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Parents of the Bride Are Spending Much, Much More on Their Child's Nuptials

It's no secret that planning a wedding involves organizing hundreds of details, from figuring out the guest list and sending invitations to picking out decorations and food. But no matter what decisions are made, there's always one underlying theme: the parents tend to foot the bill.

And according to brand new data from, the parents of the bride are paying for the majority of the festivities. The data found that while the parents of both the bride and groom contribute about $19,000 in total to the wedding, the bride's family gives about $12,000. This means the groom's family gives $7,000, or 24% of the entire cost.

So why does the bride's family pay for more? Some bridal experts believe it has to do with the old practice of a bride and her dowry. Back before women could own land, her parents would offer a dowry to her groom as a kind of thank you present for taking her off their hands. The dowry was expected to account for the bride's living expenses in her new life, on top of the bride's family paying for the wedding in its entirety as well.

While the dowry is a thing of the past in the United States, tradition still dictates that the parents of the bride pick up the tab for the reception venue, catering, linen rentals, transportation, and open bar.

To gather their data, WeddingWire talked to 506 parents who recently had a child get married. Of this group, 10% of families are choosing to use part of their retirement savings to pay for the wedding of only one child, and much more if they have a couple children getting married. Additionally, one-third of respondents explained that they ended up spending much more than they originally expected to, while 20% used a credit card to pay for the shindig. 

Only one-fourth of all parents saved in advance.

Even though it's common for brides and grooms to use the Internet when planning their wedding to get ideas, considering that 93% of all Internet experiences start with using a search engine, there are still some wedding traditions that are notoriously hard to break. When it comes to fronting the cost for some of the different wedding details, reports that these are the traditions any parent can come to expect.

  • The wedding dress: the bride's family.

  • The wedding coordinator: the bride's family.

  • The wedding invitations: the bride's family.

  • The wedding rings: the groom pays for the bride's engagement ring and wedding band, the bride pays for the groom's wedding band.

  • The ceremony and the reception venues: the bride's family.

  • The officiant and the marriage license: the groom's family.

  • The rehearsal dinner: the groom's family.

  • Accommodation and transportation:: the groom's family.

  • The photographer: the bride's family.

  • The honeymoon: the groom's family.

  • The flowers: the bride's family.

These findings just show that no matter how old your children are, there's no better time than now to really start saving for their impending nuptials! Plus, we're big fans of breaking tradition -- so maybe your child will be as well and give your wallet a bit of a break.


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