Etiquette: Who Pays For What


June 5, 2013
Words by Jennifer Stein
Photos courtesy of

My fiance and I want a destination wedding.  Who pays for what?

Oh, the blurred boundaries of finances in current wedding planning! Avoid fractious family feuding by determining what your ballpark budget is before you plan an event that is beyond the means of the main contributors – the couple, the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents.

The bride’s family has traditionally shouldered the majority of wedding expenses, but nowadays some couples are older, more established and desire a more lavish event than in ‘days of yore.’  The couple should communicate with the bride’s parents first and find out what their intended contribution is.  Separately, the groom should approach his parents to see if they are willing to contribute any finance above the customary rehearsal dinner, bride’s bouquet, corsages and perhaps the honeymoon.  Then, the couple will know before they begin to plan in earnest what the families are committed to paying for prior to actual plans being made.

Clear communication early on, along with reasonable expectations, can eliminate disgruntled feelings and start your life together with families celebrating in harmony. 

 I am having a destination wedding and am concerned about the extra traveling expenses for my attendants.  What exactly should I pay for, and what should the wedding party be responsible for?

Participating in any wedding is an expensive proposition these days!  Traditional etiquette generally requires attendants to pay for their own clothing, accessories and hair, make-up, travel, lodging, wedding and shower gifts.  It is also customary for the maid of honor or bridesmaids to host a shower for the bride.  Throw in a bachelorette party….Wow!

Typically destination weddings are on a smaller scale so you may have fewer guests and fewer attendants who are able to make the journey.  If one of your friends cannot afford the expenses, they may always decline your invitation to participate.

If you budget permits, you may choose to subsidize, but it is not required.  What you do for one person, you should do for all or hard feelings might ensue.  A few ideas for assisting your friends by making your wedding more affordable might be:

  • Offer to pay for accommodations, if it is in your budget
  • Make choices that are affordable for dresses and accessories.  Don’t choose an extravagant bridesmaid dress that will hang in a closet after your special day

These are just ideas, but the ultimate choice to be an attendant is theirs, and you are not required to provide any of these things.

Wyndham Alltra

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