Who Pays for What at Weddings

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Who Pays For What


Despite the simplest of civil marriages costing less than £50, the average cost of getting married in the UK is around £11,000 with the vast majority falling between £5,000 and £15,000. This may seem a staggering sum, but when you add up all the various elements that make up a traditional wedding, you will see how easy it is to reach (and exceed) this amount. It is therefore, important to decide at the outset who is going to pay for your wedding to avoid any unwanted financial pressures and conflicts during the planning period.

Traditionally, the wedding day is hosted by your parents and paid for by your father. Today, the wedding etiquette of old is far less rigid and only about 30% of weddings are paid for by your parents. More and more couples are opting to pay for their own wedding since they are then free to choose exactly what they want without the worry of putting their parents under financial strain. Recent research has shown that about 50% of weddings are now paid for by the bride and groom and about 15% are paid for by everyone contributing in varying degrees. However, many brides’ fathers have prepared themselves for their daughter’s marriage by saving well in advance and they welcome the opportunity to exercise their prerogative

Traditional Responsibilities

If you intend to adopt the traditional responsibilities for paying your wedding expenses, the following usually applies:

The Bride’s Father pays for:

  • Engagement announcement in newspaper.
  • Stationery and postage expenses.
  • Bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories.
  • Page boy outfit.
  • His own suit and bride’s mother’s outfit.
  • Transport for bride and himself, bridesmaids and bride’s mother to ceremony venue.
  • Transport for bride and groom, bride’s mother, bridesmaids and himself from ceremony venue to reception venue.
  • Flowers for the church and reception.
  • Bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids ( * see below).
  • Buttonholes for participants and guests ( * see below).
  • Photographer and/or videographer.
  • Wedding Cake.
  • Reception and all associated expenses.
  • Wedding Insurance.
  • Overnight accommodation for close family if required.
  • Wedding present for his daughter and her new husband.
  • Wedding consultant fees.
  • * Sometimes considered the responsibility of the groom.

The Groom’s Parents pay for:

  • The parents’ meeting following the engagement announcement.
  • Their own outfits.
  • Wedding present for the newly-weds.

The Bride pays for:

  • Hen party.
  • Groom’s ring.
  • Something old, new, borrowed and blue.
  • Hairdresser and beautician on the day.
  • Her going-away outfit.
  • Present for groom.

The Groom pays for:

  • Stag party.
  • Bride’s wedding ring.
  • Hiring of his own, best man’s and ushers’ suits.
  • Transport for best man and himself to ceremony venue.
  • Civil or church ceremony fees.
  • Presents for the bride, bridesmaids, pages, ushers and best man.
  • His going-away outfit.
  • Transport away from reception venue for himself and his new wife.
  • Wedding night venue.
  • Honeymoon.
  • Press announcement for wedding.

The Bride and Groom pay for:

  • Present for the bride’s parents.

The best man does not usually pay for anything although he will pay for the marriage ceremony on the day with money given to him by the groom.

Alternative Ways of Paying

Paying the full cost of a wedding may be beyond the means of many bride’s parents. Indeed, you may feel it is unreasonable to even consider anyone but yourselves footing the bill, especially if you are both working or are older than the traditional age for first marriages. However, many parents would like to contribute to the cost and you should be sensitive about their desires.

If your parents wish to contribute and you are happy for them to do so, it is well worth sitting down with them and discussing what sum they feel comfortable paying. This way, when you have agreed your budget, you will know the extent of what you will have to pay yourselves .

Alternatively, you may wish to estimate the costs for the type and style of wedding you want and then let your parents see what your estimates are. Etiquette dictates that the estimated costs be shown to the your parents first so they have first refusal. Once you know what they are happy with paying, you can then decide whether it is appropriate to show the estimate to your groom’s parents or simply decide to pay the balance yourselves.

Probably, the question of who will pay for your wedding was talked about, albeit in broad terms, when you discussed your engagement with your parents. Knowing your parents’ feelings on the matter will give you the best possible guidance on who you can approach now that your plans are more tangible.

For advice on producing an estimate of your wedding costs, please read our main article on Budgeting.

Saving for Your Wedding

Unless you are well off, chances are that you will have to save up to pay for some or all of your wedding. Even if your parents are paying the usual wedding expenses, there are several expenses that you and your groom are responsible for. You may want to have an exotic honeymoon or buy a special designer wedding dress that you have fallen in love with.

Building Societies

If you need to save, why not open a joint wedding account with a building society. You could each arrange for a standing order to transfer money from your current account shortly after you get paid each month. It is surprising how quickly a sizeable sum can accumulate. But do shop around for the best interest rates since they do vary. Generally, you will find that the longer you are prepared to leave your money invested, the better the interest rate you will receive. However, on some savings accounts if you withdraw early, there will be an interest penalty, so make sure you are aware of the conditions of withdrawal. Most major building societies have web sites that enable you to check their current rates. Alternatively, most good quality national newspapers have a personal money guide section that is usually published on a Saturday. The guides often give a summary of the best rates on offer for the different types of savings accounts available.

Internet Savings Accounts

Internet savings accounts such as those operated by first-e and egg are currently offering the highest interest rates due to their low operating costs and introductory promotions. If online only banking is to your liking, then check out these savings accounts.

Premium Bonds

Why not consider buying some premium bonds. With interest rates generally low, you will not lose out on too much interest but you stand to win one or more of 500,000 prizes each month. Your investment (minimum of £100, maximum £20,000) is 100% safe and refundable and who knows, you might win the £1,000,000 top monthly prize. The odds of winning any prize in each month’s draw (the smallest prize is £50) are 21 thousand to one for each £1 premium bond. You can get an application form from any post office or you can telephone the National Savings helpline on 0645-645000.

The National Lottery

The national lottery may seem an attractive method of getting very rich quick but when you consider that your chance of winning the jackpot is about 14 million to one, it is extremely unlikely. However, the odds of winning a prize each draw (minimum £10) is 54 to one for each £1 entry. But remember, if you don’t win a prize, you lose your stake, so entering the lottery is gambling and not a savingsplan!

Whichever method you choose to save, some degree of self discipline and sacrifice will be required. But it will be well worth the effort if it means that you will be able to afford the wedding of your dreams and you are able to start your married life without a debt for your wedding.

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