Is a Wedding Worth the Down Payment on a House?

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The following is a guest post by fellow Yakezie participant, Kathleen, from Frugal Portland. It was written as part of a “Yakezie Blog Swap,” an event where each month, participants from the Yakezie Personal Finance and Lifestyle Blogging Network pair up and write on a common topic and then swap posts with their partner. 

This month, the topic selected for us all to write about was as follows relating to wedding spendingAccording to the Huffington Post, the average wedding cost in 2011 was $27,021. Looking at this statistic, why do you think people spend so much on weddings? Do you think it’s worth the money? How do people afford weddings that cost $27k if the national savings rate is so bad? What are the long-term financial ramifications of an expensive wedding? What tips do you have to help people save money on weddings? You can read my swapped article on Kathleen’s site today by clicking here.

Hi, I’m Kathleen, and I write about saving money, getting out of debt, and having fun in my city over at frugalportland.com. I’m excited to participate in this blog swap about whether a wedding is worth the same money as a down payment on a house!


Background

I am 30, and I have never been married. I’ve been in many weddings, and attended many more. I love weddings. My dream job is “professional wedding guest” — can anyone make that happen?

A Wedding is the Biggest Party of Your Life


Here’s the thing. Too many people focus on a wedding and not enough people focus on a marriage. I get it. Weddings are like birthday parties only bigger! More impressive! And, you get to be the center of attention much more than at a birthday. Everyone has a birthday every year, but, in an ideal world, each couple has just one wedding. And, the bride feels like going out of her way to make her party great.


Keeping up with the Kardashians


The average cost of a wedding is somewhere around $28,000. To put that in perspective, my 2005 Toyota Corolla is worth about $7,000. So, the average wedding costs four Corollas. And no, you cannot drive home a wedding. In fact, the things you get after you’ve had your big party are limited to kitchen toys, a marriage license, and 489 tea lights.

In a wedding, as in all things, you compare yourself against your peers. Whether you are the first in your age group to marry, or you’re like me, and have been to more than 20 weddings, it’s darn near impossible not to compare. Just look at the social cues: a picture of the ring is the universal sign for “I’m engaged!” because women want to see how your ring compares to theirs. They’re happy for you, sure, but they also want to know if you “did better” than they did.

More shockingly, the four-Corolla price tag for this mystical “average” wedding does not include the ring or the honeymoon. The dress is the first surprise. I haven’t purchased a formal gown since my senior prom, so inflation might have happened a bit, but if I could buy a prom dress for under $200 why on earth is a $2000 wedding dress considered a bargain?

All ranting aside (I don’t want this to become the ravings of an over 30, never been married bitter bridesmaid), it’s a bad idea to go into debt for your wedding. The success rate of marriage is so low, partly because two people spend x amount of time developing an intimate relationship and at least x amount of time planning a party. The wedding is the party, the marriage is forever. The more time you spend setting expectations and discussing what married life means to you, the less your color scheme matters.

Focus on a marriage and not a wedding. Your friends and family love you, and will have fun celebrating the beginning of the rest of your lives together. Don’t get caught up in the details. Have a blast. Love your spouse. Don’t marry someone until you’re absolutely, 100% sure you want to be old with them.

How about you all? What are your thoughts about the current levels of wedding spending? Do you think people are spending too much on this one-day event, or that it is worth the money? 

What tips do you have to save money for weddings?


Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3223/2760437873_13e50463fa.jpg

    Comments

    1. I think people are spending way too much. I could never see myself spending $20K on one day.

    2. I can easily see how the cost of a wedding quickly gets out of control. We had a “frugal” outdoor wedding at a conservation area with BBQ catering etc and in all (rings and honeymoon included) we spent just over $15,000… and that was with us being VERY conscious of cost and opting to do a lot of DIY projects.

      However, we were engaged for 3.5 years, so the expense was spread out, and honestly, we didn't even feel it! We paid for the wedding 100% ourselves, and I don't regret the expense whatsoever!

      • Frugal Portland says:

        I agree that it gets inflated — I've seen that happen. Also I did not mean to say that people who spent a lot of money on their wedding somehow failed or should feel guilty! Far from it, actually. As long as you don't regret it, you absolutely did the right thing!
        My recent post Ponderings Regarding Wedding Spending and Wedding Money Saving Tips

    3. I love being the center of attention. I try to make that happen on every birthday (and maybe a few other times a year). And my partner and I will be the center of attention on our wedding day. But it's not going to be a huge party. We intentionally kept it small not only because we're on a budget about 10% of the standard American wedding, but because we want our day to reflect our values. It's an important thing, this getting married. We're writing our ceremony and we will invite only immediate family and a few close friends, because we want to spend time with them after the ritual joining. We want to share some of the celebration with a larger circle of friends and acquaintances. We definitely don't want to go into debt. So we started saving early, and we made choices in line with what we could afford. I think it's going to be awesome. :)
      My recent post Should I take on another commitment?

      • Frugal Portland says:

        that sounds really really awesome! I could not agree more that getting married is an important thing. it's THE important thing, until you have babies. just as long as you fill your wedding with love and you end up married at the end of it, you will be set!

    4. You cannot drive home a wedding but you have a wife that you bring home after the wedding. Joke! But seriously, I definitely agree with you. Couples should focus on the marriage more than the wedding day itself.

    5. Candice Michelle says:

      Well if someone were to GIVE me money, I would rather use it for a down payment. But that works for me because I figure that I’m paying for my wedding entirely anyway – bonus money should not go towards anything nonessential.

    6. Thanks for sharing that Candice. Do you have a budget amount in mind that you'd like to spend for your wedding?
      My recent post Saving Money on Your Health Insurance

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