Thursday, February 13, 2014

Daughter Does Not Pay Back Loan, Dad Refuses To Pay For Her Wedding

Dear Tazi:

I have been planning my dream wedding since I was a teenager and now my father is about to ruin it all because he is being cheap! He thinks he is teaching me "a lesson in financial responsibility" but I think if I haven'rt learned it by now ruining my wedding day is not the way to teach it to me!

When I was in college my father and I had an agreement - he would pay for my schooling so long as I maintained good grades. If my G.P.A. dropped below a 3.0 I would have to pay my own way through school. He would continue to pay for my tuition and expenses so I could work on bringing my grades back up but that money would constitute a loan and not a gift.

I had a great time in college, and worked hard. but my sophomore year I decided to pledge my sorority. It was the best decision ever and I do not regret it, but because of the added stress of pledging my GPA slipped to a flat 3.0; the following semester commitments to my sisterhood, combined with a heavy course load, resulted in a semester of straight C's and my GPA reflected this. Although I made the grades required for my sorority I did not make the grades required to please my father. He told me that I might want to get a good summer job to defray the cost of returning to college so I wasn't facing a large loan to pay back upon graduation. I could not believe he actually meant that! It's not like we had a signed contract or anything!

My grades improved and I managed to graduate cum laude after busting my hump the next two years to keep my father off my back. After graduation, my father told me he was proud of me and even threw me a party but made no mention of my "loan" until six months later, when he told me I needed to start paying on it. Again, I could not believe he was serious! I had only just secured a job and was moving out of my Mom's house (my parents are divorced) and into my own apartment. I played along and told my Dad I needed more time. That was three years ago, and since I don't see Dad that often he hasn't brought up the subject all that much since then.

My boyfriend is finishing graduate school and he proposed to me this past Christmas. I am very excited and looking forward to our wedding. When I told my father the good news he congratulated me and told me he was happy for me - and that was it. He made no mention of my "loan" (as he always does when he sees me) but also no offer to pay for my wedding. When I mentioned this to my Mom, she said she would talk to him about the cost of my wedding, since traditionally the bride's family pays for the wedding.

Tazi, you can imagine my shock and upset when my Mom reported back that my father is refusing to pay for my wedding unless I pay off my "college loan"! He told me that we had an agreement and that I did not live up to my end of the bargain, and now I owe him the $15,000 he paid towards my tuition and living expenses while I "paid for the semester spent partying" by bringing my GPA back up to where he wanted it. This is NOT fair! My mother has limited income and cannot afford to foot the entire bill for my wedding, while my father has done quite well for himself since their divorce. My mother is talking about borrowing against her retirement funds or taking out a home equity loan, but she should not have to do this! Not when my father could easily afford to write a check to pay for the entire wedding, plus honeymoon!

When I approached Dad I told him how angry I was, and he offered what he thinks is a compromise - he will give me $5,000 towards the estimated $20,000 cost of my dream wedding and forgive my "debt" to him. As far as I am concerned, this is not a compromise and I owe him nothing - like I said, it's not like I signed a contract or anything! And besides, isn't there a statute of limitations on unpaid debts? Can you help my father see reason?

Daddy's Not-So-Little Girl

Dear Daddy's Not-So-Little Girl:

You are correct that your father cannot force you to pay your debt to him because there was no contract stating you were taking on your college expenses as a loan and not a gift. However, I doubt you have a contract with your father stating that he will be responsible for paying for your wedding, do you? Your insistence on a binding contract regarding financial assistance goes both ways. Just as you are not legally obligated to re-pay your father for your college expenses he is under no legal obligation to cover the costs of your wedding. Your moral obligations to each other are something else entirely.

To put it plainly, your attitude stinks! The time to deal with your situation was years ago, when your grades first dropped below what your father considered an acceptable return on his investment in your education. You blew off his advice as a sad little joke and now the joke is on you. If any family were in dire need of counseling it is yours.

Your mother should not have to go into debt to pay for your wedding, and if you accept any assistance she offers from her retirement account of home equity you will continue to be a part of the problem and not a part of the solution. Nowadays many couples are financing their own weddings. If you want to prove to your father that you are a mature, financially responsible young woman than I suggest that you apologize to him for your disrespect, accept his compromise, and start saving for your upcoming nuptials. Since you graduated college (mostly) debt free you should be able to save a tidy sum without too much difficulty. Since your father is willing to kick in $5,000 your mother will probably want to do the same; if this does not cause her financial hardship you have my blessing to accept it. This brings you to 50% of the total cost of your wedding. If you want to start married life debt free, you may want to downsize your wedding to meet your budget and put anything you and your fiance save towards the purchase of a home. A wedding is not about a diamond and a party - it is about a marriage.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.


  1. The people that really should be paying for your wedding should be you and your finance. The money that people are willing to contribute to your wedding should be considered a blessing and a gift and be treated as such. My husband and I got married and it didn't even cost nearly $5,000. We had a great wedding, everyone had a great time, and the wedding was completely paid off before the day was over including our honeymoon. $20,000 for a wedding is a little bit much is it in cased in gold? Someone famous going to jump out the cake or something? If you can personally afford it more power to you. If you can't afford it then maybe you should downsize and wedding is not worth going into debt for honey. The wedding day goes by so fast and don't worry about having the "picture perfect" wedding. I would be just grateful for what people give you.

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