Where Does All This Money Come From?!

In case you didn’t see it, Yahoo recently posted an article about wedding trends in 2011 (click here to take a look).  At the bottom is a list of the top 20 most expensive cities to get married in, and that is the motivation behind this post.

I don’t like to spend money.  I mean, I like to spend money (shopping is awesome!), but not in large quantities.  Prior to the wedding, the largest check I had ever written was for something like $600.  When it came time to pick a budget for the wedding, the idea of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars for a single day literally made me sick (I am not faking the use of literally, ask Tim…it wasn’t pretty).  We decided on a budget of $15,000 because we were both fortunate enough to have stable, well-paying jobs and figured that should be more than enough to really have the kind of wedding we wanted.  To be on the safe side, I planned for $20,000 when I came up with how I was going to sock money away for this, but I didn’t tell Tim that (he still doesn’t know, shhh!) so we’d at least have to try really hard to stick to that number, but we wouldn’t be in trouble if we decided we really needed to go over for some reason (which is good because our guest list fiasco, as well as some other unexpected issues has taken us closer to $18,000).

Keeping in mind the size of our wedding and the way we’re handling it, I think the average of $27,000 is still a bit high, but for some areas I can kind of see how that could happen.  What struck me as totally “alsdfjsklfadj what?!” was that this is the average amount that is spent in Detroit.  That is only $1,000 less than what is spent in California, $2,000 less than what you’d spend in Orange County.  Now, I lived in the Detroit area for a number of years…you can buy a house downtown for that amount of money.  I have yet to figure out how you can spend that much on a wedding there short of inviting 500 people, or insisting everyone be served lobster.

The major piece of gold out of this article though, is that Detroit is #20 on the list.  For the top 5, the average is over $40,000.  That is a really nice car, most if not all of a college education, or a down payment on a house, but it doesn’t last as long as any of those things.  It’s on one day.  I don’t even want to think of what the “average” wedding in NYC looks like, because that average cost is $65,000.

I’m probably being quick to judge, and I’m not actually trying to judge, because I know that everyone has different situations and different means and different social standards.  At the same time, I know how hard we have worked to have the wedding we are having, and I can’t fathom using an entire year’s salary for a single wedding.  I can imagine that for people who rake in serious moolah that this amount is a drop in the bucket, but considering this is the average, that means there’s a good number of people above that number, more than the number of people you could write off as being that level of well off.  What these numbers really suggest to me is that people are spending beyond their means on something that, while not trivial, is frivolous.

If you can comfortably spend that amount of money on a wedding, more power to you.  I do wonder, though, if the amount of money people spend on weddings might have anything to do with the divorce rates we are seeing.  I’ve seen several stories of couples that used the amount they spent on the wedding as a sort of justification for the marriage, but realized later that wasn’t how it worked and ended up splitting.  I’m not saying everyone who spends a lot of money on weddings is trying to compensate for something, but I do think it’s an interesting trend…

Anyway, the short version of the story is I actually choked on and spit out my drink when I saw those numbers.  I thought we were being extravagant with our budget, and I don’t really feel like we’ve given up anything to accommodate it.  You don’t have to share your actual budget by any means, but how did you come up with your budget?  How are you paying for the wedding?  Do you have any thoughts on what average wedding costs?  Have you had to write any huge checks yet (and did you feel like you were going to throw up like I did)?

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Posted on April 16, 2012, in Budget, Misc. Topics (Wedding), Personal, Priorities, Wedding Planning Isn't For Sissies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Those prices are ridiculous but I am actually unsurprised. We started out with a budget of $10,000 but I think it’s going to end up being closer to $15,000 because the big things (venue, food, photographer, etc) ended up being close to $10,000 on their own. I can speak for CA being expensive because it is such a popular place to get married. I am surprised my hometown/county isn’t specifically on there because some of the venues we looked at were ridiculous. One venue wanted $22,000 for “everything!” (food, venue, photographer, and officiant) and we were like… seriously?! No thank you… I thought about getting married in an aquarium (sharks!) but those venues wanted $18,000 for the venue alone! And then when we went to block off hotel rooms, they wanted to give us a “discount” from like $250 a night to $240 a night… We finally found one that had a discounted price of $155 a night so we went with them. :p So yeah… I am sure some of it has to do with some of the lavishness that people want from their weddings but I think some of it is just how much things (venues, photographers, catering, etc) can get away with charging you.
    We have been freaking out about money since the beginning because grad school doesn’t exactly pay well and Cobalt doesn’t have the greatest job ever either. We’ve been really lucky to have such supportive families who have given us money without telling us where it should go, which has been really amazing and helpful. Blahhhh money… I understand it making you feel sick. It does similar things to me… 😦

    • Wow, some “deals” you find in your area huh?

      That’s great that you have been able to stay at a lower budget than your area wants to demand, and it’s awesome you have a supportive family to help you out! I’m sure you guys will have everything under control 🙂

      And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who feels a little sick to my stomach when I think about it. I feel less odd now.

  2. I agree with the sick to stomach feeling – there has been a point in this process where all I want is to stop. writing. checks. Our budget also crept up ($12k is now nearing $14k…) Le sigh. I do think though that the “average” wedding costs are skewed a bit; I would think the median would put more couples in the $18-30k category. But maybe I’m just hopeful!

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