DEAR AMY: Our son recently got engaged. He is 26 and after spending eight years in college, he did not get a degree. He and his fiancée live with her parents. He wants to be an actor and he tells us he is "on track" with his profession and will not pursue regular full-time work. This couple does nothing all day but watch TV, play video games, post on Facebook and participate in local acting gigs (which do not pay). My wife had a conversation with the mother of the bride-to-be about wedding plans. The couple wants to have an expensive wedding at an upscale winery. My wife told the mother we would not contribute money to indulge the couple in this type of venue or discuss wedding plans until they became gainfully employed. The mother of the bride-to-be called my wife manipulative and said she was using this tactic as leverage not to pay for half the wedding. We are very capable of paying our share of the wedding expenses, and we are known to be generous. My wife was simply trying to make a point that the focus at this time needs to be on the motivation and employment of these young adults. Are we wrong?
-- Concerned Dad
DEAR DAD: You should not be discussing this wedding with the fiancée's parents, but with the couple themselves. Whenever someone asks you to pay for something, this puts you in a position to make a choice about the proposed investment. If the fiancée's mother says you are trying to manipulate through money, you can truthfully respond, "Damn straight, we are." Couples should finance their own weddings. If they want money from you, then they are going to have to be brave enough to personally lay out their case, and not send mommy to do their asking for them.
Your stance should be, "We are not against this marriage, but if the couple want this fancy wedding, they should get jobs, save up, and contribute toward it. If they do, then we will reconsider our position."