Who pays for what at a wedding?

There are various opinions about who pays for what at a wedding. Today, most people believe the couple should pay for their own wedding, especially if they have lived on their own for some time. Parents often want to help with the expenses, though. Of course, old customs are not always followed now, but the traditional divisions described below will offer some guidance regarding who should for the wedding expenses. These traditions were set many years ago, when few parents divorced and remarried and before the legalization of same sex marriage, so the traditions are outdated. Today, parents and step-parents should discuss and decide among themselves who will pay for the various traditional expenses.  

If your wedding fits the description of “traditional,” or even if it doesn’t, here are typical high dollar expenses.

The engagement party: Traditionally, the bride’s parents will pay for and host an engagement party for their daughter and her husband-to-be, for the express purpose of welcoming him and introducing their friends and extended family to the groom and his family and friends. Although this isn’t a requirement, it can be a wonderful way to get future wedding guests together to establish a rapport before the event—familiar faces always make for a more convivial affair. In the case of a same sex wedding, either set of parents could host the event, or all the parents could go in together to throw the engagement party.

Who pays for the engagement announcements? Long before the reception takes place or is planned, the parents of the bride are responsible for sending (and paying for) the engagement announcements to the local newspapers. If the groom is from another town, or his parents live outside the local paper’s distribution area, the bride’s parents should find out whether the groom’s family would like the announcement to appear in their hometown paper as well.

Who pays for the rehearsal dinner?  The groom’s parents traditionally organize and pay for the rehearsal dinner. This can range in size from a small occasion for members of the wedding party only to a grand soirée that includes half or more of the wedding guests. They should never be expected to pay for a larger event than which they are comfortable.

Who pays for the wedding reception?  Of all their duties, the bride’s parents’ role as host and hostess of the reception is foremost. This honor is theirs because traditionally they pay for part, if not all, of the festivities. As such, their names have historically gone at the top of the invitations, and they play a special role at the reception of making guests feel welcome and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. 

What wedding expenses does the bride’s family traditionally pay? Traditionally, the bride and her family are responsible for paying for all wedding planning expenses, invitations and all it corresponding stationery, the bride’s attire, all floral arrangements, transportation on the wedding day, photo and video fees, travel and lodgings for the officiant, if he/she comes from out of town, music for the church and the reception, any rentals, the bridesmaids’ luncheon, lodging for the bridesmaids (if you have offered to help with this expense), all transportation needed for the big day, and all the expenses of the reception. The bride personally pays for the wedding flowers and gifts for her attendants, the groom’s ring, and a present for him.


What wedding expenses does the groom’s family traditionally pay?  The groom’s family is responsible for corsages and boutonnieres for immediate members of both families, the lodging of the groom’s attendants (if you have offered to help pay for this expense). The groom is traditionally expected to pay for the marriage license and officiant’s fees and to buy the bouquet for the bride. The groom also pays the bride’s engagement and wedding rings, as well as a gift. He should also purchase boutonnieres and gifts for his groomsmen. The honeymoon expenses are classically his, as the head of his new household. In some cases, the groom’s family offsets reception expenses by purchasing the alcohol or by paying for all the reception floral expenses. However you work it out, make sure each party is comfortable with its contribution.





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