bride and groom showing their feet

Who Pays for the Wedding?

The decision for who pays for the wedding is not something to gloss over. Seriously, in this day and age, it’s all over the map, and is ultimately up to the happy couple and their families.

In other words, keeping your expectations in check until you’ve heard from everyone involved is probably wise. Your parents may not be prepared to pony up nearly as much as you thought. And your friends may balk if you expect them to pay for formalwear, too many parties, or travel for a destination wedding.

Times are changing. Turns out, the average bride and groom in the U.S. pay almost as much toward their wedding expenses (41%) as the bride’s parents do (45%).

Still, it can’t hurt to have an idea of how wedding costs traditionally break down. Even with the best intentions, you may find yourself tiptoeing around—or tripping over—someone’s hurt feelings if you completely bypass the basics. Here are some costs that can come up and who customarily pays:

•  The bride’s dress: This one is kind of a no-brainer. The bride’s parents and/or the bride herself typically pay for her dress, veil, shoes, jewelry, etc. If there’s a twist, it might be that her grandmother or an aunt offers to cover all or some of the cost.

•  The wedding planner: This is another high-ticket item, but one that many families couldn’t imagine doing without. If you do hire a coordinator, it’s a cost that traditionally goes to the bride and/or her parents.

•  The rings: The person asking almost always pays for the engagement ring—whether the proposal is a surprise or not. It isn’t always considered part of the wedding budget. The Knot’s survey found that the average
spent on an engagement ring was almost $6,000 Wedding bands, thank goodness, are typically much less expensive. (Unless, of course, they’re covered in diamonds.) Who pays for the wedding bands is really up to you are your partner, but you could obviously purchase them together or buy them for each other as gifts.

•  The reception: Mom and Dad—we’re looking at you again. The reception venue is usually the most expensive item on the wedding budget, and it’s another cost that ordinarily goes to the bride and her family. The cost of food, drinks, decorations, and the DJ or band also customarily fall to them—although in some circles, the groom’s family will offer to pay for the entertainment or the booze.

•  The groom’s gear: Whether it’s a tux or suit, a purchase or rental, the groom and his family get this bill.

•  The attendants’ attire: There is some disagreement on how this should go. Traditionally, members of the bridal party pay for their own clothes. (And the flower girl and ring bearer’s parents pay for their outfits.) But increasingly, the bride or her parents are covering the cost of the bridesmaids’ dresses and shoes (especially if they all must match). They’re also kicking in for hairstyling, makeup, and even robes for the ladies to wear as they prepare for the ceremony.

•  The invitations: The stationery bill—invitations, thank-you notes, “save the date” cards or magnets—goes to the bride’s family.

•  Transportation: Limos or carriages are another cost that typically goes to the bride’s family.

•  The ceremony: Tradition dictates that the bride’s family pays for the wedding venue (which may not be super expensive if it’s your home church), the organist, and any singers. The groom’s family typically pays the officiant’s fee and for the marriage license.

•  The flowers: The bride’s family gets the bigger bill here. Her parents usually pay for decorations for the ceremony, the reception ,and the bridesmaids’ and flower girl’s bouquets. But the groom and his family often will pick up the cost of the bride’s bouquet, attendants’ boutonnieres, and corsages for female family members.

•  The cake: The bride’s family gets this one, too. And if there’s a groom’s cake (a big tradition in the South), they also cover that part of the bakery bill.

•  Photography: Photos and video services are typically billed to the bride’s family. If family and friends want copies of their own, however, they should probably offer to pay for them.

•  The rehearsal dinner: The groom’s family traditionally takes care of this event, including the venue, food, drinks, decorations, and entertainment.

•  Gifts for the wedding party: The bride pays for the gifts for her attendants and the groom takes care of his groomsmen.

•  Pre-wedding parties/showers: The person or persons who offer to host the event typically pick up the tab if it’s a shower or small party. The bachelor/bachelorette parties are paid for by the attendants, and if it’s a destination party, they split the bride or groom’s costs.

•  The honeymoon: The old-school expectation is that the groom and/or his family will pay for the honeymoon. But if the newlyweds have something grander in mind, they usually pay these days. And many couples now set up a honeymoon fund that guests can give to instead of purchasing a wedding gift.

Covering the Wedding Costs

Bottom line: If you’re involved with a wedding—even if it’s just as a guest—it’s going to cost you. The average amount spent on a wedding gift these days is $99, and if it’s a destination wedding, there’s travel and accommodations to consider.

And while the bride’s side is still footing the bulk of the bills for the wedding, the groom and his family also are shelling out for some high-end items, including an engagement ring, rehearsal dinner, and more.

Or, in a modern twist, many parents now simply state up front how much they’re willing to pay—and it’s up to the bride and groom to make it work.

The average cost of a wedding is about $34,000 , according to The Knot. Even with careful planning – and an equitable splitting of the budget – that’s a lot of money to come up with in a short amount of time.

If you’ve been socking away savings for years just for this big day, good for you. But if you’re like most people and will need a little help with the financing, you’ll benefit from being proactive.

With so many separate costs, it can be easy to lose track of what you meant to spend and what you actually spent—so you can start by sitting down and plotting a checklist or spreadsheet. Then discuss with your family how you’ll pay for those items that fall to you—cash, credit, or some other source.

Taking out a personal loan for wedding expenses can help in a few ways:

•  You might do a better job of sticking to your budget. When you get your loan, you’re getting one fixed amount; that means you know that’s how much you have to spend and no more.

•  It can keep you from using high-interest credit cards. A personal loan will typically have a lower interest rate than a credit card.

•  Some vendors may charge less if you pay in cash. Having that money in your bank account can give you bargaining power.

•  You can make one manageable payment every month, instead of trying to track several different bills or fluctuating credit card balances.

Applying for a SoFi personal loan is fast and easy. You can pre-qualify in a couple of minutes online without making a commitment. And if you decide to go with a SoFi loan, there are no fees required.

SoFi has competitive interest rates and other member benefits. And SoFi is known for its customer service; there’s someone available by email or phone if you need information.

Wedding planning should be a joyous time—and that means not panicking or stressing about money. So start out with a plan for how you’ll pay and then stick to it.

(You’ll have enough drama dealing with the bridesmaids.)

A SoFi personal loan can help you manage wedding costs. Learn more today.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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