Originally Posted by Cory
To state it more elaborately:
In earlier times, tradition was that the family of the bride pays for the wedding to make the prospect of marriage appealing for the male, and the wedding ring was a heirloom. The reason for this bias toward the man was because the man was the one going out to work the tough, messy jobs of his culture, basically taking care of his soon to be wife almost like one would take care of a pet. The role of woman back then was relatively one of domestication and passivity. She had needs and desires that had to be satiated, and the man went out busting his back to please her. Imagine back then a man spending huge sums of money on a wedding for a woman who might not show up at the altar or who ends up cheating on him? Not very appealing prospect, and so the families of a young woman tried to appeal to potential male suitors by financing a wedding, putting onus and feelings of honor on the woman, and making it fair to men.
The man's self interest then was partly in impressing the parents, and this is where chivalry comes from. Chivalry actually doesn't impress women that much (in spite of what they say), as that is not it's traditional or even pragmatic use.
The man had to make himself seem worthy to the parents of the girl he was interested in, so being chivalrous was his ticket to getting approval from (and with that, a wedding financed by) the bride's side of the family.
In the present age, I'm not sure what the figures are - but things are definitely out of whack. Women are proud to assert their self sufficiency and independence, so this new kind of logic partly undermines how long term contracts were traditionally approached. I think the bride's side of the family still pays a lot in many causes, because daddy wants to treat her precious daughter with something special, but I'm sure there are more and more instances where the man, in a misguidedly chivalrous spirit, tries to prove his love to his fiancee by listening to her dreams of a beautiful wedding, and contributing to the budget, spending extravagantly to please her. She may point to different things in different catalogs in that charming child like way, and once she starts to learn that he will satisfy her whims (to some degree), both of them have run up problematic debt financing the wedding. If the man's pockets were deeper, he took most of the hit. And since he was so chivalrous with providing an expensive wedding (being a beta pushover) the relationship likely will not last long. She might leave him, or cheat, and then guess what? You just spend 10-20k (not counting the ring she picked out!) on a woman who dumped you. ouch.
Tough way to learn.