cost. Everyone will feel much happier knowing where they stand.

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Go for a more personal gift

If you'd like your gift to mean something rather than disappearing into the wedding fund pot, instead of writing a cheque, consider offering to buy the dress or the flowers.

Bear in mind that this might mean you don't know how much you might end up spending, as you can't expect the bride to compromise on what she wants just to suit your budget; however, you could compromise by offering to cover a certain amount of her dress if she makes up the difference, if you're worried that her tastes run to the expensive.

You could also consider handing on a family heirloom ring to be used as an engagement or wedding ring, if you have anything suitable that you don't mind parting with.

Give your time and skills

If giving a monetary gift simply isn't an option, you could give something just as valuable – your time. If you can help save money by making invites, favours or orders of service then this is likely to be just as appreciated as handing over cash.

However, be realistic in your offer - if you aren't as creatively artistic as you could be but you do have a nice car, perhaps consider offering to drive people to and from venues to save money on transport costs, or if you're handy in the kitchen, you could bake the cake. 

You could even give yourself the role of unofficial photographer (though be careful not to step on the toes of the official photographer) and create an alternative wedding album as a gift after the new Mr and Mrs return from honeymoon.

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Don't ignore the request in the invite

Don't be surprised or offended if, rather than signing up for a gift register, your offspring ask for contributions to a honeymoon. With so many couples now choosing to live together before marriage, they often have everything they need.

So don't look at it as an impersonal gift of money, think of it as a contribution to a wonderful memory they will cherish, instead of buying them extra sets of crockery or surplus towels they’ll never use.

If there's a small gift you'd also like to bestow on the day, then by all means do so, but don't do it instead of the honeymoon contribution.

Don't overthink it

If you're worried about how much to give, don't be - any gift, however large or small, is bound to be appreciated by the newlyweds.

To quote an oft-used phrase in wedding invites these days, "your presence is presents enough"; simply being part of their big day is the important thing, and anything you choose to give is a wonderful bonus.

That said, if you've given a certain amount to one grandchild, it might be worth making a note of it and sticking to that amount when their siblings and cousins get married - the last thing you want to do is inadvertently cause hurt feelings.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.