The Average Wedding Cost Can Cripple New Families

The Average Cost of a Wedding Has Increased Significantly

The average wedding now costs $32,641, according to CNN, up 4.6% from the prior year.

This is more than 10 times what my cheap wedding cost.

It’s also more than most student loan balances at graduation. Is this number reasonable? And what kind of impact does it have on newlyweds? Recent data shows that high wedding costs can lead to lower marriage success rates. So there may be more reason than you think to watch the cost of your wedding – because it can absolutely cripple a new family financially, just as it is getting started.

The Longer-Term Impact of Wedding Costs

The immediate price tag isn’t the only thing you should consider with a wedding. As Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal points out, the average cost of a wedding can multiply over time when you factor in what that money could have earned in interest over the years. Brett points out:

If her savings earn 4% a year above inflation over the long haul, each dollar she spends now is actually taking $5—in today’s terms—out of her lifetime savings. If her money earns 6% a year above inflation, an estimate that is challenging but not ridiculous, she is taking out $11…Someone in their 50s today would have an extra $100,000 if they’d saved just $5,000 more 30 years ago.

Of course, this is assuming that the bride and groom are paying with cash that they have diligently saved up in anticipation of the big day. Most often, that is not the case. Weddings are debt traps! In which case, not only are you not making a return on the money you spent on the wedding, you are living with that debt for years, maybe even decades. Not a good way to start a lifelong bond. (continued below…)

The Guilt of Having Others Pay for your Wedding

average wedding costThe tradition of having the bride’s parents pay for everything is slowly eroding away, and according to a study done by, the bride and groom pay for the majority of expenses.

But maybe you’ll get “lucky” and daddy swoops in with his cape (money) and the increased expectations that the groom will never screw anything up that comes with it.

Sure, someone else might be footing the bill for your wedding might seem appealing at first. But think about this…if they are not extremely well off, they are probably dipping into their skimpy retirement account to help you out. And when they get older and can’t afford to pay for their own retirement, you’re going to have to either:

  • foot the bill for their assisted living
  • invite them to live with you

Bet that will make you think twice about accepting those wedding funds with open hands.

So How do You Keep your Wedding Expenses Down?

I’m going to give you the full story about how I was able to keep my wedding costs to just $2,500 in an upcoming post. But I’ll whet your appetite with three things to think about as you plan your wedding:

  1. This is your day. Keep that in mind as you plan. And don’t let others plan for you.
  2. Make your own traditions. Am I the only one who thinks that the ‘traditional American wedding’ is more like a funeral than a celebration? The McWedding tradition is one that is begging to be broken.
  3. You don’t have to invite everyone. Period.

Whatever you do, DO NOT crowdfund your wedding. It’s your responsibility, you pay for it.

Wedding Cost Discussion:

  • How much did your wedding cost or would you be comfortable spending on a wedding?
  • Do you have regret over how much your wedding cost?

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