Budgeting Wedding Costs: Who Pays for What?

In today’s society which is formed by many different cultures, religions, and preferences, it’s important to note there really isn’t a specific protocol designating which party is responsible for paying for particular wedding expenses. With wedding costs skyrocketing and many couples waiting until their careers are established before getting married, there are several options that can be considered.

Sometimes the couple will pay for all of the expenses themselves or ask the families to chip in for the ceremony flowers or bridal attire. Perhaps one of the easiest options may be to divide the total expenses into thirds: one-third for each set of parents and one-third for the couple. The following is a summary of anticipated wedding expenses for budgeting purposes indicating who traditionally pays for what, while keeping in mind nothing is set in stone:

(BF – Bride’s Family, B – Bride, G Groom, GF Groom’s Family)


First engagement party (BF)
Second engagement party (GF)
Rehearsal Dinner (GF)
Bridesmaids’ Luncheon (B)


Marriage License (G)
Location Fee (BF)
Officiant’s Fee (G)
Ceremony Accessories (BF)


Reception venue and rentals (BF)
Food and Service (BF)
Beverages (BF)
Cake (BF)

Attire for Bride and Groom:

Bride’s Dress and Alterations (BF)
Headpiece and Veil (BF)
Bridal Accessories (BF)
Hair, Nails, and Makeup (B)
Groom’s Tux (G)
Groom’s Accessories (G)


Bride’s Bouquet (G)
Bridesmaids’ Bouquets (BF)
Mothers’ Flowers (G)
Groom/Groomsmen’s Boutonnieres (G)
Flower Girl’s Flowers (BF)
Additional Boutonnieres or Corsages (BF)
Reception Decorations (BF)
Ceremony Decorations (BF)
Favors (BF)


Ceremony Musicians (BF)
Reception Band/DJ (BF)


Photographer’s Fee (BF)
Videographer’s Fee (BF)
Additional Prints and Videos (BF)


Personal Stationery (B)
Invitations (BF)
Response Cards (BF)
Thank You Notes (BF)
Save the Date Cards (BF)
Announcements (BF)


Her Ring (G)
His Ring (B)


Limousines and Car Rental (BF)
Guest Shuttle/Car Parking (BF)
Honeymoon (G)


Gifts for Bridal Attendants (B)
Gifts for Groom’s Attendants (G)
Gifts for Parents (B,G)
Wedding gift for Newlyweds (BF, GF)
Wedding gift for Bride (G)
Wedding gift for Groom (B)

Wedding Attendants:

Wedding attendants are generally expected to pay for their own attire, travel, and lodging, as well as for the bachelorette/bachelor parties. However, if someone needs financial assistance and it’s important to have them to participate in the wedding, then the bridal couple usually helps to defray those costs, which would also need to be included in your budget.

Charlene Davis is an experienced and published writer specializing in business, retail, e-commerce, weddings, parenting, spirituality, and food. For more wedding tips and articles, visit her Wedding Pangs blog at http://weddingpangs.blogspot.com