Wedding traditions have been slowly changing over the last couple of decades. One thing that has changed the most is how the family pays for the wedding. It’s not automatically up to the bride’s father anymore, nor are other costs covered the same way they use to be. Today's bride has more control over her wedding choices, because she has more control over wedding finances.
Common Wedding Financial Traditions
Traditionally, the bride's father would cover all of the costs of the wedding ceremony and the reception. The groom's family would typically pay for the honeymoon. Since the bride's family paid for the wedding, the bride had the ability to choose where the ceremony would take place, what time of day, and even the type of suits the men in the wedding party would wear. This became an opportunity for the bride's family to throw a large party to welcome the groom into the family and acknowledge the bride's new status within the family hierarchy.
Brides and Grooms Taking on More Costs
Traditional thinking is beginning to shift more toward the couple handling the costs of the wedding rather than their families. Many brides today have established themselves financially, so they can cover the wedding costs themselves. This gives them an extra level of control over the wedding venue and details.
Without the family's money behind the ceremony and reception, the bride can make whatever choices she wants without having to compromise costs if she doesn’t want to do so. A growing number of brides are already living independently of their families by the time they marry, so there is no longer the social reason for her family to recognize her rite of passage by hosting the reception for her.
Couples Marrying Later
The main reason that brides and grooms are handling more of the costs of the wedding is because people are marrying later in life. When a couple got married straight out of high school, or even college, they still relied on their families for a great deal of their financial support. Brides and grooms today are waiting until they have solid careers before they marry, which means they have the resources to pay for their own weddings without asking for help from the families. Older couples tend to have more solid ideas of what they want from their wedding ceremonies and receptions as well.
Ceremony Expectations Changing
Not only is the traditional financing for weddings changing, the entire venue has changed. Wedding guests do not expect the same traditional elements from a wedding ceremony and reception that they expected 50 years ago. Today's guests are not as interested in party favors or even a wedding cake. Brides today have free rein on the parts of the reception they may want to keep and the parts they may want to alter a bit. Since many of the traditions were created for younger couples that haven't started their lives yet, they don't make sense when applied to an older couple that has established careers already.
Always Check with the Family First
Even if you are an independent couple that can afford to pay for your own wedding, you should still talk to a family member about how you plan to pay for the wedding. You may be surprised to learn that the bride's family had created a wedding fund for her years ago. It is important not to hurt anyone's feelings by leaving them out when they have spent years planning to uphold their traditional roles in the wedding. If you really don't want the family to pay for the wedding, negotiate another use for the wedding fund that would be acceptable to all parties.
Heather Hollingsworth is a single mother raising three teenagers while she attends graduate school and feeds a budding freelance writing career. She's always looking for a new way to stretch a dollar as far as it can go!