Firstly, there are no hard and fast rules on who pays for what when it comes to a wedding. Every couple is different, every situation is different and no two couples are working with the same budget.
It may have once been the tradition for the bride’s parents to pay for pretty much everything, but those days are over, and today there is no expectation for the bride’s family to foot the entire bill.
Many modern couples pay for the majority of their own wedding, accepting money from family members to help out along the way.
Since everyone is in a different financial situation, it’s important to figure out who is paying for what at the start of the wedding planning journey if possible. This will be very useful in the months ahead!
Here we will talk about the importance of the wedding budget, and discuss which elements of a wedding were paid for by whom traditionally.
The Wedding Budget
No matter who is paying for what, it is super important to set a budget for your big day. This will be your guide to return to throughout the whole planning process.
Firstly, you’ll need to list every element that will need a cost against it. Be thorough. Be realistic. Certain elements are going to be expensive, there is no escaping it!
Work out which elements you can do yourself or cut costs on easily.
Think about what the most important parts to you both are, for example, you know you want a high-end photographer to capture your day forever, but are not so fussed about serving champagne to your guests.
Splitting the Costs of Your Wedding
Parents or other family members will often want to pitch in to help with some wedding expenses, which is fantastic news.
However, this can be tricky to navigate, especially if different family members are in stronger financial positions than others.
Note that contributions to your wedding should be received with gratitude and calculated on willingness and ability.
The wedding budget will help with this; it will allow you to ask for specific amounts of money to cover a specific item, e.g. the rehearsal dinner, the flowers, the catering.
Understanding the traditional divisions will provide you with some more guidance on who pays for what in a wedding and help with your money conversations.
Historically, the Bride’s Family Paid
Once upon a time, traditions were very different and it was the family of the bride that pretty much paid for everything for a wedding.
This would include the pre-wedding events such as the engagement party, as well as the wedding invitations and stationery, and the wedding planner if there was one.
For the bride herself, the wedding dress, veil, shoes, jewelry, hair, and make-up were paid for.
The bride’s parents would also cover big-ticket items such as the photographer and videographer, accommodation and transport for the wedding party, the flowers, the cake, and everything associated with the ceremony and reception.
If an event was held the next day such as a brunch or lunch, that would also be covered by the bride’s family.
What about the Groom’s Family?
The family of the groom would traditionally pay for certain elements related to the ceremony; namely the marriage license and the fee for the officiant/ celebrant.
They would also pay for all elements of the rehearsal dinner and cover all costs around the groom, the best man, and the groomsmen such as travel and accommodation.
If you are having a DJ or a band at your wedding, the groom’s family would also cover those, as well as the liquor for the evening celebration.
Last and certainly not least, the groom and/or his family would also pay for the couple’s honeymoon!
The Bride and Groom Themselves
Surely the bride and groom traditionally paid for something?!
Well yes, they would pay for the wedding rings for each other. But even this can be a little complicated, so for more details on who pays for the rings check out our article here.
The bride and groom would also buy wedding gifts for the bridal party, the best man, the groomsmen, and their parents.
And because enough money hasn’t been spent at this point, often they buy a gift for each other too!
Maid of Honor
The MOH, hopefully with a little help from the bridesmaids, will pay for and host the bridal shower and of course the bachelorette party.
Some brides won’t have both events, but if they do, the maid of honor would cover all elements of this including travel and accommodation if relevant.
The Best Man
The best man doesn’t really have to pay for many different elements in a wedding – but their responsibility is a biggie – the bachelor party of course.
Sometimes the groomsmen will chip in here to help pay; the idea being that the groom doesn’t pay for anything over this weekend.
We hope you have found it useful to understand a little more about how wedding costs were traditionally split by the relevant parties.
It’s more and more common for the couple to pay for most elements themselves these days, but for those couples lucky enough to have families with deep pockets, send this article over to them for reference! And good luck with your wedding planning!