The so-called real cost of a wedding

pinning money on a wedding dress

In “A Lavish Wedding Costs More Than You Think,” The Wall Street Journal last week warned brides and grooms-to-be that the so-called real costs of weddings could run in the hundreds of thousands.

“Your $18,000 wedding? It may really end up costing you between $90,000 and $200,000. That $2,000 dress? Think: $10,000 to $22,000. The $10,000 food bill for your guests? Try $50,000 to $110,000.”

Where did the Wall Street Journal get such figures? By estimating how much interest can be earned over a lifetime if the money goes into savings rather than toward a wedding.

Well that just broke my heart. In the words of American Express, “some things money just can't buy.” (Yes I am well aware of the irony of that statement.) What can't money buy? The vows you and your spouse exchange in front of the people you love the most; throwing the biggest party of your life for and with the people you love the most; having all of the people you love the most assembled in one place at one time (the only other time this typically happens is at your funeral and you are too dead to enjoy it.). Do you see a pattern here? Weddings are not about money. Neither spending money nor saving money. They are about you and the people you love the most.

Sure weddings can (and do) often do spin out of control and morph into money sucking vanity fairs. But that's not the only way to have a wedding. If you can remember that a wedding is about two people announcing to the world that they promise to love one another forever. If you remember that a wedding is a celebration with family and friends. If you remember that weddings are supposed to be fun. And if you remember to stay within your budget and focus your energies on creating a meaningful expression of you and your spouse's love for each other, then this romantic says that it's worth the money.

We could say the same about having kids. That if we save our money instead of having kids the savings could run into the, well, the millions I suppose. We could say that, but we don't. And for good reason I might add.

Incidentally, the Wall Street Journal also reported that wedding spending is down 8% to $17,500 on average. This bride spend $5,000 for two weddings (one on each coast). That was within our budget. We paid for everything in “cash” (read: debit card.) And, having my friends and family with me to celebrate finding the love of my life was the best money I ever spent.