Wednesday, March 17

The Modern Bride’s Budget: Who’s Paying?

My fiance recently came across an article that debates who is responsible for paying for the wedding. I thought it brought up a great point… exactly who should cover the costs of the wedding day?

Traditional etiquette has suggested that the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon and that the bride’s family pays for all the rest. More recently, however,  it seems as though the bride and groom have begun taking more of the responsibility of wedding costs upon themselves. I believe there are a few obvious explanations for this. One is that women are no longer tying the knot right out of high school and are waiting longer to get married. In recent decades, many women have continued their education by attending college and therefore obtain more demanding jobs that keep them too busy to raise a family. Women generally have become much more independent and don’t feel the need to marry right away to have someone “take care of” them. For the first time in history, women are putting careers ahead of marriage and have the confidence to follow their dreams that don’t necessarily involve starting a family before they hit their mid-20’s. So I think one reason brides feel more of an obligation to pay for their own weddings is because they are waiting until they are a bit older to get married. These women are already self-sufficient and not relying on their parents to pay their bills.

Another reason I believe brides and grooms are paying for much of their own weddings now instead of relying on parents is because modern weddings have become completely blown out of proportion. Take a look at some of the popular TV shows like Platinum Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress. Most parents can’t afford weddings that extravagant, nor should they be expected to. Weddings in our modern culture have completely transformed from what they used to be and seem to have strayed from their true meaning. What was once just a simple celebration involving close family and friends rejoicing the couple and enjoying cake has since become a giant spectacle of distant friends and acquaintances making the guest list and thousands of dollars spent on a table decoration and expensive embellishments. People have become more concerned with throwing the biggest and best party instead of focusing on what the day is really about… sharing love with family, friends, and your fiance. It's no wonder why parents are sealing their wallets and stiffening their contributions. Weddings have just gotten way too expensive.

An article by Teresa Mears on MSN (read it here) makes some really good points on how to have a reasonable and realistic wedding budget but still have a fabulous wedding:

• Decide what a wedding really means to you.
• Let the theme develop from the location.
• Ditch the “It only happens once” thinking.
• Know when to scrimp and when to splurge.
• Involve your friends and family.

The article also references the results of a survey done by Brides Magazine that questioned whether or not brides would rather have their parents contribute money for their wedding, or just give them cash instead to spend on whatever they’d like. Apparently more than half of the respondents said they would take the cash. For the brides who preferred this response, their reasoning may just be because they would rather spend that money on more important things such as a house or a necessary expense, and I find that totally acceptable. But I don't think parents should feel obligated to fork over money if they aren't able to afford it. I look at it this way: If you find something for your wedding you aren’t willing to pay for with your own hard-earned money, then don’t waste your parent’s money on it either. I certainly don’t see anything wrong with parents helping brides and grooms pay for their wedding since it effectively signifies the last of financial support parents give their children, but I also think it should be done in moderation. It’s one thing to allow parents to pitch in for this very important event but it’s quite another to expect them to go into debt over it. Which brings up another valid point… a bride and groom should NOT subject themselves to falling into debt just to pay for their wedding! The key is having a wedding that is within your financial means. If you can’t afford something now, don’t indulge anyway and expect to pay it off later. Why would anyone want to start off their marriage in high debts that they blew on one weekend? I know I don’t. If you invest some time and do your homework on researching for the best wedding deals, you’ll definitely be able to have the beautiful wedding you want on a budget you can afford.

What are your thoughts on who is responsible for the costs of the wedding day? Do you still believe in tradition or are you instead paying for a majority of your own wedding?


  1. I agree with you, and think it’s fine for parents to pitch in if they can and would like to, but it should not be expected. Paying for your own wedding forces a couple to really prioritize and focus on what they most want out of the day, whereas when parents pay, many brides and grooms get totally carried away since it’s just not their money being spent. That said, I also think some parents can get carried away, too, in wanting only the “best” for their children.

    We’re paying for our own wedding (except for the rehearsal dinner), and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our parents supported us all through our childhoods and we’re now fortunate enough to have the means to support ourselves. So, we will.

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