Weddings - who pays for what?

By Bride and Groom 16 June 2016

The excitement of being newly engaged and planning your lives together can quickly be tempered by the financial reality of organising your dream wedding. 

Research suggests the average Australian wedding costs between $30 000 and $40 000 and for couples who already have monetary obligations such as a mortgage or HECS debt, or who have a low income or are on one income, adjustments will need to be made. Tradition dictates the bride’s family pays for the bulk of the wedding expenses, but with the majority of couples marrying in 2015 being financially independent of their families, this scenario may no longer be applicable.

The total cost will depend on the style of wedding you want. A casual outdoor ceremony at home followed by a cocktail-style function at a small restaurant will be significantly more affordable than a five-course sit-down dinner for 200 guests at a formal reception venue. Communication is the key, between the bridal couple and their families, bearing in mind at all times that the wedding day is a celebration of love and no-one should be forced to contribute more than they can afford. Once you’ve set your total budget you can start obtaining quotes; you may have to settle for less expensive alternatives in order to afford the items that are so important you will not compromise on. 

Sharing wedding costs between the couple and both families is becoming increasingly common. Listed are several options modern couples are using: 

• Work out a price per head for the total wedding cost or wedding reception and suggest each side pay for the guests they invite. In this instance no party should feel they have over contributed. 

• If the couple pays for their own wedding each family could offer to pay for a specific item as a gift; the bride’s family might pay for her wedding gown and the groom’s family for the honeymoon. 

• The couple’s families share the cost of the wedding reception and the bride and groom pay all other expenses. 

• Costs are calculated and split equally three ways between the soonto-be-wed couple, the bride’s family and the groom’s family. If you are fortunate enough to have the traditional approach offered, the general expenses incurred by each family are: 

Bride and family 

• Invitations and announcements 

• Bride’s gown and accessories • Ceremony flowers and decorations 

• Photography and video 

• Reception — food, drinks, decoration and entertainment 

• Wedding cake 

• Groom’s wedding ring 

• Bombonniere 

Groom and family 

• Bride’s engagement and wedding rings 

• Wedding ceremony or church fees 

• Wedding cars 

• Flowers — bride and bridesmaids’ bouquets, men’s boutonnieres and corsages for mothers of the bride and groom. 

• Groom’s suit 

• Wedding night accommodation 

• Honeymoon 

The bridal party 

• Kitchen tea 

• Hens’ and bucks’ night celebrations 

• Bridesmaids dresses, shoes, hair and make-up 

• Groomsmen’s suit hire

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