Who pays for alcohol at the reception?

The bride’s parents are paying for EVERYTHING for the wedding but they are against paying for alcohol because of their religious beliefs. The grooms parents want alcohol, and at first they offered to pay for it, but then when they found out the price the father of the groom decided it was too much. All it is $3.00 a head for open bar, which is very cheap. It’s a discounted price for a package we chose. Is there anything anywhere that says that they are responsible for alcohol? I know that in some books, it suggests that the grooms family help pay for flowers but is there some form of etiquette that says they should help with the cost of alcohol or anything that has to do with the reception? Please help!!! Thanks!

Nancy Tucker

Dear Carebear,

This doesn’t sound like an etiquette issue, in fact I have never heard that the groom’s parents are required to pay for the alcohol. Your only other option since your parents object on religious issues and the groom’s parents don’t want the financial burden, is to pay for it yourself.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites

Nowadays, with couples getting married later in life and some even living together before marriage, we seem to have gotten away from the traditional “bride’s parents pay for this and groom’s parents pay for that”, so I agree with Nancy.

It is not your groom’s parent’s responsibility to cover any cost. If they do, consider it a most generous gift (like the one your parent’s are giving), and not something the bride and groom are entitled to.

Maybe your future in-laws have some financial constraints you just don’t know about? They obviously expressed an interest but when faced with the actual cost found they cannot afford to pay this fee. Since you find the cost to be “cheap”, perhaps it’s more in line with your budget than with your groom’s parents’ so speak to your fiance and decide if adding alcoholic beverages to your wedding package is something the two of you can cover.

Problem solving like this is good practice for the marriage where you’ll be doing a lot of compromising and dealing with family personalities. Take these opportunities to learn how to deal with these types of issues together, as a couple. You’ll have years of happiness to follow if you do.


I see where you are coming from, it’s not so much of an issue as to if they can afford it, because they can, it’s the grooms father is a tight-wad…they blow money all the time on vacations and things they want to do but when it comes to the wedding they seem to be very cheap, he has made several comments like “I’m glad I had the boy, so I don’t have to pay for everything”….I guess my main question was if there was some form of etiquette as to the whole alcohol/reception issue. We are young (24) and never been married, we still live at home with our parents and we are the only children. His parents bought him a car when he turned 18, I brand new VW Bug, it’s just his Dad has this attitude that he isn’t responsible for any wedding cost because he’s the father of the groom, not the bride. They are the ones who want the alcohol, my parents don’t and me and my fiance’ don’t really care either way. That’s why we are looking at it, if they want it, they can pay for it, but if there was a “custom” to it, then i’d show them. That’s what happened about the flowers, when he made all those comments and brought up tradition, I showed him online how it said that the Groom’s parents pay for the bride’s flowers, so they ended up contributing to that…He wants to do things by the book and the traditional way…so I was hoping that if it was a tradition, I could show him [:)]

I guess i’m out of luck though!!! [:(]

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites

If your in-laws are real “traditionalists” and insist they want to “go by the book”, then get them a book!

Bride’s Book of Etiquette

On page 56 of this book there is a chart entitled, “Who Pays for What”, which lists suggestions for sharing the wedding day expenses.

I would let the groom show his parents the book and allow them to offer what they want to offer after they have reviewed this with their son. Keep in mind that they still are in no way obligated to pay for anything.

Frankly, if you don’t care about the beverages then don’t make an issue of it. Tell them what the deal is allow them to offer up if these so choose.

Try not to allow all of these feelings if resentment to get in the way of your relationship. Learn to accept what these people are about or you’ll be bucking the system for the rest of your married life.

In any event, I think you’ll find this book to be a good reference for you while you are going through the planning process. Oh, and by the way, the wedding day itself goes by in a heartbeat so make the planning as much fun as possible. Stay focused on your goal!