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May 07, 2014


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My wife and I spent £4k ($6K)on our wedding - including hiring an open top red London bus, and a sit down meal for 60 people.
I've never understood why people want to spend so much on a single day

Although I was against the cost, I must confess that our wedding cost significantly more than the national average. The in-law's paid for all of it and convincing them otherwise was not going to happen. My wife is Hispanic and having a massive wedding is part of the culture. Mind you one can have a massive wedding without the massive cost, but nevertheless. Fortunately, the cost was a very small percentage of thier net worth.

I just got married in September at a place called Tyron Farm in CT. Our wedding was just around 30K. We had a nice venue, dinner, DJ, open bar, etc. We decided to cut costs by using centerpieces rather that the thousands and thousands of dollars we were quoted for flowers. For her family, it's a tradition for the in-law's to pay for all of it. I would have been happy having something small and intimate, but my wife is happy and she got the wedding of her dreams. Happy wife, happy life.

During our wedding nine years ago, we made our own invitation since my in-laws owned a computer and printing shop and my hubs is a good designer. Our reception was held in our garden because we had a garden wedding so we really saved a lot!

There were three weddings in my family across a 3 or 4 year period. I think if you added up all the costs of all three weddings, it would still be under $30,000. People are crazy. I spent $7,000 on my wedding and $8,000 on the honeymoon, because everything I didn't spend on *one party* meant I could vacation in Europe longer, and pay off my student and vehicle loans sooner

Elisabeth, my wedding sounds very similar to yours in cost and honeymoon.

We did our reception at a military officers club directly on the ocean, with plated prime rib and open bar for a grand total of $2800 including tip, venue costs, cake cutting fees, etc for around 85 people.

We started planning our wedding 10 years ago and it was going to be a minimum of $15,000 for about 125 guests. We said forget that and eloped. Best decision ever (my wife never dreamed of her wedding day, so it wasn't a big deal to her). Her 2 sisters had weddings and both have divorces now. Coincidence? Yeah.

I think my wife and I spent around $22K back in 2008, including the honeymoon and engagement ring. The wedding was at a very nice golf course in southern CA at their clubhouse. The venue + food was the major expense, but we also splurged on the photography, at nearly $3K, and don't regret that to this day.

However, we bought the engagement ring used at $2K because my wife found a very nice one that she absolutely loved. We also spent well under $1K on the honeymoon because we didn't feel the need to drop $10K on a foreign excursion or island, like many of our friends had done. We decided to spent the bulk on the wedding itself and we don't regret that decision either.

My husband and I wanted a venue that would let us bring our own alcohol and food. That was not an option at most traditional venues(which were also $$$$). We also wanted a Saturday evening reception. We ended up at a historic house that was converted into a performing arts center. We got the place to ourselves the entire day. Food was catered by a restaurant we loved and easily cooked on site. We purchased alcohol at Costco and BevMo and hired a bartender. Venue, dinner, cake, and alcohol(beer, wine, liquor) was $5k for 70 people last year. $2k was the lowest we could find for a venue. Our bill was still high since we had a photographer and DJ. I wanted something lower key, but it was really important to him to have the reception.

My wife and I were married in England in 1956. We met at a dance in 1951 when I was 17. She was there for the first time ever with an ex girlfriend of mine. I spent the evening dancing with the ex and my buddy danced with her friend. He made a date with her to go to the movies that weekend but contacted me later to say that he couldn't make it and since I lived near the movie theater could I show up and give her his apologies. I showed up at the appointed time and since I hadn't seen the movie and also because I liked her right away I asked her if we could see it together. She consented and we started dating. In 1956 we decided it was time to get married. We went to her father to ask if he was able to pay for our wedding reception. He said that he would give us 50 pounds, which at that time was about $50. An aunt of mine made the bridal dress, I bought a new suit, an uncle made the wedding cake and my father loaned me his car for the honeymoon. Thus we held our low budget wedding reception in a nearby restaurant and set off afterwards to tour North Wales, staying in small Bed & Breakfast places along the way.

A few months after the wedding I had received a job offer from a Canadian aircraft company and we set off by boat for Montreal, where we arrived with $400 which was all the money we had. After 2 years there and 2 more years in Denver I was ready to head out West. In 1960 I mailed out 3 resumes to Boeing in Seattle, Lockheed in Burbank, CA, and Lockheed in Sunnyvale, CA. Within a few days I received three offers of employment. We were very enamoured with the brochure Lockheed, Sunnyvale sent us because at that time the Silicon Valley we know today was a large fruit growing valley covered with orchards growing plums and apricots and the year round climate seemed perfect. We have been there ever since and even after travelling all over the world there is nowhere else we would rather live.

My dad has made a similar agreement with me and my sisters. I'm a twenty-something and the oldest of three girls. Our dad has given us $80,000 each as the set amount of cash with the decision to spend it on a wedding or anything else of our choosing. I think a 80k wedding is ridiculous, so I plan to save, invest, use as a college fund for my future kids or down payment on a house. My sisters will likely do the same.

Thirty thousand for a wedding is just insane. When I think of what that would do for student loan repayment, down payment for house, other debt repayment of even the emergency fund, I can't believe that people have this kind of money to spend on a wedding. And if they borrow it, my gosh, that is just crazy. My husband and I got married over 37 years ago for around $100. We went to a judge and had a small reception for family at his apartment, then a luncheon at a buffet restaurant. I fear that too often it is more about the wedding than the marriage.

During our wedding planning I received one of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten: "It's not a wedding; it's a marriage". If only couples put as much effort into their marriages as they do their weddings the divorce rate would be a fraction of what it is now.

Kathy & M20,
I agree wholeheartily with your sentiments. Here on the West coast it's very common for parents to hold their daughter's wedding in Hawaii, which adds expensive airfares and hotel expenses for the invited guests, and puts them in a bind where they have little option but to fork out a lot of money in addition to wedding presents. As you say, it's the marriage that's important, not the wedding location, or the number of invited guests.

Another reason we're glad that we didn't splash out lots of money on weddings is the frequency of divorces. Daughter #1 is on her 3rd. husband, we paid for the 1st wedding. Daughter #2 married a very wealthy attorney and had an incredibly ostentatious wedding. Fortunately the husband insisted on paying for everything because he wanted everything done his way, even to having his friends, "Peter, Paul, & Mary" entertain, in addition to two bands, 600 guests, and a two day affair with a pool party the second day, all held at the most expensive hotel in the city. He even paid for all of the airfares and accomodations. That wedding lasted 18 years. Our son's marriage also ended in divorce after about 12 years. So at the present time, out of five weddings, we have the most recent one that seems sure to last. The other daughter is living with a great guy she met on, while our 49 year old son is now single.

By comparison, growing up in England in the 40's and 50's neither of us had ever heard of a divorce anywhere at all. That's all changed since we left in 1956.

I previously worked in a financial planning capacity and wrote over 150 financial plans. Not a single couple mentioned saving for their children' wedding. Yet I saw many of them spend between 20-50,000. I discussed this with fellow planners but we never really understood how everyone seems to overlook this in their retirement plans.

I plan if to give each of my kids 20k and let them spend it as they see fit.I feel that we gave them a college education and they have no loans,that was our most important goal. We also hope to help them with buying a house if we are able at that time.

We gave each of our girls the equivalent of a year of college to spend as they chose. We weren't sure they would all get married, and we didn't want to give the message that marriage was the only thing that mattered. They did eventually all choose to be married, and none of them used the entire amount on the wedding.

I just don't believe that number is close to the median cost of a wedding. Its from a survey on a wedding site that probably skews it very high, with a lot of high priced wedding that makes the average high.

30k is about the amount of "median crushing student loan debt" I often see reported. It is also greater than the median net worth (minus home equity). The number just doesn't fit.

we spent about $25,000 on our wedding, and we did it to make my future mother in law happy (STUPID mistake). In the end she forked over $6 to help out, but it was still an incredibly dumb thing to do.

I don't plan to give our kids any money for the wedding itself -- but for smaller items like the dress, tux/suit, rings or flowers I'd be happy to chime in. You need those things (usually) no matter what scale of wedding you have.

WOW! That's just ridiculous! I too would be very interested to see what the median cost is vs an average.

Three years ago, I submitted this question:

When my hubby and I got engaged and began planning our wedding, we were completely taken aback by the cost. Frankly, we just wanted to get on with our lives together. :) We decided to make some major improvements on our home with new landscaping and had our wedding in our backyard. It was lovely. I was us. It was perfect in simplicity, humility and love.

We spent A LOT on the landscaping, but the wedding itself was about $4200. This does not include my ring or our honeymoon though. We did it Texas-style, BBQ for dinner, a keg of Shiner, and a simple tres-leches cake. We ordered flowers from Sam's and our mothers made the bouquets, boutonnieres and center pieces. We rented tables, chairs, and a tent (because it's HOT here :) and put an iPOD on shuffle.

Our pastor even talked about all of the sweat & labor we put in to our yard and our desire to be simple about it all in her homily. A few things did go wrong, but I say the day was perfect because at the end he was all mine and we were married! We made our vows in front of God and the people we love. That's what's all about! I wish more people would see it this way; I think we'd all be so much happier.

We don't have kids yet, but plant to have some soon! We agree we should save money for each child, but we're not sure if we'll pay for their wedding or not.

We were married almost 29 years ago at a small country church. We had 210 people squeezed into a building meant to hold half that size. We had our reception at another church's reception hall, with all the food provided by the ladies club. Between flowers, decoration, cake, photos, etc, I think the total bill was around $2500.

For our children, we plan to give them $25,000 to spend or save as they wish.

I got married 2 years ago and it costs 20K. We had 175 people and also paid for tavel costs for our wedding party. My parents contributed the bulk of the funds, 10K and his parents contributed 2K. While that was a lot of money to spend on one day it was very important to my mother and me to celebrate.

We paid for the whole thing with cash by living at home during our one year engagement. In that engagement timeframe we were able to pay for the wedding, pay off a car loan, and save 10% for a house. So thankful for the option to live at home!

Weddings are expensive and I'm not sure what I'll do for my own childern. I'm more focused on paying for their education then a wedding.

I had a tenant 3 years ago, she left to live out of the state. Recently she came back and asked me if I had a vacancy. I rented out a one-bedroom. She told me she came back to get married, just as soon as she saved up $10,000.

I, as someone else also mentioned, would be more interested in the median cost of weddings versus the average in that, especially in large cities where you have wealth concentration, a few grand scale weddings could significantly shift up the average. Who hasn't heard of some weddings costing hundreds of thousands?

When I and various friends got married the costs were all over the place. Our wedding was probably top of the scale for our group at about $12-14K in today's dollars. This was a typical church wedding with a catered reception of 200 folks at a Marriot hotel with a DJ, photographer, cake, limos, etc. Other friends had less expensive weddings and venues, down to a couple where it was them, us, and a Justice of the Peace. The four of us went out and had dinner right after and the next morning we drove them to the airport for their honeymoon (think that came to a few hundred total at the time excluding the honeymoon).

My guess is the median cost of a wedding is significantly lower. The wedding industry likes the inflated amount because that justifies their charges and their costs as well as lets them point to the "average" to make people paying for the wedding to feel "cheap" and then get suckered into paying the higher costs.

Looks like median cost is somewhere around $18K (still high to me).

I'm wondering what the median/average wedding costs are when the bride and groom pay for it all. It's easy to over-spend someone else's money and brag about it on a wedding survey.

Slightly off topic - Every newlywed couple we've seen that smashed the cake in each other's faces got divorced.

I think once you say, "We need this for a wedding," prices shoot up 50%. For example, if you need flowers as a gift for mom, it's one price. If you need the same flowers for a wedding, it's 50% more. I don't know if this is fact or hearsay, but I have heard places do mark things up for weddings.

This is both true and not true for flowers. My mother is a florist, so I can address your example of flowers directly. She doesn't charge more for the flowers, but most brides will insist on having "wedding quality" flowers. If there's the slightest blemish or wilting or it's not exactly the right shade, many brides will throw a fit and want all their money back. Wedding flowers are also generally special orders because people want exactly this in exactly that shade. Special orders are subject to just as much variation in quality and color as anything else that comes into the wholesale houses. In order to use only the best color and best, very high quality flowers, the florist must order a great many more flowers than they'll actually use. They may or may not be able to sell these before they die so they have to pass that cost on. They can't use "whatever" even if you say it's ok, because people will say that and then come back and want their money back anyway. So, it's basically a bridezilla tax.

Best advice for cheaper wedding flowers (or anything) - Be flexible and simple. If you say, "I want a pink and white bouquet," they can get whatever flowers look best rather than having to special order everything and then pick through. If the pink roses are sad and pathetic, they can get the gorgeous pink and white two tone tulips instead.

Given that my own mother did my flowers, it's a bit of a special case, but my exact instructions were, "Red."

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