Who pays for what when you wed?

A few months ago a couple caused a bit of a stir by asking each of their wedding guests to contribute to the cost of their wedding. This begs the question – who is traditionally supposed to pay for what? In this post we give you a few pointers that we hope you’ll find useful.

Tight or right?

When Ben Farina asked partner Clare Moran to marry him he knew she’d be worried that they couldn’t afford a dream wedding. So he drew up what he described as a “business model” where he suggested to the 60 guests that they might like to contribute up to £150 each to attend, promising the event would be "like an all-inclusive holiday" involving a three-night stay at a luxurious venue in Derbyshire. Ben’s idea was widely reported in the media, with some suggesting he was being tight. The guests, however, were all happy enough to pay, with Ben’s parents also stumping up extra for a hog roast on the wedding day. Clare’s stepdad, who is a chef, also offered to cook a roast dinner for everybody the day after.

Tradition is going out of fashion

There was a time when the bride’s parents were expected to pick up the bill for most of the expenses, at least those for the ceremony and the reception. However, times have changed and the old rules have fallen by the wayside. These days the couple themselves will often bear much of the cost, with their parents contributing in whatever way is felt to be most appropriate. So maybe Ben was not quite so out of order and just taking the next logical step!

The important thing is for the bride, groom and the respective parents to sit down at the earliest opportunity to discuss plans, budgets and sort out all the issues around who is happy to pay for what. You don’t want to leave any room for possible misunderstanding that could cast a shadow over the big day!

The groom was expected to find the money for..

  • In the past there were certain things the groom was expected to pay for. However,in this day and age many couples are actually living together before they tie the knotand so effectively they’ll jointly find the money for some or all of these items.
  • Bride's engagement ring and wedding ring
  • Ceremony fees, organist, choir, bell ringers
  • Marriage licence or registrar fee
  • Bridal flowers, flowers for bridesmaids, flowers for the church, buttonholes, corsages
  • Presents for the bridesmaids, usher and best man
  • Transport to church for the groom and his best man, plus to reception for the newlyweds
  • Bouquet for the mothers during his speech
  • The honeymoon

The parents of the bride used to pay for…

The biggest expenses were traditionally borne by the bride’s family – but the modern convention is for both sets of parents to cover these cost between them.

  • Reception venue hire, cost of food and drink, entertainment and decorationsat the reception
  • Wedding cake
  • Invitations, order of service sheets
  • Announcements in local press
  • Bride's dress
  • Bridesmaids' dresses and gifts
  • Bride's transport to and from the wedding ceremony
  • Church flowers
  • Flowers at the reception
  • Photographer/Videographer
  • Toastmaster

Other things to bear in mind

If you, the bride and groom, pay most of the expenses then you have more freedom to create the kind of day you want. By the same token, the bigger the parental contribution the greater say they’ll have in the proceedings. If you both fancy a goth inspired wedding, or a punk band for the evening bash, or a collection of street food stalls instead of a traditional wedding breakfast, you’ll either need very understanding parents and in-laws, or be picking up the lion’s share of the bill yourself!

What about a wedding planner – who pays for her? Traditionally that was paid for by the bride’s side of the family, but now the cost is more likely to be shared. The stag party – the groom, the best man, everyone chip in? The hen party – the bride herself, bridesmaids or everyone pays their own way? What if you are getting wed abroad – who pays the travel and accommodation costs? The answers may seem obvious to you, but you need to be aware that others might see things differently, or feel financially embarrassed.

Reality check

The modern trend is for the costs to be shared out, by one means or another. Couples are increasingly getting friends and relatives to pay for the honeymoon and asking for cash instead of physical presents. If you are a celebrity you can always sell your wedding photos to OK! Or Hello magazine, but for most of us that’s obviously not an option. So, all things considered, Ben and Clare’s idea of getting all the guests to chip in is not quite so radical as it might have originally sounded!

WeddingJohn McCarthyComment