Wedding Budget

Here Comes the Bride, Here Comes the Bill: Who Pays for What in a Wedding?

Who Pays for What in a Wedding?
(Photo Credit: 401(K) 2013 on flickr)

The British royal family spent $48 million when Prince Charles and Diana tied the knot in 1981.  Thirty years later, Prince William and Kate Middleton said, “I Do,” in a $34-million ceremony.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes spent $2 million on their nuptial, while Catherin Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas didn’t mind shelling out $1.5 million dollars for their spy theme affair.

These amounts are more than the lifetime earnings of average employees, but the bottom line here is this – weddings can be extremely expensive!  While you and your spouse-to-be need not spend millions on your wedding, data shows that on the average, a wedding ceremony costs somewhere from $25,000 to $30,000 in the US.  What makes this even trickier is the fact that putting together a wedding is an emotional process for the couple and their families, and it’s very easy to get carried away.  Suddenly, spending thousands of dollars for a wedding cake doesn’t seem too irrational anymore. So, the million dollar question is (pun intended):

Who pays for what in a wedding?

Well, there are two ways to answer this question – the traditional route and the pragmatic route.


Traditionally speaking, most of the expenses in the wedding are typically shouldered by the bride and her family, typically her parents.  Other expenses are handled by the groom and his family.  And in some occasions, there are a few expenses that their friends and guests incur.   The specific breakdown of these traditional expenses are covered on the next page, “Who Pays for What in a Traditional Wedding?”

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ]Perhaps the tradition of letting the bride’s parents pay for most of the wedding is the modern world’s version of the dowry. What do you think?[/box]


Many couples today look at things more pragmatically.  They put practical considerations ahead of time-worn traditions.  Simply put, whoever is more well off takes on the bulk of the costs and the others contribute whatever it is they can.  There are a lot of instances where the couples don’t even ask for contributions from their families.  This is especially true for those who already have a well-established career and a stable income.  This information is covered in more detail on page 3, “Who Pays for What in a Modern Wedding?”

[box type=”shadow” ]Who do YOU think should pay for the wedding?[/box]

Bottom Line:

With all the emotions and life changes associated with a wedding, talking about money and “who pays for what” can become a very touchy and stressful subject.  Our WeddingBrook advice?  Listen to the advice from Sarah’s new book, The Sensible Wedding Planner:  How to Plan an Unforgettable Celebration that Is Uniquely Yours:

And what about those mysterious animals called “etiquette” and “tradition”?  We’re told that there’s a certain, proper way of doing things, and heaven help you if you ever dare to ignore even one last detail.  But here’s a reality check for you:  “Etiquette” is just another word for being kind, thoughtful, and considerate.  Keep that in mind, and you will totally defuse the minefield of etiquette and its myriad faux pas.

What Do You Think?

Any discussion about money, especially large sums of money, can stir up intense feelings.  I don’t know about you, but $20,000-$30,000 (Wow!) is a pretty BIG sum of money to me.  That amount reminds me of a scene from the movie White Christmas:



How much is, “Wow…”?

It’s right in there between, “Ouch,” and “BOING!!”

What’s really important here is what the bride and groom and their families feel about the costs and the breakdown of who pays.  The wedding is about people, not dollars.  What do you think?  Who do you think should pay for the wedding?

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Page 1:  Here Comes the Bride, Here Comes the Bill:  Who Pays for What in a Wedding?

Page 2:  Who Pays for What in a Traditional Wedding?

Page 3:  Who Pays for What in a Modern Wedding?

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