Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vendor, Check Please!

Last week’s oh-so-interesting topic of the “communal wedding pot” prompted a question to my in-box:

“So who pays for what if you don’t have a ‘communal pot’? I know what Emily Post says, but what she says doesn’t really fit my situation. We’ve got multiple sets of parents, step-parents, aunts and grandparents willing to help pay for our wedding. They don’t want to just give us cash. Who pays for what?”

First, dear reader, kudos on starting your research by reading Emily Post. HJ’s feelings about Ms. Post are quite clear.

Yet, despite our awe of the etiquette icon, we understand that her rules may not always be so easy to interpret in today’s world of duplicate and adoptive families. In fact, sometimes today’s often-implemented rule of “the more the merrier” makes applying her rules downright confusing.

Don’t despair, however, HJ is here! (Insert image of us flying to your side, wearing pink capes with monogram ‘HJ’s, please!)

The 2006 version of “Wedding Etiquette” advises couples to “consider the options and make compromises.” That’s helpful advice in some aspects (by basically reminding brides to remain calm), but unhelpful for actually telling brides who pays for what when multiple hands are offering. Fortunately, a quick turn of the page provides a more detailed description of who pays for what.

You want to know “who pays for what” when multiple parties are paying for a wedding? Our advice: follow the idea of the rules as closely as possible.

Traditionally, the bride’s family paid for the ceremony and reception elements, including the bride’s attire. The groom paid for the logistical aspects of the marriage – i.e., the marriage license, transportation and lodging of himself and his groomsmen and the rings. See any dividing line? We do! The groom paid for everything required to get to the bride and take her away to be his wife, while the bride paid for everything while the groom was at his destination (i.e., her side).

AHA! That’s two broad categories for couples to divide expenses into:

Anything before or after the wedding pertaining to the groom getting to the bride’s side or changing her from a daughter into a wife = GROOM’S BILL.

Anything during the process of marrying the couple = BRIDE’S BILL.

With this in mind, write down your expenses and categorize them appropriately. You’ll find it’s much easier to assign expenses to your Great Aunt Pauline, Step-Uncle Steven and Half-Brother Bryan by simply looking at the chart.

Our second piece of advice is to not be nitpicky. For example, yes, Emily Post says that, traditionally, the groom paid for the wedding party’s corsages. But corsages are flowers worn at the wedding. Therefore, place them in the ‘Bride’s Bill’ category and move on. Thinking about it too much makes things complicated and holds up the wedding planning process.