As we all know, the groom’s parents pay for his tux and the rehearsal dinner, and the bride’s parents pay for everything else, right?…WRONG! 

That antiquated approach to nuptial financial planning went out the window years ago. Of course, as in all matters pertaining to wedding planning, everything is a personal choice and a matter of taste. Therefore, if you’re planning a truly traditional approach to your wedding, and money is no object for the bride’s family, there’s no easier way to do it than the old-fashioned way.

But today’s economy dictates that wedding expenses be kept affordable and distributed amongst the participants as their financial condition allows. It is perfectly acceptable to involve everyone in your financial planning and accept or dismiss various contributions and suggestions.

Here we will attempt to guide you through a mix of the traditional and practical for your wedding plans.

Who Pays for What and How


The first step is to examine your own financial state of affairs (and use common sense about your parents’ money situations) and determine what the maximum amount of money you’d consider spending on your wedding.

Make it known to everyone involved that any contribution is welcome and use this opportunity to feel out how much of a contribution you might be able to ask of any participant. For the most part, you’ll see a lot of volunteerism at the outset (“I’ll pay for that”, “We’ll take care of that”, “Don’t worry about that, I’ve got it covered”) and the initial pressures are significantly lessened. When you’ve got a fairly decent idea of how much money will go into the pot or which expenses will be covered by individual participants, this will set your basic guidelines.

wedding cake


Traditionally, the bride’s parents cover the bulk of the wedding expenses, with the groom’s parents covering certain items such as the rehearsal dinner, and then giving the couple a gift in the ballpark of the amount spent by the bride’s side (the honeymoon, a cash gift, an automobile, etc.). If your families are in a position to take that approach, you’ve got it made and all you’ll have to worry about is the incidentals. But today it is not uncommon to find the two sides splitting things down the middle with just “token” gifts from the parents, or even splitting things three ways between the couple and both sets of parents.


Beyond the larger expenses covered by the couple and/or their parents, here’s a list of “traditional” items covered by various participants which should help you get off to a good start:

  1. Maid of honor covers her own expenses.
  2. Bridesmaids cover their gowns.
    (Ditto for Best Man and Ushers)
  3. Ring Bearer and Flower Girl usually covered by their parents.
  4. Rehearsal Dinner hosted and paid for by Groom’s parents.
  5. Out-of-town Guests travel and accomodations expenses paid for or provided by Bride and Groom.

Of course, you may find that in one case, the ring bearers parents can’t afford his tux and you’ll cover it, or your out-of-town guests insist on paying their own way.
Be flexible! Get what you want wherever and however you can, and never look a gift horse in the mouth!


Here’s a checklist of basic expenses you need to think about (and set limits for) when setting your budget. By discussing this list with everyone involved, you’ll find many relatives and friends who will wish to cover certain items as either their gift or part of their gift, freeing up more of your budget to expand on or upgrade another item on the list (“My grandparents are covering the florist; now we can get the band we really wanted!”).

Good luck and always remember, it’s never too early to start planning and shopping.

Band or DJ
Ceremony location
Reception location
Host/Hostess or Planner
Menu, Toast and Liquor
Wedding Gown
Attendants Gowns
Groom’s Tux
Ushers Tuxes
Flowers, Boutonniers, Corsages, Bouquet
Gifts for Attendants
Going Away Outfits
Wedding Rings
Invitations and other Printing
Legal Fees, Tests, Licenses
Rehearsal Dinner
Wedding Cake
Guest Book
Cake Knife and Toasting Goblets
Guest Accomodations