Changing Times and Minds
There are a lot of reasons for the shift in wedding funding and who pays for what. More and more engaged couples are handling many (in some cases, all) of their own wedding expenses these days. The basic philosophy is to do what's right for each couple and their families, and to not feel chained to an old custom that might not be practical any longer.
Perhaps the shift in wedding payment ideology is credited to the fact that now many couples marry later in life. With this trend towards greater maturity come higher income levels and the ability to afford wedding bills. Additionally, we see more young working women, as opposed to the older days when many women stayed in the home. Finally, there is an increased incidence of second marriages and blended families, both of which might encourage alternate wedding payment plans.
We have also evolved into a society that treasures tradition but looks for modern day options. Fairness, equality, and personal comfort levels all play into who pays for what in a wedding. The real rule when determining wedding etiquette and who pays for what is to have open discussions and minds about what people really can afford, what people really want, and who should be expected to contribute.
However, there is still a customary breakdown of who pays for what based on those truly traditional guidelines. Following is a brief summary of traditional wedding payment responsibilities:
Groom and His Family
Custom has it that the groom and his family are responsible for the engagement ring and the engagement party. The groom will pay for the bride's wedding ring in addition to the rehearsal dinner. Pecuniary responsibilities will also include the marriage license, the groomsmen's accessories and gifts, mothers' corsages, honeymoon, fees of priest (rabbi, etc.), and the groom's cake.
Bride and Her Family
The bride has traditionally been responsible for the groom's wedding band, her own wedding dress and accessories, the photographer, the flowers, wedding programs, invitations and announcements, bridal party transportation, reception fees, alter decorations, canopy, rented goods, music, and food. Additionally, the bride buys a gift for the groom and gifts for her bridesmaids and parents.
Bridesmaids and Ushers
Even the bridesmaids and ushers have often taken responsibility for some financial aspects of the wedding day. The ushers (and best man) pay for their own traveling expenses and tuxedos. They also pay for the bachelor party. The bridesmaids (and maid / matron of honor) pay for their dresses, accessories and traveling expenses.
Wedding etiquette has evolved to take a host of variables into account. Current day ideologies embrace doing what works best for each couple and their family. No one should feel obligated to accept a financial burden, and couples should understand who will be paying well in advance of the selection process. Keeping everyone's comfort in mind will allow for a wedding that is both spectacular and affordable.