A friend of mine’s daughter got married last summer and I was shocked to hear that the wedding was costing $35,000. It turns out that is close to the average cost of a wedding in 2016 according to a website called, TheKnot.com.
I don’t remember how much our wedding cost 28 years ago, but while it was a beautiful day, we certainly didn’t break the bank when it came to planning the event. Assuming we spent an average amount for 1990, it would have cost about $15,000. Wedding costs have risen about 3% a year on average since then (according to Elle.com) – not too different than the rate of general inflation.
Please understand that I am certainly NOT saying that getting married is a bad investment. Marrying someone you love is priceless and marriage has incredible financial benefits compared with living alone. Yet, it is interesting to consider the opportunity cost of our 1990 wedding:
Over a 28 year period, an average $15K of wedding expense would be worth $149,300 if invested – or 2.5x the annual median household income in the United States. In a sense, it takes 2.5 years of extra work before retirement to pay for that wedding as opposed to simply eloping. Even a fair amount of discipline on wedding spending could probably save you 6 months or a full year of work before retirement. This analysis doesn’t account for the value of money or gifts received, but those aren’t necessarily proportional to the cost of the wedding.
My friend offered his daughter and her fiancé the $35K average wedding cost outright. If they spent more, the young couple would have to cover the overage. If they spent less – even much less – they kept the extra. They certainly had the opportunity to invest some of the money for the long term and shorten their working horizon. That means they might enjoy a very long – if delayed – retirement honeymoon in the future, doesn’t it?
Any advice with managing wedding costs?
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