Ahh…weddings. There’s something about the celebration of love — combined with an open bar, a dance floor, and a friend from college who gets a little too tipsy — that makes us feel so bright-eyed and schmoopy. Weddings are about devotion and commitment and pretending that you won’t one day flip your spouse off behind their back or want to stab them in the eye with a fork because they are chewing so damn loud. Weddings are gorgeous dresses, and uncomfortable shoes, and lots of drunk selfies.
Weddings are fucking magical, amirite?
Weddings are also apparently a time for people to go into hock up to their eyeballs and pay for a bunch of shit we can’t afford to impress a bunch of people we don’t really care about. Because according to a new report by WeddingWire.com, the average cost of a wedding is $28,000 to $37,000, but it can easily cost more than $40,000 if you live in a place like New York or San Francisco. I’ll take a minute for you to catch your breath because that is a shit ton of money for a one-time event.
A few hours.
Look, I get it, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and love makes us all a little weak in the knees. We swoon over the sparkle of weddings, and love is pretty incredible and worthy of celebration.
But sweet Jesus in a Tom Ford tuxedo, things have gotten out of control.
Weddings aren’t just expensive as hell either; they’re also fucking stressful and the whole planning process usually comes with more than a few disagreements. When I got married, WWIII nearly broke out between my mom and me over chairs covers. That’s right, fucking chair covers.
She thought they were a frivolous waste of money (they were); I deemed them a necessity because the venue’s green chairs would clash with my lavender color scheme. I won the debate, and later she admitted that they really did tie the whole room together. Which really just proves that I was a total brat, and my folks are much nicer parents than I am.
According to Brides, parents of the bride and groom contribute about $19,000 to the wedding, or about two-thirds of the total cost. That’s right — parents are shelling out nearly 20 grand and that doesn’t even cover the entire cost of the wedding. Multiply that number by the number of kids you have, and you just might throw up in your mouth a little bit.
Excuse me while I go check my money tree in the backyard. Oh, wait…
Let’s just assume for a minute that parents have that kind of disposable income, which is a huge assumption given that there are many folks who don’t make that kind of money during an entire year. For many of us, that amount of money is literally inconceivable.
For those who can afford it, the question then becomes: Why?
Just think of all the things you could do with that kind of cash. You could take a kick-ass tour of Europe. Fund your own retirement account so you might be able to quit your job early and spend more time with your grandkids. Provide thousands of meals for people who are homeless. Start a scholarship fund for students in need. You could go to Hawaii for an extra long vacation and sip Mai Tais all day. The possibilities are endless.
Sure, some parents might actually want to pay that kind of cash for their son or daughter’s wedding. It is a celebration they have been saving for since that little bundle of joy came home, and they get misty-eyed just thinking about it. If that’s the case, I say, go for it.
But for many parents — and the betrothed couple too, for that matter — it’s less about what they want to do and more about what they feel like they should do, or even, what they can do.
Society tells us we need a fancy wedding, and we want to keep up with the Joneses and our favorite Instagrammers, so we shell out a boatload of money on something that will one day merely be a memory — a pleasant memory, but still a memory. And our guests likely won’t remember the details either.
We invest in the wedding, instead of the marriage — sometimes going into major debt to do so. In fact, 10% of families dipped into retirement savings to pay for the wedding of one of their children. What?!
Like I said, I get it. I drank the wedding Kool-Aid myself, and we wasted a bunch of money on things that didn’t really matter, but when I look back on my wedding, the memories I treasure most are walking down the aisle with my dad, getting sweaty dancing for hours, and eating cake with my new husband in our hotel room after everyone else had gone home.
Oh, and the chair covers. I remember the chair covers. They really did tie the whole room together, and it was fucking magical, I tell you. I’ll chip in for chair covers on principal, but there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell I’m cashing in my retirement. Sorry, kids.