In Part One of this blog series we discussed the “traditional method” of dividing the costs of a wedding between the bridal couple’s families. If you missed part one - check it out here. If the traditional split seemed a bit skewed and outdated to you... welcome to Part Two.
The average cost of a wedding has more than doubled in the past ten years. This doubling excludes the effect of inflation! The business of bridal has become a massive multi-billion dollar industry in a few short decades. Parents and couples are feeling the financial strain of paying the equivalent of an excellent college education for a single day of champagne and cake-pops. Websites like Pinterest have not helped with daddy’s little princess now seeing thousands of expensive details she can add to every element of her wedding. Oops!
Prices seem to be grossly inflated across the board; from basic venue rental costs to exquisite stationary. Even if you cut costs as low as possible you might still be looking at a bill that just seems excessively high. Welcome to the business of bridal - there is no escaping now!
Let’s take a look at three popular alternative methods of splitting this large wedding bill between the families involved.
Modern Twist On The Traditional Split
Very often the groom and his family will pick up the bar tab, and pay for the flower-arrangements at the ceremony and reception. These are two major costs, and although it’s still not a 50:50 split, the playing field has been leveled to a more acceptable degree.
As you can imagine, there are no rules here - but it’s a great idea for the groom’s family to take a close look at the budgeted expenses and offer to pay for at least one of the larger items (if possible). If the bride’s family declines the offer; sing of praises.
The Three Way Split (Please don’t hate me, “youngins”)
1/3 - Bride and Family
1/3 - Groom and Family
1/3 - The Couple Themselves
I know you hate the feeling of cheap tissue paper on your face, but you might just rethink those tailor-made Mulberry silk serviettes if you know you’ll be paying for every third one. Maybe good ol’ cotton serviettes aren’t that bad after all? Having the bridal couple pay for a third of the wedding will add a sense of ownership and responsibility when it comes to the considered expenses.
Since the bill is split three-ways there is no dominant financial force throwing their weight around to steer any decisions, and the bridal couple might be in a slightly more authoritative position to make their own decisions.
Unfortunately there is one cost that can not be split three ways... the engagement ring. Hubby-To-Be - this is still your baby.
The Couple Pays
I don’t want to get all 1990’s Destiny Child on you, but ... It is your wedding, and apart from a false sense of independence there are noble and valid reasons for couples opting to carry 100% of the wedding costs themselves:
- Many couples are getting married later in life (over 30) and feel that a wedding is an expense they can carry themselves since they have sufficient savings and/or income.
- Second, third and fourth marriages are very rarely paid for by the parents of the bridal couple.
- The couple, for whatever reason, feels uncomfortable with asking money from their parents for a wedding.
- The parents simply cannot contribute financially to the wedding arrangements.
- (Insert your reason here)
When the couple carries the full cost of the wedding, they have the maximum amount of freedom to decide on all major issues including venue, guest-list and choice of menu items. Musky uncle Frank will not get an invite because you haven’t seen him since third grade, and won’t miss him or his scent at all. Foie gras with mustard seeds in duck jus sounds unappetizing- so it’s off the menu. You love the outdoors and would prefer an informal picnic wedding - great, go take a look at a few well maintained parks and botanical gardens. Although you should still exercise common courtesy, you are pretty much free to do as you please with your wedding arrangements if you are paying the bill.
Please keep in mind that when you are starting a life together you have many expenses on the horizon, and to kick off your life together with a mountain of wedding debt is not a great idea. Thoroughly consider your financial position before going all rouge and paying for your own wedding if you don’t have to.
The wedding should be a celebration of two families coming together and joining hands. If you are in the privileged position to have parents that offer to help pay for your wedding - accept it graciously. Check your pride at the door, and say thank you. Put your hard earned money towards that downpayment on your first home, pay off your student debt or invest it wisely towards your future together.
Stay sober with all decisions. There is no need to wreck anyone’s savings for this one day. As we all know - marriage is about so much more than just the wedding day.
Lastly, remember to enjoy this amazing and exciting planning process!
We had amazing feedback on our Wedding Budget Worksheet last week. If you missed it, grab it below: