What is supposed to be the happiest day of your life can also turn out to be the most expensive. The question of cash can sometimes put a strain not only on your wallet, but also on family relations. 

Obviously, the subject of cost depends entirely on what kind of wedding you are planning. If your wedding is exchanging nose-rings in a Buddhist Ceremony on the summit of the Himalayas, where your only guests are the local monks and their herd of yak, then airfares and sherpa are your only expenses.

If a sit down, three course meal for 250 people with Kylie as your wedding entertainment is more appealing, then you will need to consider how these costs are going to be covered.

Either way, this will likely be the most you will ever spend on a single celebration and you need to consider how this will be funded from the very start of your planning process.

You should also be considerate of the costs your bridesmaids and groomsmen will incur along the way. We suggest you read more about this in Bridesmaids Covering Costs.

Who pays for what it is entirely up to you and possibly your families. You'll need to have this discussion upfront, firstly between you and your fiance and then with your families.

To get the discussions started here are some ideas and guidelines to both the modern way, followed by a more traditional approach of paying for your big day.

The Modern Approach

As the average age of couples marrying approaches 30 years, many couples will already be living together and most likely paying their our own way in life. Parents on the other hand will be considering their retirement. 

As a result, the tradition of the brides parents paying for most of the wedding is less common and a growing number of couples are footing the majority of the bill themselves!

The sharing of costs between both sides or all sides of the family is just as acceptable these days. Here are some ways modern couples share the cost:

  • Sharing costs can be done by working out a per head cost for the entire wedding or just the wedding reception and asking that each side pay for the guests they choose to invite. This way no one side will feel as if they have overcontributed or undercontributed.
  • If the bride and groom pay for their own wedding, a wedding gift idea from the parents is to to pay for a part of the wedding, such as the wedding dress for their daughter or the honeymoon for their son and new daughter-in-law.
  • Parents share the cost of the wedding reception and the bride and groom pay for everything else.

Wedding Tip:

Don't let your wedding be the cause of a family rift or huge financial strain. Discuss what is affordable to you, your families and your bridal party members. If you can't afford a particular item or inclusion you can either survive without it or find something less expensive.

The Traditional Approach

The Bride & Her Family 

  • The engagement party (if hosting)
  • The groom's wedding band
  • Any wedding announcements
  • Costs of the reception venue, catering, alcohol, decorations, wedding entertainment etc
  • Wedding photographer and wedding album
  • Wedding videographer and wedding dvd
  • Wedding cake
  • Any wedding coordinating services
  • Wedding stationery including invitations, mail out and thank you notes
  • The bridal gown and all accessories
  • Hair and makeup artists (bridesmaids somethimes pay for own)
  • Mother-of-the-bride's outfit and accessories
  • The groom's wedding gift
  • All bomboniere and bridesmaids gifts
  • Accommodation for bridesmaids and guests of the bride's family if they have travelled to the wedding

The Groom & His Family 

  • The engagement party (if hosting)
  • The bride's engagement and wedding ring
  • The wedding ceremony or church fees
  • The wedding flowers including the brides and bridesmaids bouquets
  • The wedding cars
  • The groom's suit and accessories
  • The marriage license
  • Wedding gift for the bride
  • Gifts for the groomsmen and ushers
  • Wedding night accommodation
  • The honeymoon

The Bridal Party

  • Bridal showers, or kitchen teas
  • Hens and Bucks night celebrations
  • Wedding gift for the Bride and Groom
  • Bridesmaid's dresses (or brides family pays)
  • Suit hire for the groomsmen (or grooms family pays)
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