Wedding Expense Etiquette- Expenses Paid by Groom's family

Groom's parents with grandchild (I wonder what he is thinking)
Groom's parents with grandchild (I wonder what he is thinking)

Expense Etiquette: Past Traditions

Wedding tradition has told us that the common thing for wedding expense etiquette is that the bride's parents simply pay for most, if not all, of the wedding. This belief stemmed from the fact that a good husband would be attracted by a large dowry offered by the bride's parents.

Today's wedding trends are changing who pays for the weddings, too. More often than not, engaged couples are helping to pay for their weddings. (Here's another great web article on changing wedding trends in the 21st century.)

This doesn't mean that the parents of the groom are off the hook, however. There are still some things that are traditionally covered by the groom's parents.

Rehearsal dinner (buffet style) at a destination wedding
Rehearsal dinner (buffet style) at a destination wedding

Wedding Expenses Traditionally Covered by Groom's Family

The following is a list of wedding costs customarily paid by the groom's parents:

  • Rehearsal dinner

The rehearsal dinner is customarily paid for by the parents of the groom. Typically everyone who was at the rehearsal should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. This includes, but is not limited to, the bride, groom, parents of both, grandparents of both, the officiant and his/her spouse, siblings and their spouses or partners, etc. It might also include out of town guests or close friends but this is discretionary.

  • Wedding gifts for the couple

Naturally, the parents of the groom need to remember to buy the couple a gift! Often the parents will by something of sentimental value for their son and future daughter-in-law that symbolizes the couple's love for each other.

Popular Newlywed Gifts

Anniversary Or Engagement Gift Present Poem About True Love #81
Anniversary Or Engagement Gift Present Poem About True Love #81

A heartfelt love poem perfect for the newlywed couple

Gifts with Meaning: How to Choose Unique and Thoughtful Presents for Any Occasion
Gifts with Meaning: How to Choose Unique and Thoughtful Presents for Any Occasion

A "how to" guide for picking the perfect gift for any occasion

Bride & Groom: First and Forever Cookbook
Bride & Groom: First and Forever Cookbook

My wife and I especially loved receiving this newlywed cookbook

  • Shipping and Handling charges to ship the newlywed's gifts to their new home (if applicable).

In a rush to get out to their honeymoon, the newlyweds often don't take the time to gather up their wedding gifts and take them home (and who can blame them)! It is the responsibility of the groom's parents to make sure the new couple's wedding gifts are transported home.

For a destination wedding, this is increasingly important. Sometimes guests will bring wedding gifts to the destination wedding to give to the couple, but how does that stuff get back home? The parents of the groom need to be sure to cover that cost!

  • Reception Beverages (i.e. alcohol at the bar)

The bride's parents cover the expense of the reception which includes food and drinks, however, the groom's parents are expected to pay for the drinks at the bar.

How The Trends are Changing

Today's couples are getting married later in life. This changing wedding trend has increased the couple's ability to financially cover their own weddings. Typically, the bride's parents would pay for a majority (or all) of the wedding. However, now that couples are older when they get married, they are earning more money to help with wedding costs.

A recent study by the wedding report dot com proves this new trend:

  • The average marrying age for someone who hasn't been married previously is 27.3 years old
  • The average marrying age for someone who has been married previously is 33.4 years of age.

Proper Etiquette for Discussing Wedding Expenses

First and foremost, there should be conversations on the cost of the wedding and who helps to pay for it. The conversation should be relaxed and comfortable and should be sensitive to your particular cultural expectations.

However, neither the bride nor the groom should bring up conversation about who pays for the wedding. According to wedding etiquette rules, this would be tacky and inappropriate and sometimes leads to damaged relationships.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the parents to bring up the subject of wedding financial aid. Usually the bride's parents will address it first, but the groom's parents are also able (and encouraged) to address it with the couple. These conversations are best made separately and in private.Even if you are unable or simply refuse to financially contribute, you should still discuss it. If there are no discussions on the topic, the couple is expected to pay for the wedding themselves.

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Comments 31 comments

Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France

Wow, there are so many expenses involved... I have never even imagine that there was so much to pay in a wedding!

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 7 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

There are quite a few expenses involved with weddings, but this is actually the short list. The bride's parents (traditionally) pay for MUCH more of the wedding.

You should check out the hub I wrote on the wedding expenses typically paid for by the bride's parents!

The good news is that I have quite a few years to save up for Zoe's wedding! That, and we have a rule that she cannot get married until she's 34...

Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France

LOL poor little Zoe having to wait soooo long!

I suppose my parents were extremely lucky that my husband payed ALL the wedding expenses :). I imagine that is not very common.

Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

Great Hub. I guess I had better hurry as my daughter will be 25 this year so we only have two more years to save up. LOL


WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 7 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

She's 25? I'd say you have at least 5 more years of saving!

Princessa, I'm in the same boat- we were lucky because her parents paid for the entire wedding.

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Pete, in Chinese is customary for the groom's parents to pay for all the wedding expenses. Now in modern times, I understand, sometimes the bride's parents help out too. :-) Hmmm...this is interesting for me and it's so nice for you to share all of these. Helps couples who are getting married to know what to do and what to save up for. LOL

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 7 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Michelle, thanks for pointing that out! I was planning on adding that sort of information to a multicultural wedding expense hub. That's one of those hubs I've got unpublished and on the backburner...

I suppose I should add it to this hub as well, huh?

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines can just publish another one on that! LOL That's another whole story. Hahaha

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 7 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Yes, good point Michelle- that should probably be the topic of an entirely different hub.

Julie McM profile image

Julie McM 7 years ago from Southern California

Helpful information for the groom's parents. Might be coming in handy very soon.

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 7 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Oh I'm glad you will get some use out of it Julie. It's certainly less expensive to be the mother of a groom vs. mother of the bride. Maybe you are both with your four children?

Save early and save hard, I suppose! My wife and I are preparing to save for our daughter's future wedding. Hopefully we'll have the $30K (approximate average cost of weddings today) ready for her wedding day.

Tori M 7 years ago

I understand that the grooms parents are to pay for the alcohol at the bar for the reception, but what if the grooms parents are really strict christians where none, and I mean none of the family drinks alcohol, while my family consumes a lot of it. what should I do?

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 7 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Hi Tori M, thanks for your question. If I'm reading your comment correctly, it would seem you're the bride, so correct me if I'm wrong on that.

Something you'll want to take a look at is the level of communication between you and your future in-laws. Are things pretty open to the point that you'd be able to talk about the alcohol issue? Or are things pretty much communicated to them through solely your fiancée?

If you are able to talk with them, I'd strongly encourage bringing it up but not in an accusatory tone or manner. A great way to open it up would be to maybe initiate conversation over the reception and what people's expectations were of it. Even though you and your fiancée will have the final say on things, it's always a good thing to listen to other people's opinions on things (oh and believe me, there will be a TON of opinions on everything from everyone, but I suspect you already found this out)!

You'll also want to talk with your fiancée about it all too, if possible. In fact, you might want to do this first just to "feel him out" on the subject. Is he on the same page as you (where he's okay with alcohol) or does he really not want any there?

Finally, I'd take some time figuring out what you want. Do you want alcohol at your wedding? Why? How important is it? Is it something you don't want to budge on or can you compromise?

Wrestling through these things will probably be hard, but it will well be worth it. I've seen too many weddings where the issue of alcohol made things complicated when they didn't have to be. Talking things out with the future in-laws and with the spouse will go a long way in smoothing things out.

Becky 7 years ago

Who pays for the flowers, does the groom take care of the brides boquet and the mothers flowers?

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 7 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Becky, it's the groom that traditionally pays for the ladies' flowers (such as the bride's bouquet and the mother's flowers). Great question though.

Carod 7 years ago

What if the groom's parents pay for almost all of the wedding? Do they get any say in what they want?

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 7 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Carod, that's a good (and often asked) question. If the groom's parents pay for almost all of the wedding, they could certainly have their name listed on the wedding invitations ("Mr and Mrs Smith as well as Mr and Mrs Jones invite you to the marriage of ____ and ____). This is traditionally done when the groom's parents fund most of the wedding.

Beyond that, however, the wedding details should be handled by the bride and groom. Many parents (understandably) have a hard time with this, but often are comforted by the fact that their son/daughter is happy because they planned the wedding exactly the way they wanted it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have the right to share your thoughts and concerns, but it does mean that you should try your best to allow them to have the final say in the wedding-planning decisions.

Deb  6 years ago

When parents of the bride pay for the majority of the wedding, do we still get the couple a wedding gift?

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 6 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Hi Deb,

That's a good question. Although you don't really have to get the couple a gift since you (as the parents of the bride) have already paid for a majority of the wedding, it might be a good idea to give them something inexpensive (or even free).

I good idea might be a heart-felt card or (even better) a hand written letter to the couple. In it you could send them off with a blessing or share brief marital advice that you want to impart to them.

Mel 6 years ago

If the brides parents plan a much larger wedding than the grooms parents are financially equipped to handle then present the grooms family with a bill at the rehearsal dinner for way more than they would ever have chose to spend on a wedding , how do they handle that? The grooms family are also expected to pay for the alcohol, DJ, and PA system for the reception on top of a very nice rehearsal dinner.

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 6 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Thanks for your comment Mel. From the sounds of it, it seems like the wedding already happened?

Well even if the wedding didn't happen yet and that's the bride's parents plan (to present the groom's parents with the large bill) the most important thing would be to get all parties together to discuss it. The right hand has to let the left hand know what it's doing, you know what I mean? Maybe one set of parents doesn't know what the other set is expecting for the wedding.

Another thing to consider is that you, as the one who is getting married and together with your future spouse, should have final say on what the wedding will look like and cost. Parental input, although helpful and welcomed, should be seen as "suggestive input" not "final say". Handle that delicately but firmly.

groom's mom 6 years ago

My son is getting married in June. As this is my first child to be married, I am a little in the dark as far as what we are to pay for. I have heard everything from rehearsal dinner, honeymoon, groomsmmen's tuxedos, bride's bouquet, ect. We have already offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner for 40 people, the wedding cake, and are taking care of the food for the reception for 300 people. Our future daughter in law is now pushing for us to pay for the honeymoon. I feel, being the groom's parents, this is asking a little much! Please tell me if I'm wrong!! I need some good advice about how to deal with this without looking like the bad guy.

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 6 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Hi Groom's Mom and thank you for your comment. According to wedding etiquette you've already gone "above and beyond" considering the fact that you're paying for the food for the reception! This is typically pretty expensive and covered by the bride's parents.

There are several ways to tactfully deal with a difficult situation as this. One option might be to agree to offer a "lump sum" and tell your son and future daughter-in-law that they can do with it whatever they'd like to cover expenses of their choice from the wedding. Another option would be to facilitation open communication with the couple and the bride's parents. Whatever that communication looks like, it should be loving and gracious because, as you've mentioned, the financial burden being asked of you is too much.

Is a pre-wedding meeting possible? Are you able to interact with the bride's parents to find a financial compromise?

Ann 6 years ago

Hi there!

I'm getting married in June and I found this incredibly interesting, mainly because my future mother-in-law wants nothing to do with helping out with ANY wedding expenses beyond the rehearsal dinner, which she wants me to plan.

It's not that she doesn't have the money, it just seems that she doesn't have any interest in helping anywhere. My fiancé agrees that, because my parents are putting up a rather large sum of money, that it's not asking her too much to help with SOME of the expenses...I'm just not sure how to handle it.

She wants us to invite members of her family that neither my fiancé or I know(she says they won't come but will send a gift...that just sounds extremely selfish to me and my fiancé and I feel strongly about the wedding only being family and close friends, and my parents agree.)

Anyways, more than anything, I'm venting, but I would like to know your take on the situation. Thanks for your help!

Angela 5 years ago

Im curious as to whether im being completely selfish and rude my parents have offered to pay for half of our $33,000 wedding although we are only going to ask them for $10,000 and i want my Future hubby to ask his family for $7500 to help with the expenses that come with the rest of the wedding. and we were paying for the rest including the honeymoon... But i have a feeling its going to be like getting blood out of a stone. Does anyone no how i can go about this? Me and my fiancé feel its only fair that both parents contribute the same amount of money, keeping in mind his parents earn more then mine do.

Christine 4 years ago

My son is getting married for the second time. Am I responsible for paying for another rehearsal dinner? This is the bride's first wedding.

Nadine 4 years ago

In 2012, some parents are retired and have limited income. My husband and I went to his pastor's house. My parents did not have the money and we did not want to wait. Turned out to be a good thing since the marriage after dating for 7 years, only lasted 2 years(1977)! When my daughter got married in 89, her wedding with limited connections, only cost about 9,000 excluding the honeymoon and rings. I paid 5,500 including a gift and her gown and she and her husband paid the rest. We had a wonderful sit down dinner, open bar, and limos, and a rolls...My son is getting married in Nov and I am still paying his college loans....the girl doesn't and hasn't work since I met her 3 years ago...I have agreed reluctantly to pay up to 1500 for the reheasal dinner..I think that we as parents don't owe them weddings and colleges (35,000-year tab).

jane 4 years ago

My son is about to get married. they recently sent out their invitations withonly the brides parents names on and not mine..(I am a single parent) . I felt very hurt. Is this traditional or a new thing

paula67mi 4 years ago

I understand that It is solely the responsibility of guests to pay their own way if they want to attend a destination wedding.

With that said, should guests still provide a gift?

The money that was set aside for gift giving is now being used for travel expenses and hotel accommodations.

Any advice would be helpful.

WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 4 years ago from DC Metro Area Author

Jane, traditionally the bride's parents are the only ones listed on the wedding invitations because they are (again, traditionally) the ones paying for the wedding.

If you were to follow tradition, as the mother of the groom you'd need to help cover wedding costs in order to be listed on the invitation.

Having said that, my wife and I broke tradition and listed both parents on our wedding invitations even though my wife's parents were the ones paying for the wedding. They were very gracious through it all and supported that move on our part, though.

mother in law 3 years ago

We, my husband and I, have two children. Our daughter got married first. We, as the brides parents, paid for everything including lodging for out of town guest.. which was pretty much all of us..except the rehearsal and honeymoon. We had a more that ample budget for our daughter and told her to have the wedding of HER and HER GROOMS dreams. They made most decisions together - they included myself and the grooms mother in that they asked for our opinions of their plans. I had to have a sensitive talk w/the grooms mother (groom is an only child) to explain that an opinion asked for is just that... an opinion... and not what will necessarily be done and that WE already had OUR weddings - assuming hers was as she wanted. Eventually, after two more delicate talks, she realized the wedding is about - and only about -- the BRIDE and GROOM. Having gone thru this first - being the brides mother and seeing how hard it is for the grooms mother - now my son is getting married and I know my parameters. Our daughter in law to be is such a sweetie... she has included me in all the plannings thus far and we have offered to help pay for what ever they need help with - aside from our responsibilities and the honeymoon. My future daughter in laws family is really putting on pressure to her to do the wedding as they want.. every single member of the family has an opinion and insists it be done here not there and how... etc... I thought -How can I help my daughter in law (future) get thru this with a little stress as possible - with grace?... SO I sat my future daughter down and explained she needs to have a delicate 'opinion' meeting w/her family and explain what an opinion is. God be w/her.... knowing this family.. it will take alot of meetings.

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