As ever, one of the main causes of stress when it comes to weddings is the question of money – for the ceremony, for the honeymoon, for the ring, for the hen party, for the gifts – the list is endless.

There are five categories of Letters to Wo. They are 'doubts and worries', 'family and friends', 'money', 'secrets' and 'sex'. To see letters in the other categories please select Letters to Wo on the top menu.

Do we really have to pay for meals for the wedding photographer and the florist?

The cost of our wedding has sky-rocketed over the past few months. My parents are mostly paying and they are really struggling with the bills because the guest list kept expanding as we realised various friends and relatives would be upset if we didn’t invite them. Now the final straw is that the event planner at the venue has pointed out that suppliers who we have hired and who will be there on the day usually also expect a meal. For example, we are already paying the photographer a small fortune so shouldn’t they feed themselves?


Wo says: We did hear of a photographer recently who took such offence at not being given a meal that they deleted all of the pictures that they had taken so far and then stormed off. Clearly such scenes are to be avoided, so you need to be clear in your communications beforehand. Some photographers and other suppliers are very relaxed and will say that they always bring their own refreshments and are always too busy to eat a full meal. Others will say that they are usually provided with the same refreshments as any other guest – it may even be in the small print of the contract if you have one. Sorry to hear about your soaring costs though. Weddings really can be very stressful.

My husband to be made me promise we wouldn’t spend more than £2,000 on the wedding and it is doing my head in!

I understand that we are not rich but we are both in steady jobs and we have credit cards with headroom. Surely we should be maxing everything out to have the best possible wedding. We will have to be careful with money for years ahead whatever we spend now so wouldn’t it be best to have good memories to sustain us. The trouble is £2,000 hardly touches the sides of the costs. I like a wedding dress that is £900, and then there are bridesmaid’s outfits and the venue hire of the place I want is not cheap. If you work out feeding sixty or so people and paying a band for entertainment and so on it comes out as way more. What can I do?


Wo says: Budget problems are everywhere in planning a wedding, unless you happen to be born into real wealth. Even at the top end of the market there are brides complaining because they can’t afford a dress by the top designer, and that the country house they really want for their wedding is unaffordable. You do need to involve your partner in this though, as the consequences of spending more than the original budget will be suffered by the two of you together. Also bear in mind that most of the wedding industry is geared up to making you envy others and so want to spend more with them. Why not try to beat them? There are many budget locations and venues who are happy doing a hog roast (for example) rather than anything more formal and expensive. You can also find some beautiful wedding dresses in the ‘pre-loved’ category for a fraction of the price of new, and bridesmaids do not need to be in perfectly matched new outfits. Remember, the sooner you are able to be credit card debt-free, the sooner your marriage will flourish.

My fiancé has suggested a prenup and I worry that it means he is already contemplating divorce!

I live in England and my fiancé has said that we should draw up a prenup. I think his parents must have put the idea into his head because he only mentioned it for the first time after our engagement party, which was the first time I had spoken to them at length. They are a lot richer than my parents and I gather that they have already settled some money on him in some kind of trust fund. I can see that they might be worried that I am a gold-digger but I don’t see how my boyfriend can even entertain that idea. We were together for a long time before I knew anything about his family and he has never seemed to have much cash to splash. To be honest, I didn’t even know that you could do prenups in England anyway. Should I be worried?


Wo says: If you do a web search for ‘prenups england’ you will find a lot of relevant information. In short, they do happen in the UK and can be enforced providing they are correctly drawn up. The key requirement is that you get good legal advice, independent of your husband to be. If you decide to accept getting a prenup then you should find a good solicitor and find out how much their advice would cost, then get your husband to accept that he is paying that bill as well as his own. The bigger question is whether this is an advance sign of a problem in your relationship. Only you can tell that, and a good early test is to see what he says will happen if you refuse to sign one. That will tell you how much this is his idea and how much this is coming from his parents.

My man’s family are rich and want a huge wedding but my dad’s pride is being hurt!

My future husband and I come from different parts of the country and so our two families hardly know each other. I am not from a poor background but we have never had money to splash around. By contrast, my boyfriend’s family have loads of spare cash. They didn’t spoil him so I didn’t realise it myself when we were at college. When I started to visit his folks though it became very obvious, which I find a little uncomfortable though I guess I will get used to having money. The trouble is, with the wedding approaching my parents are being confronted with the fact that they can’t afford to pay for the wedding that my future parents-in-law are hoping for. I might persuade them to accept a 50% contribution but even then it would break them. I hate to see my dad look ashamed yet I am not sure how to manage this, so all advice welcome.


Wo says: I think you need to step back and let your parents negotiate this. They may find it easier to talk about once they get to know each other better. You should arrange one or more get togethers where they have an opportunity to relax in each other’s company. It could be that your problem goes away when it becomes a discussion between friends rather than between two sets of proud strangers.

I invited the wrong friend to the wedding reception and now I don’t know how to get out of the situation!

I am normally quite an organised person but getting ready for the wedding has made me get flustered and make mistakes. We booked a room at the local hotel that takes 60 people, which is really as many people as we can afford to have there. I have two friends with the same first name, Beth. One is quite a close friend and the other is more of a work colleague. When I sent out the invitations I meant to just invite the close one, but I messed up and my mum did the addressing from my address book so I didn’t pick up the mistake then either. My close friend asked where her invite was, and that was when I spotted the mistake. Now the other one has sent back an acceptance and it included her significant other. If the room had more space I’d simply pay the extra for two people and put it down as just one of those things. Unfortunately the hotel says they can’t fit two more people in unless I am prepared to move everything to another room that is hundreds of pounds more. I feel trapped, so what should I do?


Wo says: I think you probably need to say to go and see Beth from work and say that you have had a bit of a mess up with the numbers for your wedding and you can’t have as many at the reception as you had hoped. I don’t think you need share with her that her invite was a mistake. As you aren’t close friends she was probably surprised to be invited in the first place so she probably won’t mind as long as you tell her sooner than later and she doesn’t spend money on presents or an outfit. Truth to tell, we all get invites to weddings where we really don’t want to go along all that much but feel that we should once we are invited. She may secretly be relieved.

I loved my engagement ring until I saw my friend’s and now I want to upgrade it but my boyfriend is upset!

So my boyfriend and I spent ages shopping for my engagement ring and we even went to Amsterdam to get a good one though that didn’t work out. Anyway, we eventually decided on the one that I would have and when we bought it I was very excited and showed everybody. Now it is a few weeks later and one of my girlfriends is showing off her ring and it is so much better than mine. She knows it too and she is enjoying how I go silent whenever she flashes it and gives our other friends a knowing look. She has always been a bit mean to me but it does get to me, however hard I try to ignore her. Now I’d like to go out and spend money I can’t afford to be able to beat her. My boyfriend has found out how I feel and now he is mad at me. I feel totally trapped!


Wo says: I am with your boyfriend on this. Your engagement ring signals your love for each other and the moment that you decided that you are definitely getting married. Your bitchy friend will probably be pulling this stunt on you for the rest of your life, or as long as you let her stay your friend. She may have a better car, a taller boyfriend, a better paid job, a bigger house, more academic children. Either you work out how to deal with her or your suffering has no end.

My uncle gave my brother money as a wedding present but I am just getting a set of fish knives!

When my only brother got married a few years ago he and his wife to be were saving for a house and so my rich uncle gave them a cheque that I know was for several thousand pounds. He has always been nice to my sisters and me and so I was amazed when I found out that he only plans to buy my partner and me a set of fish knives for my wedding present. I am sure that they will be top quality but it will be only a few hundred pounds worth. I feel short-changed. Don’t I deserve the same treatment as my brother?


Wo says: Of course you do, and if he hasn’t suddenly lost his money then it would be great if you could do something about this. After all, you are fighting for your other sisters as well so that they don’t get treated equally badly when they come to get married. Of course, there are no rules to say that he has to give you the same amounts, and in his mind he may have an old-fashioned view about the importance of boys and girls in the family when it comes to getting married. This needs you to be polite and to win him over to your way of thinking. I’d advise that you visit him with your sisters and a gift or nice meal or whatever and then broach the subject of equal treatment. It might go wrong but with all of you there together smiling at him he will probably give in. At worst all you have to lose is a set of fish knives.

Should I let my boyfriend spend more on his car than on my engagement ring?

When we went looking for a ring, I really didn’t have much of an idea of prices. They all seemed expensive and my boyfriend suggested that I buy one that really didn’t cost much at all. I decided we should keep looking but in the interim my boyfriend has been talking about getting some new wheels for his car. When I looked at the adverts he was getting excited about, they showed he was about to spend twice as much on them as he wanted to spend on the ring. I had thought he was broke but he obviously has lots of money to spend if it is on something he wants. Should I tell him that I am unhappy or is it a silly thing to have a row over?


Wo says: There is definitely no need to have a row, but bargaining is an integral part of a happy married life. It is quite understandable that he doesn’t attach as much value to the look and value of a wedding ring as you do. After all, you don’t attach as much value to his new car accessories as he does. In short, express delight that he has so much disposable cash and then show him a picture of the more expensive ring you’d like to have. Better still, show him one that is even more expensive and then let him bargain you down.

Friend has decided that she is getting married in California but it is all too expensive!

When I got married two years ago, we had the wedding locally and the reception was also close by. We had a fantastic hen party weekend in Cornwall, but I provided the accommodation and so no-one was too much out of pocket. In other words, I was very aware of the fact that some of my friends just about get by on their wages and can’t afford to splash out too much cash. Now one of the same group has announced that when she is getting married (in about 8 months time) she is having a beach event in California. She has found a flights and hotel package that she wants us all to buy, but it still costs four figures. I can’t afford it without borrowing but I know she will be really nasty if I say I am not going. It is really annoying and I don’t know what to do. My husband says that I should ask the others in our group of friends what they think, but I know if I do it will get straight back to her. Am I going to have to just get into more debt?


Wo says: Obviously if all girlfriends were really good friends then you could talk to them openly and honestly about any problem and there would be nothing further to worry about. What you are highlighting is that sometimes others expect that friendship means giving up some independence and doing exactly whatever they want. Humour can be a good way of getting your point across. Go shopping with her and pointedly say that you can’t afford something now that you have to save for the USA. Order the cheapest thing on the cafe menu and say that you are saving money in order to go to her wedding. Say you can’t join the group on a night out for the same reason. Keep it lighthearted though, just tease her about it. Some of your other friends may join in if they are feeling the same way. She will soon get the message. If not, you really are going to have to scrimp and save.

Should we spend our money on the wedding or on saving for a house?

Several of my close friends have had really big weddings where everybody got invited and the catering was really expensive. They want me to do something similar but my family hasn’t got that sort of money. The only way we can afford to do it is if we use lots of our savings to add to the money our parents can contribute. If we do that, though, it could add years onto the time when we have enough money to put down a deposit on a house. Does that matter though? Isn’t it better to have the memories of a really lovely wedding?


Wo says: What does your husband-to-be think? His opinion is more important than that of your friends in this. If he doesn’t want to spend the money and then you find yourself living in a tiny rented flat for years on end, it will be him you will be having arguments with about what a poor decision it was. On the other hand, if he likes the idea of a big wedding and accepts the consequences you are on safer ground. Personally I would try and be economical. Money is easy to spend and hard to earn.

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