One of the biggest stressors when it comes to wedding planning (and let’s face it, life in general) is money. Figuring out how you are going to pay for your wedding (or who pays for the wedding) isn’t much fun – your wedding budget is not exactly the most glamourous fun part of planning a wedding (you never see them pouring over spreadsheets or sipping a glass of wine while asking the in-laws for money in the movies huh!). Whilst sticking to a wedding budget is important, finding out where that budget is coming from, now that’s a challenge!
Different ways to pay for your wedding
Traditionally (i.e. in the olden days when our parents & grandparents got hitched) the bride’s parents paid for the lot. Nowadays it’s a bit different. For a start, there might not even be a bride! 🙂 So I thought I’d outline some different budget options.
Funding sources – who pays for the wedding?
1. Couple pays for the lot
Apparently this is the most popular option these days, with around 50% of brides and grooms paying for their own wedding (source). While this might be a huge hit to the finances, especially if you’re saving for a house, it’s also a popular option because you get all the control. By paying for the wedding, it’s your money, your decision. This means control of the guest list, décor, venue… bliss!
2. Brides family pays for the lot
Around 30% of weddings have the brides family paying for the whole thing, according to Weddings.co.nz. This is the traditional way of doing things (but traditional can also mean old-fashioned…). This gives the bride’s family lots of control, which could cause friction, both between the couple and parents/family, or between the bride’s family and the groom’s family – because the bride and her family’s interests could be placed over the grooms.
3. Both sets of parent’s pay for the lot
Having both sets of parents paying for the wedding can stop one party from having too much sway, and helps out a couple who are trying to get into their first home or have just finished Uni. With someone else paying, it does mean the couple have to consider other people’s viewpoints carefully, and they might have to compromise. But the big plus to this compromise is you’re not funding it! If you have things you’re set on, be prepared to pay for them yourself – having your Dad tell you your wedding dress budget is only $300 is not ok.
4. Wedding costs are split between three – each set of parents & the couple
This is a really practical option which splits the burden between all three parties and means you can get the day you want without bankrupting anyone in particular. The downside is, again, by having other people’s money to spend, you have to listen to their opinions and may have to compromise on some things. This is the option we took when getting married and it meant everyone felt like they were contributing fairly and noone’s pride was hurt. We allocated a certain number of guests per family – for Craig’s family who is reasonably big this meant his family didn’t get as many family friends along, but we all had even amounts of guests.
5. Parents pay for certain aspects and the couple picks up the rest of the bill
This is another practical option which can help you out financially and gives you a bit more control. I’ve had friends do this where the parent’s have paid for the wedding dress & bridesmaid dresses, or picked up the tab on the alcohol. It might mean you have to accept that there will be some specific things that you lose control on, but the overall wedding is being paid for by you, so it’s a win there!
6. Borrowing money
Getting a loan or putting it on the credit card is kind of an option too – but eventually it’s going to need to be paid back, so it does fall within one of the above options.
Getting help paying for your wedding
If your parents haven’t offered to pay for the wedding – and you want them to – then it would be worth getting a wedding budget drawn up (there is a great template here which divvies up how much you should pay depending on your budget).
Having a budget set out that way means:
- Everyone knows how much they are being asked to contribute (they might say “yes I’ll help you pay”, but only be expecting a small $8k affair)
- You can give the parents (whose own weddings might have been 30 years ago) a better understanding of the costs involved in a modern wedding
- You come across much more organised and sensible if you’ve got a plan in place, rather than just hitting them up for $35k – because “that’s what your mates cost and you had a great time at her wedding”
- I’ve heard of some parents telling the couple “yes, we will help you out” but being vague on the amount they’ll contribute. If you can pass them the budget and say “this is what we are looking at spending” then they might be a bit more forthcoming.
What is the best option for funding your wedding then?
Unfortunately I can’t give you a straight answer of what you can do. So many family dynamics, budgets and financial issues come into play that you will need to do a bit of frank, open and honest discussion to get some funding.
I was really happy with our decision to split the wedding three ways, because it meant the burden of the wedding wasn’t on one parties shoulders. I was also happy to give up some control because I knew both sets of parents are pretty easy going and just wanted whatever would make us happy.
Have I missed any options for funding your wedding? Or do you have any advice? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.