Who pays for what in a traditional wedding?

At Hitch, we specialize in Midwest wedding etiquette. We can help you understand the ins and outs of the complicated “who pays for what” topic.

An article from Martha Stewart Weddings stated, “Today, most people believe the couple should pay for their own wedding, especially if they have lived on their own for some time. Of course, parents often want to pitch in. Contributions should be negotiated according to willingness and ability, but the traditional divisions will offer some more guidance.”

At Hitch, we believe that rules are made to be broken! But, knowing the traditional guidelines helps provide a starting place that all can agree upon. Please view the following information as a guideline to help you get started in this process.

 Bride’s Family

  • The Engagement Party: While anyone can host this party, the cost typically falls on the bride’s parents.
  • Newspaper Announcements: It’s the traditional role of the bride’s parents to make sure that an engagement announcement is placed and paid for in the local newspaper, both in the bride’s and groom’s community.
  • The reception: All costs of the reception and hosting the reception (often divided among the bride’s parents, the groom’s parents and the couple.)

 Groom’s Family

  • The corsages for immediate family members of both families are the responsibility of the groom’s family (however, whoever is paying the bill for the rest of the floral arrangements, generally pays this bill as well).
  • The groom’s family typically organizes and pays for the rehearsal dinner. This event can range greatly in size and scale. The key rule is that the rehearsal dinner should never “outdo” the wedding.


  • The groom should pay for the lodging, boutonnieres, and gifts for those in his wedding party. The groom’s parents can also cover these costs.
  • The marriage license and officiant’s fees.
  • The groom should pay for the bride’s engagement and wedding ring, wedding bouquet, and a gift.
  • The groom is also responsible for paying for (and sometimes planning) the honeymoon (but sometimes wedding money helps pay for that!).


  • The bride should pay for the lodging, flowers, and gifts for her wedding party members. The bride’s parents may also cover these costs.
  • In some cases, she might purchase her bridesmaids dress or a portion of their outfit, such as the shoes. The bride’s parents may also cover these costs.
  • She should also purchase the wedding band, gift and boutonniere for her soon-to-be husband.

Pre-wedding Events and Parties

Here’s a quick breakdown on “who pays for what” when it comes to events that are before the actual wedding.

  • The parent’s of the bride host and pay for the engagement party.
  • The parent’s of the groom host and pay for the rehearsal dinner.
  • The bride plans and hosts the bridesmaids’ luncheon.
  • The groom plans and hosts the bachelors’ dinner.
  • The maid of honor and bridesmaids host a bridal shower and/or bachelorette party. Visit this post for our ideas on non-traditional shower ideas!
  • The bride’s aunts might organize and host a bridal shower.
  • The bride’s church or family friends may organize and host a bridal shower.
  • The best man and ushers host a bachelor party.

Modern Updates

The majority of the costs for a wedding are associated with the ceremony and reception. If the groom or groom’s family would like to offer to pay for a portion of these costs, here are a few ideas:

  • Alcohol or bar tab at reception
  • All of the flowers for wedding and reception
  • Photographer
  • Videographer

Here’s an additional article from TheKnot.com that explains “who pays for what” by item (flowers, photographer, ceremony), rather than by person (groom’s family or bride’s family). What about paying for a destination wedding? We have that covered for you too.


We will be happy to help you answer any wedding related questions. At Hitch, we specialize in wedding invitations, styling and planning. Contact us today to set up a consultation!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top