Wedding Etiquette–Who Should Pay For What?

When it comes to the wedding etiquette and budget, should Mums and Dads still pick up the big day bill or should we be paying for our day, our way? As part of our guide with Wedding Ideas, we look at the options facing couples when planning their wedding budget

According to, “there’s been much speculation recently about who will pay for the royal wedding and – indeed – how posh it should be when the country is facing cutbacks. Luckily most couples don’t face the same scrutiny over their wedding plans, but who picks up the tab can cause disagreements – or worse.” Today, the average cost of a wedding is around UGX. 30 million which is beyond the reach of most couples.

Locally, tradition says that the bride takes care of her dressing, saloon and her maids while the groom is left to cater for everything less. In the UK, “a bride’s family pays for the reception (including the venue, food and drink) while the groom pays for the honeymoon, transport and the church or ceremony fees. However, these days, few couples play by such traditional wedding budget rules,” reads a quote via

Some go it alone completely and don’t get any help from their parents, others pay most of the costs themselves but are happy for parents and perhaps a few friends to chip in. According to Darphine McKenzie who walked down the aisle last year in November, a couple should be in position to foot at least ¾ of their budget.

“If you’re planning a wedding, the bride and groom should be able to cover at least 70-80% of their total budget.”

On the other hand, Kelly Chandler of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners says that as couples take more control over the type of wedding they want to have, they also tend to stump up more of the cash.

“Most couples can’t afford to pay everything but there’s often a trade-off between accepting financial help from your parents and having the wedding you want. If parents are putting up a large amount of money towards the wedding budget they’ll normally have their own ideas on how it should be spent.”

If your parents pay for the reception you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll want to have a say in how many guests are invited. Parents often want to invite long-lost aunts, second cousins and other family members you’ve not seen for many years. If you and your fiancé are paying for the wedding you can have more of a say about who gets invited and – crucially – who doesn’t.

Debt dilemma

But while you might like the idea of being able to pay for your own wedding, it’s not realistic for everyone. High deposits and many personal responsibilities mean that money is tight for many couples in their 20s and 30s. Lynsey and her husband Gareth got married two years ago and Lynsey knew they would only get limited financial help from their parents.

“My Mum and Dad had a wedding budget for me but it went on a deposit for my flat! In the end, my parents paid for my wedding dress and Gareth’s Dad paid for us to stay for a couple of nights in the hotel after our wedding. We paid for everything else except for the honeymoon which family members and friends chipped in for.”

Helping hands

Today, an increasing number of couples conduct some wedding meetings and table pledge cards for close friends and relatives to contribute towards their wedding and the honeymoon. Some have opted to be given cash presents, something that was far less common in the past. “Some people are happy to make some contributions towards the wedding or just the honeymoon but others prefer to buy something tangible and not everyone likes the idea of giving cash. It’s something to be aware of.”

Esther Nansubuga is another bride-to-be who’s turning her back on tradition and splitting the cost of the wedding with her fiancé. She, however, acknowledges that saving for the big day has been quite a challenge. “Although the guy is responsible for the wedding, it’s nice if the couple plans and saves together.”

Guest list gripes

Esther says that albeit it’s been tough finding the money they need, she likes the fact that she and her fiancé can have the wedding they want. “A lot of people have questioned why we’re paying for everything and we’ve said it’s what we want.”

For such couples likes Esther, things often get tough when people start to ask why they haven’t been invited. But it’s always down to money, working on a budget. However, if your parents are contributing large amounts of money, they’ll want to a say on how it’s spent.

“If you and your parents have very different ideas about the wedding reception but they want to contribute towards the cost, why not let them pay for something like the wedding cake?” says Kelly Chandler as quoted on “Most parents want to help with the cost of the wedding budget. One way to reduce the stress is to work out what you want done your way and what you can compromise on and let them pay for that.”



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