Wedding Etiquette: Who (Traditionally) Pays For What?

You’re engaged to your best friend, your partner in crime, your ride or die. Now it’s time to start planning the big party! The first thing on your mind will likely be: “How much is all of this going to cost?” and “How are we going to pay for it??”. But don’t panic. We’ve got a super powerful budget tool which estimates the costs of your wedding and breaks them down, so you have a good idea of what each part will cost.

Some families may offer to help the newlyweds-to-be celebrate the most magical day in their lives, and for that, we’ve put together the lowdown on (traditionally) who pays for what. This way you can look at your budget, see how much each part costs, and let your families know how much they can help with! At the end of the day, it’s whatever works for you and your family, but this is a good place to start! Read this if you need an extra hand on how to talk budgets with your parents.

We will start by giving you a closer look into some of these costs, but if you’re eager to find out exactly what each side of the family should pay for, you can skip ahead to the bullet points section!


wedding etiquette: who traditionally pays for what


Who pays for the engagement party? This expense is traditionally covered by the bride’s family, as they will often host the engagement party at their house, as a way to welcome and bring together the two families (usually for the first time!). However, whichever family is feeling the most generous can host or offer to throw the party. 

Who pays for the rehearsal dinner? Since the bride’s family pays for the engagement party, the rehearsal dinner is traditionally paid for by the groom’s parents. However, they should only pay for what they’re comfortable with, and hosting a small soirée the day before the wedding is more than enough!

Who pays for the wedding rings? The wedding rings are a split cost between the bride and groom’s families. The groom’s family will pay for the bride’s ring and vice versa. 

Who pays for the wedding flowers? The bouquet should be a gift from the groom to the bride, as she is his date. For an extra romantic twist, the groom can even pick wildflowers for the bride’s bouquet. The bride’s side of the family will traditionally pay for the flower decorations. Follow this link if you’re not sure how to choose your wedding flowers!

Who pays for the bridesmaid dresses and usher suits? The bride’s side of the family traditionally pays for the bride’s and bridesmaid’s dresses. Although more and more, bridesmaids are paying for their own dress. It really depends on your budget, the type of dresses you want them to wear and whether or not it’s within their price range! This is something which you should definitely discuss early on with your bride squad, to avoid any confusion later. 

Don’t know where to buy your bridesmaid dresses? Check out our ultimate list of the best places to get bridesmaid dresses!

As for the best man and usher suits? Unless they are matching and require special suits, the ushers should pay for them themselves. If the suits need to be tailor-made, it’s an expense that the groom’s side should kindly cover. 

Who pays for guest’s accommodation? Traditionally each side of the family will pay for their own guest’s accommodation. However, this will really depend on what the families are comfortable with. Nowadays, most guests will pay for their own accommodation – just make sure you mention this on your information sheet!

Who pays for the honeymoon? Traditionally, it is the groom who pays for the honeymoon. However, most couples today are splitting the cost, and many are asking for donations towards their honeymoon, instead of wedding gifts! This is a new tradition, that stems from the fact that people are getting married later and already living together when they tie the knot. This means they probably don’t need a new toaster or a 24-piece dinnerware set!

Need a hand planning your honeymoon? Here’s an introduction to your honeymoon.


And now, a cheat sheet of what each family traditionally pays for… bride looking into mirror getting ready


Bride and Bride’s family:


• Wedding dress and the accessories that come with it

• Bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories (although nowadays more and more bridesmaids pay for their own attire)

• Bride’s accompanying outfits (going away and honeymoon)

• Hair and make-up, along with other beauty treatments

• Transportation for the bridal party to the ceremony

• Transportation for the bride and groom from the ceremony to the reception venue

• Photography and/or videography

• Flowers

• Venue hire and decorations

• Wedding cake

• Catering

• Favours

• Drinks

• Entertainment

• Wedding stationery

• Groom’s wedding ring

• Engagement party

• Wedding insurance

• Overnight accommodation for close family

• Presents for the groom’s family Groom fixing boutonniere

Groom and Groom’s family:


• Groom’s outfit

• Best man’s and usher’s outfits (like bridesmaids, however, these now tend to be bought by the groomsmen themselves)

• Groom’s going-away outfit

• Transportation for the groom and best man to the ceremony

• Transportation for the bride and groom from the reception

• Buttonholes for all the groomsmen

• Civil or religious ceremony fees

• Church fees, plus extras like church music and bell ringing

• Registration office and other venue fees

• Passports and visas for the honeymoon

• Travel and accommodation for the honeymoon

• Spending money for the honeymoon

• Travel insurance for the honeymoon

• Bride’s engagement and wedding rings

• Presents for the bridesmaids, ushers and best man

• Presents for the bride’s parents

• Press announcement for the wedding

• Wedding night hotel


So, that’s how it’s been broken down historically, but the winds of time are a’changing and there’s nothing to say that this is how yours will or should be broken down. Couples are getting married later in life now than they used to, so financial situations are likely to be somewhat different.

Whatever you and your beau decide, make sure you keep on top of it with our free wedding planning tools, and everything will be just fine! You can also download our free Bridebook app! Truly, the easiest way to plan your wedding!

Happy Planning!


Was this article helpful? Here are a few more that could be useful for your journey: 

You’re Engaged, Now What?

How to: Talk Budgets With Your Parents

How to: Discuss your wedding guest list with your family

The Ultimate Wedding Budget Breakdown