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Wedding Ideas: Who Should Pay & How to Save

A couple months ago, I wrote that changing etiquette rules suggests that couples should always ask both sides of the family if and how they'd like to contribute to wedding costs. Now a new survey shows the economy is encouraging the same break from tradition.

The Chase-BRIDES Wedding Finances Survey, released this week, found that paying for a wedding is increasingly becoming a family affair, as opposed to the responsibility of the bride's family. The current slowdown in jobs and housing has more family members pitching in.

Here's the breakdown of who, on average, is paying how much for today's wedding:

  • Bride: 29%
  • Bride's Family: 33%
  • Groom: 26%
  • Groom's Family: 10%
  • Other: 1%
So, while brides and their families are still bearing the brunt of the overall wedding costs, grooms and their families are contributing more than a third of the price tag.

At the same time, brides and grooms are trying to keep costs down. Here are the areas where they say they're scaling back -- and my tips on how to save:

In the new survey, 64% of couples said were going easy on the invitations. While it's not considered proper to email your invitations (although you can get away with save-the-date emails for smaller weddings), one big way to save is to select offset or thermography printing, as opposed to letterpress or engraving. Offset type rests flat against the paper, similar to at-home printing -- but with better quality. Thermography resembles engraving, but costs a fraction of the price. The main giveaway: You won't see indentations on the back of the invitation, as with engraving.

By the way: Crane & Co. is currently running a sale on wedding invitations: Buy 75 pieces, get 25 free. Invitations start at $1.43 each for large orders.

About 60% say they're going to scale back on flowers. If you don't mind doing the prep work and arrangements, you can order flowers in bulk from wholesalers like Whole Blossoms and Flower Muse. At Flower Muse I found my favorite flower -- calla lilies -- priced at 100 for $199. An arrangement from a florist would cost upward of $400, according to the site.


Adult beverages are key to a fun wedding, in my view. Still, 41% of brides and grooms say they're cutting back on reception liquor. One way to discreetly reduce your alcohol bill is to arrange for a signature drink during cocktail hour. The cost is usually lower that way -- and you can still have an open bar if anyone asks. But many people will just take the signature drink when they are handed it.

Also, try to work with a vendor that will let you return any unopened bottles of liquor, wine and beer. This way, you only pay for what you use.

Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at and on Twitter/farnoosh
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