What does the bride’s family traditionally pay for?

When it comes to traditional wedding expenses, the bride’s family is responsible for paying for certain key elements of the big day. In the opening paragraphs, we’ll briefly answer some of the most commonly asked questions around what exactly the bride’s family pays for.

What are the traditional wedding costs for the bride’s family?

Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for:

  • The wedding venue
  • The wedding cake
  • Wedding flowers for the bridal party, ceremony, and reception
  • Wedding invitations, save-the-date cards, envelopes, and postage
  • Wedding decorations
  • Wedding favors for guests
  • Wedding day breakfast, lunch, or dinner for the bridal party
  • The bridal trousseau including lingerie and honeymoon outfits
  • Limousine transportation for the bridal party on the wedding day

Why does the bride’s family pay for so many wedding expenses?

This tradition dates back centuries to when weddings were seen as more of a social alliance between families. The bride’s family paid for wedding costs to demonstrate their approval of the union and show that they could financially support their daughter as she entered marriage.

Today, welcoming the groom into the family is still symbolized by the bride’s family hosting and paying for the wedding festivities. Paying for key wedding expenses remains an important gesture of blessing the marriage.

What do traditional etiquette rules say about who pays for the wedding?

According to traditional etiquette, the bride’s family is responsible for:

  • The overall wedding budget
  • All wedding-related transportation
  • The wedding reception costs including food, drinks, staffing, and rentals
  • Wedding invitations, stationery, and postage
  • Accommodations for out-of-town attendants in the wedding party
  • Wedding favors for guests

Meanwhile, the groom’s family traditionally pays for:

  • Rehearsal dinner expenses
  • Wedding rings for the couple
  • Officiant’s wedding fee
  • Gifts for each other
  • The bride’s bouquet and going-away corsage
  • Boutonnieres for groomsmen
  • Accommodations for out-of-town groomsmen

What does the bride pay for herself?

The bride traditionally pays for:

  • Wedding dress
  • Hosiery, undergarments, and wedding shoes
  • Beauty services including hair and makeup for herself and bridal party
  • Jewelry and accessories
  • Gifts for her bridesmaids and groomsmen

Breakdown of Traditional Wedding Costs

Let’s take a more in-depth look at who pays for all the various wedding-related costs based on tradition.


The bride’s family traditionally pays for the wedding venue including:

  • Site fees for both the ceremony and reception
  • Set up and breakdown costs
  • Tables, chairs, linens, glassware etc
  • Staffing fees such as waiters, bartenders etc

They may also cover accommodations for out-of-town wedding guests.

Wedding Attire

For the wedding dress, the bride traditionally pays for:

  • Wedding gown
  • Veil or other headpieces
  • Undergarments
  • Shoes and accessories

The groom pays for:

  • His tuxedo or suit
  • Shoes and accessories

For the rest of the wedding party:

  • Bridesmaids pay for their own dresses, shoes etc
  • Groomsmen pay for their own tuxedo or suit rentals

Wedding Rings

The groom traditionally pays for:

  • Both his and the bride’s wedding bands
  • The bride’s engagement ring


The bride’s family covers all paper goods including:

  • Save-the-date cards
  • Invitations
  • Reply cards
  • Thank you notes
  • Wedding programs
  • Place cards
  • Menu cards
  • All envelopes

Postage and printing costs are also paid by the bride’s family.


The bride’s family traditionally pays for flowers including:

  • Bride’s bouquet
  • Bridesmaids bouquets
  • Flower girl petals
  • Ceremony decor like altar arrangements
  • Centerpieces
  • Reception venue decor
  • Boutonnieres for groom and groomsmen
  • Corsages for mothers and grandmothers


Musical elements paid for by the bride’s family include:

  • Ceremony music like prelude, processional, and recessional
  • Cocktail hour entertainment
  • Reception band or DJ

Any special dance lessons or music for the first dance are paid for by the couple.


The bride’s family traditionally covers wedding photography costs including:

  • Engagement photo session
  • Getting ready photos
  • Ceremony and reception coverage
  • Wedding album

Extras like bridal session prints or parent albums can be paid for by the bride and groom.


The bride’s family is also responsible for videography if desired including:

  • A wedding video package
  • Highlights reel
  • Raw footage

Additional edited videos can be paid for by the couple.


Wedding transportation costs covered by the bride’s family include:

  • Bride’s transportation to the ceremony
  • Wedding party limo or bus
  • Guest shuttles if needed

The getaway car is paid for by the groom.

Wedding Favors

The bride’s family traditionally covers wedding favors for guests like:

  • Jordan almonds
  • Candles
  • Coasters
  • Donuts
  • And other small gifts

Rehearsal Dinner

The groom’s family traditionally hosts and pays for the rehearsal dinner including:

  • Venue
  • Food and drinks
  • Any entertainment, decor etc

Bridal Party Gifts

The bride purchases and provides gifts for her bridesmaids while the groom gifts the groomsmen.

Marriage License

The bride and groom split the cost of the marriage license fee.

Who Traditionally Pays for What in Different Cultures

While the above represents traditional American customs, cultural backgrounds can shift who pays for what at weddings. Here are some examples:

Mexican Weddings

  • The bride’s family pays for the reception.
  • The groom purchases the bride’s wedding gown.
  • The groom’s family hosts and pays for the rehearsal dinner known as a “wedding mass”.

Indian Weddings

  • The bride and groom’s families split wedding costs.
  • The groom’s family traditionally pays for the baraat procession and baarat horse.
  • The bride’s family covers the mandap ceremonial tent.

Chinese Weddings

  • The bride and groom families split wedding costs evenly.
  • The groom pays for the bride’s wedding bands.
  • The groom often provides a generous monetary gift to the bride’s family.

Italian Weddings

  • The bride’s family pays for the reception and floral arrangements.
  • The groom’s family pays for the bride’s engagement ring and wedding bands.
  • The groom’s family may gift the bridal party jewelry.

How Couples Today Split Wedding Costs

While traditions provide guidance on who pays for what at weddings, many modern couples split expenses more evenly. Some options include:

Paying for Own Attire and Gifts

The bride and groom each pay for their own:

  • Wedding attire
  • Wedding bands
  • Bride and groom gifts for each other
  • Gifts for their own attendants

Splitting the Overall Budget

The bride and groom split the overall wedding budget evenly and decide together how to allocate funds.

Splitting Key Categories

The couple splits responsibility for different categories like:

  • Bride’s family paying for venue, catering, cake
  • Groom’s family paying for flowers, photography, videography
  • Couple paying for attire, rings, stationery

Accepting Family Contributions

The bride and groom pay for most expenses but accept contributions from family for areas like:

  • Reception alcohol from the groom’s parents
  • Wedding cake from the bride’s parents
  • Band from the bride’s family

How to Determine Wedding Cost Split

When creating a wedding budget, here are some tips for couples on dividing expenses:

Discuss Your Values and Priorities

Have an open conversation about what’s important to each partner for the wedding along with your families’ financial capabilities. This provides insight on where to direct funds.

Review Traditional Guidelines

Look at wedding spending traditions for your culture but realize you don’t have to stick to them. See where following tradition makes sense or where you want a more modern split.

Make Spreadsheets

Create wedding budget spreadsheets listing all expenses and who will cover each. Update as you book vendors and solidify details. Share with parents or family contributing financially.

Communicate with Parents

Have clear conversations with both sets of parents around the wedding costs they want to cover or can afford versus expenses you’ll pay yourselves.

Keep Track of Deposits and Payments

Note who has paid deposits, remaining balances, and final payments for each wedding item. Use tools like wedding planning apps to stay organized.

Wedding Expense Amount Paid By
Venue rental fee $2000 Bride’s parents
Catering $7000 Split evenly – Bride & Groom
Photographer $2500 Groom’s parents


Determining who pays for what in a wedding can be daunting for engaged couples and their families. While traditions provide a general guideline for covering expenses, many brides and grooms today split costs more evenly or do a hybrid approach.

Having open conversations about budget priorities along with spreadsheets and tools to track payments allows couples to divide wedding costs fairly. The most important thing is for brides and grooms to communicate with compassion to create a budget framework that supports their special day.

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