What is the Average Cost of a Wedding?

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The cost of a weddingI just read a story from USA Today that focuses on the average cost of a wedding these days.  Surprise: the overall price tag of a wedding has gone down approximately $1,100 since 2008, but it still costs a whopping $26,989 on average (NOT including the honeymoon).

Where are the biggest opportunities to save coin?  Well, according to theknot.com the largest wedding cost contributors are the reception ($12K) and the engagement ring ($5K).

Why are Weddings so Pricey?

The shocking thing about this price tag is that it is, at the time of this writing, more than 50% of the median US income level of $45,000!  To me, this begs the question of why?

Well, according to the article, it has to do with the fact that many brides-to-be (or mothers of the bride…take your pick), have unrealistic expectations.  These expectations stem from many things, including their own fantasies, media coverage of elegant celebrity weddings, pressure from wedding planners and vendors, the need for status, and family pressure to name a few.  Simply put; price tags go up when brides let their emotions get the best of them.  And when emotions dictate decisions, practicality takes a back seat.

Apparently a lot of this overindulgence happens with the wedding dress.  In fact, the article quotes the president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (wow – mouthful!), whose granddaughter went 15% over her wedding budget primarily because she spent $6,000 on her dress, which was double the budget allowance for this item. Note that the average cost of a wedding gown is $1,300.

How to Cut Costs

As you can probably sense from my tone in this post, I think spending that kind of money on a one-time event that most people will barely remember 5 years after the fact is ludicrous.  In my opinion, it is better to focus in on what matters most – the food, entertainment, and being with friends and family.  Forget about spending a small fortune on the dress, flowers, centerpieces, favors and limos.  Try and reduce wherever you can: the number of guests (I know, easier said than done), the liquor selection, the décor, etc.  You’ll certainly be glad that you did!

To read the full USA Today article, which contains lots of great wedding statistics as well as personal case studies, click here.  Enjoy!

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