Traditional and contemporary thoughts on who should pay for a Wedding


Who pays for the wedding?

Despite the fact that today it is possible to get wed on a shoestring, most weddings still amount to a considerable spend. This means that at some stage all prospective newlyweds will have to think about where the money for the big event is coming from and who will foot the bill? The answers are not cut and dried and have changed somewhat with the ebb of time so that it is not always the poor old father of the bride who is expected to pay for the big day.

In times of old

Once upon a time the answer was a simple one – the majority of the financial burden for a wedding would be borne by the father of the bride. Yes, fathers around the western world would either have to stump up vast sums of cash or start saving from the moment that their daughters came into the world with all their inflated expectations and dreams.

The father of the bride would cater for most of the significant outlays on the wedding budget. Including (but not be limited to) the bride and bridesmaid’s dresses and accessories, the venues and all associated expenses therein, the wedding day decorations including the flowers (bouquets and all), the wedding day transportation for the key members of the party, the photographer, the cake, accommodation for key members of the party, any wedding planner or other associated staff and, as if that wasn’t quite enough, the honeymoon and a present for the newlyweds. Daddy’s little girl just had to have everything she wanted.

21st century matrimony

Thankfully for fathers and their bank balances – although the on-screen antics of many a blonde, size zero Hollywood bride seem intent on keeping this fantasy alive – this tradition has changed somewhat in modern more liberal times.

This has next to nothing to do with fathers becoming any less benevolent. We know that the 21st century father would pay for the entire shebang if they were permitted or able to. Dads always love the excuse to fritter their hard earned cash away on their daughters and they’ll do it with as much mock reluctance as the fathers of yesteryear.

But in reality the reasons for the swing away from fathers of the bride footing the entire bill is more due to the natural changing of the times. Firstly, with the financial clout that fathers past were expected to provide, came a degree of control over the planning of the wedding. In modern day all but the most strong-arm of fathers haven’t got a hope of exerting this same control! Thus it has become increasingly rare for couples to expect large financial contributions from fathers, preferring to have a total and guilt-free final say over what they do with the wedding fund.

All in all

Furthermore, the tradition of fathers paying for the entire wedding went hand in hand with a presumption that the daughter and bride-to-be was a helpless gem who was being released from the care of one sugar daddy into the arms of another. This gender disparity has thankfully decreased somewhat in the last 50 years and so have some of the more archaic wedding traditions associated with it.

Today the breakdown is likely to focus on quite simply who it is that has the money to pay for the wedding, be it the bride, groom, any of the four parents or any other generous relatives. A reasonable portion of weddings still receive substantial contributions from the father of the bride but they are now increasingly the exception rather than the rule.