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Wedding Expenses: Who Pays for What

There is a scene in the movie Father of the Bride when George, the character played by Steve Martin and the father of the bride, tries to process the slowly mounting costs of his daughter’s wedding. He manages to escape before having a breakdown, but that scene captures the overwhelming feeling that some fathers have.

It has been almost 30 years since that movie was made, and the days of the bride’s family completely paying for the wedding are behind us. The line of who pays for what is becoming less defined as more couples pay for their wedding themselves or in partnership with their parents.

If you’re more of a traditionalist, or if your future in-laws are asking for what you need help paying for, there are a couple guidelines to keep in mind. The bride and her family traditionally pay for the ceremony location, floral arrangements for the ceremony and reception, the invitations, photography, transportation, and all other professional services related to the reception except for the DJ or musicians. These are paid for by the groom’s side. The bride will also pay for her dress and accessories.

The groom and his family pay for the marriage license and officiant fee, the bride’s bouquet, and any flowers for the men, mothers, and grandmothers. The groom will also pay for his outfit, the honeymoon, and the bride’s rings. The groom’s family traditionally plans and hosts the rehearsal dinner.

As you and your fiancé begin discussing the financial aspect of your wedding, we recommend speaking with your family members to find out if they are planning to contribute. Keep in mind that those who are making a monetary contribution to your wedding may have an opinion about how a certain aspect of it is done, so if you and your fiancé want to call all the shots, be sure to finance as much of your wedding day as you can.

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