Who Pays for What in the Wedding Budget

vintage champagne glasses and green and white bouquet

You may have heard of the old-fashioned rule that certain people have to pay for individual wedding costs. But don't worry—the bride's parents don't need to take out a mortgage to pay for the wedding. And if you're like most couples, the two of you might even be covering a good portion of the expenses yourselves. The best way to work it out? Sit down with The Knot Budget Calculator, or just a trusty pencil and paper, and figure out what you want and can afford. Below is the traditional breakdown (as in the bride's versus groom's families' typical responsibilities) of costs for everyone involved. But hear us out: These might seem like rules, but they're not set in stone—feel free to follow or stray from them based on what's best for your financial circumstances.  Let Vines of the Yarra Valley wedding venue help you create the most magical day of your life. 

The lines of who pays for what when it comes to weddings these days are blurred. Who pays for the wedding dress? What about the wedding rings? How about the wedding band? First of all, we have to throw out the disclaimer that there is no official ruling regulating financial responsibility. Traditionally, we probably all know that the bride's family foots the majority of the bill. But our annual American Wedding Study revealed that a majority of today's couples are also spending their own money to have the wedding they want, with more than half of all couples paying for or contributing to the cost.

When the time arrives for you to determine what kind of dividing up works for your particular financial and familial situation, we recommend that couples decide together along with their families who are ready and able to bear various costs. It can be helpful to first budget an estimate of your expenses in an Excel/Google document before meeting with the folks. That way, as a starting point, your decisions for your dream wedding day aren't being influenced by whose card chip is being inserted, per se. 

 

the wedding budget

Your respective parents can look over the spreadsheet and offer some high-level feedback, as well as volunteer for where they'd like to pitch in, especially now that they know around how much it'll run them in the end. (This is also valuable if one or both sets of parents are divorced, or other scenarios where multiple parties may be involved.)

But if you (or your parents) want to stick to tradition—or you're just interested in knowing the way it used to go, as a reference—there are some very strict delineations. Here, our etiquette experts outline exactly who should front which finances, according to age-old customs.

Fresh off your engagement, you're probably ready to book a venue, secure a wedding planner and buy a dream dress. But before you tackle any of that, there's one major question you have to address: who pays for the wedding? "These days, anything goes when it comes to paying for a wedding. Engaged couples taking care of the finances is on the rise. In fact, our academy surveyed wedding professionals for our annual International Wedding Trend Report, and 68% reported that the couples were funding the majority of their own expenses," says Kylie Carlson, the CEO of the International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning. "At the same time, the tradition of the bride's parents contributing is still very prevalent, especially in particular regions. With some weddings, costs are split between the couples and other members of the family. You'll also run into scenarios where parents are divorced or remarried, and splitting the costs. Grandparents may chip in — it really does depend on each individual wedding."

In other words, nothing is set in stone when it comes to who pays for a wedding. There are wedding traditions, of course, but you don't have to adhere to them. Anything goes! No matter who contributes, it's a welcome gesture—whether it's a set of parents, both sets of parents, grandparents, or anyone else. On the other hand, if the couple funds the entire affair themselves, they retain more control over the wedding budget. There's no right or wrong way to split wedding costs—each family and situation is unique.

As you navigate your own wedding, budget and cost-splitting, here are some things to keep in mind as you figure out who pays for what. Check our Top Wedding Dress Shops In Melbourne for your list of some of the most exclusive dress shops.

It wasn't very long ago that tradition called for the bride's family to pick up most of a wedding's tab. Though it may still be the case for many couples, it's not always so clear in modern times who pays for what part of a wedding. Couples getting married later in life who have the funds may prefer to pay for the entire event to keep total control. Or family members may offer to pay for parts of the wedding. It helps to take a look back at these unwritten rules of how traditional costs were split as a guideline while planning your wedding. Setting a budget and confirming expectations ahead of time with those who are involved financially will help keep conflicts to a minimum.

When it comes to wedding etiquette and budget, should Mums and Dads still pick up the big day bill? Should the bride and groom pay for the big day? We look at the options facing couples when planning their wedding budget.

There was much speculation around the three royal weddings in the past decade. The thought being around who will pay for what. Luckily most couples don't face the same scrutiny over their wedding plans. However, who picks up the tab can cause disagreements or, sometimes, worse.

These days it's not too hard to get your wedding etiquette right, as long as you know how you're going to manage it upfront.

Today, the average cost of a wedding is around £30,000, which is beyond the reach of most couples. Traditionally, the bride's family pays for the wedding reception (including the venue, food and drink) while the groom pays for the honeymoon. However, there's transport and the church or ceremony fees, hen parties and plenty of other costs to factor in. These days, few couples play by the traditional wedding budget rules.

Some families may offer to help the newlyweds-to-be celebrate the most magical day in their lives, and for that, we've put together the lowdown on (traditionally) who pays for what. This way you can look at your budget, see how much each part costs, and let your families know how much they can help with! At the end of the day, it's whatever works for you and your family, but this is an excellent place to start! 

The bulk of many wedding etiquette questions centre around financial issues. In past generations, the bride's family paid for the majority of the wedding expenses. The groom's lucky family got off with just the rehearsal dinner, and the groom himself paid for the honeymoon, the bride's rings, and assorted other small expenses.

That was then. Nowadays, with the costs of weddings growing and many couples marrying later when they are more likely to have careers and incomes of their own, more brides and grooms are contributing to, or even picking up entirely, the cost of the wedding. And the parents of many grooms are also providing more than in the past; a popular option is to have the bride's family, the groom's family, and the couple each contribute one-third.

 

Who pays?

Engagement Party

This expense is traditionally covered by the bride's family, as they will often host the engagement party at their house, as a way to welcome and bring together the two families (usually for the first time!). However, whichever family is feeling the most generous can host or offer to throw the party. 

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Ceremony

Bride and family pay for church or synagogue, sexton, organist, and so on.

Groom and family pay for marriage license and officiant fee.

Per tradition, the bride and her family pay for the ceremony and reception costs, including music for both, guest favours, and any rentals. The groom and his family take care of the marriage license and the officiant fee.

The bride and groom should have a private discussion first before speaking to parents about helping to cover costs. "Please, please talk about costs upfront," says East Coast event expert Rebecca Gardner. Post agrees, and advises couples to then delicately broach the subject with family members. "It is best to phrase it as 'We were wondering if you would like to contribute to the wedding,'" she suggests, adding that couples should emphasize that they are "not expecting anything." If parents are willing to contribute, ask them to be clear about their expectations and what they are, or aren't, willing to pay for. "I can't tell you how many brides' mothers won't pay for a dress if it's not a spaghetti strap dress!" says Post. We have compiled a list of the Top Wedding Dress Shops in Melbourne to help you select your perfect gown.

Wedding Attire

Bride and family pay for the bride's dress, veil, accessories and trousseau. Groom and family pay for the groom's outfit. All attendants pay for their own clothing, including shoes. Even though this rarely applies these days, it's interesting to note all the costs expected of the bride's family, once upon a time. These included obvious things like the wedding dress, accessories, and hair and make-up. Nowadays, perhaps a sweet grandmother offers to purchase your gown—or maybe you're paying for it (or your beauty regimen, your hair and make-up, and your splurge-worthy wedding-day heels) on your own. Word to the wise: Just don't ask your bridesmaids to pay for your dress.

The groom's attire, whether he buys or rents, is a cost typically picked up by him and his family. As a thoughtful gesture (and if budget allows), some couples put a little 

something towards their bridal party's ensembles, but this is entirely optional.

Don't think brides and grooms are off the hook. Quite often, they purchase thank you gifts. These are frequently things their attendants can wear during the wedding, such as jewelry, shoes, or ties. The bride might also pay for all of her bridesmaids' hair and make-up. It's also common for her to host an event, like a bridesmaids tea or a fun outing, to thank her maids.

It's also a good idea for the bride and groom to consider their attendants' finances. If most of the attendants are on tight budgets, the couple must find inexpensive options. The couple could also offer to contribute to the costs. For instance, you might help out with travel or arrange cheap places for the attendants to stay while they're in town.

The bride's side of the family traditionally pays for the bride's and bridesmaid's dresses. Although more and more, bridesmaids are paying for their own clothing. It really depends on your budget, the type of dresses you want them to wear, and whether or not it's within their price range! This is something which you should definitely discuss early on with your bride squad, to avoid any confusion later. 

Flowers and Decorations

Bride and family pay for floral arrangements for the ceremony (including a chuppah if it's a Jewish wedding ceremony) and reception, plus bouquets and corsages for bridesmaids and flower girls. Groom and family pay for the bride's bouquet, boutonnieres for men and corsages for mothers and grandmothers. For the most part, the cost of wedding florals is traditionally included in the portion of the overall wedding budget that's paid for by the bride and her family—all flowers and décor for the ceremony and reception, as well as florals for the bridesmaids and flower girls. The groom and his family would traditionally purchase the bride's bouquet and all of the boutonnieres and corsages for the wedding party and important family members. (If the thought of classic bouquets for your 'maids doesn't thrill you, check out these creative alternatives). The bouquet should be a gift from the groom to the bride, as she is his date. For an extra romantic twist, the groom can even pick wildflowers for the bride's bouquet. The bride's side of the family will traditionally pay for the flower decorations.

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Traditional Costs for the Bride's Family

The responsibilities of the bride's family begin before the nuptials. The bride's parents typically host and pick up the costs of an engagement party as a way to welcome the groom-to-be and his family into the bride's family. Besides, the bride's parents are traditionally the main hosts of the reception. It's their job to make the festivities run smoothly and make guests feel welcome. In addition to paying for their attire and travel, the bride's family is responsible for paying for the following:

  • The reception, including food, music, decorations, rental fees, and entertainment
  • The cost of the ceremony, including rental fees and decorations
  • Flowers for the ceremony and reception
  • The bride's wedding dress and accessories
  • Invitations, announcements, programs, and mailing costs
  • Wedding favors
  • Photography and video fees
  • Officiant's travel and lodgings (if from out of town)
  • Bridesmaid's lodgings (if from out of town)
  • Transportation of bridal party on the wedding day

should you split the wedding budget

Traditional Costs for the Groom's Family

The groom's family traditionally has a separate set of financial responsibilities. In addition to paying for their attire and travel expenses, the groom's side is responsible for hosting the rehearsal dinner. A rehearsal dinner can be casual or formal, but the purpose is to have an intimate occasion for both families and bridal parties to meet and mingle. The groom's family is traditionally responsible for funding the following:

  • The entire rehearsal dinner, including food, invitations, decorations, and entertainment
  • A wedding gift for the couple
  • Corsages and boutonnieres for parents of both families
  • Lodging for out-of-town groomsmen
  • Though optional, sometimes the groom's family pays for or contributes to the costs of alcohol served at the wedding reception

Old Wedding Etiquette Rules

Wedding and reception expenses for a first marriage were traditionally the sole responsibility of the bride's family. When paying, they get to determine the size and style of the wedding and reception. The groom's family may offer to share in the cost of the reception, and the bride's family may accept to accommodate a larger wedding.

New Wedding Etiquette Rules

 Both families may divide the expenses as their budget allows, or each family can contribute a set amount to the total expenses. The bride and groom may supplement this. As the average age of couples rises for marriage, many working duos today host and pay for their entire wedding and celebration themselves, and issue the invitation for their personalized wedding on their own. For encore weddings, the couple is always responsible for the costs.

 

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