Who should pay for a wedding?

My (first) wife, phungal, and I were talking about weding payment etiquette. We have 2 young boys, and she said she would split the cost with the bride’s parents (when the day comes).

My stance was that it is not only tradition that the bride’s parents make the wedding (as did phungal’s parents) but the bride and her mother also have nearly all of the control over making the choices. Payment in-half by the groom’s parents may not buy equal control. We’ve got 20 years until this transpires, but what say ye, dopers, on the topic?

I actually think that the bride & groom should pay for their own wedding. If the parents want to kick in some cash as a gift, that’s great, but overall, those getting married should be responsible for it.

Traditionally, the bride’s parents picked up the tab for the wedding, and the groom’s family took care of the rehearsal dinner. Of course, back in the day people got married pretty young, had no money of their own, and counted on shower and wedding gifts and maybe a loan from Mom and Dad to get started.

Nowadays people are getting married later and later, most people have already established careers and households, and I think it’s time the responsibility for the wedding shifted to the bride and groom. If the folks want to and are able to help out, that’s great, but I don’t think it should be expected of them.

The couple getting married need to pay for the wedding. It’s not like the parents of a bride need to pay of somebody to take her, because she’s a female.

If the couple is young enough that the parents will logically be paying, then the two parties should split all costs down the middle, except those that vary by number of guest (like food, table centerpieces, etc.), which should be split proportionally according to the amount of guests attending from each side.

If you insist the bride’s family pay for everything, they’re just going to think, “Man, my daughter is marrying into a family of jerks.” And then the’ll refuse.

If the couple is paying for the wedding themselves, they can figure out what they want to do about expenses. They’re getting married-- they’ll have to navigate bigger issues than this.

If the groom or his parents want to be involved in the choices, that’s their right, though hopefully (in idealworld) the two sides are decent enough to consult each other before committing to anything. In my (limited) experience (I’m not married, but I helped plan my sister’s wedding), the bride’s side did the majority of the planning, but that’s because we were local to the wedding location and it made sense for us to look into local vendors and things.

Another vote for the marrying party. If you’re old enough to get married, you’re old enough to pay for it. I’d be kind of shocked if the parents didn’t offer to pay some of it, but no way should anyone expect it or be affronted if they don’t.

Yes, old-school tradition states that the bride’s family pays for the wedding. That tradition originates in times where a man marrying a woman meant the man becoming totally financially responsible for that woman, because a “proper woman” was not allowed to work or own property. The bride’s parents paying for the wedding and giving a dowry was a kind of thanks-for-keeping-our-daughter-alive-for-the-rest-of-her-life thing, which is rather silly and outdated in present times.

I think the best thing for parents to do is to have it established, in general, some sum that they plan to contribute to a wedding–I mean, if you are of modest means and your son someday gets engaged to someone in a family where 100k weddings are expected, you shouldn’t expect to pay half of that–if, on the other hand, he marries someone whose family background is extremely modest, It’d be crappy to refuse to pay more than half on principle. And if your kids are established themselves and have a grander idea of what sort of wedding they want than any of the parents share, they can come up with the difference.

Decide in 20 years. Clearly the etiquette & expectations are in flux, and any decision made now will be less-than-ideal then.

Of course, many couples pay for the wedding themselves these days.

There are still families who hold to the tradition of the bride’s family paying for the wedding … and would see the offer of the groom’s family to pay half as anything from a bit odd to actually hurtful, an implication that the bride’s family is unable/unwilling to make a nice wedding for their daughter. A fairly common way of addressing this is for the bride’s family to pick up the actual wedding, and the groom’s family to do an “in kind” contribution of sorts, possibly funding the honeymoon or a gift toward a down payment for a house. Obviously, this is changing because more and more people getting married already have a house, etc, but something along those lines. As already mentioned, the rehearsal dinner has long been in the court of the groom’s family, so that’s straightforward.

And for every couple who does this more traditionally, there is a couple who has some interesting circumstances so payment gets worked out differently. If one of your boys married an orphan, or (less dramatically) a girl raised by a widowed mother in very tight financial circumstances, it would be a kindness if you and your wife were willing to tactfully take up even more than half. And weddings have such a range that all of a modest wedding could easily be less of an expense than half of a lavish wedding. I mean, you don’t want to commit to half up front, and then find out your son is marrying Athina Roussel! :wink:

So yeah, my prediction is that instead of going with a hard and fast rule, you’ll end up taking circumstances into account.

Besides the rehearsal dinner, doesn’t the groom’s family traditionally pay for the bar part of the reception? That’s the way it usually goes around these parts, and if the reception is held at a venue that’s inclusive (food, music, drinks for one cost) then the groom’s family pays a third of the total.

In any case, my parents sat down and talked with us about what they were willing/able to contribute, so did his, and we planned the festivities around what was available.

I think that the bride’s parents should give the bride a budget. They determine the budget based on their finances and the importance of the wedding to them. If the couple wants more wedding, they should put in the rest.

If the grooms parents choose to contribute, great. If they choose to contribute in another fashion (pay for the honeymoon, give money towards a downpayment for the house, pick up the liquor bill) great. The groom’s parents should also finance any “bigger” wedding they want - i.e. if its unacceptable to the grooms parents that their guest list is limited to 30 people, or that their won’t be an open bar, they should pick up any budgetary difference between what they want and what the bride has chosen to spend - with the bridal couple’s consent of course (i.e. the couple may not want his parents to have 200 guests when the bride’s parents have a budget that limits themselves to 30 and the bridal couple to 30.)

The marrying couple. If you want a big fancy party, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to pay for it. And if you want the wedding to be the kind of wedding you want it to be, then you have to take care of details yourself.

My ideal is our parents will give us advice, attend the wedding, wish us well and maybe cry a little, have a good time, and no more.

The bride and groom. Their decision should cause someone else to open the piggy bank.

The people most invested in the wedding taking place at all :slight_smile:

Another vote for your sons and their future spouses paying for their own wedding some day, and they can and will choose how involved they want to be in planning the thing. If you want to give funds, it will probably be appreciated.

I think it depends on the wedding, the guest list, and various people’s expectations. To ascribe to any particular “custom” may cause problems. I also don’t think that the standard refrain of “If you’re old enough to get married, you’re old enough to pay for it,” is the cut-and-dried answer. You can certainly tell your kids that, but then you have NO right to complain when all they can afford is a ceremony in the park and dinner for 20 and mid-range restaurant, and your golf buddy or Great Aunt Edna aren’t on the list.

For example, I’m getting married next year. My parent are paying for 3/4 of the cost, and we are paying 1/4. I told my parents we could pay for it ourselves, but it would be a modest affair for 45 people. My Dad wants a big shindig where all the extended family and friends are invited, with lots of food and free flowing liquor. Feeding 200+ people would be extremely financially painful (if not impossible) for my fiance and I. So I told my dad (nicely) that he could live with the small guest list or he could fund the rest. My parents have done extremely well for themselves, so if they want to spend disposable income on a big party-- it’s not like it’s coming out of their retirement fund or something.

Not long after, he got to reading bridal magazines, and yacking with friends, or something, and found out that nowadays, it’s “custom” for the groom’s family to contribute half. So he calls me and insists the groom’s family needs to pay for 1/2 the bill.

My fiancé’s family is poor. It’s one of those sad stories-- serious illness+job loss back before COBRA that became foreclosure, bankruptcy, and feeding everyone canned beans when my fiance was a kid. They’re also from central Texas, where incomes are nothing like ours in SF or my parents in NY. I don’t doubt that if we went to Texas they’d help us throw smashing BBQ in their church hall or local park. But to ask them to chip in a significant proportion of soaking my New York relatives in boutique Napa wine that my Dad wants to go on a wine tour to select is nuts.

We went around a couple of time, him insisting it’s now custom and me pointing out that they’d experience grave financial strain at an amount of money less than he regularly blows at the tables in Atlantic City. Finally I said: Modest Affair. 45 people. I’ll send you an invite.

He changed his mind, because he and my mother really want the party. I wonder if I’ll regret giving in, but I think now we’re reached an equilibrium.

I’d feel the same if I were a guy. I would not want my struggling future in-laws to have to foot a painful bill my family could afford easily, despite what “custom” said.

(My future in laws are holding the rehearsal dinner BBQ in our backyard. When they arrive from Texas with the brisket from the giant smoker his grandfather built, I’ve been told to point them to the kitchen and get out of the way.)

In my ethnic community (Maharashtrian) it’s traditional that the bride’s family pay, but these days the costs are generally split between the bride and groom’s family, providing both can afford it.

The general reason for this being

a) Increasing irritation on part of families that have daughters that the dowry and bride’s-parents-pay-like-she’s-a-liability system is antiquated and ridiculous considering how many brides within the Indian community tend to be professionals, and are no longer an economic drain on the family.

b) I haven’t been to a single Indian wedding that has been less than 30K and that’s CHEAP for us. Most Indian weddings these days will cost somewhere between 40-50K since the “small” weddings can be about 200 people. I have no idea how my sister got it done in 32K (total)-those aren’t all the bride’s guests.

c) Generally both families can afford it. The Maharashtrian community is pretty well-to-do.

That said, there have been exceptions where one side has paid in entirety. My friend married a Gujurati, another marired a Punjabi guy and those have to be the two most outrageous wedding carnival communities in India. Both guys had business families and got half the stuff done as favours, so they paid for it all. Conversely, I’ve known some brides’ families to pay for it all because they know it would be an economic hardship on the grooms’ families.

I think the egalitarian when possible model is preferable. I would be sort of pissed off if my groom’s family tried to extort my parents into paying for all of it if I knew they could afford it-it sends a clear signal to me as to how they think of me and I would be hardpressed to marry into a family like that. I know the relations between in-laws in the Indian community and that would be the first big warning signal that they treat women like shit.

Right. Now the concept is $50,000 weddings :eek: , by then it may be a ceremony broadcast over a computer and next to no costs.

I think that Obsidian’s experience shows how dangerous it is to fall back on “custom” to try to make others pay for things which they don’t want to do.

For the OP, I’d wait for the 20 years and see how things go.

For anyone geting married now, if someone wants an expensive wedding, that party should pay for it.

Good for you, Obsidian. I think you handled your particular situation perfectly, and your approach is generalizable: The marrying couple should have a self-funded, default plan that won’t send them into hock for the first decade of their married life, and if someone else wants something more, then they – and they alone – can bear the cost.

My fiance and I want and can afford a small wedding. Luckily none of our parents are the kind who want to invite everyone they’ve ever met - if they were then like Obsidian we’d be asking them to foot the difference. As it stands his parents have very kindly offered to pay for our reception, but we never expected any of our parents to contribute financially.

On the wedding boards I occasionally browse, it seems that most people have a three-way split where both sets of parents contribute money and the B&G kick in whatever they have saved up.