Who Pays for What? The Next Generation

If you look in glossy bridal magazines or in handy books on planning weddings, you’ll quickly find a breakdown of who traditionally pays for what at the wedding. In that breakdown, you’ll find that the bride’s parents pay for nearly pretty much all the big ticket items, that the groom pays for the bride’s bouquet, and lots of other handy hints.

The thing is, that’s pretty much an archaic set of rules. Who orders their flowers for the ceremony and the reception, and then expects the groom to go in at another time and choose the bride’s bouquet? Nobody, that’s who. Even the books and magazines will tell you that the rules have changed and this is just a starting place for figuring out what works for you and yours.

These days just about anyone can choose to pay for specific items or donate a wad of cash to a general budget for the happy couple to spend as they see fit. The rules for who pays went almost entirely out the window at least forty years ago. No new hard and fast set of rules has replaced the old ones.

So why do we continue to see these lists of ‘rules’ that were last likely to be followed when Donna Reed was America’s favorite TV mom? Do we even need the list as anything other than a quaint reminder of how it all used to work?

I have a radical notion: let’s ditch the list save as an historical oddity. Instead, let’s start giving real world practical advice on budgeting for a wedding. Let’s encourage happy couples to be pleasantly surprised when someone offers a donation to the funds rather than to imagine that Daddy will pay for everything because it’s his job.

If he wants to finance the whole shebang or give a gift of paying for the flowers or the reception hall or a band, that’s lovely. Accept or reject the offer based on your individual relationship and situation. Just don’t assume it’s coming until it’s offered.

There. I said it. I firmly believe that couples should expect to finance their own weddings out of their own pockets until someone else (ie:the potential donor) chooses to make the suggestion. And when that person holds out money, it is still up to the couple whether or not they choose to take it.

When Mr. Twistie and I were married, we paid for everything ourselves. We never asked for a dime. My father and his mother both donated food to the reception, but they chose to do so. In fact, my mother-in-law’s tray of home rolled sushi was a delightful wedding day surprise.

Was the budget ridiculously tight? Yes it was. Did we have to consider every penny spent carefully? Yes we did.

Would we have done it any other way? No we wouldn’t.

3 Responses to “Who Pays for What? The Next Generation”

  1. Rosanna says:

    Regardless of the budget, EVERY dollar of expense needs to be thought through. It’s not that just because one has a big pot of money that it’s ok to squander it on overpriced items! Wedding planners (and most brides) seem not to have this clear in mind… If you can and want to spend $50,000 then seem to assume that you “must” buy pricey items and services whether they are priced right or not. I call it BS.

  2. Ripley says:

    I completely agree. My husband and I paid for our wedding ourselves (even if we did have to take out a small loan which we paid off by the end of the year). I was very pleased when my in-laws paid for the food for the rehearsal dinner, and my parents paid for my bouquet and the invitation postage. But I certainly didn’t expect them to.

  3. Carol says:

    My husband and I also paid for our wedding and reception. Granted, it was the second marriage for both of us, but we still never expected anyone else to pay for our party. It was lovely when his mother offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner and my parents offered to pay for a wedding breakfast the next day. And they both baked treats for the reception – his mother made pies (rhubarb is her specialty) and my mother, the Cookie Queen of the Greater Midwest, made dozens and dozens of cookies. Everyone agreed that was the best part of the reception.