Who Pays For What? Traditional Wedding Etiquette

Traditional Wedding Expenses & Responsible Parties

While the bride, the groom and your families may choose to divide expenses a little differently, here is a basic guide to the expenses that are commonly involved in the planning of your wedding, including who traditionally pays for what.

Remember, if some of these are surprising to you, they may also be surprising to the party that is said to be responsible for paying. Don’t just expect anyone to pick up the tab! Make sure you discuss everything ahead of time, understand what each family is willing to provide, and budget accordingly.

woman attaching boutonnière to suit jacket

The Groom

The groom is traditionally responsible for paying for a large bulk of the wedding expenses, as outlined below. The honeymoon and rings are likely to be the biggest expenses on his list.

  • Engagement ring
  • Bride’s wedding band
  • Marriage license and legal fees
  • Officiant fee
  • His tuxedo
  • His boutonniere
  • Boutonnieres for his groomsmen
  • Bride’s bouquet
  • Flowers for mothers on both sides
  • Corsages for honored guests
  • Lodging for his out-of-town attendants
  • Limousine or other transportation to the wedding ceremony and reception
  • Honeymoon
  • Wedding gift for the bride
  • Gifts for his attendants and ring bearer

The Groom’s Family

Perhaps most commonly known is that the Groom’s family traditionally pays for the rehearsal dinner. But there are also a few other costs that his family should expect to pay.

  • Their own wedding attire and travel expenses
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Wedding gift to the bride and groom
  • Groom’s cake
  • Any other costs you agree upon

The Bride

Traditionally, the bride is responsible for covering the cost of the groom’s wedding band and a few other expenses. As the wedding culture evolves, however, many brides find themselves paying for more wedding expenses traditionally covered by her parents.

  • Groom’s wedding band
  • Bridesmaid luncheon
  • Lodging for her out-of-town attendants
  • Wedding gift for the groom
  • Gifts for her attendants and flower girl(s)

The Bride’s Family

As tradition would have it, the bride’s family pays for many of the wedding essentials and details. From the invitations, flowers and wedding planner to the ceremony, reception and DJ, the bride’s family is traditionally expected to pay for the bulk of the wedding day expenses.

  • Their own wedding attire and travel expenses
  • Bride’s wedding attire
  • Wedding planner
  • Wedding invitations & stationery, including save-the-dates, programs, announcements, calligraphy and mailing costs
  • Flowers for ceremony and reception
  • Personal flowers for attendants, grandparents, guests of honor, etc.
  • The wedding ceremony, including location rental fees, organist, aisle runner, decorations and any other additional costs
  • The wedding reception, including hall rentalcaterer, beverages, cake, decorations, and any gratuities
  • Wedding band, DJ and entertainment
  • Photography and videography for engagement photos and wedding day
  • Any traffic, parking or coat-check fees
  • Rental items
  • Favors and accessories
  • Wedding gift for the bride and groom

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