It will be 9 years ago this November that I had the honor of walking my wife down the aisle. Our first wedding (Yes, we had two. More on that in a bit…) didn't cost close to the $28,000 that the post title references.
When I hear stories of these elaborate weddings that cost tens of thousands of dollars, I don't get it. Why?
So the question remains: How much does a wedding cost? And probably more important, “should” cost.
I've tasked Miranda to do some research. Be sure to check out my story in the middle of the post that talks about why I got married to the same woman twice. 🙂
Spring is in the air, and wedding season approaches.
Like many life events, from buying a house to having a baby, a wedding can get expensive. According to TheKnot.com, the average cost of a wedding in 2012 was $28,427. And that doesn't include the cost of the honeymoon.
That's more than I paid when I bought my new card toward the end of 2011.
From reception venues that cost almost $13,000 to engagement rings that cost more than $5,000, weddings are getting expensive — or at least what people are willing to spend on weddings is on the rise after a little pullback following the Great Recession.
Why Do People Spend So Much On Weddings?
Since a wedding is supposed to be an expression of the ultimate commitment to another person, and the start of a life together, many people like the idea of celebrating with friends and family, and making the day huge. After all, this day is supposed to happen only once. Why not make it big, and share it with the people you love?
From hiring a videographer, to making sure the wedding gown is perfect, to catering at $63 a head, many soon-to-be-newlyweds want a day to remember. (For those who go into debt for the wedding, they are almost guaranteed to be reminded of that day every month when the bills come due.) Others are more interested in the status associated with having a fairy-tale wedding.
In truth, there's nothing really wrong with spending more than $28,000 on a wedding. After all, it's your money (or your parents'); you can do what you want with it. Even your reasons are your own. But spending so much on a single day has never appealed to me, and it's why I spent a whole lot less on my own wedding.
Would You Prefer a Frugal Wedding?
The idea of spending a lot on a wedding never appealed to me. While there are a couple things I might have done differently, by and large I was happy with the way my wedding turned out. My mom made my wedding dress, and a talented friend made the wedding cake as a present. At the reception in upstate New York, my husband's family held a pot luck dinner, which was awesome.
At both sides of the country, the cost of the wedding was severely limited because, rather than choosing to rent out a fancy venue, my husband and I made use of our local church meetinghouses. My high school band teacher and his jazz trio provided music at a discount for the reception in Idaho (we tipped well to make up the difference), and even the airline tickets for flying between locations were inexpensive, since we were married in the aftermath of 9/11.
Choosing a less expensive wedding meant that we had more money to start our life together, rather than worry about paying off wedding bills.
Enter Jeff's Story
Our first wedding was super cheap. Why? Because we eloped!
To make the story that much better – it was in Vegas. Yes. Vegas Baby!
My Army National Guard unit had just been called up and we decided to accelerate our wedding plans sooner. Much sooner as we had just got engaged that October (Halloween to be exact).
We agreed to get married in Vegas so as long as we would have an official ceremony with all our friends and family after I got back from my deployment. And that's how we got married twice. 🙂
Even though we were married twice, I'm pretty sure we still didn't spend 28,000 on both weddings.
If you want to hear more of the back story of our Vegas wedding (like how we almost got married in the same chapel as Britney Spears), check out my wife's blog post here.
When You Marry Matters
Of course, I married relatively young. My husband and I were both 22. I was in my final year of undergrad, and he was a junior. Neither of us had a job, since we were in school. Part of the reason we didn't want an expensive wedding was due to the fact that we couldn't really afford it, and neither of us felt right about forcing our parents to pay a huge sum. Our parents ended up paying most of the bills for the wedding, but they were relatively small, and we did our part to keep costs down.
Contrast our situation with older couples who have careers and jobs. As the marriage age rises, so, too, does the cost of a wedding. Couples who marry later on, after establishing careers, can afford to pay most of their own bills, and maybe even choose to get exactly the wedding that they want. They don't have to feel bad about costing mom and dad too much, since they are paying for most of their own wedding expenses.
In the end, it's about what you prefer to do with your money. Decide what kind of wedding you want, and determine what works best for your situation.
Do you remember how much you spent on your wedding? Would you spend that same amount of money if you had to do it all over again?