When it comes to wedding planning, one of the first decisions couples have to make is who pays for what. This can be confusing with lots of unwritten rules, so we're here to help clear things up!
In this comprehensive guide to wedding financial etiquette, we'll break down who typically pays for what according to tradition and who pays for what in most modern weddings. We'll also offer advice on how to navigate these delicate waters if you're not sure who should be footing the bill. Read on for all you need to know about who pays for the wedding!
Who traditionally pays for the wedding?
It's important to say that traditions, like rules, are made to be broken… But traditionally, in the U.S., the bride's family traditionally pays for most of the wedding costs. This is because it's often considered their daughter “big day”, but also, in ye olde times, the bride was considered “property” for her parents to “give away” to the groom.
Engagement parties and wedding ceremonies are often hosted by friends or loved ones of the bride's family, in order to help with costs.
The reception venue, catering, reception music, and bride's attire and accessories are all typically paid for by the bride's family.
Wedding planners and florists are common wedding expenses that the bride's family will pay for.
The groom's family traditionally pays for the rehearsal dinner, honeymoon, and alcohol for the reception.
However, as you'll read below, couples (57%) are increasingly paying for their weddings themselves.
How do couples pay for their wedding in 2022?
We're glad you asked. We did a deep dive into this July 2022 thread with over 189 responses and this is what we found.
Out of 189 People, this is how couples paid for their wedding:
- Just the Couple: 108
- Mix of Everyone (Brides Parents, Grooms Parents & Couple): 31
- Just the Brides Parents: 28
- Just Both Parents: 8
- Bride's Parents & Couple: 8
- Just the Groom's Parents: 3
- Groom's Parents & Couple: 6
My husband and I were very fortunate to have the bulk of our wedding costs paid by our parents, based on the research above we're clearly in the minority!
How do you tactfully ask for help with wedding costs?
It is important to ask for help with wedding costs early on, in order to manage expectations. One way to do this is by asking your parents or future in-laws if they would like to contribute. Try not to make assumptions about what they will contribute, and be respectful in your request.
- Talk to your parents about your plans well in advance. This will give them time to save up and may make them more willing to help out.
- Explain why you need their help and be honest about your budget. Let them know how much you have saved up and what your estimated costs are.
- Be thankful for any help they are able to provide. Thank them verbally and with a handwritten note or gift card.
- Don't ask for too much money or too many other favors. Keep the discussion focused on wedding costs and avoid asking for help with other areas of your life.
- Show them how excited you are about getting married. Let them know that you appreciate all they are doing to help make your wedding dreams come true.
- And last but definitely not least, when asking parents for help with wedding costs, make sure you're polite and respectful.
How do you manage your wedding finances?
Step 1: Have a Budget
It is important to have a wedding budget when planning a wedding as this will help ensure the total expense is realistic and couples can align their priorities.
Step 2: Consider who traditionally pays for the wedding and who can legitimately afford to pay.
Consider traditions when it comes to who pays for what, but also bear in mind who in your family can realistically afford to help.
Step 3: Understand that financial contributions to your wedding can come with strings
It is important to understand that financial contributions to your wedding can come with strings attached. If someone offers to contribute financially to your wedding, they may expect something in return, such as a say in how the money is spent or who to invite!
Step 4: Track your spending
It is important to track your spending when planning a wedding in order to stay on budget and avoid going into debt. This will help you keep track of what you are spending on and where your money is going. It can also help you identify areas where you may be able to cut back or save money.
Step 5: Cut costs where you can
When planning a wedding, it is important to be mindful of costs and cut them where possible.
Here are a few ideas:
- Have a smaller wedding with smaller guest list – This will save on costs for invitations, catering, and decorations.
- Choose a less expensive venue- There are many beautiful locations that don't cost as much as a traditional wedding venue.
- Serve a buffet instead of a sit-down dinner- This is another way to save on catering costs.
- DIY some of the decorations – This can be a fun way to add your personal touch to the wedding while saving money.
- Use an online wedding planner – This can help you stay organized and on budget.
- Shop around for the best deals on everything.
What are the common mistakes couples make when it comes to paying for their wedding?
1. Not asking each parent if they want to contribute financially
It is important to ask each parent if they want to contribute financially to the wedding rather than assume they will or won't.
2. Not budgeting for the wedding
If you don't budget for your wedding, you may find yourselves in a sticky situation. The wedding budget might just be the most critical part of the wedding planning process.
3. Not being grateful for their circumstances
Whether you're paying for the wedding yourselves or have help from your parents, take a second to appreciate how fortunate you are to be able to have the a celebration in the first place.
4. Not asking for help when they need it
If you find yourself struggling during the planning process, whether it's finances related or not…Ask.For.Help.
5. Not communicating with each other about the wedding
Couples need to communicate about who will pay for what aspects of their wedding early on in the wedding planning process. This is because financial planning for a wedding can be complex. By discussing costs early on, couples can make sure they are both on the same page and budget for their wedding accordingly.
Who Pays What For the Wedding FAQs
Who traditionally pays for the wedding?
What is the average cost of a wedding?
The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $27,000, according to market research firm The Wedding Report. This is up from $20,286 in 2020. The increase appears to be because many people were forced to reschedule their weddings originally set to happen in 2020, and then again in 2021. Recent inflation have also had a significant impact on prices.
What are some of the most expensive items associated with a wedding?
The most expensive items you'll need to pay for your wedding are:
- Wedding Dress
- Food & Drink (including alcohol and cake)
- Photographer & Videographer
- Wedding Planner
Who pays for the bride's dress?
It depends on the culture and the bride & groom. In America, the bride's family traditionally pays for the wedding dress.
Who pays for the groom's suit?
Traditionally, the groom's family pays for the suit. But as ever, it really depends on the couple's situation.
Who pays for the wedding rings?
Traditionally, the bride's family pays for the wedding rings. However, more and more couples are paying for their own wedding rings.
Who pays for the flowers?
The bride's family traditionally pays for the wedding flowers. But as discussed, it's becoming increasingly common for couples to pay for their own weddings, and in-turn, flowers.
Who pays for the wedding cake?
Traditionally, the bride's parents pay for the wedding cake. However, there are many couples are paying for this now themselves. And, of course, there are also couples who choose to have a smaller wedding cake and/or who opt for a more creative dessert instead. So it really depends on the couple's preference.
Who pays for the invitations?
The bride's family traditionally pays for wedding invitations.
Who pays for the honeymoon?
Traditionally, the groom's family pays for the honeymoon. This is changing, however, and more and more couples are splitting the cost of their honeymoon or collecting funds from friends & family as wedding gifts and putting the money towards the honeymoon (as we did!). If the ideas of having friends and family fund your honeymoon, definitely check out Prezola and Honeyfund.
Who pays for the bridesmaid dresses?
We have an article devoted to exactly this!
If parents are contributing to wedding costs, how do they go about it? Pay the vendors directly or give the funds to us to manage?
Generally, it will make your life easier to have them pay you and then you allocate & pay the vendors out of your budget. This will help with organization and just ensuring vendors aren't being passed around different people. That said, some parents may prefer to pay directly and if that's the case, best to go along with it and be grateful they're paying! :)