The Puny Pundit

Musings of a big guy with small thoughts.

Mo Money

As a pastor of a young church I have the privilege of officiating weddings throughout the year.  This past weekend I officiated two and got me thinking (as all weddings do) about my four daughters getting married.  Now before you get all mushy and gushy thinking this is gonna be a sweet blog, I want to disappoint you from the outset.  What was going through my mind was, “Who pays for the wedding?”

I know in American culture the father of the bride pays.  The problem I have with that is twofold…first, I will be a father of four brides.  Second, I am Korean American.  So can I default on my Korean-ness if it benefits me?  I asked an American couple at our church who is getting ready to marry off their daughter about all this.  They told me it is still true in American culture that the father pays unless the future in-laws step in and say, “Let’s go dutch.”

I talked with my Korean friends asking what the culture of the motherland holds.  I got mixed reviews.  Some say the father of the bride pays.  Some say it is 50-50.  I am very confused.  Seriously?  I gotta pay for four weddings?  I am not sure how this will be possible.  What is worse…what if the girl my son marries comes from a family that believes in 50-50.  That means I have to pay for 5 weddings.

I know that I am sounding so cheap but I really think about this stuff.  I gotta pay for college.  Once #3 goes to college we will have 3 kids in college at the same time for three straight years.  We will be paying for college for a total of 16 years.

I have come to realize I have a few options…

Option 1: Make them pay for everything (college and wedding).  I like this option however there is something that makes this very difficult.  My parents paid for my undergrad and grad school education.  My in-laws paid for my wife.  They both paid for our wedding.  Just on principle I feel it is wrong to benefit from generous parents and then leave our kids out to dry.

Option 2: We pay for both (college and wedding).  This is not an option.  Not trying to be cheap.  It would be impossible unless our financial situation drastically changed, like we won the lottery.

Option 3: We agree to pay for one or the other.  Make the kids choose.  The only problem is that if they are smart they will all take college instead of the wedding since it costs more.  I guess the incentive would be to get a scholarship for college and get me to pay for the wedding.  Another hole in this option is…what about my son.  If he gets married to a girl whose parents will pay for the wedding and he gets a scholarship for college am I still under obligation?

Any thoughts?  What’s a parent supposed to do?


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13 Responses

  1. Patrick says:

    I didn’t realize this at the time, but I grew up relatively poor. My parents “strongly encouraged” me throughout childhood to study hard so I could get a scholarship to go to college. They never came right out and told me that if I didn’t get one I’d be SOL, but I knew what was up. Later on I asked my mom what she would have done if I hadn’t been able to afford school on my own- she said they might have sold the house. You have an advantage being a CA resident because there are such great schools in the UC system. I know you can’t stomach UCLA but what about Cal? I know in-state tuition/fees have been jumping up recently but these should still be comparatively better deals than private or out-of-state schools.

    I have no idea what to do about the wedding issue, other than wish you good luck.

  2. iris says:

    hmm, couple thoughts: 1) corporate-sponsored weddings. “this marriage made possible by bank of america.” 2) don’t korean weddings almost pay for themselves anyway because all the korean guests give cash money gifts? 3) make ’em elope.

    • thepunypundit says:

      1) I love the corporate sponsored one. I’ll start networking but that’ll probably only work if my kids have a wedding as big as ours.
      2) True about the Koreans…however, it’s more likely they’ll gave more Ko Am than 1st Gen Kos.
      3) Hmmmm….we are in vegas now do I’ll look into it.

  3. Laura says:

    hey alex,

    a lot of schools have recently been implementing significant tuition reductions for families making a certain income (not sure if this would apply to you, but it might). it’s not just regular financial aid – like the tuition cost is just less and they don’t have to pay it back in loans or grants. most of these schools are private too, including harvard (and most of the ivys), wellesley, etc…you should check out for the schools you want your kids to go to : )

    there are also tons of ways to save money on a wedding…but meanwhile i would pray for your daughters and son to marry rich. jk (kind of) hahaha.

    • thepunypundit says:

      I know its so shallow…but yes I hope they marry rich. After all is said and done, our kids are gonna owe us a lot.

  4. farahcho says:

    hope they’re like me and want a small wedding of 50 MAX!!
    impossible for a korean wedding considering you have to basically invite EVERYONE but meh. lol

  5. jason says:

    for many of the ivies, if you make less than $60k (that number may be slightly higher with 5 kids) then your kids actually get to go to college for free. it’s counter-intuitive, but generally speaking, spending money can possibly end up getting you a cheaper price for your kids’ college because you have less assets for the college to take. also – saving money in your own name vs. your kid’s name is generally better if you’re looking for financial aid. they take a smaller percentage of your savings relative to the money you save in an account under your kids’ name (since that money is already earmarked for college). given your situation, if your kids can all make it into ivy league schools (and other colleges with similar financial arrangements), and you can keep your liquid assets minimal – they’ll all get a free ride for college!

  6. Christine says:

    When Ming and I got married we paid for the whole wedding ourselves. It was our first major project together. We didn’t have much in terms of finances so we had a Friday wedding, lunch. The people who cared about us the most came out and it was simple but beautiful. I budgeted, hired a fashion design student and had her alter a bridesmaid dress and it became a wedding dress, and one of my bridesmaids did the flowers. We spent the most on the photographer. What my parents and in laws did was they honored our wish to pay for the wedding ourselves but afterwards, they both gave really generous monetary gifts (enough to cover the wedding threefold).

    I thought it was perfect because they allowed us to have full control of our wedding plans (sometimes it gets sticky when more than one entity is paying for a wedding) but they also provided generously for us with the wedding gift.

    • thepunypundit says:

      As more and more couples pay and plan for their own wedding I am noticing less stress and more personalized touches. Thanks for the response.

  7. liana says:

    the nice thing about chinese culture is that the groom’s side has to pay for the wedding 🙂 as you know, jason is one of five boys. to be fair, his parents saved the same amount for each of them to spend on their wedding and it’s up to the boys how they want to budget. if they want to spend more, they would have to pay for it themselves.

  8. Jae says:

    Hey Alex, greetings from Korea! I think you should just start training your daughters that a simple wedding in a church with the reception in the church hall is the way to go. After being in Korea and going to the Korean “everything is over in an hour and a half” style ceremonies, that type of wedding is not only cost efficient, but apparently most weddings turn a profit for the couple!

    As for school… teach them to play random scholarship sports? Golf and tennis are probably too popular, but there always sports where the schools give out at least partial scholarships. Also, the comment about financial aid increasing when you have more kids in school are definitely true; my brother wound up getting more fin aid money when I started law school. Finally, there are a lot of “random” schools out there that are always looking for more minorities… if you can convince your kids that spending 4 years in some podunk town instead of UCLA or Cal, they might be able to reap those benefits.

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