Social Question

ibstubro's avatar

Do people pay too much for fancy weddings?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) April 24th, 2016

Isn’t there tremendous societal pressure for many new brides to spend excessively on a wedding party?

Doesn’t it make more sense to put that money toward a future life event, like buying a home or having a baby?

Nod to @jca on Are we paying too much money for funerals for our deceased loved ones?

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38 Answers

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I think that when a couple pays more for their wedding than they can for their first house, they’ve wasted years of opportunity. And if their parents have paid for it instead of buying them their first house, they are stupid to the extreme.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Of course they do. It’s the other terminal on the opposite end of the line as the funeral industry. But in the end, who’s to say what is too much to spend on a loved one, when either marrying them off or putting them in the ground?

Jaxk's avatar

Many weddings are still paid for by the ‘Father of the Bride’. If they can afford it and they want it, let them have it. If you’re looking at this as something that occurs several times during their lifetime, it may seem extravagant. If you’re looking at it as a once in a lifetime event, maybe not. You can get married for virtually nothing or you can spend millions. One size does not fit all.

janbb's avatar

Not my thing but I try not to be judgmental.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I don’t think there’s any question that people spend too much on weddings.

If the couple pays for its own big day, that money would be better put into a retirement savings account or used as a down payment for a house purchase.

It’s true that the “Father of the Bride” still covers many wedding tabs, but said father is often taking a home equity loan to pay the bills. That’s pure insanity – middle-age parents swapping their own financial security and hard-earned stability for a big party.

My cousin, an R.N. who’s always worked hard, did exactly that. His wife had storybook notions of giving their daughter a big, expensive wedding, so they spent well beyond their means. You can guess what’s coming next; yes, the daughter and her husband were separated and divorced within a couple of years.

It’s the marriage that matters, not the wedding.

Jak's avatar

Most people seem to pay more attention the the wedding than the marriage, does that count?

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@Jak Don’t we all know people who weren’t happy together or suited for each other, but who got caught up in the excitement of wedding planning? It’s a very sad thing when a mismatched couple forgets that any wedding is just the gateway to a marriage.

Jak's avatar

@Love_my_doggie, I think that description covers most of our mind numb, mindless consumer driven society.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ve read that if you call a party a wedding you can expect to pay 20% more. The vendors take advantage of the supposedly impulsive and emotional state of the bride and others involved. So, in that way, yes most people pay too much.

If you ask me if it’s foolish to pay for a wedding at all, and the money is better spent on other things? That’s something else. If people have the money and want to spend it on a wedding, I say have at it. I don’t like when people go into debt for a wedding, or spend their last dollar. Or, if it will significantly impact their ability to save, buy a home, or take care of paying for necessary or important expenses.

Many weddings a lot of the money comes back to you in gifts and gift money. Mine did. I probably would have received less than half the money and gifts without the wedding. I don’t mean I did a wedding for gifts, I’m saying I could have purchased those things myself if I didn’t have a wedding, or done without some of the items, but instead I got a party and the things and the money. I didn’t come out ahead, but I didn’t “lose” the whole wedding amount.

My registry was 75% every day stuff that I still use today. The remaining 25% I have, and they are items used maybe 4–6 times a year. I received cash equalling about 40% of the cost of the wedding. I’m not sure what my registry totaled to? Maybe $3k?? Plus, a few more random gifts.

canidmajor's avatar

Only if they feel they have not received value for their $$$.
“Too much” is entirely subjective.

Coloma's avatar

Absolutely, but each to his own. My daughter has no interest in a big wedding, she would like to elope or just do a justice of the peace thing and then throw a big party, but she is also not marriage minded at this time even though she enjoys a good relationship with her SO of the last few years now.
If I had the financial solvency I did before the recession wiped me out I would have happily gifted 20–30k to her and nixed the wedding scene. Spending 30k on a wedding is obscene IMO and could be much better used by the couple for a home or whatever they needed to attain marital lift off.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@canidmajor The “too much” can be a long-term concept. Newlyweds may be delighted with the memories of their perfect wedding. Over time, though, they might have to face the consequences of a depleted savings account or the fact that their aging parents are carrying a $30K – $50K second mortgage on what should have been wealth and a resource.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Yeah they probably do. But so many people want that fairytale wedding. I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to feel like a prince if I get married. Because I do.

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t believe that you have to spend a large amount of money to have a fairytale/storybook/perfect wedding.
Unless it’s money that brings you happiness.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@ibstubro Well you could possibly spend a lot less and still accomplish what you want.

There is also the issue that people who invite large amounts of friends and family to their wedding, end up having a more costly wedding.

ibstubro's avatar

Personally, I’m not terribly impressed by big church weddings, @NerdyKeith, and they seem to cost the most. Outdoor weddings seem more special to me. And more informal.

It’s also been my personal experience that a lot of the friends and family appreciate being able to skip the wedding and commune at a reception. That, too, can get expensive, but at least it avoids @JLeslie‘s 20% wedding premium.
Really, it comes down to what makes you happy. It’s people feeling pressured to spend a lot of money on a wedding that I hate. And I hear it a lot. “Well, I really only wanted…but…”

canidmajor's avatar

@Love_my_doggie: Oh, I understand all the ramifications, short and long term, but again I say it’s subjective. Your interpretation of “too much” is going to be different from everybody else’s, and I’m certainly not going to judge. If the question had been “Do you think putting your parents into hock because you want a big ol’ splashy wedding is selfish?” Then I would probably have answered with a guarded “yes”. Guarded because unless I know the circumstances, I still shouldn’t judge.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro The pressure is in their own head. It’s like any peer pressure. In high school I felt pressure to drink, so I avoided hanging out with some of my long time friends who started drinking regularly at parties. Eventually, I developed the guts to just say I didn’t want a drink. You know what happened? Most people didn’t care that I didn’t drink, my close friends didn’t care at all.

jca's avatar

To each his own. I’ve never been married and I think if I were planning a wedding, I would be more practical than to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding. I also wouldn’t expect or want my parents to spend tens of thousands on my wedding, either. To me, it could be a down payment on a house. However, how could I begrudge someone from spending a lot on a wedding? Who the fuck am I to say how someone else should spend their money? If someone wants to do it and it means a lot to them, it’s not my place to say they shouldn’t. It’s like anything, a car, a house, a fancy piece of jewelry. If you want to buy it and it’s your money, that’s great. I’m sure people could look at some things I spend my money on and be critical, but it’s my money. I earned it and I’ll do what I want with it. For the bride and groom, if they earned it or they can get their parents to pay for it, how can that bother me and why should it?

I’ve heard people talk about wanting to “cover their plate” with the gift, meaning pay for the cost of the plate at the caterer’s by giving an ample enough gift. Around here, a plate might be $150 for cocktail hour and three courses with open bar (and this does not include the other stuff like DJ/band, photographer, etc). For me, to go to a wedding with a date and pay $300 as a gift is very cost prohibitive. I’m wondering (maybe it’s worthy of a separate question) if other people feel that they try to give a gift that “covers the plate.” I feel obligated to, but as I said, three hundred bucks is a lot of money to give as a gift.

@JLeslie: I’ve heard people who produce things for parties, including weddings, say that the reason why things cost more for weddings than for regular parties is that when they’re for weddings, the bride will often come back time and time again with requests or changes and it takes hours of the producer’s time to go over the requests and changes.

Thank you, @ibstubro and GQ to you for crediting me!

ibstubro's avatar

Of course it’s all in their heads, @JLeslie. Unfortunately, getting married is a do-or-die, now-or-never thing. The first thing a bride’s family has to determine is the scope of the marriage and venue.

I’m rural and almost all the people are, too, so there’s not a lot of hoopla around weddings. Jeans may not be the norm, but there is always someone there wearing them. And why not?

I think there’s a lot more competitiveness in the cities, but I base a lot that on media.

Coloma's avatar

I completely agree that people can spend their own money however they choose, but my pragmatic side says, why would you spend upwards of 30k on a wedding instead of having a simpler affair and then buying a home or traveling the world with your new spouse for a couple months? That would be my choice. haha
When I married way back in 1981 my wedding probably cost about 3k, tops. That was my dress, 3 bridesmaid/maid of honor dresses, suits for the groom and groomsmen/best man, wedding cake, flowers, catering, buffet style dinner with 2 entree choices, church fees, the works.

The reception was at my new in-laws nice home, outdoors, pool side on a summer evening and included all the alcohol as well and a DJ for the music. That same, nice but not over the top wedding for about 40–50 people would probably be a min. of 12–15k now, easily.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I should ask my BIL’s they do event planning. They charge a lot not matter what event I would guess. What you said makes some sense, but supposedly it’s every part of the wedding possibly gets hiked up. The flowers, the DJ, cake, the food, and we know the dresses are pricey.

I don’t think weddings are always gouged, but I think there is opportunity for it. It probably depends when and where. Probably, the flowers have the most room for price hikes, and that’s exactly my BIL’s specialty. Although, again, they do high-ish end stuff, so I’m thinking their prices are up there anyway.

If you ever need a party planner let me know. Lol. They do a lot of corporate events too. They’re big with the use of light. Really spectacular.

anniereborn's avatar

Some do. But I don’t feel I did….either time :p

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: I think these were cake bakers and cookie bakers (the fancy decorated cookies) on FB. They were saying the bride comes back time and time again with these demands/requests and hemming and hawing over decisions and so much time is spent sitting with bride and going over the changes.

I know there are TV shows about the bridezillas being demanding and awful. Someone in my sister was going to be in a bridal party for a demanding bridezilla. The shower started from breakfast and went through to drinks and an afternoon affair. Dresses, parties, gifts – my relative said she spent about 5k on that alone. Then the wedding was in the Caribbean which of course meant the bridal party had to get down there and stay at this expensive resort. This was after the bride had been laid off but still wanted the fancy wedding. We all said how stupid she was for being such a demanding bitch but as far as spending the money on the wedding, I guess she had to keep up with her appearances and her image of being fancy.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I was sort of obsessed with my wedding, but I didn’t change things, or torture the vendors like that. My obsession was more reading up on weddings, deciding what I wanted, shopping around, that sort of thing.

I can’t imagine changing thing 3 or 4 times. My floral vendor was pretty incompetent, they might have felt I was like that. I should have canceled them at the beginning. I drove twice, one hour, to see a sample centerpiece, and they didn’t have it when I arrived. Luckily, it all turned out ok, but literally the morning of my wedding I went down to check the flowers and they had the wrong color for the tables and bridesmaids! They fixed it. I don’t know how they did it in a few hours. I loved my bouquet, thank goodness. I’d hate to see one I didn’t like in the photos. I was very specific about my bouquet.

My band, cake, food, I talked to the vendors one time to pick everything, and once a few days before the event I think. The food I had a taste tests in the middle at one point.

jca's avatar

Now they often have a groom’s cake, too. It’s amazing how much fancy cakes cost. When I see FB pages about cake baking, they charge not by the size of the cake, but by the serving. They talk about 5 dollars a serving. I think if I were paying for a cake, I’d rather pay by the size of the cake (10 inch, 8 inch, whatever). When you buy a cake in the bakery, they don’t ask how many people are going to eat it, you just pay by the size.

When a good friend of mine got married (back in the early 80’s), her husband made the floral arrangements out of silk flowers. I didn’t know at the time so I didn’t scrutinize them but I’m sure they were fine as he probably made them well if I know him. It’s amazing now how like you guys discussed above, there seems to be such societal pressure on having a certain kind of wedding.

JLeslie's avatar

I paid per serving for my cake. My cake $$$ were refunded to me, because the cake was leaning when it arrived. It wasn’t supported well. It tasted good. I didn’t expect them to refund the whole thing, but they did. The catering person at the hotel called them for me.

When I got married in the early 90’s I read about doing silk flower centerpieces. They cost the same usually, but then you can have a souvenir from your wedding and so can people you specify to take a centerpiece home.

I actually saved easily a few to several hundred dollars, because my departing gift we used my SIL’s that she never used at her wedding.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: What is a departing gift?

I still don’t get the logic of paying per serving for cake. As I said, when you buy a cake in a bakery, you pay by the size of the tiers, not by how many people are going to eat it.

janbb's avatar

I think the emphasis in this discussion on the bride’s father paying for the wedding is a little outdated. First of all, most mothers of the bride work too. Also, many folk who get married are in their thirties these days and paying at least partially for the wedding. Also, with wedding costing so much, very often the groom’s family is contributing a lot. I’ve known of cases where the groom’s family paid for it all..

I do agree it can be over-the-top and is usually driven by the bride’s ideas. More than seeing it as competitive, I think many women have been sold on the ideal of a fairy-tale wedding and don’t think out of the box.

Me wedding was small, we had 22 people and a brunch afterward. It cost about $1,000. It was lovely. People

JLeslie's avatar

@jca A gift the guests take with them. Anything from golf balls with the bride and grooms names to candy dishes with Jordan almonds, really anything. I think it should be parting gift? Maybe not departing gift? Jewish wedding might have yamaka/kippah with the groom and brides names inside.

@janbb is right about the idea that the bride’s father or parents pay all the time. Most wedding the groom’s parents pick up part of it. Sometimes the groom and bride pay for some or all of the wedding. I paid for part of mine, but like I said I basically got the money back.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@janbb I think that “Father of the Bride” is cute euphemism for the parents of the bride and/or groom either footing the entire bill or contributing. I don’t think any of us mean the term literally. That Spencer Tracy/Elizabeth Taylor movie was sweet, and its title has seeped into the vernacular.

janbb's avatar

@Love_my_doggie Well, in terms of gender equality I think it is time to retire that metaphor. It just doesn’t make sense any more and perpetuates the stereotypes. (And yes, I am in a grumpy mood so forgive me.)

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@janbb ^^^ Are you already tired of eating matzah, girlfriend? :-)

janbb's avatar

@Love_my_doggie Ha! Just trying to get my house back together after a lovely visit with my kids and grandkids! And – lose three pounds in one day!

Love_my_doggie's avatar

^^^ I’m going for 5 pounds in the next 10 minutes. Please, no wagering…

Coloma's avatar

@janbb 3 lbs. in day, just what is this mysterious Penguin reducing program you have going on? One Sardine for breakfast and a brisk swim in ice water?

@Love_my_doggie Don’t forget, we are always 13 lbs. lighter than the scale reads because one must deduct the weight of their head, average 13 lbs., because your head is not, technically, part of your body. lol

jca's avatar

Most couples I know paid for the majority of their weddings themselves. Between getting married later in life and not coming from rich parents I think are the two main reasons why.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@Coloma My own head weighs at least 25 lbs. Except for a small cavity for my pituitary gland, everything’s solid bone.

Tee hee! How have you been, Laurie?

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