Who Traditionally Pays for What at a Wedding?

By Timothy Moore · November 01, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Who Traditionally Pays for What at a Wedding?

The wedding dress has been altered, the tuxes are pressed, and the rings are tucked safely in velvet boxes. Chefs are preparing an elaborate meal, bartenders are ready to fill Champagne flutes, and a DJ is putting the final touches on his playlist. The venue is decorated with flowers and candles, and the hotel is packed with happy guests.

The only question is: Who’s paying for all this?

Weddings are notoriously expensive. But they are also an important and romantic day in a couple’s life. Who foots the bill for this party has changed over the years. Below, we’ll break down who pays for which wedding expenses in 2023 — and who traditionally paid in previous generations.

Who Pays for the Wedding in 2023?

In the past, it’s been the tradition for the bride’s family to pay for nearly the entire wedding, and the groom’s family to pick up smaller expenses such as the rehearsal dinner. In some cases, families still follow these traditions, but increasingly people are embracing new ways of covering these costs.

Nowadays, wedding expenses can be split any number of ways, and couples are exploring many different ways to pay for their big day:

•  Independent couples may decline help from parents and instead pay out of pocket or borrow money to cover the wedding costs.

•  Both families and the bride and groom may decide to split the costs. Sometimes grandparents or other extended family members will offer to pay for a portion of the wedding.

•  If the groom comes from a wealthier family, his parents may chip in beyond their traditional requirements.

•  Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, LGBTQ+ couples are creating their own traditions since there’s not a single bride or single groom at the altar.

That’s the beauty of your wedding day: It’s yours. Many brides and grooms are embracing the fact that they no longer have to follow outdated customs if they don’t want to.

For others, however, tradition matters — and that’s OK, too. If you’re planning to follow cultural traditions to a T when funding your wedding, how do you split the bill?

Let’s break down who traditionally pays for the wedding and other related expenses.

💡 Quick Tip: Need help covering the cost of a wedding, honeymoon, or new baby? A SoFi personal loan can help you fund major life events — without the high interest rates of credit cards.

The Bride’s Family

Historically, the bride’s family pays for most of the wedding expenses. Depending on the size and extravagance of the wedding, it can add up.

If you’re the parents of the bride who plan to foot the bill, but you don’t have enough money in savings, it might be worth taking out a personal loan to cover the wedding expenses. In the long run, it’s typically a cheaper option than putting everything on a credit card.

While the bride’s family traditionally takes care of many of the wedding expenses they don’t pay for everything. And every wedding is a little different. You may choose to skip certain items or events (and you may find yourself adding, too). Here’s what the bride’s family typically covers:

Expenses the Bride’s Family Is Traditionally Responsible For

•  Engagement announcements

•  Engagement party

•  Wedding planner

•  Invitations, save-the-dates, and wedding programs

•  Venue for the ceremony

•  Venue for the reception

•  Flowers and decorations

•  Wedding photographer and videographer

•  Wedding dress

•  Transportation and lodging for the bridesmaids

•  Transportation and lodging for the officiant

•  Food at the reception

•  Wedding cake

•  Brunch the morning after the wedding

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The Groom’s Family

If you have only sons and think you’re off the hook, don’t get too excited. You still have to cover some costs at the wedding as the parents of the groom.

Though less extensive, the groom’s family’s financial burdens can add up. Personal loans are also an option for the groom’s family; in fact, weddings are one of the most common uses for personal loans.

Here’s everything the groom’s family traditionally pays for at a wedding.

Recommended: Tips for a Dream Wedding on a Budget

Expenses the Groom’s Family Is Traditionally Responsible For

•  Rehearsal dinner

•  Marriage license

•  Officiant’s fee

•  Boutonnieres for the groom, his groomsmen, and family members

•  Bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids

•  DJ or band

•  Transportation and lodging for the groomsmen

•  Alcohol at the reception

•  Honeymoon (in some cases)

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The Bride

Many women have dreamed of their wedding days since childhood. But as little girls, they probably didn’t think much about the actual wedding costs they’d have to pay themselves — and there are quite a few.

Expenses the Bride is Traditionally Responsible For

Traditionally, the bride pays for her future husband’s wedding ring, as well as a special gift for him. She may also buy gifts for her bridesmaids. In some cases, she’ll pay for the flowers, and she usually pays for her own hair and makeup.

Nowadays, however, brides may step up and pay more to help out her parents. Many brides choose to do this in part so that they can feel like they have more say in determining the plans for their special day.

People are also getting married later than they did in past generations (the average age for women is now 30 and for a man it’s 32), which means brides (and grooms) may feel more financially capable of covering the expenses themselves.

The Groom

The groom isn’t off the hook either. At weddings, he’s responsible for a few purchases as well.

And even though he and the bride may have separate wedding responsibilities, as a newly married couple they are likely planning to combine their finances, if they haven’t already. Even if they don’t have a joint bank account, the bride and groom are essentially covering their wedding expenses together.

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Expenses the Groom Is Traditionally Responsible For

The first big expense a groom encounters is the one that sets the whole wedding in motion: the engagement ring. The average cost of an engagement ring is now about $6,000. Grooms who don’t have that kind of cash lying around often turn to engagement ring financing options, including personal loans.

While the ring is often the groom’s biggest expense, he’s also responsible for the bride’s wedding band, gifts for his groomsmen, a gift for his bride, his own tux, and the honeymoon — if his parents aren’t footing the bill. (The honeymoon isn’t cheap either; the average cost of a honeymoon is now $5,100.)

Some grooms may also pay for the license and officiant, instead of asking his parents to cover that cost.

Who Pays for Other Wedding Costs

There is also the cost of being in someone’s wedding. For instance, groomsmen and bridesmaids are typically responsible for paying for their own tuxedos and dresses.

These two groups also pay for the bachelorette and bachelor parties for the bride and groom. Bridesmaids may also need to pay for their hair and makeup on the big day.

As someone attending a wedding, you should give a gift, unless the couple has discouraged this. And if it’s a destination wedding, you’ll have to pay your own travel costs, which can include hotels and transportation.

Wedding Costs

Now we know who traditionally pays for what at weddings — and that many modern couples are foregoing these traditions. But how much does a wedding cost?

Currently, the median cost of a wedding is $10,000, according to a recent SoFi survey. For couples who are paying without their families’ help, a personal loan is the best route, if they don’t have the money in savings or have that money earmarked for buying a house or starting a family.

Are you considering taking out a loan to cover the cost of your wedding? Here are the typical personal loan requirements you’ll need for approval.

The Takeaway

Weddings are expensive, and traditions usually put the bulk of the financial burden on the bride’s family. However, many couples are breaking from tradition nowadays, paying for wedding expenses themselves or splitting the cost among family members more evenly — or in a way that reflects each family’s means.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.


Who pays for the wedding reception?

Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for most of the wedding reception, including the venue, food, and decorations. However, the groom’s family usually pitches in by covering the music and the alcohol. Increasingly, couples are choosing to pay for their wedding receptions themselves or splitting the cost with their parents.

Who pays for the engagement party?

The bride’s family is traditionally responsible for paying for the engagement party. Nowadays, however, engaged couples often pay for such parties on their own.

Photo credit: iStock/Halfpoint

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