Wedding Budget: Who Pays for What?

According to Zola, the average wedding in 2023 will cost $29,000. In times past, there was no question of who was responsible for paying for a wedding: the bride’s parents, with an assist from the groom’s parents to cover the rehearsal dinner.

Now there are so many more subsidiary costs associated with a typical wedding, planning can get confusing very quickly. So when considering a modern wedding budget, who pays for what?

wedding budget

New meets old

“These days, anything goes when it comes to paying for a wedding,” Kylie Carlson, CEO of the International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning, tells Vogue. “Engaged couples taking care of the finances is on the rise.”

Still, there’s a great deal of tradition left in the typical wedding budget.

A study by The Knot found that, on average, parents today contribute 51 percent of the wedding budget, while couples cover the remaining 49 percent. And Zola found that a third of couples are covering the entire cost of their weddings.

Breaking away

Nothing these days is set in stone, however. Landis Bejar, founder of NYC-based boutique wedding therapy practice Aisle Talk, tells The Knot that ultimately it is up to the couple.

“Some couples definitely still subscribe to these traditions,” she says, “but it’s hardly a ‘given’ these days as we are seeing many more couples opt for less traditional splits.”

For example, Vogue suggests that the couple ask the parents if and how they would like to contribute to the wedding, and not automatically expect it.

“It’s best to phrase it as, ‘We were wondering if you would like to contribute to the wedding,’ ” says Lizzie Post, co-host of the Awesome Etiquette podcast, adding that they should be clear that they’re “not expecting anything.”

Starting point

If you want a guide to the traditional breakdown, however, Bride’s offers a jumping off point.

Bride’s family:

  • Engagement party
  • Wedding dress, veil, accessories
  • Wedding planner
  • Invitations, save the dates, wedding programs
  • Photography/videography
  • Transportation/accommodation for bridesmaids
  • Pre-wedding parties
  • Ceremony/reception
  • Flowers/decor
  • Wedding cake

Groom’s family:

  • Honeymoon
  • Marriage license/officiant fee
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Bride’s bouquet, boutonnieres, corsages
  • Transpiration/accommodation for groomsmen
  • DJ/band, liquor for reception


  • Groom’s wedding band
  • Gifts for Bridesmaid, groom, and parents
  • Hair, makeup


  • Bride’s engagement ring, wedding band
  • Groom’s attire
  • Gifts for groomsmen and bride
  • Honeymoon

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