Claire and Tim captured by You Can’t Be Serious Photography

I am delighted today to introduce a woman who has become a dear friend- Carolyn Gerin is the creator and co-author of the three book Antibride series for Chronicle books, she coordinates the Antibride blog (for which she asked me to write as Aussie Bride) and is also the Senior Editor on one of the best destination wedding magazines- Destination I Do (on stands March 15th). She’s just returned from a swanky press trip to Western Australia where she fell in love with the country and the Australian people.

Carolyn is one of the most down to earth and grounded people I’ve met- but she also has a wicked sense of humor and a generous spirit. So when I asked Carolyn to write today’s guest post, I knew she’d come up with something fantastic!

When Ms. Polka Dot asked me to write a blog post about finance and weddings, I was at the ready, armed and dangerous, with more information on the subject than most sane women would readily admit. But suffice it to say, we will call this post the “M” word, because I believe it’s easier to broach the subject of the Kama Sutra as acceptable family dinner conversation than it is talk about money. Especially when it comes to weddings.

Tough Love: Note To Self

Money is indeed the root of all evil – if you let it envelope you in an opium cloud of a fantasy life that you currently do not live. Shows like Platinum Weddings – should be treated as an inspiration tool, not gospel – use it like a wedding magazine to pick and choose ideas to inform your own event based on your budget. If you aren’t Ivanka Trump, you must belly up to your bank statement and take a little dose of tough love, as you may not be able to afford everything you see and dream about.  Dreams have a price tag.

The Anti-Bride series came from this thought process: it’s about celebrating your lifestyle (and who you are as a bride and a couple), and honoring that in rituals, celebrations, food, apparel and décor and not getting trampled by the Wedding Industrial Complex (or be made to feel that you somehow don’t rate on the bridal Richter scale because you’re not rocking a Vera Wang). There is no one on this earth like you and your sweetie. You have your own love story, clock speed, style and quirk. You’ve got taste, you’ve got game, and most likely been throwing fabulous soirees since you were old enough to hold a martini glass. The particular brand called YOU doesn’t necessarily need to be outsourced to someone who knows better. That said, you know what you can afford. The art of living well needs to extend into a fiscally fabulous, anxiety-free newlywed bubble of wellbeing after the big day. Surrounded by the best people in your life, the person you love, the food you crave, the music you like to dance to, is the key. So it doesn’t matter if your wedding is in a VFW hall or the Taj Mahal, it will be the best day of your life….

Asking For It

Some lucky brides have proud parents who have saved up for her big day since birth (my family saved up for college tuition). The new rules of the road dictate that in this economy, it’s a shared load, where the bride’s family, the groom’s family and the couple chip in, many times, in equal measure. The genius part about a three-way financial team is that the couple has more say as they are “equity holders” and “investors” and the event parameters will then be dictated by the budget (just like at work!). If Daddy Donald is funding Ivanka’s throw down at the golf club, there’s probably a few more strings attached.

At the get-go, discuss specifically how much the bride and grooms parents want to chip in, and any specific requests they would like to throw into the ring for consideration (a Huppah, a special ritual, a certain scripture reading, a favorite recipe, a cocktail from the old country). Discuss the feasibility of making this a reality. Get the checks at the beginning of the process in whatever denomination is decided. Then the mind games, the passive aggressive stuff and the back and forth will evaporate (at least until the flower arrangements and dress decision comes up).

Uptown Girl:

What if you and your and your intended’s families come from very different financial backgrounds, and you’re worried about the contribution disparity?

The financial arrangements should depend on the couple’s finances and the families’ abilities (and willingness) to cover expenses. One foolproof strategy to prevent money discomfort is to plan a wedding you can afford yourself. Any money from family can be considered pennies from heaven. Also, do not ever disclose the disparity in contributions. To anyone. If the bride’s family covers 80% and the groom’s family covers 20% it’s nobody’s business but your own. The idea is to join families, and celebrate this new and wonderful union, not create class warfare. If the groom’s family experiences a pervasive feeling of dread at the thought of attending Thanksgiving (because they sense they’ve been tagged as the poor relations), that is downright bad Karma.

How to Ask for Money instead of Gifts

You can’t. But here’s how to get it anyway: we know you’d rather have a stack of $100 checks or gift certificates than a crystal dinner bell or 10 toaster ovens. The key is discretion. To indirectly get the word out—rely on your Mom or mention something on your wedsite. Since online registries are de rigueur, list the stores you want to work with and inform them beforehand that you are interested in gift certificates only, in any denomination. It used to be gauche to list your registry on your wedsite, but people are too time crunched to beat around the bush or call your Mom, (if they’ve even got her number), and then try and divine what you want. So just list where you are registered on your wedsite, and save everyone the time and energy.

One bride’s mother when contacted about the couples gift registry by guests, told them if they wanted to do something easy, contribute to the couple’s “down payment fund” for their house and gave them the contact information. This can easily be set up on Pay Pal. I’ve heard of couples who are renovating setting up registries at Home Depot. We boiled it down further: Hop scotching on our 3-city wedding cocktail party tour: San Francisco-DC-Paris, we simply couldn’t transport gifts. But we could certainly transport checks and gift certificates (Williams Sonoma, Borders, Macy’s, and Home Depot). My mother was the point person who communicated the “they can’t transport gifts” dispatch, which translated into “Oh well, I guess we’ll write a check.” People always take the path of least resistance: writing a check is about 15 minutes faster than buying a gift certificate. We also registered for furniture at our favorite Mid Century Modern emporium. Also, consider registering for stuff you’ll use that are non wedding related: Like at your local surf shop (wetsuits, surfboards, hoodies, booties), mountain bikes or snowboard gear. If the sporting life is a part of your married life, you should think about what’s more important, a new longboard or a set of dishes…Hmmmmmmmm…..