Apr 9, 2020

Who Pays for What

According to the 2019 Wedding Wire Report “The average couple pays for roughly 45% of their wedding cost, with family and friends footing the remaining bill.? 46% is covered by their parents, and 9% by other family or friends.” So now you know the stats, keep reading and I’ll break down specifically how that is divided. And I’ll tell you how to politely ask your parents what they’ll cover.

Emily Post Says…

Even though tradition has it that the bride’s family pays for the wedding, the groom’s family is in no way off the hook. In fact look at this list of what Emily Post says the groom’s side should pay for: All costs of the rehearsal dinner, the marriage license, transportation, the bride’s bouquet, floral for the groomsmen, floral for all immediate family (Both sides), the costs of the officiant.

If all these percentages are right, the couple pays almost half and the groom’s family covers the expenses I just listed, then the brides’ family is left with around 30% of the wedding expenses. 

Know Tradition if You’re Nontraditional

It’s super important that you take a minute to understand tradition, especially if you are nontraditional. I don’t want you to unintentionally foot the bill on something that is not your responsibility while skipping something that is. You absolutely can say screw tradition I’m doing my own thing. However, if you do go against tradition, put a little time into redefining expectations for everyone else.

Who Pays for What (Etiquette)

Start with reviewing the etiquette. It’s pretty straightforward, the bride’s family pays the planner or coordinator, the invitations, floral decor, other types of décor, music, photographer, and the entire reception, and also a bridal luncheon. Bridesmaids pay for their own dresses, a shower, hair & makeup, and they are responsible for getting themselves to and from the wedding. Groomsmen pay for the bachelor party, their own attire, and getting to and from the wedding.

Direction on Budget

Knowing this, you can make informed decisions on your budget. Don’t offer to pay for your wedding party’s hair and makeup in exchange for something you are actually responsible for paying. If you do decide to forgo something traditional and pay for something nontraditional, give people a heads up.

For the Contributors

For those who want to contribute to the wedding but are not the bride, groom or parents, here’s 2 helpful tips on getting that right.

  1. Offer to foot the bill on a specific item or service.

    The full cost of the wedding may be close to $25, $35, or $45,000 dollars. For the giver, the person contributing to the wedding, it’s best if they feel like they contributed in a significant way to something they can see the couple appreciates. $1,000 lumped into the overall budget doesn’t have the same impact as a gift of a wedding coordinator, a live painter, or a bouquet upgrade. I had a couple receive a $2,000 contribution that was supposed to go towards a second line band, but then they ran out of money and put it towards the reception balance. The guest attended the wedding, but there was no second line band, and she was wanted to know what happened to her gift.

  2. Set a limit of how much you’ll pay

    Wedding vendors, even in the same category, offer a wide array of services and value. What a bouquet “should” cost is hard to quantify since there are so many factors that go into its pricing. It’s best to set clear expectations when the gift is given on what the cap is going to be.

  3. Write the check directly to the vendor

    The couple can send an invoice directly to the contributor. Paying directly helps the contributor feel like they are giving a gift and not just handing over cash.

  4. Make sure the couple wants the gift.

    Most importantly, the gift should be one that the couple really wants. If the contributor will genuinely listen to what the couple is planning, they’ll find the perfect item.

Send a Hint?

Avoid passing hints or point-blank telling someone, “Etiquette says you are responsible for paying for this.” Remember this is delicate, and when people aren’t’ delicate about it, they make enemies all around them at a time when relationships should be strengthening. Don’t drop hints, like sending them this video. Instead, decide if you want that thing enough to pay yourself and if not accept that it’s just not going to happen.

Ask Directly

Instead of dropping hints, ask directly. Go to your families, let them know you are creating your budget for the wedding and actually show it to them. Show them what things cost, and ask directly if they would like to cover some of the expenses, and if so, how much. The important thing is that you are direct but delicate and get some solid numbers.

Times Have Changed

Don’t wait to send them the bill to find out that you were way out of their price range. Weddings cost way more now than they did when your parents tied the knot. If they haven’t recently booked wedding vendors, they literally have no clue what to expect.

Extra Communication for Contributors

And remember this! If you do accept money, you are inviting other people into the planning process. Be prepared to share information freely and do a little extra communication with them during the wedding. That’s a big ask because your engagement is such a busy time in your life. But nonetheless, you’ll need to take some time for that.

All in all, remember how you handle these delicate matters will set the stage for how you’ll handle lots of other matters involving your parents throughout your marriage. So get off to a good start!

Thanks so much for reading, until next week Happy Wedding Planning!

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