How much is the groom’s family expected to contribute to the wedding? The bride’s family has already said that they will be spending $10,000 and they expect the groom’s family to reciprocate in kind. What are the obligations from the groom’s family when their resources do not match that of the bride’s family?

Too bad “free love” doesn’t entail free wedding celebrations! In my opinion, money is one of the most stressful aspects of planning a wedding. Not only can it cause friction between the couple getting married, but relatives and friends sometimes expect special treatment if they have contributed money to the couple. Demands such as where to hold the reception, or even wanting to exclude a certain person from the guest list aren’t unheard of when donations are given. And in-law relations can become touchy if one side feels the other has not contributed enough.

Historically, grooms’ parents have only paid for the rehearsal dinner. This practice stems from times when women were not as valued as men and marriage was more like a business contract. Supposedly men were getting the raw end of the deal so parents had to sweeten the offer. Not only were brides’ parents required to pay all wedding expenses, but they also provided a dowry, which usually consisted of money or high quality goods. Thank goodness for Women’s Lib!

Lucky for brides’ parents though, times have changed. Often the couple pays for most of the wedding with contributions from their parents. Parents who do put in money should not be expected to pay more than they can afford. Keep in mind that if both sets of parents split the cost of the wedding, all their names should appear on the wedding invitation.

Here is a list of what the bride, groom and their parents have traditionally paid for. But remember, this is not set in stone anymore; today this listing is only a guideline.

Bride/Bride’s Family

Groom/Groom’s Family

Wedding Trousseau Wedding Ring for Bride
Wedding Ring for Groom Wedding Gift for Bride
Wedding Gift for Groom Groomsmen/Usher Gifts
Bridesmaid Gifts Bride’s Bouquet
Bridesmaid Bouquets Mother’s Corsages
Grandmother Corsages Groom’s Boutonniere
Ceremony/Reception Flowers Groomsmen Boutonnieres
Alter Baskets/Arches Usher’s Boutonnieres
Canopy/Carpet Marriage License
Kneeling Bench/Candelabras Medical Visit for Groom
Rented Items for Wedding Clergyman/Officiant Fee
Rented Items for Reception Groom’s Cake
Invitations/Announcements Rehearsal Dinner
Wedding Programs Limousine Service
Napkins/Matches/Printed Items Honeymoon Arrangements
Medical Visit for Bride

Church Fee


Reception Hall Fee

Catered Reception/Professional Services

Wedding Photography

Video Photography


Wedding Favors

Rice Bags

Bridesmaid Luncheon

Wedding Breakfast

Bridal Brunch