The following is a guest post by fellow Yakezie participant, Jacob, from My Personal Finance Journey. 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 spending. According 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 Jacob’s site by clicking here.
Being the age I am (27 years old young), weddings are a very commonplace happening, with many of my friends that I grew up with either getting married or having children each month. In fact, it’s hard to go through my Facebook News Feed without coming across a post and/or pictures of a recent wedding. Since I am a personal finance blogger, each time I see one of these (especially if it looks like a particularly big event) weddings, I usually am thinking in the back of mind about the finances that went in to making the wedding go forward.
So, one could say that I’ve thought quite a lot about the issue of wedding spending in this country, and as such, I’m excited to share some of my thoughts with you today. So, let’s go through these questions presented above one-by-one.
Why Do You Think People Spend So Much on Weddings?
In my opinion, people spend extraordinary amounts of money on weddings for two simple interconnected reasons – 1) because they become unchangingly set on what type of wedding they want to have (many times at a young age) before they consider or even know about the finances involved and 2) invite many attendees to their wedding.
From what I’ve seen, people in general can be surprisingly driven to obtain something they really want, especially if they’ve been wanting that particular something for 20-30 years of their life. Such is the case with weddings. If a person has been dreaming of having their wedding a certain way since he or she was 5 years old, it is difficult-to-impossible to change their mind because the finances don’t make sense, especially for something as special as a wedding day.
This can be particularly challenging financially if the person described above has been dreaming of having a large number of attendees to their wedding since childhood. I’d posit that it is nearly impossible to have a wedding containing 200 guest for less than $20,000-$30,000. This is simply because everything with weddings is such a “novelty” item, and therefore costs an arm and leg to buy. When you multiply this expensive price by 200 guests, you can imagine how the costs add up!
In addition, I think that there is also a significant amount of “peer-pressure” in today’s society surrounding weddings. This pushes people to spend more on their wedding so that they can possess “bragging rights” about whose wedding was the MOST AWESOME or which diamond ring was THE BIGGEST. This can also get people in trouble financially.
Do You Think It’s Worth the Money?
Personally, no, I don’t think it’s worth it to spend $27,000 on a wedding because it is just a one-day event, and I think there are more valuable uses of money (houses, college educations, traveling the world, saving for retirement, etc).
However, the answer to this question is not simple at all because a person cannot get married to himself or herself (haha), and the thoughts and feelings of the other person would need to be taken in to consideration to truly determine how one would react to this in real life.
How do People Afford Weddings that Cost $27,000, Given the Low National Savings Rate?
As I mentioned above, when people have been dreaming about having a wedding a particular way for 20-30 years, they have a tendency to become very determined to make that dream in to a reality – no matter what it takes from a financial perspective.
Often times, several of my friends that have gotten married have been offered a large lump sum from their parents, along with the choice of either saving it for a down-payment for a house or spending it on the wedding. And, more often than not, they have used all, if not more, than the amount given by their parents on the wedding.
Aside from obtaining the money from parents, people determined to have an expensive wedding could turn to loans – either in the form of additional credit via unsecured personal loans, home-equity lines of credit, or simply living off/racking up a lot of debt on their credit card for several months in order to save up several additional thousands of Dollars for the wedding.
What are the Long-Term Financial Ramifications of an Expensive Wedding?
The long-term financial ramifications of having an expensive wedding are fairly easy to guess after reading the previous section about how people afford a $27,000 wedding. First, if significant amounts of the couple’s own cash reserves or the amount given by the couple’s parents were exhausted on the wedding, it could set back the couple for several years while they wait to save up enough money again for a down-payment for a house. Second, if additional debt was taken on to finance the wedding via personal/home equity loans or an increased balance due on the credit card, significant amounts of interest will be owed on these balances. And, since this form of credit is unsecured, the interest rate most often will be quite high, making it harder for the couple to save for retirement and other financial goals.
What Tips Do You Have to Help People Save Money on Weddings?
Overall, I think the most powerful, simple tip to save money on a wedding is to reduce the number of people that you invite. As I mentioned above, I don’t believe there is any hope in this world of having an affordable wedding if you HAVE to have 200 of your closest friends there.
Along with this tip, listed below are several other ideas I came up with that people could use to save some money on their wedding:
- Don’t have a “destination wedding” in a far-off place where you have to pay to fly your entire family there.
- Have the reception at someone’s house, backyard, or other place that does not cost thousands of Dollars to rent out for one night.
- Serve Charles Shaw “Two Buck Chuck” ($2.99 per bottle) or other cheap alcohol instead of fancier options. No one will care what the drinks taste like after the 5th one anyway, right?
- Have someone in your family DJ instead of hiring a DJ or paying a band.
- Have someone in your own family bake the cake instead of paying $5,000 for one.
- Limit the amount of flowers at the wedding/reception to ones that can be picked in your own garden.
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://www.public-domain-image.com/objects/slides/golden-wedding-rings-on-white-background.jpg