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Linda_Owl's avatar

Why would anyone spend $26,501.oo on a wedding?

Asked by Linda_Owl (7743points) July 4th, 2011

I read an ABC TV article that stated that the ‘average price of a wedding is now $26,501.oo’. Why in the world would anyone spend that much money on a wedding? That much money would make a down payment on a house! Surely this figure cannot be correct.

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46 Answers

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I believe it. I was first married in 1989 and weddings were running about $20,000. then. This is for the ceremony and reception.

Why do people do it? Most want to share what they believe will be their one wedding with their friends and relatives. If I had the money to spare that wouldn’t take away from something else, like a house down payment then I might spend that kind of money too.

Friends of a friend just spent near ¼ million dollars flying friends and family in from around the world and across the states for an 8 day celebration with them, all expenses paid. Different strokes for different folks.

zenvelo's avatar

Many people want to celebrate their once on a lifetime event, and share it with all their fiends and family. $26,501 is only $100 per person for 265 people. $100 per person is not at all out of line for a dinner, dance with band, booze, room rental, church.

Plus rehearsal dinner, help with out-of-town relatives, gifts, flowers. Weddings can get expensive.

Plucky's avatar

That’s no surprise to me. The figure is quite accurate.

Personally, I think it’s way too much. People spend that much because they want that perfect wedding they’ve dreamt about for so long. They want everyone there ..which can be a lot of people (adding up to a lot of money). They also spend that, and much more, simply for status and bragging rights. I’m sure there are many ..many reasons for going overboard on weddings.

Bluefreedom's avatar

You could probably have a nifty little wedding in one of the dozens of Las Vegas wedding chapels for $49.95 and save the other $26,451 dollars for something more important. Whatever that might be. Just saying…..

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Bluefreedom that is what we did. It certainly is nice to own our home & cars

jerv's avatar

Some people want the fancy fairy-tale and don’t give a shit about practicality. After all, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so screw the cost.

My wedding was under $1,000 for a catered event at a rented mansion with ~40 guests.

jaytkay's avatar

I have been to a lot of weddings which cost $30.000 and much much more (including my own). For some people, that is not a lot of money. I wouldn’t choose to spend that, but nobody asked me :-)

$26K does sound high for the average though. I would actually be surprised if the data exists. Nobody records the cost of every wedding.

Probably they asked a wedding planner, or Brides magazine or someone in the industry. And the average wedding they deal with might be $26K. And it is in their interest to inflate the number.

I’m at the local county court house a lot and people get married there for $55.00. It’s pretty fun to see the couples there.

jca's avatar

My aunt got married about 25 years ago (so around 1985) and spent about $40,000 then. Definitely a down payment on a house, but she married a rich man and so he did not need to save the money for the house.

Someone I work with told me she spent over $300 on a custom made cake topper.

These are just two examples of people that spend a lot on their weddings. Some people feel like they want the once in a lifetime event. Some people feel like they might “make it back” in gifts, or at least make some of it back.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

That figure doesn’t really surprise me either, if it refers to the US. It would be interesting to see the average cost by country. It would also be interesting to see the amount if the costs guests spend on travel and gifts were factored into it.

redfeather's avatar

If I had the money I’d do it. I better start saving now…

roundsquare's avatar

@jaytkay “Probably they asked a wedding planner, or Brides magazine or someone in the industry. And the average wedding they deal with might be $26K.”

That brings up a good point. What are they calling a wedding? Are they including the people who go to @jaytkay‘s local court and get married for $55? How about people who invite a few friends into their backyards and do a small private wedding? Etc…

But yeah, once we start talking wedding, as in big ceremony, this doesn’t seem so high. Most of the weddings I’ve gone to have had mulit-course meals with wine, champagne, open bar (at least part of the time), a DJ, a huge hall, hotel costs, flying in relatives overseas, etc… They are almost certainly way more fun to attend than to plan.

filmfann's avatar

My daughter was engaged a few years ago (since then, not), and we looked into expenses for a wedding. Sad to say $26K is mid range. We were hoping for $12K, but ran out of corners to cut.
My niece just married, and she planned to do it in Reno. Her uncle is about to remarry, and he is going to do it there.
I love a big party, and a wedding is great, but there is no reason to start off a marriage with so much debt.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@filmfann Aren’t marriages, at least in the US, paid by the parents of the bride? Or has this trend changed?

filmfann's avatar

That is tradition, but all bets are off if it is a second marriage, or the bride is in her late 20’s, and has been living with the guy for a while.

jca's avatar

It was tradition for the parents of the bride to pay for the wedding, but now, with weddings costing tens of thousands, many couples pay for part or all of the wedding themselves.

JLeslie's avatar

No surprise to me. Band, cocktail hour, dinner, cake, dress, jewelry, shoes, flowers, it all adds up. It depends on social class, and some other things. I wonder if they are counting rehearsal dinner in there? Probably the newly married couples receive quite a bit of money for their weddings, and gifts as well, so the party kind of costs the parents, but the couple leave with money and gifts to start their life. The only reason I mention it, is because a lot of people think it would be better to give the money directly to the couple for more useful things, but they get useful things from the wedding event, and have the event. My parents gave me $10k to do whatever I wanted, I out in another $5k or 7k, now I can’t quite remember. Received almost my entire registry of gifts and about $7k in cash. That was 18 years ago.

I know people who spend $20k on a barmitzvah, let alone a wedding.

jerv's avatar

To put things in perspective about 1 in 4 Americans earns about that much or less. So that means that the average wedding costs more than millions of Americans earn in a year, and puts a serious dent in the finances of at least half of all households.

But yes, those numbers are sadly about right.

YARNLADY's avatar

that sounds like the going rate to me. We spend around $200 for birthday dinners on a regular basis, so I can see it. A wedding is a once in a lifetime event so why not?

We spent close to that amount on my husband’s parents 50 th anniversary.

Aethelwine's avatar

I doubt we my dad spent more than $1500 for my wedding almost 20 years ago. My wedding was at a state park with 75 of our closest friends and family. That’s all we needed or wanted.

I hear ya @Linda_Owl. That money could go towards building a future for the couple. I’d rather spend more money on the honeymoon if I’m going to spend a bunch of cash on memories. That’s where all the great memories are made. ;)

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond But, as I pointed out the couple is probably getting a significant amount of money, and gifts from their registry going towards the couples new life as a married couple. I don’t argue that still the money might be more logically spent skipping the wedding and giving the money directly to the couple, but the $26k is not just money on the street.

Everything is on another level generally when the family has more money. Wedding costs more, but gifts are worth more. It’s just a whole other world.

@jerv It is probably the mean average, so some weddings are $75k and then there are many weddings only $15k probably, or less. Averages never really tell the whole story.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie The only gift we still have from our wedding is a pair of candle holders that are tucked away in a shoe box in our closet. I just think it’s silly to spend that much money for one day, but if someone wants to waste their money that way, that’s not my problem. ;)

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond it’s just a different world, the people who have $50k weddings. I still have the two sets of dishes, pasta bowls, serving dishes, set of flatware, a few crystal pieces, a frame or two, salt and pepper shakers, a couple of the pots and pans, recipe book, handheld blender, juicer, wine glasses, and probably a few other things I am forgetting, plus as I mentioned the $7k more or less (but I spent almost that much out of my own pocket for the wedding).

Do you only have the candle holders because you didn’t get the type of gifts that last over time? Or, just normal use of things, eventually buying new dishes, glasses break, blenders stop working, just simply over time you wind up with new stuff.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie Normal use of things. We have been married 19 years.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond Yeah, our stuff overall has lasted, but we don’t have any children, which probably makes a big difference. Less breakage and less use overall. I’ve been married 18 years.

Haleth's avatar

Holy crap, that’s an insane amount of money. Some friends of friends just got married in a park with a nice view of the city and built-in seating. The reception was a barbecue in their back yard. That sounds about perfect to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@Haleth One of the funnest weddings I went to was a reception in a backyard with a big tent, the driveway was the dance floor. We all changed after the wedding to jeans and shorts for the reception. It was great.

cletrans2col's avatar

@JLeslie Low maintenance weddings….I love attending those.

ucme's avatar

That was roughly the cost of the flowers at the recent royal wedding, tsk….how the other half live.

Aethelflaed's avatar

You know, compared to private universities’ tuition for a single year, 26k really isn’t that bad.

JLeslie's avatar

@ucme I would have guessed higher. I have friends who have paid $5k for flowers and that was 20 years ago, so it would be more expensive now I would guess.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Some people like to stage a production for their big day/first try. XD
I got married on a beach with two friends in attendance.

mattbrowne's avatar

Extremely costly weddings seem like a precursor for early divorce. Maximizers want everything to be perfect. Perfect wedding. Perfect partner. Perfect life. While imperfection is actually very normal. Satisficers settle for good enough and do not worry about the possibility that there might be something better. A really nice wedding is wonderful. It does not have to be extravagant. Saving money is a good idea when times turn tough.

jca's avatar

I know when it comes to giving wedding gifts, you are supposed to give what you want and not be mindful of the venue. However, if I attended a “backyard” wedding (which I have never but if I did) I might give $75 if I attended solo and maybe $150 if with a guest, and if I attend a fancy wedding at a fancy place (which most weddings in my area, the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area are) I would probably give at least $100 per “plate” if not more. So yes expensive weddings cost more, but they may make more back in cash gifts. Here, if you attend at a pricey venue and give $75 per person you would be considered somewhat cheap.

Aethelwine's avatar

@jca I must say, I’m glad I don’t have friends who would expect that much for a gift, but then they wouldn’t spend that much on their wedding either. If I did I wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding. :/

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My current wedding is going to be nothing like my first but that’s because of budget and also because we’re paying for everything up front, no credit, loans or family to pay for it. My fiancee is a little upset because I cancelled a more costly plan because time is drawing close, we don’t have the funds estimated for that choice and I purposefully made several plans specifically for this situation. His gripe is that he wanted to share the spot we fell in love with our immediate group of guests, he wanted to treat them all to spectacular party. I believe most people and not just the brides feel this way. It’s a 2nd wedding for both us but it still feels important to us and we want to share what we can. I believe most people feel this way and so they justify whatever costs.

Many many many people still believe marriage is something special (even multiple marriages) and the ceremonies are more than venues for gift giving, they are a way to honor the important people in your life by sharing your big events along with the small ones.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Exactly. I do the same, with some exceptions. If they are very close family or my closest friends, I would give a higher amount no matter what.

@jonsblond It is not that the bride and groom expect a more expensive gift or more money, it is the people attending tend to think like @jca and I in those social circles. One of my moms close friends who I knew growing up, I baby sat her kids, she didn’t have much money, we paid for her hotel so she could come to my wedding and I did not expect any gift from her. I was thrilled she was able to attend, her presence was my present. Many of my college friends could not afford $100 gifts, it doesn’t matter, I had no expectation in my mind of what people should give. Some relatives gave me a large check, some people gave me a $20 gift, it evens out.

tedibear's avatar

Personally, I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on a wedding. My first wedding (1992) cost about $6,000 in a nice venue, with me in a very pretty dress, great food and cake, etc. We had about 85 people there.

The second wedding (2003) was done by my best friends. Less food, but still really good, the cake was a gift from my middle sister (she made it), the husband wore a suit he already had, my dress cost $20 from a catalogue sale & another $20 to have it hemmed. We had about 20 guests. All told, we spent about $1200.

Just a side note. In 1963 my dad offered my oldest sister either the wedding that she wanted or $5000 in cash and she could do whatever she wanted with it. She took the wedding. I just looked it up and that’s about $29,000 in today’s dollars. In 1969 he made the same offer to two more of my marrying sisters. They both took the wedding. In today’s money, that’s about $24,500. I think they were both foolish, but it was their choice. What’s annoying is that by the time I got married, he never made the offer!

jca's avatar

@tedibear: I think people may view their weddings as the party of a lifetime. I think for myself, it would be a tossup – save the money or have the party. I have never been married but if I were to, I would have to determine my financial circumstances vs. my urge for a great party that will be remembered for a lifetime (hopefully).

I guess to each his own.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedibear Didn’t they get a bunch of stuff? Gifts and money?

@all This makes me wonder, if you receive an invitation, but cannot attend the wedding, do you still send a gift? Is the gift of lessor value because you did not go to the party?

tedibear's avatar

@JLeslie – I assume that they did, but I have no idea what or how much.

If I’m not attending someone’s wedding, yes, I still send a gift. And no, it’s not less because I didn’t go. They get what they would get if I was there or not.

Haleth's avatar

@jca That’s interesting. I never realized that you were supposed to bring more money/ more valuable gifts to a more expensive money. It does kind of make sense, but I would rather base the value of the money/gift on how close my relationship is with the bride and groom.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@jca: I’ve never heard of cash gifts being expected to expensive weddings. In fact, I think if people are expecting to “make back” on their wedding expenses then they’re going to start off their marriage pretty disappointed.

Folks, when you invite someone to a party (no matter the occasion), you are the host and they are your guests and/or witnesses. Gifts are just that, gifts and not entrance fees.

jca's avatar

@Haleth and @Neizvestnaya: In a perfect world…..and I absolutely agree. However, around here it’s a tad different. @JLeslie is from around my area and she will confirm what people expect here.

JLeslie's avatar

Again, I would emphasize it has more to do with what I do as the gift giver, what is customary, rather than an expectation of the bride and groom to make money back. Their parents are typically paying for the wedding remember. When I received a gift I did not think about how much someone spent really. A few relatives gave me very nice checks, which was really generous.

If they are feeding me an expensive 4 course meal at a fabulous venue with a live band and dancing, I give more because a night out there would cost me more than if I went to a restaurant and just had a few apppetizers (the last wedding I went to wound up to be basically that, I could not believe it. Saturday night Catholic wedding, lasted over an hour, finally at the reception around 8:00 starving, and served alcohol, some appetizers and cake. I actually asked a waiter if that was all the food when my husband said that is probably it, so I knew whether to save room for a minimum an entree. Indeed those appetizers were it. The reception was at a very nice hotel, they had a live band, the bride’s parents have some money).

Plus, how well I know them factors in to how much I give.

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