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Thursday, October 21, 2021

‘My two children are engaged but I dislike one fiancé. Do I have to pay for both weddings?’

Do you have a money dilemma? Each week the Moral Money column will try to solve one of our readers’ burning financial quandaries. Send your questions and comments to moralmoney@telegraph.co.uk

Next year my eldest daughter is marrying her long-term partner and I am over the moon. He is a lovely, caring guy with a good job. He’s sensible, they already have two children together and I’ve promised her that I will gift them £10,000 to help pay for their wedding. 

My other daughter, two years younger, has also decided she is getting married, though she has not yet decided on a date. I suspect that her older sister’s wedding plans have spurred her on.

She has been with her partner for around two years, and I’m afraid I don’t have much time for him. He floats from job to job, they always have money problems, and my suspicion is that she has had to bail him out financially on more than one occasion. He is a nice enough man, but I sometimes worry that he is freeloading off my daughter. They seem happy together, but I am constantly worried about her financial state. 

If they do get married, which I believe they will, would it be wrong for me not to contribute towards the wedding, as I plan to do for my eldest? I don’t think they would be as careful with the money, but more importantly, I don’t feel that he deserves it. He is from a fairly well-off family, so they may put some money in, but they have never seemed interested in helping out before. 

For the time being, I have asked my eldest not to tell my youngest how much I am giving her. Am I a bad parent?

HF, via email 

Even something as well meaning as a wedding gift can be a source of family drama, and it is sensible that you have kept the gift to your eldest quiet for the time being, given your concerns.

You are, of course, under no obligation to gift anything to anyone, though knowing this has not made you feel any less guilty about the situation. 

If you believe that your would-be son-in-law is “freeloading” off your daughter, it is probably a good idea to have a conversation with her where you can raise your misgivings.

Assuming this falls on deaf ears, and they do press ahead with their plans to get married, you say that your reservations about gifting the money are twofold – you do not think they would be as careful with the money as your eldest, and you do not feel he deserves it.

Tackling the first issue, if you do decide to gift the money, this could potentially be solved with a spending plan. You could ask your youngest to plan out how she would spend the cash, and you could release it in stages based on whether you approve of the roadmap.

This might seem patronising to your daughter, but remember this is a large sum of money and sometimes difficult conversations need to be had. You will do well to remind her of this fact, too. 

If you are going to take this route, you should ask her to be thorough in her plan, to plan exactly how the money will be spent and with which companies, and to get quotes beforehand for goods and services wherever possible. This is not something to feel guilty about, as you are still being a substantial help, even if your daughter and her partner have to jump through a few hoops to receive the money. 

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