Weddings are expensive. The amount that can be totaled if you pay for every detail is enough to drain any family’s bank accounts or worse – leave them stranded with debt. Since 2012, more and more couples are paying their own way during the wedding, and they’re finding that the expenses quickly add up. The following is a traditional Wedding Budget Breakdown that shows how expenses are split equally and fairly among the four major parties when planning the four big parts of the wedding celebration: the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, the reception, and the honeymoon. Remember that these are guidelines, not rules. They’re intended to show tradition more than anything else.
The Bride’s Family
It was a long time ago – like, before 1940 – that in most parts of the world the bride’s family paid for the entire wedding. Somehow it got carved in stone, and people today think that it stands true. It doesn’t, and times have changed. Unfortunately it may still feel that way for the bride’s family! The tradition is that the bride’s family hosts the reception dinner with all that it includes: the catering, bar, reception venue, the service staff (including tips), all of the flower arrangements, the wedding favors, and any other miscellaneous related expenses. If that wasn’t enough, it was expected that they would also pay for many of the accouterments leading up to the ceremony, including the bride’s wedding gown, the wedding invitations (and save-the-date cards, if used) as well as the engagement and wedding photos. As if that wasn’t enough, they were also supposed to take care of the wedding ceremony costs, the photographer and videographer fees, ring bearer and flower girl accessories, any transportation costs and bridesmaids bouquets. That would seem to be the lion’s share of the wedding expenses, which is a pretty hefty tab when all is said and done.
By comparison, the bride is expected to spend very little. These traditions, as a reminder, stem from before women were equals in the workforce – they lived at home with their parents, worked little if at all, and didn’t have rent, car payments, expensive shoe habits or go out partying. Brides traditionally pay for the groom’s wedding band, gifts for her bridesmaids, the bridesmaids’ luncheon, her blood test fees (check your state requirements!), and the wedding day lingerie. In the strictest traditional sense, the bride should also pay for her out-of-town bridesmaids accommodations.
The two-month’s salary guideline for engagement ring cost is passé, by the way, but groom’s still have a few things left to buy. He’s expected to pay for the honeymoon, the marriage license, and gifts for the groomsmen. The gentleman groom, however, also pays for the bridal bouquet and corsages for his mother and his new mother-in-law. He will also pick up the boutonnieres, ties, and accessories for the groomsmen, the fee for the ceremony officiant, and finally the bride’s wedding ring. Gifts for the ushers and for his parents are above and beyond, but they’re a sweet touch if they fit in the budget.
The Groom’s Family
The groom’s family is traditionally only responsible for the rehearsal dinner and any related details.
The Maid of Honor
The Maid of Honor doesn’t get off cheap, either. She is usually the one to pay for the bachelorette parties and wedding shower. This includes all the details, top to bottom. That’s a pretty big amount these days. When that ‘tradition’ started, most wedding showers were pretty tame, and so were the bachelorette parties – which were usually just a girls night in if anything. These days, it’s a night on the town and that bar tab can get pretty steep.
The Best Man
The best man is master of ceremonies and takes ownership of the bachelor party, from the planning to the execution to pouring all the guests into cabs at the end of the night. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.
The Groomsmen and Bridesmaids
Most of the attire – for example, the tuxedo rental and costs of the gown – are the responsibility of the individual wedding party member. They also give a gift to the newlyweds. Groomsmen arriving from out-of-town are also expected to pay for their accommodations.