Who Pays for the Wedding? A Guide to Deciding Who Pays for What (2024)

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,” 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.”When it comes to nuptials, it really is a case by case basis.

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.

Consider who traditionally pays for the wedding

Traditionally, the bride’s family assumed most of the financial costs associated with a wedding, including the wedding planner, invitations, dress, ceremony, reception, flowers, photography, and music. “It’s harder to think about this now, and I am a feminist, but historically it has to do with the ancient practice of a bride’s family giving a dowry to the groom’s for assuming the ‘burden’ of a bride,” Post says.

The bride’s parents also traditionally hosted the engagement party, while some maids of honor cover the cost of the bridal shower. (Or any person, really, besides the couple themselves.) The groom’s family traditionally paid for all costs associated with the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon, wedding day transportation, and the officiant. The groom paid for the bride’s engagement ring, wedding ring, and groomsmen gifts. It is also common for the groom’s family to pay for the alcohol at the reception. Yet it’s important to remember this adage from Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette guide: “Traditions make weddings special, and a spending plan should be something that facilitates these traditions, not a burden to be held against an old and outdated standard.”

Traditionally the bride pays for…

  • The groom’s wedding ring
  • Bridesmaids’ lunch or party
  • Accommodations for the bridal party (if a bridesmaid is coming from out of town)
  • Wedding party gifts

The bride’s family pays for…

  • Invitations and announcements
  • Wedding gown and accessories
  • Floral arrangments and corsages
  • Ceremony arrangments
  • The reception party and vendors, like food
  • Necessary transportation
  • Wedding photographer/videographer

Traditionally the groom pays for…

  • Bride’s engagement and wedding rings
  • Wedding attire
  • Accommodations for the groomsmen (if a groomsman is coming from out of town)
  • Wedding party gifts
  • Groomsmen lunch or party

The groom’s family pays for…

  • Officiant fee and marriage license
  • Rehearsal dinner costs
  • Music (DJ or band) and drinks, including alcohol, for the reception
  • Honeymoon expenses

Ask each set of parents if and how they would like to contribute to the wedding

It is best for the bride and groom to have a private discussion first before speaking to parents about helping to cover costs. “Please, please talk about costs up front,” says East Coast event expert Rebecca Gardner. Lizzie Post, cohost of the Awesome Etiquette podcast and great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, agrees. She 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.

“Communication is key to keeping the peace. The last thing you want is a misunderstanding and you find yourself coming up short, or someone feeling like they need to contribute more than they expected,” adds Carlson.

But today, most couples contribute financially to their wedding

Today, more couples are directly contributing to the wedding. Simultaneously, more grooms’ families are also willing to split costs. Want specific statistics? According to a recent survey by The Knot, on average, parents contribute to 51% of the wedding budget, while couples cover the remaining 49% percent. Meanwhile, Zola found that one third of couples are covering all of their wedding costs on their own.

Financial contributions to your wedding can come with strings

If your family is helping to significantly foot the bill, you might find yourself in tricky situations where they are insisting on their way rather than your way. If you can foresee that happening, you may want to consider taking care of the expenses yourself. “You’ll be far calmer having the wedding you want on your terms, even if you ultimately end up scaling back the festivities,” says Carlson.

Consider what type of wedding you want

Although the big, party-style wedding is still considered mainstream, elopements are having a moment in the spotlight due to the pandemic and rising expenses. Celebrity couples from David Harbour and Lily Allen to Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker have eloped in recent years, highlighting the popularity of these secret ceremonies. Elopements tend to be incredibly intimate, if not just the couples themselves (and a witness or two), so toss out wedding invitations, long guest lists, and rehearsal dinners, and focus on the essentials—splitting the costs might seem a little more clear.

The couple’s age has nothing to do with who pays for the wedding

“Age has very little to do with paying for the wedding,” says Carlson. “It’s really more about how financially sound the couple is on their own, as well as the role their family wants to play in the wedding.” Post agrees: “Age shouldn’t be a factor when contributing. Whether you are getting married in your 40s or 30s or 20s, a parent should want to help, as long as it is financially viable for them.”

Don’t forget the wedding party

In the months leading up to the wedding—and especially on the big day—bridesmaids and groomsmen become the unsung heroes, whether the bride’s makeup requires touching up or the groom's bowtie needs finding. With the tradition of bridesmaids and groomsmen paying for their personal attire and a gift for the couple, also comes the question of how the wedding party will want to contribute to the festivities like a shower or bachelor/bachelorette party. Although these extravaganzas are traditionally paid for by members of the wedding party, it’s best to know if you should set aside a budget for additional celebrations during your engagement.

Find ways to show gratitude at every turn

Gratitude goes a long way when people do commit to helping. “Brides should remember to take care to be effusive if someone else is paying for their wedding,” says Gardner. “You have to honor their part in the wedding.” This applies especially when invitations are being drafted: “If the bride’s family is paying for the wedding, their name should come first and almost exclusively,” says Post. For example, the invitation would then begin with something like: “Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Smith request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their daughter Mary Ann to Everett Montgomery.” If both sets of parents are paying, you can opt for wording like: “Charles and Delaney Tout and Harold and Claudia Kohn invite you to celebrate with their children Amelia and Stephen.” (If the bride and groom are paying for the wedding, then only their names need to be on the invite.) If it is a combination of the couple and parents, something like the following works, according to Emily Post’s Etiquette Centennial: “Together with our families, Casey Collet and Felix Edgers invite you to join in celebrating their marriage.”

Who Pays for the Wedding? A Guide to Deciding Who Pays for What (2024)


Who Pays for the Wedding? A Guide to Deciding Who Pays for What? ›

Traditionally, the bride's family pays for the wedding, but that custom is rapidly changing. Couples are increasingly choosing to handle at least half of the wedding expenses on their own. Early planning and a written budget can help avoid miscommunication when deciding who pays for what.

Who is responsible for paying for what in a wedding? ›

The groom's family traditionally paid for all costs associated with the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon, wedding day transportation, and the officiant. The groom paid for the bride's engagement ring, wedding ring, and groomsmen gifts. It is also common for the groom's family to pay for the alcohol at the reception.

What is the groom's family supposed to pay for? ›

According to traditional etiquette, the groom's family is responsible for paying for the bride's rings, the groom's and groomsmen's attire, the rehearsal dinner, gifts for the groomsmen, some personal flowers, the officiant's fee, the marriage license fee, certain aspects of transportation, and the honeymoon.

Who is traditionally meant to pay for the wedding? ›

Traditionally, it is the responsibility of the bride's family – specifically, her mother and father – to pay for most of the wedding. It's not clear exactly how this tradition started, but it's thought to have evolved from the practice of the bride's family paying a dowry to the husband.

What are groom's parents responsible for? ›

Covering Specific Expenses:

These can include the rehearsal dinner, officiant fees, the marriage license, the bride's bouquet, boutonnieres and corsages for close family, as well as aspects of the reception like the bar, entertainment, and sometimes even contributing towards the honeymoon.

Am I obligated to pay for my daughter's wedding? ›

While it is tradition that the parents pay for the daughter's wedding, some people are trying to stay away from this tradition. This is not mandatory if the couple is in good financial health. If both of you are covering a bigger portion of the expenses, it makes sense to ask for help from the parents.

At what age do parents not pay for a wedding? ›

So based on this data, it seems like once couples hit their late 30s or early 40s, parents pay for a smaller portion of the wedding, or don't contribute at all. In short, there is no age limit or exact etiquette for when parents do not pay for their children's wedding costs, says Tonya Hoopes, owner of Hoopes Events.

Do parents pay for son's wedding? ›

The groom's family is traditionally responsible for the bride's engagement ring and wedding ring(s), all groom attire, groomsmen gifts, boutonnières and corsages for appropriate wedding party and family members, the officiant's fee, the marriage license, rehearsal dinner costs and transportation and lodging for the ...

What does the mother of the groom give the bride? ›

These items can include jewelry, watches, or a personalized handkerchief. Family heirlooms are warm tender gestures that symbolize the true delight that the mother of the groom feels about having her daughter-in-law marry into the clan.

Who stereotypically pays for the wedding? ›

While traditionally, the bride's parents were responsible for hosting (and paying for) the entire celebration, today, many couples join both sets of parents in contributing.

Who pays for the brides' dress? ›

Bride's Attire

While this responsibility can vary from culture to culture, historically the bride's family will pay for her wedding dress and accessories.

How much should parents pay for a wedding? ›

If you don't feel you can be on the hook for an entire wedding, you have statistics that can back you up. So here's how it breaks down. On average, the bride's parents usually spend 44 percent of the overall budget, while the couple contributes 43 percent and the groom's parents pop for about 12 percent.

How much money should the groom's parents give? ›

It used to be that the role of the bridegroom's parents was restricted to hosting the rehearsal dinner and leading him down the aisle, but that is no longer the case. In a recent poll by wedding enthusiasts, the Groom's parents cover up to 24% of the wedding costs.

What does a mom give her son on his wedding day? ›

A personalized photo album or picture frame is a timeless and sentimental gift your son and daughter-in-law will cherish for years to come. Fill the album with pictures of special moments and memories that they have shared together, or choose a beautiful picture frame to display a favorite wedding photo.

Who walks down the groom's mom? ›

As the wedding begins, the groom's mother will be escorted down the aisle, to the first pew, right-hand side, by the head usher or a groomsman who is a family member. A nice touch includes the groom escorting his mother down the aisle. As the groom's mother is escorted to her seat, her husband will follow along behind.

What does the mother of the bride pay for? ›

If you are following the rules of tradition, the bride's family is expected to bear the brunt of the expenses including the wedding dress, bridesmaids' gifts, the wedding planner or coordinator, the invitations, the flowers, the reception, photography, the groom's wedding ring, music, any pre-wedding day meals for the ...

What do grooms' parents pay for in 2024? ›

summary. The Groom's parents typically cover expenses for the groom's attire, rehearsal dinner, bridal bouquet, wedding cake, marriage license and officiant fee, bridal ring, ceremony exit transportation, gifts for the groomsmen, and may provide a financial gift towards the honeymoon.

Who pays the money in a wedding? ›

Looking back through the ages, the bride's family would traditionally pay. More recently, it's common for both the bride and groom's families to share the responsibility. Then there's other couples who choose to fully pay for everything themselves in order to have the final say on the details.

How to split wedding costs? ›

The different parties can offer to pay for certain aspects of the celebration. The bride's and groom's parents can split the costs; alternatively, each set of parents and the couple can each pay one-third of the cost. Finally, it's increasingly common for the bride and groom to pay for the whole wedding themselves.

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