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Friday, July 31st, 2015


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Splitting the Wedding Costs

This article is part of our 52 week journey through Bill’s latest book, The Graduate’s Guide to Life and Money. Each week, a full excerpt from his book will be presented from beginning to end. To get your copy of his book, visit www.TheGraduatesGuide.com.

Splitting the Costs

You are probably wondering, “Who pays for what?” This is one of the most common questions before a wedding (The most common of course is, “Will you marry me?”). The list below should be used more as a guideline than a rule. Traditionally the bride’s parents pay for the reception, while the groom’s parents take care of the rehearsal dinner. With soaring wedding costs, couples marrying later in life, and other family situations, the rules have become more flexible. However, if you want to try to stick with tradition, the following is a good guideline.

Who Pays for What?

The Groom
• The engagement ring
• The bride’s gift (yes you have to give her a wedding present)
• Corsages (for both mothers)
• Bride’s bouquet
• Gifts for the attendants
• Fee for the clergy
• The honeymoon
• Accommodations for attendants who are coming in from out of town

The Bride
• The groom’s gift
• Gifts for the bridesmaids
• Accommodations for attendants who are coming in from out of town
• Wedding gown

The Bride’s family
• Rental of the wedding site (i.e. church, mansion, etc.)
• Rental of the reception site
• Food/catering for the wedding reception
• Cake
• Flowers for decorations and the bridesmaids bouquet
• Other decorations
• Wedding invitations, announcements, postage, etc.
• Gifts for the bride and groom (apparently paying for the wedding is not enough)
• Tips for servers
• Photographer
• Musicians
• Limo service
• Their own clothes

The Groom’s Family
• The rehearsal dinner
• Gifts for the bride and groom (feel free to spend big!)
• Their own clothes

The Attendants (male and female)
• Their own wedding clothes (tuxedos and dresses)
• Gifts for the bride and groom


Remember, you do not want to start your marriage with conflicts among the family members over money issues. Well before the wedding, the family should agree who will pay for what. There may have to be compromises here. Do not try to play one side of the family off the other, and don’t ask anyone to spend more than they can afford. Once it is decided who will pay for what it really should not be much of an issue. You should agree to listen to the input of both sides of the family, but still keep in mind that it is your wedding.

Since we are on the topic of paying for things, let’s not forget to buy gifts for the attendants (best man, groomsmen, ushers, maid of honor, bride’s maids). The cost of the gift depends on several factors, such as how much you can afford. If possible, it is always a good idea to have the item engraved with the attendant’s name. Here is a list of common gifts.

Gifts for the guys
• Money clip
• Pocket flask
• Pen set
• Mug
• Shot glasses
• Business card holder
• Fancy paper weight

Gifts for the ladies
• Candle set
• Anything from Pier One

 I have a few suggestions that could make your wedding go by much smoother.
• Have a plate of food set aside for the bride and groom to be eaten after the ceremony. The couple will be starved and exhausted. There is just not enough time for them to eat as much as they need during the reception.
• Keep cash on hand, especially $5 bills and $1 bills for tipping. Also, have at least one $100 on hand if you can. It helps you feel more important and it is a good start to your honeymoon when you can pay for something with a $100 bill.
• Don’t let anyone else know where you will be staying the night of the wedding (assuming you are not leaving for your honeymoon until at least one day later). It could only lead to bad things (such as practical jokes or unexpected guests).
• Have someone already selected to encourage visitors to sign your guest book. It’s not fair to ask someone at the last minute.

This section wraps up the discussion on weddings and brings our series of excerpts to a conclusion. Please provide any feedback about the excerpts and/or the book to Bill Pratt, author of “The Graduate’s Guide.”

Bill Pratt is a former credit card executive turned student-advocate. He is the author of Extra Credit: The 7 Things Every College Student Needs to Know About Credit Debt & Ca$h and The Graduate’s Guide to Life and Money. Bill speaks at colleges to educate and entertain students about real-life issues in money, leadership, and success. His goal is to help students succeed personally and financially so they can improve the lives of those around them. You can learn more at www.ExtraCreditBook.com or www.TheGraduatesGuide.com.

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