Bride and Groom exiting their ceremony

Who Traditionally Pays For a Wedding?

May 18, 2022

After getting engaged, many choices need to be discussed, including the most important topic – planning the big day. As you start to plan your wedding, you’ll begin to see that costs are going to add up quickly. Having a budget and a plan of how you will fund your wedding is crucial. If you’ve seen the infamous “Father of the Bride” films, then you know the stereotypical situation is the bride’s parents pay for the wedding. This remains true, for the most part, but every couple’s situation is different and how the wedding day is funded varies for each couple.

Of course today’s couples come in all shapes and sizes.  And whether you’re a bride and a groom or two grooms or two brides, dividing up the expenses for your wedding still can be done fairly. The following is a guide for traditional couples (i.e. a bride and a groom) but can of course be mixed and matched for your specific situation.

The Ceremony

The location of the ceremony will determine the cost and who is paying for it. If your ceremony is at the same place as your reception, whoever is handling that would cover any ceremony fees as well. An exception here – the groom’s parents are responsible for paying the officiant. If the ceremony is in a church or place of worship, then the groom’s parents or the bride and groom will be responsible for making a donation and paying the Pastor or Priest. This should be decided beforehand so the officiant can be paid that day. Ceremony decorations, flowers, musicians, and wedding programs should be covered by the bride or the bride’s parents. Don’t forget to tip any musicians as well as the officiant.

The Reception

The most costly part of the wedding typically is the reception. That’s because the reception often consists of a cocktail hour, dinner, lavish decor, music, and more. Food will be especially costly, as you pay per head. This is the portion you don’t want to skimp on. Traditionally, the wedding reception is paid for by the parents of the bride. However, if you will be paying for your own wedding reception, planning your finances ahead of time will be important.

Saving for this day in advance will help your budget immensely. If you haven’t been saving, now is the time to look at your finances and see where you can start cutting back. Once you figure out how much your wedding will cost, you can seek alternative funding options. For example, if you and your future spouse already own a home look into a home equity line of credit. You can use your home’s equity for cash funds to help with wedding expenses. This is a great option because you can borrow against your home’s equity, get it in a lump sum of cash and pay it back over time.


If transportation is necessary for the wedding, it should be handled by the bride’s parents or the bride and groom. It’s common to rent a limo for the bridal party. Also, sometimes transportation is provided for guests if the ceremony and reception are at separate locations. Remember when calculating the cost to include any tips for the driver as well. If the bride and groom will have a getaway car, like a convertible or an old-fashioned car, the groom or groom’s parents should handle any costs associated with that.

Dresses and Suits

The bride and groom are responsible for paying for what they will wear on the wedding day. Oftentimes the bride’s mom will help pay for her dress and accessories. The groom should handle any costs associated with their suit. When you are planning for these costs, remember to include shoes, jewelry, and a veil if you plan on wearing one. Make sure the shoes you pick are both comfortable and functional as you will be on your feet most of the day! Don’t forget to budget for your wedding bands as well. Wedding bands are purchased by the bride and groom usually a few months before the wedding. Make sure to take your time as a couple looking at various styles. You will be wearing your wedding bands every day!

Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is a way to kick off the wedding weekend after everything is all set for the big day. Both the bride and groom’s families will attend the rehearsal dinner as well as the bridal parties. The rehearsal dinner is usually paid for by the groom’s family. This includes the venue, food, drink, and any other additions. The bride and groom typically give out gifts at the rehearsal dinner, and those would be paid for and put together by the couple.

Miscellaneous Items

Before the wedding day, many couples have a bachelor(ette) party. Some couples even have them combined. Costs associated with those types of events should be handled by the attendants. The maid of honor and the best man should organize any details and make sure to let others know costs when planning.

For group events like the bridal shower, the mother-of-the-bride will often pay and host. That isn’t the only option, though. In some weddings, the bridesmaids will host the shower as a group and split the costs. Remember, when sending out invites, family members will want to give you wedding gifts, so make sure to be organized and clear with where you’re registered.

Planning a wedding can be stressful, especially as the costs start adding up. It’s important to remember that the day is about celebrating your love as a couple and having fun. Make sure any large expenses are handled beforehand, so you don’t have to worry about a thing on the day of. If you set a wedding budget, make sure to stick to it and always weigh the pros and cons of certain wedding aspects. Weddings may be a long-time tradition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do things your own way!