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Dowries no longer exist in our culture. Also long gone by the wayside is the old notion that the bride’s family is financially responsible for the entire cost of the wedding and reception. Having your parents bear the entire expense of a wedding and reception is not a birthright. Their contribution is a gift and, with the skyrocketing cost of weddings, is has become commonplace for both sets of parents and the bridal couple to share in this major expense.
When setting your wedding budget, start by asking what amount, if any, your parents are willing to contribute. They may wish to cover some, if not all, of the services and items on your list. Modern tradition still observes the following financial allocations:
Traditional expenses of groom and/or groom’s parents
The groom’s parents (and/or groom) are responsible for the cost of the bride’s and bridesmaids’ bouquets, all corsages for the ladies and boutonnieres for the gentlemen. The groom bears the expense of the marriage license and officiant’s fee, but not the church or ceremony location charges. The groom or his parents pay for expenses associated with transportation of the bride and groom to the ceremony and reception, and transportation to the wedding night room.
The entire cost of the honeymoon and the bride’s ring is the responsibility of the groom and/or groom’s parents, as well as any gifts given to the bride. Accommodations for the groomsmen, whether arriving from out-of-town, or if a destination wedding is planned, are also the responsibility of the groom. The groom pays the cost of rental or purchase of his tuxedo.
Always an optional expense for the groom’s family, it is commonly expected that the groom’s parents are financially responsible for the rehearsal dinner. Depending on circumstances, the groom and groom’s parents can also offer assistance for a next-day brunch, or they can choose to pay for particular wedding items, such as the photography, champagne or cake.
Traditional expenses of the bride’s family
The bride’s family is responsible for all other expenses, which include the engagement party and the rehearsal dinner (if the groom’s parents do not pay). They will cover the entire cost of the reception, including the site rental, catering fees, beverages, wedding cake, all other flowers and decorations for the site. The bride’s dress, invitations, music for the ceremony and reception, cost of the church or ceremony site, photography and/or videography, wedding coordinator, party favors, guest transportation (if needed), and a trousseau for the bride also come under the responsibility of the bride’s family. They are also responsible for the cost of rooms for the bridesmaids at destination weddings, or for the rooms of women in the bridal party who are arriving from out-of-town.
Of course, times have changed and many brides are professional women who, along with their groom, contribute considerably to the expenses of the wedding. Some are capable of and desire to pay for their own weddings, splitting costs with their future spouse.
Bridesmaids are responsible for the cost of their dresses, any alterations and accessories. They also pay for shower and wedding gifts, as well as the expense of hosting or co-hosting the bridal shower(s) and bachelorette party.
Groomsmen are responsible for renting their tuxedos, any alterations and accessories. They also pay for wedding gifts, and hosting or co-hosting a bachelor (or coed bachelor/ bachelorette) party.
Discuss the budget of your wedding up front with everyone who might participate in covering the expenses. Doing so will help you make the most of a realistic budget so you can have the touches you feel are important to your celebration of marriage.
“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and ImportantOccasions.com. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” www.a-dreamwedding.com
Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.
©2006 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero's expressed written permission.