Who traditionally paid for a wedding… and who pays for it now?

Who traditionally paid for a wedding… and who pays for it now?

It’s a fascinating thing to look back at how wedding customs have evolved over time. The past, as they say, is a different country, and it’s interesting to think about how changes in social attitudes and culture have also impacted on who we expect to reach into their pockets for which aspects of a wedding. 

And, perhaps most importantly if you’re one of the many couples contemplating the merits of weddings in Gibraltar at the moment, what should such changes mean for who pays for various elements of your own nuptials? 

First of all, let’s look back to the past… 

Decades and even centuries past, of course, we had a more patriarchal world, and that certainly shaped the widely held expectations for who should pay for a wedding. 

It was typical in the past for the bride’s parents to effectively foot much of the bill associated with a given wedding, encompassing such aspects as the wedding ceremony itself, the reception, and the bridesmaids’ outfits. 

As for things that it was expected the groom would pay for, these included – of course – the elements to be dealt with ‘on their side’, such as the groom’s and groomsmens’ suits. It was also tradition for the groom to pay for the engagement ring, which makes sense, given that he was the one placing it on his fiancée’s finger. 

Your wedding spending arrangements in the 2020s don’t necessarily need to mirror tradition 

Now, looking at all the above, you can probably immediately begin to see why so many of these traditions don’t really work for significant numbers of today’s to-be-wed couples. For one thing, it’s far from clear how these traditions would be applied for same-sex and non-binary couples. 

The good news is that we’ve written before about how same-sex couples should feel free to ‘freestyle’ when it comes to wedding traditions; there might be some aspects of ‘how things have always been done’ that you would like to drop for your own wedding, but also some traditions you like the idea of keeping. After all, something being traditional doesn’t, in itself, make it bad or unsuitable. So much depends on your own situation and preferences as a couple. 

But even if you’re an opposite-sex couple, there are good reasons why you might want to shake up the aforementioned traditions (if, indeed, you aren’t simply required to do so by events). 

You might, for instance, want to exercise independence over what certain elements of your wedding look like, and a good way to ensure that could be agreeing to pay for them yourself, instead of asking family and friends to contribute. But if there are other elements where you would be more comfortable with someone else having greater creative control, asking for external help could be a more appealing option for those. 

So, who exactly pays for what aspects of a wedding in 2022? 

Here’s a handy cut-out-and-keep guide: 

  • The engagement ring tends to be paid for by whoever proposes. As for the wedding rings, traditionally, it was the groom who paid for the bride’s ring, and the bride who paid for the groom’s ring, and we do still think it’s a nice idea to pay for each other’s rings, if you can. It’s definitely advisable to make sure you spend similar amounts though, as you won’t want to cause arguments if one of you buys something very simple, and the other a much pricier ring.
  • In keeping with the contemporary tendency for couples to prize their independence – financial and otherwise – you might like the idea of paying for your own wedding outfits, although your families may still wish to make a financial contribution. 
  • The wedding ceremony itself is often paid for these days by the couple, although again, your respective families might be willing or able to put something towards the budget. Similar might be said for the wedding reception, in which your respective families may be likelier to play a significant financial role. 
  • It is normally expected nowadays that guests pay for their own accommodation; however, if your budget allows, you might make an exception for especially close family members and friends. 
  • The honeymoon is usually paid for by the couple. However, you might decide to set up a honeymoon gift list, whereby wedding guests can contribute to the overall costs of your honeymoon or specific experiences on the honeymoon, such as a night at a five-star hotel. 

There you go – hopefully, the above will have given you a pretty good idea of the broad ‘rules’ and tendencies that now govern who pays for a wedding and its associated costs. 

Get these budgeting aspects well-sorted early on, and you will be better placed to plan nuptials that you will remember for only the finest reasons. For a more detailed discussion with us about how our knowhow and experience in weddings in Gibraltar can help you ensure yours ticks all the ‘essential’ boxes and so many more, simply email or give us a call at Sweet Gibraltar Weddings today