WITH THE AVERAGE COST OF A WEDDING HOVERING AT $60,000, HOW MUCH AM I EXPECTED TO CONTRIBUTE?
My two boys found love and are getting married. As a widower, I’m both happy and sad and wondering about the price tag.
I’m going to be Father of the Groom at… not one, but two… weddings.
My boys had the good fortune to meet two smart, beautiful, and caring young women with whom they’ve decided to share a lifetime of love. I know the feeling all too well; that was me 30 years ago.
LOOKING AT THE COST OF A WEDDING FROM A WIDOWED PARENT’S PERSPECTIVE
According to a 2020 WeddingWire Newlywed Report (1), the average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2019 was approximately $30,000 USD. If we convert $30,000 US into Canadian dollars, that puts the cost at $40,000 CDN.
But wait. My boys’ weddings are happening in Toronto, where everything is pricier. Also, the 2020 report was pre-COVID, and we all know how costs have been skyrocketing. Now that $40,000 wedding is $60,000.
WHO PAYS FOR THE WEDDING? AND HOW MUCH?
The same study reported that 52% of the costs were covered by the parents, 47% by the couple, and 1% by family and friends. It’s a bit different for Millennials (which my two boys are). For this cohort, 56% of the costs were covered by the parent, 42% by the couple, and 2% by others.
So, we’ve established that a Toronto wedding will cost $60,000. If the two sets of parents pay 56% of the cost, that’s $33,600. Divide that in two, and both the bride’s and the groom’s parents will contribute approximately $17,000.
Well, wait, you might ask – as a widower, are you expected to pay the same equal share as the bride’s two parents? Of course not. It’s all dependent on the individual situation; any family that’s about to merge should consider each other’s ability to pay what they can afford.
WEDDING GIFTS: STRINGS OR NO STRINGS ATTACHED?
The same study reported that nearly 60% of parents agree to pay for certain items at the wedding, such as a dress or venue, while roughly one-third gift the couple with a cheque to use as they see fit. I fall into that one-third.
My sons appear to want to be more in charge of their wedding plans – it’s their wedding, after all. I respect that; my gift would have no strings attached.
Mary and I had always agreed that our children could spend their wedding gift as they wished. The only part of the plan left undecided was the amount of the gift.
CAUTION: DON’T LET A WEDDING DISRUPT YOUR RETIREMENT PLANS
I recommend that a parent’s retirement plans should never be compromised by financially supporting your children – and this includes wedding gifts. So, I took my own advice and prepared multiple retirement plans using different amounts, and estimated the effects of a wedding gift on my retirement income as a widower.
I finally arrived at a $25,000 do-what-you-will wedding gift and decided to let the kids know in advance what they’d receive.
Personally, I want to give my gift on the big day itself. Why? If given before, it may lose its sentimental value and get lost in all the pre-wedding hubbub.
Please remember that all of the numbers mentioned here are estimates and averages and, in the case of my wedding gift, specific to me.
1 The 2020 Wedding Wire Newlywed Report is based on a survey among 27,250 individuals—the largest survey of weddings in the industry. The data is collected from couples who provided their email to The Knot Worldwide and were married between January 1 and December 31, 2019. Respondents represent couples from all over the country with various ethnicities, income levels, races, ages, sexual orientation, and gender identities. To provide the most comprehensive view of the research collected, this report also includes findings from ad hoc studies conducted in 2019. In a typical year, The Knot Worldwide conducts research with more than 300,000 US brides, grooms, guests, and wedding professionals.
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