Who Pays for the Wedding: A Guide to Modern Etiquette

Weddings are an exciting time but also come with many questions about etiquette and finances. Learn about modern etiquette when it comes to who pays for a wedding.

Who Pays for the Wedding: A Guide to Modern Etiquette

Weddings are a time of joy and celebration, but they can also be a source of stress and confusion. Who pays for what? What is the traditional breakdown? How has it changed over time? In this article, we'll explore the modern etiquette of who pays for a wedding and how to navigate the financial aspects of your big day. Formerly, the bride's parents were responsible for organizing (and paying for) the entire celebration. Nowadays, most people believe that the couple should pay for their own wedding, especially if they have lived alone for some time.

Of course, parents often want to collaborate. But does it affect a parent's financial obligation if a couple has lived together before the wedding? The answer is no. Whether or not a couple lived together before they were married has absolutely nothing to do with who pays for the wedding. And there is no rule that states that parents are required to pay.

Yes, the bride's parents were traditionally expected to foot most of the bill, while the groom's parents normally only covered the cost of the rehearsal dinner. But nowadays, more and more couples are paying for most of the wedding (almost 62 percent according to a recent Bridal Guide survey). Any financial aid they receive from their parents is a gift, and the amount they receive depends on their parents' financial situation. Some parents can pay for the entire wedding, while others can only contribute a certain amount to cover the cost of flowers, catering, music, or photography.

If the groom's parents are better off financially, they may even offer to pay more than the bride's. It's best to find out early on whether parents can contribute to wedding expenses and, if so, how much they're comfortable spending. This way you'll have a better idea of what your budget is and you can plan accordingly. According to the Brides American Wedding Study, parents cover 35 to 42 percent of the cost of their children's weddings. But before you can figure out how much you can pay for your big day (and, of course, use WeddingWire's free budget tool to stay organized), you'll need to decide who pays for the wedding.

From the perspective of wedding etiquette, remember that money equals control - whoever pays for the wedding can actively participate in decision-making. It's best for the bride and groom to have a private conversation first before talking to the parents about how to help cover the costs. The bride herself took care of the wedding flowers, the bridesmaid's gifts, the groom's ring and a gift for the groom. Traditionally, the bride's family assumed most of the financial costs associated with a wedding, including organizing the wedding, invitations, dress, ceremony and reception. Who pays what breakdown also varies among LGBTQIA+ couples, who pay 61% of wedding expenses themselves, while their parents pay 37%. To be fair, many couples try to pay for part of the wedding, but it seems that both members of the family are still spending a significant percentage. Keep in mind that this historic method of hosting makes the bride's parents the de facto hosts of the event.

Feel free to break with traditions about who pays what if, for example, both groups of parents contribute approximately the same amount or if one parent is determined to pay for something specific. While the bride's opinions, dreams and desires are often (and are supposed to be) paramount, it's important to have honest conversations about who makes the final decision - no matter who pays the bill. That's why the bride's parents usually get that well-deserved spot at the top of a classically composed wedding invitation. This means that if your parents pay for a large part of your event they should give their opinion on things like guest list size and selection of vendors and suppliers - and much more. The bride's family pays for things like venue rental fees and most products and services related to your big day. Once again this list of who pays for what is based on traditional roles - and nowadays it's rare for anyone to follow it exactly. But you'll see that even in traditional roles -the bride's family doesn't pay for everything - but they're definitely an important part of making your dream day come true.

Greta Sorgente
Greta Sorgente

Lifelong analyst. Total bacon enthusiast. Passionate bacon trailblazer. Avid problem solver. Typical music junkie. Wannabe music evangelist.

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