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Did you feel a little shiver run down your spine just reading this post’s title? If so, you’re not alone! For many brides, talking to their parents about paying for their wedding is one of the most squirm-inducing parts of wedding planning, period. Not many of us love talking about money, anyway, and when you add in all of the emotions, hopes, and expectations around an event as significant as a wedding, well, things can get complicated fast!

The good news? As with most things in life, a grateful heart, a kind demeanor, and an insistence on believing the best about everyone involved will go a long way. Unless you’re set on paying for your wedding yourself or your parents have already told you they’re not able to contribute, this conversation is a must-do, so let’s get to our tips!

Photo by Sawyer Baird with styling and flowers by Blue Ribbon Vendor Jacin Fitzgerald from our ninth issue

First, unless they’ve told you otherwise, it’s helpful to start with the mindset that your families may or may not be willing or able to contribute, but that you are asking because it’s better to ask than to miss out! Here’s how you might start the conversation:

“Hi Mama! Now that we’ve been engaged for a few weeks, we’re excited to begin planning our wedding! We are really hoping to have a memorable celebration for all the people we love most. I’m not sure if you’ve given it any thought, so no need to answer today, but I was wondering if you and Dad are planning to contribute in some monetary way to our plans? We would be so grateful for whatever you’re able to offer!”

It could also be helpful to lead with what y’all are planning to pay for, so they understand you two are also invested in this experience.

Repeat this conversation with both your parents and your fiance’s parents – more than once if anyone is divorced – as well as grandparents, if applicable.

If your parents are looking for further direction or aren’t comfortable giving a lump sum, suggest they pay for a specific item or portion of the wedding (bonus points if you know it’s one that will be meaningful to them!). Try this: “Would it be possible for you to pay for the florist? We haven’t chosen a vendor yet, but the quotes we’ve gotten range from $1,500-$2,000.”

One final tip: It’s best to leave comparison out of this conversation – either with your siblings’ weddings, or your friends’. Trust that your parents will do their best to make things as fair as possible!

As you speak with each supporting party, make a note of their commitments (we have a handy worksheet for this in our wedding planner!). Once you’ve spoken with everyone and noted how much you and your groom will be contributing, you’ve got the beginnings of a budget!

I’d love to hear: if your parents helped pay for your wedding, did you initiate this conversation, or did they?

P.S. Looking for more wedding budget advice? I wrote our wedding budgeting e-book just for you!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar liam smith reply

    This is an interesting article is it is seldom discussed.

    My now wife and I had the same discussion with our parents, however we decided to approach it differently. We put together what we could afford and culled our guest list to just close family and friends. We then told our parents that any guests that they wanted to add they would have to pay for. It removed the awkward discussion of ‘how much can you give us’ and also placed the politics of who to invite in their hands.

  2. avatar Kirsti Cook reply

    My sweet mama initiated the conversation with my fiancé and I about two weeks after we got engaged and started looking at venues. The funny part during this process is that we are trying to stick as close as we can to our budget and my mama, bless her heart, always says “If it will make your day perfect, then just do it!” While we want to be gracious hosts to our guests, we also know that spending an arm and a leg on our wedding won’t effect our marriage so we are trying to keep it from spreading like kudzu!

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For Chesne, who grew up in Atlanta, getting married at the Swan House had always been her dream. Like any good Southern girl, she knew that it would be too hot for an outdoor wedding after May (and fall is for football!), so she and Raul were thrilled to be able to secure a May 7th wedding date at her dream venue! The beautiful historic home not only served as a stunning backdrop for their ceremony, but as inspiration for their entire celebration. The team at Amy Osaba Design created florals that had an organic, romantic, and “a bit wild” feel that were the perfect complement to both the mansion and Chesne’s Carol Hannah gown. Chesne and Raul also worked with Candice of Chancey Charm Weddings to create a wedding day that was a tribute to their life together in the South–a South that, to them, is “hospitable, romantic, delicious, fun, and in full bloom.” What a beautiful sentiment!

Big hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Shackleford for sharing this sweet day with us in our ninth issue!

I found my dress at The Sentimentalist in Atlanta. I went with my mom and two of my bridesmaids, and it was our second stop of the day. I was having a hard time making a decision between two Carol Hannah dresses because I liked the top on one, but loved the skirt on the other. The Sentimentalist actually has a great relationship with the designer, and I was very fortunate because they were able to request a custom design that combined the two dresses that I loved!

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use Amy Osaba Design for our flowers. I love how their arrangements are really loose and organic, and all of their work feels so romantic. We scheduled an appointment and met with Mary McLeod, who is one of their main designers. I had so much fun at our appointment–it was definitely one of the highlights of the planning process! When I met with Mary, I didn’t want to give too much direction on the bouquet, and we instead talked about the overall feel. I wanted the feel to be loose, romantic, and a bit wild, but didn’t specify any particular flower. I really loved how Mary used both greenery and flowers in our color palette, but my favorite detail was the beautiful ribbons that she used to tie it all together.

What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? My favorite moment from our wedding day was our first look. I am so thankful that we did a first look before the ceremony and were able to experience that emotion in an intimate setting. Raul and I both cried, and it was so incredibly special. The moment felt really special and intimate, and we were really able to enjoy all of the emotions that we were feeling on that day. It also helped with the timeline after the ceremony and allowed us to go straight into the party!

Growing up in Atlanta, the Swan House was always my dream venue and we really didn’t consider any other locations. We also knew that we would have to get married in the spring–an outdoor wedding in Atlanta would be too hot after May, and fall is for football. We booked the Swan House for May 7, and everything else stemmed from that. The house served as a constant source of inspiration throughout the planning process and was the most stunning backdrop for the ceremony.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? Our ceremony was on the lawn of the Swan House, and the home served as the most beautiful backdrop for our big day. My dad and I were hidden inside while the guests were seated, and I will never forget the moment that the doors finally opened and we walked down the steps together.
What songs did you use for your ceremony? My favorite song is “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John and I knew that I wanted to incorporate it into our big day somehow. We had a four-string band for our ceremony, so we had them do an instrumental version for my entrance. It was such a unique touch that brought a personal element to our ceremony.

Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? Our ceremony and cocktail hour were outside at the Swan House and we wanted to take no chances when it came to the weather. The Swan House is a historic site and we were not allowed to bury a bottle of bourbon on-site, so naturally, we snuck in to do it anyways. On April 7 at 5:30 P.M. (exactly one month before the ceremony), we secretly buried a bottle of Four Roses and prayed for a sunny day. We also included mini bottles of Four Roses in our welcome boxes to include our guests in the tradition. The big day went off without a hitch–not a cloud in the sky!

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? We had an outdoor cocktail hour in the Boxwood Gardens adjacent to the Swan House. The string quartet continued to play and hors d’oeuvres were passed. Something we love about the South is tailgating, and although our cocktail hour was far from a football tailgate, it had many of the same elements, including perfect weather, Georgia pines, great food and music, and even koozies we had designed especially for the occasion.

What kind of food did you serve at your reception? We are big foodies and knew from the beginning that one of the things we cared about the most was the food. We used Sun in My Belly, a local restaurant, as our caterer and they did an amazing job! Dinner began with a panzanella salad with heirloom tomatoes and cornbread croutons. Guests then chose between two entrees: miso glazed salmon with a blueberry compote, or juniper and fig roasted pork tenderloin. We also served two very Southern sides of collard greens and roasted cauliflower.
What were some of the highlights of the reception? I think one of the highlights for our guests was the late night Chick-fil-A that we brought in towards the end of the evening. It was the perfect treat after a night of dancing!

Our favorite detail was the cake table. We couldn’t decide on a favorite flavor at our tasting, so we decided to do three different cakes! The main cake was vanilla cream, but we also had a lemon buttercream cake and a rose cake with coconut buttercream frosting and a blueberry jam filling. The exteriors of the cake were pink ombre that matched perfectly with the décor, and our florist added greenery to all three. They were displayed on a big farm table and we absolutely loved the presentation.

Tell us about your grand exit. We had our last dance to “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles. It was the perfect end to our Southern affair! We then went straight to our exit, but had to get creative about how to do it because the Atlanta History Center is a historical site and was pretty strict about what they would allow. We ended up passing out a mixture of eco-friendly confetti and rose petals for guests to toss as we made our way to the car.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met while working at the Abercrombie & Fitch headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. We both worked in merchandising for sweaters and sat a table away from each other, but didn’t really get to know each other until after a year of working on the same team. At 3 A.M., following an evening at a favorite rooftop bar with mutual friends, we ended up going to Waffle House and chatting for hours about our families, childhoods, and our likes and dislikes. I knew that this was something special after that very first night.
Describe the proposal: From Raul: After three years of dating, we flew to New York from Atlanta to repeat our Belmont weekend date for the third time. We both love the city and our frequent trips there had become an integral component of our relationship, so there was no doubt that that’s where we would get engaged. We stayed at the beautiful Nomad Hotel and planned each day to incorporate all of our favorite things. Of course, there was the Belmont (where this time, we saw a Triple Crown win!), and meals at L’Artusi’s, Gramercy Park Tavern, and our favorite sandwiches from the Birdbath Café. Finally, on Sunday night, we headed to Cobble Hill for drinks and a walk through the park. On a romantic stroll to Lucali’s, we took a detour down a street we’d never walked before. On the front steps of a stranger’s beautiful brownstone at 204 Union Street in Brooklyn, we got engaged and celebrated down the block with our favorite meal.
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? The thing that set our wedding apart was definitely our venue. The Swan House was built in 1928 for the Inman family, and it’s one of Atlanta’s most recognizable landmarks. I still can’t believe that we were lucky enough to get married at such a stunning place.
What was Southern about your wedding? Many of our guests were visiting Atlanta (or at least, seeing the city through our eyes) for the first time, and we wanted to celebrate and share with our family and friends all of the wonderful times we’ve had here. Our wedding was a tribute to our life together in the South–a South free from caricature or pretense, a South that is hospitable, romantic, delicious, fun, and in full bloom. Beginning with our welcome boxes, which featured peaches, bottles of Coke, copies of Garden and Gun, and other Southern touches, and ending with the late night Chick-fil-A, our wedding was Southern through and through. Our focus was the food (because we love to eat!), and our Southern fare was a big hit on the wedding day. During cocktail hour, fried green tomatoes, mini corn muffins with Carolina pulled pork, and spicy pimento cheese were served. For our seated meal, we had green goddess salad and pork tenderloin with collard greens. From the massive Georgia pines surrounding the Swan House to our favorite country tunes, our wedding embodied the best of Atlanta and the South that we love.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Raul is starting business school at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, so we just moved to Evanston, Illinois. We’re so excited for this next chapter in our lives and are happy to be living right outside of Chicago.

Photographer: Anna Shackleford | Videographer: Iron Kite Films | Planner: Candice Lorraine of Chancey Charm Weddings | Ceremony Venue: The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center | Reception Venue: The Grand Overlook Ballroom at the Atlanta History Center | Florals: Mary McLeod of Amy Osaba Design | Caterer and Linens: Sun in My Belly | Wedding Cakes: Sugar & Slate | Bride’s Gown: Carol Hannah | Bridal Salon: The Sentimentalist | Bride’s Shoes: “Candance” by Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Jewelry: Jenny Packham | Bride’s Veil: Sky Mist Veil by BHLDN | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Cecilia” in Blush by Jenny Yoo | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Claudia Mejerle | Men’s Fashion: The Modern Gent | Paper Goods: Chelsea Petaja | Wooden Signage: Katie Davis Creative | Rentals: Crush Event Rentals and Goodwin Events | Favors: Pine + Pen Design

Anna Shackleford Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and Chancey Charm is a wonderful Southern Weddings sponsor!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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Though they may be romantics, Sarah and Wes knew that they wanted to have a simple celebration when it came to their wedding festivities. The couple opted for a morning ceremony in front of a beautiful, yet understated, wall of roses and vines, followed by a brunch at one of their favorite Memphis eateries, Acre Restaurant. With such a lovely venue, they didn’t need to add much more decor, but of course, the talented Haute Horticulture added just the right amount. She filled the tables with vintage milk glass, fresh flowers, and locally harvested peaches that flawlessly showcased Sarah and Wes’ sweet peach, blush, and light blue color palette!

Their simple and refreshing wedding was the perfect addition to our ninth issue! We’re thrilled their planner and photographer, Annabella Charles, shared it with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? I bought my dress at Low’s Bridal, and I think I tried on maybe seven dresses before I decided this was the one. My favorite parts were the lace and the train. I have wanted a dress with lace and a train since I was a teenager!

I chose my colors (peach, blush and light blue), and let the florist have fun from there. We didn’t want peachy pink flowers against peachy pink bridesmaid dresses, so we went outside the box and went with these pretty light blue flowers called nigella wrapped with a matching light blue ribbon.

Our wedding was on August 1 at 10:00 A.M. at Acre Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee. The wedding ceremony was held outside and the reception was inside the restaurant. It was absolutely stunningly beautiful. Acre is located in our favorite part of Memphis, where we spend a lot of time. We had a fairly small wedding, so the venue was perfect for us.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Wes: We got to choose our own music, so we walked back up aisle at the end to the theme song of our favorite TV show, The Office. Sarah: I loved that we got to choose our own music too. We also wrote our own vows, which was special.
Who participated in your ceremony? Family members, friends? If so, what did they do? Everyone in the bridal party was a family member. My sister was the maid of honor and my sister-in-law was the second bridesmaid. Wes’ father was his best man, and his brother and his sister’s boyfriend were groomsmen. Wes’ daughter was the flower girl.

What kind of food did you serve at your reception? We went with a brunch theme because of the early ceremony. We had bacon towers, doughnuts, chicken and waffles, and so much more. It was incredible.

What was the design inspiration for your reception? The great thing about the venue was that it is already designed so beautifully that very little was needed. Our amazing florist created this beautiful wall of roses and vines for the ceremony and reception, and the tables had vintage milk glass with flowers and locally harvested peaches in them. Since all of the fruit was handpicked locally and inexpensive, we were able to incorporate it everywhere in the décor. We tried to keep everything within the season to keep costs down.

Our cake was so beautifully crafted by Laura of The Flour Garden. To go along with our theme, the cake was put on a peach-harvesting basket from the orchard that the peaches were from. It was surrounded by beautiful fruit and flowers.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met in a local service program. We quickly became friends, and over time, our friendship grew, and eventually, we fell in love. We are both so grateful that we remained friends for a while before dating. This friendship is our foundation.
Describe the proposal: It was on Halloween, and neither of us likes Halloween, so now, the holiday has special meaning. He said that he needed to run an errand, and we drove to a local theater where we parked in this spot that is very special to us. It is a spot where we would go to sit and talk for hours–a spot where our relationship grew. It was just the two of us, and he asked me to marry him. It was the most romantic and intimate way he could’ve proposed to me.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Asking every couple we know in a long marriage what the “secret” is, and we went to marriage counseling for a little while before the wedding.
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? We both love anything romantic, but neither of us cares for anything over the top. We prefer things simple. We chose some colors we like, I chose some flowers I liked, and we let Annabella (our planner) take care of pretty much the rest of it.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Sarah: Seeing my husband-to-be standing and waiting for me at the end of the aisle. Wes: Taking my WIFE to a movie that night.
Did you try anything new or nontraditional? We decided not to do several of the traditional wedding festivities, like tossing the garter/bouquet, first dances, etc. Our focus during wedding planning was on what is most important to us: spending time with family and each other…and food!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are taking time to enjoy being married for a little while–continuing to date, going on some vacations, and just learning about each other and growing!

Photographer and Planner: Annabella Charles | Venue and Caterer: Acre Restaurant | Florals: Haute Horticulture | Wedding Cake: The Flour Garden | Bride’s Gown: Casablanca | Bridal Salon: Low’s Bridal | Bridesmaid Dresses: Francesca’s | Men’s Bow Ties: J. Crew | Paper Goods: Archer and Olive

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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