One of the biggest concerns about a wedding (and in life) is finances. Your wedding budget strictly determines what you are able to afford and how your wedding will turn out.

The old school budgeting for a wedding was simple: the bride’s family took care of the bulk of the wedding, and the groom’s family took care of the extras like rehearsal dinner, flowers, etc. But as couples begin to modernize and social standards start to change, there is no hard and fast rule on who pays for what. In this troubling economy, you can’t plan on either set of parents to be able to afford putting on a wedding.

A rising trend these days is couples who take on the entire cost of the wedding. The average marriage age is rising, so young (or not-so young) couples are able to save up and afford more. But for young couples, this is not an option, especially since the average wedding in the United States costs around $30,000.

For those couples who are wanting to ask their parents for help, it can be a tricky concept. It can especially hard for those who have been financially independent for a while. And, in my opinion, asking people for money is one of the worst tasks in the world.

Before you go to mom and dad, have a discussion with your fiance on what you find appropriate for parents to pay for and what is fair to ask them for. It could make your in laws uncomfortable if you ask them to pay $5,000 for flowers when they are financially on the rocks. Getting an idea on your backgrounds can help the conversation from being even more awkward. Nailing down a wedding plan and budget beforehand is key. Knowing what you hope to spend will give your parents a fair idea of what you are asking, and helps keep your budget in line.

Creating your wedding budget (a whole other post) is a key focus before, during and after your wedding planning. You want to use your money wisely and to not take advantage of your parent’s kind generosity. By preparing and displaying a well-thought out budget, it will show your parents that you will handle their contribution well.

The next step is to ask for the contribution. Simply ask if they are willing to contribute. If a certain dollar amount is not appropriate, offer them a specific part of the wedding to “sponsor” like entertainment or the flowers.

Once you have received the OK, know that money generally comes with strings. Mom and dad might feel they have more control than you want. Be willing to make compromises if you really want their help.

One thing is for sure: the strength of your marriage is not determinate of your wedding budget. Just because someone has a $7 million wedding, does not mean that they will be married 8 months later (a’hem, Kim Kardashian). Don’t let finances take over the happiness of your marriage. It is your love that counts, right?

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