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In exactly one month, I will be married. I originally budget the wedding at $7900, but it seems that I was too optimistic. Here’s our current cost breakdown:

Expense Type Cost in US Dollars
Engagement Ring 4600
Wedding Bands 648
Reception package 9500
Attire for bridal party ~1300
Invitations ~300
Gifts/Favors ~1000
Flowers ~300
Photography 1500
Honeymoon 3740
Marriage License 78
Total ~23000

In Northern California this is considered a fairly cheap wedding, but it’s still costing more than my college education and it makes me sick. Even though the money came from the generosity of our parents, it’s a bit hard for me to swallow. My mother came to the realization that modern American weddings are scams when we went into an alteration appointment for my gown. The seamstress was very pushy and asked for more than $300 to hem my dress. When I said I didn’t want to do it anymore, she said, “Listen, this is your first time getting married right? There is a process you have to follow. You have to spend money on all of these things, because that’s part of becoming a bride.” Frankly, I don’t buy that crap and my mom didn’t either. She sat down in the car and said, “This whole wedding thing is a SCAM!” Then she hemmed my dress for me.

My future hubby doesn’t like it when I say that weddings and diamonds are scams because he thinks that I don’t care about our wedding. I do care about our wedding, but I care about the days beyond our wedding much much more. The sheer pageantry of modern weddings used to be only reserved for royalty, but now people are saving and even borrowing money to put on these extravagant productions. For example, my mom’s coworker is attending a destination wedding that costs more than $200,000, and the bride is paying for it with a cash-out refinance of her home. Is it really worth it to take on that much debt for one day of being harassed by relatives you barely know while wearing extremely uncomfortable clothes? I really don’t believe so.

Love is free, so getting married should be free too. My parents got married in China by registering at the government, and taking a photo together. Their marriage is not any less meaningful than the marriages of those who had spectacular weddings. If I had my way, I would have saved most of the money for my future child’s college fund and go on a longer honeymoon. However, the wedding is mostly for my fiance, and our friends and family, not for me. Hopefully, it will be a fun day for everyone attending. I know I will be getting heat hives from the wedding dress…

Quick Factoids:

Cost of a wedding in Northern California:

Cost of University of California, Berkeley:
4192.25 per semester (When I attended in 2001 the tuition was and I had a $500 per semester scholarship, and the government says there’s only 2% inflation? Anyway, that’s another rant.)

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viagra newson 07.26.07 at 4:08 pm

I don’t think it’s fair to include the engagement ring in your breakdown, as it is the item that initiated the wedding process in the first place. It is more like a gift from the fiance than an obligatory part of the wedding celebrations. It is also not an expense that you are bearing.

You also forget that the cost of the honeymoon was influenced by the fact that the groom’s parents offered to pay for it – if that were not the case, you would have gone for a more affordable option.

And I told you loooooong before I proposed to you that a budget of less than 10k was pretty crazy – especially given the generally higher costs in the Bay Area.

Oh, and love is DEFINITELY not free.

viagra newson 07.27.07 at 12:53 pm

$4,000 doesn’t sound like an overly expensive honeymoon, assuming you’re going somewhere far away. But the engagement ring argument is a bit specious in my opinion; that money certainly could have been rolled into the college fund too. And, in as much as the initial argument is about the cost and pageantry of weddings these days, the expense of the ring should certainly be included.

OMG wedding. I need to go rent the tuxedo.

viagra newson 07.27.07 at 1:48 pm

It doesn’t sound expensive because your parents be ROLLIN’ IN DOUGH. Remember that that amount is *half* of what she originally budgeted for the *entire* wedding. Heck, come to think of it, the honeymoon shouldn’t be figured into the cost of the wedding at all – it’s an entertainment/travel expense – one that probably would have been incurred at some point in the first year of marriage, regardless.

I’ll concede that the ring should be counted in *most* calculations of wedding costs. I can see some men going ring shopping with their wife-to-be only out of obligation to present something as a formal initiation of the marriage process. In my case, however, I think I would’ve bought her the ring or something as a gift anyway (as I mentioned), even in the absence of wedding traditions.

viagra newson 07.27.07 at 1:53 pm

Oh, and to clarify, the ring was never mentioned as part of her original calculations of the wedding budget. She came up with the original figure based on the ceremony and honeymoon costs alone. It’s not fair to add it to the right side of the comparison without adding it to the left. It’s like comparing apples to… apples with a really juicy orange in the middle of ‘em.

viagra newson 07.27.07 at 5:54 pm

All of this sounds reasonable except that my comment about honeymoons was absolute, not relative. If you’re going to say Hawaii and spending a week, then last I checked $300/night + $500/round trip ticket is reasonable, so that’s $3100 for the bare basics, give or take.

Anyway, I wasn’t trying to take sides, I was more commenting on the large costs of weddings. I think your wedding is reasonably priced, and I’m sure it will go swimmingly! Good luck :-)

viagra newson 07.27.07 at 6:06 pm

Yesssss… reasonably priced! Exactly! End of discussion. :D

viagra newson 10.09.07 at 1:37 pm

Congrats on your wedding. That is fantastic how much you saved. I got married 6 months ago and looking back wish I had made more cuts. Like inviting fewer people, eliminating catered meals we provided for families on Friday and Sunday. I feel we were too generous in retrospect. Without honeymoon, we spent about $15000 (DC area wedding), with many frills eliminated. I truly agree with you, wedding industry is absolutely frivolity.

viagra newson 12.08.07 at 2:08 pm

[...] Get married — Previously, I wrote about how much a wedding costs these days. Nevertheless I think it’s important to have a wedding without going into debt. [...]

viagra newson 10.30.09 at 8:04 am

Congratulations !

viagra newson 12.02.10 at 8:14 pm

I totally agree, I think the costs for a wedding are insane. And it is just for one day! Think of everything else you could do with that money! It’s refreshing to see someone who has a more realistic view of weddings.

Speaking of money, we wrote an article you may be interested in, seven financial questions to ask your partner BEFORE you get married. Sure you may be saving for the wedding day, but how will you manage your finances as a couple after you are married? You may find this helpful:

Good luck with your own wedding and best of luck for your future :)

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