Money Monday: Breaking Down the Budget - Who Pays for What?

It's Money Monday again!  Today we're going to chat about who pays for what when it comes to the wedding budget. Of course with as with anything wedding, the "new" etiquette can and does come into play, but when dealing with big hairy topics like money, it's always a good idea to know how it is usually handled.  These days, it is not unusual for the couple (read: you) to pay for everything.  But sometimes parents will offer, and it may help to know how expenses were traditionally divided.

Bride's Family Tradition states that the bride's family paid for everything involved in the wedding- ceremony expenses, reception expenses, flowers, music, rentals, stationery, photography and videography, and even the bachelor party.  The exceptions are the rehearsal dinner (that was the groom's family), the honeymoon (the couple), gifts to the bridal party (the couple again), and attire, personal care and transportation for the bridal party and/or out of town guests (this is usually handled by the individual, although the couple could offer if able).

Groom's Family The groom's family is traditionally responsible for the rehearsal dinner.

The Bride The bride is responsible for her wedding day jewelry, if her groom isn't gifting it to her, her gown and accessories if her family isn't paying for it,  her groom's cuff links or other jewelry, unless he's paying for it, and all of her pre-wedding personal care and party outfits.

The Groom The groom is responsible for his wedding day jewelry if his bride isn't gifting it to him, his tux and accessories (no expectation of his family to foot the bill), and all of his pre-wedding personal care and party outfits.  He is also expected to pay for the marriage license fees.

The Couple Traditionally, the couple purchases each other's wedding ring, as well as each other's wedding gifts, if they are exchanging them.  They also are expected pay for any additional expenses for the honeymoon.

The Bridal Party The bridal party pays for their own attire, including accessories and hair and makeup if necessary.  The bride or the couple can offer to cover these costs, but it is not expected or required.  Parents of any children in the bridal party are expected to cover the cost of their outfits as well.  Members of the bridal party are expected to cover their own travel costs and accommodations as well.

Now of course it is the 21st century.  Many couples pay for the entire shindig themselves with little to no help from parents.  In order to simplify budget discussions, this is the route I recommend- decide what you can afford, and only have that much wedding.  But what do you do if parents or other relatives offer to help?  In order to avoid it getting sticky, do the following: - If you really don't need the help, politely decline.  In situations like wedding planning, money lends a modicum of control to a situation. If you want to keep control, only use your money.  Sticking to a budget is easier when it's your money on the line. - Lay down some ground rules.  Consider what you'll need help with and ask what they would like to pay for.  Try to maintain veto power.  If you can't come to an agreement, understand and accept that you may not get the money. You MUST be ok with that. - If someone, your fiance's mom for example, offers to pay for something that is already covered, politely mention that what they've offered has already been taken care of- then suggest something else. ***Resist the urge to let parents go halfsies on subjective things like the gown or the flowers- if one half doesn't like what you've chosen, you may get caught in the crosshairs of an epic battle.

In my opinion, the days of having the bride's family pay for everything are over and done with.  Couples should aim to have weddings that they can afford that reflect how they want to spend the first day of the rest of their lives together.

What do you think?  Is the day of having the bride's family cover everything done?  Should couples cover their entire wedding themselves?  How do you feel about the division of money in wedding budgets?