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Wedding season survival

Without draining your savings

Created date

May 24th, 2011

If you have a grandchild (or several of them) getting married this year, wedding season could be a pricy proposition. The good news is that you don t need to drain your retirement savings to make meaningful contributions to your grandchildren s big days.

You already own the best wedding presents

First of all, don t assume that you need to help pay for the wedding. Colorado wedding consultant Charlene Hein says that most wedding bills these days are split three ways among the bride and groom and each set of parents. Hein says the most meaningful gifts grandparents can give are those with some family history. Consider giving your grandkids your china or your dining room set, especially if you re downsizing soon. If you have something you can pass on to the next generation, those gifts are more special and less expensive, Hein says. Vintage dresses are one of the most popular fashion trends at the moment. So, ladies, if you ve preserved your wedding gown, pull it out of storage. Your granddaughter may be thrilled to wear it on her own special day, and it will mean much more to her than a replica she d buy at a bridal shop.

Give more with less

Don t overlook some really nice gifts you may be able to give without putting out a lot of cash. If you have a timeshare or airline miles, for example, Indiana event concierge Heather Lapham Kuhn suggests giving them to a grandchild to use for his or her honeymoon. Or give a gift that will help the newlyweds build their own nest egg. Something like a savings bond can be purchased inexpensively, but it will mature to more money, Lapham Kuhn says. You might buy a savings bond that will mature on the couple s fifth anniversary, which might come at a time when they need money.

No favorites, no strings

If you are financially able and want to help pay for your grandchildren s weddings, your contribution will surely be appreciated as long as you follow a few simple guidelines. Jeff Kear, owner of My Wedding Workbook Pro (, a software program for wedding planners, advises grandparents to let the family know they intend to make a financial contribution as early as possible, so they can plan accordingly. Kear says grandparents should keep in mind that the cost of everything from cakes to catering has gone up since their own weddings, and even since the weddings of their children. That means if you were hoping to pay for the flowers, for instance, the amount your grandchild wants to spend and the sum you are prepared to contribute could be very different. Another common pitfall to watch out for is attaching strings to your financial gift. It s easy for everyone to become emotional when planning a wedding, so Kear advises grandparents to think about how they want their money to be spent before the time to spend it arrives. The more strings you attach to the money, the more drama will occur, Kear says.