There’s no two ways about it: weddings are expensive. Paying for every detail is enough to drain any family’s financial coffers and – even worse – leave them wrestling with debt. Especially for new couples paying their own way during the wedding, the expenses quickly add up. The following is a traditional guide to dividing expenses equally and fairly among the four major participants in planning the four main parts of the wedding celebration: rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, and honeymoon. These are guidelines more than rules, and are intended to show tradition more than carved-in-stone etiquette.
The Bride’s Family
There’s a popular misconception among the unmarried of the world that the bride’s family foots the entire bill. That’s not entirely true, though unfortunately it may feel that way for the father of the bride! Traditionally, the bride’s family finances the reception dinner with all its facets: the food, drink, venue, service staff (including tips), flower arrangements, wedding favors, and any other miscellany. The bride’s family also pays for many of the necessities leading up to the ceremony: these usually include the bridal gown, the wedding invitations and save-the-date reminders, as well as the engagement and wedding photographs. Finally (!) the wedding ceremony costs, the photographer and videographer fees, the cost of the ring bearer and flower girl accessories, the transportation costs and bridesmaids bouquets are all picked up by the bride’s family. Honestly… if you’re the parent of a young girl, start saving right now.
Compared to her family, the bride gets off relatively easy. Brides traditionally pay for the groom’s wedding band, gifts for her bridesmaids, the bridesmaids’ luncheon, her blood test fees, and the wedding day lingerie. In the strictest traditional sense, the bride should also pay for her out-of-town bridesmaids accommodations.
Okay, guys. Time to pony up. Following the engagement ring (that two-month’s salary guideline is passé, by the way) you’ve still got a few things left to buy. You’ll pay for the honeymoon, the marriage license, and gifts for your groomsmen. The gentleman groom, however, also pays for the bridal bouquet and corsages for your mother and your new mother-in-law. You’ll also pick up the boutonnieres, ties, and accessories for the groomsmen, and finally the bride’s wedding ring. Gifts for the ushers and for your parents go the extra distance to showing your class. You should also pay the honorarium for the judge, justice of the peace, or clergyman who officiates the ceremony, too.
The Groom’s Family
Besides their own attire, the groom’s family is responsible for the rehearsal dinner and all its details.
The Maid of Honor
Bachelorette parties and wedding showers are the responsibility of the maid of honor. This includes all the details, top to bottom.
The Best Man
The best man is master of ceremonies and godfather 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.
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