Wedding

Who Pays For The Wedding? + Printable Budget Sheet

Last Updated: Aug 13, 2018

Weddings are expensive. The average US wedding in 2017 was $33,991 (not including the honeymoon!). So, who’s paying for the wedding and all the details that come with it? Traditionally, the bride’s family has paid for the majority of the wedding costs, while the groom and his family paid significantly less. But, is this still the case?

To help you decide who is going to pay for what in your wedding, we’ve gathered a list of wedding costs and who traditionally pays for them. For a modern twist, we’ve included some suggestions on how to divide the costs evenly. Be sure to keep your budget in mind when planning and don’t be afraid to use a wedding budget calculator to help you achieve it.

parents hugging bride and groomToday, a lot of couples are paying for their own weddings. Other couples are splitting costs with family members. Another popular option is to divide the costs three ways between the bride’s family, groom’s family, and the bride and groom. There is no set formula when it comes to divvying the costs because every relationship is different.

Before you start planning your big day, make sure you have a thorough conversation with your partner and anyone else who is paying for the wedding. It is important to make sure that all the parties involved are comfortable with their contribution.

Read on to see all of the costs and who pays for them or use this menu to jump to the specific cost that you are wondering about.

Attire + Beauty | Ceremony | Decor + Flowers | Destination Weddings | HoneymoonMusic | Photography | Pre-wedding Festivities | Reception | Rings | Stationery | Transportation + AccomodationWedding Budget Cheat Sheet

Attire + Beauty

bride with flower crown surrounded by her smiling familyThis section includes the attire and beauty of the bride, groom and the rest of the wedding party. These traditions have, for the most part, remained unchanged. Sometimes a generous non-immediate family member or friend will offer to pay for something in this category, such as the bride’s dress.

Traditional

  • The bride and bride’s family cover all of the costs regarding her attire, hair, makeup and nails.
  • The groom and groom’s family pay for his attire.
  • The wedding party and attendants pay for their own attire.

Modern

  • Bride and the bride’s family could cover her costs, unless someone volunteers to help out.
  • Groom and groom’s family could cover his costs.
  • Bridesmaids usually buy their own dresses and shoes, which means the bride should keep their budgets in mind while selecting their dresses. If the bride wants the bridesmaids to have their hair and makeup done professionally for her wedding, she should cover those costs.
  • The rest of the wedding party and the attendees should cover their own costs.

Ceremony

bride placing a wedding ring on her partner's handThe ceremony is arguably the most important part of a wedding because it’s what everyone came to see! Some of the costs that are included in the ceremony are the venue, the marriage license, the music and the officiant fees.

Traditional

  • The groom and his family pay for the marriage license and the officiant fees.
  • The bride and her family cover the cost of the venue and all of the other costs regarding the ceremony.

Modern

  • An even split would be best. The overall prices of ceremonies vary so much, so it is hard to estimate who should pay for it.
  • More couples are having their ceremonies in non-religious establishments. Many are opting for unique venues, far-away destinations or family homes as a way to lower costs.

Decor and Flowers

bride holding a pastel succulent bouquetAll of the bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces and additional wedding decorations start to add up. Couples spend about 9% of their budget in this category. In addition to creating a great atmosphere, beautiful flowers and decor help to produce beautiful wedding photos.

Traditional

  • The bride and bride’s family cover the decor and the majority of the floral costs.
  • The groom purchases the bride’s bouquet, the corsages and boutonnieres for the bridal party.

Modern

  • The groom purchases the bride’s bouquet and the corsages.
  • The bride purchases the boutonnieres.
  • The decor and decorative flower costs are split or the bride and groom choose between covering the decor for the ceremony or the reception.

Destination Weddings

Wedding aisle on a beach, lined with flowers and linenDestination weddings have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. These weddings have their own set of challenges. If you are having a destination wedding we recommend that you check out this comprehensive destination wedding guide.

Traditional

  • There are no traditions established for destination weddings.
  • If you are unsure of etiquette, treat your destination wedding like you would a traditionally held local wedding.

Modern

  • The guests of a destination wedding typically pay their own way for travel and lodging costs.
  • The bride and groom are almost always expected to cover the lodging and travel for their respective wedding party members.
  • The bride and groom can help alleviate some costs by booking a block of hotel rooms for their guests for a lower rate. If the bride and groom have the financial means, financial help is always appreciated but not expected.  

Honeymoon

honeymooning couple overlooking the Amalfi Coast in ItalyThe honeymoon is something that couples today are spending much more on than in the past. Most couples treat it as an separate event and don’t typically include it in their wedding budget. 

Traditional

  • The groom and his family pay for the honeymoon costs.
  • During the trip, the couple covers all of the additional costs.

Modern

  • If you prefer to split the costs of your romantic getaway consider having one person purchase transportation and the other book the lodging.
  • Couples can “register” for their honeymoons. In other words, instead of a traditional wedding gift, guests will contribute money towards your getaway.

Music

A violinist playing for a wedding ceremonyMusic is an essential part of a wedding. It sets the tone and can be customized to fit any bride and groom. Live music is a great option if it fits in your budget. Another option is to opt out of live music and go with a DJ or a wedding music playlist.

Traditional

  • Usually, the bride and bride’s family provide the music and entertainment for both the ceremony and reception.
  • Occasionally, the groom and his family will provide the reception entertainment.

Modern

  • If you are having the same musicians for your whole wedding, an even split will work best.
  • If you are having different musicians for the ceremony and reception, each party can choose one to pay for.

Photography + Videography

wedding couple in the woods with blurred foliage in the foregroundGreat wedding photography is crucial in capturing the big day. Couples spend about 12% of their wedding budget for their photography and videography packages. There are ways to save on photography costs and still get the stunning wedding photos that you’ll treasure forever.

Traditional

  • The bride and her family cover the costs of photographers and videographers.
  • The bride and her family also cover the cost of the wedding album and any additional prints.

Modern

  • Split the wedding photographer cost evenly.
  • Have guests send you their photos through these easy-to-use apps.
  • Put a wedding album or video on your registry to cut down on costs.

Pre-wedding Festivities

bride and bridesmaids wearing pink silk robes, toasting with champagneFinally, something that the bride and groom are off of the hook for! These pre-wedding festivities encompass the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelor/ bachelorette party, as well as the rehearsal dinner.

Traditional

  • Engagement party – either the bride’s or groom’s family.
  • Bridal shower – the bride’s family.
  • Bachelor party – the best man and the groomsmen.
  • Bachelorette party – the maid of honor and the bridesmaids.
  • Rehearsal dinner – the groom’s family.

Modern

  • Engagement party – either the bride’s or groom’s family. Two engagement parties may work best for you depending on where your family and friends are.  
  • Bridal shower – the bride’s family.
  • Wedding shower – many couples are opting for a wedding shower to include the groom in the fun. In that case, it doesn’t matter which family throws the party.
  • Bachelor party – the best man and the groomsmen.
  • Bachelorette party – the maid of honor and the bridesmaids.
  • Rehearsal dinner – either the groom’s or bride’s family.

Reception

wedding reception toast at an outdoor table with trees in the backgroundThere are a lot of components that go into a wedding reception. Some of these include the reception venue, food, drinks, cake, favors, rentals and the staff. This is the most expensive category racking up 50% of the average wedding budget.

Traditional

  • The bride or her family cover all of the costs associated with the reception.
  • The groom’s family sometimes provides the liquor to lighten the financial load.

Modern

  • All of the costs of the reception can add up, so talk through it with your significant other on how to best evenly split the amount.

Rings

Newlyweds displaying their rings on their handsSome traditions survive the test of time and wedding rings are no exception. Wedding rings are a symbol of lifelong love and commitment.

Traditional

  • Bride and groom buy each other’s wedding bands.
  • Groom pays for bride’s engagement ring.

Modern

  • This is one tradition that should be incorporated if you can both afford it. It is romantic and meaningful to select each other’s rings.
  • The groom doesn’t have to spend a fortune on an engagement ring. There are plenty of beautiful modest diamond rings or non-diamond options for those who prefer to go the non-traditional wedding route.

Stationery

pastel and white Shutterfly wedding stationery Stationery includes save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards, menus, programs, and more. With so many different events and guests it can be overwhelming. Try creating your own gorgeous custom wedding stationery, it’s fast and easy. Stationery is the chance to show the nuanced style of your wedding, so have fun with it.

Traditional

  • The groom’s family covers the rehearsal dinner invites.
  • The bride and bride’s family cover all of the other stationery costs.

Modern

  • Pre-wedding festivities – the hosts of each event should cover all of the stationery needed for that event.
  • Wedding day – divided between the two families and/or the bride and groom.

Transportation + Accommodation

Newlywed couple in the back seat of their car toasting If your wedding requires your wedding party to travel far and stay out-of-town, you are traditionally expected to cover those costs. However, you are not expected to cover any of the guests’ travel and accommodation costs. 

Traditional

  • Groom and groom’s family cover the travel and accommodation for the couple.
  • Bride and bride’s family cover her side of the wedding party, like the bridesmaids.
  • Groom and his family cover his side of the wedding party, like the groomsmen.
  • Guests cover their own costs.

Modern

  • Bride, groom or their family provide transportation and accommodations for the soon-to-be married couple.
  • Bride and bride’s family cover her side of the wedding party.
  • Groom and groom’s family covers his side of the wedding party.
  • Guests cover their own costs.
  • If your venue requires a shuttle, the bride, groom and families should provide one for the guests.
  • If you are expecting any guests with a disability it is courteous and strongly encouraged to provide them with the proper accommodations. To ensure safety and so that they can access and enjoy your wedding.

Printable Wedding Budget Cheat Sheet

This budget is based on the average wedding budget cost and our wedding budget calculator. Fill out your budgeted costs and keep track of who is paying for what. It is sure to keep your wedding costs in check!

wedding budget sheet download button

To ensure that you don’t miss anything during your planning process use a wedding planning checklist. Whether you prefer to go the traditional route, halfway split or something else in between, this list and wedding cost cheat sheet will help make the process easier.