Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Who Pays for the Wedding? - Wedding Etiquette

So you just got engaged, you have told everyone you know, and you want to start planning. But wait...who is going to pay for everything?

This is a very big question that a lot of wedding couples run into right after getting engaged, as they're beginning to plan the big day. Traditionally, it has been expected that the bride's family is supposed to take care of the majority of wedding costs. Some still follow this tradition and some have altered what is expected. Below is a very traditional list of wedding costs and the party who is responsible for payment.

Traditional Wedding Expense Breakdown
Wedding Gown & Accessories The Bride's Family

Wedding Ring for BrideThe Groom
Wedding Ring for Groom The Bride

Wedding Gift for GroomThe Bride
Wedding Gift for BrideThe Groom
Bridesmaid GiftsThe Bride
Groomsmen/Usher GiftsThe Groom

Bride's BouquetThe Groom
Bridesmaid BouquetsThe Bride's Family
Mothers' CorsagesThe Groom
Grandmother CorsagesThe Bride's Family
Groom's Boutonnière
The Groom
Groomsmen Boutonnières
The Groom
Usher's BoutonnièresThe Groom
Wedding Ceremony/Reception FlowersThe Bride's Family

Altar Baskets/ArchesThe Bride's Family
Canopy/CarpetThe Bride's Family
Kneeling Bench/CandleabrasThe Bride's Family
Rented Items for WeddingThe Bride's Family
Rented Items for ReceptionThe Bride's Family

Wedding Invitations/AnnouncementsThe Bride's Family
Wedding ProgramsThe Bride's Family
Napkins/Matches/Printed ItemsThe Bride's Family

Marriage LicenseThe Groom
Medical Visit for BrideThe Bride
Medical Visit for GroomThe Groom

Church FeeThe Bride's Family
Clergyman/Officiant FeeThe Groom
Musician/SoloistThe Bride's Family
Church JanitorThe Bride's Family
Reception Hall FeeThe Bride's Family
Catered Reception/Professional ServicesThe Bride's Family

Wedding PhotographyThe Bride's Family
Video PhotographyThe Bride's Family
Orchestra/Band/DJThe Bride's Family

Wedding CakeThe Bride's Family
Wedding FavorsThe Bride's Family
Groom's CakeThe Groom's Family
Rice BagsThe Bride's Family

Rehearsal DinnerThe Groom's Family
Bridesmaid LuncheonThe Bride
Bachelor PartyBest Man/Groom's Attendants
Bachelorette Party
Wedding Breakfast
Maid of Honor
The Bride's Family
Bridal BrunchThe Bride's Family

Bridesmaids' GownsBridesmaids
Maid of Honor GownMaid of Honor
Matron of Honor GownMatron of Honor
Best Man Formal WearBest Man
Ushers' Formal WearUshers
Groomsmen Formal WearGroomsmen
Gloves/Ties/Ascots for AttendantsThe Groom

Father of Bride Formal WearBride's Family
Father of Groom Formal WearGroom's Family
Children's Formal WearThe Children's Parents

Limousine ServiceThe Groom
Honeymoon ArrangementsThe Groom
Travel Expenses to the WeddingThe Out-of-town Attendant or Family Member
Accommodations for out-of town GuestsThe Bride

Now as the generations evolve, (I feel) so should the monetary responsibilities of a wedding. Personally, my family did not pay for the majority of our wedding costs. My parents gave us a third of the money, my (soon-to-be) in-laws paid for the rehearsal dinner and we paid for two-thirds of the wedding costs. It may just be me and my way of thinking, but I don't think that the bride's parents should be held almost solely responsible for the wedding costs. There were two reasons why I didn't want my parents to pay for the entire wedding.

Wedding Costs
When this tradition of wedding "buying" began, I am sure no one took into account the rising costs of weddings. In the U.S. today, the average wedding cost is between 28K and 30K. These numbers are up about 60% over a 10-year period. To me, it was just crazy for me to expect my parents to give me all that money. My parents are way too financially responsible to put it on credit cards, and unfortunately, I did not have some secret Jessica Wedding Fund out there. Plus, who am I to take that money from my parents when they worked hard for it and they should be able to enjoy it with splurges on themselves like vacations and what not? They gave me what they wanted, and I was truly grateful for what they did. And me, I don't' even want to think where they will be when my currently non-existent children are getting married. I think that to assume or place responsibility of funding weddings of this size solely on the bride's family is unfair.

Your Wedding

For me, it was our wedding. We were the ones who chose the style, the venues, the accompaniments and the splurges - it seemed only fair to me and my soon-to-be hubby that we pay for the majority of costs. In doing this, both sets of parents are still able to help out with wedding costs. They can (or are able to) give gifts to the couple that can be used towards the wedding or even a down-payment on a home. Either way, the parents feel they are giving you a gift, and they're not obligated to tap into their life's savings or take out a home equity line to pay for the cost of the entire wedding.

Now I will probably save up for my children's weddings, but they will know from an early age that what we give them is a gift, and that they should decide what type of wedding. I will let them know that we will help out in any way we can.

Your thoughts? Anyone agree or disagree? Have you seen something else done?

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