Who Pays for a Wedding? Understanding Traditional and Modern Approaches

A wedding is a significant milestone in many people’s lives and the cost of a wedding can vary depending on various factors. Who pays for the wedding is a question that is approached differently depending on the culture, traditions, and societal expectations. 

The question is particularly important as it can impact the couple's budget and in other ways set the tone of the marriage. We will discuss the customs and traditions of different cultures. We aim to provide modern-day insights and advice to help couples decide how to approach their wedding expenses. First, lets take a look at how wedding payments were done in different cultures. 

         1.Western Cultures Weddings


In North American cultures, it was traditionally expected that the bride's family would pay for the wedding and the dowry of the bride. The custom is dated back to a time when the bride's family paid a dowry to prove financial stability and security in the event of her husband's death. The dowry was given in the form of money, property, or household items.

In medieval Europe, the groom's family was expected to pay for the dowry to the bride's family as a sign of their commitment to the marriage. Just like in North America, the dowry payment was to show financial capability. The groom made this payment to show that he can take care of his family being that he was the breadwinner.

Today, the idea of dowry may still exist but it is not as prevalent as before. The bride’s family may pay for the wedding but it is now common practice for both families to contribute. A recent survey showed that about 43% of couples today pay for their own weddings while only 41% are funded by both families.

        2. Weddings in Jewish Culture


Traditionally, the bride’s and the groom’s family may contribute to the wedding, but the groom’s family would pay for the reception. In orthodox Jewish weddings, the expenses are still split between the two families. 

The groom's family pays for the reception as it is seen as the primary celebration and the most expensive part of the wedding. The bride’s family pays for the wedding ceremony. Only in reform, Jewish weddings are the couples to pay for the wedding themselves or split it between the two families.

         3. Weddings in Muslim culture


The financial responsibility for the wedding is typically shared between the families of the bride and groom. In Islamic law, the groom is responsible for providing a mandatory gift to the bride symbolizing his commitment to marriage. The gift is called Mahr, which becomes the property of the bride and is hers to control.

The bride's family is often responsible for paying for the reception typically held at a banquet hall or other event spaces. It is expected to be a lavish affair and the cost will vary depending on the size and scope of the event. The groom’s family may contribute to the reception although it is not required. 

Other financial responsibilities may be shared between the families and specific traditions may vary depending on the region. The focus is however to celebrate the union of the couple and their commitment to each other.

        4. Chinese Wedding Culture


The Chinese value weddings as a major milestone for both families to showcase their wealth and status. The wedding is typically a grand venture with many guests and elaborate customs and ceremonies. 

It is traditionally expected that the groom's family will pay for the wedding, but in modern times, the two families can share the financial responsibilities. The groom’s family is responsible for betrothal gifts given to the bride’s family as a sign of appreciation and respect. These gifts are presented during a formal ceremony.

The bride’s family can reciprocate the gifts which include money, clothing, jewelry, and other valuable items. Just like the Muslim culture, the family of the bride is also responsible for paying for the reception which is held in a banquet hall or event space. The reception, depending on the size and scope, is also meant to be a grand and lavish event. 

In some cases, the bride’s family may provide a dowry to the groom’s family such as property, money, or other valuable resources. It is a less common practice these days. Overall, the financial responsibilities for a wedding is shared by both families. 

      5. 21st Century Weddings

We have gone through the financial responsibilities of both the groom's and the bride's families in the past and we can look at what will happen in 2023. Wedding preparation will have various steps and ceremonies that happen before the actual wedding. 

For starters, we have the engagement announcements. The parents of the bride are responsible for sending and paying for the engagement announcements in the newspapers. This is done in both the bride’s and the groom’s communities or towns. The basic announcement would be just around $25.

Second, is the engagement party. This is also expected to be done by the bride’s family as a way to bring the two families together. This is however not a laid down rule. Whoever will host this party would be the one to pay for it.

Now that the bride's family has paid for the engagement announcements and party, it will fall upon the groom’s family to pay for the rehearsal dinner. They can decide to arrange and pay for what is comfortable for them.

Apart from that, the rest of the responsibilities fall upon the recently engaged couples and their families to discuss how they would pay for the wedding. You may also involve your friends to give them an opportunity to be a blessing to you. If you can afford to pay for wedding, it is a great show of financial freedom.