Who Pays for What at a Wedding?

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Ok let’s face it…it’s 2014. Gone are the days when weddings were simple and with that came the simplicity of knowing who was supposed to pay for what at a wedding. With the national average of weddings costing $30,000, Dad’s of daughters are turning gray a whole lot sooner and offering “elopement packages” instead of going bankrupt. No one wants to foot the whole bill, but no one wants to have that awkward conversation with the other side’s family either. “Do they KNOW they are supposed to pay for that?”

Well, first of all, don’t ever assume that everyone knows what they are supposed to do. Nowdays, tradition has been kicked to the curb. Sometimes, it bothers me. Sometimes it makes sense. And sometimes it’s just the way things are. People are getting married older and paying for their own weddings while entrusting only a few things to mom and dad. Mr. and Mrs. get their “pinterest wedding” AND mom and dad breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes, the groom’s family has a relative who offers to cater and in exchange the bride’s family will offer to pay for the honeymoon because Aunt Fran owns a travel agency. So sometimes it’s a win-win to buck tradition.

The important thing is clear communication. Don’t make assumptions. Also, be realistic. Understand that times (and the price of weddings) have changed and be considerate of people’s budgets. Remember to include step-parents and step-relatives in the appropriate manner. Sometimes this involves a very direct question of “what would you like to help with?” Often, everyone involved is far less insulted or offended by a direct question than by misguided assumptions. Especially if you can communicate your true goal–that you want them to feel included, and accurately represented in the entire wedding production.

Early communication is key as well. Don’t wait until the last minute to clarify if something is your job or not. Get it ironed out before everyone gets stressed out and exhausted.

The sooner everyone knows what tradition expects from them, the sooner everyone can have an open discussion about how they want to pay for your dream wedding. Here are some pointers to get you started:

Who Pays for What?

Bride pays for:

• Groom’s wedding band
• Gifts for groom and bridesmaids
• Gifts for your parents
• Groom’s tux and accessories

Groom pays for:

• Bride’s ring(s)
• Gifts for Bride and groomsmen
• Boutonniere’s for groom, fathers, grandfathers, and groomsmen
• Corsages (bouquets sometimes) for mothers and grandmothers
• Bouquet(s) for bride (this includes your toss bouquet)

Bride’s family pays for:

• Invitations
• Announcements
• Postage
• Wedding stationary
• Bride’s gown(s) and accessories
• Flowers and décor for ceremony and reception
• Ceremony and location fees
• Food and beverages
• Media expenses (photography/videography)
• Transportation rentals
• Entertainment and music at ceremony and reception
• Wedding cake
• Engagement party
• Pretty much any expense that isn’t allotted to someone else

Groom’s family pays for:

• Officiant fees (oftentimes this is a tip or gift. Also would cover any expenses related to the officiant.)
• Marriage License Fee
• Rehearsal dinner
• Honeymoon expenses

Hopefully by being objective in your approach, and attacking these questions honestly and head-on early, you can avoid unnecessary confusion and emotional hurt later on. You can plan confidently for your wedding knowing who’s paying for what. And most importantly, you can preserve the relationships of those closest to you without worry.


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