Who Traditionally Pays for a Wedding and Pre-Wedding Events?

A bride in a lace wedding dress laughing with her mom.

Before you start planning your wedding, it’s wise to first figure out how much you can spend on the event. Unless you’re footing the entire bill yourself, you probably assume that one or a few of your relatives will pitch in. That is, of course, what’s traditionally expected. Of course, times have changed. Now, more and more couples are choosing to cover the cost of the wedding themselves. However, that doesn’t mean that other family members don’t voluntarily help out. Tradition, it seems, is ingrained in our DNA. Since most people are quite keen on sticking to tradition, it’s worth looking into who normally pays for what when it comes to weddings and pre-wedding events. While you should never assume that the person(s) will automatically do their part, this guide is a good starting point on who you can ask to help out with what.

The Engagement Ring and Engagment Party

A man holding out an engagement ring to a woman.

We all know the groom is the one who’s likely paying for the engagement ring (unless it’s an heirloom), but what about the aftermath? Traditionally, the bride’s parents pay for the engagement party, if the couple chooses to have one. However, they’re not obligated to host it. In some cases, a couple may have two engagement parties: one for each family. If so, each family pays for their own event, but the bride’s family gets dibs on having the first one.

The Bridal Shower

This pre-wedding event’s planning and expenses are normally delegated to the bridesmaids and maid of honor. Sometimes, the mother of the bride or even the future mother-in-law also helps out. Since groom showers are starting to trend, it is expected that the same idea will apply. Should they decide to host one, the groom’s wedding party is expected to deal with all the details.

Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

A group of women at a bachelorette party on the beach with smoke bombs.

The bachelorette or bachelor party is the one day where the bride or groom, respectively, should not be expected to spend a dime. However, as a result, the bride or groom has no say in how it’s going to go. After all, it’s meant to be a surprise! Like the bridal shower, the bachelor(ette) party is the responsibility of the bridesmaids or groomsmen. Often, the maid of honor or the best man takes care of the majority of the spending. However, when it comes to paying for the bride’s or groom’s share, the cost is usually divided between the entire respective wedding party.

Bridesmaid and Groomsmen Luncheons

Although some couples do, this is one pre-wedding event you shouldn’t forget. Anyone in your wedding party is spending their time and money to be a part of your special day, so it only makes sense to thank them personally. Thus, a luncheon or some kind of celebration is in order and it’s all up to the bride or groom individually. It is also recommended to prepare a gift for every member of the wedding party, which should also be paid from your wallet.

The Rehearsal Dinner

People toasting with glasses of champagne at a wedding rehearsal dinner.

Hosted the day before the wedding, the rehearsal dinner is organized and paid for entirely by the groom’s parents. The only restriction is that it should never ever outshine the wedding itself.

The Wedding Ceremony and Reception

The cost of the nuptials is traditionally divided between everyone. Both the bride’s and the groom’s parents are involved, as are the bride and groom. The bride’s parents cover the cost of pretty much everything except the officiant and legal fees, such as the marriage license, which are assigned to the groom’s family. Transportation may be assigned to the groom’s side. And, of course, the groom is expected to pay for the wedding ring, as the bride is expected to pay for the groom’s band. The groom also traditionally buys the bridal bouquet, as it is considered a gift of sorts, much like buying flowers for a date.

The reception and most of its details are normally the responsibility of the bride’s family. This includes the venue, decor, flowers, food, favors, and nearly everything else. Although, it is historically common for the groom’s family to cover the cost of the drinks and entertainment.

Each of the families may also offer to pay for the transportation and lodging of their respective wedding parties if they wish. Their suit or dress is their own responsibility. However, if the bride insists that her party gets their hair and makeup done by a professional, it is only polite that she foots the bill.

The Honeymoon

A man and woman walking on the beach at their tropical honeymoon.

This one might surprise you, but the honeymoon is traditionally meant to be a present from the groom’s family or the groom himself. Of course, now it’s normally completely up to the couple, although the trend of the honeymoon fund in lieu of gifts makes it, to some degree, up to the guests.

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