Who pays for the wedding?
Although it’s traditional that the bride’s father pays, this tradition is rooted in customs that are no longer relevant, and there are many ways to determine who will pay for the wedding. Why does the bride’s family traditionally pay?
The tradition that the bride’s family members pay is derived from the notion of a dowry. In the past, when women weren’t allowed to live on their own, work outside the home, or own property, an unmarried daughter was a considerable burden, especially on families living at or near the subsistence level. To remove this burden, her family would foot the bill for a man to marry her. The money also helped cover the expenses of setting up the new home and helping the man become more productive so he could support an extra mouth with his labor.
Looked in that light, the tradition is at best irrelevant to the modern world and at worst potentially offensive. Some women look at a dowry as a bribe offered to a husband so he would consent to marry them, and linking their wedding with this tradition is insulting.
Some people like tradition for tradition’s sake, but others consider alternatives. This often can be a stressful time for the bride and groom, but remember nothing is set in stone for the big day.
Splitting the Cost Evenly
One potential alternative is that everyone involved in the wedding party pays their fair share. Dividing the costs evenly allows everyone to participate as equals in the wedding, which is good financially for the bride’s family, but has other benefits, too. Sharing costs leads to sharing decision-making. It brings both families together to work on the wedding and sets up a model of cooperation that can help the families become one.
It’s also good to divide the wedding costs three ways rather than two. Making an engaged young couple pay a share of the costs helps them to start thinking of themselves as adults. It will encourage them to make reasonable decisions and factor in their budget when planning, which is a good habit to learn early in a marriage. We often recommend the future bride and groom to discuss this after the engagement party. The family to pay should be comfortable with the decisions of the bride & groom.
The only problem with this option is that it can be a delicate one to bring up. If a groom’s family is expecting the bride’s family to pay, it can cause some friction when the subject is brought up. The bride’s family, too, may be offended if they think the implication is that they can’t afford to pay. The best way to approach this is for the betrothed couple to make this decision for themselves, then discuss it with their families separately.
When Couples Should Pay for Their Own Wedding
However, the whole tradition of having the parents pay comes from a time when children only left home when they were married. In today’s society, many couples have lived on their own for years—even decades—before choosing to get married. In these cases, it makes no sense to ask the parents to pay and couples should cover the costs of the wedding themselves. This situation helps establish a wedding budget that is reasonable for a new marriage. Remember that in this situation the bride and groom are usually responsible for the ceremony and the reception.
Second marriages, especially, should be viewed by the couple as their responsibility for their wedding day.
Although parents should not feel obligated, their spontaneous offers of help should still be taken in the loving spirit they’re offered. Sharing the cost of a wedding allows for more friends and family to be added to the guest list and come together to celebrate the special event. In some cases, the parents of the groom and bride may pitch in or pay for the rehearsal dinner.
If you would like to learn more about handling traditional problems in a modern marriage, we can help. Please contact Stonebrook Manor today and schedule a consultation and tour of our Denver wedding venue.