Financial responsibilities of the bride and groom’s parents

By Terry Meadows

4-minute read




Have you ever pondered the financial roles of the bride and groom's parents in contemporary wedding ceremonies? Are you curious about how their roles have transformed from traditional expectations to fit today's ever-changing societal norms?

We have shared the wedding planning journey with almost 400 couples at Zion Springs, so we are very familiar with these questions, and we are here to help you explore the various options open to you on what is the role of the parents in financing a wedding. 

From pre-wedding preparations to the main event, we'll uncover how these duties have shifted over time, blending age-old customs with modern-day nuances.  By the end of this exploration, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of the pivotal roles parents play in modern matrimonial celebrations. 

What are the Responsibilities of the Bride and Groom's Parents?

Weddings are a significant milestone, not just for the couple but for their families as well. As traditions evolve, the roles and responsibilities of the bride and groom's parents have seen shifts, but their involvement remains integral. 

Financial Role of the Bride's Parents: Upholding Traditions and Embracing New Roles

Traditionally, the bride's parents have been responsible for covering a majority of the wedding expenses. This often includes the cost of the wedding ceremony, the reception—including the venue, décor, music, and catering—as well as the bride's wedding attire, floral arrangements, and professional services such as photography and videography. Additionally, they might fund the engagement party, wedding invitations, and transportation for the bridal party on the wedding day. 

Over time, as wedding customs evolve, many families opt for a more collaborative approach, sharing expenses with the groom's family or the couple themselves. However, in many cultures and families, the bride's parents still bear a significant portion of the wedding costs, reflecting age-old traditions and customs.

Pre-Wedding Engagements

From hosting the engagement party to assisting with the guest list, the bride's parents often take the lead. These events set the tone for the upcoming wedding and also provide opportunities for families and friends to come together, celebrate, and build bonds. Let's delve deeper into the significance and various facets of these engagements.

  • Engagement party  - Often the first official celebration after a couple announces their intention to marry, the engagement party is traditionally hosted by the bride's parents. It's a joyous occasion where close family and friends come together to congratulate the couple. The event can range from a formal dinner to a casual get-together, depending on the family's preference.  These events also help in breaking the ice, especially if both families haven't interacted much before the wedding preparations began.
  • Wedding Invitations and RSVPs  - Before the wedding, there's the crucial task of sending out wedding invitations. This involves curating a guest list, designing or choosing the invitations, and then dispatching them. The RSVPs that follow give a clear idea of the number of attendees, aiding in further preparations. 
  • Pre-wedding Photoshoot - A growing trend in recent years, pre-wedding photoshoots allow couples to capture their love story in a more relaxed and creative setting. These photos often become keepsakes and are sometimes used in wedding decor or invitations. 
  • Cultural or Religious Ceremonies - Depending on the couple's cultural or religious background, there might be specific rituals or ceremonies to be conducted before the wedding. These can range from prayer ceremonies to traditional dances and rituals.
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Financial Role of the Groom's Parents: Balancing Tradition with Modern Expectations

The groom's parents, while traditionally less involved than the bride's, have seen their roles expand in modern weddings, striking a balance between tradition and contemporary expectations.

Hosting the Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is more than just a pre-wedding meal; it's a cherished tradition that offers the bride, groom, their families, and close friends an intimate setting to relax and connect before the whirlwind of the wedding day. Traditionally hosted by the groom's parents, this event has its own set of etiquettes and considerations.

The primary purpose of the rehearsal dinner is to provide an opportunity for the wedding party and immediate families to run through the ceremony, ensuring everyone knows their roles. It's also a time for the two families to bond, especially if they haven't had much interaction before. The dinner that follows is a gesture of gratitude, especially towards those who might have traveled from afar.

While the rehearsal dinner was once a small affair, modern interpretations vary. Typically, it includes the wedding party, immediate family members, and possibly a few close friends. However, some couples opt for larger gatherings, inviting out-of-town guests as a warm welcome gesture.

The choice of venue often reflects the personal tastes of the groom's family. It could range from a formal banquet hall to a relaxed backyard barbecue. The ambiance is generally more laid-back than the wedding reception, allowing guests to mingle in a casual setting.

The rehearsal dinner is an ideal time for more personal speeches and toasts. It's an opportunity for the groom's parents to formally welcome the bride into their family and for both families to share heartfelt stories and well wishes for the couple.

Some couples use the rehearsal dinner as an opportunity to present gifts to their bridesmaids and groomsmen as a token of appreciation. It's also not uncommon for families to exchange meaningful gifts, further solidifying their bond.

Covering the costs of alcohol and beverages

Another traditional aspect of the groom’s parents'' responsibilities is financing the alcohol for the reception. This encompasses not only the procurement of wines, beers, and spirits but also the potential costs of bartending services, mixers, and any licensing or corkage fees associated with the venue. This gesture, while rooted in tradition, also reflects the collaborative nature of modern weddings, where expenses are shared among families to ease the overall financial burden and ensure a seamless and joyous event.

Financial Contributions and Budgeting for a Wedding

Navigating the financial landscape of a wedding can be a complex task, especially when traditions and modern expectations intersect.  oday, the financial dynamics of wedding planning have shifted. With couples marrying later in life and often having established careers, many choose to contribute significantly to their own weddings. Additionally, it's becoming increasingly common for both sets of parents and even extended family to share wedding expenses.

  • Setting a Budget - One of the first steps in wedding planning is setting a budget. The bride's parents, if contributing, should have an open discussion with the couple about their financial capacity and willingness. This conversation helps in setting realistic expectations and ensures that subsequent planning remains within the agreed budget.
  • Allocating Funds - Once a budget is set, the next step is to allocate funds to different wedding components. Some families prefer to take on specific expenses, like the reception venue or catering, while others might provide a lump sum amount. Clear communication is crucial to avoid overlaps or gaps in funding.
  • Unexpected Costs - Weddings often come with unforeseen expenses. It's wise for the bride's parents to set aside a contingency fund, ensuring that last-minute costs don't derail the budget. 
  • Gifts and Dowries - In some cultures, the bride's family also provides a dowry or gifts to the groom's family. While this practice has diminished in many regions due to evolving societal norms and legal regulations, it's essential to be aware of such traditions and budget accordingly if they are to be upheld.

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of financial contributions is maintaining open and transparent communication. This includes discussions not just with the couple but also with the groom's parents, especially if costs are being shared.

Shared Responsibilities for a Wedding: Coming Together as One Family

You may have wondered what are the responsibilities of both parents of the bride and groom when it comes to financing a wedding.  

Modern weddings emphasize collaboration, with both sets of parents sharing responsibilities, ensuring the couple's day is memorable.  Both families often come together to select venues, discuss themes, and coordinate logistics, ensuring the wedding reflects the couple's shared vision.  From engagement parties to bridal showers, they actively participate, making each event memorable and fostering unity.

If you are considering how much a wedding costs and what you can expect to pay for each service and vendor, our article “What is our wedding going to cost?” takes an in-depth, real-time look at how much you will pay for each item based on data sourced for this year from The Wedding Report.