Budgeting for the Wedding: Who Pays for What?

Wedding cost-splitting basics for you and your families.
Tented wedding reception entrance
Photo by Fred Marcus Photographers

Forget the archaic rule that says certain people have to pay for certain things. Your parents don't need to take out a mortgage to pay for the wedding. And if you're like most couples, the two of you might even be covering a good chunk of the expenses yourselves. The best way to work it out? Sit down with a pencil, paper and calculator and figure out what you really want and can afford. Keep in mind that smaller weddings are generally cheaper and large, formal weddings tend to be more expensive. Below is the traditional breakdown (as in bride's versus groom's family) of costs for everyone involved. But hear us out: These "rules" are made to be broken based on what's best for you and your families.


  • Bride and family pay for church or synagogue, sexton, organist and so on.
  • Groom and family pay for marriage license and officiant's fee.

Wedding Dress, Tux and Attire

  • Bride and family pay for bride's dress, veil, accessories and trousseau (read: lingerie and honeymoon clothes).
  • Groom and family pay for groom's outfit.
  • All attendants pay for their own clothing (including shoes).

Flowers and Decorations

  • Bride and family pay for arrangements for the ceremony (including a chuppah if it's a Jewish wedding ceremony) and reception, plus bouquets and corsages for bridesmaids and flower girls.
  • Groom and family pay for the bride's bouquet, boutonnieres for men, and corsages for mothers and grandmothers.


  • Groom and family pay for the complete honeymoon.


  • Bride and family pay for all wedding photos and video.

Prewedding Parties

  • Bride's or groom's family plans and hosts the engagement party; if there's more than one, the bride's family hosts the first one.
  • Groom's family plans and hosts the rehearsal dinner.
  • Maid of honor and bridesmaids host the bridal shower and bachelorette party.
  • Best man and groomsmen host the bachelor party.
  • Friends may throw additional engagement parties or showers.


  • Bride and family pay for all professional services, including food and decorations.
  • Groom's family pays for the DJ or band and liquor.


  • Bride and/or her family pay for the groom's ring.
  • Groom and/or his family pay for both of the bride's rings.


  • Bride and family pay for invitations, announcements and wedding programs.


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