Why some are against fungible funds

Response to http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2010/02/im-expanding-peoples-vocabulary.html
Note that while this person throws out the figure of $10,000, I actually wrote $30,000 in my original post. I wasn't suggesting the parents give the child too little to make a fine wedding and even possibly have some left over. Unfortunately, today $10,000 does not cover even 50% of most weddings. I also clarified within a post that the proposal does not mean the kallah has to go it alone in planning the wedding. Certainly, parents can help and accompany every step of the way. Only they would leave the choices to the one getting married with an understanding that there is only so much to spend altogether. While it is possible to go for the more expensive choices in some things (given my hypothetical number and situation) it is not possible to do so for all, and the budget may have to balanced by going for the cheaper option elsewhere.

Comment from Imamother:
I'ts not easy to plan a wedding so fast. The hall you want might not be available, the caterer you want, the band, etc. Sometimes it takes more than a week. Usually it takes more, from my experience in marrying off children.

As for giving them a sum of money, in theory that's great. In practice it doesn't always work out. For years I talked that way, said that each kid would get X and they could do what they want with it.

But then come the in laws. A wedding is not a bris, a bar or bas mitzva, or a sweet sixteen party. It's not a high school graduation party or a college graduation party.

guess what - there is another side involved.
And you want sholom bayis. At least at the beginning.
So if you are doing split down the middle like at most weddings in EY, you have to be able to match the other side. If your child decides that they want less (more is usually not the problem) then they can fight it out with their mechutanim, but the operative word is "decides". Not that your child can't provide his or her half financially, because that's already the start of trouble, even before the wedding.

Why have strife? Sure, if the other side suddenly wants a chasuneh in the Hilton with 1000 guests...then you can have strife if you can't afford it. But here it is customary that each side pays for their own guests, and the kids guests get split by both, and the "general things" (flowers, mesader kedushin, band, photographer etc.) are also split, and at the shabbat chatan (or sheva brochos shabbes depending on how you do it) each side pays for their own.

So...you have better had money saved up. What we did was put away money for each kid from birth. And that was supposed to cover wedding expenses. Only it didn't. We twice already have given that money to the kids as a present and covered all our wedding and shabbat chatan expenses totally out of pocket. But only because we could afford to. Had this been 20 years ago, the stage that many of you are at, of course we couldn't dream of it. We were also lucky (I guesS?) that there was so far two years between the first two weddings of kids and no others in sight, although they can surprise us...so we could recoup.

And yes, we didn't pay for any vacations or going away, nor do we go out, nor do we go to the movies, theatre or buy take away or anything expensive. We save for our kids. Full time. And whenever we have money it goes to the kids. This married one needs tuition, this married one needs something else, not to even mention the single kids.

But as for "fungible funds"? Let's say you tell your kids that you are giving them $10,000 for a wedding. Lovely. Nice sum. Only today? In your average middle class Israeli wedding that won't cover half a wedding. If you are lucky it will cover a third. Not to speak of not covering the shabbat chatan whatsoever (going away to a cheap place like a kibbutz guest house or something like that as there is no place where we could host 15 couples in our neighborhood and put them up).

And that leaves the kids nothing to start out with.
Sure, I could just see my daughter telling her machatenister that she was only going to have 50 people from her side while my machatenister had 350, because she can't afford it. You can be sure it would have given a bad taste to everything.

One wedding in a lifetime, hopefully, a very very special day. Something to look forward to and to dream about and remember. And there is payback. Lots of guests, lots of checks for the couple to start out with (hopefully).

But among secular I know that in a lot of cases those checks go and pay for the wedding itself. Not by us though...(or at least our family).

Visit my site www.kallahmagazine.com -- not just for kallahs. You can also see posts at http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner


Orthonomics said…
I'm afriad this poster lives in a different reality than we do. 1. I am not of the philosphy that we need to protect marrying children from reasonable amounts of strife, i.e. reality. 2. The reality is that most simply won't have mounds of cash going into a wedding to not only pay for the wedding, but set the kids up, which is why many parents do offer fungible funds so their children can choose. 3. I also don't care for the philosphy we forgo extras to save everything extra for our kids. I simply don't think it a good precedent. If you have saved to help set kids up, pay for education, and your own retirement, do enjoy a movie, vacation, or what have you.
Ariella said…
I agree with you. If they're not ready to take on the task of balancing the mundane with the holy, then they simply are not ready for the reality of married life. I also don't think that parents should stint their whole lives for the sake of the children's weddings. That is making their children beholden to a state of martyrdom, which is a great psychological burden.

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