My parents offered to pay for most of our wedding next summer, which seemed great at first. But within four days of being engaged, my mom had already used the phrase “If I'm paying for it I will have X” and is being very very pushy about choosing a venue.
I've decided that letting my folks foot the bill would mean that we are going to have to have my mom's wedding and not our wedding. My fiance and I talked about it and decided that we can afford to save up and throw the wedding we want with out my parents financial help. How can I tell my mom Thanks but no thanks on the offer to pay without completely alienating her? -Lisa
I think the best way to frame the discussion is to make this clear that you're doing this out of respect for your relationship with her and because you respect her too much to cause friction with wedding planning. Emphasize that you're doing this to reduce her anxiety — perhaps if you can point to a few examples of times when you've had disagreements over wedding planning, and let her know that you love her too much to cause her that kind of frustration. Accept full responsibilities for any and all disagreements. Apologize.
And then … … once you've made it clear that your motivations are driven in part by concern for her, let her know that you've decided you want to pay for the wedding yourself. Don't make it about refusing her money! That's reactive (i.e. “you forced me to do this!”) and a set-up for a fight. You've gotta be proactive on this one, phrasing it so that you're not rejecting her money, but rather that it's a way of taking responsibility for your own opinions.
Let her know that you've come to see that paying for the wedding yourself is an important part of establishing the marriage and relationship with your new husband. Since you're facing a lifetime of financial responsibility together, let her know that you want to start it off now.
What ever you do, don't make this about who's in control of the wedding, how she's been pushy, or how you're making this decision in response to her behavior. You don't want to come off as bratty (I DON'T WANT YOUR STUPID MONEY, MOM! *hurrumph*) but rather that you've made a decision to be fiscally responsible and respectful of your differing opinions.
Make it clear that this isn't up for debate; the decision has been made. Let her know how much you appreciate her generosity and don't get triggered if she gets sad or pouty! Don't argue. Don't get defensive. If she tries to engage you in a debate, just be firm and clear that you love her and appreciate her so much, but that you're paying for the wedding yourself.
Be gracious and grateful and firm. And say “I love you” a lot.