The Wedding Budget – Who Pays for What?

The idea that a couple’s parents should cover the entire expense of their wedding has become an old fashioned one, and many couples, especially if they are a little older or are arranging their second marriage, tend to pay a large portion of the wedding costs themselves. When parents do make a contribution, it is often in the form of a fixed sum that the couple can spend as they wish.

However, if you are setting your wedding budget and asking for contributions for specific parts of the wedding, it may be useful to know what each party traditionally pays for. Follow this quick overview to find out what the bride’s family usually pays for, what the groom’s family usually pays for, and what expenses are covered by other people.

What the Bride’s Family Pays For

Traditionally the bride’s family pays for the lion’s share of the wedding. Custom states that the bride’s family should pay for the ceremony and reception venues. Although these days the groom’s family is now more likely to foot the bill for the ceremony venue.

The bride’s family is also expected to pay for the bridal outfit including accessories, hair and beauty treatments, lingerie, jewelry, and shoes. Because wedding invitations were traditionally issued by the bride’s family, they were expected to cover the cost of the wedding stationery, including the invitations, the thank you cards, the orders of service, the menus, the place names, and the seating plan.

The bride’s family usually paid for the catering, including some drinks and the wedding cake, and any entertainment at the reception. The bride’s family would have been responsible for hiring and paying for the photographer and the videographer and would also have paid for any venue decorations including table center pieces and flower arrangements.

What the Groom’s Family Pays For

The groom and his family tend to get off a little lighter when it comes to their obligations in paying for the wedding. Wedding etiquette states that they should cover the cost of the wedding celebrant, although in recent years if the couple are having the ceremony and reception at separate venues, the groom’s family tends to pay all costs relating to the ceremony.

The groom or his family also need to pay for the groom’s wedding outfit, and the bouquets and button holes for the wedding party. The wedding cars are also usually the responsibility of the groom. Finally the groom’s family should pay for the newlyweds’ wedding night accommodation, and their honeymoon.

Other Wedding Costs

The only wedding costs that are traditionally covered by other people are the bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s outfits. Custom states that older bridesmaids and groomsmen should pay for their own wedding outfits, and that the parents of younger bridesmaids, flower girls, and pageboys can be asked to pay for their children’s outfits. However, this rule is changing and most couples will at least make a contribution to their bridesmaids and groomsmen’s outfits, or will cover the entire cost. The thank you gifts for members of the wedding party should come out of the couple’s own pockets.

These days there are no hard and fast rules about who pays for what in a wedding, and each individual wedding budget will depend on family circumstances. When you get engaged you will probably already have an idea of which parents are likely to be willing or able to make a contribution.

Often if the groom is an only child or has no sisters, his parents will be willing to make a larger contribution to the wedding than tradition suggests, and equally if the bride has five sisters it might be unreasonable to ask her family to cover all the expected costs. The most important thing is to sit down and work out a realistic and specific budget before you start wedding planning to avoid disappointment and wedding related debts.

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