As our economy flounders, we'll have to talk more and more about the cost of weddings and what is a reasonable amount to spend on a one-day celebration. I love this excerpt from One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead:
"What does all this wedding-industry hype mean for the woman who turns to bridal magazines for guidance and inspiration? One of the things it means is that an expectation that getting married is going to be a very costly endeavor has been drummed into her head well in advance of the start of her wedding planning...If a bride has been told, repeatedly, that it costs nearly $28,000 to have a wedding, then she starts to think that spending nearly $28,000 on a wedding is just one of those things that a person has to do, like writing a rent check every month or paying health insurance premiums. (Or she prides herself on being a budget bride and spending a mere $15,000 on the event.)."
The author continues:
"She is less likely to reflect upon the fact that $28,000 would cover an awful lot of rent checks or health insurance payments; that, in fact, $28,000 would have more than covered a 10 percent down payment on the median purchase price of a house in 2005 and would cover the average cost to a family of a health insurance policy, at 2005 rates, for a decade. The bride who has been persuaded that $28,000 is a reasonable amount of money to spend on her wedding day is less likely to measure that total against the nation's median household income--$42,389 in 2004--and reflect upon whether it is, in fact, reasonable for her or for anyone to spend the equivalent of seven and a half months of the average American's salary on one day's celebration" (27).
Sobering thoughts, indeed.
It saddens me that we think we have to spend so much money in order to create meaningful and memorable weddings. I am even more saddened when people think they can't get married unless they have enough money for an expensive wedding. One reader wrote: "I have been engaged for a little over a year and we were planning on waiting until 2010 to marry because of money."
Don't get me wrong, I do think people should save up for their weddings before they get married. Credit is a dangerous, dangerous thing, and we should--for the most part--have the money for something before we buy it (exceptions being things like houses and college).
But people shouldn't have to wait years as they save an insane amount for one day. A marriage is not the destination. It's the beginning of the journey. We should save our money for life after the wedding!
The folks at A Backyard Wedding somehow managed to save $30,000 for their wedding but decided to use only $10,000. They used the rest of the money to go towards school, a house, and a vacation. You can find their specific budget breakdown on their site.