Say I Do to the Love of Your Life and I Don’t to High Wedding Costs

We have a warm spot in our hearts for the story book wedding. The bride looks like a princess, and the groom looks like a handsome knight. The full court is decked out in their best as they dance the night away. Thank you Walt Disney. But is it worth it?

A survey by The Knot, found that Americans have always been willing to spend big for the big day. Even in the 1930’s, the heart of the Great Depression, couples were spending 25 percent of the median annual salary at that time on their wedding. But by 2012, that had grown to nearly half.

Wedding costs

The break down of expenses were different in the 1930s. Then the biggest costs were the wedding dress and the engagement ring. Today, thanks to mass production, the wedding dress doesn’t cost much more than it did then. The groom’s outfit actually costs less. Today’s big expense is in the reception.

From another survey by The Knot, a third of couples go into debt for their big day. At around $30,000 for the average wedding, it’s no wonder. But these couples start out their lives with a big hole to fill. The debt is generally high cost credit card debt. They may have to put off buying a home or saving for their long term financial security.

There is no doubt that weddings are important celebrations, and I always advise people to spend money on the things that are important to them. But you do have to ask yourself if this one day, as special as it is, will compromise your ability to do the other things that are important to you.

If you were given a choice between the wedding of your dreams and a down payment on a house, which would you choose? If you are paying for a child’s wedding and given a choice between the fairy tale and working several more years, which would you choose? Keep in mind that there is more than one way to make these events special. Bringing together your family and friends to celebrate with you will be the true source of your memories.

A study by two economics professors at Emory University found that couples who spent less on their wedding stayed married longer than those who splurged. Given that financial issues are a leading source of marital strife, it may be that putting less financial stress on the relationship at the outset is a good idea.

Where can you save money on this very special event? The big costs are in the venue and catering.

  • Hold the event in a park, a community center or even your back yard, and you will save a bundle relative to more traditional event spaces.
  • A buffet costs less than a served dinner to cater.
  • Better yet, skip the catering and get your close family members and friends to make some or all of the food. They will have a ball working together, and be honored to be a part of your big day.

You can also save money by renting a dress or buying one second hand. Friends may be able to take the pictures for you. Narrowing the guest list can’t hurt either.

Whether it’s culture, tradition or Walt Disney that is driving you to go all out for your wedding, consider what other important financial goals will be put on hold to make your fairy tale come true. Those who love you won’t fault you for choosing those goals over an expensive event that makes those other goals less attainable.

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at

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