UPDATED: Who pays for what? Who decides the wedding budget when planning a wedding? Who pays the wedding costs and expenses according to traditional wedding etiquette vs. modern etiquette? Who pays for the honeymoon? How do you go about planning a wedding when you have Cinderella wedding dreams dancing in your head?
Who pays for what is a common question for brides, grooms, and their families when it comes time to begin planning a wedding. If you do an online search for “wedding who pays”, “who pays for wedding” or even “who pays for what wedding”, you’ll find a lot of old-fashioned, archaic nonsense akin to the 18th or 19th century.
It’s about time that brides, grooms and parents begin to pay attention and accept the changes taking place in American wedding customs about who pays for weddings, receptions and honeymoons with open arms, not an open bank account, Credit Cards or loans.
Planning a Wedding On a Budget
According to The Knot Wedding Shop, a popular wedding planning website, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is expected to drop at least 10% in 2009 from the average price of $21,814 for a wedding in 2008. Due to the economy, personal financial circumstances and just plain common sense, engaged couples and families are having to find ways to cut wedding costs while still planning a beautiful, affordable, spectacular wedding that won’t create a financial burden for whoever ultimately pays for the wedding.
“Traditional” rules say the bride’s parents pay for everything but the kitchen sink, except for a little help from the groom’s family, who have traditionally been expected to pay for the rehearsal dinner and groom’s cake. Tradition hasn’t been too kind to the bride’s parents, who have been saddled for far too long with the cost of an expensive wedding and reception for their darling daughter and her Cinderella fairytale-fantasy dreams of the perfect wedding.
This is not the 18th or 19th century, and traditional wedding customs have shifted to a more modern view of wedding etiquette and how wedding expenses are to be paid and by whom. Thank goodness for that! Despite your best efforts, weddings, receptions and honeymoons can easily become very expensive, and no one should feel obligated to accept a financial burden of paying more than what is reasonable or what you feel comfortable paying, if anything.
The days of planning a wedding and reception, then sticking dear ol’ mom and dad with the whole tab are over, but some of today’s brides want to have their cake and eat it too. These brides want what they want and they want it now, and when it comes right down it, some brides use the buzz words “traditionally, parents pay for the wedding and reception” in order to guilt-trip parents into paying for a “typical wedding” they may not be able to afford.
In the olden, “traditional” days, women typically stayed at home and didn’t have jobs or careers of their own and couples certainly weren’t living together as is so common today, but try as you may to remind your son or daughter that times have changed to a more modern view of wedding etiquette, and you will likely see some rolling of the eyes or foot stomping as they attempt to come up with another guilt-trip.
Traditional views and trends have changed to where we now see couples deciding to live together before marriage while working full-time jobs of their own, couples getting married later in life, and the increased number of second marriages and blended families.
This more “modern” trend towards greater maturity before marriage brings higher income levels and the ability for engaged couples to take on a more responsible, active role in paying for their own wedding, reception and honeymoon, according to their personal wedding budget.
Who Pays for What?
That is not to say that parents and families on either side can’t or shouldn’t help pay for or assist in covering the cost of a wedding. If you can, want or decide to pay for or split the costs of your son or daughter’s wedding, by all means do so. Just don’t get caught up in the tangled web of old-fashioned rules of traditional wedding etiquette, or allow your son or daughter to hurl guilt-trips at you when or if you are unable to afford paying what he or she expects you to pay for their wedding.
Which begs the question; Who decides what the wedding budget will be? More traditional, typical nonsense found online, in bridal magazines and wedding books telling couples how to plan a wedding, suggest that couples who have told their parents they are getting married should FIRST: decide what type of wedding they want, create a wedding planning checklist, choose the wedding location, decide the theme, style, colors etc, decide how many bridesmaids and groomsmen there will be, decide the wedding budget and THEN hit the parents up for the money.
Back up the horse-drawn carriage or thoughts of wedding limousine services for a modern-day reality-check. Before the bride and groom jump feet first into planning a wedding, ordering a tiffany wedding cake, picking out his and her wedding bands, or begin shopping for wedding china and table settings, couples should FIRST: have a conversation with each person or family member that is hoped/expected to pay for the wedding in order to ASK what each can afford to contribute to the wedding (if anything), BEFORE making any money-related decisions whatsoever.
THEN you will know in advance how much money there is to work with, and you can plan your wedding around a wedding budget that has been decided by the people who are actually paying for the wedding. Your parents/family may offer to pay for certain parts of the wedding, like paying for your wedding dress, the wedding flowers, invitations or food at the reception etc, or they may offer you a lump sum of money to help cover the overall cost of the wedding.
It is possible that your parents or family may not be financially able to contribute any monies at all; which means the engaged couple will have to pay for the entire wedding themselves. Even if your parents or family cannot afford to pay for the wedding as a whole or in part, you can still have a beautiful, if not spectacular, wedding by searching for creative, inexpensive or cheap wedding planning ideas.
Related article: How to Plan a Wedding