Father's Day shone forth a clean light on my son's immediate future plans. While we knew he was serious about this sweet woman he was dating, as parents we carefully kept the conversations to the general and casual. He now admits that he is saving for a ring and will probably propose sometime this fall and wedding plans are most likely to occur around the 4th of July in the year ahead. While it is a relief that he now discusses these important events so openly with us, I am now realizing I have to plan a budget as I was going to replace my car this winter.
For my daughter's wedding (which was a somewhat elaborate affair) we contributed 1/3, the in-laws 1/3 and the married couple themselves 1/3 of the cost. My daughter's in-laws are New Jersey people and while reality television tends to overdo the colorful culture there, big weddings are a necessity it appears. Some seemed to feel that the wedding won't hold unless there is a large crowd in a fancy hotel dancing the night away. Therefore, her wedding was held in a fancy catholic church in Washington, DC (neither hubby nor I are Catholic) and the evening reception was held in a ballroom of one of the largest hotels in Washington, DC. Hubby and I held the line to the lower end of the 5-figure amount which we donated, as we are much more practical and just couldn't give more without acid indigestion for a one-day ceremony. My daughter attended another wedding that summer in New York City where the budget for the flowers alone was $50,000! I guess it is all a matter of perspective and values and disposable income. At that wedding, with flowers everywhere, I understand both sets of parents of the bride and groom were barely speaking to each other and the priest almost had to perform some kind of intervention. He actually lectured both parents (in a polite way) at part of the ceremony! Yeah, there is some satisfaction in the rich being so dysfunctional.
Maybe we were just out of touch and each generation is less conservative than the prior. Lord knows my wedding cost less than $1,000...food, flowers, dress and all. But I was a poor graduate student and my parents did not offer to help when I told them I was engaged. Perhaps because I didn't want to spend what little money I had on flying home from Hawaii for a home wedding since most of my (our) friends were there at school and our first jobs were taking us even further out into the South Pacific. Although I must admit that both of us were surprised when neither of our parents felt they could spend the time or money to attend! Yeah this IS a tragic story of the strange ways depression era old folks lose sight of what is important, but we survived and still talked to them after we got hitched and our marriage survived without a ballroom and is now 42 years old. Years ago my sister and her husband eloped to Vegas...so much for ceremony there. Yes, they are still married and could actually have afforded a huge wedding as they are both attorneys.
Anyway, I told my son we would give him the same amount of money that we gave my daughter and he could use it any way that he wished toward the wedding, honeymoon, or savings for a larger house someday. Perhaps we should add an inflation adjustment to that? I try to be fair, but in all honesty my daughter and her husband make lots of money while my son and his future wife do not and I tend to be more sympathetic to that.
Hubby and I are comfortable in our retirement and we can be reasonably generous, so with great thankfulness we appreciate our situation. But I also know that money can be a poisonous thing whether you have it or not.