Get my 5-day email funnel that generated $400,000 from a single launch

Want an email sales funnel that's already proven to work? Get the entire word-for-word email funnel that generated $400,000 from a single launch and apply it to your own business.

Yes! Send me the funnel now
Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance”

The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings?

257 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

80 3

On Saturday night, I was out with some friends, including one who’s planning her wedding for next August. I’ve had a bunch of family weddings in the last few months, so I suggested she check out a nearby stationery store for her invitations. “It’s really expensive, like $14 per invitation. But at least you can get some ideas for design.”

She looked at me and, without a hint of arrogance, said, “Oh, I’ll check it out. I actually talked to my family and we have an unlimited budget for the wedding.” With one sentence, I was rendered speechless. She didn’t brag. She just said it matter-of-factly: Her wedding could cost anything and it was ok.

She comes from a very wealthy family, so this isn’t such an unusual thing. What is unusual, however, is that so many people will scoff at the above story — and then proceed to spend ungodly amounts on large purchases like a new home or a wedding while steadfastly insisting how absurd “most” people are. Today, I want to write about how to plan for these large life events. But be prepared — you’re going to have to confront the hypocrisy that we all have when it comes to these purchases.

Of course your wedding will be simple
When my first sister called me to tell me that she’d gotten engaged earlier this year, I was out with my friends. I ordered champagne for everyone. When my other sister told me she was getting married a few months later, I told all my friends again. Then I found out they were having an East coast wedding and a West coast wedding — each — for a total of four weddings in a few months. I ordered a round of cyanide and made mine a double.

That’s what got me started thinking about weddings recently. The average American wedding costs almost $28,000, which, the Wall Street Journal notes, is “well over half the median annual income in U.S. households.” Hold on: just wait a second before you start rolling your eyes. It’s easy to say, “These people should just realize a wedding is about having a special day, not about putting yourselves in crippling debt.”

But guess what? When it’s your wedding, you’re going to want everything to be perfect. Yes, you. So will I. It’ll be your special day, so why not spend some extra money to get the extra-long roses or the filet mignon?

My point isn’t to judge people for having expensive weddings. Quite the opposite: The very same people who spend $28,000 on their weddings are the ones who, a few years earlier, said the same thing you’re saying right now: “I just want a simple wedding. It’s ridiculous to go into debt for just one day.” And yet, little by little, they spend more than they had planned — more than they can afford — on their special day. Why is that?

The spending for weddings increases year after year. Yet we insist that we will be different: Of course we won’t spend that much. Of course we’ll have a budget. Of course we’ll have a small simple wedding. Sure we will.

So what should we do?
So knowing the astonishingly high costs of weddings, what can we do?

I see three choices:

Cut costs and have a simpler wedding. Most people, frankly, are not discplined enough to do this. I don’t say this pejoratively, but statistically: Most people will have a wedding that costs tens of thousands of dollars. (If you want to debate the difference between the average or median amount, see here or below for a simulated wedding budget.)

Do nothing and figure it out later. Most people do this. I spoke to a recently married person I know who spent the last 8 months planning her wedding, which became a very expensive day. Now, months later, he and his wife don’t know how to deal with the debt resulting from the wedding. If you do this, you are a moron. But you are in good company since almost everybody else does it, too.

Budget and plan for the wedding. Ask 10 people which of these choices they’ll do, and every single one of them will pick this one. Then ask them how much money they’re saving every month for their wedding (whether they’re engaged or not). I guarantee the sputtering and silence will be worth it. (Leave a comment describing what happens!) This is a great idea in theory, but is almost never followed in practice.

We actually have all the information we need: The average age at marriage is about 27 for men and 26 for women. We know that the average amount of a wedding is about $28,000. So, if you agree with this choice — and you don’t want to go into debt for your wedding — here’s how much you should be saving (RSS readers, click here):

Most of us haven’t even thought about saving this amount for our weddings. Why not? What do we do instead?

We say things like,

  • “Wow, that’s a lot. There’s no way I can save that. Maybe my parents will help…”
  • My wedding won’t be like that. It’ll be simple and elegant”
  • “I’ll think about it when I get engaged”
  • “Luckily, I won’t have to pay for it.” (Who will? Is your future spouse thinking like this?)
  • “I have to marry a rich guy” (I’ve heard people say this and and they were only half-joking)

More commonly, though, we don’t think about this at all: one of the most major expenditures of our lifetimes, which will almost certainly arrive in the next few years, and we don’t even sit down for 10 minutes to think about it. Something’s broken here.

Here’s a sample expense sheet of a wedding. Try playing around with it (RSS readers, click here):

(Figures taken from my dad, recent wedding-planning expert, and partially combined with these figures and these figures.)

Note how changing the amount of guests doesn’t really change the cost very much: Reducing the headcount 50% only reduces the cost 15%. Creating a simple, affordable wedding, it turns out, is surprisingly hard.

It’s not just weddings
Weddings are just one example. We don’t plan out our largest expenses, like houses, cars, and even kids. This is what I call conscious spending but, honestly, it’s much easier to simply ignore these looming purchases and think about them later.

The problem is, if you don’t plan ahead, it becomes much, much more expensive. From the example above, a 25-year old who starts saving for his wedding will have to save 3.5 times the monthly amount a 20-year old will. The alternative is to simply finance it, which makes it even more expensive because of interest. This is especially true of long-term loans for houses.

Some recommendations
1. Be realistic. Even though you’re reading personal-finance blogs like iwillteachyoutoberich and are probably better at your finances than 99% of other people, you’re still human. Your wedding (and mine) will be more expensive than we plan. The head-in-the-sand approach, however, is the worst thing we can do. Sit down and make a realistic budget of how much your big purchases will cost you in the next ten years. Do it on a napkin — it doesn’t have to be perfect! Just spend 20 minutes and see what you come up with.

2. Set up an automatic savings plan. Since the last recommendation to make a budget was completely unrealistic and almost nobody will do it, I suggest just taking a shortcut and setting up an automatic savings plan. Assume you’ll spend $25,000 on your wedding, $20,000 on a car, and (however much) on a down payment for a house. “But Ramit,” you might say in an annoying perfectionist voice, “that’s almost $3,000 per month. I can’t afford that!” Can you afford $300? If so, that’s $300 better than you were doing yesterday. Now that you’ve read this, your preparation — or debt — is a choice.

3. You can’t have the best of everything, so use the P word. Prioritization is such an important concept. Like I said, it’s human nature to want the best for our wedding day or first house, and we need to be realistic about acknowledging that. With that said, we simply can’t have the best of everything. Do you want the better food or an open bar at your wedding? If you have the costs on paper, you’ll know exactly which tradeoffs you can make to keep within your budget. If you haven’t written anything down, there will appear to be no tradeoffs necessary. And that’s how people get into staggering amounts of debt. For the things you de-prioritize, beg, borrow, and steal to save money: Use a public park instead of a ballroom, ask your baker friend to make the cake, and ask relatives to help with cleanup. This is where, if you plan ahead, time can take the place of money.

Ideally, you do #1 (simplify) and #3 (plan). But even if you can’t simplify, at least you can plan.

The result — and what to do today
Today, sit down and plan out the major purchases you’ll have in the next ten years — whether or not you’re engaged or have any plans to buy a house soon. This is really important: Planning before you need to separates rich people from everyone else. Plan out how much you’ll reasonably need. Plan out how much you can save. Then go into your savings account and set up an automatic deposit plan. (I use Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) — set up an account in about 15 minutes.) Starting tomorrow, your savings account should have virtual buckets of money for upcoming items (e.g., 30% for your down payment, 25% for your wedding…).

The result: A wedding where you know all the costs and prioritize for what’s important for you. A wedding where, the day after, you’re debt-free and can start your lives together. And the ability to control your spending, instead of having it control you. Sort of like the point of this entire site.

Have you started planning for your wedding yet? If not, what’s kept you from starting to?

Sign up for my insider’s list and learn how to save for your future, earn more, and still enjoy life.

80 3

Related Articles

Untitled design (6)

How to pay off student loans without thinking about it

Student loans are a big kick in the face that the real world has arrived. The average graduate has $28,...

Read More
stretching

The 4 keys to finding ambition

We’re told we should just be happy with what we have… but there’s a difference between being happy ...

Read More

257 Comments

80 3
 

Leave a Reply

257 Comments on "The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings?"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Robert
Robert
8 years 11 months ago

funny, here in Spain people also do BIG weddings, having 100 guests is like NOTHING… usually between 200 and 400. How do they pay for it? On the lower part of the invititation letter the couple includes their bank account number and you’re expected to give about 100-120 Euro (130-150 $). There are even people who make a profit with their wedding. The more people you invite, the more money you make.

Jared Goralnick
8 years 11 months ago
Two scary thoughts: (1) I’m not going to get married in time to meet your 27-year old cutoff. Now I can not only NOT be rich but feel doubly bad on your website sans fiance. Oh, and your publishing a book didn’t make me feel any better, either. (2) $28,000 would be a bargain in comparison to most of the weddings I’ve been to. I wonder how the average got to 28k, considering I’ve been to 100k and 250k weddings… yeah, booze, country clubs, and ice sculptures can add up. And if you think that’s bad, should we start saving… Read more »
Steve Place
8 years 11 months ago
Since I have been recently married (2 weeks, 2 days), I can say that this happens first hand to a lot of people. Here’s some tips that we used (our wedding was about 10k for 180 guests): 1. Use your memberships: Our reception hall came was at the Officer’s club on Eglin Air Force Base, which was very inexpensive compared to other places at that location. My parents are ex-mil and still O-club members. We were members of a local country club and got a really good discount for the rehearsal dinner. A lot of memberships offer discounts for limos… Read more »
Mikhail
8 years 11 months ago
For the past few months, NPR’s “Marketplace Money” has been profiling a couple in the middle of planning their wedding. Here’s the comment I sent them: What I find amazing about this series is the fact that noone questions the sanity of the whole enterprise. Why get married in the first place? The tax laws certainly discourage it. And if you are set on marriage on religious or other grounds, why have a wedding that puts financial strain on the young couple, their parents, and even their friends? My wife and I went to the city hall to get married.… Read more »
guinness416
guinness416
8 years 11 months ago

Your notion that nobody has a simple wedding is a little … odd, and probably speaks more to the circles you travel in than anything else. I make six figures, but we spent three grand on our wedding, and have equally comfortable friends who spent less. But yes, of course you should spend what you want.

I read another stat that may relate to one of the points you’re making recently – something like 75% of Americans think “people are too materialistic” but something like 8% think they personally are.

Sara
Sara
8 years 11 months ago
I get tired of all the commenters on the myriad PF blogs with wedding posts talking about how insane it is to spend 25K for a wedding and how they had a perfect wedding for 3K, etc, etc, so this is a relatively refreshing new take on the matter. Of course it’s insane to spend that much money, but the reality is that most people will do it when it comes down to Their Special Day. It’s a once in a lifetime event, after all!!!! (Allegedly.) Someone should at least talk about how to try to pay for it somewhat… Read more »
Don't be fooled
Don't be fooled
11 months 16 days ago

And over 50% of those marriages will dissolve within 5 years. That’s real special.

Marc Hedlund
8 years 11 months ago
Great post. Planning for my wedding was one of the big reasons I wound up starting Wesabe. I completely agree about automated savings (automated everything, really). My best tip for having a reasonable wedding is to find things where you and your partner can agree not to spend. I’m a big dessert person (pun intended), so I insisted on having good (==expensive) cake. She really wanted great pictures, so we spent more on a photographer than the minimum. Unfortunately, we had a lot of categories where one or both of us felt strongly. We saved the most when we could… Read more »
Emmy
8 years 11 months ago
Another thing is that a lot of DIY elements or less expensive items look as good as their pricey counterparts. * Buying a white prom dress at an end-of-season sale can look better than a dress bought from a bridal boutique. There’s also dresses that can be bought for cheap on Ebay, and not all of them are used. * A simple gold, white gold, platinum, titanium, or silver wedding band that is simply worn next to the engagement ring instead of connecting to it, is a lot less expensive than a bridal set. Engraving the inside is very inexpensive… Read more »
Mike
Mike
8 years 11 months ago
That’s funny — my then girlfriend and I always talked about having a big, elegant wedding, but never thought about the costs. When the time finally came to plan it, we were seniors in college and quickly realized we wouldn’t be able to afford the “average” wedding! We cut the guests from 200 down to 100 and asked favors from about 2/3 of the guests. We also held the ceremony at a church for a donation of $200 and a $100 gift to the pastor. The reception was done Chinese style at a restaurant at $40 a head. Our friends/guests… Read more »
WG
WG
8 years 11 months ago

It would be interesting to see some more useful statistics, such as the median, about wedding costs. You throw a couple of million+ celebrity/ultra-wealthy weddings and the averages quickly get skewed upwards.

justelise
8 years 11 months ago
People don’t think about it, but by simplifying your wedding you can make it greener as well. Supporting local stores and suppliers may end up saving you money, and not having guests fly halfway round the planet to come to your wedding may also save a lot. I also don’t get dropping thousands of dollars on a wedding dress. Whatever happened to elegance in simplicity? Why not buy a lower cost dress or a discount dress, and pay a little money to have it beaded or to customize it so it fits your personality better. Not everyone needs a Vera… Read more »
Parasaur
Parasaur
8 years 11 months ago
Here’s my thoughts: 1. I know my wedding won’t be perfect, and I’m happy with that. In fact, my ornery side wants to thumb my nose at $28,000 bridezilla-fests. What I really want is a big party to celebrate with friends and family. And and I don’t mind if it rains! 2. I WILL NOT go into debt over my wedding. I’ve made this clear to the guy, and he definitely understands. The (easy-going) parents have mentioned that they’ll chip in, but I’d rather not count on it in the planning stage. 3. We will have all consumer debt paid… Read more »
Laura
8 years 11 months ago
Well, it’s refreshing to read some advice on how to plan financially for weddings even if you’re not engaged yet! I write a wedding blog so I thought this was relevant for me to comment on. Though you shouldn’t rely on others to come through and pay for your wedding for you, I do feel you have overlooked the fact that it is actually traditional for families to chip and pay large chunks (or the whole cost) of the wedding total, so it’s not uncommon for that to happen and therefore not unreasonable to think your family might pay if… Read more »
Leah
Leah
8 years 11 months ago
I actually get quite angry at people over wedding budgets. I was able to pull off an unbelievable affair (my criteria was that it had to be something I’d enjoy going to) for 300 people, for just over $2000.00 It took creativity, and it took a complete 100% shunning of the wedding industry. I used ebay, friends, unusual locations (an antique warplane museum), local connections, and wholesale dealers. And it was an event to be enjoyed, a day my guests always remember fondly, and a wedding that I’ll always hold as a standard when attending other’s weddings. Been married 3… Read more »
Casey Summers
Casey Summers
9 months 25 days ago

Please be mindful of people with special needs by not using the word, retarded. Person first language is respectful.

Donald
8 years 11 months ago

My wedding cost only about $6000. It was very nice, and we didn’t spend loads of cash. We did it in our backyard, and put up some nice decorations and had some catering. It was simple and very nice. We didn’t need a $30,000 wedding to have fabulous day. Our invitations were like $5 a piece, and we invited about 60 people.

Jen
8 years 11 months ago

In many chinese wedding, it’s encourage to give red envelope (with $$$ inside) as wedding gift. It saves guests headache on what to get for the couple and also help reduce the cost of the wedding.

Ditto Steve, I know people that got so many red envelopes that they made money off the wedding.

Andy
Andy
8 years 11 months ago
I’m in the middle of planning my wedding. In the end it will cost about half the national average, and it will be easier on the guest as well. Here are my suggestions. Plan the whole wedding on a single line of nice public transit. Most cities have a few lines that are one time, clean, and you get to see the city. pick every location of the wedding within 2 blocks of that. Ask for help. Do you have a friend who can cook for an army? Higher her. Know a designer? Higher her. A friend with a tent?… Read more »
April D
April D
8 years 11 months ago
How appropriate. I’m getting married in 8 months. I really wanted to get married in Mexico, invite anyone who could come, and have one big party, very inexpensively (many places throw in the wedding if you spend a week at their hotel). BUT, my fiance has a big, fat Mexican family, and that just isn’t how they do things. Added to that, my grandmother, who I adore and who would want more than anything to be there, would never get on a plane. So, slowly I let go of the original plan, and we’re getting married in our city. Now,… Read more »
Dave
Dave
8 years 11 months ago
Heh, I knew we were under the average but not that far. And didn’t think we were thank unique in how we approached it. When my wife and I got married about 2 years ago the very first thing we did was set a budget goal of 5k. Being the first marriage for either of us, we didn’t know how far that would take us. Next step was back of the napkin figures of what our “ouch” point for each item was. 500 for music, 2k for food, etc. In the end we went over by about 2k. The main… Read more »
Rich Schmidt
8 years 11 months ago
Interesting… and of course the main part of your article is spot on (plan and save for big expenses rather than heedlessly plunging into debt)… but as for wedding costs… 1. Most of my friends got married much younger than that. I was married at 22. Most of my friends were married around 22-25. 2. Most of these weddings were paid for primarily by the bride’s parents. Perhaps that’s not so common once the bride and groom are past their early 20’s? Sometimes the parents let the bride know how much she has available to spend, and if the couple… Read more »
Niq
Niq
8 years 11 months ago
Your points about being realistic, saving and prioritizing for a wedding (or any other big purchase) are all dead on. One criticism, though: be careful about bandying about that “average cost of a wedding is $28,000” factoid (mentioned in the book mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article). That figure came from a survey done by the Condé Nast Bridal Group–a survey conducted with readers of Condé Nast’s various bridal publications (and thus probably already biased to having an expensive wedding). It also, I believe, includes things like “travel costs” in the price of a wedding, which can inflate the… Read more »
Nicole
Nicole
8 years 11 months ago

There was recently an article in yahoo’s finance section about the expense of weddings and why we feel the need to spend so much on weddings and the industry as a whole.

http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/moneyhappy/39681

Its an interesting read.

Chris
Chris
8 years 11 months ago

Weddings are extreme emotions mixed with money, family, and fantasy. It’s a very dangerous cocktail.

More people should elope. 🙂

cmadler
8 years 11 months ago
Steve had some very good suggestions. Using a similar approach, our wedding cost only a few thousand dollars, with ~80 guests. – Our caterer was a family friend who gave us the meal at cost. – For our open bar, we bought the booze ourselves and had a bartender (a friend) who agreed to work for tips. – For the ceremony, we had a friend provide music (we have many musician friends!). – By scheduling in the early afternoon, we could get away with serving a light meal. – Rather than have a DJ or a band, we hired an… Read more »
dimes
8 years 11 months ago
I guess your view is distorted by the dual lenses of culture and geography, but not all weddings are anywhere near as expensive as you say. I’ve been to ten, and of those, only one was above the median (reportedly $80K, so touche). The best ways to cut costs are to reduce the number of participants. Really all you need are a bride, a groom, and a celebrant. Bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearers add a lot of cost (unless you pawn those expenses off on the “honored”) as well as a lot of room for drama. Get rid… Read more »
Mike
Mike
8 years 11 months ago

I forgot to mention, since my reception was Chinese style, we ended up with about $11k in cash gifts which offset the $9k cost of the wedding.

David Robarts
David Robarts
8 years 11 months ago

My wife and I had a simple and inexpensive wedding. It was accomplished by utilizing the services of friends for almost everything. Most who contributed were very happy to help and considered it a wedding present (saving them money and us from opening yet another toaster).

I wonder what the distribution curve for the price of weddings looks like. I imagine there are many cheap weddings and many expensive weddings, but few in the middle (once you’re going into debt, what’s a little more?).

Elissa
8 years 11 months ago
Thank god I’m afraid of commitment! But in case I ever get over that, I plan on coordinating the shit out of my wedding. Starting with a estimated total cost and an estimated monthly savings at least 3-4 years before the wedding. I’m 24 and really don’t see myself getting married in the next 4 years. Yeah… I don’t like to rush things and I’m obsessed with being 150% prepared for everything. I plan on being engaged for at least 2 years before I actually tie the knot. I also don’t need the whole world at my wedding, only close… Read more »
trackback

[…] of us focus on how to cut corners for a wedding,  this gentleman is focusing on the concept of saving money for an ‘average’ wedding–in 2007 those figures are about $28,000–BEFORE you get […]

mike in syracuse
8 years 11 months ago
Chris above put it best “Weddings are extreme emotions mixed with money, family, and fantasy. It’s a very dangerous cocktail.” I just got married this month. The ceremony was on a pier on one of the Finger lakes, the pier was free but we did need permission. Total cost for the reception was $7660 for 170 people on a boat for 3 hours. The open bar was $1660, which is pretty formidable for the short amount of time we were on the boat. But lets break it down some(1st time ive done this since we did the deed): $7660 Reception.… Read more »
Matt Wolfe
8 years 11 months ago

Weddings can be really expensive for the guests as well. I know they have been expensive for me with travel expenses such as flights, hotels, eating out, wedding gift, etc. I’m killing my wedding budget just by going to so many lately. (I have 50 first cousins and about 25 of them are at that marriage age).

Christy
Christy
8 years 11 months ago
I agree with the general theme: more people should identify and plan for big expenses, save accordingly, and avoid deluding themselves about the actual cost versus the “wishful thinking” cost. I disagree however that we’re all hypocrites about weddings. (I’m hoping you just titled it that way to grab the eye.) I don’t know anyone who falls into these statistics — but then I’ve only been to about 4 weddings and I’m dead set on going to the courthouse in a few months myself. Plus, I’ve identified my big expenses and have saved or am saving for them. To me,… Read more »
trackback

[…] I Will Teach You To Be Rich has an interesting post about how much people spend for their own weddings but declare that everyone else is crazy for spending that much. […]

Christina
Christina
8 years 11 months ago

I liked how your post was “interactive” because I actually played around with the wedding spending plan numbers. Nice feature. And great article on planning ahead. I’m going to be 21 this year and am a female who has often thought about her wedding day and is trying my best to be financially smart, BUT I actually haven’t started saving for my wedding….so I will now! So many things to save for! Home, emergency, retirement, future children, wedding, but I will be so happy I did when the day comes where I need that money.

trackback

[…] I realize I’m not like most girls. I’m fine with this, and if we’re together, you better be fine with this too. If that time comes when your mushy heart screams at you, “She’s the one!” here are some sure-fire ways to get me to say yes to the $28,000 Question: […]

Margo
Margo
8 years 11 months ago

I disagree with the commenter who recommended Friday weddings to save money.

My dad, a part-time professional photographer, has described what a pain in the neck it is to get off work, get home, get ready and back to a 7pm wedding…and he wasn’t bringing a spouse and children to the ceremony.

Richard
Richard
8 years 11 months ago
Photographer – got a friend who was a wedding photographer but worked on the cheap. Rehearsal Dinner – rented out a private University dinner club. Was very nice. Only had to pay by the plate. Everything else was taken care of and it was honestly way cheaper than I could have imagined such a nice evening. Videographer – traded services with him so it only cost me time Wedding was in our church and free. Pastor was free minus a tip we gave him Reception was in an old antebellum mansion (we’re in the deep south). Cost only a few… Read more »
Been there done that
Been there done that
8 years 11 months ago
When I was getting married, I tried to keep it simple, and recommended inexpensive but guaranteed-to-be-fun options. I got lots of dismissive hand waving from my fiance and her mother. No, this was a going to be a wedding like all the rest. Fancy entertainment, fancy setting, fancy party favors for all to take home with them. Must impress the guests. Lots of money spent, and the day made “special” by having everything be just right. M-I-L couldn’t help interfering and deciding what had to be. And lots of stress leading up to the magical day. Thirteen years later she… Read more »
quadszilla
8 years 11 months ago

I make quite a bit of money. But my wife was totally cool with a zircon ring for $150 (diamonds are the biggest fraud in the word). We got married in Brazil at the Justice of the peace (equivalent) and had all her family and friends at the reception (about 80 people) for about $1000.

It really all depends on the woman you choose.

smart money
smart money
8 years 11 months ago

Here’s a strategy: DON’T GET MARRIED!

As someone who has happily lived with her beloved partner for 15 years, I feel obligated to ask this question. When we were younger, we simply couldn’t fathom spending our money on the wedding-industrial complex and as time went on, we realized we simply didn’t need “marriage” to add legitimacy to our relationship. We certainly don’t love each other any less……and now I realize we’re $28K (x 10% x 15 years) richer for it.

stringy
8 years 11 months ago

I got married last year, and did *exactly* what Ramit recommends in this post: we simplified, we budgeted and we prioritised. We came in on budget, had a perfect day, with no debt, and don’t regret blowing $10 grand on it, even though it would have been great to put that on our home loan.

The only other suggestion I’d make is to pay for things in their order of importance: if it’s extremely important to you, stuff the standard wedding time-lines and do it first before you run out of either money or time.

Tim and Lisa
8 years 11 months ago

Anyone who is Serious about planning their wedding on a budget, should check out http://www.weddingplanningonabudget.com

It is a site we put together to help out other couples after we planned our own dream wedding on a budget of just $2,000.

Thanks for the helpful post. Really puts things in perspective in a practical way.

Tim and Lisa Spooner
Authors of Wedding Planning on a Budget

April D
April D
8 years 11 months ago
Ha ha, I can’t help but to think it’s funny that some people have said when they get married it’s going to be a very small affair because they don’t have a big family. Not that I’m making fun, but that’s what I thought, too, until I became engaged to someone who has over 25 aunts and uncles, who all have children who are grown, with children of their own, and on and on. And this is direct family, not distant. So either you make it immediate family only, or you are picking and choosing who gets invited, and feelings… Read more »
Mark H.
Mark H.
8 years 11 months ago

I had an amazing wedding for less than $4,000. We got married in the Caribbean (St. Thomas) in a villa on the top of a mountain, overlooking the island and ocean. For us it did not make sense to get married locally and spend 10 – 15 thousand dollars.

topseekrit
topseekrit
8 years 11 months ago

Love this post! I guess the next post will be about budget planning for babies 😉

KM
KM
8 years 11 months ago

Ugh, this is why I hate wedding posts on finance blogs. Everybody and their brother can’t resist telling the story of how they had the most awesome wedding ever for a super low price and how they did it because they happen to be BFF with a photographer, caterer, jeweler, dress-maker, tent-owner, etc. Not that helpful since most people aren’t that lucky and that’s not even what this post is about! It’s about realistically needing to save for a wedding! Sorry, rant over. It’s just every post about weddings turns into this.

quotes
8 years 11 months ago

Makes me think of what Calvin Coolidge said regarding thrift:
“I am for economy. After that I am for more economy.”

It’s true – there is an entire wedding ‘machine’ at work to convince us to spend more than we have.

Matt
Matt
8 years 11 months ago

I didn’t read through all the posts, so this might have been said already… I read an article on wedding planning somewhere else and it pointed out that the studies performed on wedding costs are being performed by parties (i.e. Conde Nast Bridal Group) who have an interest in driving up spending on weddings. Therefore, I think it’s difficult, if not almost impossible, to say that the numbers are reliable.

lisa
lisa
8 years 11 months ago
How to cut costs? 1)Replace the word “perfect” in your personal mantra. Instead say “My wedding will be fun, funny, poignant, low-key, lighthearted, funky, unique, etc.” 2)Make sure that your wedding reflects YOU, as a couple, and not the bridal industry. Anybody can throw money at the bridal industry and have a fairy-tale party. Are you actually a fairy princess? Do you wear a tiara to work to show how glamorous you are? Then why do you think you should even enjoy a wedding straight out of a Disney movie. Grow up and express your own tastes. 3)Have the balls… Read more »
Victor Soares
Victor Soares
8 years 11 months ago
I agree that planning for a wedding is more realistic than cutting it down. In reality, you’re planning the biggest party you’ll likely ever throw in your life, while working full-time, and in our case taking courses at university. We got advice like “make your own cards” or “put together your floral arrangements.” Ummm, yeah, I barely have enough time to sleep, what makes you think I have time to print and write cards myself. And on the evening before my wedding day I have other things to do besides playing with flowers. We did cut back where we could… Read more »
mary
mary
8 years 11 months ago
This article made me want to scream! 28k for a wedding is utterly ridiculous The key is to NOT invite everyone you know. I spent about $2500 TOTAL on my wedding 4 years ago. Yes, you read that right. We only had 8 people there (some of whom we paid hotel and flight expenses for), had it in the courtyard of a B&B in New Orleans (and saved money by having a wedding and honeymoon all in one), and then took everyone out for dinner and bar hopping late until the night afterwards. I can honestly say that it was… Read more »
John M.
John M.
8 years 11 months ago

What kills me is that you have line items of $1K for the DJ and $4K for the photographer and $750 for the limo, but you allocate exactly ZERO for paying the minister. It’s like the poor guy is an afterthought. Since he’s the most important “employee” you will have that day, he should be payed at the same level as the other people.

Sara
Sara
8 years 11 months ago
I’m not really all that impressed by people who had awesome weddings with 150 people for 3K or whatever because most of the time they got a bunch of friends/family to donate services (catering, photography, etc). That’s not actually free or simple; it’s just shifting the cost to someone else, even if it’s in time. I have a photojournalism degree and sometimes shoot weddings as a side business and felt I was guilted into shooting a co-worker’s wedding for free. I tried to get out of doing it, but she kept bugging me, and I was very resentful in the… Read more »
mike c
mike c
8 years 11 months ago
What fun reading these comments has been. I’ve been happily married since 2003. Ramit nailed it on the head in his post by using the word “Prioritize”. That’s what it comes down to. Our most important priority was the photographer, because we wanted to have good, high-quality pics of ourselves, our family, and our friends to show our kid(s) one day and to look back at when we’re old and gray to remind us of the details that our minds forget. To help afford the “perfect” photographer for us, we decided to budget everything else accordingly. We had an early… Read more »
Alex
Alex
8 years 11 months ago

I agree with “smart money” above, don’t get married at all. Why does the government need to be involved in my relationship? Marriage is a government contract that says I will lose half my net worth if she decides to shack up with her personal trainer instead. Wow what a deal!

Liz
8 years 11 months ago
I like that you wrote a sample savings guide for weddings. I think that if people were really saving $300 a month for their wedding, they wouldn’t spend so much on it. If you actually had to sacrifice your clothing and going out budget every month for years to pay for the wedding, you would definitely skip that $800 single use dress. It is a relevant point that a lot of the big spenders are getting some parental help. I’m glad I didn’t see your budgeting spreadsheet before planning my wedding (which was this past March). We spent $75 per… Read more »
Gayle
Gayle
8 years 11 months ago

Ultimately, a wedding is an ILLUSION. You do not need one to get married. You WANT one. It’s drilled into your head from the time you are a child.

And to Alex’s point, a marriage is ultimately a business contract merging two entities (and divorce is just the opposite).

I have been to black-tie, all-out, red-rose petals-on-the-floor insanity weddings. I’ve been to small gatherings of just family -20 people. You know what? When it’s all done, all you have your memories. And they will stay with you (hopefully) for the rest of your life. What more does one need?

trackback

[…] @ i will teach you to be rich has written a post about how you should save up for your wedding since it is likely to cost a fortune. Fine, that makes perfect reasonable sense. However, I think […]

Amanda
Amanda
8 years 11 months ago
Not everyone is a hypocrite. When my husband and I were married a little over 6 years ago, we paid cash for our wedding of about 100 guests with full buffet and honeymoon, and kept the total costs around $5000. We did go the simple route- we had one attendant each, and one flower girl. While we had a harpist for the ceremony, a friend offered to dj for the reception. We did our invitations at home on our printer using vellum, ribbon, and handmade rose petal paper (I didn’t make the paper), and still get people asking me where… Read more »
Velvet Jones
8 years 11 months ago

The point of this post isn’t how to have a dirt-cheap wedding. In my opinion, Ramit is asking why people don’t consider weddings as a financial goal to plan for, knowing that it’s one of the biggest expenditures we’ll make in life. Regardless of what I believe a wedding should or shouldn’t cost, or the political/social relevence of marriage, I still found this post to be very thought-provoking.

So, I cosign KM. 99.9% of the comments to this post have been severely annoying and completely missed the point.

Josh
Josh
8 years 11 months ago

Two of my friends are teachers and don’ t have much money. They planned their wedding at our alma mater and the cost was puny. I think they were charged about $2,000 for the use of the college’s largest ballroom.

Christina
Christina
8 years 11 months ago
Ok I’m getting married in a little over three weeks and I can tell you right now that my wedding has not cost me even 2 grand, maybe not even 1 grand yet. Dress was $300 and it didn’t need any alterations (!) Flowers-200-Dad paid for them as a gift Photographer-a friend is doing it as a gift/barter for computer work (my Fiance is a computer tech) No DJ, no catered food, no wine or beer. Friends and family are making food, and I am going to get two platters of meat and cheese and we’ll have sandwiches. The total… Read more »
Dahlia
8 years 11 months ago

Your post is very insightful. I couldn’t agree with it more. There are many people who want to have their dream wedding and go broke, and then there are those who actually plan for their dream wedding accordingly – they do the math and plan it well. It’s not about simplifying your wedding at all. It’s about knowing how to plan for it in order to have the wedding of your dreams.

Eleanor
Eleanor
8 years 11 months ago

Dude, this post totally freaked me out. I’m single, don’t even have a prospect of a boyfriend at the moment, and it made me feel like I need to set up a special savings account for my eventual wedding someday!

…which would give the willies to any potential boyfriend. Almost as scary as having a wedding dress waiting in the closet. I think this is one thing that can wait a little while longer for me. But thanks for bringing it to my attention, Ramit!

jw
jw
8 years 11 months ago

Ramit is totally correct in this instance. You can say that you’ll do it simpler, cheaper, better etc.. but there are so many other factors: family pressure, pressure from spouse especially women, maybe you don’t know any Djs, photographers, great chefs, maybe your friends don’t want to donate their services (this happens if you’re a photographer, for example, and yet another friend asks for your services). Plus there are costs like wedding rings, bands and ‘little’ things that add up. The truth is you either save and pay or elope. There are no simple weddings. (by the way, I eloped)

Jared
8 years 11 months ago
For what it’s worth we’ve just released a new product called Wedding Mapper that is designed to lower the cost of your wedding slightly by allowing you to create an online wedding map to share with your guests. With the online wedding map you can avoid paying a designer to create a map for your wedding or you can use the online wedding map to get a discount from our design partner on a custom design for invitations. The online wedding map can be included in a wedding website, printed for invitations, or linked to from an email, website, or… Read more »
mike c
mike c
8 years 11 months ago

Velvet Jones said: “99.9% of the comments to this post have been severely annoying and completely missed the point.”

Actually, Ramit makes three points in his post:

1. Be Realistic
2. Save
3. Prioritize

Just because most people choose to discuss his 1st and 3rd point instead of focusing on the 2nd doesn’t make them any less significant. If you find them annoying, stop reading them.

Preet
8 years 11 months ago
Bravo!! If only i would have started reading your articles couple of years back. I got married at 25 – fresh out of college with student loan and nobody to sponsor my VISA (i’m frm India). But i was lucky to have support from my family. My parents came from India and i had about 20 -25 friends who flew in from various parts of US. I thought with that small number, i wouldn’t have much expense, but during the wedding week many different customs poped up (i had no idea about ’em) and i ended spending around 20K from… Read more »
JM
JM
8 years 11 months ago
I work at a “luxury” hotel, 5-star, 5-diamond and all that jazz. We have about 2-3 weddings each weekend and I have seen the full gamut of price range for ceremonies, from a $500,000 this weekend to one that took place right outside a room, with only 7 people and a priest and a nice dinner at the restaurant for everyone afterwards. Guess who the less stressed out and annoying guests were? Yes, it is some peoples’ dream day, but the intimacy (and cost efficiency) of a small, unique wedding I think far outweighs the extravagance of a 300-400 person… Read more »
trackback

[…] so I’ve been trying really hard not to make a post about finance, but then I read this wonderful article. So, in that spirit, I’ll likely steer clear of the monetary issues involved with having an […]

A Million Paths
8 years 11 months ago
you can also get a wedding dress sewn *very* affordably, if you buy the pattern (no more than $20 bucks) and the material yourself. You don’t have to go to a dressmaker, hunt around for the undercover seamstress. Most clothes that are made in the USA are made in a person’s home piecemeal. These people are often amazing seamstresses, very accurate, and very cheap. You can save money and rest secure in the knowledge that you’re paying the person who is making the dress much more than that person would be receiving if you bought the same dress in a… Read more »
John
John
8 years 11 months ago
For one thing, statistically speaking (and forgive me if this has already been mentioned – I didn’t want to scan through 74 comments) to say that the MEDIAN income is about 28K and the AVERAGE wedding is 28k and, thus, people spend a year’s pay on their weddings is a fun statistic, but the Journal isn’t being as statistically honest as they can in the presentation of that data. I am sure that the weddings of 4 or 5 ridiculous celebrities every year bump up the average by a measurable amount, and I’d be much more curious about the median… Read more »
trackback

[…] some coin on your wedding day, you know, if that’s your thing? Thoughts in the comments. The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings? [I Will Teach You To Be […]

Zach
8 years 11 months ago

Simplifying ain’t easy. Weddings get competitive, but also there’s the desire to treat your friends to the same caliber of evening that they have treated you to.

jsw
jsw
8 years 11 months ago
While the savings that everyone seems to be proud of are great, it’s not always that easy. My fiancé and I live in a small apartment in a very expensive part of the country. We don’t have a back yard, we don’t have friends who have back yards, and sadly, we don’t have friends who have wedding-useful skills. All we want to do is throw a nice party for our friends and family, almost all of whom will be coming in from (literally) across the country, and we sort of think it would be rude to not feed people dinner… Read more »
Craig Downie
Craig Downie
8 years 11 months ago
Great post. I am currently engaged, 5 weeks, and my fiance and I quickly came to the conclusion that the list of 120 people we had invited was going to cost quite a bit. Our solution was to have a destination wedding on the same Mexican island where we got engaged. We are able to save a lot of money, can invite everyone on our list, and are looking forward to a really fun time. As we were trying to figure out what to do, my fiancees mother gave her a great bit of advice. She said that no matter… Read more »
Yvonne
Yvonne
8 years 11 months ago
For the few that thought the $28,000 number was low … I emphatically didn’t want my family at my wedding. Not the norm, but since it’s usually the bride’s family that insists on “over the top” (not always, I know), we had freedom. Also, we were in our 40s, so the societal pressure is less. License: $25 in Santa Fe, NM (where we live – free “destination”) Officiant: $0 (Justice of Peace in County prohibited from accepting even a tip) Dress/Tux: $0, by looking in our closets Dinner afterwards: $150 or so for the 2 of us Rings: $0 –… Read more »
Colby
Colby
8 years 11 months ago

Loved the article and the rss plugs (huge fan). Never thought at 21 I would need to start saving for a wedding, but the logic is undeniable. Thanks for the referral, I need to starting saving that 389.00/month….probably more since I; like most, will go over budget.

Swaroop
8 years 11 months ago

Thanks to you.. you scared the b’jss out of me !. 😀

Mike Warren
Mike Warren
8 years 11 months ago

It’s not all the difficult. Break the cycle. Go to the justice of the peace. Get married. Sign the registry. Enjoy a pleasant vacation away from jobs and worries. Return. Merge two already overstuffed households. Send wedding announcements: “share our unbelievable happiness, wish us luck, don’t send presents, go to our myspace to see photos from our vacation at St. Tropez.” Put the money you might have spent on a wedding into a college fund for your future children.

Amy
Amy
8 years 11 months ago
As I have begun the process of planning my wedding, the first step was establishing a proposed budget and working from there. I know exactly how much my parents will give, and not a cent more (I have 3 sisters), how much my fiance’s parents will contribute, and then my fiance and I have worked out how much we plan to spend in total, by getting actual quotes from various places (high end and low end) and deciding how much we will each contribute as a result, leaving extra money for those unexpected expenses that are bound to pop up… Read more »
Charles
Charles
8 years 11 months ago
Wow, I don’t know where morons that spend $28K on weddings buy the stuff to do it, but I’ve got some left over paper plates I can sell you for $100 each. My wife and I got married 2 years ago in Vermont, It cost a total of around $4500 we had 205 people at the reception. It was catered by a company called the Abbey and held at a very elegant reception hall, we rented for $200, dinner was $14.50 a plate and that let people choose between Chicken, Steak, and some veggie thing I forget what it was.… Read more »
matron of honor
matron of honor
8 years 11 months ago
The thing that never, ever gets taken into account is this: no matter how determined you are to be frugal, no matter what you swear you won’t do, there will be a mother or aunt or SOMEONE who will cause internecine family warfare for three months and cause you to blow your budget. And before you say “my family isn’t like that,” I want you to look if anyone’s been married yet and go and talk to the married couple about who had the freakout. And even then, you’ll only cover one side of the family. Here’s another tip: when… Read more »
Elena
Elena
8 years 11 months ago
Charles: Wow. Morons? That’s really sweet. You need to consider that not everyone can get married in an affordable location. I’m from South Florida and thus chose to have my wedding there. Your $14.50/plate is my $100/plate. And my $100 could be California’s $200. That is the absolute least expensive option from any vendor in the area. We spent around $30K and do not regret a single dollar of it as we had the time of our lives and continue to receive compliments to this day. Ramit, Thanks for a great post. It is so important that people realize that… Read more »
molly
molly
8 years 11 months ago
I’m typically fairly frugal, and when I got married (at 27; my husband was 25. I’m 40 now) I was determined to do that frugally, like I did everything else. And we did. We drove to a nice little resort town one state over, I wore a dress I “could wear again” (although I never did, and just recently put it in the box for Goodwill, since it dates from 1994), and we were married at a wedding chapel out in the woods with lovely scenery and no guests. I think the whole thing, including rings (family stone, reset in… Read more »
eROCK
eROCK
8 years 11 months ago

Ramit, despite your comments, it appears some are still stuck on stupid.

Time to start saving.

kms
kms
8 years 11 months ago
I initially wondered why you didn’t account for compounding interest when figuring out how much to save. Then I did the calcs myself figuring in a conservative interest rate that I receive from ING and then increased the interest rate a bit more for my optimistic self. The monthly contributions do go down a bit but not significantly. I ran some numbers for certain goals for myself, namely a down payment, and was saddened, although not too shocked, to see how much more I would have to save and/or how much longer I would need to wait in order to… Read more »
me
me
8 years 11 months ago
You are absolutely correct that one laughs at people for spending too much money and then when it becomes “their day” it is amazing how you can find the money to get the stupid centerpieces you want. My husband and I paid in full for our entire wedding. To this day I can’t believe how I let the wedding industry convince me I needed the matching pen and guestbook. Do you know where these are now 5 years later? In my closet. 5 years ago the average cost was 20k. It just goes to show how much the industry has… Read more »
renee
renee
8 years 11 months ago
Oh man. I’m getting married next June and here’s my dilemma. My aunt has always said she’d be paying for my wedding. I don’t have parents anymore and they never saved for anything. Now, we’re planning this thing and she says there is no budget unless she sells an extra house that she has. But since she might be contributing something, she wants veto power of every decision I try to make. Thankfully she’s trying to push things into the cheaper realm, but that’s because she says she’ll cook everything and wants her boyfriend to take the pictures. She’s an… Read more »
jp
8 years 11 months ago
When we got married in 2002 I left my wife do all the planning. She was balanced as she chose things that she wanted to splurge on and other she wanted to conserve on. We had a day wedding/reception because it’s cheaper; no one really drinks during the day and older people find it easier to attend. We paid for the wedding $14,000 on our credit card earning miles; our honeymoon trip was free with all the miles and we already had the money to pay off the credit card cause we saved toward the wedding. We made a profit… Read more »
Carrie D.
Carrie D.
8 years 11 months ago
I agree completely with you about the difference between budgeting and planning for a major event. I got married in April of this year, engaged in August ’06, and had begun saving for a wedding in January ’06, once we’d begun talking about getting married. So when we got engaged, we each wrote down a must have list for the wedding/reception, and it came to be that we had a great catered BBQ, small wedding party, immediate family and close friends (70 total- sibs, grands/parents, and nieces/nephews totaled close to 40) a budding photographer, our favorite 3-person local band, and… Read more »
trackback

[…] by sepial at August 20th, 2007 This time the wedding money-saving is more to do with adopting a smart strategy as early as […]

Teresa Nielsen Hayden
8 years 11 months ago
It’s all very well to go on about how much money you saved on your wedding — no doubt lots of good ideas there — but it does start sounding like the Four Yorkshiremen talking about how hard they had it as kids: “You got married under a tarp held up by four sticks? Luxury! We’d have given our eyeteeth to have a tarp, if we hadn’t sold our eyeteeth already. We got married in a cardboard box on a traffic island on the Interstate Highway, and thought ourselves lucky…” Here’s the heart of the matter: retail businesses have their… Read more »
Amy
Amy
8 years 11 months ago
It’s funny how Mr. Setha keeps insisting, “It just isn’t *realistic* to cut back and have a simple wedding,” even as one reader after another posts to say how he/she did just that. It seems to me that at some point he’d be forced to consider the evidence that simplifying *is* a realistic approach that many people find preferable to saving for years to finance a one-day event. When my husband and I married three years ago, we had over $40,000 in the bank and could easily have afforded the “average” $28,000 wedding–but to us, it made no sense at… Read more »
jp
8 years 11 months ago

In this day and age with divorce rates soaring, some women (and men) get to spend that childhood fantasy over (2nd marriage) and over (3rd marriage) again. 🙂

I wonder if the costs go up each time. They probably do because of inflation. 😉

trackback

[…] some coin on your wedding day, you know, if that’s your thing? Thoughts in the comments. The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings? [I Will Teach You To Be […]

trackback

[…] Sethi has a fascinating article on how to save for a wedding, including excel sheets so you can play with the numbers. Since, as the WSJ points out, the average […]

mike c
mike c
8 years 11 months ago
jp – Your last comment reminded me of a buddy of mine. His third fiancee was finally the one with whom he actually walked down the aisle. And she had one hell of a nice diamond on her finger. Why? Fiancee #1 is the type of person that I’d describe as the northern end of a south-moving donkey. She broke off the engagement and was kind enough to give him back the ring (but nothing else). But then he was stuck with a ring. Financee #2 managed somehow to be even worse than Fiancee #1 and was unwilling to wear… Read more »
Carlin
Carlin
8 years 11 months ago
Kudos to you for saving money on something. You deserve a pat on the back. Unfortunately, having less than 10 people at my wedding isn’t realistic. Having someone DJ, take pictures, bake a cake, etc also isn’t realistic for me (I don’t know anyone that could). Having a bring a dish wedding also isn’t realistic. Renting a giant hall at the VFW isn’t realistic because my lady loves architecture and wants her wedding to be in a setting that is architecturally beautiful and unique (a big room with tables and chairs is not I’ve come to find out). Also note… Read more »
Josh
Josh
8 years 11 months ago

I don’t know if people missed the point. I think trying to pay for the wedding you “have” to have is very in the box thinking. Change the paradigm and convince your parents that if they want a huge wedding for you, that’s great if they want to pay for it. Otherwise, they are robbing their children and their grandchildren of a financially sound future.

Stock Mama
8 years 11 months ago
The trouble is, we have such a strongly ingrained cultural idea of what a wedding is “supposed” to look like, that when we think about a budget wedding, we think, “Okay, where can I get a less expensive DJ?” and don’t stop to consider, “Do I need a DJ at all?” My grandparents and my husband’s parents dashed down to the Justice of the Peace to get married, and they were just as married and as happy as any couple today who had a $25,000 wedding. What’s happened in between their time and ours is the rise of the giant… Read more »
Margo
Margo
8 years 11 months ago
^haha, I think I said exactly that. I tallied up what a young lady could spend on important things, all generally occurring before age 30 (give or take a couple years): (1) Graduate school (2) Condo down payment (3) Replace a car (4) Wedding I currently have an emergency fund, retirement accounts, a 529 plan & a condo fund. That’s a lot! Once I get the cash built up for my b-school application fees ($250 each, generally), I’ll move my 2nd job income into a car fund. I think I told my parents 2 years ago that if they want… Read more »
trackback

[…] a celebrity wedding, but what about the rest of us? Financial blogger Ramit Sethi has written up an intriguing post on how to avoid potential sticker shock when planning a wedding, entitled “The 28,000 […]

Bee
Bee
8 years 11 months ago
Thanks, Ramit, for bringing a fresh perspective to the topic and sticking to it. It seems that everyone gets caught up in the wedding competition–even if they’re just competing to see who could spend the least. If eloping or getting married at the courthouse is right for you, hurrah. However, it’s not outrageous for people to want to have their friends and relations share one of life’s most special occasions. The courthouse or Vegas isn’t an answer for everyone–for some, it can be the equivalent of giving friends, family and business contacts the metaphorical finger. (Certainly not worth a savings… Read more »
trackback
8 years 11 months ago

[…] Ramit Sethi, personal finance smart cookie at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has one one of the absolute best posts I’ve read about the reality of wedding finances on this site. Check out:  The $28,000 Question: Why Are We All Hypocrites About Weddings? […]

Money Blue Book
8 years 11 months ago

There just seems to be something so wrong about moving so much closer into debt the day of your wedding… Like the diamond industry, the wedding industry has found a way to make expensive weddings the norm now….

-Raymond
Money Blue Book

Mike Willingham
8 years 11 months ago

I have been a private jeweler for more than 20 years and I could tell you some stories! One that comes to mind: a young couple came to purchase wedding bands with the father of the bride to be. He joked he was going broke paying for this wedding and told them he would write them a check for $25,000 to forget about a wedding and get married in the preacher’s office. They declined such an offer.

Elizabeth
8 years 11 months ago
Just wanted to point out this article from last week’s WSJ about the MEDIAN cost of a wedding (not the mean). According to the article the median cost of a wedding is closer to $15,000. http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118790518546107112.html So, yes, it makes sense that all the commenters above were able to tell their nice stories about how they planned a cheaper wedding than everyone else. They didn’t really have a cheaper wedding than the majority of people, they just fell below the average cost of the wedding which is skewed by people who have $800,000 weddings. (no joke see this article from… Read more »
Tacoma
Tacoma
8 years 11 months ago
Totally correct about the saving, I bought a house (and drained all of my ready cash) then found the man I married. We then bought a house together (while renting out my little one) and basically turned to our credit cards to pay for our CHEAP by necessity wedding (5000 for 120 guests, but only because we live in a cheapish part of the country). We then went camping on our honeymoon because we had about $50 left on our visas. Our wedding was fine, and I feel good about how I spent the money, but it would have been… Read more »
Josh
8 years 11 months ago

Elizabeth: I was going to point out the WSJ article, but you beat me to it!

Ramit, you got suckered on this one like the rest of us. The wedding industry loves the high numbers, but really most people don’t spend that kind of money. However, this DOES mean that your quick spreadsheet is terribly flawed.

Robert Sharp
Robert Sharp
8 years 11 months ago

Here in the UK, if you mention “wedding” to any florist, caterer or marquee company and the price is automatically greater. Many people book for their, erm, “party” to get a competitive quote.

I see weddings as sort of like government expenditure. Since you are invariably locked into a date, and it cannot be cancelled if the price is not competitive, it gives contractors carte blanche to charge over the odds.

Ryan McCulloch
8 years 10 months ago
It’s easy to scoff at expensive weddings when you have no idea how expensive even the simplest of things is. I just had my wedding, and I was shocked at all the things I never thought of that were all of a sudden burning huge holes in our wallet. You never realize how much tradition and etiquette will force you to pay for things you don’t think you need to pay for. But the main thing that will get you is the numbers. All of a sudden when you’re writing the invites, you start feeling guilty for not inviting people,… Read more »
Mrs. Micah
8 years 10 months ago
I believe our wedding came in under $5000. I’m not positive about a few points, since I wasn’t involved with some of the cost near the end. But it should have been under $5000. We did things like have some photography students whose work we loved (3) take our pictures. 3 of them for backup. They actually all did it as a wedding gift or to add to their portfolios (though we offered to pay a decent student price). And since they were our friends, we were so calm and happy during the shoot. Things like that. We have good… Read more »
trackback

[…] said and done? If these questions got you stumped you might want to check out this article, “The $28,000 Question: Why are we all hypocrites about our wedding?” This is a great post in the I will Teach You to be Rich blog. It has a lot of good advice on how […]

Fabulously Broke
8 years 10 months ago
Gabriel
Gabriel
8 years 10 months ago
In Spain we used to give presents at weddings until the end of the 80’s. During the 90’s there started the “Wedding List” trend mainly generated by the ubiquitous “El Corte Ingles” mall chain. This Wedding list consists of 2 things: 1. The mall’s account, which is not a bank account but just a place were the invitees will transfer their money. 2. A list of things you would like to receive as a present. When the guest pay for a present of that list, his name will be recorded so that you can know who paid for it (and… Read more »
Slava
Slava
8 years 9 months ago
Hello Ramit, I’ve read this article and comments from readers: I’d like to make few points – It seems that most of readers didn’t get you main idea. It’s not about the price of the wedding, it’s about getting ready to write such a check. Not in 1 month but at least 2-3 years ahead. But people here mostly brag how they were able to pull it off for less than $5k and to spend on a wedding $30k is absurd. I did buy a ring for 5$k and wedding most likely won’t be cheap. BUT I was setting money… Read more »
trackback

[…] time the wedding money-saving is more to do with adopting a smart strategy as early as […]

Aaron
8 years 9 months ago

These are great AND thorough tips. It flabbergasts me to think of all the people who choose to start their new life together buy throwing away good money. The marriage is more important than the wedding, after all. My wife and I got married 4 years ago in a small family affair at my parents house, then we had a larger gathering that was catered, but very informal. We did the whole thing for

NJ Bride
NJ Bride
8 years 9 months ago
It is interesting to see how many people have saddled up their high horse on here. It does not make you a better person because you spend a few hundred bucks on your wedding, as it does not make one a better person for spending $100k. I am currently in the middle of planning my 11/08 wedding and am dealing with the cost of living in the NYC area. My FI and I are trying to not exceed $45k (the reception site/food/bar alone cost $25k). However, I do not feel I am “throwing away good money” on my wedding. It… Read more »
Davita
Davita
8 years 9 months ago
I think people are able to spend $28000 on their wedding because they generally have financial help from family members. I don’t know if I’ll ever get married or not. But one thing I do know is if I ever do, then theres a 90% chance I’ll be paying for it. (I’m not rich by any means). So I can say with CONFIDENCE that any wedding of mine will cost nowhere NEAR $28000. My wedding will be small, local, and simple. The majority of the money should go to the honeymoon since most the time the honeymoon lasts longer than… Read more »
Henry
Henry
8 years 9 months ago
I paid nothing for my wedding. Went to City Hall. After the marriage, the in-laws suddenly insisted on having a proper wedding. My view was: “What’s the point, I already married your daughter.” They did the wedding anyway, but they paid the whole amount. I’ve been to several expensive weddings. From what I’ve seen, the only thing worse than a Bridezilla at a wedding is a Bridezilla at a big expensive crazy wedding (and let’s not forget Bridezilla’s mother). Unless you have the money to show off, throwing a lot of money at a wedding is stupid.
adub
adub
8 years 9 months ago
We married a bit later (32 years old each) and ended up funding our entire wedding/rehearsal w/o help from family. Yes, we spent more than the average – it was a conscious decision, because we were asking our friends to travel pretty far to the area where my family lived, so we wanted to host a few events over the weekend. The point is that we had lived frugally before the wedding, already had a lot in savings, and we didn’t have to go a cent into debt for the wedding. We’re still living more frugally than our friends, i.e.… Read more »
Margo
8 years 9 months ago
I tried reading through all the comments, but I got annoyed after reading the same thing about twenty times (I stopped around where you agreed with KM that not everyone knows a pro quality photographer). Here’s my two cents: It is possible to have a lovely wedding for somewhere around $60, depending on how much the license costs in your states. It’s possible to have a lovely wedding for $200,000 or millions of dollars – the sky’s the limit on that end. What frustrates me about all the commenters (all the ones I read, at least) is that everyone thinks… Read more »
Writers Coin
8 years 9 months ago
I agree with everyone on here about how crazy it is to spend that kind of money. But trust me, when the planning is going on and the decisions are being made, expenses add up extremely fast. We are having 150 people and we are being very cost conscious. We will be spending upwards of $35,000 for the whole thing. It sounds awful but it is what it is. The wedding machine is something that, once it sucks you in, is very hard to fight. Of course, if this was my $35,000 it would be a whole different story. But… Read more »
trackback

[…] recent popular articles Conscious Spending: How My Friend Spends $21,000/year Going Out The $28,000 Question: Why Are We All Hypocrites About Weddings? Chicken Little and Kooks Who Don’t Know What They’re Talking About I Hate Indian […]

Mel
Mel
8 years 9 months ago
We had a $3500 wedding but for me, that was a lot. I do wish we’d gotten a photographer but I had a good time and it was 1 day, and not worth sacrificing our down payment on our house. I’m a bit glad I didn’t go overboard because something I didn’t expect to happen, happened. I was scared silly of all those people looking at me. Turns out I don’t like being the center of attention, something I knew before the wedding but wasn’t expecting to affect me. Even with the relatively small wedding we had, I was still… Read more »
H.D.
H.D.
8 years 9 months ago
PFt, I’m engaged and have my wedding almost entirely planned out. It will be less than $2200 (wedding, reception, rings, and tux.dress) And it would have been cheaper except my fiance wanted more people there rather than the family only affair I always had in mind. 😀 We’ll have 40 people at our wedding.. It will still be special, have a beautiful location picked out, our loved ones will be there– and MOST importantly, I’ll be married to the man I love more than anything. it’s a day. I don’t see excusing people for going into debt because some silly… Read more »
Blake Kritzberg
8 years 9 months ago
Because of my work, I think about these issues every day. I share your incredulity over the big, big numbers vs. the usual lack of planning. Actually, the costs are so high now I think parents should start a savings fund for their kids as soon as they’re born. I mean, college is nice, too, but the wedding could pretty easily beat out college in terms of a long-term crippling debt load. There aren’t any simple, ‘we’re not rich, so let’s rent out the VFW and have the family bring the food’ weddings anymore. Everyone plans like they’re rich, even… Read more »
trackback

[…] When consciously saving towards a targeted goal, starting earlier means you actually have to save less per month than if you start later (see a spreadsheet of how this works) […]

Liz
Liz
8 years 8 months ago
I agree that budgeting ahead of time based on your priorities for your own wedding is key to not going into debt, whether you and your significant other will be paying the tab, or whether family is helping out. I’ve been married for just over 3 years now, and I’m quite happy with what we spent, and no one went into debt over it. However, the one thing I would tell any bride, in particular, is to remember that you’re planning the party for your guests, not yourself–you won’t remember/enjoy/appreciate nearly as much as you think you will (and nearly… Read more »
trackback

[…] recent popular articles Conscious Spending: How My Friend Spends $21,000/year Going Out The $28,000 Question: Why Are We All Hypocrites About Weddings? Chicken Little and Kooks Who Don’t Know What They’re Talking About I Hate Indian […]

Cathy
Cathy
8 years 8 months ago
I am in the midst of wedding planning myself and have realized first hand how quickly prices escalate. With the help of low budget bride planning guides, we have managed to stay below the national average even though it is a huge expense. But let’s be realistic, the cost of the reception is usually covered by the guests with gifts. I know it is rude to say you expect a gift but, let’s be honest, everyone brings a gift and the rule of thumb is to pay for your place at the meal. We figure that this will not cover… Read more »
Dave Robinson
8 years 8 months ago

Yes, most weddings cost too much. We’re working on one in my family at the moment and our catch phrase for splendid excess is “gold dusted almonds”. At end of the day, people will remember good times and good friends. They won’t remember the junk you spent a fortune on for their “favors.” Simple is good, and Ramit, just a question, now *when* are you getting married?

trackback

[…] at I Will Teach You to Be Rich recently wrote an article about the cost of weddings. On average, a wedding costs $28,000. That’s more than half what the typical American […]

trackback
8 years 8 months ago

[…] something. Anyway, not that I’m jumping the gun and announcing a wedding or nothing, but as Ramit pointed out, a wedding can be a large expense and like any large expense it’s better to plan […]

E
E
8 years 8 months ago
It has never occurred to me to start saving for a wedding, but this post has inspired me to do just that. I don’t want a big wedding, but to tell you the truth, I don’t have the finances now to plunk down even $2500 on a wedding! Even if your wedding is cheap compared to $28,000, you’re still in debt if you haven’t paid for it. There is another advantage to being able to pay for your wedding yourself: control. No family members telling you because they contributed money they MUST get a say and you MUST have that… Read more »
Georgene
Georgene
8 years 8 months ago
Being a parent, I feel parents have a lot to do with the wedding budget. When our first daughter was engaged we told her we had a budget for her. We told her she could use 1/2, all, or none but we encouraged her to have a personal meaningful wedding. Our second suggestion was to make sure the wedding party didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to be in their wedding. So, they had us send them 1/2 the money, they told their wedding party they would like them to dress in the colors chosen for wedding,… Read more »
trackback

[…] the $28k question: why are we all hypocrites about weddings – why don’t single people just plan that they’re going to have a really expensive wedding, because they probably will. I guess if you don’t spend the money on the wedding, you can use it on something else […]

Bethany
Bethany
8 years 8 months ago
I actually know a guy who is saving for his wedding, He is in the military, is 23, drives a porsche and has NO DEBT. He’s amazing. I got married in a civil ceremony before my husband left on deployment and we are paying off the credit cards we have now AND saving for the wedding. My budget is 10k. I hope to be under but I doubt it. We are having approx 20 guests I think.. family flying in to Hawaii and itll be on the beach. I am trying to find a restaurant that will give us a… Read more »
photographer in SF
8 years 6 months ago

Here in San Francisco, spending $28K is almost nothing. I’ve participated at weddings with a budget well above $100K. Some were over $200K. Sample Saturday reception at Ritz Carlton could cost $30K. Inviting 400 guests bring a food bill to $30000. $28K sounds almost like a dream here in Bay Area. If you have to pay for guests lodging and transportation you’re into another five numbers investment. There other activities such as rehearsal dinner, afterparty, etc.,

Erynn
Erynn
8 years 5 months ago

Funny, I’ve been married three times, the first time at age 19. Not a single one of those weddings cost more than $100.

Gift Coupons
8 years 5 months ago

Think back to all of the weddings you have attended, what do you really remember about them – you remember how young and good looking the members of the party were, the conversations you might have had with distant friends and relatives, but hardly do you remeber what food they served or how long the open bar was or how fancy the joint was. Keep it simple, most people don’t care and will not remember the things people waste a lot of money on. Keep your cash for a house.

LsuPuff
LsuPuff
8 years 5 months ago

I always wanted a nice wedding dress so I could pass it on to my daughter….And an open bar…

I plan to spend anything that my in-laws will throw at me for the ceremony. They will more than likely invite all their business associates anyway.

I think the high cost of a formal wedding is quite worth saving your virginity for 27 years…

nyle8720
nyle8720
8 years 3 months ago
So here’s the most interesting thing about keeping the cost of a wedding down: You and your partner have to be on the same page, or be willing to compromise to get there. I recently got married and because I’m a penny-pincher and had been previously married, all I wanted was to wander off to Vegas and save the 28K we otherwise would have spent to increase the down payment on our house or our cars. My future-husband, though, had never been married before and strongly wanted a wedding that his 200 – 300 extended family members could attend. We… Read more »
Laura
Laura
8 years 3 months ago

Ugh, I hate to admit, but we’re one of these “morons”… we didn’t think our wedding would as much as it was until it was too late and we added about $6k to our credit card debt… stupid, stupid, stupid. Six months later, we have our heads on straight and are getting out of credit card debt, but it’s a slow process, as most of us know! Great post!

Avalon
8 years 3 months ago

Wow! I hosted 50 people on the beach in Cape May, NJ for about 5 Grand.

Ashley
Ashley
8 years 2 months ago
I happened upon your article “The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings?” while pouring over your site, which my dear cousin the lawyer directed me to upon hearing that I was looking for some fresh ideas and guidance for investment, as I’ve amassed enough interest in my CD/money market accounts to warrant action. As I am getting married next year, I was drawn in and…I would say horror stricken, but I’ve shopped around and I’m not the least bit surprised. Getting married (and everything else you do in the Bay Area) is insanely f*cking expensive. Fortunately, my… Read more »
Beth
Beth
8 years 2 months ago
This comment is much later than the earliest ones, but it looks like people are still coming to this post at this time. Add me to the list of people who are starting to get annoyed by the people who look down their noses at people whose weddings cost over $3000. The point is to make sure that you don’t spend what you can’t afford, not that you spend the least amount possible. I have been to several weddings that were fun and cheap, but that’s because the bride and groom were pretty much on college student budgets. I have… Read more »
Richard
8 years 2 months ago
I’m getting married in Sept. And my wedding will cost less than 5k. I dropped 1k on the ring, a paltry amount by most people’s standards, and 1k on the dress, I got my ring on Overstock.com for 80 bucks. My bride to be understands the importance of sacrifice now reward later. Our friends are wearing big diamonds, driving BMWs, going to Europe, buying boats, motorcycles, and shelling out 25-30k or more on 500+ people at their wedding. We’re buying a house, not just any house, a duplex. I’m renting the other half out to my brother, effectively cutting my… Read more »
R. Landau
R. Landau
8 years 2 months ago
My wedding came in at about $10k. We cut costs in several ways. Most of the ways we cut costs had to do with exploiting resources we had already. For example, I do bonsai, so we used my bonsai collection as a decoration at the wedding. My wife dabbles in calligraphy, so she did the invitations. i realize some of these things cannot be done by every one (i.e., not every one has a friend with a liqour store), but the more you do yourself, the cheaper it becomes, and the more personal and unique your wedding is. Most of… Read more »
Ryan
Ryan
8 years 1 month ago
We are determined to spend none of our own money on our wedding, which is in three months. We will only spend what our parents are giving us, which, I can assure you, is much, much less than the $28,000 average. We were hoping to keep it under $5,000, but with some additional $$, we’re comfortable to be looking at closer to $7-8k. Of course, this does not include a honeymoon, where I intend to blow a ton of cash. The biggest VACATION of your life is more important than the “BIGGEST DAY” of your life, if you ask me.… Read more »
Vicki
Vicki
8 years 1 month ago

You left off the cost for the clergy or judge officiating. It’s considered a “donation” but it’s still required.

(Our clergy asked how much I planned to pay him and wasn’t happy with the amount. He wouldn’t tell me how much he wanted. He asked how much we were paying the caterer, so I said $15/person and told him I didn’t think $30 was enough for his services.)

aşk
8 years 1 month ago

You left off the cost for the clergy or judge officiating. It’s considered a “donation” but it’s still required.

(Our clergy asked how much I planned to pay him and wasn’t happy with the amount. He wouldn’t tell me how much he wanted. He asked how much we were paying the caterer, so I said $15/person and told him I didn’t think $30 was enough for his services.)

trackback

[…] always save you money.” If you liked this, you may want to check out my takes on why we’re all hypocrites about our $28,000 weddings and why I bought a new (not used) […]

Drew
Drew
8 years 1 month ago

50% of marriages fail, and the majority of expensive weddings I’ve been to fall into this category.

Some were paying wedding expenses during the divorce.

How much is it worth to someone for their guests to talk about what an awesomely nice wedding they went to?

Truth is, most forget about it within a month.

Mike Sheeran
Mike Sheeran
8 years 1 month ago

Luckily for me, my wife and I didn’t want a big wedding. We spent about $400 on ours. My uncle married us, my Grandmother paid $25 to reserve a gazebo near the water, and my wife’s wedding dress was on sale at Dillard’s for $50. It wasn’t hard for us. We had a budget of $3000 but we decided it would be better to save that and just have a simple wedding.

Igor L
Igor L
8 years 1 month ago

the idea is cool, but I think you took a wrong turn somewhere….forget the wedding lets get to the honey moon.
and of course here the last ditch effort GET married 3 times a day =)

Emily
Emily
8 years 1 month ago
Fantastic post! I couldn’t agree more. I’m simultaneously terrified and inspired. =) As terrible as it sounds, I actually congratulate the wedding industry as a whole for its brilliant marketing. All wedding companies do is convince people who are getting married that they have to spend thousands of dollars in order to have a half-decent wedding. For example, I went to a wedding expo over the weekend, and in one of the magazines I got there, there was an article on what you can get for your wedding depending on your budget. Here’s the funny part: The three budgets they… Read more »
trackback

[…] in reading a great blog post about the high cost of weddings and how to plan for them, try this one at the iwillteachyoutoberich blog. Also scan the comments for real life wedding stories and […]

cherie
cherie
8 years 1 month ago
Thank you so much for this article/blog. I have learned so much, not only from Ramit, but from all of the other comments posted here. I came to this article because I was going crazy over how to have an economical wedding without blowing all of our money…my fiance really wants a casual bbq reception. I was feeling pressured into having the run of the mill, average wedding (for me, about $10k)…but then I read this from top to bottom and am so excited to have the answer to my economical wedding blues!! We will rent out a grove at… Read more »
Angela
Angela
8 years 1 month ago
For our wedding, my husband and I were on the extreme side in terms of how inexpensive it was. We got married in our home with a justice of the peace presiding and with two friends as witnesses. For our reception, we had a great potluck with close friends at our home, and then a family party months later when we traveled home for the summer (we were grad students at the time). Not only was our wedding inexpensive, it was also extremely intimate and memorable. On the downside, we didn’t receive nearly the amount of gifts and cash we… Read more »
Mar
Mar
8 years 1 month ago
My doesn’t he sound so sure of himself. Too bad he’s full of sh*t. Plenty of people have a wedding for way cheaper than $28,000. In fact there’s a thread in the budget forum of brides.com with a lot of brides who have already had their wedding for five thousand US dollars. You can find people who paid less than twenty eight thousand dollars on their wedding on pretty much every wedding forum on the internet. Newsflash: I’m paying five thousand dollars for my wedding with 125 guests. I’d like to know how the heck I’m going to go 23… Read more »
trackback
8 years 14 days ago

[…] how do we pay for the wedding? Ramit Sethi, another financial blogger, suggests saving in advance for your wedding based on the average ages in which we tend to get married. In the United States, women tend to tie […]

trackback
8 years 14 days ago

[…] how do we pay for the wedding? Ramit Sethi, another financial blogger, suggests saving in advance for your wedding based on the average ages in which we tend to get married. In the United States, women tend to tie […]

trackback

[…] lots of commenters to brag about how you got out of debt by making hard choices (just as they annoyingly bragged about their inexpensive weddings in the comments of this post). That’s great. But I’m sick of those comments that tell people to “just spend […]

Barbara Saunders
7 years 11 months ago

One problem I see with the $333 per month idea. How many 20 year olds have $333 per month for a wedding PLUS $500 for the Roth IRA PLUS $250 (or whatever for the student loan) PLUS … well, you get the idea!

Whether you’re saving for something up front or paying for it after the fact, most people only have so much money to work with — all else they just “have to have”, like the perfect wedding day, is going to end up on the credit card.

trackback

[…] post on why we’re all hypocrites about our weddings was one of my most […]

Becca
Becca
7 years 11 months ago
Well, I am obviously late to the party, but I have some refreshing news from personal experience – saving and prioritizing IS more realistic than trimming, begging, borrowing, and skimping! You got it Ramit! My fiancé and I are getting married next month in Seattle, have planned a fabulous, $36,500 wedding for 120 people, and will be debt free after the honeymoon. How do I know the exact cost? Because that’s how much money we budgeted to spend! Granted, my fiancé and I are both engineers, so we love data and numbers and planning in general, but I believe that… Read more »
Debt Free Hispanic
7 years 11 months ago

Ramit, I had 500 guest at my wedding less than a year ago and both sets of parents and me and my wife were able to pay cash for the wedding. It costs a little over the average price you listed but we did it through saving throughout the year. We also split it three ways so that nobody had to pay more than the other.

Hey, we’re Hispanic there is no such thing as your family has to pay more because of father of the bride, we split the costs and had the best wedding ever.

trackback

[…] Ramit has a great post about weddings on I will teach you to be rich. Check out the post, it has great insight to what typical Americans […]

trackback

[…] considering i’ve never planned a wedding before so I have no clue! My first resource was this blog entry that offers a Wedding Cost Estimator excel file to help you with planning. I will admit that I was […]

Eric Lundquist
Eric Lundquist
7 years 11 months ago

Interesting comments. 4 1/2 years I got married and the wedding totalled $8,500. We had 150 guests and an elegant reception with a string quartett. It doesn’t have to cost that much.

Mike
Mike
7 years 11 months ago
My wedding cost under $25, which was the cost of the registration fee (in 1997). No charge for officiating: it was performed by my father who is ordained. My mother didn’t charge us rent to use her house, and she and my sister were the witnesses. No guests. Mind you, this wasn’t only about saving money. My wife and I had full and busy lives, and neither of us had any intention of joining our friends in the diabolical game of spending every waking moment for 6 months planning a party. Life is too short for that kind of stress.… Read more »
trackback

[…] 15, 2008 in General I was rereading Ramit’s article at iwillteachyoutoberich.com about why we are all hypocrites about weddings. The comments are full of people bragging about how very little they spent on their weddings […]

trackback

[…] it sounds like a great idea to me, I might end up being a hypocrite about it and going the traditional route.  It is hard to break away from the norm, but […]

Alabama Beach weddings
7 years 10 months ago

The price tag is staggering.

Marissa
Marissa
7 years 10 months ago

My husband and I just got married (march 2008) and we spent $3000 on our entire wedding including rings.

We found a wonderful bed and breakfast in Florida that did full weddings (guests optional but still very affordable) and photography. We were so happy with the private event but even more proud of ourselves that we started our new life together without debt. It can be done – people just let emotions get in the way and all financial reason goes out of the window.

heather
heather
7 years 9 months ago
spent a total of about $5000 on our wedding. people do not need to do all of the crap they think they need for their weddings. mine was beautiful, it was simple, i had 200 guests approximately. i fed them cake and banana splits. my mother (yes it saved a little but not much when you add it all up) made my wedding dress $300-$400(AND it was not only beautiful but looked like a designer dress). the tuxes were rented. we drove away in our old junky car on purpose, for fun, and so our good car (note: OUR car,… Read more »
Kevin
Kevin
7 years 9 months ago

So really 50% of everyone should also start saving for their expensive divorce as well. Oh and after that their next “special day”. Come on, spending tens of thousands on a single day, 1 freaking day, is just plain stupid. Want to know how the rich stay rich they don’t blow money on things like weddings and $20,000 cars.

Elizabeth
7 years 9 months ago

My (now) husband and I swore we wouldn’t spend more than $5000 on a wedding, that we’d keep it simple, and we did. You know how? We took the advice of most of our married friends who always said, “you know, if there was one thing we’d have done differently its…” and eloped to Las Vegas. Our most expensive purchase was the airline tickets, followed by the Elvis impersonator (you can’t have a Vegas wedding without one!) who did our vows.

trackback

[…] The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings?: Ramit Sethi offers some frank advice about financing and saving for your wedding. […]

trackback

[…] The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings?: Ramit Sethi offers some frank advice about financing and saving for your wedding. […]

Sam
7 years 8 months ago
As a DJ who’s done his share of weddings I have one solid piece of advice for anyone looking for a DJ: Keep it simple. So many DJ’s today hawk light shows, fog machines, outlandish personalities… from the guests perspective, this is all incredibly annoying when attempting to celebrate the union of two people! Find a DJ who will bring in some decent speakers, a CD deck/laptop, and an amp, let them play something light in the background if you have a meal, and then let them turn it up a bit and switch to something everyone likes when the… Read more »
Courtney
Courtney
7 years 8 months ago

A man saving for his wedding? I’ll marry you!! Call me!

aşk şiirleri
7 years 8 months ago

[…] in reading a great blog post about the high cost of weddings and how to plan for them, try this one at the iwillteachyoutoberich blog. Also scan the comments for real life wedding stories and […]

trackback

[…] We actually have all the information we need: The average age at marriage is about 27 for men and 26 for women. We know that the average amount of a wedding is about $28,000. So, if you agree with this choice — and you don’t want to go into debt for your wedding — here’s how much you should be saving (RSS readers, click here): […]

Adam
7 years 6 months ago

My church hosts weddings, they cover everything but the pastor and tech.

adora
adora
7 years 6 months ago

I am seriously thinking of just changing my Facebook status to “married” and be done with it.

drsam
7 years 6 months ago

Bah!

I couldn’t get through this whole post.

My wife and I will be celebrating our tenth anniversary this June. 10 best years of our lives. Friggin wedded bliss.

Total cost for our wedding (including marriage license, ceremony fee, hotel, travel, meals, rings, photography…in short the whole darn thing) was under 500 bucks.

If we had it to do over again, we wouldn’t change a thing!

Marissa Roe
Marissa Roe
7 years 6 months ago

I don’t think its so much as bragging, but rather letting other people know that doing it cheaply is actually achievable.

When you’re budgeting the whole celebration, it sometimes can feel that its impossible to do it without breaking the bank.

meg
7 years 6 months ago
Weddings aren’t that expensive if you consider the fact that it usually isn’t one person or couple paying for the whole thing. Usually the groom buys the ring, for instance, one of the larger chunks of the cost of a wedding. He and/or his parents often pay for the honeymoon too, another chunk of the cost. The bride pays for a lot of stuff out of pocket, like spa visits, gifts for bridesmaids, her hubby’s ring, etc. Meanwhile the bride’s parents generally pay for the reception. Often grandparents chip in as well, offering up things like the use of their… Read more »
Rachel
Rachel
7 years 6 months ago
I was thinking about this post today as I forked over more money for a bridesmaid dress than I’ve ever spent on any other piece of clothing in my life. I’m more than happy to be part of a close friend’s celebration, but I’m still shell shocked. If most people are ignorant about the costs of their own wedding, I think it’s fair to say that almost all of us have our heads buried in the sand when it comes to participating in other people’s weddings. Odds are that you’ll be part of several weddings and odds are these weddings… Read more »
Jessica
Jessica
7 years 6 months ago

This is all too true. I got engaged 2 months ago & it has been a rollercoaster of shock at what people charge for things (like a one-day dress) and relief that my parents offered to help with costs. The problem is my better-half’s family who is inviting 2/3rds of the people but paying for nothing but have opinions on everything. It’s really frustrating for me to explain why we can’t have a prime rib carving station when we can’t afford to feed people & send out invitations!!!

Vennela
Vennela
7 years 6 months ago
I started saving for my wedding since I got my first job when I was 21 and didn’t even have a boyfriend. My fiance (now my husband 🙂 we got married few months ago) and I had a budget of 25k. Its a lot of money in Indian currency. Even though bride’s parents usually pay for the whole wedding in India, we insisted on paying. A month before the wedding, it just got out of control!!! My parents had to invite 1500 people and my in-laws insisted that we get married in a big wedding hall that costs $4k/night etc… Read more »
Vennela
Vennela
7 years 6 months ago

I think the point I was trying to make got lost in my rant… What I was trying to say is…

1) Have a budget and stick to it.
2) If some one insists on having something expensive, politely say that you can’t afford it and if they still insist, make them pay for it 😉 I should have done that with my in-laws

Amanda
Amanda
7 years 6 months ago
I am tired of people saying it is stupid or unnecessary to spend a lot of money on a wedding. I for one do not have parents or future in-laws who can afford to help much with the wedding, nor do I know anyone who can sew my dress, or DJ the reception. I plan on saving for my wedding (2-3 years away) myself and having the dream wedding I have always wanted despite my lack of resources. I do not think that it is smart to go for a cheap photographer or videographer just to save money because I… Read more »
Rebecca
Rebecca
7 years 6 months ago
I just wanted to say thank you for the thoughtful post. I just stopped back here about a year after first reading it, when I my boyfriend and I were starting to move from “if we get married” into “when we get married” discussions. Even though we’re just starting to pick out rings now, I already have savings for the wedding. And grad school. And my next car. And a kid fund (which is at least 5 years away.) In other words, this article was a lightbulb “aha!” moment that made me think about my 10-year timeframe financial goals. Instead… Read more »
trackback

[…] January 17, 2009 in General I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that I am a big fan of Ramit’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich. His tips are the only ones that aren’t the same old stuff regurgitated to the masses (except his Save $1,000 in 30 Days series). I always go back to reread his posts on conscious spending and why we are all hypocrites about weddings. […]

trackback

[…] to some simple rules of asset allocation? 14. In the next ten years, you’ll have to pay for a wedding, new car, have kids, take vacations, etc. How much are you saving each month for those things? (In […]

Jinal Shah
7 years 5 months ago

I wish you had written this last year or the year before. You are so right about everything. This is one of the best posts I’ve read on your blog. Such an obvious thing .. and yet, most people including me, are so clueless.

Thank you for this !

Mike Reese
Mike Reese
7 years 5 months ago

Very well put. People are now trying to claim that wedding photography is overpriced, ‘we can just have uncle Fred take pictures.’ Well, unless Uncle Fred comes with 3 camera bodies, 5 lenses, 3 flashes, a spare compact camera, effects boxes and filters, you will probably be disappointed with the results. What if Uncle Fred’s camera goes on the fritz? Exactly.When I did weddings years ago, I negotiated with the couple over price, letting them set limits. And I gave them good quality photography, too. These same folks wouldn’t dream of letting Uncle Fred do the family portrait.!

Adam
7 years 4 months ago

$28,000 for a wedding is absurd. Most weddings end in divorce, why start your marriage financially cramped by a wedding? Yes, I realize you can plan to save that $28,000 in advance. However, wouldn’t it be more sensible to use that money for a down payment on a home (instant equity!). Or, to buy outright a late model used car? Just a few thoughts.

trackback

[…] goals make it easier for you – they come with a set cost. For example, the average American wedding costs $28,000. Many of us dream of having a beautiful wedding somewhere down the line, so that number gives us […]

trackback

[…] to cut down on wedding costs floating around on the internet, and if you check out the comments on wedding posts on any popular PF blog, you’ll see people bragging about how little they spent & […]

Julie
Julie
7 years 2 months ago
Unfortunately, unless you have a lot of time on your hands to do a lot of work yourself (and even if you do), you can end up with a cheap — instead of inexpensive — wedding. Don’t try to have traditional evening reception and save money on food by putting out cold cuts. I have been to a wedding like that and I swear it’s the only thing I remember about it. No one wants to be remembered as tacky. Saving money means thinking outside the box. Have an afternoon wedding in the outdoors with a tea reception. If the… Read more »
trackback

[…] most of the articles there quite worth reading. Two great examples of his style and advice are The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings? and Money Diaries: The 20-something cube-dweller with an addiction to phone […]

Leah
7 years 2 months ago
We had a fantastic wedding for $6,000 – of which $4,000 was for the most amazing food (people still mention the food), and we loved our wedding – and stress levels were so much lower than any other wedding I’ve been to. The tricks were: *Very limited guest list *I refused to be married in white (I’m 6′ tall, blonde, and very white skinned – can you imagine a 6′ tall meringue floating down the aisle?? Plus I object to the wedding industry and the whole “I’m a Princess” thing brides seem to get caught up in. You’re not a… Read more »
Nebula
Nebula
7 years 2 months ago
We got married in 1983 for $600 total, minus the honeymoon which my parents gave us as a wedding gift. We didn’t have credit cards back then so it had to be pre-paid in cash. It was a nice afternoon weekday (cheaper) reception in a beautiful Italian style cultural center with appetizers and white wine. Everyone who attended always tells us it was the type of wedding they wanted: intimate and fun. Several couples who attended married at the same place later. We still remember our wedding fondly and we are still happily married 26 years later. A friend married… Read more »
James
James
7 years 2 months ago
You know, at first I thought the whole idea of commenting on a comment about weddings was stupid. Then, I started to read, and all of a sudden I got it. . .these comments, like the weddings that spawned them, are all about declaring who you are to the world. What a frightening idea. However, as I said, I’ve been inspired to make my own comments, and here we go. First, I don’t think the cost of the wedding matters as much as how it comports with YOUR view on weddings, and marriage, and what not. But more importantly, Ramit’s… Read more »
Quita
Quita
7 years 2 months ago
I used you simulator and realized that my wedding will be around $5000 since I plan to keep it small. I have considered going to a justice of the peace and then just having a potluck reception at the house so I can spend a little more on the honeymoon and stay under $2000. Since I am from the south, it won’t be hard to get all of the ladies in the kitchen to make a big feast and have the men barbecue. I really am a very simple person. Plus with the divorce rate today there is no way… Read more »
trackback

[…] want to do it yourself, then feel free to do it. If you want to spend a large amount of  money, plan ahead and start saving now even before you get engaged. Planning ahead can give you an extraordinary amount of freedom. If you […]

Inayat
Inayat
7 years 2 months ago
You can go to India and have the most extravagant wedding for under $10000. Wedding shouldn’t cost a leg. Flowers are really cheap in India, and so are tailor made suits. You enjoy a lot and not have to cringe because it doesn`t look perfect. Also, I don`t understand why people need everything to be perfect. Is perfection more important than your enjoyment of the “single most important day of life`. Shouldn`t you spend the money on entertainment without it being a cliché Of course the downside to going to India is that all your friends and family may not… Read more »
tired wedding guest
tired wedding guest
7 years 2 months ago
Incredible how so many missed the point and then actually brag about hitting friends and family up for freebies. Agree with KM in comment #47, Sara in #55 and Rachel in #197. Even if the wedding is only $5k did you plan for it? Probably not. And the whole point of this article, in case you missed the other dozens of mentions is about saving and being prepared. When a friend tells me they’re getting married, I start saving for it right away. I’ve spent as much as $1000 just being a part of a wedding, only to receive some… Read more »
Megan
7 years 2 months ago
I got married two months ago and was excited when I read this post. I was all set to comment about how I saved money on my wedding, but then I read tiredweddingguest’s comment #219 and decided to rethink my comment. I did not plan and budget for my wedding before hand, but I wish I had. Fortunately, I know a lot of people who are talented and lovely and helpful, and we pulled off a wedding for 120 people for less than $9,000 and we did it without going into debt. If we had planned, or saved, maybe we… Read more »
prufock
prufock
7 years 1 month ago

So far I’ve found the easiest way to save money on a wedding is not having one.

sue bradley
sue bradley
7 years 1 month ago
How very sad.I grew up in a small town in the foothills. Weddings were simple affairs, held in the afternoon.After the church ceremony, everyone met at the grammar school cafeteria or the VFW hall for wedding cake, punch, and dancing to records. No liquor was generally served.There was no meal.Yet everyone seemed to have a good time.The brides friends and relatives cut and served cake and punch.There were no caterers. These simple affairs allowed the young couple to start life with little if any debt connected to the wedding.I remember my brother complaining about the high cost for wedding pictures… Read more »
Dina at Wordfeeder.com
7 years 1 month ago

Is it wrong to BEG your guests NOT to send you wedding gifts? Why does everyone need to spend their hard earned cash on silly trinkets that will end up in the garage sale pile, or a lovely tea set that no one will use – EVER? I’m all for the frugal wedding, and I’m not one of those “hypocrites,” either. I’m your new biggest fan, love this blog!

John Watson
John Watson
7 years 27 days ago

This is such BS. We had a simple wedding, where friends did most of the work with us. We had about 70 guests, it didn’t cost a fortune (we paid for it all ourselves) and everyone still (11 years later) says it was the best wedding they have ever attended.

Sara
Sara
7 years 27 days ago
Sigh. I am 26, and I will go to my 12th wedding, in the past 15 months, this August. Now, I love going to weddings and taking part in something important that my good friends and close family are doing. I am happy to pay travel costs to places I can afford to go, and buy gifts. I am also never offended if someone has a small wedding and can’t invite me, or elopes. But if all those people asked me to come “pitch in” for their wedding because they are on a budget but don’t want to compromise on… Read more »
Joe
7 years 27 days ago
This is good stuff. Some people are not hypocrites, though. My girlfriend and I eloped last year and got married by ourselves on the beach in Margarita Island, Venezuela (she’s Venezuelan). It cost about $3000, honeymoon included. She had been married once before and couldn’t take another lavish waste of money, and I had been a wedding DJ on Maui and wanted no part in all of that foolishness and none of the attention. Yes, of course the whole family is important, but ultimately it is about the couple, their love, their future together, so I recommend just doing your… Read more »
trackback

[…] Yes, you WILL have a nice and very expensive wedding (even if you’re a hypocrite and think you’ll have a “small, beautiful” wedding) […]

Shanti
Shanti
7 years 14 days ago
If you had asked me what I would spend on a wedding before I got engaged, I probably would have said “next to nothing”, as I wanted a simple small affair. (Marriage lesson #1: I thought it would be a small afternoon tea for my small family and close friends. I happened to marry into a larger family from a different culture where weddings are more formal and my original idea was not workable.) But after I got engaged and started looking at prices for the sort of wedding my fiance and I decided on, I had some sticker shock!… Read more »
John Brown
John Brown
7 years 14 days ago

I agree. You rock.

Vonny
Vonny
7 years 13 days ago
@James comment 215, you are a crack up! LOL! I love your response. I’m not yet married but I’m planning to in a few yrs (not yet proposed to either but we’ve talked about it!) I haven’t even thought about how much our wedding would cost until this article initiated a discussion between us but I’m sure it will be a decent amount. We’ve decided that we’re not planning to have a budget wedding or an extremely extravagant one – it will be the biggest party in my lifetime and I’m doing it right but sensibly. I haven’t yet saved… Read more »
Devesh
7 years 9 days ago

Of course, you mention wedding to anyone, be it limo services, florist, photographer, or hotel…and prices would jump double Wedding = Time to suck $$$$ out of client’s pocket… Because they know you want things to be perfect, in time and of course you don’t want to be labeled as “cheap” for the rest of your life… “Don’t you talk to me you a$$-cheap-hole, you asked your crappy cousin to bake our wedding cake…”

Don't be fooled
Don't be fooled
11 months 16 days ago

Would love to see another post elaborating on this point. Most people planning weddings really don’t know what the actual market value of the services they are buying and most don’t take the time to do the research to find out just how much they are getting ripped off. A friend of mine who does photography for businesses and nonprofits charges between $100-$300 hour. When he does occasional weddings on the side? $500 an hour.

Cari
Cari
7 years 9 days ago

I just had a “destination” wedding (Lake Tahoe) with over 100 guests for less than $6,000. EVERYONE commented that is was the best wedding they had ever been to. It can be done!

Yelena
7 years 5 days ago
My idea of a wedding was very similar to Shanti’s – a small dinner with the closest family. And I didn’t care for a wedding dress either. It had nothing to do with frugality and everything to do with how I really wanted to spend my special day. But my fiance pursuaded me to look at some wedding mags first. He felt that I, being from a different culture, didn’t know all the options available to me. Ok, fast forward 3 months… I looked through dozens of catalogs, read TheKnot.com religiously, started a wedding planning notebook, etc, etc. The plan… Read more »
Seema
Seema
7 years 2 days ago
We started with the idea of a simple and small wedding, except then reality hit. My family alone numbers 100 people and our guest list grew to 300+ very quickly and that’s with keeping it small. We’re now looking at event that’s probably going to cost all parties involved more than $25,000. We’re not stressed about it though because we have a savings plan and we have been diligently putting away money every month to pay for this event and we have enough cushion where we could add a little bit more if necessary. We track our expenses through an… Read more »
trackback

[…] The $28000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings? | I … […]

trackback

[…] My short-term savings accounts are through ING Direct, and they automatically withdraw 3% of my paycheck each month (I would really like to get this number higher). Right now I have two short-term savings accounts: my emergency fund and my car fund (for unexpected repairs). I would like to add two more for clothes and travel. Ramit has a great post on why you should also have a wedding fund (shocking how fast even “modest” weddings add up). Check it out: The 28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings? […]

trackback

[…] at I Will Teach You to Be Rich recently wrote an article about the cost of weddings. On average, a wedding costs $28,000. That’s more than half what the typical American household […]

trackback

[…] a celebrity wedding, but what about the rest of us? Financial blogger Ramit Sethi has written up an intriguing post on how to avoid potential sticker shock when planning a wedding, entitled “The 28,000 […]

trackback

[…] [1] The $28,000 question: Why are we all hypocrites about weddings? […]

trackback

[…] People who spend $20,000+ on their weddings are dumb (same as above — see comments) […]

trackback

[…]  Ramit tells it like it is.  If you’ve still got time to save $$, this is for you! […]

charlotte
charlotte
1 year 1 month ago
Well I for one think this is RIDICULOUS. Spending THOUSANDS of dollars for ONE DAY? Wasteful. Before you ask, Yes, I am married. I had a very small wedding with family at my mom’s house. My mom and I made decorations, we made the meal, we had some flowers, and it was a very elegant, small affair. What baffles me the most is that people are willing to put themselves into serious debt for a wedding, and then so easily get divorced later on, when things don’t look quite so rosy? In my opinion, anyone who had a huge wedding… Read more »
Brent
Brent
11 months 25 days ago
WOW! We are spending maybe 2 grand for our wedding. We ARE planning ahead. She’s growing her own bouquet in our tiny flower garden. I agree with the ones that say they’d rather spend extra money on trips or what have you…. A house, car and kids, yes big expense, but those are things that are going to last more than just a few hours. For 28 thousand, I could buy a real nice car that will last 20 years. I could put that 28 grand towards the house to pay it off faster. That’s college for my kids. The… Read more »
Kristi Thompson
11 months 18 days ago
Thanks for the value provide, Ramit! You raise a great point that many wedding bloggers don’t talk about: Of course people should thoughtfully save toward their weddings, just like any other life milestones. I’m surprised to see you getting annoyed with the many people who have commented about planning weddings for much less than 28k though. In Zero to Launch, you teach us to listen to the people in our market. The many, many, many commenters on this article who planned weddings with a few grand aren’t wrong, annoying, or bragging; they’re in a different wedding planning market than you… Read more »
Kristi Thompson
10 months 26 days ago

While I agree it’s ideal to save up for a wedding in advance, today on the HuffPost Weddings Blog, I suggested using the spend lavishly/cut costs mercilessly model for couples who have a limited amount of money to spend on their weddings. The post is called, “6 Steps for Planning the Wedding You Want With the Budget You Have.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristi-thompson/6-steps-for-planning-the-wedding-you-want-with-the-budget-you-have_b_8078610.html

Dog Costumes
9 months 12 days ago

This excellent website certainly has all of the
information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t
know who to ask.

trackback

[…] of US households. Can you imagine spending that much money for one day of your life? Unfortunately, many people do, regardless of how much they […]

Dawn Hempsey
7 months 9 days ago

Wow, that is a lot for a wedding, don’t you think? I would not even be able to afford that amount even if I gave myself 100 months to pay for it.

Kasserr
Kasserr
7 months 2 days ago

Its not true that the average cost of a wedding is 28K. This is a lie created by the media along with wedding vendors, its in their best interest to convince everyone that a wedding is going to be expensive. Also, this statistic is likely completely made up and false, or its just a best “estimate” that also factors in the cost of the engagement ring and honeymoon. I don’t know ANYONE who spends 28K on their wedding, including those who are wealthy. But really, what people choose to spend is their own business and not mine.

trackback

[…] “figuring it out later” we should be budgeting and planning for such a big expense. He gives the following 3 recommendations for […]

Debra Tate
Debra Tate
3 months 23 days ago

I guess you could say that men don’t want to spend fortune on diamond engagement rings and that is reasonable. It doesn’t always have to be like that, you can always find the ones that are more in your liking.

mydomain.com
3 months 19 days ago

I quite like reading an article that can make men and women think.
Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

trackback
2 months 4 days ago

[…] to forego and set yourself up to win. Use the average age of marriage and your current age to come up with a number you’re comfortable setting aside each month toward your […]

trackback

[…] Ramit Sethi writes in Why are we all hypocrites about weddings?, everyone pretends that they won’t spend huge fortunes on their weddings… until they actually […]

wpDiscuz