Tradition was that the bride’s parents paid for the wedding and in some cases, the groom’s parents would pay. However, in this day and age it is more usual for the wedding expenses to be shared, with the bride and groom also contributing a share of the costs.
You should never expect your parents to pay, because for one thing they may simply not have the funds or, for another, they may be saving for something for themselves. However, if they decide to pay for the entire wedding, then you should be very grateful, but in accepting their help there may be some issues which arise that you hadn’t thought of, such matters which often get overlooked because of the money you are going to receive.
For example, if both the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents have pooled their funds, then chances are they are going to want some say in the details of the wedding. They may want to tell you where to hold the wedding, how much to pay for various items, and even who you have to invite. If you’re not prepared to let them have their say, then you might want to think twice about accepting a financial contribution from them. You need to be upfront and find out where you stand from the beginning. Without appearing rude, ask them how much they are considering giving you and also how they want to be involved. Once you know this you can decide if you want to accept, and take it from there. If you don’t ask these questions now, you might run into problems further down the line.
It may be a better option for you and your groom to split the costs with your parents, since this way you can still retain an element of control and settle for a compromise on certain issues. For example, if your parents want a sit down reception and you want a buffet, you could maybe have waiters serving your parents and their friends at delegated tables and have buffet tables set up for everyone else to help themselves. Or, if your parents want you to have a band and you want a DJ, then perhaps you could settle for both, with a DJ playing during the band’s break.
Accepting money from either set of parents can be a touchy time, especially if one set of parents can contribute far more than the other set. But remember, it doesn’t have to be just about the money. If the parents want to be involved then let them help organise or plan for things that need doing. Making phone calls to venues, florists, caterers etc takes time which you may not have much of, and they can be spending their time working for you and taking some of the pressure off you. Also, it’s often handy to be able to bounce ideas off other people. As much as you may not like to admit it, parents can know more than you think, and at the end of the day they only have your interests at heart.
Just remember to stick to your guns on the things that really matter to you, after all it is your wedding, but let the parents have a say in things that you aren’t too bothered about, such as flowers or choice of wine.