Forget the outdated rules when it comes to weddings, such as the bride's parents footing the bill for most of the whole wedding. Today, many couples plan to split costs evenly between themselves, with or without their parents.
Sit down with your families to decide what everyone is contributing. This number will affect every decision and purchase you make, so be sure to work out your budget before you start planning. It doesn't have to be an uncomfortable conversation, and it's better to make things clear at the beginning.
Here are some ideas for wedding cost-splitting basics for you and your families. But this is key: no one has to follow these rules — personalize your checklist and make it a perfect fit for your unique situation.
Bride pays for:
- Groom's ring
- Wedding gift for groom
- Gifts for bridesmaids
- Bridal party luncheon
- Transportation for bridal party to and from the ceremony and reception
Bride's family pays for:
- Engagement party; if there's more than one, the bride's family hosts the first one
- Invitations, announcements and wedding programs
- Wedding planner or coordinator
- Wedding dress
- Corsages for bridesmaids and flower girls
- Bridal party transportation to wedding
- Reception including flowers, decorations, and food
- Wedding photo and videos
- Ceremony at the church or synagogue, sexton, organist and so on.
- Their own attire
- Gifts for the couple
Groom pays for:
- Engagement ring and bride's wedding ring. Check out our guide on how to buy an engagement ring.
- Wedding gift for bride
- Gifts for groomsmen
- Marriage license
- Officiant's fee
- Groom’s attire
- Boutonnieres for groomsmen, fathers, and grandfathers
- Bridal bouquet
- Corsages for mothers and grandmothers
- Transportation for groomsmen to wedding
Groom's family pays for:
- Plans and hosts the rehearsal dinner
- Alcohol at the reception
- DJ or band at the reception
- Their own wedding wear
- Gifts for the couple
Wedding party pays for:
- Their own attire and shoes
- Best man and groomsmen host the bachelor party
- Maid of honor and bridesmaids host the wedding shower and bachelorette party
- Gifts for the couple
Once you’ve decided who’s going to pay for what, the next step is to set the budget. You may think "how am I going to afford all of this?" The temptation to throw "the wedding of all weddings" often cause couples to borrow money they really can't afford, or worse--spend most or all of their savings without even realizing it. That's why the #1 priority with your wedding budget is to stick to it!
In fact, wedding costs have steadily risen over the past 4 years. According to a study, the average wedding cost for 2016 was $35,000.
Here’s a 5 step outline to help you plan a wedding you can actually afford:
Step 1: How much to spend
For the average person you should budget no more than 20-25% of your annual income (not counting the engagement and wedding rings).
How much you should spend on an engagement ring?
While it may be hard to plan ahead, but the more time you have to put a savings plan into action before you purchase a ring, the better! Giving yourself a good three to six months to save will allows you to expand your budget a bit more and get the ring of your dreams. However, if you are in a time crunch and need to purchase a ring within three months, don’t worry! You may need to consider lowering your price range a bit, but there are also many ring styles today, like halo engagement rings, that achieve a big, beautiful look at a really affordable price.
If you have savings set aside specifically for your wedding, good for you! If someone else is paying for the wedding entirely, it may be easy to assume budgeting isn't your responsibility. Just be sure to enjoy every part of the experience and not get stressed out.
Step 2: Make a list
Create a list of every possible thing you may spend money on for your wedding. Leave nothing out: table numbers, place cards, sparklers, consider every detail. Make sure to check out our wedding planning checklist.
Step 3: Prioritize
Sit down with your fiancé and decide which areas you want to spend the most money. The best way to do this is to decide what kind of experience you want for yourself and your guests.
Step 4: Estimate
Once you have your priorities determined, write out estimates for how much you will spend in each category. Remember to include the details like taxes and clothing alterations. Next to your estimates, write the maximum amount you are willing to spend.
Step 5: Keep all receipts
Whether it be a folder, binder, or even a zip-loc bag, it is vital to keep all your receipts together. Keeping copies of all your vendor contracts, deposits, etc. is also key to keeping control of your budget. Anytime a dollar is spent for your wedding, a receipt should be filed in its category. Stay organized by setting up events in your calendar with reminders of when final payments are due.
In summary, forget the old school rules about wedding planning. Your parents don't need to take out a mortgage to pay for the wedding. And if you're like most couples, the two of you might even be covering a good chunk of the expenses yourselves. The best way to work it out? Sit down with a pencil, paper and calculator and determine what you really want and can afford.