Wedding 101

When it Comes to the Wedding, Whose Family Pays for What?

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Planning a wedding is an exciting and memorable time in a couple's life. But, as with many things in life, it also comes with a price tag. Figuring out who pays for what can be one of the most stressful aspects of planning a wedding. With marriage being a long-standing tradition, there are established guidelines for who traditionally pays for what. However, in today's modern society, these rules have become more flexible, and couples can decide to break with tradition and create their own rules.
Here are the standard guidelines for who pays for what at a wedding, and some tips to help you navigate this tricky topic:

Engagement Party

The engagement party is typically hosted by the bride's family. This event is an opportunity for the couple to celebrate their engagement and for families to meet and get to know each other. However, in modern times, it's not uncommon for the couple to host their own engagement party or for both families to contribute to the cost.
Pro Tip: If you're planning an engagement party, make sure to set a budget and stick to it. It's essential to start off on the right foot financially and avoid overspending on this event.

Bachelorette and Bridal Shower

Traditionally, the maid of honor and bridesmaids plan the bridal shower and bachelorette party. They are responsible for covering the cost, and everyone chips in to help pay for the event. In some cases, family members, such as mothers, aunts, and sisters, may also help plan and contribute to the cost of these events.

Bachelor Party

The bachelor party is usually planned and paid for by the best man and groomsmen. However, sentimental fathers may also offer to contribute to the cost of the event.

Wedding Attire

Traditionally, the bride's family pays for her wedding dress, while the groom's family covers the cost of his attire. Bridesmaids and groomsmen typically pay for their own attire. However, in modern times, it's becoming more common for the bride and groom to pay for their own attire.
Pro Tip: Be upfront with your bridal party about the expected cost of their attire. You can also offer to cover part of the cost if it's within your budget.

Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is traditionally hosted by the groom's family. This event is an opportunity for the two families to come together and get to know each other before the big day. However, in modern times, the couple may choose to host the rehearsal dinner or split the cost with both families.

Wedding Ceremony

Traditionally, the bride's family paid for the wedding ceremony, as part of the dowry concept. However, in modern times, the cost can be shared between the bride and groom or split between both families.


The wedding reception is the most significant expense of the wedding, including the venue rental, catering, décor, music, and other miscellaneous expenses. Traditionally, this cost has been the responsibility of the bride's family. However, with the increasing cost of weddings, many couples are choosing to chip in or split the cost with their families. It's essential to discuss your budget and expectations with your families and vendors ahead of time to avoid any surprises or conflicts down the line.


Traditionally, the groom's family pays for the honeymoon, but nowadays, it's often the responsibility of the couple. However, if the groom's family offers to cover some or all of the honeymoon expenses, it's considered a lovely gesture.

Wedding Photography and Videography

This cost is typically the responsibility of the couple. While it's not traditional for either family to pay for wedding photography and videography, it's a good idea for couples to budget for these services if they want to capture memories of their special day.

Wedding Planner

A wedding planner can help make the wedding planning process a lot less stressful, but this service comes at a cost. While it's not traditional for either family to pay for a wedding planner, some couples may choose to budget for this service themselves. Alternatively, the groom's family may offer to pitch in, especially if they want to be more involved in the planning process.

Wedding Decorations and Flowers

The bride's family traditionally covers the cost of wedding decorations and flowers. However, with the growing trend of DIY weddings and couples wanting to have more control over their wedding decor, it's becoming more common for couples to cover these expenses themselves.

Wedding Favors

Wedding favors are a lovely way to thank guests for attending the wedding. Traditionally, the bride's family pays for the favors. However, many couples are opting for more personalized and unique favors that may be more expensive, so it's common for couples to share the cost of wedding favors or pay for them themselves.
These guidelines may provide a good starting point, but it’s up to the couple and their families to have an open and honest discussion about wedding expenses. With the average cost of a wedding in the US reaching over $30,000, it's no surprise that many couples are finding it difficult to cover all of the expenses themselves. The good news is that there are many creative ways to cut costs and still have the wedding of your dreams.
Pro tip: One way to save money on wedding expenses is to consider a destination wedding. By having a smaller guest list and combining the wedding and honeymoon, couples can save a significant amount of money. 
It's also important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to who pays for a wedding. Couples and their families should feel comfortable discussing their financial situation and coming up with a plan that works for everyone. Whether it's splitting the cost evenly or having one family cover certain expenses, the most important thing is that everyone feels comfortable and happy with the plan.
So while tradition plays a role in determining who pays for what when it comes to a wedding, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The most important thing is for couples and their families to communicate openly about wedding expenses and come up with a plan that works for everyone. With a little creativity and flexibility, it's possible to have the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.
Kimberly Watson
About The Author
Senior copy editor at Razorfish.
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