You’re going to tie the knot. Congratulations! But that means it’s time to ask the other big question: Who pays for a wedding?

This isn’t a question couples should avoid very long. A budget needs to be created right away to determine spending limits. You need to know how much money you’ll have to work with before booking a pricey venue or florist.

Parents or other close relatives often pitch in financially. Approaching that subject, however, can be awkward. I will give you suggestions on this.

Let’s also take a look at some long-time traditions that might help you and your family decide who should pay for what at your wedding.

Have the talk: Who pays for a wedding?

woman with a financial wedding checklist

One of the first things you should do is meet individually with family members or others directly involved in your wedding plans. This typically includes parents, stepparents and/or grandparents. Let them know ahead of time what the conversation will be about so they are prepared.

Explain that you are creating a wedding budget and need to know what you can afford. Ask them if it’s their intention to help defray costs. The goal is to find out who is willing to pay for what and how much each plans to contribute.

If you get a flat-out “no,” respect their decision and move on. Try not to judge, show disappointment or hold resentment. If they agree to chip in, show your appreciation for their generosity.

Parents of the bride and groom often divvy up certain expenses such as food, drinks, wedding guest favors and rehearsal dinner costs. Others prefer to give a lump sum toward all expenses. Let them make a proposal they are comfortable offering unless they ask for suggestions.

Who traditionally pays for the wedding?

Lots of wedding traditions have fallen by the wayside over the years. But many families still uphold traditional “rules” of who pays for what at weddings. Here’s a peek into a few long-time traditions still followed today:

Wedding tradition | What the bride and/or her family pay

customized frosted wedding cups and napkins
  • Bride’s dress and accessories
  • Invitations and wedding announcements
  • Wedding planner
  • Decorations at church and reception
  • All flowers such as corsages, bouquets and boutonnieres
  • Music for ceremony and reception
  • Photographer and videographer
  • Wedding guest favors
  • Food, drinks, cups and napkins at reception

Wedding tradition | What the groom and/or his family pay

customized wedding favor and gift bags
  • The groom’s suit/tuxedo and accessories
  • Bride’s engagement ring
  • Ties, suspenders and other accessories not included in rented attire
  • All expenses related to the rehearsal dinner
  • Wedding officiant’s fee or donation
  • Welcome bags for out-of-town guests

Wedding tradition | What the wedding couple pay

  • Marriage license
  • Wedding rings for bride and groom
  • Transportation costs for wedding party
  • Gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen
  • Honeymoon

Wedding tradition | What the maid of honor and bridesmaids pay

gold personalized wedding stadium cups
  • Dresses/attire and most accessories
  • Bridal shower supplies and other expenses
  • Bridal shower gift to bride
  • Bachelorette party supplies and other expenses
  • Wedding gift for bride and groom (combined with best man and groomsmen)

Wedding tradition | What the best man and groomsmen pay

customized bachelor party accessories
  • Rental of suits/attire and most accessories
  • Bachelor party supplies and other expenses
  • Wedding gift for bride and groom (combined with maid of honor and bridesmaids)

When tradition fails … who pays for a wedding?

It would be magical and much less complicated if couples could simply follow the traditions of who pays what. But the real world isn’t so cut and dried.

If you’re one of the lucky ones whose parents pick up the entire tab, rejoice! Perhaps your parents can’t help, but your grandparents will cover a few wedding costs. That’s nice, too.

Maybe you and your better half will be going solo on the entire bill. No worries; you can do this. Set goals. Start saving now for the things that are most important to you such as a dreamy wedding gown or romantic honeymoon.

If you need to scale back your spending, here are a few great ideas for planning an affordable wedding:

Knowing what you can afford from the start will help you make smart wedding decisions.

announce your big day in style with custom save the date coasters

Shelley Grieshop is a former newspaper journalist who earned more than a dozen Associated Press awards for her in-depth research and writing skills. In May 2016, she joined Totally Promotional as a creative writer. She currently writes company blogs about branding, marketing, logos, wedding planning and much more. One of her life goals is to teach people when to use hyphens and apostrophes.

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