Weddings are more expensive than ever, but they don't need to be

Compiled by Emily Hales, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Wed, Aug. 13, 2014, 4:05 a.m. MDT

 Weddings are becoming more and more expensive, forcing couples to make decisions to keep under budget.

Weddings are becoming more and more expensive, forcing couples to make decisions to keep under budget.


The expected cost of a wedding makes many people resentful toward the idea of marriage, but the ceremony doesn't have to be a costly affair.

According to top wedding website TheKnot.com, the cost of the average American wedding is now $30,000. With 70 percent of college graduates having an average of $29,000 in student loan debt, according to CNN, the added cost of an extravagant wedding can be daunting for young couples.

For those couples who choose to go ahead and get married, they face social pressure to have a large and entertaining party.

Huffington Post reported: "Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests — plus they're doing so in a modern way, by planning from their smartphones, publicizing details on social media and more," Carley Roney, co-founder of The Knot, said in a statement.

See also: 15 most expensive cities to get married in

The media is partly to blame for the bloated wedding price, according to Deseret News.

“Every time some pop star gets married and it’s all over the cover of People Magazine, it inspires more girls to have destination weddings," said Sandy Malone, a destination wedding planner. "Just like little girls emulate what they see, so do young women who are watching the stars.”

Guests are also beginning to dread attending weddings because of the high expected costs, according to MarketWatch. The article referenced an American Express survey that found "this year, guests are expected to spend an average of $592 per wedding, up 10 percent from $539 per wedding last year and a 75 percent jump in just two years."

Being a member of a wedding party, which was once considered an honor, is becoming more of a burden, Financial Post reported.

"Julianne Taskey, a 31-year-old Toronto resident who works in fundraising has been in six wedding parties; she spends about $1,000 to fulfill her bridal party duties," the report stated.

While Taskey may be an extreme example, pressure for the couple to put on a lavish show for their friends and relatives and pressure for the guests to prove their affection by buying expensive presents and paying their own way to a huge destination wedding create a vicious circle. What if we collectively decided to say no more?

"Weddings are not expensive. Whims are expensive," wrote Albert Burneko of The Concourse. "'Wedding, A' is not some discrete thing that you buy, but rather an agglomeration of discrete things that you heap or do not heap, entirely of your own volition, onto the performance of a fairly simple ceremony."

Rachel Lu, a writer for The Federalist, has proposed what she calls the "cubic zirconia principle:" Instead of creating a magical and completely original wedding, which are generally more expensive, it should be acceptable to hold a simple and traditional ceremony. It should be socially acceptable to get a cubic zirconium ring instead of a diamond.

"In order to make this work, it’s not just bridal couples who have to be reasonable. It’s guests, too," Lu continues.

She suggested that guests not expect to be treated to a banquet at the reception, and to refrain from making critical comments of the wedding or the couple.

"In the long run," she says, "it doesn’t matter that much what flavor the cake is, or whether the bridesmaids’ dresses make their ankles look puffy," she said. "Celebrate love. Give the bridal couple a good 'welcome to adult life' sendoff."

Email: ehales@deseretnews.com

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1. bass679
Novi, MI,
Aug. 13, 2014

These prices are ridiculous. I got married a little over 2 months ago, we spent about 1/3 of this and I thought it was crazy expensive. And over $500 for guests? I mean a lot of my family flew in from Utah for the wedding but we didn't expect any gifts from them, that was their gift. I mean we didn't have any sort of crazy exotic ceremony but do you really need that? For $30,000 you could have a wedding, honeymoon, and a nice nest egg to start a house!

2. Shimlau
Aug. 13, 2014

bass679; So true!

3. uncommonsense
Aug. 13, 2014

While this story might represent weddings in other parts of the country it's not so here in Utah. Utahns are cheap when it comes to holding weddings. Particularly when it comes to hiring a photographer. They'll pay hundreds for a dress. A thousand or more for the venue and then serve water, carrot sticks and cake. For a photographer to record one of the most important days in their lives they'll get Uncle Joe who will take a few poor quality photos. There should be a significant investment in a photographer. When my last daughter was married a third of the expense was to hire a great photographer. Money very well spent.

4. FDRfan
Sugar City, ID,
Aug. 13, 2014

If people took the money wasted on diamonds and weddings and invested it in education or nest eggs there would be a lot less need for prosaic.

5. bass679
Novi, MI,
Aug. 13, 2014

I recall 2 weddings from college. One was the gentleman who was eventually my best man. the wedding was held in a public park overlooking Golden Colorado, the food was prepared by the bride's family and the Minister was the bride's uncle. Total cost, perhaps $1000. the year previous I was a groomsman for a wedding of another college friend. the bride's parents flew the entire party of groomsmen/bridesmaids to Anchorage for a lavish, 100+ person wedding. I have no idea how much it cost but my ticket alone was over $1000. Probably close to that $30k number.

For ours I think we did it reasonably
$1000 - church, minister, reception hall, etc
$5000 - Catering, and wedding cake. We greatly overestimated how much food we'd need (protected for 90 people)
$1000 - Photographer, all digital photos except a few large prints.
$600 - tuxes for me and the groomsmen (brides maids bought their own)
$1000 - Flowers

We had a lovely wedding with many guests. The biggest savings to be had is usually the food. Everything was very high quality. We paid for it ourselves and it was quite a bit of money for a couple starting out. I can't imagine spending $30k on one.