Wedding Expenses: What the Bride's Family Pays For

11 of 11 in Series: The Essentials of Planning a Wedding Reception

Traditionally, the bride's parents pay for most of the wedding — but modern couples often marry later in life and can afford to shoulder some or all of the wedding expense themselves. Finances can be one of the most problematic and stressful part of the planning anything — and the emotions involved in wedding planning can triple the stress.

One key point of wedding etiquette is that no parent should have to pay more for a wedding than he or she can comfortably afford. The bride and groom need to consider any contribution from their parents as a great gift.

The bride’s family traditionally pays for:

  • Services of a wedding planner or coordinator: The national average cost of using a wedding planner is approximately $3,500 to $4,000. Many couples believe that the stress relief that this type of service provides offsets the cost.

  • Ceremony site: Make sure you make it a top priority in your budget.

  • Reception site and related costs: Because the reception is one of the most expensive costs in any wedding budget, some couples choose to share them today.

  • Floral arrangements for the ceremony and reception and flowers for the bride’s attendants: Buying flowers locally and adding more greenery can add up to big savings. Also remember that the price of flowers varies at different times of the year, depending on holidays and the seasonality of different flowers.

  • Music for the ceremony and reception: A DJ or recorded music may be more affordable than live music, but you can opt for a hybrid approach, such as a soloist for the ceremony and a DJ for the reception.

  • Photographer and videographer: If photographs and videos of the big day are important to you, paying a professional for these services is worth the extra cost. If the budget is an issue, you may want to try negotiating with the photographer and videographer for a specific amount of time rather than the number of photos, which can get expensive.

  • Wedding gown and accessories: Discuss with your partner what percent of your budget you can allocate to the dress and accessories without skimping on other parts of the wedding, because splurging on a gown is all too easy for a bride to do.

  • Groom’s wedding ring and gift: Men’s wedding bands can cost anywhere between $100 and $1,500 (or more). Modern brides give their grooms gifts like personalize grill kits and custom-built toolboxes.

  • Wedding invitations, announcements, enclosures and mailing costs: The average engaged couple spends $1,200 to $1,500 on wedding invitations and reply cards. And don’t forget about all that postage.

  • Gifts for the bride’s attendants: These gifts don’t have to be extravagant, but they should be memorable.

  • Luncheon for the bride’s attendants: If you can’t splurge, show your appreciation with an afternoon tea or brunch.

  • Transportation for the wedding party: For the means, you can select anything from a horse-drawn carriage to a stretch limo.

  • Guest book: After forking over thousands, a $30 to $50 guest book may seem like nothing.

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The Essentials of Planning a Wedding Reception

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