Budgeting is without a doubt one of the most stressful parts of the wedding planning process, and things have gotten more complicated now that wedding traditions are being broken around every turn. The truth is, you can do whatever you want for your own wedding, but there are some traditional considerations that will help guide you throughout this process. As the first installment in our budgeting series, we’ve laid out all the traditional “rules” for who should pay for what during a wedding, and given you our best advice for which ones to follow, and which ones are okay to break. Make sure to check back in for the rest of the month for more posts about how to budget, maximize your budget, and find more room for activities within your budget!
Traditionally, Who Pays for What at a Wedding?
Traditionally, it’s a simple split - the Bride’s family pays for the ceremony and reception, while the Groom’s family pays for the rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner. This comes from the time in which Brides were “sold” into the marriage, and while it’s a bit outdated, this is how most wedding budgets are still split. There are a few outliers, such as the Groom’s family is supposed to cover the marriage license and the officiant costs, as well as his attire and boutonnieres. Traditionally, the Groom and his family will also cover the costs of the honeymoon. Anything else, covered by the Bride’s family!
But Traditions are Lame!
Okay, you are right in some cases! The wedding industry has evolved significantly since most of those traditions started. One study showed that somewhere around 48% of couples are not going to ask for money from family and friends for their wedding. Plus, many weddings these days don’t have one Bride and one Groom, so that can make things confusing. There are some basic rules to follow no matter where your wedding budget is coming from.
Those Who Pay Get a Say
The planning and budgeting at a wedding should be intertwined, because as far as etiquette goes, the person or family paying is the person or family who has final say in the planning of an event. For instance, the Groom’s family can decide where the Rehearsal Dinner is if they are the ones paying. If your parents want to host a Sunday Brunch, then they will be responsible for paying for that brunch. Keep this in mind when planning your budget in case you or your family members want to have more say in a specific event. It is customary to defer to whomever is paying on most decisions for an event - hopefully your families will take what you want into account though!
Pay for Your Own Attire and Flowers
As a general rule, you and your family should be covering your own attire and personal flowers. If you and your fiancé are both wearing wedding dresses and carrying bouquets, then those costs will be split.
Pay for Your Own Individual Gifts
You also pay for any gifts that you give attendants on your side of the wedding party, as well as any family gifts you may give out (PRO TIP: The best time to give these gifts is at the rehearsal dinner). These gifts are typically from a Bride or Groom to their attendant or family member - NOT a gift from the couple to that person, so it makes sense that the costs would be covered by the individual.
What does the Bridal Party Pay For?
Traditionally, the Bridal Party all pay for their own attire, transport, and housing for the wedding. It is quite common for jewelry and/or hair and makeup to be given as a gift to the women in your wedding party, and same could be said for ties or cuff links for men. A general guideline is that if you require anything beyond the outfit (dress, tux, etc.) then you should provide that to your party as a gift.
More and more, couples are opting to pay for honeymoons themselves, even if it means waiting a little while after the wedding to take their trip. Some couples are using services like Honeyfund to let their guests contribute to their Honeymoon as a wedding gift. Many families still contribute to their children’s honeymoons by gifting them a nice dinner reservation or excursion!
As for everything else, this is where you should have a general budget set aside, no matter where it comes from. With same-sex couples, many families are splitting the budget down the middle. We’ve also seen a lot of couples opting to pay for their own weddings, or contributing a large portion of the money, especially if they are older and have been living together for a while. It truly doesn’t matter anymore where the budget comes from, as long as you keep track of it and make smart decisions. Remember that anyone who contributes to the budget will have a say in the wedding plans as a whole, so if you ask your families for money, make sure to give them an idea of what their money will be going toward to help get them on board.
If you’re just starting on all this budget stuff, don’t worry - we have a whole series coming up with tips and tricks for getting the most out of your wedding budget. We recommend starting with a general idea of your “must haves” and then approaching your families or sponsors individually to openly discuss how you would spend the money and what is important to each of them as a contributor. Then once you have an idea of where you stand, you make a more realistic budget proposal before booking any vendors!