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Destination Wedding - Who Pays for What

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My daughter and her fiance got married on a cruise ship in Bermuda. We paid for the wedding planner, the stateroom for the kid's, and lunch after the ceremony, which came to a total of about $7,000. However, the groom's parents only contributed to about one-fourth the cost.

We are now planning a luncheon reception back home that will cost about $3,200. The majority of the guests are ours (about 2 to 1). We have "hinted" to the grooms parents that they should pay for their guests. They are what I would call "socially retarded" when it comes to these matters. I don't want to call them and beg for money. They are aware of our financial situation, and I feel they should call and offer.


What is your view on this matter?

Dear What is your view on this matter,

In order to avoid miscommunication and hard feelings, every aspect of the wedding budget should be discussed by all parties involved with expenses prior to the wedding: the couple, bride's parents, and groom's parents.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the wedding expenses were not discussed, and the groom's parents expect the bride's side to pay for the majority of the wedding expenses. Also, it could be that perhaps their financial situation is such that they are unable to contribute more.

What you can do is to talk to your daughter and son-in-law about the luncheon reception budget, and ask them to discuss with the groom's parents what they plan to contribute. Neither you nor the groom's family should contribute more than they can afford. In addition, what about your daughter and son-in-law, are they both working? Can they contribute toward the luncheon?

Nowadays, typically both the bride and groom's families share in the cost of the wedding expenses, generally split down the middle, unless one side has many more guests than the other. Or, if the bride and groom are older and have jobs, then they can help pay for the wedding.


As with any wedding, the couple and their parents should discuss beforehand, the wedding expenses, budget, and who will pay for what. Unless the guest list is heavily one-sided (more on the bride than groom or vice versa), then the cost can be split 50-50. The couple getting married can also help with expenses if they are both working. suggests the following expenses for the guests and members of the wedding party for destination weddings:

1. GUESTS, BRIDESMAIDS, GROOMSMEN: pay for their own travel expenses: airfare, lodging, non-wedding meals, transportation, car rental.


a) pay for a welcome dinner and/or a rehearsal dinner, the reception itself, and a day-after brunch.

b) as most guests will not be able to attend the destination wedding, then host a party or second reception for friends and relatives after you return.


1. LODGING: Ask various hotels in the area for group discounts.

2. AIRLINES: Ask the airline about group rates.

3. CRUISE: if the destination is a cruise, then ask the cruise line for a group discount

4. BRIDESMAID DRESSES: as the bridesmaids will be paying for their dresses as well as travel expenses, then keep the dresses to an affordable level.

5. BOOKING: book reservations off-season if possible, or early enough to get a good group discount.

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