Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiancé Thinks I’m Paying Our Wedding Babysitters Too Much”

My fiancé and I are having a small destination wedding on a holiday weekend in Charleston, S.C., and we are planning a kid-free reception at a beach house on the water. I have a friend in Charleston who has connected me to two teachers who will have planned activities for our guests’ kids and make sure they eat. My fiancé and I are at odds because he believes I am over paying them. I have offered each teacher $500 and am including them in our catering head count. They will be with the kids for about 4.5 hours and will have seven kids total, ranging in age babies to nine years old. Two of the kids are very high maintenance. When I Google, I don’t really find much information on what the normal rate is for babysitting. While the rate I’ve offered to pay might be a little more than average, I think it’s reasonable given the age ranges, the number of children in total, the fact that it’s a holiday weekend, and that it’s two school teachers who are CPR- and first aid-certified and have lots of experience in keeping kids busy. What’s the right protocol? My Groomzilla is stressing me out. — Not a Bridezilla

You sound generous and thoughtful — two traits that will serve you well in life and in marriage. In thinking of your guests, their kids’ well-being and enjoyment, and the teachers you’ve hired to babysit, you are ensuring a good time for everyone during your wedding (you and your groom included!). I think that is very much worth $1000 as much as anything else you might be including in your wedding budget, even if it is a tad more than typical babysitting rates (and, as you pointed out, watching seven kids during a holiday weekend destination wedding isn’t typical anyway). Further, if you’ve already offered $500 to each teacher you’ve hired to babysit, you can’t very well change that amount now! The teachers would be offended and may even decide not to take the job and then you’re in a jam to find replacements. Plus, it makes your friend who put you in touch with the teachers look bad, reflects poorly on you, and could put a strain on your friendship. All for what? To try to save a few hundred bucks? Not worth it. Besides that, if anyone deserves a few hours of “overpayment” it’s a school teacher. Please tell your fiancé that, going forward, you are willing to compromise on most aspects of your life together, but this decision has already been made and would not be worth the trouble and hurt feelings to save some money, especially when the people who would most be affected are your wedding guests, their kids, and a couple of teachers just trying to supplement their woefully-low salaries.

I’ve been in a serious relationship with my boyfriend for over two years now. My ex-boyfriend cheated on me, and I quickly moved on to my current boyfriend, whom I want to spend the rest of my life with. He is in the Air Force, and we have been doing a long-distance relationship. I have trust issues, and I know it is because of my ex. I haven’t talked to my him in over two years, and the other day I met up with him to ask for closure. I told my ex I’m in a serious relationship and I was only meeting him to talk about why he cheated on me. For some reason I thought it would help me move on. When we met up, we talked about all of it and he kissed me. I left and felt horrible about It. I do not have feelings for my ex anymore and I told him that. I really love my boyfriend and I wouldn’t ever want to hurt him. I want to have a future with him, but I’m not sure if he would ever forgive me. He is hard-headed and holds on to things easily. I’m not sure if I should tell him and risk losing everything, or if I should just move on and never do anything like that again. — Regretting the Kiss

There’s no point in telling your boyfriend about the kiss or that you met up with your ex-boyfriend, except to alleviate your guilty conscience. Don’t do that. Instead, think about why, after two years of dating someone else — someone you say you want to spend your life with — you felt like you needed “closure” with an ex-boyfriend. Might it have something to do with moving on so quickly to your current boyfriend? I think so. To say you have trust issues is concerning. Especially when you’re acting on those issues in self-destructive (and relationship-destructive) ways. This goes beyond just not doing something like this again. You need to figure out WHY you cheated in the first place, and you need to deal with your trust issues (with the help of a therapist if you can’t do it alone) or they will continue to haunt you and all your relationships going forward.

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24 comments… add one
  • Cleopatra Jones

    Cleopatra Jones June 2, 2017, 9:36 am

    LW #1:
    Can you ever really put a price on quality child care tho?
    $1000 is a lot of money but you aren’t exactly getting two teen-aged baby sitters who need to corral the kids. You are getting two experienced teachers who have planned out activities to keep the kids busy, and are trained to quickly handle an emergency situation.

    Kudos to you for being so generous with the pay for the sitters!

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  • avatar

    wobster109 June 2, 2017, 9:50 am

    LW1 – He had a chance to weigh in while the decision was being made, and that ship has sailed. Tell him “I appreciate that you care about this. Next time you are welcome to join me in finding the sitter.” I can’t stand people who do no work and complain about the outcome.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor June 2, 2017, 9:51 am

    LW1, I don’t know how the decision went down, but going forward you’re going to need to work out rules for how you and your husband spend money. What types of expenditures need to be discussed and what can you each make on your own? I’d be pretty pissed if my wife shelled out $1000 bucks without discussing it with me (as she’d be if the situations were reversed).

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  • Portia

    Portia June 2, 2017, 9:54 am

    WWS to LW1 – practically everything you’re paying for related to the wedding is going to have a wedding premium and this is no exception. You did the legwork to find two extremely qualified individuals for the job while I’m guessing Mr. Groomzilla didn’t lift a finger except to complain about the cost (no mention of budget for it nor an alternative from him before you figured this out). Plus, this is not just the cost for some babysitters, it’s the cost for a kid-free reception WITH your 7-14 friends/family who are parents. Don’t expend any more mental energy on this.

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  • avatar

    Janelle June 2, 2017, 10:01 am

    LW2: I don’t really see him kissing you as cheating. I would assume you saying it that way means you didn’t reciprocate and pulled away? Why you felt the need to see him is the issue. I’m with Wendy on the rest.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor June 2, 2017, 10:14 am

      yeah, I read it as her not expecting it and not really participating.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 June 2, 2017, 1:28 pm

      I have a feeling she participated in the kiss a lot more than she is saying, but that is just me. I mean the whole thing sounds like a setup just to see the ex. I mean what kind of closure is she really looking for after two years, and finding the man she wants to marry. That sounds like closure enough to me.

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  • avatar

    Essie June 2, 2017, 10:23 am

    LW2: Of course you’re not going to tell your boyfriend. You didn’t cheat. You didn’t want him to kiss you, and you left after he did. What would be the purpose of telling the BF, other than trying to make him jealous?

    The bigger issue is why you felt you needed “closure” after two years. You needed to know why he cheated? I can tell you that. The same reason everyone cheats. He wanted to have sex with that person, and it was more important to him than his relationship with you was. What more do you need to know?

    Closure comes from within YOU. No one else can give it to you. It comes when you realize you no longer care that he broke up with you, because your life is better without him in it. And you don’t need him to make stupid excuses about why he cheated to get there.

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    • avatar

      K June 2, 2017, 10:57 am

      Yes, and she says she thought she needed to talk to her ex to help her move on. Hadn’t she already moved on after dating her current bf for 2 years? If not, then there’s a problem.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star June 2, 2017, 11:46 am

    LW 1: Well, it’s too late to do anything about it now. I think you’re overpaying, but in the end, this is the cost of having a child-free wedding. If he can’t stand it, he needs to find a solution and execute it.

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    • avatar

      Ashley June 2, 2017, 1:40 pm

      I disagree. If you divide the pay by the number of hours…that’s 111? An hour? But the number kids they look after should absolutely come into play, so divide by 7 that’s $15 per hour per kid. Given their qualifications, and the holiday weekend, that number doesn’t seem unreasonable. Plus…are your guests children really where you want to skimp on the money for your wedding?

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      • avatar

        Northern Star June 2, 2017, 2:00 pm

        1000 for 4.5 hours = 222.22 per hour. Divided by seven kids = $31.74 per kid per hour.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star June 2, 2017, 2:07 pm

        Plus catering.

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      • avatar

        Taylor June 2, 2017, 2:44 pm

        But w two teachers, it’s 15$ each teacher per kid. And having two of them is critical for wrangling that many of them. Good on ya letter writer!

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      • Portia

        Portia June 2, 2017, 3:39 pm

        Yeah, $15/hour each provider per kid over a holiday weekend for people with their qualifications seems reasonable to me.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix June 2, 2017, 1:41 pm

    So $30/hr/kid. You probably are paying too much (I think the market rate is probably half that even if you give time and half for the holiday) But you’re ranging from babies to 9 years old, when a lot of providers can’t do a age range that big? Reframe it for him that way maybe?

    That said. Next time you need to make such a decision, make sure you have market justification.

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  • avatar

    Brise June 2, 2017, 2:12 pm

    LW1: yes, it is overpaid. Didn’t you talk with your future husband about this before setting a price? You should have. Marriage means common decisions about money issues. So apologize if you didn’t, because it is not fair, but don’t change anything now, it is too late anyway. The deal is done. There are some costs like this in life, you overpaid but at least, you know you have good professionals with these kids.

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  • avatar

    carolann June 2, 2017, 6:45 pm

    #1 If you already told the teachers that is what you were paying them it is way too late to change now. Tell Groomzilla it is a done deal and the discussion is closed.
    #2 You will never get closure from someone who cheated on you. No reason is good enough. He should have broken up with you if he wanted to be with someone else out of respect for you. He didn’t and two years later he should be a faded memory. You need to move on.
    I would forget the kiss ever happened. It had no meaning. Why hurt your bf over something that didn’t mean anything?
    You seem to be looking for drama. Throw yourself into your work, school or something you are passionate about and chill out a bit. Your life does not need to revolve around a man current or past.

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  • avatar

    MaggieB June 2, 2017, 7:41 pm

    I think people are being way harsh on Groomzilla. I don’t care if he helped find the sitters or not, I would be SO pissed if my SO spent $1000 on ANYthing without discussing it with me, and if it’s indeed a “small wedding,” it may be a not insignificant chunk of their wedding budget. I do think it’s overpaying too, and that makes it all the worse–if they want to be generous as a couple, that’s great, but it’s not a unilateral decision.

    Though I’m in agreement with Wendy that the ship has sailed.

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  • avatar

    MoeP June 2, 2017, 7:57 pm

    I would be upset if my partner spent this much money without consulting me. It is a large amount of money! I suppose what is done is done, and I know things get crazy while planning a wedding, but honestly I am a certified teacher and I would watch 7 kids with one other person for half that.

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  • avatar

    Joy June 3, 2017, 8:54 am

    Whatever, no way this is the most expensive thing in their wedding budget. Probably not anywhere near. The groom probably feels stressed about the budget/total spent overall. That’s what they should have a conversation about. And it is $111/hour /per person. To watch a bunch of kids at a wedding – doesn’t sound too crazy.

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  • avatar

    Leslie Joan June 10, 2017, 4:11 am

    Regretting, are you sure you aren’t having some doubts about your current relationship, and put yourself in a situation where you would be challenged as a passive way to torpedo your current relationship? I’m not feeling the love with your current squeeze, and his main attraction seems to be the fact that he was there right as soon as you left your previous relationship.

    Maybe it’s just that I can’t wrap my head around meeting an ex boyfriend TWO. YEARS. after breaking up, ostensibly for the purpose of closure. And how does he “grant you closure” to begin with? The fact that you still feel the need for “closure” from a two years ended relationship when you claim to be oh so serious about the current boyfriend strikes me as suspicious. If you aren’t done with a past relationship then you have no business getting serious about a new one. Or at least, does your current boyfriend know that all along you’ve been hung up on your ex?

    I am not surprised that something happened; I wouldn’t be surprised if your ex believes you still want him. And maybe you still do. Or you’re conflicted on the matter.

    Maybe you might benefit from talking with a counselor. I think there’s a whole lot more going on here than meets the eye.

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  • avatar

    baccalieu July 12, 2017, 10:58 am

    Re LW1: The price isn’t really the issue here (it does seem a lot, but the quality of the care to be provided seems a lot more than usual, too) and, in any event, as others have said, it’s really a done deal now. If he continues to complain about it, I’d ask him what he thinks should be done now. (If he agrees that there’s nothing to be done about it now, then he should shut up, other then suggesting that they do things differently in future.) Does he think she should go back and ask the teachers to take less than they’ve agreed to? I don’t see that working. If he thinks they can find cheaper babysitters somewhere else, especially at a late stage, she should invite him to do it. As to who’s at fault for what happened, it kind of depends on how it went down, if he – impliedly or expressly – authorized her to make the babysitting arrangements as she saw fit, than he has no cause for complaint. On the other hand, if she went ahead and committed a thousand dollars of their money without discussing it with him, then she was in the wrong. I find it interesting that she doesn’t discuss what the arrangements for planning and paying were (she doesn’t even expressly say that they are splitting the costs of the wedding or paying out of common funds. I hope that is the case and she felt it was so obvious she didn’t need to mention it, but a number of different parties often pay or contribute to weddings and it is a pretty important factor) but goes into great detail about the babysitting arrangements and just asks us to tell her whether she overpaid or not. I suspect that we are dealing with a particularly deep-seated hold-out (on both sides) of the out-dated view that wedding planning and arrangements are the exclusive job (and privilege) of the bride and the guy’s only job is to write the cheque and show up. This view is a problem on both sides: he shouldn’t get to sit on his ass and let her do all the work (especially not if he thinks it’s okay to criticize them afterwards and she shouldn’t get to make whatever arrangements she wants without his input.

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  • avatar

    baccalieu July 12, 2017, 11:26 am

    Re LW2: As others have said the mistake here is not really kissing the ex (and if she really had no idea that he was going to kiss her and didn’t prolong or reciprocate the kiss, it isn’t even mild cheating) but in arranging to see him in the first place. Why would you feel the need to do that two years later? Obviously her feelings are not as clear as she believes they are.

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