Wedding Budget Guide: Who Pays?

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Tradition has long defined which parties pay for what when it comes to planning a wedding. However, today’s unions are often breaking convention as trend-setting brides don coloured gowns and abandon the time-honoured veil. This then begs the question: who is paying for your wedding?

Planning a wedding can be one of the most exciting times in a couple’s life. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most expensive. Planning the details of your ceremony, reception and theme are stressful enough; adding a constrictive budget to the list is enough to have some brides heading for meltdown. It remains individual to each couple how they wish to pay for their wedding. It depends on your financial position and the financial situation of your families, as well as your personal desires as a couple. If in doubt, however, we have established several ways in which couples are choosing to divide the responsibility of the expenses.

Follow tradition

The traditional convention is for the bride’s family to provide for the majority of the expenses. Stemming from a time when dowries were a custom, the family of the bride pays for the ceremony, including rental fees and decorations; the reception, including rental fees, food, decorations and entertainment; the flowers
for the ceremony and the reception if required; the bride’s wedding dress and accessories; invitations; transport; party favours, and their own attire and travel expenses. It is traditional for the groom’s family to provide for the expenses of the rehearsal dinner, including food, decorations and invitations. They also pay for their attire and travel expenses. The bride in this situation would pay for her groom’s wedding ring, as well as a gift for him. She would also cover her makeup, tanning, hair, manicure and any other beauty treatments required for the day. The groom would pay for the bride’s engagement and wedding rings, as well as the honeymoon, corsages for the mothers and grandmothers, and gifts for his attendants.

Split it

An evenly balanced take on the traditional expenses of your wedding includes formulating an overall projected budget and splitting it into thirds. In this scenario, the bride and groom would pay one portion, the bride’s family a second and the groom’s family a third. This allows both families to contribute evenly to the wedding, while the bridal couple also invests some of their own savings. 

Bride and groom

It is now common for older or more established couples to take on the entire budget of their wedding. If their families lack the resources to contribute or if they simply wish to take on the responsibility of the event themselves, couples can outline a budget and save up the funds on their own. This scenario has the potential to leave you with a sense of great achievement, having worked so hard for this important day. However, it could also possibly lead to families feeling left out if it was their initial desire to contribute.

A modern take

The most widespread approach to organising the expenses of a modern wedding consists of compromise and options. A couple will first research and price the elements of the wedding they desire, such as destinations, styles and themes, before going on to create a projected budget of the event. They will then approach their families and first ask if they want to contribute. Families will usually then examine the budget and express their wish to either contribute for certain items, for example the flowers and the entertainment, or they may instead decide to contribute a set amount. Whatever your wish when determining the cost and payment of your wedding, remember to consider the parties involved. You may have to make some compromises, such as allowing the parties contributing funds to have input into the wedding. If this is not what you want, make sure you explain this before they contribute. It helps to take into consideration what you can afford and how much you can fairly expect someone else to contribute. There are also many creative ways to decrease your budget while keeping the initial dream of your wedding day intact.


By Jess Griffin

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