Establishing a Wedding Budget: Who Pays for What?
So you’ve got the ring insured (check), the date (check) and an organization tool (check plus). Now, you need to decide what size wedding you and your future spouse want. This is important because the size of your wedding will help you determine your budget and the location.
Once you have an idea of how many guests you want to share your day with you, you need to figure out a budget. What is great about the organization book, website, or coordinator is that they usually have some sort of list of what a wedding consists of and what you should plan for in your budget. On WeddingWindow.com, they have a great budget tracker that I have found very useful. It starts with a general number in each category and you can put in deposit amounts, due dates, and email reminders. It is a very helpful tool.
I would recommend starting with going over each budget item with your fiancé and say out loud, “I would never spend more than $______ on flowers or music or a dress I only wear for eight hours.” Then add it all up and that is what your wedding will cost you. Don’t like the final number? Go back to your items and adjust until you are comfortable with the amounts.
This is ultimately what is going to set the tone for your big day and unfortunately is the most taboo of all etiquette websites/books. There are 21.1 millions hits for the word combination of “wedding etiquette who pays for what” in Google. It is not an easy conversation to have, let alone having it with your recently divorced parents.
Traditionally the bride’s father is expected to shell out the cash when it comes to the wedding. However, with families being so diverse these days, tradition is more commonly being overthrown.
Before speaking with our parents, Erik and I planned on paying for the entirety of the wedding ourselves. I think it is best this way because if we do receive help, monetary or other, it will be a pleasant surprise rather than assuming it’ll be taken care of and come to find that it is not. This has actually worked in our favor because we have had a parent decide to pay for the photographer while another parent wrote us a check for a generous amount and my grandmother paid for my wedding dress.
Although a lot of etiquette websites tell the couple not to ask for money, Erik and I sat down with each parent. We explained to them that they were not under any obligation to contribute anything but we would graciously accept any help they were willing to offer.
It was a difficult conversation to have because we had to hear from both sets of parents something along the lines of “well I’m not going to pay for so and so to enjoy the wedding when they did this or that during the divorce …”
The key here is to be patient and don’t plan a wedding that is out of your means. If you receive help from a family member, consider yourself lucky! I know I do.