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Wedding Expense Etiquette- Who pays for what?

Updated on August 27, 2010

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Today's Wedding Costs

There is no denying that today's weddings are expensive. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is around $25,000-30,000!

Bringing up a discussion about who will pay for what in the wedding (and the reception, honeymoon, etc) might be an awkward thing to do. It is, however, a topic that must be discussed lest you get stuck with all costs.

Read on to answer questions such as "who pays for what in a wedding" and "wedding etiquette who pays for what".

Tradition's Answer to Cost Splitting

It has often been the case that the father of the bride pay for the entire wedding and reception. (Start saving now, dads!) This can take any form, but the most common situations are:

  1. Bride's parents agree on a lump sum and give that to the couple.
  2. Bride's parents agree to cover the cost of the wedding event regardless of price.

With both of these options, the parents usually play (or want to play) some sort of role in the wedding decisions such as caterers, location, wedding attire, guest list and so on. But that's a whole different topic for a different article!

It has also been the case traditionally that the parents of the groom financially contributed to general things for the wedding such as their own wedding clothes, the bride's bouquet and the rehearsal dinner.

Read on to learn about current wedding expense trends and to learn of the importance of a wedding budget. Also, check out the resources below to get specific details based on your role in the wedding:

Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette: The Definitive Guide to Your Wedding Experience
Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette: The Definitive Guide to Your Wedding Experience

Emily Post is *THE* book on wedding etiquette. This is the book many of the "experts" turn to for advice.


Current Wedding Contribution Trends

Although it is still acceptable (and often the case) for the bride's parents to pay for the wedding, it has no longer become an etiquette no-no to have someone other than the bride's parents pay for the wedding.

Today, couples are paying for their own weddings more and more often. Sometimes this is done so that the parents have less "say" in the wedding organization. Most often, though, couples who are getting married are already financially secure and have the ability to pay for their own weddings because of where they are in life. 

Regardless of the reasons, couples are helping to pay for their weddings more and more these days.

Who paid for your wedding?

See results

Maybe you can get a perfect stranger to help with wedding costs

Funny skit on the cost of wedding flowers

Negotiating Wedding prices- humorous video

Set A Budget For Your Wedding Early

Establishing a wedding budget is vital in the discussion of who pays for what. The budget can and should be based on what can be afforded by all parties involved in paying for the wedding. Therefore, budget discussions should stem from conversations regarding the coverage of wedding expenses. 

Setting a wedding budget can be a tricky thing, but many good things will come because of it. Probably the most important benefit is that it will foster solid communication between you and your future spouse!

More will be said of this in future articles, but in the mean time, take a look at the links below for some related articles on how to budget your wedding:

Expensive Wedding in online game "Second Life"

The above wedding took place online and costed the gamers (aka the wedding couple) $65,000 lindens!

Fortunately that's only $225 US dollars. But then again, who pays to cyber-wed an online stranger?

A Video on Wedding Costs from a Student (Senior Project)


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This article is clearly geared toward middle white America. Please note that in most non-white cultures, it is the groom's parent's responsibility to pay. If you are not sure, you should ask your family directly about what is customary.

    • profile image

      Hui (蕙) 

      8 years ago

      I do feel that the "normal" flower is different the "wedding" one.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Our daughter is getting married and the wedding expenses are being shared by all of us. My question is: whose reponsibility is it to pay for the hotel room the night of the wedding for the bride and groom? They will only stay 1 night....the night of the wedding and then they are taking off on their honeymoon (which they are paying for)

      Like I said much of the wedding expense is being shared by the bride and groom's parents.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have a question. If the couple who plan on marrying are living together who should pay for the wedding?

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Stefanie, thanks for your well thought out comment. I hope that some who read it will find the information on your website helpful.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Formal weddings nowadays average almost $30,000 so there is definitely enough incentive for most couples to ask for the right wedding etiquette ... who pays for what ? Until not too long ago, it was seldom a question for brides and grooms as to who will pick up the wedding expenses. At least for formal weddings, the traditional way has always been for the bride's father, her family respectively, to pay for their daughter's wedding. One major reason for this "traditional" rule was that couples used to get married at a comparatively early stage in their life, starting off their life together at a point where financial dependency to their parents was often the rule. This however changed over the past few decades. Nowadays, couples often not only get married at a later point in their life, but also at a point where they are financially secured enough to cover their own wedding expenses. Another reason why the traditional "wedding etiquette, who pays for what" changed - at least if we want to believe polls asking "newly-wed" couples - is that more and more couples nowadays want to have their own "say" in the wedding. From the guest-list to the menu, from the flower bouquets to the wedding cake ... should the wedding have classical music, or the couple's most favorite local band ... should we really invite uncle xyz, who never agreed to our wedding to begin with ? I am trying to summarize useful information on this and related wedding topics on my webpage and one of the things that I noticed while researching and then putting all the information together, is that the topic of wedding etiquette is a truly wide minefield; the same holds true for the wedding shower - planning; here, too, there are so many things to keep an eye on In order to comply with today's "correct" etiquette, one has to do some serious research - the perfect wedding etiquette is needed for questions like who pays for what at the wedding, or the etiquette for wedding / bridal showers, wedding invitations and wedding registries, and so on...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What about honeymoon registry etiquette. We used for ours, but i remember some of our older guests purchased gifts from our traditional registry, while all our younger guests loved the honeymoon registy idea.

    • profile image

      Maid Of Honor Toast 

      10 years ago

      This can be a very controversial issue. Thank you for breaking this down and offering brides and grooms a very informative hub to follow.

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Glad you liked it Twin XL. Have you subscribed to my RSS feed? Plenty more wedding hubs are being published!

    • profile image

      Twin XL 

      10 years ago

      Great article, I'm looking forward to reading much much more!

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from DC Metro Area

      You're welcome Jessica. Stay tuned for the continuation of the subject.

    • Jessica W profile image

      Jessica W 

      10 years ago

      Thank You, WeddingConsultant, for this article

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from DC Metro Area

      haha thanks for your honesty RGraf! Yes, eloping is much less expensive.

      And yes, weddings are expensive, aren't they? It's crazy how much they cost these days!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin

      Personally, it is getting outrageous what weddings costs. My parents paid for mine, but I did a lot of things myself or had family members help. That saved my father a ton of money. I wish now I had taken him up on the offer to be paid to elope :)


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