Who Paid for Your Wedding?

I have a little “just curious” post today on paying for weddings!


Kyle and I dated for a long time without many future intentions but implemented our decision to get married relatively quickly (it about nine months from the decision to move toward engagement to the wedding day).  Therefore there really wasn’t much time to consider how the wedding would go down before we were thrust into actually planning it – I can’t even remember what my expectations were about who would pay for the wedding.


I had some savings (a gift a year earlier from my parents) and Kyle had some savings, but not enough to throw bicoastal receptions as we wanted.  Both of our sets of parents make a nice living so I guess we hoped that they would contribute as well, and ultimately they did.  I would estimate (though I don’t know for sure!) that each of the three parties contributes approximately the same amount of money toward the wedding(s) by the time everything was said and done.  That wasn’t how we planned it – let’s be honest, there wasn’t much budget planning! – but that’s how it worked out more or less.


As I’ve built up more pride in my financial independence, I’ve started thinking that maybe it would have been better/more adult-like if Kyle and I had paid for the wedding entirely.  It really wasn’t feasible for us to pay entirely for the events we put on – even the savings we had was because of the generosity of our parents – as we have such a low income.  But certainly getting married itself isn’t expensive and we could have thrown a small wedding and skipped the honeymoon.  But as it played out our wedding was really a big family event and our parents invited their friends so I think they got a lot of value out of it as well.


What parties contributed (or will contribute) to paying for your wedding?  Do you plan to contribute to your children’s weddings?  Should stakeholders in a wedding get something tangible out of it?


photo from Free Digital Photos


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44 Responses to "Who Paid for Your Wedding?"

  1. We eloped, then threw a house-warming party a few months after we were married and had bought the house. The elopement was $250, the housewarming party (catered for about 30 close family and friends) was < $1000. We paid for all of it.

    Our families have very different abilities to contribute, so I don't think it would have felt right asking either for money when we knew amounts that would be trivial for one would be a huge struggle for another.

    Plus, when you don't ask for money from anyone – you get to do exactly what YOU want. Who cares if other people don't like your theme! It's your money and your party! =)
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Life’s A Marathon – Where Are You At?

    1. Emily says:

      Creative control is a huge perk in planning a wedding or any other gathering. We had some clashes with my parents over certain elements of our wedding – we held on to the ones important to us and let the less important go to their preference.

      That’s awesome you eloped and followed up with a party. After getting through the whole traditional wedding experience I decided it was way to much to attempt in one weekend and was jealous of our friends who broke the components out a bit more.

  2. Michelle says:

    We plan on getting married next year and will have to pay for it all ourselves. However, that’s all right with me!
    Michelle recently posted..Maintaining a Minimalist Wardrobe

    1. Emily says:

      Have you started saving yet or are you going to knock out your student loans before you start?

      1. Michelle says:

        We have money saved already and plan on adding to it until the date.
        Michelle recently posted..Maintaining a Minimalist Wardrobe

        1. Emily says:

          Sounds like you’ve got it all well underway!

  3. Emily too says:

    My parents paid for most of our wedding, and my fiance’s parents paid for our rehearsal dinner, which I guess is “traditional,” but I would never assume in this day and age. If we’d paid for it on our own, the wedding itself would’ve been exactly the same, but we would’ve had a much smaller reception with less food, and no rehearsal dinner – it was more important to us to get married in 6 months than to save up and do a big thing. But that’s very hypothetical because my parents actually said something along the lines of “just fyi, if you ever choose to get married, we expect to help you out with that” while we were dating. They said they saw it in a sentimental way, as this last big “transition to adulthood” thing they could help out with. Both of our parents are also from backgrounds where people usually get married younger than we did, so parents are assumed to be hosts of weddings; without them we wouldn’t have been able to invite all the relatives and feed them dinner, which was by far the largest cost, but something they valued a lot. We did a LOT of talking about budgeting but had almost no disagreements or issues with prioritizing and saying “no” to things, so all in all we are just grateful.

    1. Emily says:

      Hearing your parents’ motivation to pay for your wedding is interesting. I bet ours felt the same way about launching us into “real” adulthood or whatever, but at least for my parents 1) they got married when they were a bit older than we were and 2) I’m pretty sure they paid for their whole wedding themselves after a short engagement. But they knew how much money we made and that the kind of wedding they wanted for us wouldn’t happen on our dime alone.

  4. NoTrustFund says:

    My parents contributed the most and my in laws and us also paid for parts. At the time we could not have paid for it ourselves but 5 years later we could. Sometimes I am tempted to pay them back but I doubt they would take the money.

    We have too girls. They are so little right now we are more worried about day care and college costs! But I can only assume we will help them with their weddings if able. Hopefully many many years from now!
    NoTrustFund recently posted..Personal Finance Math Hacks

    1. Emily says:

      It’s probably not reasonable to try to repay your parents after all this time. Parents invest so much money and time and energy in their children and for the most part are happy to do it that to pick out something relatively small/well-defined like a wedding to repay is a drop in the bucket!

      Yeah, you definitely have more immediate major costs to be concerned about with your kids. But I think it’s important to at least identify your predisposition (“I assume we will help”) and make sure you’re in agreement with your spouse.

  5. My wife’s parents paid for our wedding. Thankfully they had been saving for it for several years and it was an immense help as her father said this is what you have, so go with it. It was so helpful to have a set budget to work with. We’re going to do what we can for our daughter and would love to be able to do the same thing we were blessed with.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Posts That Ruled This Week, Where Did the Week Go Edition

    1. Emily says:

      Wow, they had actually saved specifically for it? I’m sure that’s unusual – what a blessing! We had a really rough time sticking to our budget – even our parents kept coming up with more money for the specific upgrades they wanted us to have.

  6. Erin says:

    As I’ve built up more pride in my financial independence, I’ve started thinking that maybe it would have been better/more adult-like if Kyle and I had paid for the wedding entirely.


    1. Emily says:

      I guess it depends on your attitude toward gifts and dependence, and this can vary a lot. Kyle and I don’t even agree on what types of gifts we would accept from our parents.

      I’m fine with accepting big gifts as a bonus to my life, especially if they are non-monetary – like that my parents paid for us to go on vacation with them last summer. We wouldn’t have gone on vacation at that moment if we had to pay for it, so it was totally extra. We didn’t expect it. But I don’t really want to accept big gifts that pay for something I would have paid for myself. I’m trying to not inflate my lifestyle on someone else’s dollar and come to rely on those gifts. This is not very well-defined, I guess.

      We were going to get married one way or another, so with my newer philosophy we should have paid for it. But maybe we paid for a baseline wedding and our parents’ money went toward “bonus” features like more guests or something?? Not clear. If we had been in our 30s with real jobs instead of in our 20s in grad school we would have been less likely to need or accept their money to pay for it, and I think that indicates that we would be more independent at the older age and less independent at the younger. And I don’t like the idea of being “less independent.”

      But around weddings it isn’t always a matter of money. Some parents may want to be the “hosts” of the wedding and therefore pay for it. The way we worded it, our parents were “co-hosts” with one another (my parents listed first, for tradition I guess) and we weren’t “hosts”. Or they think they have the responsibility to pay no matter who has the disposable income.

      Also, when you have several parties putting money toward a wedding, they all can reasonably expect some influence/control over how the event goes. That can make disagreements more difficult to sort out because they all have legitimate claims. My parents and Kyle’s parents had very different ideas of what a wedding should be like, so if they plus us all were forceful as we could have been with our bought influence it might have been a huge fighting mess.

      This is the first time I’ve tried to articulate this so it doesn’t make total sense. What do you think?

  7. renee says:

    My mom insisted that she and my dad pay for the wedding, and they had uninvested savings that they could easily put towards it. I attribute her traditionalism to being raised in the south (Charleston, no less). I think there would have been less drama if J and I paid for it, because we could just have things the way we wanted without offending anyone. (i.e., we would have had alcohol at the reception….) But I think that would have hurt her feelings pretty severely, and I felt like going along with her wishes was a way of saying “thank you” for all the sacrifices she made to raise me well. J’s parents didn’t have any daughters, so they felt quite generous and threw a *very* memorable rehearsal dinner. I think J and I will do the same for our kids, whether they’re 19 or 49! But hopefully without imposing so many opinions on them.

    1. Emily says:

      My MIL was very careful to not give her opinions on how the wedding should be because she had dealt with an overbearing MIL when she was planning her own wedding. I see now how considerate that was but at the time I was like “I need opinions! I don’t know what the heck I’m doing!”

      I agree that allowing parents to pay/accepting a monetary gift toward the wedding can be a gracious act. If they want to contribute, it might be rude to refuse their generosity as it is sort of cutting them out of the fun of throwing the event, not just attending.

      As Kyle is an only child I didn’t feel any qualms about accepting his parents’ contribution toward the wedding!

  8. We had a 40/40/20 split, with parents/parents/us. My parents offered to pay for everything (tradition), but were definitely okay with my spouse’s parents saying that was out of date. 🙂 We would have paid for more, but this is what our parents wanted to do for us. I’m glad that they did, otherwise the end result would have been more difficult to pull off. We also had “bi-coastal” celebrations to do 🙂
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..The Gift of Food

    1. Emily says:

      Sounds like you had a well-worked-out arrangement, which is great. How far apart were your celebrations? We used our wedding invitation for both wedding/receptions (everyone was invited to both/either) and they were 2 weeks apart with our honeymoon between.

  9. SWR says:

    My parents paid for college instead.

    I have a pretty strong feeling that my parents will pay for some part of the wedding- I’m guessing my dress or the bridesmaids’ dresses, but it wouldn’t be a big deal if they chose not to. And that’s what I’ll do with my own children- pay for college and probably gift them some part of their wedding.
    SWR recently posted..The last 48 hours have not been fun

    1. Emily says:

      College was WAY more expensive than our (admittedly expensive) wedding, so I would take college if I had to pick one, too!

  10. We were 22 and broke. My parents paid or there would have been no wedding (possibly a court ceremony). I got the expenses to 1K and then my father bought another 1K of alcohol out of the blue. Not bad!

    DH’s parents threw us a small cake and punch reception in their small town after the honeymoon. I don’t think it can have cost much.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Mr. Money Moustache vs. Laura Vanderkam

    1. Emily says:

      Wow, you were really economical! I can’t believe 50% of your wedding budget was spent on alcohol! Actually, yes I can.

  11. We paid for it outselves. A courthouse wedding and a picnic in the park is pretty cheap. The cake was gifted to us by some of my wife’s coworkers.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..7 Ways to Stay Warm in the Winter for Cheap

    1. Emily says:

      I think you’re the first person to mention non-parental outside contributions.

  12. My and my fiance are paying for the bulk of it, but both our parents are chipping in. We didn’t expect them to but they wanted to which was super nice of them. But we were totally prepared to pay for it ourselves, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong when others want to contribute too 🙂
    Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses recently posted..Happy One Year Blogiversary to Me!

    1. Emily says:

      Have your or your fiance’s parents had influence over the wedding in a way they wouldn’t have if they weren’t paying for part of it?

  13. Lauren says:

    We received money from my dad/stepmom, mom/stepdad, and his parents. We certainly could have thrown a lovely wedding with that alone, but we had some extras that we paid for (inviting everyone to the rehearsal dinner, chartered boat trip for the people that were there early (we were married at the Outer Banks), real photobooth, etc). Everyone was very flexible with their vision for the wedding and, in the end, I’d say we had exactly the wedding we wanted. I think any future children will be treated the same way–here’s $X for your wedding and we will be as involved in the planning as they want, but the ultimate budget and decisions will be theirs to manage.

    1. Emily says:

      It sounds like you all worked together very well! It’s so nice that you received all the money you needed from the parents and could use yours for the special touches.

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  18. We wanted to get married outdoors in Colorado. My mom wanted a church wedding in Kentucky, so we paid our own way. I would feel like if I took money from parents, I’d have to do what they wanted, and I’m only planning to get married once, so I wanted it my way.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Make the Weekend Meaningful Roundup

    1. Emily says:

      Yeah, not even agreeing on what state to have the wedding in is pretty irreconcilable! Your decision makes sense to me. My parents weren’t too happy about us not getting married where they live, but they deferred to our wishes.

  19. eemusings says:

    I’m of the opinion that anyone who chips in generally gets a say (or *should*. Whether they choose to is another matter).

    We’ve been engaged for about 18 months and recently decided to set a date – leaving about six months to plan. Going for a small, simple ceremony and reception (his family have no money, I don’t want or expect any from mine).
    eemusings recently posted..Bullshit-free bride: Boiling it down to the essentials

    1. Emily says:

      It’s certainly nice if a contributor chooses not to exert any control! It sounds like you and your fiance will be able to do things just the way you want.

  20. Liquid says:

    I’m single and still looking for a partner right now, but I have some money in a special bank account just for my wedding that I’m starting to build up now. The average wedding in the US is over $25K in 2012. But having spoken to married friends, I think if we don’t invite too many people, we should be able to have a fabulous wedding for under $20K. I can come up with the money tomorrow if needed so I’m pretty confident the future Mrs. and I can pay for our own wedding, unless parents and in laws want to pitch in. I’m fine with that too :0) I feel like weddings are more for the family than for the couple anyway lol. As for my children, I’ll leave it up to them to decide if they want my money or not.
    Liquid recently posted..Excuse to Save Money, the World is Ending

    1. Emily says:

      Wow, you are so prepared! People pull off weddings for all kinds of sums so I’m sure you could have a great one on what you’ve saved – but maybe your bride will surprise you with another proposed use for that money.

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