Who Pays for What? Here's What Each Family Are Traditionally Financially Responsible For

If your family are honouring tradition and want to help pay for your wedding day, take a look at who can help pay for what

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Working out who should pay for what at a wedding can be a minefield.

In the past, after the cake had been cut and the confetti swept away, it was the norm for the bride’s parents to pick up the bill.

But times have changed, and while some couples do follow this route, many use a combination of paying for the wedding themselves and accepting financial help from both sets of parents.

Paying for the Wedding

Image: Hayley Jayne Photography

But how do you know who should be responsible for what costs? And if your parents do want to help, what's reasonable to ask for them to pay for?

Below we've got a full breakdown of who traditionally takes on the role, but if you're looking for a snazzy technological alternative, we've got one of them too.

Try Hitched's brilliant budget planner to help sort your finances - it shows who would have traditionally paid for what, but allows you to edit the list to reflect your individual circumstances.

To start you off, here's our guide to who pays for what for the wedding.

Engagement Ring — Traditionally Paid for by: The Groom

Along with travel, accommodation and gifts for the best man and usher, it is still most common for the groom to pay for the dazzling ring he puts on his fiancé’s finger. The idea that a man should spend roughly two month’s salary on the engagement ring dates back to the 1930s but is still used as a rough guide today.

Wedding Dress — Traditionally Paid for by: The Bride’s Family

While it is still traditional for the bride’s family to pay for the dress — as well as the wedding venue, flowers, photography, stationery, entertainment, cake and many more items — it is now very common for couples to meet some or all of these costs themselves. It can be tricky to talk about this, especially if your parents have been thinking about (and saving up for) this day for years. They’ll naturally want to help you make decisions and contribute as much as they can to make your day the best ever. Explain how grateful you are for any contribution they can make, and that you’d love for them to be involved, but that ultimately you want to be in the decision-making driving seat and pay towards your own day. By talking openly and making sure the bride’s parents feel their voices are being heard, you can keep the peace and still be in charge.

Gifts for Bridesmaids — Traditionally Paid for by: The Bride

Traditionally, the bride’s list of costs includes bridesmaids’ presents, the groom’s ring, plus hairdressing and make-up fees. If you want to buy lavish gifts, an expensive wedding ring for your groom and A-list hair and make-up, it’s a good idea to set aside some money well in advance of the big day. Keeping those savings separate from any money you’re gathering as a couple towards the wedding will make it easier for you to keep track, and help to motivate you towards your goal.

Groom’s Suit Hire — Traditionally Paid for by: The Groom’s family

The groom’s parents traditionally cover the cost of suit hire, including dapper suits for the usher, best man and father of the groom. Traditionally, that’s as far as their contribution goes. If you want them to chip-in a bit more (perhaps even matching the contribution from the bride’s family) without causing upset, the key is communication. It may be a difficult conversation to have but the sooner you approach the subject, the easier it will be. Tactfully explain that you were hoping to split the cost more evenly, and be honest about your expectations. As with any request about money, be prepared for them to say “no”. Anything your parents give is a bonus, not an obligation, and keeping that in mind that will help to prevent disappointment — and family discord.

Wedding Insurance — Traditionally Paid for by: The Bride and Groom

Wedding insurance is nearly always paid for by the bride and groom. But these days, it’s just one wedding cost of many; today’s happy couples do tend to pay for the lion’s share of the wedding themselves. If you’re shelling out for the bulk of the wedding costs, financial experts agree that it’s best not to get carried away and end up in debt. Start with a realistic figure for your wedding budget, based on your existing savings and how much additional cash you can save-up before the big day. Then, think seriously about what you can do with that figure. Visiting gorgeous venues that are way beyond your budget could cause stress and upset, so be creative with what you have, rather than reaching for what you can’t afford. You really can have a wonderful day however much you have to spend — and without starting your married life in a penny of debt.

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