Wedding Expenses – Who Pays For What?

Many years ago it was completely understood that the bride’s family paid for the wedding. The groom’s family paid for the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon and everything else was up to the parents of the bride. Of course times change. Today’s couples are not only slightly older but, have usually lived alone or out of their parents home for an extended period of time. Nowadays, aside from how much you are going to spend on your wedding, the next biggest concern regarding your budget is who pays for what.

Before you start making the guest list, have an open honest conversation with all parents at the same time. Ask how much they are able or willing to contribute and then you can move on to figuring out how much you are able or willing to spend, keeping in mind that the average U.S. wedding cost hovers around $30,000.  Having an honest conversation will determine everything from where you have the wedding to what you will wear and avoid any unpleasantness related to the cost of the wedding.

In most cases, everybody has already had the discussion about finances leading up to the moment when the engagement ring arrives and they know full well how much they are going to contribute. In rare cases, nobody has any clue about their responsibilities. In order to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes, here is a slightly modified traditional checklist of ‘who pays for what’ and remember these are NOT rules, just guidelines.

Bride & Family:

  • Invitations, announcements, programs, Thank You notes, place cards, guest book and accessories.
  • Church or synagogue, musicians, organist,
  • Bridal Gown, veil, shoes, accessories and trousseau.
  • Flower arrangements for Church, Reception, Bridesmaid Bouquets and Huppah ( for Jewish ceremonies)
  • All professional services, including food, drink, decorations, and music.
  • Engagement Party and all related expenses.
  • All Photography and video.
  • Groom’s ring.
  • Wedding transportation to and from ceremony and reception.

Groom & Family:

  • Marriage License and officiant fees.
  • Groom’s outfit
  • Bride’s bouquet and going-away corsage, boutonnieres for men, and corsages for mothers and grandmothers.
  • Complete honeymoon.
  • Rehearsal dinner.
  • Bride’s ring.

Of course this is merely a guideline and anyone who is willing to help is encouraged to do so. The absolute best scenarios are when everyone works together and shares the expenses equally.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago