The Wedding Budget

In the not so long ago days of traditional weddings, the bride’s parents paid for the wedding and provided a generous dowry to help the happy couple establish a household. But, times have changed. Often both bride and groom have incomes. Weddings have become very expensive. The groom’s parents have insisted on contributing.


Most often the bride and groom meet with the parents and discuss the type and size of wedding they’d like. They draw up a wedding budget. These days a wedding planner may be hired to make suggestions, help with line costs of each item and offer a discount if the couple purchases from venues and businesses with which the wedding planner has an agreement. The cost and who pays what has become mediation.

That said, here’s a traditional cost breakdown of who pays what.


  • The Wedding Ceremony

Usually the bride and groom pay any fees related to the use or rental of the church, synagogue, city gardens, or other ceremony venue. They also pay for the marriage license and any fees of the ceremony figures: priest, rabbi, minister, officiant, choir, organist, or soloist.


  • Wedding Attire

The bride and/or her family pay for her dress, veil, shoes, the clothes worn by the father and mother of the bride.

The groom and/or his family pay for the purchase or rental of the clothes worn by the groom and his parents.

Members of the wedding party:  bridesmaids, maid of honor, groomsmen, best men, junior bridesmaids and ring bearers pay for their own purchase or rental.


  • Flowers and Other Decorations

Generally the groom and/or his family pays for and boutonnieres for male attendants in the wedding party and corsages for parents and grandparents


The bride and/or her family often pays for bride’s bouquet, bouquets of female attendants,  flowers for the church or other ceremony venue, and flowers and other  decorations such as table arrangements for the reception venue.   Sometimes the reception venue already has table arrangements and other décor decorations.

If a destination wedding is chosen, flowers are included in the initial cost.


  • The Honeymoon

Traditionally the groom and/or his family pays for all costs associated with the honeymoon. Although, recently this has become a cost shared by the couple. They may also request money towards their honeymoon in lieu of gifts—particularly if they already have a household outfitted—or they may register with a travel agency.


  • Engagement Party

The bride and/or her family usually hosts this at home or at a restaurant. Engagement parties are less common these days as bride and groom often live at a distance from the bride’s family.


  • Rehearsal Party

This is usually hosted by the groom and/or his parents at their house or a facility near where the wedding rehearsal is held. It includes parents, bridal couple, their attendants and significant others of the bridal party.


  • Wedding Reception

Traditionally the bride and/or her parents pay for appetizers, entrée, the wedding cake, and anything else included in the wedding dinner.

The groom and/or his parents pay for the liquor, the DJ or band for the reception.

  • Wedding Rings

Usually the bride and groom pay for each other’s.


  • Transportation

Most often the bride’s family covers the cost of transporting the wedding party to the church or other ceremony venue and to the reception venue.


  • Photographer

The cost of the photographs, video or other photographic remembrance of the day is paid for by the bride and/or her parents.


The above checklist provides a broad outline of who pays for what in a traditional wedding budget. Of course there are exceptions and extenuating circumstances. But this is a good starting place.

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