I feel a little embarrassed to write this. Both my husband and myself are professors who make a comfortable living and did the best we could to have our dream wedding without going too crazy. My husband’s family is fairly well off and we used his part of the inheritance that he had in trust for our home and to pay off our outstanding school loans (very generous of him). We were just married last June and my in-laws surprised us with a number of upgrades while planning the wedding. For example, my dress, a lovely off-the-rack find was exchanged for a stunning Vera Wang gown at the suggestion and insisted expense of his mother as was our hotel on both the wedding night and honeymoon. We did not ask for these gestures and were very grateful for all of them, thinking they were gifts. Well, my father-in-law just called my husband to “gently suggest” we start paying back the “loan” his parents provided us and said that he had a detailed invoice if we needed it. We were shocked. The truth is, it’s not only insulting, but we don’t have $25,000 to give them! What do we do?
Dear Loan Sharked:
When I got your letter, we had to read it three times to make sure that I understood the situation correctly. So, just to be clear, your in-laws, the ones who know you’re both professors and likely have visited or heard about your new home, have decided that the dress, hotel and honeymoon you booked and paid for were not up-to-par and asked if they could give you a few upgrades? You accepted. Now, nine months later, they want you to pay them back.
I hope they see this post and realize that a gift is gracious and a loan is never implied. In the event they do not come to their dollars and senses, I suggest that you sit down with them and let them know how much you appreciated their gesture, but you were under the impression that the money they spent was a gift since you had already purchased the dress, hotel room, and honeymoon venue you could afford. If they still want you to pay them back, I suggest you work out a payment plan that suits your current budget. You can give them the gift of forgiveness, no strings attached.