Wedding planning: Who pays for what?

Planning a wedding takes patience, collaboration and...well, money. Most wedding budgets comfortably swell into the tens of thousands. It’s a sizeable investment for a one-off event and divvying up the costs can be a tricky negotiation.

The first thing to note is that every wedding and family dynamic is different. Etiquette varies greatly depending on things like religion, nationality, age, and circumstance. For example, older couples (or those on their second marriage) tend to finance their own wedding.

Essentially, there’s no set rules nowadays. Costs can be broken down in whatever way is most harmonious for the couple. The last thing you need is tension and resentment over money putting a dampener on the big day.

Anxious about tying the knot? Read up on some insider tips from newlyweds.

To avoid a boilover of passive aggression, we’ve got you covered with a brief guide of how you can break down the expenses. Again, serving suggestions only.

50 / 50

It’s relatively common for both families to split the final costs down the middle. However each side chooses to break that down between parents, participants and extended family is up to them. It’s probably the simplest way to do it, rather than getting bogged down in the runsheet of who’s covering what.

In addition to a 50/50 split between each family, a wedding can also be shared by the bride and groom paying half as a couple, and the remaining half being made up collectively by both sets of parents.

Reasonable proportion

Obviously in many cases, one family might be much better off financially than the other. This can be awkward to explicitly acknowledge but, if you can get past that hurdle, it makes sense to share the costs in a way that doesn’t bankrupt one side. This system really only works if the wealthier family takes the lead.

Item allocation

Traditionally, certain items are covered by certain people. It’s still a share model, but it requires more detailed negotiation. What it does mean is that if there’s an area within your remit where you want to splash out a little extra, you can do so without forcing others into additional outlay.

Traditionally, the bride’s family paid for many aspects of the wedding, and while some still hold to this tradition, many couples these days opt to split the costs of the wedding more equitably amongst the bride, groom and their respective families as circumstances permit.

If you prefer to go down the more traditional route, here’s the breakdown of expenses as they’ve customarily allocated.

• Groom

• Engagement and wedding rings
• Bridal bouquet
• Ties for groomsmen
• Ceremony fees
• Marriage license
• Gift for bride
• Gift for parents

• Groom’s family

• Engagement party
• Honeymoon

• Bride

• Bridesmaids’ bouquets
• Groom’s ring
• Stationery
• Gift for groom

• Bride’s family

• Bride’s dress and accessories
• Decorations
• Photography
• Transportation
• Entire cost of reception

If you’re paying for everything yourself, consider a loan to help manage payments and planning.

Wedding expenses - who pays for what? (Easy Weddings)