Wedding Etiquette: Who Pays for it All?
Etiquette3 Minutes Read

Wedding Etiquette: Who Pays for it All?

February 13, 2024 Share

Unsure about wedding gift amounts or timing? This guide simplifies managing your finances for upcoming weddings.

Wedding bills: who pays? As couples embark on the journey to sealing the deal, this question looms large, trying to navigate through the fabric of cultural traditions, family expectations, and personal preferences. The financial landscape of weddings is a complex one, with roots deeply settled in history, yet ever-evolving to fit the modern narrative.

Image courtesy of Jakob Owens

The Wedding Itself

Traditionally, wedding expenses have been predominantly the domain of the bride’s family, covering everything from the lavish engagement party down to the sweet escape in the getaway car. Yet, in modern wedding planning, these norms are being stitched into new patterns. For instance, the groom’s family, while historically on the sidelines, is now stepping into the limelight with roles that go beyond just planning the rehearsal dinner or picking up the tab for their own wedding attire. They’re embracing a more active participation in both the financial aspects and the planning process​​.

In the terms of cultural wedding practices, one finds an array of customs. In some cultures, the groom’s family’s contributions include the rehearsal dinner, their attire, transportation, lodging, and a wedding gift, sometimes extending to the bride’s bouquet and the bar at the reception.

However, the modern twist is the shift towards couples largely shouldering the wedding expenses themselves. With nearly 70% of couples today paying for the majority of their wedding costs, the bill comes down to collaboration and personal choice rather than rigid adherence to tradition. This doesn’t mean that family contributions are out of fashion; rather, they’re more like thoughtful gifts meant to support rather than dictate the day’s design​​.

Image courtesy of Jakob Owens

The Bridesmaid Duties

Whilst being a bridesmaid is an honour, trying to understand the nuances of who picks up the bill for dresses, getaways and parties can be significantly tricky. Traditionally, bridesmaids are expected to purchase their own dresses and accessories, a custom that honors the tradition of personally contributing to the wedding’s aesthetic. This practice allows each bridesmaid to invest in the celebration, symbolizing their support and commitment to the bride’s journey. However, modern trends have seen a shift, with some brides choosing to cover these costs as a gesture of gratitude for their bridesmaids’ involvement and support.

The bachelorette party, another cornerstone of pre-wedding festivities, typically follows a similar collaborative financial model. The costs are generally divided among the attendees, including the bride, to ensure that the burden does not fall on any single individual.

The Gifting

Guests now spend an average of $611 per wedding, including gifts, travel, and attire. For those playing a more significant role, like members of the bridal party who’ve already invested in dresses or suits, a smaller, token gift for the wedding might be more feasible. The modern shift in etiquette suggests sending wedding gifts ahead of time, ideally before the wedding or within three months thereafter, moving away from the old norm of up to a year. This adjustment is due to the convenience of online shopping and faster shipping methods, ensuring that your acknowledgment of the couple’s special day is timely and appreciated​​.

What to Spend: Your relationship with the couple should guide your budget. Close friends and relatives might consider gifts in the range of $150+, while more distant acquaintances or co-workers might look at gifts between $50-$100. Importantly, if attending with a date, it’s considerate to spend a bit more, reflecting the couple’s hospitality towards your guest​​.

Destination Weddings and Multiple Events: Attending a destination wedding often incurs significant travel expenses, which can be acknowledged by the couple as part of your gift. However, a smaller, thoughtful gift is still recommended as a gesture of goodwill. For those invited to multiple wedding events, the 20-20-60 rule can help manage your budget, allocating funds across engagement gifts, bridal showers, and the wedding itself. This approach ensures you can honor each occasion without overstressing your finances​​.

Gift Selection: The couple’s lifestyle and preferences can serve as inspiration for your gift choice. Many modern couples appreciate cash gifts, which offer them the flexibility to allocate funds as needed, whether for their honeymoon, a home down payment, or even a donation to a charity of their choice. When selecting a gift, utilizing the couple’s registry can simplify the process, ensuring your gift is both desired and useful. For those unable to attend, sending a gift, though not mandatory, is a kind gesture that maintains the spirit of celebration and connection​​​​.

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Author: Laura Scalco
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