Skip to comments.Marriage Mania: Average Couple spends more than $26,000 on Weddings
Posted on 08/13/2012 1:44:37 PM PDT by NYer
Back in the 1980s when I was ordained, there was a priest in the area who was famous (infamous) for the fact that he requested couples who were going to spend more than $5,000 on a wedding (more in those days than now) to pay a tithe, (one tenth) of what they spent on the wedding, to the poor. While he could not require this of couples, he made of it more than a casual suggestion, reminding them that, as they spent thousands on flowers that wilt and dresses worn only once, there were some in this world who had little to wear or eat. The priest has long since passed away now, but was famous for saying very little at diocesan meetings, except, “Gentlemen, what about the poor?”
The memory of this priest crossed my mind as a Facebook Friend passed on tho me an article entitled: Average Couple spends 26K on Wedding. The article goes on to describe the devastating debt that many families incur, (especially when paired with college debt, etc.), on account of the increasingly unreasonable expectations regarding weddings.
In indicating that $26,000 is the average, that means that half spend more, some a lot more. I actually have couples who are shacking up, (err… “cohabiting”) tell me that they can’t “afford” to get married. Some are surprised when I tell them they don’t have to spend a dime to get married in the Church. They can come to the Chapel with two witnesses and I’ll even buy them lunch. The usual push-back I get is that my suggestion offends against dreams (usually of the woman who wants a picture perfect “Church Wedding”). “So, for the sake of a party you will go offending God?” I ask. “Why not prepare for marriage now, get married in the Chapel, and have a 10th Anniversary bash?” suggest I. “We’ll get back to you on that Father.” Do I need to tell you my phone is not exactly ringing off the hook?
Disclaimer - As regards the cost of weddings, I realize that families do feel certain obligations to others. Further, there are some families that are prominent in the community, and either sense, or do in fact have, wider obligations. I do not, in this article mean to, or wish to, opine on particular weddings and I presume good faith on decisions that families make. However, at the cultural level we have questions to ask ourselves, in terms of the financial and personal costs we place on families. I have little doubt that weddings have always been relatively expensive, but 26K (average) is off the hook, and all of us do well to walk this whole thing back a bit, and ponder what fuels this. There are valid costs, but what part does vanity and dreaminess play on the part of the couple? And what part do unrealistic expectations and commercial hype play from the wider community side?
Permit me to give some excerpts from the article with my own commentary in red. The full article is written by Cathy Grossman of USA Today and is HERE
Call it Wedding Bill Blues. Even with a slight drop in “I Do” spending during recent tough economic years, many couples are beguiled beyond their budgets…..The average couple has a $26,989 wedding, according to Brides magazine. Even though that’s down from a peak of $28,082 in pre-recession 2008… remember this average number means that half of coupes spend more, some a lot more.
Couples are victimized by their own fantasies, cajoled by media visions of celebrity nuptials, and pressured by friends, family, even strangers posting idyllic photos on [wedding sites]…..Resisting is hard, say brides, citing wedding planners who overwhelm them with choices for décor and doo-dads that seem irresistible. Couples can also be lured off their financial feet by bank commercials that encourage borrowing for wedding costs. So the blame is collective, we ought not simply blame dreamy brides, or proud grooms, its all of us.
“It’s emotional. Practicality goes out the window,” says David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. Jones [though savvy about the problem of debt] sees many ways debt entraps people. As a grandfather, Jones…found himself a shocked participant in runaway wedding spending for his granddaughter’s wedding… a $6,000 gown, when $3,000 was planned..
Gosh, I just can’t imagine spending 6K for a dress worn only once.
I remember that my mother, to save money, went in on a dress that three of her friends shared (see photo above). Of course in those days women married rather predictably right out of college and such “team arrangements” were easier to make.
Today, does a dress have to be purchased? Can it not be rented? I DO know of some brides who find very lovely “used” gowns for a very reasonable price.
We also discussed last month, that, for those who purchase a dress, there is a very lovely custom of making baptismal gowns from it, or other holy garments.
At any rate, I’m sorry, 6K for a dress worn only once is crazy. Why not just say no to that sort of stuff? I know, I Know, I’m “a man” and wouldn’t understand.
While Jones and his wife contributed cash, their son, father of the bride, “had to work overtime for months after the March wedding to pay off the credit card bills,” Jones says…..Most people don’t have an emergency account or savings. The typical family has $50,000 for retirement.They don’t have six to nine months of savings set aside and even if they did, it wouldn’t be $26,000. Even if young couples are increasingly sharing the costs, they’re facing student loans and credit card debt even before the first wedding invitation flies out.
Hello….There are a lot of other things that won’t be missed too. In then, can we agree, it is the people, and togetherness that makes a wedding reception, not the “stuff.”
The article then details a number of cost savings to consider and couples getting married may find this part of the article helpful. The article then concludes:
>Weddings bells sound like a cash register Ka-ching! The average 2012 wedding (not including a honeymoon) will cost $26,989, up from $26,501 in 2011. A May 2012 survey of 1,272 Brides magazine and website readers found:
91% of couples set a budget, but 32% overall, and 40% of those who plan a destination wedding, cross that line.
72% of couples used savings to pay for their weddings. I presume they deplete it almost entirely? Not a good plan when starting a family.
30% use credit cards, and most expect to pay off credit cards within six months of their wedding. Think again
54% of couples said paying for a wedding would not hamper their plans for “buying a house or a car, starting a family, etc.” Think again
62% of couples say they’re contributing or paying entirely for the reception costs, including 36% of couples who expect to pick up the entire tab themselves. Notice, that’s a big change from 25 years ago when the family of the bride footed most or all the bill. I wonder if parents still paid most of the bill if things would be this off the hook?
Couples are almost as likely to have a sit-down plated meal at their reception (42%) as a buffet style meal (41%).
Perhaps we can end were we started. I wonder if a cash tithe were going to the poor, if couples and families might not also think a little more soberly. Maybe the older priest I remember had a spiritual insight. When everything isn’t about me, and when I think of others first, perhaps the Lord grants us a greater degree of sobriety.
It isn’t just about weddings, its about a lot of purchases. What if I were going to buy a camera, the latest SLR, and what if it costs $1100 dollars. When It’s just about me, its too easy to say, “Sure! Charge it!” But what if I am also going to have to write a check to overseas relief, of $110? Now I might think twice, or I might not buy the deluxe, or maybe I will buy it, but at least its not just about me.
Maybe, when we render our debt to the poor, first, our own debts are less. Something to think about in the extravaganza and boondoggle known as “the wedding.”
I take it Msgr. Pope has never watched TLC’s programs - “Say Yes to the Dress” and/or “Four Weddings”. They would make his head spin.
It’s just that, The Bride and I are having a shoestring-budget wedding. Less than $1K for the wedding venue, gowns/tuxes for under $1200, free reception venue with a pay-to-play bar.
I should save this link and show The Bride later for a laugh riot!
Oh, and need I mention, The Bride and I sit and giggle our butts off at “BRIDEZILLAS”...
“72% of couples used savings to pay for their weddings.”
Really? Wow, my daughter and her white trash hubby didn’t pay for a cent of their wedding. I paid for all of it- 200 guests - except photos that her father paid for. Her daughter was married last Sept. and I paid for most of that one two.
What happened to the old ‘father of the bride pays’????
When my wife and her daughter began “planning” her daughters wedding to some guy I tagged as a psycho, I suggested she take the money and just give it to them to do with as they choose. I then told her if she was spending more than 5K on this event, she would be better off burning it because that was what was going to happen. Well, less than 2 years later the divorce is now final and my wife finally paid off the wedding notes. Since I don’t wish to end up in divorce, I have kept my mouth shut.
15 years prior, we took care of our own wedding, total cost was about 5K, all had a great time and there were no bills to pay afterwards.
I just don’t get it.
I get the part where people have to pay for their own drinks but are you having any food there-is that what you mean by free reception?
There ought to be a rule-of-thumb that says "Any wedding complicated enough to require a 'wedding planner' is too complicated".
Please, make nothing of this. I have not even read who this is about or the source, but when I read this line, “Gentlemen, what about the poor? I immediately thought of Judas Iscariot.
It’s just where my mind went.
Back to 6th grade math, Msgr. "Average" means the arithmetic mean ... total up and divide by the number of items. That gives no information about the distribution. If it were the median, that would mean half more, half less.
First thing to do when contemplating a wedding budget is to remember that because it’s one of the most stressful days of your life you won’t remember any of it. It’s OK to spend a lot on once in a life time memories, it’s another matter entirely to spend a lot on once in a life time forgotten 5 minutes after it happens.
Second thing to do is to contemplate your friends and family and come up with a rough guess on how much they’ll spend on presents for you. Don’t spend more than that. Heck don’t spend more than half that.
And don’t go into any debt for it. Because if you get a divorce before the wedding is paid for even your close friends will laugh at you.
He said “free reception venue.” The venue is the place they’re holding it. Our son’s Eagle Scout ceremony had a free venue: the dining hall at our council’s campsite. Food and beverages were paid for by the hosts, us.
Felicitations, Old Sarge, I hope you and the lady will enjoy the rest of your lives together. Der Prinz and I had a free wedding venue - the chapel at Randolph Air Force Base - and a reasonably priced reception at the Officers’ Club.
Wow, pretty soon weddings will cost more than divorces.
Of some interest, I heard Fr. Rutler [sp?] EWTN say that with couples that don’t use contraceptives there is less than 1% divorce rate but for couples that do, it’s 60%.
Regarding cost of wedding. My pastor said the more that is spent the more likely a divorce. No stats.
O Lover of all people,
with your right hand now bless your servants,
who are betrothed to one another.
Confirm them in faith, hope, love and just deeds
Make their marriage as honorable as the marriages of the righteous and just of old.
They served you in justice
and you multiplied their descendants.
like the stars of the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore.
As they brought forth priests, kings, prophets,
apostles, preachers and teachers of your good news,
so likewise grant your servants,
to bear the fruits of justice.
Fill them with your fear
and surround them with your peace all the days of their lives.
Indeed, O Lord our God,
assist them with your might
and extend your right hand over them.
Protect them with your loving cross
and keep them safe by your holy angels.
We shall praise and thank you, your Father and your Holy Spirit,
now and forever.
Prayer from the Maronite Catholic Rite of Crowning.
Most (not all but most) morons who spend like this also need to google the average cost of a divorce.
Cause they’re gonna find out soon enough.
Spent less than half that, including the ring.
1st Marriage at age 57.
Church wedding, family & closest friends for 36 seat dinner.
or these Destination Weddings where you impose on your bridal party, closest friends and family to fly off to Costa Rica or someplace to witness your nuptuals
You know, something as simple as choosing carnations over roses, or artificial flowers over fresh, can save a significant amount. I love carnations, and had them in my wedding bouquet and hairpiece, while my maid of honor and bridesmaid (just the two - my best friend from high school and my cousin) had artificial flowers. The whole flower cost was about $100.
$50 for the organist (an Air Force wife), and $50 for the “coordinator,” another wife, whose job was to unlock the chapel, turn the lights on, and tidy up afterward. Years later, people were still saying, “I loved your wedding!”
The parish church was already loaded wih poinsettias (it was 6 days after Christmas) and the reception was in the home of my good friend, who had a bunch of adopted children (adults) who did all the cooking, and some of the guests brought dishes too. (I'll never forget my friend Elise with the apple-pear cake.)
New Years Ceili dance down the street (free)...
My sweet Don-o and me....
Oh, it was good!
Well, the reception hall is free because we’re both veterans. Catering is still being negotiated. And the reception will most likely be family-only, nice and small.
I believe I recall “boatbums” saying they had a nice wedding on their boat. Ours are supposed to be in church, of course, but there’s no reason you can’t have a nice setaround on your boat afterward. (My husband wants a boat, but I’d rather have a laundromat ...)
I expect Federal Agent Anoreth will get married in the pastor’s office one of these days - assuming it’s in the church building - and then everyone can drink on the boat. Why blow money on a dress when you already paid for a dress uniform you hardly ever use?
Sorry, no offense but...you seem to be a slow learner. You are way too good for your own good.
I paid $2,500 when I got married in 1975. Plus, I had a live band.
I saw your post. No wonder this country elected Obama ... Ignorance!
sounds wonderful? There’s too much GLITZ today and the smashing of cake in someone’s face is so totally ghastly I can’t begin to imagine. And...brides today get their hair and MAKEUP done prior to the wedding and the attendants have to as well? Take me as I am with my own make up thank you. It’s all OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yep. It's like the average person is less than average nowadays.
That seems excessive, but then not everywhere is like Tijeras, New Mexico where you can find a pastor that will perform the service for a case of Bud Light.
Oh, and the challenge is on!
The Bride just read the OP, and shook her head in disbelief at the price tags. But she LOVED the comments!
Okay, as it stands now, the wedding venue itself is a sunset beach ceremony. That's where most of the cash is going, for the setting, the photos, the vows, and such.
The reception is compliments of the VFW Post of which we're both members. The Post DJ will do free music. As I said, catering is still in the works.
I'd like to add you four to my Wedding Ping List, if you wouldn't mind?
Dear Mrs Web says:
Have the wedding you can afford.
In Eloy, Arizona it's Tecate.
My last wedding was for 50 at my club. Finger food open bar, a Bloody Mary and Champagne brunch with live music, piano, guitar and flute in the club living rooms. White dot-indian dress and sandals. Friends did the flowers and daisies are my favorite ones. Beautiful handmade cake topped with a handmade porcelain cake topper that looked like us jumping in a field of fresh daisies of course.
My next wedding? Probably a quiet ceremony, and a restaurant meal.
I’ll thank you not to be lordin’ your high falutin’ and sophisticated ways over me! ;)
We spent $300 on a white wool Pendleton suit/skirt for the bride and I wore a three piece suit I already owned. The Maid of Honor wore a nice dress and my Best Man wore a suit he already owned.
The reception was at our house I bought from my parents and they paid for the food while my oldest brother bought the booze as our gift. My best friend’s sister made our wedding cake (she did it as a part time business) and gave it to us as her present.
$400 dollars out of our pocket if you include the wool suit which she wore at formal occasions after.
We are still married 30 years later and are proud of our wedding.
Oh yes,yes the Wedding Ping List. What’s the date? I can hardly wait!
Oh yes,yes the Wedding Ping List. What’s the date? I can hardly wait!
I pulled my hair back with a clip from ... Penney’s or somewhere, $10 max, and my friend pinned the flowers in. My mother made me put lipstick on at the last minute.
No cake-smashing ... why would you do that to someone you like? Besides, I got the cake from a bakery that guaranteed it would taste good - and it did!
Of course, put me on the list, and make sure you ping the Undead Thread so we can all pile on and say “Ooooooh! Aaaaaaah! Zombiesssssssss!”
Old Sarge, you won’t regret it. I never wanted the big day, or walking down the aisle, etc. My husband and I got married in Gatlinburg, TN-—no stress, no big expense. We celebrated our 16th anniversary yesterday, and I wouldn’t do it any differently. I cannot IMAGINE spending all that money on one day.
My sister-in-law had a huge, huge wedding and was so nervous on the way to the church they had to pull over so she could throw up. Who needs it, LOL!
It’s 34 years ago but I doubt we spent more than $500 including the honeymoon. My daughter’s 14 years ago was between $4000 and $6000.
Not counting the first attempt 39 years ago that was definitely cheaper than either of those.
Wonderful COA! The five-figure formal dress vomit!
No offense taken, you’re absolutely correct. When I’m wrong, I’m wrong.
Good memory! When my hubby and I first started dating, he bought a beautiful 32' Roughwater sailboat. We started talking marriage about four years later. We wanted to get married on the boat anchored out at sunset and we also wanted to include two dear friends who owned a 42' sailboat with whom we had spent many vacations and weekends sailing together. Well, we were sitting on their boat one Sunday evening in April and we brought up the plan to get married. "We're leaving next weekend for the Bahamas and won't be back until late June. You guys better get to it!", they announced.
Within that week, everything got done (dress, shoes, flowers, cake, travel plans) and we tied up the two boats anchored off Longboat Key that next Friday. Friends and family drove down and we "ferried" them from the public dock to the boats in our dingies. Our pastor (who married us) and his wife were there as well as Mom and Dad and other family and two other sets of friends. We gathered at the bow for the vows with family lined up along the sidedecks and the rest of the group at the bow on the boat next to us. After the ceremony, we had sandwiches and champagne and the wedding cake was a double layer marbled cheesecake frosted in white with pink roses. My bouquet was pink roses and daisies as was my matron of honor's.
All in all we had about two dozen people there and everything was perfect. The evening was pleasant and cool, no bugs, no rain and a gorgeous sunset. Probably cost all of $250.00 for all that. Then two weeks later we had a reception for all the landlubber friends at the clubhouse of my apartment complex. We had nearly a hundred people come out and rather than anyone giving us a wedding gift, we asked that they bring food for the reception. All we had to buy was a keg of beer, the rum punch, I got a Honey-baked ham, made a big 'ol bowl of potato salad and bought a larger version of the same cheesecake. There was plenty of food and the music was from a good stereo system we brought over and CDs. Everyone had a great time. Total cost there was maybe another $250. I got to wear my dress twice and we have great pictures of both parties. Another neat thing we had was a friend videoed the wedding on the boat that we played for the reception folks so it was like they were there, too. Not a bad wedding for a total of $500.00! And we celebrated our 21st. anniversary last April. It CAN be done and no one needs to go into debt for it either.
Good luck Old Sarge!
I've always thought that the length of a marriage is inversely proportional to the number of attendants at the wedding. ;o)
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