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Wedding Financial Responsibilities

Martha Stewart Weddings, Volume 4 1997

It doesn't seem fair, but it is true. Planning the most romantic event of your life begins with the least romantic detail: establishing the budget. According to tradition, the bride's family shoulders almost all of the financial responsibility for the wedding, but today, the groom's family and the couple themselves often make significant contributions. No matter what your situation is, establishing the budget early in the engagement is crucial. Before you make any major decisions, come up with the total amount you can spend on the wedding.

Estimating
The following percentages give you an idea of how much you can afford to spend; if you splurge in one area, be prepared to cut back elsewhere.

50% Reception (includes cost of the site, food, drink, service, rentals, and cake)
10% Bride's attire
10% Music
10% Photography
10% Flowers
10% Miscellaneous (includes invitations, transportation, and favors)

Paring Down
Certain fundamental decisions affect the cost the most: How many guests are you inviting? What time of day is the wedding? How formal will it be? What kind of meal will you serve? The most expensive wedding, for example, is an evening affair with a sit-down dinner; a brunch, lunch, or tea is less expensive because the food is usually lighter, less alcohol is consumed, and the party is shorter.

Attending to some of the wedding preparations yourself is enjoyable and economical; making favors and place cards, for instance, can be a project for the bride and her bridesmaids. But do not take on more than you can handle. Stick to things you know: If you are an avid seamstress and want to make your own dress, by all means do so. But the morning of the wedding is no time for a bride or mother of the bride to be icing her first wedding cake.

 The following is the traditional breakdown of who pays for what aspect of the wedding, but remember, there are no hard-and-fast rules.

Bride's Family
Invitations and announcements; bridal consultant; bride's gown and accessories; transportation for the wedding party from the ceremony to the reception; reception; all floral arrangements; bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages for the bride's family and attendants; photographs and videography; music; and hotel accommodations for the bride's attendants

Groom's Family
Rehearsal dinner; transportation; and accommodations for themselves

Bride
Groom's wedding ring; gifts for bride's attendants; and gift for groom

Groom
Marriage license; officiant's fee; bride's bouquet; boutonnieres and corsages for groom's family and attendants; bride's engagement and wedding rings; gifts for groom's attendants; gift for bride; hotel accommodations for the groom's attendants; and his own attire

Attendants
Their own attire; transportation to wedding city; wedding gift for bride and groom; shower or luncheon for the bride (bridesmaids); and bachelor party for groom (groomsmen)