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October 28, 2010


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Since they've made this so public, I hope they're prepared to be sued by ASCAP.

I too love this story, and I especially love that it's gotten so much publicity, because it illustrates that one does NOT have to spend half of their annual salary in order to have a lovely, meaningful wedding.

Unfortunately, I think many couples hear the ubiquitous 'the average wedding costs $28,000' line and assume that's what they'll have to spend in order to have a "nice" wedding, and before you know it, BAM! They've given themselves permission to spend $28,000 on a party.

BUT. The truth is that that number is bunk, for a couple of reasons. First: The data itself is collected from people who work within the wedding industrial complex - primarily wedding planners. So the only weddings that are taken in to account are those that have budget large enough to include a professional wedding planner to begin with. Those who have home-spun, community supported weddings are never even consulted or factored into the equation.

Second: The phrasing is bunk. $28,000 is not what the average wedding costs. $28,000 is the average cost of all weddings, and therefore, the number is utterly meaningless because as we all (should) know, averages are a terrible indicator of anything, because of their susceptibility to outliers. For example: Say you've got 100 couples planning their weddings, and 99 of those couples spend $10,000, but one couple spends $1 million; the average cost of all these weddings is $19,9000, when in reality, the overwhelming majority of couples spent half of that.

What we SHOULD be looking at is the MEDIAN cost of a wedding in America, which is about $15,000 and is much more consistent with what is typically spent.

I'm shocked at how much money some people spend on their weddings. My wife and I were married 18 years ago and had a simple reception after the ceremony. We have five kids (two are girls), and we will be sure to help them think "simple".

What a great story. They were actually willing to work for their wedding cash instead of expecting a parent to drop a blank check off at the door. I wish others would follow this example, and it doesn't have to be cans.

Note that they are in Washington state which does not have a bottle/can deposit. So for those of you doing the math wondering why it took 400k cans to get $3800 that is the reason. The cans only sell for the raw aluminum value. So it takes a lot more cans to get money but it also makes cans a lot easier to get since they aren't worth the 5-10¢ that the are in many other states.

My first marriage in 1984 cost all of $400--including the marriage license, invitations, and my dress, which I made by hand myself and which cost about $100 in fabric. I also made the dresses for the 2 bridesmaids. We also made the invitations for 200 people (block printing--my ex is an artist). The "venue" was free (a church--although I believe my Dad slipped the pastor $20). Music was provided by the church organist. The reception was in the church basement, and there was no alcohol (church rules). We had cake and coffee and mints. It was way cool. I'd totally do it that way again, if I felt like ever getting married again which I don't at my age.

My in-laws spent a similar amount for our wedding, with about 200 guests, in the same area (Spokane Valley).

My father-in-law was our pastor. My mother-in-law made the wedding dress for about $200. We made our own invitations with cardstock and vellum (maybe $100 counting stamps). It was a late-morning Saturday wedding, so we served brunch (mostly prepared by my mother-in-law and a bunch of her friends, $1500 in ingredients for a LOT of food). Cake came from a professional baker in the church ($200?). The cake topper was hand-crafted from clay by my sister-in-law ($50?). Flowers mostly came from the in-laws garden, though we did pay for bouquets (another couple hundred). We also used origami cranes as decorations; my wife and I folded 1001 of them ranging from 2" to 36" wingspan, putting the big ones on the walls and the little ones on the tables. An extremely talented classical pianist from the church handled the music ($100). The only "big-ticket" items were the photographer (about $500) and the youth group ($500 donation to have them set and reset furniture -- we used the sanctuary for the wedding *and* the reception, so we needed to move 200 chairs and 40 tables in 10 minutes. A friend did banquet setup/teardown professionally for a nearby inn, so he helped coordinate.) And the best part: we rode off in an antique Amish carriage rented for about $250 from the guy next door to the church, whose favorite horse (a widely sought-after stud) took us on a nice little trip home.

That's not a lot of money for a party of that size. But then, we had a full year of serious preparation, and 2 years of engagement before that.

A Vegas wedding in a 5-star hotel (think Wynn) costs $3800 or less.

This is such a lovely story! 400,000 is a LOT of cans, though.

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