what part does grooms family pay for?

lovemydishesJanuary 14, 2008

Who pays for what these days? I hear things have changed and the grooms family are responsuble for much more than the traditional rehearsal dinner. Whats for real?

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There is no rule about who pays for what. Sometimes the bride and groom pay for everything themselves, sometimes the bride's family pays for it all, sometimes the groom's, and sometimes some or all pitch in, either equally or not. Some families break down expenses by proportion (equal or not) of the total; some have the bride's family pay for some things and the groom's for others. Sometimes the bride's family pays for the wedding and the reception and the groom's for a party the night before or a brunch the day after. You name it, someone is doing it that way, and NONE is "incorrect."

That has been true always, not just "these days."

The main time you hear people talk about who is "responsible for" certain expenses is when they are trying to get someone else to pay. They seem to think that they can wave some rule in other people's faces and force them to be happy about being ordered to foot the bill for something.

So if you are involved in a wedding, as a parent or as the bride or groom, forget about any rules or traditions of who is "supposed to" pay for what, and just figure out what works best for YOUR family. Best wishes to you!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 9:39PM
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One suggestion, though...

If you decide on any form of "splitting the cost", be very specific about what counts as the cost that is being split. At DD's wedding, the groom's family (who are in a *much* higher income bracket than we are) very generously wanted to split the cost of the wedding with us. Not only was this generous, but it was also reasonable, as the groom had more specific -- and more expensive -- ideas about what he wanted than the bride had. But, since his family had said they wanted to split the cost, we made decisions based on that.

Unfortunately we had not been specific about what "splitting the cost" meant. I was thinking along the lines of flowers, reception hall rental, caterer, decorations, etc. So, when I gave them the breakdown of the costs (after the wedding was over), I did not include items such as my husband's tuxedo, my dress, the bridal gown, etc -- nor did I include the costs of the two bridesmaids dresses I paid for (I paid for them because the bridesmaids were poor students). I felt like the attire was not really costs of the wedding.

When the grooms parents gave us a check for their half, they had, before splitting the cost, added some of "their" costs -- like the tuxedos for the groom, the groom's father, and the 4 groomsmen (the groom's brothers). At that point it would have seemed picky to go back and add on some of our similar costs. So we just gratefully accepted the amount they gave us, and were glad to get it.

But the point is -- communication is key!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 10:16AM
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The old tradition in my area was for the groom or his parents to pay for the rings, flowers for the ladies, the honeymoon and the rehearsal dinner. The bride or her family paid for everything else. I don't know how much "tradition" is followed anymore. I fact, it seemed the groom usually picked up the "groom or family" expenses, with the exception of the rehearsal dinner, which the groom's parents usually paid for.

IME, the older the bride and groom, the less likely tradition is followed.

One thing that many brides don't understand is that if her parents (or his parents, for that matter) are paying, she gets the wedding THEY can afford, not the wedding SHE would like.

Personally, I think everyone should sit down and have an adult conversation about how it will be split. Every family has a different situation. Can parents approaching retirement really afford it? Should the bride and groom expect their parents to pay for a wedding if the the parents just paid for college. There are countless scenarios.

DH and I paid for our wedding, 100%. My father offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner, and I accepted. My MIL didn't pay for anything (she doesn't have anything).

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 4:28PM
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As others mentioned, the traditions of past generations have largely gone by the wayside. Couples are often no longer in college or just out of high school (think brides from the 50s and early 60s) when they marry. Many have well-paying jobs and they can afford to, and want to, help with the wedding expenses. The key issue is that no parent of either the bride or the groom MUST pay for anything. If they can afford to help, and want to, they will volunteer. Relationships can be damaged when a couple assumes that one or both families will pay for whatever the couple wants. If parents do agree to help, they will decide how much they can afford to contribute. The couple can then either supplement with their own funds or scale their expectations to the parents' abilities.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 6:53PM
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I would think of it this way: the HOSTS pay. That may be one or both sets of parents, the couple themselves, or all of them.

Now, that does not mean that others will not offer to contribute. Say the bride's parents have offered to give the wedding. Perhaps the groom's parents will offer to contribute, especially if they want to invite more people than the bride's family had anticipated. Or perhaps they will offer to pick up the bar bill, or pay for a live band, or something like that. In that case, however, I still think they need to be sensitive and not act as if their contribution entitles them to change the hosts' plans. (All that applies the same way if the couple themselves or the groom's parents are the hosts or contributors).

And don't forget -- it can get even more complicated if there are divorced and/or remarried parents involved.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 7:12PM
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Lord knows what it will be like when our 2 daughters get married. They are teens now. Hopefully, the future in-laws will help with some of the costs but if they don't I'm sure we will manage. Wayne and I paid for everything except the big ticket items at our wedding. Rehearsal dinner and the reception (food, hall rental, and drinks). Those the parents took care of. We married older, both of us were 25 and we both had jobs so we paid for as much as we could. Making our parents pay for everything didn't seem right. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 6:58AM
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Nancy Louise, you were a bride after my own heart. I'm sure that your parents appreciated your desire to contribute and not just take, as so often happens.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 6:36PM
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Thanks sweet pea, it just didn't feel right having the money to pay for things like the flowers, cake, mom's and mil dresses, etc. and not do so. We have drilled into our daughters since they were old enough to understand; do well in school, go to college, get a job and then think about marriage. So they maybe older when they chose to marry also. (not so they could help pay for the wedding, but to be self-reliant and not depend on anyone for their financial stability).
Can I ask you one question sweet pea? When there are arguments over money with the weddings that you have worked on how do you handle it. Do you get involved or do you let the families work it out themselves? NancyLouise

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 7:57AM
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I need an outside opinion, please. Okay here is the story: My fianc and I are 29 and 32 we have been engaged for about 4 months. Our families were very happy when we got engaged, so there was no prior strife. . Believe me as soon as we got engaged I started looking at the numbers for a wedding of only family that live near us (which would be about 40 people) to a wedding with close friends and family (no more than 80). So from the beginning we let everyone know that we could not afford to pay for both a wedding and a honeymoon and we would have to choose between the two. My family is very laid back and said that is fine. His family really didnÂt say anything, but we let both know just in case anyone felt strongly enough about it to help with the cost although we didnÂt think anyone would (I have 3 younger siblings my parents are raising and they just donÂt have the cash). So of course no one did and we decided that in June we would elope. We told both families (only parents and siblings) that we planned to go to the Bahamas in June (5.5 months in advance) to get married and if they would like to take a vacation at that time and see us get married they were more than welcome but it would absolutely not hurt our feelings if they couldnÂt. My family was fine and said they will try to be there if things work out financially (b/c they take a beach vacation every year anyway they would just use this budget to come). His family was very upset and tears were shed by his mother and sisters even though we gave ample notice that this was possible and laid out to everyone what kind of budget we had. Now they are saying that we are taking the opportunity to see their brother/son get married away from them. Keep in mind his father paid for both of his sisters weddings and receptions and in each instance the groomÂs family picked up the tab for the honeymoon. I just donÂt know what to do I feel guilty on one hand, but on the other I am mad because do they think we are somehow made out of money? Should we start our life together head over heels in debt just to please them. They keep saying it shouldnÂt be a money issue that we should take everyoneÂs feelings into account, you only do this once, and all of the other "make us feel guilty phrases". Not a money issue incase you have forgotten having a wedding costs MONEY!! How could I have done this different? I feel like the bad guy but we canÂt change now b/c deposits have been made and airline tickets have already been purchased.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 9:56AM
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I agree with you. You are doing what you and your fiance feel is right for you and you are being financially responsible. Your future MIL may try to lay a guilt trip on you now, but she will get over it in time. If she really wants to attend, she will find a way. If she doesn't, then what she really wants is to have her way, not accommodate your desires. Best wishes to you.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Nancylouise, search this forum for discussions of destination weddings. If what you are really looking for is not advice, but people to support the decision you have already made and to tell you not to worry about anyone else's feelings, you'll find that.

But you will also find many posters who said that they don't like destination weddings (especially for first marriages) because they communicate the message that the couple cares more about a fancy, exotic setting than about having their families with them as they are married.

I certainly agree that the decision is yours, and you really are entitled to do what suits you. But I disagree that what is going on here is that people are "trying to lay a guilt trip on you." I think that your fiance's family are genuinely disappointed that they will not be at your wedding. (And isn't that a good thing? How would you feel if they didn't give a darn?) You are entitled to make your own choice, but you do not have the power to control how other people will feel about it. If you feel bad about thier disappointment, don't fall into the trap of blaming them for "making you" feel that way.

Actually, good for you that you are feeling "guilty," as you put it -- not because you are "guilty" of anything, but because it shows that you care about other people's feelings, too, not just your own. You are finding it hard to close off your heart and say, "Too bad for them; it is Our Wedding, and I am The Bride, and they have no right to 'make me' feel bad about it by being disappointed." I think that speaks well for you.

Of course you shouldn't start out marriage in debt for more wedding and honeymoon than you can afford. But I don't see anything in there that says anyone is asking you to do that.

Try to look at it from their point of view: you are choosing an expensive honeymoon over having them at your wedding. I can't blame a parent for feeling that you two will, with luck, have many trips over the years, but only one wedding.

And it seems to me -- although there may be circumstances I don't understand -- that you are presenting a false choice here. There isn't enough money for both a wedding reception and a trip to the Bahamas, and you have chosen to spend your budget on the trip -- okay. But does that mean you have to "elope," as you put it, in order to have the trip? Would it be possible to have your close relatives present at a City Hall ceremony or a simple ceremony at home, a clergyperson's office, or other free venue, and then go to the Bahamas for your honeymoon?

That is the compromise I would recommend. Your more distant relatives will be disappointed, and your closer ones won't get to celebrate at a reception, but that isn't the same as missing seeing your own child get married -- a disappointment, but not a heartbreak. On your end of the compromise, you wouldn't have your ceremony in an exotic Bahamian setting, but you'd still get to spend your budget the way you wanted, and anyway, the setting isn't the most important part (I hope!) of the ceremony, is it? Besides, there's nothing stopping you from having your own romantic private ceremony in the Bahamas, too, you know -- and you'd save the money of having it be the official one. It would also relieve your relatives who said they would try to scrape up the money to come of having to make that choice -- and it would make sure you would be ALONE on your honeymoon!

Whatever you decide, the point is that it is important to communicate and implement it in a way that considers other people's feelings as well as your own desires. That doesn't mean you can't do what you want, including no compromise at all. But it does mean that other people will have responses, and if you care about them and your relationship, you will deal with their feelings in a kind and respectful way: e.g., "Mom and Dad, we know our decision to marry in the Bahamas really disappoints you, and we're sorry you are hurt. We really appreciate your support even though we know it isn't what you would prefer." -- NOT, "It's OUR WEDDING and OUR MONEY and we should be able to do whatever we want! It's so mean of you to try to make us feel guilty!" After all, as foolish as it would be to make wedding plans that will cause you start married life in financial debt, it's even more foolish to start off by communicating to your families that you don't care about anyone's feelings but your own.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 11:49PM
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I know many people who have done destination weddings or who have considered one. In every single case the parents that were disappointed were the parents of the groom. Every single time, without exception. And not coincidentally, those are the parents that are not expecting to pay for the wedding. I have never seen parents of the bride have an issue. Coincidence? Perhaps, but more more likely, IME, the parents of the groom (well, the mother) feel cheated because they were looking forward to a child's wedding they didn't have to pay for. I've been close to a few of these and they can get ugly. I am betting that if you offered to get married at City Hall, with no reception, and then go on your honeymoon that wouldn't appease them. But maybe that is something you can offer them, as Gellcom recommended, as a compromise?

Your future in laws are not being deprived of the opportunity to see you get married. They are choosing to not go. They have adequate means, it sounds like. If a non-destination wedding is so important to them then they could have contributed, as they did for their other children. You are making a choice that is yours to make.

I am not biased towards your choice. I did the opposite. DH and I had a big wedding and delayed the honeymoon (it's been 5 years, still delayed). But it was our choice. Our families would have been fine with us eloping.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 12:51AM
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Gellchom I'm assuming that you meant to post your response to another poster not me, perhaps? lol NancyLouise

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 7:40AM
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Oh, gosh, nancylouise, sorry! Of course I meant bridewithouthelp.

I'm sure sue36 is telling the truth about her experience. But I would be just as disappointed if my daughter planned a destination wedding as I would if my son did -- even though I would be sure to travel to attend in either case. I would be disappointed because our extended family loves to come together, especially for wonderful occasions like weddings, and I would want the two families to meet. I would also feel worried if I felt the kids didn't care much about meeting each other's families. Whether or not I would be paying wouldn't make the difference; indeed, I would be as happy to pay for my son's wedding as for my daughter's, and anyway, it seems that it is far from universal that the bride's parents pay for everything anyway.

Anyway, as I wrote above, I think that the most important part is HOW the couple handle their decision, whatever it is, in a way that shows that they recognize others' feelings, not only their own, even if their choices don't suit everyone. You can act selfish with a "home" wedding and gracious with a destination one.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 10:34AM
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gellchom: Thank you for your opinion and I agree with you. I did offer to do a simple ceramony and behind my back it was said that I wasn't making this special for their son and brother. They do have the money to come and in fact travel regularly. I have decided that I can't make everyone happy and I need to make us happy and finacially sound. My fiancee was clear he did not want a big wedding as most of his family lives pretty far away and he is not close to them. The bottom line is his mother feels guilty to go if his sisters are not going and the reason they can't go is that they already have 5-6 vacations planned for the year. The schedule is a nightmare either way. I know that this is an issue that is sensitive and I aprrecite everyone's input!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 7:04PM
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So I was right. You offered a simple ceremony and they refused. I am not shocked. And I feel very bad for you. I hope your fiance is able to explain to his family that this was his choice as well, that it wasn't you who "wasn't making this special for their son and brother".

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 10:07PM
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