Expectations - Who Pays for What?

I'm not sure if I mentioned this or not yet: Jordan and I are planning to pay 100% of our wedding costs. 

While I've never thought it would be any other way, I appreciated when my mom made sure Jordan and I knew right away that she and dad haven't been squirreling away their pennies to pay for our big day.  When my mom did tell me, I was initially surprised - telling her that of course Jordan and I expected to foot the bill. My mom went on to say that my grandma had paid for her and her sister's weddings - and so she just wanted to make sure I knew. 

Last weekend when I met up with my grandma and one of my aunts, on two separate occasions to chat wedding bells - $$ came up, and they both insisted that they were 'sure' mom and dad would help us out.  I told them that no, Jordan and I would be covering it and were happy to do so.

I thought it was interesting that mom wanted to make sure that Jordan and I knew - when now it looks like it's actually other parts/members of the family that may have those expectations around who pays for what.

That scenario got me thinking - do other people have expectations that my family or Jordan's family will pay for different things.  What about our bridesmaids/groomsman - will they expect that we pay for their outfits?  I haven't been to many weddings...the last was probably when I was just 8 or 9, so I'm not really entrenched in the wedding culture of who pays for what.

My best friend Amy bought me a huge wedding planning book, which is stellar!  It has goes into crazy detail about those 'expectations'... which of course are just the traditional ways things are done....but we are far from that sort of traditional families.

So, I ask you (and not just with a wedding reference) - have you ever been in a situation where you expected someone to pay for something, or they expected you to and it was awkward?  I'm looking to build some tools or ways to manage those potential awkward conversations.


  1. Well, I guess those expectations do exist. When we got married, my parents paid for most of it. And all family that attended seemed to assume that my parents paid for it, even though we hadn't really discussed it before.

    I guess the best way to avoid awkward moments would be to tell them upfront what you would pay for. For example, if you are going to help your bridesmaids with their makeup, but want them to pay for everything else, you could start by saying you will take care of the makeup. Or email is another way to go. I always find that it is easier to write something than say it to their face.

  2. One thought I had was about the bridesmaid dresses. I know that traditionally the bridesmaids are supposed to pay for their own dress but I just remember and experience I had. I had a very good friend of mine ask me to be her maid of honor. The only problem was that I simply did not have the money for the bridesmaid dress she had picked out. It was extremely awkward telling her that I was too poor to be in her wedding. Now that I'm getting married, I plan to pay for the bridesmaid dresses myself. The way I see it is, I asked them to be in my wedding and they are doing me a favor by doing so. They shouldn't have to go into debt over a wedding that isn't even their own. My solution was to choose simple skirts that could be purchased very inexpensively (or made) and then I asked each girl to wear a solid colored top in my wedding colors. I didn't make them wear matching shoes either, just the same color and I specified that I wanted open toe. Of course, some brides are much more particular about the way their bridesmaids look. I just remember what it felt like to not have the money to actually be a bridesmaid in my best friends wedding. Not fun.

  3. Yes, other people probably have lots of expectations about who will pay for what. The problem is that this depends regionally, culturally, and generationally!

    In the weddings that I have been in, I was expected to pay for my own dress/shoes/etc. If a hair stylist was provided, it was covered; otherwise I was expected to do my own hair. If I had to travel, that was my responsibility as well. In my sister's wedding, my mother paid for one of the bridesmaid's dresses as that was the only way that bridesmaid could participate.

    In my wedding, Peanut and I planned to pay for everything but my mother eventually offered to cover most of our expenses and I accepted. We are paying for the alcohol, as my parents do not drink for religious reasons, but most other wedding-related expenses they are covering. Our attendants are responsible for their own outfits, but I also let them pick whatever they wanted to wear (and they chose actual bridesmaid's dresses that they'll never be able to wear again, but hey, it's on them.) I am providing a hairstylist if they choose to take advantage of it, and will pay to have their nails done. Peanut's parents will pay for the "rehearsal" dinner, and we are limiting it to immediate family only (we're not actually rehearsing so there are no attendants to exclude).

    Your attendants may or may not expect you to cover the cost of their outfit, but you should get them a nice gift for participating.

    Read as many wedding books as you can -- traditional planners and the offbeat/indie variety -- to get a wide cross-section of expectations. (Hint: I got all my wedding books on Paperbackswap.com!)

  4. When B and I were planning our recent trip to Mexico, I wanted to make sure we both paid half and that neither person ended up footing the whole bill either accidentally or because they wanted to. I clearly said when we were about to book that if we used his credit card, I would write him a cheque for my half. That seemed to clear it up quite easily.

    For bridesmaids, I have been one twice and the first time my parents bought my dress (it was my sister's wedding) and the second time my mom made it (and paid for the fabric as a Christmas gift I think). I'm not sure if there's an easy way to make clear that you are or are not paying for hair/make-up/dresses. I think an e-mail as suggested above might be easiest. Maybe e-mail all of your BMs at once and say "The dress I've selected is x dollars and I would love to contribute x" or "While I can't afford to buy you each your dress, I would like to pay for your hair and make-up the day of the wedding". If you can't or don't want to pay, make it clear and also make it clear that if anyone can't afford to be in the wedding party, that it is totally okay and they shouldn't feel bad. On that note, maybe put the e-mails in the BCC field and don't tell anyone who you've asked until you confirm everyone can afford to participate.

  5. I don't really know exactly what wedding party costs are expected to be paid. Ugh, planning a wedding sounds so hard. I definitely think making your expectations clear up front is important.

    I anticipate paying for my whole wedding, but given how my parents have been with money since graduation, i wouldn't be too surprised if they did offer to contribute something.

    The few friends I have who are engaged are all getting parental help financially.

  6. I think I will be paying for my own wedding as well. Hopefully a little bit of assistance from family. I think I will pay for my bridesmaids hair and makeup if they choose to have it done but have them pay for their dress and shoes. But I also wouldn't pick ridiculously expensive shoes or dress either.

  7. What I expect to do for my children when their weddings come along, is have a set money amount that we will contribute to their wedding plans. They can take that money and use it how they see fit - to help finance a big wedding, or to fully pay for a small wedding, or even to elope and use the "wedding money" for their honeymoon.

    In terms of dollar amount, I'd think it would be equivilent to today's value of $10,000 per child... whatever that will amount to in 20-25 years.

  8. That is admirable that you want to pay for all of your wedding costs. My wife and I paid for most except my mom treated us to our honeymoon. That may not count, though, since it's technically not our wedding. The only thing I would've changed about our wedding to get cake insurance. It would lead to peace of mind because our cake was a disaster.

  9. Jessie - check your wedding sidebar. Dix you mixup the goal and saved amounts?


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