Paying For The Wedding – What’s The Norm?

Who pays for the wedding

A wedding is an expensive affair, there is no denying that. If you want to have a beautiful venue, an exotic cake, a diamond ring and a honeymoon abroad, they come with a hefty price tag. While you’re dreaming up your perfect wedding, complete with the perfect floral arrangements and your favorite band for entertainment, the thought, “Who is paying for the wedding?” might just send shivers down your spine.

When you’re not too sure about what paying for the wedding is supposed to be for both sides, a bunch of questions pop into your head. Should you ask someone’s parents? Should you ask your partner? Can you actually afford your favorite band, or do you need to rely on Uncle Jerry’s guitar playing skills?

To put your mind at ease, let’s talk about the intricacies of paying for the wedding. As you probably know, there is the traditional way of paying for the wedding and the new-age way of sharing the expenses between the bride and the groom’s family. But the big question that is often asked is, what is the norm when it comes to paying for the wedding?

Why Do The Bride’s Parents Pay For The Wedding?

If we look at the traditional ways of paying for the wedding, it was expected that the bride’s family would be paying for the wedding, although the groom’s family could be chipping in. An average American wedding expense, inclusive of everything, is around $33,000.

Traditionally, in accordance with gender roles, it was believed the groom would pay for the honeymoon and then would be responsible for buying a house and supporting his wife financially. So, the wedding expenses were to be paid by the bride’s parents since the groom would take on her financial responsibility after the wedding.

“Why does the bride pay for the wedding? At our wedding, we didn’t much care about what the traditional way to do it was. We decided to pay as much as we could ourselves and then took help from our respective parents when we thought we needed it. If you’re wondering how we split it, we didn’t really for the intricacies of what is the groom responsible for paying for in a wedding or what the bride purchases. We decided to split it equally,” says Jacob, talking about how Martha and he decided on paying for the wedding.

The intricacies of who pays for what depends on your dynamic, but it’s always helpful to take a look at the way it has traditionally been done and the options available.

Do Bride’s Parents Still Pay For Most Of The Wedding?

If the bride’s parents are shouldering the wedding costs they are expected to pay most of it. However, the groom’s parents are also expected to pay a certain amount, at least in most marriages nowadays. So, finally, who pays for the wedding? Here’s how the basic payments are done:

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1. Who pays for the wedding event?

The bride’s parents pay for this although the groom’s parents can buy things like alcohol or any added purchases, like entertainment in the form of fireworks, dancers or any other performances. The bride’s parents pay for the venue, decoration, food and all other arrangements like photography, video, guest’s stay and transportation.

It’s a huge chunk of the expenses that they take up so they have to allocate quite a few thousand dollars to the wedding event expenses budget. Some couples even apply for a joint wedding loan and pay it off together post-wedding. Sometimes, a parent also needs to sign as a co-signer if the couple doesn’t have a good credit score. Exactly how you want to go about paying for the wedding is something you should discuss before you get married.

paying for the wedding
The bride’s parents are traditionally supposed to pay for the wedding

2. Who pays for the honeymoon?

If you’re now wondering, “What is the groom responsible for paying for in a wedding?” Usually, it’s the honeymoon. Though grooms can take assistance from their family, the responsibility usually falls on the groom, as long as you’re trying to do it the “traditional” way.

Before you hit the roof thinking how much your travel to the Maldives or Bora Bora will cost you, the good news is you can create an online honeymoon registry where you can divide the expenses and ask your guests to pick up a part of the expenses as a gift.

3. Who pays for the wedding dress?

As you’d expect, the answer to, “Who pays for the wedding dress?” is the bride’s father. However, in recent times, the bride or the couple themselves pay for the wedding dress. Keep in mind, that this pertains to only what the bride is going to wear, and not what the bridesmaids and the best man will wear.

4. Who pays for the clothing?

The cost of the groom’s attire is usually his own to bear. He sometimes chips in with the color-coordinated clothes of the bridesmaid or the groomsmen. Buying the boutonnieres is his responsibility, and if he’s planning some gifts for his groomsmen, that’s his choice.

The average price of a wedding dress is around $1600 and the groom’s tux costs a minimum of $350. It could also be rented for around $150.

5. Who pays for the wedding rings?

The groom is usually expected to buy the rings both for himself and his bride. But sometimes the bride’s side opts to buy the groom’s ring. The groom definitely buys the bouquet that his bride would carry.

The bouquet is a very important part of the wedding and it has to match with the wife’s attire and has to be her choice. It is specially ordered and the choice of flowers is usually the brides. Both the bride’s and the groom’s wedding band cost around $2000 on average.

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6. Who’s paying a minister for the wedding?

The groom pays for the marriage license and officiant’s fees. A Christian wedding is officiated by a pastor, such as a priest or a vicar. The pastor’s fees can range from $100 to $650. The cost of a marriage license differs from state to state but it is usually between $50 and $100.

Infographic on paying for the wedding
Paying for the wedding – What’s the norm?

7. Who pays for the rehearsal dinner?

Who pays for the rehearsal dinner? If this is a question people are asking, let us tell you that this is one place where both sides pay. The menu and the venue of the rehearsal dinner are decided upon by both parties. The cost of a rehearsal dinner is usually between $1000 and $1500. We know that sounds like a lot. Perhaps that’s why financial planning for newly married couples is so important.

8. Who pays for the wedding reception dinner?

If the question, “Who pays for the wedding reception dinner?” has been weighing on your mind, it’s usually the groom’s family that pays for it. Since it’s an event that takes place after the wedding, the groom’s family or the groom are expected to foot the bill.

9. Who pays for the wedding cake?

Who pays for the wedding cake? There is a bit of a controversy about it. Traditionally, it is the groom’s family who should pay for the wedding cake and the bride’s bouquet, but some families have the tradition of the bride’s family paying for the cake. So it is decided depending on the tradition a particular family follows. The average cost of a wedding cake in the US is $350.

What Is Proper Etiquette For The Groom’s Parents To Pay?

Ideally, both families should meet over a meal one day to discuss wedding plans. They should let each other know about their family traditions and what needs to be followed and what can be done away with.

Then, a basic budget can be drawn up. The proper etiquette for the groom’s parents to pay is to take up the list and offer to pay for the items that are traditionally expected from them and they could offer to pay for a few things more to lighten the burden from the bride’s side.

Whether the bride’s side would accept that or not is up to them, but it is good etiquette on the part of the groom’s parents to offer to pay. This helps in building a bond between both families.

Hence, instead of focusing on, “Why does the bride pay for the wedding?”, try to facilitate the whole process by being a bit generous and offering to take up a few more expenses.

Related Reading: How To Write Wedding Vows (And What You Should Never Write)

Who Pays For A Wedding These Days?

Things have changed. Unlike a just-out-of-college girl getting married to the love of her life as shown in the movies, modern couples get hitched usually much later in life, after they have had successful careers and as well as a good bank balance. They prefer not to carry a student loan into marriage and try to be debt-free before they tie the knot. The purpose of marriage, to them, isn’t to sit around and pay off loans together.

According to research, the average age of marriage for women in the US is 27.8 years, and the average age of marriage for men is 29.8 years. That means both partners are capable of funding their own wedding. So, the expectation has shifted from the bride’s family to the bride and the groom, and they work out the costs among themselves.

Usually, it is the bride and groom who spearhead the conversations between the two families. They let them know what they would like to pay for and then, if the bride’s and the groom’s family would like, they agree to take up some wedding costs. Usually, both families agree to pay for the wedding.

Now that you know everything about paying for a wedding, right down to paying a minister for the wedding or the reception dinner, you’re probably in a better place to make decisions. However, when it comes to paying for a wedding these days the traditional norms are not followed anymore.

Since couples believe in equality nowadays, it is not a given that the father of the bride would pay for the wedding. If the film Father Of The Bride had been made now, it would certainly have to incorporate the changing norms of a modern wedding.

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