Breaking with the Past
It's funny, but weddings bring out the traditional side in some of the least traditional people. Suddenly, a bride who long ago declared her independence from her parents is hinting to Mom and Dad that it might be nice if they were to contribute to the wedding fund — because, after all, it's traditional for the bride's family to pay the lion's share of the final bill. The opposite also holds true, in that traditionalists start looking for the newest trends; for instance, Mom and Dad may start voicing their approval of the groom's family chipping in an equal amount. Yes, that's progress, and they'll be darned if they're going to be behind the times.
The bride's family has traditionally been held responsible for providing just about everything for the bride and the guests, including:
Bride's wedding ensemble (dress, shoes, veil, and so on)
Invitations, announcements, save-the-date cards
Transportation for the bridal party
Flowers for the ceremony and reception (including the bridesmaids' flowers)
Pictures and video
Food and beverages at the reception
Entertainment at the reception
The groom's ring and wedding gift
The groom's family has gotten off relatively easy, at least in the big financial picture. Traditional expenses pinned on the groom's family include:
The bride's engagement and wedding rings
Marriage license fee
The bride's bouquet
Corsages for the mothers and grandmothers of the bride and groom; boutonnieres for groomsmen
Wedding gift for the bride
Keep in mind that when these guidelines were established, weddings weren't the mega-industry that they are in this day and age. Nowadays, each and every bride wants to outdo all of the others, and that mindset is usually too expensive for one family to support. (Sure, you can have an appetizer at your reception that no one has ever heard of, but boy, are you going to pay for it!)
Also, when these traditions were in full swing, brides and grooms were younger and less established in the world. In other words, today's bridal couples are often in their late twenties or early thirties and have been working for several years before deciding to settle down. These men and women are able to pay for their own weddings, or at least contribute mightily toward them. And let's not forget that Mom and Dad may have already made a substantial financial contribution to the bride's or groom's college education (another cost that has skyrocketed in recent years). You know they really love you, but you can only expect so much from your parents.
In light of these recent developments, it often makes the most sense for the bride and groom to throw tradition out the window and work out a financial strategy that best suits their own needs.