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Wedding Day Dollars

by Kevin McKinley - May 22nd, 2016

Posted Under: events

We’re back with more information on the expenses associated with weddings, and all of the pre- and post-nuptial events and activities. 

Today we’ll take a look at the actual wedding itself. If you haven’t paid for one for a while (or ever), you may want to brace yourself for what some people are spending. 

What, how much??!!!

According to a survey conducted by the wedding planning website TheKnot.com, respondents who got hitched last year spent an average of over $32,000 on everything from the engagement ring to the thank you notes. 

The biggest portion of the outgo wasn’t even for the wedding.  The total costs of the ceremony, including the venue, outfits, flowers, and photographer, were less than $10,000. 

Where the bucks really start to add up is for the reception afterwards. TheKnot’s survey found that couples spent almost $15,000 on the venue, $4,000 on a band, and nearly $70 per person for food. 

The respondents said that 44 percent of the expenses were covered by the bride’s parents. The hopefully-happy couple picked up a similar portion, and the remaining 12 percent was paid by the groom’s side of the family. 

Some ways to save

If you’re planning your own wedding, and you, your family, or your future in-laws have the money and the motivation to spend the aforementioned amounts (or more), congratulations!

But if you would prefer to keep things a little more reasonable (for whatever reason), some simple steps can substantially reduce wedding day bills.

Start with the post-nuptial party. First, limit the guest list. The fewer people you invite to the reception, the more time you will be able to spend with the attendees who can make it.  

If you still want to have a big bash, skip the sit-down meal, and instead consider a buffet. When the conditions allow, an expertly-prepared chicken or pig roast will be as appreciated as much as a fancier dinner costing many times as much. 

When serving drinks at a larger wedding reception party, quantity is usually preferable to quality. Beer should come from a barrel, rather than a bottle. The wine should be decent, but not too good. And it’s possible to rent soda, coffee, and water dispensers for the kids and other non-drinkers in attendance. 

A live band is a nice touch, but more band members can cost more big bucks. A DJ is much less expensive, and has a much larger musical repertoire. 

Better yet, many couples choose bride to put together their own playlist on a digital app like iTunes, and hook it up to a good sound system that could be rented for a few hundred bucks. 

What that money could do instead

If you need more motivation to control your wedding spending, think of some other long-lasting benefits that could arise from using the money for other goals.

For instance, $30,000 put towards student loans could eliminate ten years of $345 monthly payments, assuming an interest rate of 6.8%.

Or it could serve as a 20% down payment on a $150,000 house (plus make it more likely that the lender would be willing to offer a mortgage to a young couple just starting out). 

If saved for retirement at a hypothetical annual rate of return of 6%, that $30,000 could be worth almost $235,000 in thirty-five years. And trust us on this—2051 will be here sooner than you would think, or want it to be. 

One more motivator

Last but not least, a study conducted by two economics professors at Emory University may help you find your frugal fortitude. 

They studied 3,151 American adults who were currently married, or had been at one time. The researchers discovered that women whose weddings cost more than $20,000 were 1.6 times more likely to be divorced than those who spent between $5,000 and $10,000. 

Better yet, those who spent less than $1,000 were less likely than the average couple to be divorced. 

In other words, if you’re going to get married, do it to be married—not because you want to throw a lavish, expensive party.