Wedding Planning: Who Pays for What?

So you are planning a wedding. How exciting! We are assuming that you are either engaged, about to be engaged, or you are helping a friend plan for this most lovely and joyous occasion. Lucky you!

Weddings can be tons of fun to dream for and plan for. There are so many sweet little details that are all crucial to making a perfectly lovely and memorable wedding and reception that are super fun to think about. But there is another aspect of a wedding and reception that is not as much fun to think about and plan for, but is just as crucial, and in fact, perhaps even more important since everything else hinges on it: who pays for what?

Who Pays for What? The Traditional Approach:

There is, of course, a traditional division of the costs for a wedding and reception. It hails back to a time when couples got married younger and so the intended couples family paid for pretty much everything because the family were the ones organizing the wedding and thus, footing the bill. This traditional and historical division of costs may or may not work for the couple and their families, and don’t worry if it doesn’t work for you! The glory of this modern age is that you can divide things up however you and your families need things to be divided, or don’t divide things up at all. Whatever works for you and your families is what you should do.

But, for your reference, here is the traditional division of who pays for what for the wedding ceremony and reception. For more details, check out this article by The Knot.

Wedding Ceremony:

Bride’s family or bride:

  • Church or venue
  • Organist, soloist, musician, etc.
  • Floral arrangements, including bouquets for bridesmaids and flower girl, but excepting the flowers listed under the groom’s family below

Groom’s family or groom:

  • Officiant fee
  • Marriage license
  • Bride’s bouquet, boutonnieres for men and corsages for mothers and grandmothers

Wedding Attire:

Bride’s family or bride:

  • Wedding dress, accessories, veil, shoes
  • Room to get ready in and/or accommodations for the night before if you and your wedding party are staying in a hotel room the night before a wedding
  • Honeymoon clothes and trousseau, which these days mostly constitute some fun lingerie and historically constituted like tablecloths and doilies or something
  • Hair and makeup appointments for you, AND for your attendants if this is something that you want them to have done
  • Groom’s wedding band

Groom’s family or groom:

  • Groom’s tux or suit for the wedding, shoes, accessories
  • Bride’s wedding band


Bride’s family or bride:

  • Venue costs
  • Floral arrangements
  • Decorations
  • Food
  • Staff and professional services except the DJ or musicians
  • Transportation to and from the ceremony and reception (limo, classic car service, a pony, your best friends Chevelle, whatever you want to arrange)
  • Photography
  • Wedding invitations, programs, announcements, and thank you cards

Groom’s family or groom:

  • Liquor
  • DJ and musicians

Other Parties and Fun:

Bride’s family or bride:

  • The first engagement party, if there is one

Groom’s family or groom:

  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Honeymoon

Stuff That Other People Pay For:

Bachelor/Bachelorette Party:

  • The Bachelor’s friends or best man pay for the Bachelor Party, the Bachelorette’s friends or maid of honor pay for the Bachelorette Party

Additional Engagement Parties and Wedding Showers:

  • Whomever wants to host these fine affairs typically foots the bill

Attendant Attire:

  • Attendants pay for their own wedding day attire

Whew! We know, that is a lot of stuff. But, as you know, there are a ton of details that go into planning for, and paying for, what can be one of the happiest and most important days of your life. And, as we said before, the great thing about living in the modern day and time that we do is that all of this is flexible and can be changed, altered, or deleted to suit the needs of you and your families. So, relax, enjoy, and happy planning!