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How Much is that Doggy Wedding In the Window?

Every PF blogger has been talking about weddings these days.  No surprise because it’s wedding season I suppose.  According to the Globe and Mail, the average cost of weddings these days in Canada is $23,000. Some weddings I know of have even surpassed $50,000 or $100,000  (I know the wonderful lady that does my eyebrows saved up for years and years to be able to fund her child’s wedding).

As someone who is not married and likely (I hope these seven years with my boyfriend amount to something!) getting married in the next few years, I have day dreamed about what my future wedding might look like.

A Society’s Obsession with Weddings

I used to be obsessed about weddings and would watch The Learning Channel’s (remember when you actually learned something from TLC?)  The Wedding Story many times over.  I would analyze the facial expression of the bride and groom as they got married and would check for signs of doubt or true love.  I even had a theory that if the groom cried when he saw the bride walk down the aisle, it meant that he was madly in love with her.  This theory hasn’t been proven of course, it’s just the aftermath of my zany thinking.  I know, I needed to get a life.

Weddings are about celebration.  They are about tradition.  They are about emotions, family, and friends.  I can see why $23,000 would be important to ensure that a great party is hosted and that your wedding guests have a great time.  I know that a beautiful wedding is every woman’s dream and that each bride would want their wedding to be absolutely perfect.

Is it really that important though?

Is a “dream wedding” so important that a couple would want to spend $23,000 on a wedding?

$23,000 can get you a lot of things.  It can get you a decent car (perhaps a minivan or station wagon for all the future kids that you’ll be having LOL).  It can get you a decent down payment on a condo or a house depending on where you live.  It can get one of you through school (again depending on where you live) for two years.  It amounts to a lot of mortgage and rent payments.

Considering that these days 37% of marriages end up in divorce (but this might be 50% nowadays- or at least that’s what I hear).  Is it that important to spend $23,000 on a wedding?  Are those memories of that one single day in your lives worth the price tag?

I personally don’t think so.  I guess I’m not much for entertaining anyways.  I would rather ensure that the $28,000 goes towards making our new life together, our marriage, less stressful.

Weddings Represent a Transition… But to What?

Marriages are vulnerable in the first two years after the wedding.  You’re learning to tolerate each other, learning each others pet peeves (and buttons), learning each others quirks and idiosyncracies.  Learning how to LIVE with each other (and learning not kill each other) is more important than that one day.  Starting a marriage in $23,000 debt (if the couple needs to go into debt for the wedding) is not my idea of romance.  It’s not my idea of a good start.

However, there might be an argument for bigger weddings.  I remember reading in one of my undergraduate text books that when couples have BIGGER weddings, they are less likely to divorce because the couple didn’t want to embarrass themselves by telling everyone they know and everyone that attended their happy wedding that their marriage didn’t work out.  I’m not sure if there’s any validity to this.  Kim Kardashian’s wedding is an examplethat refutes this claim entirely!

I used to want to have a glamorous wedding when I was a little girl.  Now, I would just be happy if my future husband to be, close family and friends that I care deeply about, and maybe my dog were there.  I would be happy if it were held in a back yard.  I don’t need all the pomp and circumstance because I know that a lavish wedding will not give you a good marriage.  Communication, respect, cooperation, trust, support, and understanding each other will give you a good marriage.

Readers, did you spend a lot for your wedding?  In hindsight were you happy you spent this much or do you think weddings are overrated?

Article comments

Julie @ Freedom 48 says:

We spent $15,000 total (rings and honeymoon included) – and we made a HUGE effort to keep costs down. I’m actually surprised the average isn’t higher!

Young says:

@Julie- Thanks for sharing Julie! Really? To me, $28K seems really high- that being said, I haven’t done the wedding thing yet. Who knows maybe prices for things will be ridiculous!

Great post Young!

I definitely don’t think we spent too much. Everything did cost a significant sum though, but it was no where near some people pay. Also, we didn’t take on any debt for it.

My bias is that I do NOT think that $25,000-$30,000 is too much to spend depending on your income and where the couple is financially. For me, it is really based on someone’s financials rather than the trend.

Young says:

@Roshawn- Not going into debt is key, I think. It’s a big thing and at that stage in life, there are many costs that are more important (e.g. down payment, saving up for baby fund etc.). Well, I guess generally at that age (what, 25 to 30) people aren’t making that much money. I guess it takes a long time to save up that much. I better get started now lol!

Kylie Ofiu says:

We spent about $5,000 on our wedding and honeymoon. It was the largest in my family over 120 guests with lots of Tongan dancers and things. My brother is getting married in 2 weeks and they are spending over $30,000 and it is full formal. Each person in the bridal party has to spend about $1,000 themselves for bridal attire etc which I think is crazy. All up their wedding will probably cost $50,000.

I would not recommend anyone go overboard, have a budget but also it is a personal choice and if you want a big wedding, you can have it as long as you are not going into debt for it is my thoughts.

As for the ring, my husband got off light, my sister in law is a jeweller (my brothers wife) so we got it heaps cheap.

Young says:

@Kylie- Wow, total opposites! Were you and your brother opposites like that in other aspects of financial life too? I love analyzing whether the way we spend is nature vs nurture.

$5000 is an awesome amount on wedding AND honey moon! AND 120 guests?! How did you do that? (AND Tongan dancers?) You have to bestow your secret upon me.

Helly says:

Haha– I was gonna say, wow, only 37%? That’s quite an improvement over the 50% that’s been the norm in the US for a while!

I cannot fathom spending that much money on a wedding. Of course, I don’t really have a good grasp of how much weddings cost. Mine was a small ceremony held in my sister-in-law’s backyard– her gift to us was organizing the whole thing, and she did a wonderful, elegant job. We only had a handful of people in attendance: close family. My parents arranged for the photographer, the bouquet, and my dress (which only cost $300).

Cost savings aside, I found that I was quite happy with the intimate nature of our wedding– spending quality time afterward with the people we really care about, rather than flitting from table to table. Deja vu… I feel like I’ve said this before on your blog, but can’t remember what the post was about. Something wedding-related, I’m sure.

Anyway… bottom line is, even if we’d had the traditional wedding with more guests and more involved planning, I still cannot fathom spending the cost of a full 4 years’ worth of tuition at the local public university, on a wedding! Wow!

Young says:

@Helly- Sorry for the late reply Helly my favourite reader!! I’m planning to do that backyard thing too! I was reading the other day that they have “Guerilla weddings” now where people sneak into an art gallery with a officiator and get married. It’s lots of adventure but sometimes they get caught. Interesting way to save money on a wedding!

LOL yes, I remember you writing about flitting from table to table and I replied in an earlier post about how the last wedding I went to, the bride did just that and I only got to talk to her for like 30 sec. max. … deja vu!

I must stop writing about weddings lol!

Dave says:

I think that it is important to splurge on a few key areas for the things that will be remembered/the things that you actually get to keep. (Food, ring, dress, photography) – But I’m a touch bias because I’m a wedding photographer. . .

Young says:

@Dave- LOL 😉 Actually I agree with you. A good photographer is priceless. I would splurge on that, definitely. 20+ years from now, I would want to say- DAYYYYAMN we looked sexy!

I recently had a wedding wedding that was under 10K, so I know it’s possible to have a nice wedding on a budget. As for the claim about cost of the wedding vs. divorce, I’ve actually heard the opposite. The more the wedding costs, the more likely it’ll end in divorce.

Teacher Man says:

I’ve heard both arguments as well. That people with less money (who consequently spend less on a wedding) can’t afford divorce as easily as people who more financially well off.

Young says:

@LifeInTransition- Interesting. I wonder if Kim Kardashian skewed those statistics.

I think people overspend on weddings, too. You get so caught up in getting the biggest and best of everything that you overlook alternatives that could be just as beautiful and a ton cheaper. Not cheap, just cheaper. It’s not something you should ever go into debt over, in my opinion.

Young says:

@femmefrugality- Yeah, I agree. I think it can be really really easy to get into the wedding planning hysteria (e.g. wedding shows).

kim says:

Stumbled here from wellheeledblog. I wonder if there’s a correlation to a wedding budget and age. Do older people tend to want to spend less or more? The older you get, the more weddings you’ve seen to give you ideas. But also the older you get, the more you realize how much money matters. Sometimes it’s akin to wearing designer clothes – because you don’t have the confidence to pick clothes yourself so you hide behind a label. In a wedding, you have a big wedding because you don’t have the confidence to have a smaller one, potentially insulting the not-invited and family expectations.

Young says:

@kim- That’s a good theory! I think there’s some validity to that- younger people I guess just don’t understand the importance of money. Perhaps most people who are younger also haven’t lived together yet and perhaps don’t know what it’s like to have a mortgage? Also what about 2nd marriages? Usually 2nd marriages are simple and “no fuss”.

I definitely think that weddings are too overrated. I wanted the big fancy wedding, but instead went a different route and only spent a couple thousand (including the honeymoon). I have never regretted it, it was perfect for us.

Everybody else I know that’s been married always say they wish they wouldn’t have wasted all that money on one day. Most ceremonies are usually around 20 minutes or so, then there’s a few hours for the reception. It seems wasteful to me, but I’m sure some people are fine with it.

Young says:

@Jen- You’re right. I hadn’t thought of factoring in the actual time for the ceremony and the actual time spent at the reception. If we look at it THAT way, then it’s not even just one day that you blow $23,000, it’s actually within the time span of a few hours!

Jenn says:

Indeed it is wedding season and when it comes to celebrations, sometimes common sense goes out the window. There are tons of ways to save on weddings including DIY decorations, cutting down on the invitees, and booking in advance on venues. It may be your big day but there

Young says:

@Jenn- So true! 🙂

I honestly think I’d have been much happier if we’d eloped! I think we spent somewhere in the $10-15,000 range and it was just so stressful with all the planning and worrying about everyone enjoying themselves, that it wasn’t all that much fun for us. I’d definitely scale down if I had to do it over again.

Young says:

@Pamela- Ughh.. I’m getting wedding planning jitters already (and I’m not even engaged). I don’t like to worry about other people and I don’t like being centre of attention. Spending $10-15000 sounds quite reasonable, but yeah, I hate that everything comes at a premium when you attach the word “wedding” to it.

I don’t think fear of embarrassment is a very good reason not to get divorced. And spending a lot of money so you’ll be too afraid to tell the 200 people who came to your wedding that you’re getting a divorce is very poor logic.

I’m going to a wedding this weekend that, judging from the invitation and what I know about the people getting married, is going to be a fairly inexpensive wedding. And I have a feeling it’s going to be really fun. I’m going to have to bite my tongue really hard to keep myself from asking my friend, the groom, how much they spent on the wedding. That’s probably not appropriate wedding conversation. But as someone who will probably be planning a wedding of my own in the next couple years, I’m so curious to know how to plan a really fun, but inexpensive wedding.

Hopefully without having to directly ask about the costs I’ll be able to observe some of the choices they made. I might have to take notes. 🙂

Young says:

@Gen Y- I agree too. But sometimes people aren’t very logical, now aren’t they? I just read a tweet that said divorce rates have gone up since Facebook came out, and most divorce proceedings involve the word Facebook! So i have a feeling that public embarassment etc. is somehow related to how people work out their relationships.

Let us know how the wedding this weekend goes! I went to a friend’s wedding and they really went ALL OUT. They spent tons of money on it and people had a good time (almost too good of a time because there were a lot of drunken accidents).

My wedding budget for next June is about $7,000 but I keep wanting to downgrade options in favour of simplicity. It’s not worth putting myself in debt, and I’d rather spend that money on a down payment for a house.

Young says:

@Jordann- That’s super reasonable I think. It think anything under $10K is reasonable considering the cost of everything (a few thousand for photographer? wedding dress? cake? etc. etc.)

Koala says:

I had a fairly expensive wedding (probably fairly average for the city it was in). Some of the things we wanted, other aspects were important to our parents; but they also helped us pay for it. We didn’t go big on everything. I don’t regret spending the money on the wedding, we had a great day surrounded by friends and family. I would never go into debt for a wedding, but part of financial planning includes spending the money you do have on things you enjoy.

Young says:

@Koala- Yes good point 🙂 I think it certainly helps if the parents help out a little, but many of the weddings I went to, they refused help from parents and it still worked out well.

Liquid says:

I don’t want to have a large expensive wedding. I think some couples do it not for themselves but for their families and friends. It’s every dad’s dream to walk their daughter down the isle in a memorable environment with friends, a live band, cake, etc. Everyone wants to be a part of the marriage ceremony.

Young says:

@Liquid- That’s true. Or your bosses (it seems like they are obliged to be invited to your wedding eh?).

Liquid says:

Good point. Lol, don’t think I’ll invite my boss to my wedding though.

Young says:

@Liquid- Do you want a raise or not? 😉 (jk).

I think it all depends on the couple, their families, their budget, and their priorities. I have to admit that it bugs me, a little, this seeming emphasis on “budget” above all else among many personal finance bloggers and commenters. I do understand that it’s a backlash to all the pressures that Wedding World put on us to spend spend spend.

Bottom line: you don’t get a prize for having a big fancy wedding and you don’t get a prize for eloping at the courthouse. Just have the wedding you want and can afford. 🙂

Young says:

@WHB- Very true- I think that you pared it down to the four most important things. I guess weddings aren’t just about the couple, it is the amalgamation of two families too. I like your bottom line, WHB! Makes 100% sense to me 😉

We’re spending about 10% of that national average on a tiny backyard afternoon wedding scheduled for October, and so far have enjoyed the planning process a whole bunch! The important bits for us: writing our own ceremony, having a few very important people there to support us, picking the right music for entrances and exits, forgoing traditions that don’t work for us. Those aren’t expensive.

Young says:

@Remy- That is awesome! I would love to have a wedding for under $2500! I think my ideal would be around $5000 or so. How many guests are you inviting? I think it’s more fun when you can make it intimate and you know that you’re not gouging a hole in your future for a wedding.

Ryan Paredez says:

This is a good question… think this could also go back to the wedding ring. Not to sound sexist or that every woman is the same, but they seem to be a lot happier or expect a big ass diamond ring. As a man I see this as an insult to the love and care we can and will offer.

I’m not saying be cheap, but be reasonable. I undertand that ladies like jewelry and a big ring makes them feel better, but how about the fact that you know your husband really cares about you and provides for you.

What seems more valuable? This ties in with the wedding. Some couples might want this extravagant 50k wedding on the beach or in some foreign country. Don’t get me wrong that sounds like a good time.

But is it worth starting out in debt as you said. That money could be put to use for so many other more important things.

Young says:

@Ryan-Thanks for bringing out a guys’ perspective. I agree- I think that women are a bit competitive when it comes to the wedding ring (and I am probably generalizing). I agree that it’s an insult too. There are many girlfriends of mine who are expecting a “ring upgrade” 10 years down the road (or whenever) to a 2carat or bigger diamond. Really- even a ring that is like $20K (I know a few people who have spent that much on a ring- which is unfathomable but they wear it so its proof in the pudding! you could buy a CAR with that amount. Or have a big wedding.

I think this “diamonds are a girl’s best friends” thing gets carried away. Especially since the re-sale value of diamond rings isn’t very good.

Ryan Paredez says:

This is true. The value should be in the love/relationship not what you get to flash around to people. Just more reason for people to – maybe say mean things about you because your ring is so big or a reason to get mugged (God forbid) I guess we can blame advertising for the ‘Diamonds are a girls best friend.”

That’s totally a new car or a big downpayment on a more expensive one that both parties can get value out of not just something that sits on your finger.