At a Glance

Planning a wedding involves numerous decisions, and determining who pays for what is one of the most crucial aspects. Traditionally, certain expenses were shouldered by specific parties, but as times have changed, many couples are opting for more modern approaches. Many couples today even pay for their wedding themselves. In this article, you’ll learn about:

A 2023 Credello wedding survey of 1000 people, ages 18 through 54, that were currently married, divorced, or separated found that 38% of all respondents answered that they paid for the wedding themselves. One out of three (33%) men took out a loan or financed their wedding with a credit card, compared to one out of five (20%) women. Let’s explore the traditional breakdown of wedding expenses, suggest dividing costs, and discuss how to modernize the payment process.


The proportion of couples who take on debt for their wedding. Of these, 39% will use a wedding loan.

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Who traditionally pays for the wedding?

In traditional wedding customs, specific financial responsibilities were divided among the families involved. Let’s take a closer look at how these expenses were traditionally handled.

The bride’s family

Historically, the bride’s family shouldered a significant portion of the wedding expenses. These expenses included:

1. Ceremony

The bride’s family would cover the costs associated with the ceremony venue, including any rental fees or decorations. The average cost for the ceremony, including venue rental, decor, and officiant fees, ranges from $2,000 to $5,000.

2. Wedding attire

The bride’s family would traditionally pay for the wedding gown and accessories. The bride’s dress and accessories typically cost an average of $1,500 to $3,000

3. Flowers and decorations

The bride’s family covered expenses related to floral arrangements and decorations at the ceremony and reception venue. Floral arrangements and venue decorations have an average cost of $2,000 to $4,000.

4. Photography

The cost of hiring a photographer to capture the special moments was usually the bride’s family’s responsibility. Hiring a professional photographer for the ceremony and reception usually costs an average of $2,000 to $4,000.

4. Reception

The bride’s family bore the reception expenses, including the venue, catering, and entertainment. The average cost for the reception, including the venue, catering, and rentals, is between $10,000 to $20,000.

5. Stationery

The bride’s family typically funded invitations, RSVP cards, and other stationery items. These items usually cost around $500 to $1,000.

6. Transportation

The bride’s family traditionally covered the transportation arrangements for the wedding party. Providing transportation for the wedding party typically costs between $500 to $1,000.

7. Wedding cake

The wedding cake cost was also included in the bride’s family’s financial responsibilities. A custom-designed wedding cake has an average cost of $500 to $1,000.

The groom’s family

While the groom’s family did not have as many financial obligations as the bride’s family, they still covered some expenses.

1. Honeymoon

It was common for the groom’s family to fund the couple’s honeymoon as a gift to the newlyweds. The honeymoon trip usually ranges from $4,000 to $8,000 on average.

2. Pre-wedding party/rehearsal

The groom’s family usually took care of expenses related to pre-wedding parties or rehearsal dinners. Hosting a pre-wedding party or rehearsal dinner costs $1,000 to $3,000, covering the venue, food, and drinks.

3. Music

If the couple had live music at the ceremony or reception, the groom’s family often covered the costs. A live band or DJ services for the wedding can be between $1,000 and $3,000.

4. Marriage license and officiant fee

The groom’s family typically bore the expenses of obtaining the marriage license and paying the officiant. Getting the marriage license and paying the officiant typically costs between $100 to $500.

By the groom and bride

The bride and groom also had some financial responsibilities in the traditional setup. They were expected to cover the following expenses:

1. Wedding rings

The couple traditionally paid for their wedding rings, symbolizing their commitment. The average cost for both wedding rings ranges from $2,000 to $5,000.

2. Personal attire

The groom took care of his attire, including the suit or tuxedo, while the bride covered the cost of her bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen’s attire if she gifts them. The groom’s suit or tuxedo and bridesmaids’ dresses average $2,000 to $4,000.

3. Gifts

The couple often purchased gifts for their wedding party and sometimes for their parents as a token of appreciation. Providing gifts for the wedding party and parents can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 or more.

How to divide wedding expenses?

As societal norms have evolved, the traditional division of wedding expenses may not suit every couple’s situation. Here are some tips for dividing wedding costs.

1. Check your budget

The first step in allocating expenses is to create a realistic budget. Sit down with all parties involved and discuss how much each can contribute. Be open and honest about financial limitations to avoid misunderstandings later on. You can use a wedding cost calculator to get the most accurate expectation of costs.

2. Consider the reasonable expenses

Rather than strictly adhering to outdated traditions, consider allocating expenses based on who can afford them or is interested in a specific aspect of the wedding. For instance, if the groom’s family is passionate about photography, they might be happy to cover the photography expenses.

How to modernize traditional payment?

Modernizing the payment process has become the norm as couples increasingly finance their weddings independently. Here are some approaches to consider:

1. Joint contributions: Couples can contribute equally to all wedding expenses or based on their respective financial capabilities.

2. Shared expenses: Rather than relying on each family to cover specific items, some couples prefer to pool all contributions and pay for everything jointly.

3. Wedding fund: Creating a dedicated wedding fund where friends and family can contribute voluntarily has become a popular way to fund weddings.

4. Elopement and intimate weddings: Some couples opt for elopements or intimate weddings, significantly reducing the financial burden.

Related: New Ways People Are Saving Big Money on Weddings


In traditional settings, the bride’s family traditionally covered the majority of wedding expenses. However, in modern times, it is becoming increasingly common for couples to share or cover the expenses themselves.

Wedding expenses for LGBTQ+ couples are typically divided in the same manner as any other couple. There are no set rules, and expenses are usually divided based on the couple’s preferences and financial capabilities.

With changing customs and financial independence, many couples now fund their weddings themselves. This allows them greater flexibility and control over their special day.

While some families still follow traditional customs and contribute to wedding expenses, it is no longer an expectation. Many couples today choose to handle their wedding costs independently.