Traditional Weddings, Who Pays for What.

Weddings are steeped in tradition with many elements having a surprising amount of history behind them. Some have been lost to time, while other aspects are still done the same way today as they were hundreds of years ago.

One tradition that seems to be slowly eroding is the division of labour and payment for a wedding. Changes in family life and circumstances, modern views on weddings and other influences are gradually changing the ways weddings are paid for.

Financing a wedding is usually the biggest cause for tension between bride, groom and families. Ambition versus budget is one huge bone of contention. To avoid most clashes, we suggest all interested parties meeting together to put together a budget and then stick to it.

Wedding planning can be stressful enough as it is without internal tensions over how much things cost adding to it. Let’s look at the way weddings used to be managed and then at how they can be managed today.

This is the traditional order of things with regards to who pays what.

The Groom

Traditionally, much of the wedding had to be financed by the groom. It was his responsibility to provide for his new wife and the wedding was a gesture of intent.

The groom had to pay for:

  • Engagement ring
  • Brides wedding ring
  • Wedding ceremony
  • Outfits for groom and best men
  • Gifts for attendants
  • Wedding transport for groom and guests
  • Flowers
  • Honeymoon
  • Photographer
  • Gifts for bridesmaids and best man
  • Gifts for mothers

The Bride

Just because you’re getting married, doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay for anything! A bride doesn’t have the responsibilities of the groom or her family, but she still has a couple of small things to pay for.

Traditionally, the bride would pay for the bridesmaids’ gifts and the grooms wedding ring.

The Bride’s Family

In a traditional wedding, the bride’s family had to show they could afford a daughter and a good dowry for her. While the dowry itself is no longer relevant, helping to cover wedding costs is still a big part of their responsibilities.

The bride’s family would traditionally pay for:

  • The entire wedding reception
  • Wedding dress
  • Bridesmaids’ dresses
  • Invitations
  • Announcements
  • Bride’s wedding transport
  • The wedding cake
  • Photographer

Big Changes

With societal changes, the majority of brides are not taken from their family home by the groom. Now we’re at university, out working, living with friends or living alone. You will often also live with your future husband before marrying, which can make all the difference.

That is drastically different o how things used to be and is reflected in how weddings are now managed and paid for. Both men and women are much more mobile and independent before getting married, which has changed the way we do things.

The other big change is cost. With the average wedding now costing anything up to £25,000, the average family simply cannot afford to pay for it alone.

The Modern Wedding

With all those changes mentioned, the position of the bride, the groom and the respective families has changed dramatically in the past forty years. This has resulted in modern weddings being more a collaboration between all parties rather than defined roles.

What tends to happen now is that the items the bride and groom would individual pay for is shared between the couple. Those elements paid for by the bride’s parents will be shared between both sets of parents or include the happy couple too. In some circumstances, the bride and groom will choose to save for years and pay for everything themselves.

Along with many aspects of modern life, there are no longer hard and fast rules for paying for a wedding. While some couples prefer to stick with tradition, it’s now a choice rather than obligation. It’s your wedding, you have it your way.

Family circumstances will have a stronger influence over how weddings are managed and paid for now rather than history. For the most part that’s a good thing. The bride can still have the wedding of her dreams regardless of how much her parents can afford.

The other advantage of paying for most of your wedding yourself is control. If you’re paying for it, you choose it. While that may involve saving hard for a couple of years, it also means you get to decide everything between you. For some couples, that’s worth the wait alone!


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