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Etiquette 101: Who Pays for What?

060914-money-01No doubt you’ve already found out that weddings are steeped in tradition: Those of your family, your culture, your religion, maybe even the region of the country where you live. Etiquette rules — some more flexible than others — are part of that tradition. Wading into etiquette might feel overwhelming, so we dove into our copy of Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette for a series of “etiquette basics” stories over the next few weeks; look for them on alternate Mondays now through October. We’ll highlight some of the most common etiquette topics.

Let’s start with money.

By tradition, the bride’s family pays the bulk of the wedding costs, a practice that likely comes from the custom of paying the groom’s family a dowry. The bride’s family foots the bill for the reception and ceremony, invitations, flowers and decorations, photography, rentals, music, and costs for the bride and her attendants. (Just to name a few — there are lots more.) The groom’s family is traditionally responsible for the rehearsal dinner, the engagement ring, officiant, honeymoon, and costs for the groom and his attendants. (There are more; these are the highlights.)

Attendants are expected to pay for their own attire and accessories, transportation to and from the wedding city, a gift for the couple, and perhaps a share of the shower or bachelor party. The bride and groom traditionally take care of lodging and wedding day transportation costs for their attendants.

Of course, few couples rely totally on their parents anymore for wedding funding. Parents may chip in all or some of the budget, and it’s not uncommon for both families to contribute to the cost of the wedding ceremony and reception. Some couples are able to pay for their weddings themselves and need little or no help from parents. If your parents want to contribute, remember that means you’ll need to share some of the decision-making power with them.

Any time you talk about money — either with each other or with your parents — be open and candid. An honest conversation will spare hurt feelings.

Coming June 23: Etiquette when choosing your attendants.