Who Pays For What?

“How much?!” may well become your catchphrase when you begin planning your nuptials. It’s no secret that once the word “wedding” is uttered, the price of things can shoot through the roof. Surveys estimate that the average wedding costs nearly $28,000: enough to make your eyes water. The reception is usually the biggest expense of a wedding. It’s safe to predict that 50% or more of the budget will be spent here. So, what’s the best way to determine your budget? Throw a dart at a bunch of numbers and see which figure it lands on? Er, no. Have a discussion with everyone who will contribute towards the wedding (usually it’s the couple and both sets of parents) and establish who is responsible for paying for what. Although parents of the bride have traditionally paid most of the expenses, it's usually not done that way anymore.

Since brides and grooms today are more financially independent than yesteryear, the couple sometimes foot the entire bill – often because they don’t want to deal with demands from well-meaning (or not) contributors (“Darling, we’re paying for half this wedding so I really think it should be up to us how many swans take flight after the toasts”). Another trend is for a relative of the bride or groom to release an inheritance early (“Thank you, Uncle Ray!”). Whether you choose to follow tradition or just want to see a thorough list of expenses, here’s a good tool to use:

Who Traditionally Pays

The bride and her family

Wedding-related expenses

  • Bride's wedding attire and trousseau
  • Wedding coordinator, if applicable
  • Invitations and announcements
  • Ceremony site rental
  • Flowers (except those purchased by the groom)
  • Photography and videography
  • Ceremony music
  • Rental of awnings, kneeling bench, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Accommodations for bridal attendants, if required
  • Bridesmaids' luncheon, unless one is hosted by the bridesmaids
  • Bride's gift for her groom
  • Groom's wedding ring
  • All other wedding expenses not paid by others

Reception-related expenses:

  • All expenses, including reception site rental, wedding cake and music

The groom and his family

Wedding-related expenses

  • Groom's wedding attire
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Boutonnieres for groom, best man, groomsmen and fathers
  • Bride's bouquet, bride's going-away corsage, corsages for mothers and grandmothers
  • Marriage license
  • Officiant's fee
  • Accommodation for groomsmen, if required
  • Accommodation for groom's parents, if required
  • Bachelor dinner/party, if not hosted by groomsmen
  • Gifts for groomsmen and groom's junior attendants
  • Groom's gift for his bride

Bride's attendants

Wedding-related expenses

  • Wedding attire
  • Transportation to and from wedding
  • Bridesmaids' luncheon, unless hosted by bride
  • Gift for bride
  • Wedding gift for bride and groom


Wedding-related expenses

  • Wedding attire
  • Transportation to and from wedding
  • Bachelor's dinner/party, if not hosted by groom
  • Decorations for couple's getaway vehicle
  • Gift for groom
  • Wedding gift for bride and groom

Parents of junior attendants

Wedding-related expenses

  • Wedding attire

For more on who’s to splash the cash, visit: