Who Pays For What At A Wedding
Know the budget breakdown before you plan a single detail!
If you've just gotten engaged, you've just embarked on the adventure of a lifetime! You've said one of the biggest "yes"'s you'll ever say, and now you're faced with the reality of a wedding and a marriage. In our experience, there are three ways brides respond at this point of realization:
- They become so giddy and so firmly entrenched in their residence on Cloud9 that nothing could bother them, and they may not even acknowledge all the details that need attention...
- They, immediately after saying yes, become completely overwhelmed with everything that has to be done and all of the bridal responsibilities that just got placed on their shoulders and start going a little crazy, or...
- They manage to find a happy, practical medium between oblivion and panic, and keep their eyes on the prize while making practical decisions.
Regardless of how you've responded so far, we wrote this blog post for you because we believe that knowledge, for brides, is power. The more you know, the smoother your wedding day will go. You will feel less stressed and more capable, because you'll know what should/is going to happen and how much control you'll have over each aspect of your big day.
One of the biggest factors that affects control is money (as in all aspects of life). Whoever is paying has the power of choice.
This is something you should keep in mind throughout the entire wedding process, and that may even change some of your decisions (or it may just become a source of frustration). One of the most common complaints we've heard is about parents inviting guests that knew the bride or groom when they were children but haven't had any meaningful contact with them in years...but if the parents are paying, the parents can pretty much invite whomever they please.
Now, the identity of the person behind the purse strings has changed over the years. It's 2019, and the expectations have adjusted accordingly; the average age for marriage is the highest it's ever been, and many couples are deciding to shoulder most of the cost themselves. Today no financial responsibility is assumed, and it's contemporary etiquette to openly but diplomatically discuss who will pay for what with all parties involved before anything happens.
Traditionally, though, the expenses are covered like this: (listed by probable order of booking/payment/occurence)
~ Engagement Party* - Bride's Parents/ Friends of the Bride & Groom.
*This event is not a requirement, and it does not have to be extravagant, but it's a fun way to get everyone together before the wedding and introduce your S/O to your family and friends!
~ Announcements, Save the Dates, Invitations, and Programs - Bride's Parents/ Bride
~ Venue - Bride's Parents/Bride
~ Bride's Attire* - Bride's Parents/ Bride
*This includes your dress, veil, shoes, jewelry, accessories, and etc. Lingerie may be taken care of at the bachelorette or the bridal shower, depending on what your friends are like (we heard about one really cute "Pancakes and Panties" themed shower, feel free to steal that idea), but typically that is also covered by you and your family!
~ Groom's Attire* - Groom/Groom's Parents
*Your man will take care of his own outfit and accessories, but it's almost a wedding staple now for one of the bride's gifts to the groom to be a new watch. If you're thinking of making that your gift, communicate with his family or friends to make sure one isn't purchased before you surprise him!
~ Wedding Party Attire - Bridesmaids & Groomsmen
~ Photography/Videography - Bride's Parents/Bride
~ Floral Arrangements & Venue Decorations* - Bride's Parents/Bride
*Traditional rules dictate that the bride's family pays for the floral arrangements, and the bridal party bouquets and corsages, while the groom's family pays for the bride's bouquet, groomsmen boutonniers, and corsages for the mother and grandmother of the groom. That sounds like a giant headache and a logistical nightmare to us....since all of these flowers will likely be coming from the same florist (unless you get your corsages and boutonniers from another vendor), we suggest attributing the cost of all the flowers to one party.
~ Bride's Rings - Groom/Groom's Parents
~ Groom's Ring* - Bride/Bride's Parents
*Since rings are personal items, this is one that your family may expect you to cover by yourselves - most couples go shopping for the rings alone together - but some parents/family members may be willing to help out with the cost.
~ Bachelor Party - Best Man & Groomsmen
~ Marriage License & Officiant Fee - Groom/Groom's Parents
~ Hotel Accommodations - Guests
*It is customary for out-of-town guests to pay for their own hotel rooms and transportation, but it is the responsibility of the bride & groom (or maid of honor/best man) to reserve a block of rooms and provide any information an out-of-town guest would need (directions, restaurant recommendations, transportation suggestions, etc.). However, if the officiant is from out-of-town, it's polite to pay for his stay, although this can be clarified early on.
~ Rehearsal Dinner - Groom's Parents
~ Bride's Gift - Groom
~ Groom's Gift - Bride
~ Bridemaids' Gift* - Bride
*This should be thoughtful and personal, but it doesn't have to be expensive! At Kadlee, we have a variety of items - including floral getting ready robes, slippers, jewelry, and more - that you can customize and gift your bridemaids! Shop kadlee.com to see our products!
~ Groomsmen Gifts - Groom
~ Hair, Makeup, and Beauty Treatments* - Bride
*This includes pampering for herself as well as her bridal party.
~ Reception* - Bride's Parents
*The groom's parents traditionally pay for the DJ/band and the alcohol.
~ Honeymoon- Groom's Parents/Groom
Now, that is the traditional route, but like we said, there are more modern and creative routes you can take if you choose!
One way we heard that we love is a three-way split scenario: the bride's family, the groom's family, and the couple will each pay for one-third of the total cost and invite one-third of the guests. It can potentially lessen the burden on each party and allows everyone to have an equal say in who is invited and what the wedding looks like.
Another approach we approve of is sitting down with your fiancé and estimating/itemizing cost. After deciding what you'll need, or at least making a general outline, you can then go to your parents with the game plan and ask gently if they would be willing to help cover any of the costs. They may say they can pitch in a set amount, or agree to pay for items, and if they can't, you'll know with enough time to revise your budget. Either way, you'll have more control over the wedding than if they assumed responsibility in the first place.
This is one area of the wedding where it's important to be flexible. If one family cannot afford to pay for certain costs, or if the budget is starting to become challenging for all, it is better to downsize and cut costs than start out your future together with family drama and family debt.