So I don’t know about you ladies, but ever since I was 12, I had my entire wedding planned out. From the mermaid gown dress and floral arrangements to the honeymoon destination (I am definitely packing my resort wear for a getaway with my future hubby to either Greece or Italy), my wedding details have been selected to the T – just minus the husband! I mostly blame those addicting TLC wedding shows, like Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings, for making me dream about planning an extravagant wedding celebration that would even make Cinderella jealous. But now that I am older and much wiser, I know that I would probably need to save up until my 200th birthday to be able to afford the grand wedding of my dreams. So now when I watch my favorite wedding shows, I get to thinking: how much does a typical wedding really cost, and most importantly, who is responsible for paying for what?

First, let’s begin with a little bit of history. Traditionally, it was common “wedding etiquette” for the bride’s and the groom’s family members to be responsible for paying for certain aspects of the wedding. In this case, it was mostly the bride’s family who had to pay a great chunk of the expenses; this basically included every part of the wedding celebration – expect for the wedding rings, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, bachelor party, and the honeymoon!

Here is the basic rundown of who picked up the tab for what at the Traditional wedding:

(1)   Bride’s Family:

  • Engagement party
  • Transportation to wedding for bridal party
  • Ceremony (and all associated costs, including décor, rentals, etc.)
  • Reception (and all associated costs, including invitations, flowers and décor, food, drinks, and entertainment)
  • Bride’s gown and accessories
  • Photography/Videographer

(2)   Groom’s Family:

  • Engagement party
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Honeymoon (with payment assistance from the Groom)

(3)   Bride:

  • Groom’s ring
  • Gift for Groom

(4)   Groom:

  • Bride’s ring
  • Marriage License
  • Groom’s wedding attire
  • Gift for Bride
  • Transportation to honeymoon

(5)   Maid of Honor/Bridesmaids

  • Bachelorette party
  • Wedding attire
  • Gifts for Bride/Groom

(6)   Best Man/Groomsmen:

  • Bachelor party
  • Wedding attire
  • Gifts for Bride/Groom

As you can imagine, this “traditional” view could cause a rift among some families, especially if the bride’s parents had to take out a second or third mortgage to finance their daughter’s wedding!

Since the recent economic downturn, and the simple fact that wedding costs have skyrocketed in the past couple of years (in 2012, couples spent an average of $28,000 on their nuptials), most modern brides and grooms have disregarded the traditional view and instead split the costs more evenly.

Nowadays, couples establish a wedding budget and speak with family members to see who can contribute what (and how much it’s going to cost them!).

With simple budgeting, you can plan your perfect wedding, a-la-Prince William and Princess Kate, without breaking the bank or starting World War Three within your family. The key is to figure out what you can and cannot afford and then structuring your wedding celebration around those limits. Just remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune in order to have a fairytale ending!



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