My wife wants to pay for her financially reckless sister’s wedding. She told me I was selfish when I refused


Dear Quentin,

My sister-in-law has never been good with money. She has a decent job, but for the 10 years I have been with my wife, she has always been broke. Anytime we see her, we cover her costs for things. We have even given her cash when she needed help with no expectation to be paid back. 

At Christmas, when we do a joint gift for my in-laws, my wife’s sister did not pay her part many times throughout the years. Now my sister-in-law is getting married and my wife is the maid of honor. Last weekend, they checked out the reception hall — and according to them, it just is not nice enough for a day my sister-in-law will always remember. 

‘My wife has decided to reach out to other siblings to start collecting donations so we can give her the wedding she deserves.’

My wife has decided to reach out to other siblings to start collecting donations so we can give her the wedding she deserves. She has already decided how much we will contribute. Also, due to my wife being the maid of honor and helping plan the event, she has been buying decorations, saying the sister-in-law will “pay us back.”

I told my wife I don’t think we should be paying anything for the wedding, and that I am against it. She said we have the means to make it special for her, and got mad at me and said I was selfish. My wife and I didn’t even have a “real” wedding and now I am contributing to her sisters. We are not rich, but live within our means.

What do I do to make my wife understand her sister’s poor life choices aren’t our problem? Or am I just selfish? 

Fed Up Brother-in-Law

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Dear Fed Up,

You have sat by silently and watched your sister-in-law coast along while other people pick up the tab. It has grated on your nerves for years. Now you have decided to put your foot down, pull up the drawbridge, and say enough is enough. 

I’m sorry you and your wife did not have the lavish wedding you would have liked, but you can afford to help her sister achieve that goal. I don’t believe now is the time to teach this sister-in-law a lesson about financial planning and entitlement. 

Many people have trouble paying for weddings, and they don’t make the smartest decisions to start their new life. In this recent survey, 30% put at least some of their costs on credit cards, while only 60% say they paid for the wedding themselves.

On the big day, smile like it was the wedding you never had.

If your wife’s family has agreed to contribute to the wedding, contribute what everyone else has decided to give. As maid of honor, your wife wants to pay for the decorations. That’s a small price to pay, given the pleasure it will give your wife.

Make it clear that once the wedding is done and dusted, your sister-in-law and her husband will need to stand on their own two feet — that you can’t continue to bail her out, because that would facilitate her behavior, rather than forcing her to grow up.

On the big day, smile like it was the wedding you never had. Dance with your wife like it’s the first day of your life together. Enjoy the food and music, and tell your wife what a kind, generous person she is and how lucky you are to have married her.

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