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Who should pay for your wedding? Etiquette expert reveals all

Top tips for brides and grooms planning their wedding budget

Is the dreaded wedding budget weighing on your mind? Brides and grooms may have put aside savings for years in advance and still not have the money for their dream nuptials.

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But with the average wedding costing around £32,000 in 2022, it begs the question: Who should pay for the wedding? Should the bride's parents shoulder the costs? Are the bridesmaid dresses or guest transport included? To navigate the minefield of questions, we've turned to wedding etiquette expert and Managing Director of Tree of Hearts, Lisa Forde.

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It's tradition for the bride's parents to pay for the wedding. Is this an outdated tradition or is it still widely expected in 2022?

Lisa explained this can be a very controversial topic, but people are generally moving towards funding their own wedding with some input from their parents.

"Traditionally, the bride's parents would pay for her whole wedding and reception. But as the average wedding now costs more than £32,000 and couples are getting married later in life, we have found that most couples pay for their weddings themselves - but often with a little help from family members," Lisa said.

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According to Statistica, the average age of men when they marry was 38.1 in 2018, compared to 27.4 in 1972, while the average age for women tying the knot increased from 24.7 to 35.8.

"For parents that do choose to contribute, it has been said that the bride's parents contribute around 45 per cent, whilst the groom's parents contribute 15 per cent. But obviously, this will change from wedding to wedding. You may also find that other relatives such as grandparents and aunts and uncles want to contribute, too," she explained.

If the family does help with the wedding budget, do they have a say on how the money is spent?

Lisa-Forde

Wedding etiquette expert Lisa Forde shared her thoughts

It can be tough to choose your ideal wedding if you know your family members have different ideas – and they've put money towards it. According to Lisa, it is not uncommon for financial contributors to want input, but it's ultimately important to remember it's your big day.

"If your family is contributing a lot of money towards your wedding, they may insist you do things their way. Whether that's getting married in a specific location, inviting their friends to the wedding, or choosing a dress that's not your style, you're sure to experience a bit of friction! 

"Make sure that you do consider their feelings, and perhaps try to come to a compromise with them. If you can't compromise, you should pay for the wedding yourself and have it your way - even if that means toning things down."

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Who should pay for the wedding dress, wedding rings, honeymoon etc.?

From bridesmaid dresses to the venue and the honeymoon, the list of costs can feel endless. But there is no right answer when it comes to who pays for what, it is ultimately up to the bride and groom and their financial situation.

"If your parents are insisting on following wedding tradition, you can expect them to pay for the reception and ceremony, including the pricey venue fees. They also often want to pay towards the bride’s wedding dress, too.

"The groom's parents have been said to contribute mainly towards the honeymoon, as well as a few other expenses on the day, such as your wedding stationery or wedding rings," Lisa said.

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Makeup for the bridal party is sometimes covered by the wedding budget

In terms of bridesmaids and groomsmen outfits, she encouraged couples to be open about their plans from the beginning so their wedding party can prepare and save if necessary.

Lisa added: "Some bridal parties might contribute to the cost of their own outfits and hair and makeup, while other times it’s covered in the wedding budget. 

"To avoid any awkward conversations further down the line, these things should be made clear from the start - especially if you’re expecting bridesmaids and groomsmen to cover their own costs."

Should wedding guest accommodation and transport be included?

Whether you choose to say 'I do' close to home or opt for a destination wedding, there are bound to be some guests who will have to travel a distance to get there. 

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"For modern-day weddings, guests don’t expect their accommodation or transport to be included in the wedding budget. That’s why it’s so important to give guests enough time to plan and save by sending out Save the Date cards more than a year, or even two, in advance for destination weddings," she said.

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Can couples ask for money instead of wedding gifts?

"Of course! A lot of couples wonder how you can possibly ask for money without sounding rude but equally don’t want to end up with a pile of unwanted gifts. With many wedding couples living together before tying the knot, they have often got all the household essentials traditionally brought for a wedding gift," Lisa continued.

Brides and grooms can make it feel more personalised if they give guests an idea of what the money will be spent on, such as a dinner on their honeymoon.

"So if you’re going to ask for cash, think about what you are going to spend it on – the cost of the honeymoon is often covered, at least partially, this way. Your guests will most probably appreciate you mentioning this as they will know what they are contributing towards."

How can couples discuss wedding budgets with their families?

wedding-food

Couples tend to pay for their own weddings, but some parents still choose to contribute

Much like asking for money as a wedding gift, Lisa said it can help to explain how much you plan to spend and exactly where that money will go.

"If you would like to ask your parents for money towards your wedding, there are lots of different ways to do this that are both respectful and kind. Be sure to approach them in a thoughtful way, and remember that they don't have to pay at all. Make sure you have a budget and plan in mind. Your parents may be hesitant to pay towards your wedding if they don't know how much it will cost. 

"Secondly, a more reasonable thing to ask for is for your parents to pay for one specific thing at the wedding, such as your wedding cake, dress, or transport. 

"Finally, make sure that you consider if they can afford it before you ask."

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