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September 11, 2012


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Interesting... I was not aware that in the US, bride's family is expected to pay for the wedding. In my home country in Asia, it is the groom's family who is expected to pay.

My wife and I paid for most of our wedding. We received $2000 from her parents and $500 from mine. The rest was us. But then again we got married when we were 26 and 27 and I had a house.

We had a huge wedding 22 years ago of 300 at $18.75 a place setting, wedding ring of $2k ( it is a symbol not a status)
video $350, Photo $500, cake $250 etc.

My wife would not cheapen anything.

However we did just go to a reception for my Godson and talk about over the top. Must hav ebeen double what the above number.

I seriously think it would be awesome, fun and way less headache to just go to Vegas and get Elvis to do the whole thing. Now getting her on board might be a different story, but from what I can tell, most guys don't really care about a wedding, its all for the women.

After the wedding, a killer month long vacation/honeymoon with 2 weeks in Hawaii, and 2 weeks in Europe. Still come out better than a traditional wedding money wise.

I'm curious to know what is the common practice for weddings in the US.

Is it the couple who pays for their wedding and the parents just contribute? Or is it the other way around, where the parents to pay for most of the expenses, while the couple contribute?

This will be a long comment, but I wanted to offer an alternative to the traditional "go into debt for one day" wedding. We still had an amazing day. I got married 6 months ago and spent half that amount, and that included the 3-week New Zealand honeymoon. I'll detail it for you to compare:

Overall wedding (excluding honeymoon): $9,000 (the below totals plus a few random things here and there)
Wedding venue (reception hall): $5,000
Engagement ring: $200
Reception band: $1,200 (a splurge and more than I wanted to spend, but they made the reception really fun and it was the one thing my musician husband was really adamant about)
Wedding photographer: $1000
Florist/decor: $150
Wedding/event planner: $0 (did it myself)
Ceremony site: $100 (city park)
Videographer: $0
Wedding dress: $700
Rehearsal dinner: $200 (local Lebanese restaurant that does catering made huge platters of food and we had the dinner at my in-laws home with the wedding party and all family in town, casual but fun)
Reception DJ: $0
Limousine: $0 (we drove in our own car)
Ceremony musicians: $300 (single cellist)
Wedding cake: $20

We saved lots of money in plenty of areas and our wedding was beautiful and very elegant (at least that's what people keep telling me):

Reception Venue: By far the biggest savings was keeping our guest list small. We had a lunch buffet on a Sunday at a fancy hotel in downtown Portland, which saved tons of money. We served beer and wine and since it was an afternoon, people didn't drink much. We had 70 guests.

Rings: I don't like diamonds (I prefer colored stones) and this saved tons of money, especially since we opted to get lab-created sapphires (just as strong and pretty as mined stones but much cheaper and no worries about child labor). We also both like titanium as it's stronger and we liked the symbolic nature of that, plus it's much cheaper than gold.

Photographer: Saved a lot of money here as well by negotiating a lower fee than she normally charges because I didn't want 400 edited pictures. I set a max of 200, which is more than enough for me, and only had her for 5 hours. My bridesmaids and family members took photos with their own cameras of the getting ready process before the ceremony.

Florist: We saved tons by only having simple bouquets done by a florist. I had three young nieces in the wedding party and only one was a flower girl, so the others got child-sized bouquets which were cheaper. I avoided the huge cost of flowers by having the ceremony in a park (pretty natural setting for cheap!) and having the reception in a really neat but fancy room called The Library in a nice hotel. It had beautiful wood paneling, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lining one wall, and an amazingly detailed ceiling. Flowers seemed like overkill for such a pretty room, which was one reason I chose that location.

Wedding dress: I got a great deal on a very fancy dress by buying it at a Brides Against Breast Cancer dress sale. The dress retailed for $2,000 but I got it for $600. Still a lot of money for one dress, but it had amazing lace and beadwork. Spent another $100 for alterations including a bustle. I'll likely donate the dress back to the organization later.

Cake: My mom made it and it was lovely, my sister decorated it very simply. I originally wanted a pretty cake from a bakery but the cakes I tried just weren't very tasty and seemed insanely expensive. I ended up with a simple but nice cake, and it tasted delicious to boot! A family friend's present to us was to make several desserts that we served with the cake, so we had a nice spread at the dessert table.

We were lucky to have both sets of parents contribute $3,000, so we only spent around $3,000 of our own savings on the wedding. We saved money for 9 months before the wedding and didn't go into debt for any of this. Because of the savings on wedding items and our parents' help, we were able to spend the rest of our savings on an absolutely amazing 3-week honeymoon in New Zealand, where we also saved as much money as possible and still had a great time. I know we could have had a tiny backyard wedding for a few hundred dollars, but we wanted a big party where everyone got to dress up to make it a really great event and it was worth it to us.

My wife and I are both ministers, so these lists always crack me up. Where's the money for an officiant? We never "ask" for a set fee and it's always uncomfortable to say a number when people ask you. A few weeks ago I officiated at a wedding, which I was happy to do. I met with the couple 4 times in preparation. Took a friday evening for the rehearsal. Most of a Saturday for the wedding. Wasn't invited to the reception or grooms dinner. Bottom line... the custodian got $60 and I got $40. Oh well, that's how it goes!

@Jim: Since you do this regularly, you should probably come up with a range to tell people when they ask. Our rabbi didn't give us a number but his admin person had a range that she told us about when we asked what to give him. Since he spent a lot of time with us and wrote a great ceremony, we paid him the top of the range. I think that a lot of people don't really have any idea how much to pay (we certainly didn't) so it's courteous to let them know what's expected if it's a reasonable range.

But not even inviting you to the reception? That's terrible. Hopefully it was just forgetfulness on their part, since planning can be really stressful and with so many details it can be easy to forget things like that.

A wedding my wife and I attended was really extreeme low budget. The person getting married was in my wifes first class that she taught and was her inspiration to go into teaching.
It was in a city park, officiated by a JP, the food was a pig roast(and very good one at that), the wedding cake was individual cup cakes, the pictures were done by someone they knew and no booze. The biggest fluff I would have said was the bouncy cage for the little tykes.

We had a great time.

I did feel underdressed though. The vast majority of the younger crowd all had tatoo's and I didn't ;-)

Just as an FYI, no, you can't combine the videographer and the still photographer. Not only are those two entirely different technologies, but there's no way to operate two cameras at once, so some things would be missed. For example, there's a shot of us coming out of the church, with many family members ringing bells, my wife with a gigantic smile and me giving a big wave. It's on the video, and the photographer snapped it too. I wouldn't give up either of them.

That being said, a lot of these prices are a lot more than what we paid. Inviting fewer people is a great idea. As for rings, we live close enough to New York City that we took a day trip to the diamond district, and got a ring that has been appraised for triple what we paid.

I'm not sure how you got the $30/person for food figure, but in most nice venues it's $100/person and more modest ones it's at least $50/person. I think I paid $45-50/person back in 2008.

It's interesting to me that people spend so much on weddings. I understand that it is a once in a lifetime event, but I don't understand spending that much. You are starting your life in a pile of debt for just one night.

By the way, I routinely hear a lot of people complain about how expensive a wedding photographer is and they make the mistake of going with a less expensive person. Big mistake, in my opinion, because the photos (and video) are all you will have left besides the good memories. I run into people all the time who are less than thrilled with their wedding photos because they didn't do their homework and decided to go with the cheapest option. The cheapest option usually means you will get someone with less experience, usually lower quality equipment, and less than adequate post-processing skills.

We're going to attempt to do everything with $5,000. It won't be too fancy and will be extremely small but I'd rather put the other $22,000 toward my girlfriend's student loans!

This is definitely an area where the average number is inflated. Only 20% spend over $30,000. The median is closer to $15k-$17k range. There are about 4% that spend over $100k and the others in the top 20% of spenders inflate the average.

More detailed report :

Note average # of guests is 141. But again median is probably a bit lower.

Of course it varies drastically by location. In NYC the average is $65k and in Detroit its $27k. Those are the #1 and #20 most expensive locations. If the #20 most expensive location is at $27k average then theres a LONG list of other locations that average less than $27k.

I got married in Vegas. For dress, ceremony, food, hotel and honeymoon, it was under $1,000. Yep. Most brides spend at least one thousand on the dress alone (mine was $200). I did the whole shebang for less than $1,000. So worth it (and ended up winning a bit of it back on the video poker machines!)

You will be surprised at the total cost of our English wedding on July 14th. 1956 - Approx. $180.
My wife's father gave her 50 British pounds, all he could afford ($80 in today's money)
Reception Hall - Restaurant charged only for the food, we supplied the drinks.
Engagement ring - an antique Diamond solitaire, previous owner unknown - $45
Reception band - $0 - there was no band
Wedding photographer - $0 - My company's photographer did it for nothing.
Florist - Probably about $15 for bouquets - The church was already decorated for a prior event.
Wedding event planner - they didn't exist for working class families.
Ceremony site - A very historic old stone church dating back to the 11th. century - No charge.
Videographer - Videos hadn't been invented.
Wedding dress - A gift from my aunt who was a seamstress.
Rehearsal Dinner - None - there was nothing to rehearse.
Reception - $80 for fifty guests at a nice restaurant.
Limousine - $20 - Rolls Royce for the Bride and her father. Rolls Royce for the Bridesmaids.
Bus - $20 - To take the guests from the church to the restaurant, most did not own a car.
Wedding Cake - A gift from my uncle who was a confectioner.
Honeymoon car - My father's 1938 Ford (with a hand crank starter).
Ceremony musicians - No charge for the church organist.
Honeymoon destination - Touring the Snowdonia region of North Wales.

We saved big $ for our reception by having it an Air Force officers club. We had a family friend sponsor us, who was retired Navy. Any active or retired military personnel from any branch could sponsor anyone after they joined the club. The venue was directly on the ocean.

Food was $19 a head for prime rib and chicken marsala. We had 82 people at our wedding, hor devours, open bar with beer, wine, single liquor mix, and our total bill, including venue rental and gratuity was $2700. While the venue was no 5 star venue, it had a feel of a much more expensive venue and the food was very good.

Overall wedding (excluding honeymoon): $7000
Wedding venue (reception hall): $2700
Engagement ring: $600
Reception band: 0
Wedding photographer: 650
Florist/decor: 550
Wedding/event planner: 0
Ceremony site: $600, includes churches wedding planner, sound guy, pastor wage + tip
Videographer: 0, had a friend do it and it turned out phenomenal. He is now starting to do it professionally and charging just over $1000
Wedding dress: $500, dress was $150, alterations were $350
Rehearsal dinner: $700, my parents covered this
Reception DJ: $600
Limousine: 0
Ceremony musicians: 0
Wedding cake: 0, friend made it as wedding present

Even though these costs are staggering, it is possible to have a $30,000 wedding for less than $10,000. I did it last year for my son's wedding. Had the wedding at the best venue in town and it cost $9,400. It takes a lot of time, energy and organization to save that much money, but if you're determined to do it, it can be done -- and anybody can do it. Don't lose hope!

My husband and I got married in July and these are our numbers below. We live in central PA. We had ~80 guests at the wedding.

We would have done it differently if we had anyone to learn from -- we are the first of our group of friends to get married. Our tip -- make sure the location fee/ catering are on budget -- they have the potential to swing things way off budget. Also, if possible, choose something that includes tablecloths, DJ, flowers, silverware included. I ended up dealing with so many vendors and they all had their little fees to sneak in. And there really was very little I could do about it.

I tried to be reasonable when I could but I didn't make anything from hand. We live far away from our family and it wasn't feasible.

Total $20747.49
including honeymoon and reception dinner

Ceremony Total - $50
Marriage Certificate $50.00

Reception Total - $7832
Reception Security Deposit $500.00
Reception Location Fee $2,475.00 (both ceremony and reception, but they charged us a "chair fee" and a "garden fee" about 6 months into the process. the wedding business is crap)
Rentals $511.00
Food/Service $2,292.00 (also charged us a "washing dishes" fee 1 month before the wedding)
Champagne/Wine/Beer/Liquor $860.00
Bar/Bartenders $200.00
Cake $385.00
Day of Organizer Fee $609.00 (didn't have to think of a thing on wedding day, and organized my crazy family on the day before)

Attire Total - $2119.19 (my outfit ended up being way more than I expected. I thought I was on budget with the dress and then there were alterations, jewelry, undergarments, veil, hair things, and makeup)
Dress $867.19
Alterations $275.00
Headpiece/Veil $82.00
Bride's Accesssories $30.00
Bride's Shoes $80.00
Lingerie $40.00
Hair & Makeup $625.00 (I am completely inept at makeup so I went to Sephora and did what they said. very expensive but i had few options since it was 3 weeks before the wedding and I am clueless about makeup)
Groom's Tux/Suit $120.00 (guys have it so easy)

Flowers & Decorations Total - $960
Flowers $700.00 (bouquets as well as simple arrangements. thought about doing this myself but it would have been a huge project)
Reception Decoration $260.00 (~80 paper lanterns)

Music Total - $1260
Ceremony Musicians $360.00
Reception Band/DJ $900.00 (4.5 hours)

Photography $1276.9 (family discount)
Videographer $0.00

Stationary Total - 563.4
Invitations & Reply Cards $360.00
Postage $80.00
Thank you notes $40.00
Website $83.40 (unnecessary expense, could have done it someplace free)

Wedding Rings - $1750
Bride $875.00
Groom $875.00

Transportation $0

Gifts Total - $610
Attendants $350.00
Favors $260.00

Honeymoon $4,026.00

Rehearsal Dinner $300.00

I think giving some set amount to each child is a great way to do it!

Hopefully your daughter's future in-laws won't subscribe to the tradition of the bride paying for the reception since it is the vast majority of the expense.

We received money from both sides of the family and put that into one pot for all the wedding expenses. We paid about 40% with our own savings.

I loved being able to actually budget for the whole thing rather than negotiating with my family for every little expense. A much smoother process!

@Old Limey: That's the power of inflation for you... A Rolls Royce Limo would be 50- 100X more expensive today.

Our wedding in 2007 on the Big Island of Hawaii was $9K for 30 people total. We had cake & champagne after the ceremony, which was done at sunset. We also had two musicians at the ceremony plus a photographer and separate videographer- I am quite sure that these need to be two separate sets of people. Our dinner was a very nice 7 course dinner served at outdoor tables on a grassy knoll overlooking the ocean. I remember the total cost of the meal was $4600 USD as I paid by my credit card- the meal was about $80 per person plus a mandatory gratuity and people ordered alcohol as they wished. I only had one drink as I wanted to remember the evening with a clear head.

We were able to cut costs on flowers, we had a lot of rose petals on the ground and also had people throw rose petals at us... we thought about extensive flowers for the tables at the dinner and opted out of this- at our table we used the bridal bouquet as the centerpiece. In hindsight it was a good idea as I'm pretty sure nobody missed this.


@FMF You're giving each of your kids the same gift. That's fair. Sure, they might receive other gifts from hypothetical future in-laws, to help with a wedding or a house or whatever else. You can't control or predict those sums, so why should you compensate for them?

Are you planning to give the kids the money when they turn 18? Do they know it's coming? Have you decided on an amount?

08graduate -

They don't know and we haven't decided on the amount yet, though I'm thinking $20k. We wouldn't give it to them until one of them prepared to get married.


I think it depends a lot on the couple's situation. I'm getting married next year. We planned to pay it ourselves since we've had good jobs out of college for a while. My parents unexpected gave us enough to cover the whole thing after we had already finished saving for it. His parents have also hinted that they were going to contribute. My friends who married soon after college graduation did get support from their parents. My parents joke that I should marry someone from their home country and my brother should marry an American so they could avoid paying for weddings. I don't know of many wedding where it was the bride's family that paid for it due to tradition, but it could just be the group I hang around.

I don't know how much our wedding officially cost since my wife's parents paid for it (we discussed the cost of various items, but I didn't actually see an itemized budget or anything), but I don't think it broke $4,000.

My wife's father was our pastor/officiant. They rented their church, and made a donation to the youth group for setup and teardown (we had the reception in the same room as the ceremony, less than 20 minutes later -- but the youth leader was a professional banquet coordinator at a nearby hotel, and expertly handled all the table-and-chair-wrangling.) Net cost for the location and setup/teardown: around $1000.

My wife's mother and several of her friends prepared various snack-type foods in the preceding weeks, froze things that could handle it, and made a few things fresh the night before or the day of. A lady in the church who was a pro baker made the cake at cost. Total food cost for just over 200 guests: around $1000.

We hired a professional photographer who was good, but not great, and came at a pretty good price. I think he was around $700. (He was the only person involved who wasn't a personal friend.) Video was captured on the church video system, for free.

Other major costs:

$250 for invitations, hand-made by me and my wife.

$100 for flowers. Wife's mother and her gardening friends grew most of our centerpieces and other decorations (we had a year's lead time), so we only paid for bouquets and boutonnieres. My wife and I also provided 1,001 origami cranes that we made ourselves, which served as decoration and favors (we signed and dated some of them.)

Maybe a hundred for a most excellent pianist, also from the church.

Totally free horse-drawn carriage, owned by the guy who lived next door to the church.

A few hundred for materials for the wedding dress. My wife's mother made it.

All told, it was a very labor-intensive wedding, but not very expensive money-wise. And everything was very personal and lovingly made, which made the memories that much more special.

I'm not especially frugal or poor, and I'm a woman who likes parties, but Those numbers on the avg cost of a wedding amaze me!

When did "I want to get married" get equated with "I want to throw a giant fancy party for all my friends and pretend I am rich for a day?" In my opinion, they are 2 totally different things, and you should only do the 2nd if you have money to throw away or perhaps if you are crazy or something.

I've had 2 weddings, one in 1996 and one in 1984. Neither cost more than $5000 including the ring and honeymoon...and in both my husband and I paid for them ourselves. Each ring was around $1500, we were married in churches and had the reception either in the church or in our own house, about 150 guests at the first one but we just had cake and punch, only 30 guests for the 2nd one and we had a catered sit down dinner with wine, I made my wedding dress for the first one for about $250, for the 2nd dress I wore an off white bridesmaid gown that I bought for $200, we had two attendants for first wedding and I made their dresses too, there were no attendants for the 2nd wedding, first honeymoon was driving to California to visit his elderly parents and stay in their cabin at the ocean, 2nd honeymoon was a night at a fancy hotel in the same town (good thing, because there was a major snowstorm and the airport was closed!). Neither marriage lasted more than 12 years each, but we did end up with some awesome kids...

In my view, take what you'd spend for a regular party and multiply by shouldnt go over that amount for a wedding. The wedding is part of your life, and its cost should be reasonable in that's not a fantasy land where you can spend like a rock star (unless you are a rock star of course!)

I think your way, ie paying a lump sum for each of your kids' weddings, is totally fair.

FMF: What if they decide not to marry or end up marrying much later in life? Not everyone gets married in their 20s or 30s.

Wow...I couldn't imagine spending this much on a wedding. If I had kids I would encourage them to elope.

We didn't go into debt at all for our wedding and it was pretty close to the costs above. When I was born my parents started an account for me that they contributed to every month. Their intent was to have it pay for college, and then whatever was leftover would pay for my wedding and/or anything else I wanted to use it for.

My parents did the same thing for my brother and to be honest I never really thought about it possibly being "unfair" until now - he is close to proposing to his girlfriend and I'm sure her family will want (and pay for) a lavish wedding. I guess technically it could be considered "unfair" - where we live and how we were raised, the bride's parents pay for the reception and I don't know anyone who has eloped or had a "budget" wedding unless it was a 2nd marriage. Not that there's anything wrong with either, but it's just not common in our circle.

My parents have always been extremely generous and I would never begrudge my brother anything, so for me personally, I don't feel it's unfair. I can see how it might be though, if one child feels societal and familial pressure to pay for a large wedding/celebration and their sibling gets the same celebration without having to use "their" money.

I would guess that FMF's kids are not being raised with the expectation that they will have large/expensive weddings, and that their social circle (and most likely future spouses) will be coming from a similar background. However, if you live in an area where the bride's family pays for the wedding, you may want to consider making that seperate from the "gift" money, especially if the amount is only $2-3k. I think your son is older than your daughter, right? Maybe you can see what his wedding costs and (if it's amount you deem appropriate) you can gift her a similar amount?

My fiance and I are getting married in April of 2013. We've just secured all of our vendors and it's looking we'll be within our budget of $5,000.00.

Two things, the budget does not include my ring. I don't know how much he spent on it. Second, we're getting married in our backyard and inviting only 50 people. This is our breakdown:

Overall wedding (excluding honeymoon): $5,000
Wedding venue (reception hall): FREE
Caterer: $1,000
Wedding photographer: $700
Florist/decor: $500 (buying bulk flowers from Costco
Wedding/event planner: $800
Ceremony site: FREE
Wedding dress: $400
Rehearsal dinner: $100 (making a spaghetti dinner at home)
Reception DJ: $700
Wedding cake: $400
Wedding party gifts: $100.00
Pastor: 100.00

There you have it! We're going to have a small intimate wedding in the yard our future children (God-willing) will play in. It will all be paid for in cash and we're so excited about it!!!

My youngest daughter had a wedding to top all weddings in terms of the cost but it didn't cost me a dime. She married a very successful, much older, and very wealthy attorney that she met while working as the property manager for a high rise office complex. She had no interest in him but he pursued her to the point where, if I had been more knowlegeable at the time, I would have had her file a restraining order against him. He would even park on our driveway while she was inside with a boyfriend. Finally he wore her down with his powers of persuasion and she finally succumbed.

He was Jewish, she is a Christian and because she wouldn't change her religion it was hard for him to find a venue for the marriage. Finally he found a Cantor that would marry them (as no Rabbi would) and the wedding was a two day affair at the swankiest hotel in our city. There were 650 guests, most were flown in at his expense from the East coast, including the most famous wedding photograper and videographer from New York city. The most famous guests were the entertainers, Peter, Paul, and Mary, since he had been a "groupie" since his college days, and whenever they performed in the Bay Area, he provided three Mercedes convertibles for their use.

The wedding was a blast, two big bands, huge ice sculptures of dolphins on the refreshment tables, since after swimming with them on one occasion she liked everything about dolphins. All of the guests stayed at the hotel and on the second day, many of them moved to the pool area where there was more entertainment, fun, and eating and drinking throughout the day.

The marriage was never a happy one for my daughter and gradually it went down hill. They had three children, two boys, and the youngest a girl. The girl inherited an incredible intelligence and photographic memory from her brilliant and successful father and I was so impressed with her thirst for knowledge that I used to tutor her every week. We were working about 3 grades ahead of where she was at school when at the age of 7 she came down with a very rare and inoperable brain tumor, and died in less than a year. The daughter was the glue that held the marriage together and my daughter finally filed for divorce almost 5 years ago. I negotiated a settlement with him and the divorce was settled without litigation.

My parents gave each of us kids a set amount, that was altered for inflation. My sister and I got twice as much as my brothers. We could decide what to do with the money (for the wedding or put it towards something else).

We got married 3 years ago. My in-laws paid for the rehearsal dinner (at a local steakhouse...probably cost about $500-$600) and paid for a condo for our honeymoon.

My husband and I paid for over half of our wedding and didn't go into debt.

We agreed to have a great photographer but didn't pay for her to be there through the reception (there was enough cameras there to get some great shots)...probably did pay close to $2000. My friend video taped the prelude music and the ceremony, dropped it off at Walgreens, and then I just paid for the DVD...cost about $20.

We got a great DJ, but didn't overpay for her either.

We got the flowers wholesale and my friend (who had worked at a floral shop) did all the flowers..think it cost less than $300. That same friend was my day of coordinator to handle any problems and arrangements on our wedding day and allow us to just be the happy couple. We didn't "pay" her but gave her several giftcards to the craft store, gas, and Walmart.

We got our cakes from Sam's Club...which were delicious and they did do a simple design for us, the only problem was that the purple piping looks blue in our pictures...oh well we spent less than $100 and it got eaten or tossed.

I work for a church and the ceremony/liturgy and music were very important to me. I paid top dollar to our pianist (who filled in at the last minute for a sick pianist). I was the youth minister so I actually hand-picked 4 or 5 of the youth (who I was close to) to sing, one also played the cello, along with another who was the altar server. I gave them each a gift card.

The churches I have worked at charge a set fee for the wedding prep classes, priest, and church coordinator. Then have a set or suggested fee for the singer(s) and accompanists.

We didn't get a limo (what a waste of money)...instead my brother in law drove us to the reception in his red pick-up truck (great for this country girl living in the city!!)

Most of the money spent on weddings is wasted on trivial pomp and circumstance. No one remembers details of individual weddings unless something unusual happens, few brides want the unexpected to occur that actually makes their special day memorable. One single memorable note we've retained over the years of attending dozens of weddings: Every couple we've observed smashing the cake in their partner's face eventually divorced.

The true cost of a wedding is the solidity of the resulting marriage.

If you're giving both your son and daughter the same amount of money, it seems fair either way. If they both decide to get married, your son will have to buy the engagement ring and such. If they are both working hard and making a good salary, it would all even out anyway, wouldn't it? I thought 2k for a wedding planner was pretty ridiculous as well. I'm not saying that having someone help out to organize isn't a good idea, but with countless sites designed to help you with every little detail of a wedding, that would be probably the biggest waste on your wedding budget.

I found when my brother got married (and friends) that it's not the bride and groom who want a big fancy wedding, but their parents. At least among upper middle class people and the wealthy, those with connections in the community/business community, it becomes a way to show your affluence, and also to solidify your place in the community.

You always get killed on weddings, babies and funerals, but I digress. This is what my wife and I did nearly 10 years ago:

-Wedding site- FREE. We used a public park on the beach. Actually, I take that back. 300 chairs was like a $150.00, a generator was $75.00 and a sax player was $50.00. Not bad though.

-Ring- $1,000. Bought it at Sears (don't judge)

-DJ- $400ish. Crazy thing is I could get it for much cheaper than that, but our DJ was a hit.

-Caterer- $3,000ish. Hard to get around this one. People have to eat. Could've of went with an Hors' Dourves thing, but there were societal pressures at work.

-Photo/Video- $500.00. However, he was horrible and we have no picture or video of our first dance.

-Flowers- $300.00- We went with silk flower arrangements. This will be offensive to some, but they look great in pictures and they were cheaper.

-Planner- FREE. Luckily, we had someone in our family who offered to help and the general concept of the wedding was my wife's, but paying that much for a planner is ridiculous.

Cara --

We'll decide what to do then -- if and when it happens that way.

I sort of shy away from the thinking/expectations that the bride's family is expected to pay for the wedding. I believe that the couple should be responsible for planning for the wedding. It's the best way to start using their couple's financial planning and putting it to work.

We were going to do the traditional wedding but we just couldn't afford it. So we went to the courthouse, kept it small, and had dinner after. Including the photographer and dinner, we spent less than $700.

I think these averages tend to be useless. If you live anywhere near NYC and you don't want to travel for your wedding 27k for even a smallish wedding (say 100 guests) will be tough. My gf always thinks I'm crazy but I can give a concrete example of how much *just* dinner/drinks/venue/DJ costs - even at a cheap venue around northern NJ.

My fraternity has an annual ball, every other year it's at the same not so great hotel. This tends to be an event without lots of frills - the DJ is usually a friend, there are no real decorations etc. Cost per person - upwards of $100.

Just food is going to run 20-30/head, then drinks are another $10 at least usually, the venue will cost some several thousands of dollars. DJ is at least $500.

Part of the problem is that small events - the cost/head jumps a venue that holds 200 people will not be cheaper to rent just because your wedding has 100 - right there you double your per head cost of the venue. Food is the same - it will be cheaper per head to feed 200 than to feed 50. Any fixed costs balloons as you head down to smaller numbers.

The funny thing is she thinks these numbers are crazy (she's from more rural upstate NY, where it is possible to do a whole wedding on a 5-10k budget - no problem) yet she still suggested a wedding a Stowe (ski mountain in vermont) - 40 guests - all inclusive 10K - that's $250/person!

anyway the point i'm trying to make is the exact same wedding in montana will likely cost 1/2 or even less than what it costs in northern NJ, forget about NYC...I doubt you could do anything "real" (and by real I mean actually renting a venue etc) for under $200/head.

As a single guy looking to get married someday, this is scary. Though I'm glad someone pointed out that the *median* expense/budget is $15-17,000, not $27,000. The median is the far more important number here. That said, $15-17,000 is still a lot. Hopefully I can find a gal who likes doing things on a budget. I refuse to take on debt, period. (I'm still paying student loans.)

I guess my bigger fear is that I have a high enough income that I *could* spend that much on a wedding without going into debt, if I had some time to save, and many people (women, really) would expect it, but I also expect my income to decrease significantly as soon as I'm out from under all my other debt, which makes it seem like a ridiculous idea. Ah well. This is all just an academic exercise for me right now. No point in worrying about it until I actually find someone...and all the more reason to find someone frugal. I'm realizing all too late that I should have gotten married when I was poor (which was true case until I just have a large, negative net worth and a higher income).

I was lucky. My daughter hates ostentation. She insisted on only 12 guests, a simple church wedding, and no reception. We just all went out to dinner at a local restaurant. The total cost was in the $400 range.

My husband and I married almost 6 years ago in Texas. We had 100-120 guests. We had a mid Sunday ceremony immediately followed by a reception with light finger foods and no alcohol. There was no DJ, no dancing. The facility we rented offered basic decorations and also owned a flower shop where we got our flowers. My uncle (a pastor) was our officiant. I ordered my dress off the internet for $200 (and it was absolutely lovely.) I put together the "favors" myself. The wedding (including rings - both of mine and his) and honeymoon (week in Florida) all total ran just under $10,000. I paid for 80% of the wedding from my savings (I was 20 and a full time student on scholarship with part time jobs) and the rest was covered by generous gifts from my parents and in laws. My husband was the one that wanted the "whole wedding deal." I would have been just as happy with a courthouse ceremony.

On a different but still related note, my new husband and I went to dinner that evening (non fancy Chinese restaurant near our hotel) and were overheard talking to our waitress about how we'd just been married that morning (my hair was still in it's updo but we were dressed very casual). A lovely gentleman whom we did not know and never had the chance to thank picked up our dinner. We were speechless when our waitress told us. It was such a generous and lovely ending to an all around great day.

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