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Budgeting for the Wedding: Who Pays for What? An Old-School Breakdown

In the old days, the bride's family paid for the wedding -- and made every decision. Today, the division of financial duties is more more fluid. Below, wedding cost-splitting basics for you and your families.

Photo: Fred Marcus Photographers

Forget the archaic rules that says certain people have to pay for certain things. Your parents need not take out a third mortgage to pay for the wedding. In fact, if you're anything like 75% of couples in America, you're probably planning to pay for or at least significantly contribute to your own wedding.

The best way to work it out? Sit down with everyone contributing (you two, both of your parents, grandparents -- whomever!) to the wedding from the start to come up with your total wedding budget (read: before you fall in love with a venue, dress or other detail that's outside of your budget). Once you've figured out how much you can afford, then you can begin allocating dollar amounts for different wedding elements. Keep in mind that informal weddings are usually smaller (and therefore cheaper), and formal weddings tend to be larger (and therefore more expensive).

And here's something to keep top of mind before you settle: Those who pay will also have a say in how much you'll have to spend -- and how you'll spend it. Below, the old-school breakdown that couples used to use to divide up the wedding budget expenses. But remember -- these "rules" are made to be broken!

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Ceremony

  • Bride and family pay for church or synagogue, sexton, organist, etc.
  • Groom and family pay for marriage license and officiant's fee.

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Clothes

  • Bride and family pay for bride's dress, veil, accessories, and trousseau (read: lingerie and honeymoon clothes).
  • Groom and family pay for groom's outfit.
  • All attendants pay for their own clothing (including shoes).

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Flowers

  • Bride and family pay for arrangements for church (including huppah if a Jewish wedding ceremony) and reception, plus bouquets and corsages for bridesmaids and flower girls.
  • Groom and family pay for bride's bouquet and going-away corsage, boutonnieres for men, and corsages for mothers and grandmothers.

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Honeymoon

  • Groom and family pay for complete honeymoon.

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Photography

  • Bride and family pay for all wedding photos and video.

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Prewedding Parties

  • Bride or groom's family plans and hosts engagement party; if there is more than one, bride's family hosts the first one.
  • Groom's family plans and hosts the rehearsal dinner.
  • Bride plans and hosts bridesmaids' luncheon.
  • Groom hosts and plans bachelors' dinner.
  • Maid of honor and bridesmaids host shower.
  • Best man and ushers host bachelor party.
  • Friends may throw additional engagement parties or showers.

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Reception

  • Bride and family pay for all professional services, including food, drink, decorations, and music.

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Wedding Rings

  • Bride and/or her family pay for groom's ring.
  • Groom and/or his family pay for both of the bride's rings.

Old-School Budget Breakdown For Invites And Stationery

  • Bride and family pay for invitations, announcements, and wedding programs.

Old School Budget Breakdown For Transportation

-- The Knot

See More: Basics for Moms , Basics for Moms , Wedding Planning Basics , Family & Parents , Just Engaged?