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Which Would You Rather Have?

By JLP | June 15, 2007

A $30,000 wedding or $30,000 to help get you started in life?

Interesting question.

That’s the question a father asked his daughter in an article by Jonathan Yardley that I just finished reading. The daughter chose the wedding! I expect that most women (and probably a few men) would choose the wedding, which I think is kind of sad based on the fact that 50% of marriages end up in divorce. I realize you can’t put a price on love but $30,000 seems like a lot. I think it has become apparant that to many people, the wedding is more important than the marriage.

I thought this quote taken from One Perfect Day by Rebecca Mead was interesting:

“If a bride has been told, repeatedly, that it costs nearly $28,000 to have a wedding, then she starts to think that spending nearly $28,000 on a wedding is just one of those things a person has to do, like writing a rent check every month or paying health insurance premiums. (Or she prides herself on being a budget bride and spending a mere $15,000 on the event.) She is less likely to reflect upon the fact that $28,000 would have more than covered a 10 percent down payment on the median purchase price of a house in 2005 and would cover the average cost to a family of a health insurance policy, at 2005 rates, for a decade. The bride who has been persuaded that $28,000 is a reasonable amount of money to spend on her wedding day is less likely to measure that total against the nation’s median household income — $42,389 in 2004 — and reflect upon whether it is, in fact, reasonable for her or for anyone to spend the equivalent of seven and a half months of the average American’s salary on one day’s celebration.”

I remember when my wife and I got married nearly 14 years ago. We had a beautiful wedding and I’m pretty sure it didn’t cost anything near $30,000 even after adjusting for inflation. A lot has changed in fourteen years. Weddings are now big, big business and a lot of brides and parents feel like they “have” to spend a lot on a wedding in order for it to be legitimate. Of course this is coming from a guy’s point of view. I’m curious to hear what you women think about this.

Topics: Relationship Finance | 54 Comments »


54 Responses to “Which Would You Rather Have?”

  1. Bobby Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    I think it would be interesting to see if $28k is the median or the mean (average) price?

  2. Jeremy Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    You don’t even want to know what our wedding cost. Thankfully we didn’t have to pay for it, but at the same time it would have been far better to use even a fraction of what our wedding cost to help get started.

  3. Moneymonk Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    “to spend the equivalent of seven and a half months of the average American’s salary on one day’s celebration.”

    More like 2-3 hours celebration.

    My wedding cost $0 because we did not pay.

    As a women, I think most women love that “princess for a day” fiasco. Most women have weddings just to show off.

    My Uncle ( who is a successful real estate investor) has 3 kids. 2 girls and 1 boy. He gave $30K to each of them. He said you can do whatever you want with this money, have a wedding, buy a house, or just save it. All children are over 27 years old.

    Guess what the daughters spent their money on? a wedding! His son ( my other cousin ) use it to put a down payment on a home and saved the rest.

  4. Moneymonk Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    I will take the 30K to get started in life. I’m sure most female pfbloggers agree.

  5. RishiD Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    I think a descent size ball room to fit 150 people has to cost at least $10-15K with food and drinks.

    anyone know what an average wedding costs now a days?

  6. Bianca Bizarro Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    My parents had four girls and never spent over $2000 on any of the weddings. Family made most of the food, my mother, aunt and sister made the bridesmaids dresses, my grandmother did the flowers, another sister made the wedding cakes, and the bride’s dresses were bought half-price off the rack and altered. We were raised to be frugal and none of us ever expected limousines or $100 a plate catered dinners.

  7. bisous Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    I was reading in the Economist last week that among higher educated women, the percentage of marriages that end in divorce drops a great deal. For women with college degrees, it is less than 30%, for women with graduate degrees, less than 20%. My husband and I were married 3 years ago, and at the time, we cut some corners and saved some money- now I regret some of those cut-corner choices. I don’t need the extra $2000 at this point. So there you go.

  8. Amber Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    I would take the $30k cash and use whatever I needed for the wedding and the rest for life. I’m a simple girl and can’t imagine spending more than $5k on a wedding, though I’d aim to have it closer to $2k. But that’s just me.

  9. Ryan Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    How many people have $30k weddings? How many of those people can actually afford it?

    I recently attended a beautiful wedding that probably cost $80k. But it was tasteful and felt more like they were saying thanks to all the people who’d meant something to them, rather than showing off. I showed my gratitude by ordering numerous Grey Goose-based beverages.

    IMO, the important thing is to help everyone have a good time. If people are happy (and possibly intoxicated, assuming a DD is present), they won’t care how impressed they were with your limo or if you just drove to the Motel 6 in your Honda.

  10. GLM Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    When we were planning our small basic wedding (Almost 30 years ago ) my somewhat exasperated father offered us cash to elope. When my husband and I looked at each other seriously considering the idea, my father quickly said he was only kidding. He explained that the Family was due for a wedding and he was glad to host an upbeat event . (Most family gatherings are still funerals). The event was family centered – and I did not really have the time or oportunity for a lot of input . It was nice and with the whirl wind day it was I don’t know if a more lavish event would have mattered a bit. Stressing my parents finances, especially after their major help with college- would have been terrible.

    That said, we have a 21 year old daughter and are better of than my parents were at that time. I have 30K put aside. We have discussed weddings in general and she too is not extravagant. I have not specifically priced what a wedding costs here. Depending on timing, I plan on sewing her dress .(probably a varation of a prom dress she liked best )Would love to do the cake (I’ve done friends weddings ) but doubt I can do hers. She would really like that too.

    Like my father I want to host a nice gathering. I figure money left after wedding costs can go to the couple. (By the way I think the 30k figure includes ring and honeymoon )

  11. Amber Yount Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    My wedding cost $60….and that was for the marriage license….sigh…i fell like me and my husband missed out because he didnt have an actual wedding.

  12. Patrick Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    I think many people would prefer a little of both. A very nice wedding can be had for less than $30k. If the bride were told she had a $30k allowance, but she could keep whatever was left over, perhaps she would be a little more frugal!

    On a similar note, I had a high school friend whose parents gave him the option of a brand new Camaro SS and paying for his college at University of Houston, or paying for his college wherever he wanted to go. (this was 1998). He chose the car and lived at home. I guess that is another $30k question…

  13. BD Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    I’m pricing out wedding reception sites now, and let’s just say you get what you pay for – although you could do very well to hold the party in someone’s home or garden.

    I like what Ryan had to say: “I recently attended a beautiful wedding that probably cost $80k. But it was tasteful and felt more like they were saying thanks to all the people who’d meant something to them, rather than showing off.”

    If you look at a wedding as a chance to say thank you for a lifetime of support from your family and close friends, keep it tasteful, and treat them well, it is completely justifiable to spend a large amount on the event. Also consider that these days, wedding funds don’t come entirely from one person, or even one family. Often the bride, groom, and both sets of parents chip in, which means no one goes into debt and the event is still beautiful.

  14. MP Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    Well speaking for the minority of women who would for go the wedding…I would for go the wedding and put the money to work for starting out.

  15. JLP Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    I have heard the “average” price of a wedding is $28,000 so that guy’s $30,000 offer 12 years ago was a really good deal. At an inflation rate of 3%, that’s an equivalent of over $42,000 in today’s prices.

  16. Dus10 Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Aye carumba! That is nucking futs!

    Especially considering that most marriages end in divorce as a result of financial issues! No wonder there are more divorces happening each year!

    Couldn’t she compromise? $15K for the wedding and $15K for the future??? My wedding cost about $8K… and that included a 7 day cruise in the Bahamas. It would have been less if I could have done so.

  17. Craig Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    If you’re resourceful, plan well, and take advantage of connections you can have a memorable wedding for $5K ($10K if you want to splurge). That’s my mother-in-law did when I got married. It wasn’t a huge wedding but that made it even better, since everyone who attended were either immediate family or close friends. (Frankly the remainder of the $30K would be better spent on ongoing couple’s counseling given today’s divorce rate.)

  18. cami Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    I’m a woman and I would take the money and put it towards something useful. Personally I would want to spend about $5k or so on a wedding (I put it on the same price level as a good vacation). I hear people use the argument that we want people to be happy and share with us and say thanks and all that good jazz. But haven’t people been having meaningful, fun, thoughtful weddings for generations without spending nearly as much as we are today (in adjusted dollars). I’m pretty sure that we have been brainwashed into believing that the extravagance is somehow related to how much two people love each other and those that support them; and that just makes me really sad. If we told people that the average amount people spend on weddings was $8k, I’m sure those people would find ways to make it “meaningful” for everyone at $8k. One thing to consider is that alcohol can be a large cost at a wedding. I know a lot of people would be against not having liquor at their weddings, but I feel that if your friends and family expect/need to get drunk on your tab in order to celebrate with you, there are other issues that need to be addressed.

  19. Sharon Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    My wedding cost about 5k and we had over 150 guests (mostly family). The reason we were able to do this was because my family worked together to make my wedding a beautiful event, my aunts baked the cakes, did the decorating, one of my uncles catered the food, one of my other uncles provided live music for the church ceremony. The main expenses when to a photographer, renting the hall next to the church, and a dj.

    I found a beautiful wedding dress for 60 dollars at a consignment? shop my shoes were 12 dollars.

    I had a wonderful day, the food was great (especially the cakes) and I don’t feel guilty for having a good time, which I would have done if we’d spent any more money.

    My mom was happy to organize the wedding because she didn’t have one and I felt like it was something she really regretted not doing so I gave her free reign on the planning of my wedding and it went well.

    I think for special days it’s okay to spend some amount of money but 38k is a bit much.

  20. crazypumpkin Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    I would take the house down payment, assuming that I was ready to buy a house. Right now, I’m not ready for either a house or marriage. I think part of what needs to come into this discussion is location. If I were to get married where I grew up (Long Island), I know it would cost a lot more than where I live now (Washington DC).
    That said, I’d probably still want the down payment (after paying off my current debt :)

  21. FinancialJungle.com Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Our wedding cost around $25,000, but it’s customary in our culture (Chinese) for the guests to gift red envelopes with sufficient cash inside to cover the catering and a little extra. We pretty much broke even at the end of the night, so the only real cost was the honeymoon. Otherwise, I think $25,000 out-of-pocket for a wedding is too much for my taste. Money doesn’t equal love. How much did Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt spend on their wedding?

  22. Steve Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    My wife and I spent about 9K on our wedding in 2003, and that included the rings, the honeymoon in Vegas, the beautiful site overlooking Mt. Hood, the cake, the flowers, the dresses, the tuxes, the fees, photographer…everything! It was a great day and everyone had a great time. We started at 3, ended the ceremony at 3:15, and had a great party until about 9pm. I still feel like we splurged on the whole thing.

    I can’t imagine either my wife or I thinking that if we got 30K in a check we would have used the rest to pay for a bigger wedding. I think we would have used the original 9K and then saved the rest for a down payment on a house (that we got about 4 months later). That’s quite a bit of money, and the whole “This is her special day” really irks me. It was my day too, and everything was great!

    I can understand someone spending that kind of money if they make over 200K a year, but most people make around 50K, and over half for a wedding seems a bit excessive.

  23. TFB Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Don’t blame women for choosing to spend $30k on a wedding. Men blow money on cars, gambling, gadgets, speculating on stocks and many other things, which often cost a lot more.

  24. GeekMan Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Don’t forget that location and income level can make a huge difference in the cost factor of a wedding. How much a wedding costs in a rural area of Kansas is going to be vastly different than how much that same wedding would cost in San Francisco.

    Personally, my wife and I didn’t want to throw a big expensive wedding, but due to where we live and how many people we wanted to invite, we had to. My wedding was in NYC and cost about $34,000. Of course, due to our large families and the great amount of close friends we have, we also had over 200 people to accommodate and feed, and in NYC that is a major undertaking. Luckily, my wife and I make enough that we were able to pay for everything ourselves WITHOUT borrowing a penny from anyone else. But when all was said and done, the amount we spent didn’t matter to us in the least. What mattered to us was the smiles on everyone’s faces while they danced and partied the night away, and the fact that even now, years later, everyone who was there STILL thanks us for throwing such a great event.

    Sometimes the memories are more important than the money.

  25. mbhunter Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    I hardly remember a thing about my wedding. It wasn’t the most lavish thing in the world, but it did get the job done (for me).

    Then again, a JotP does, too.

    I suspect that of the $30k maybe $25k of that is markup. There are a lot of things you can do for yourself (or have your friends help you out with) that will save a ton of money.

  26. indio Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    I attended a friend’s wedding that was easily over $250K just for the wedding – not including rehearsal dinner or brunch the next day. His wife wore two gowns (one for the ceremony and a different one for the reception), 4 photographers, they had string quartet play during appetizers, 9 piece band after dinner, seafood bar, carving station with many different kinds of meat, champagne never stopped flowing, and had over 300 guests. The humungous floral centerpieces were probably $600 each. It was utterly decadent. A few years later, I invited them to my wedding that cost $5K. BTW, they are still happily married.

  27. Tim Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    If you have 40 years until retirement, the future value of $30,000 is about $500,000. Blowing $30,000 on a wedding rather than saving it for retirement ultimately costs you half a million dollars. One way of looking at it.

  28. Stacey Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Somewhere in the house I have a nice spreadsheet of what we spent in 1990. I do recall the reception, including cake and open bar at a major hotel chain (think jail bait…) was about $30 per plate. We had to guarantee a minimum of 180–at the time we thought, no problem. Unfortunately, we received more declines than expected, so we were going to be about 10 short. Since the children’s meals were priced less, (never mind we weren’t inviting any children) I used all of our family’s dog names (with our last names) to make it seem like there were going to be 2 children’s tables. So Sadie and Max K, Max T, Molly G, etc had a heck of a good time at our wedding, even tho’ they never showed up! My ruse saved us a couple hundred bucks which bought a couple meals on the honeymoon!

    PS Whatever your budget, hire a videographer…it’s the best money we spent, especially as family dies off, you have a “living” memory of them and the good times.

    Happy Father’s Day all!

  29. c Says:
    June 16th, 2007 at 12:20 am

    1) It’s not fair to blame women, and it’s not necessarily fair to assume that the sole purpose of the wedding is to set the couple off right. Until you’ve gone through it (and I suspect you start to forget pretty soon afterwards – I speak as someone right in the middle of this right now!), it’s hard to imagine just how much pressure there can be from so many different family members to have a wedding that meets their needs as well as yours.

    This is not necessarily entirely inappropriate – as an earlier comment mentioned, many families only ever get together for weddings and for funerals, and you need at least some family events to be happy ones! In cultures around the world, weddings play an important role in social bonding well above what they mean to the individuals getting married, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Another issue is that if most of your family and friends are scattered, then most of the people you’re inviting will be traveling from a fair distance to attend – and no matter how much you want to be frugal, you start to feel a little guilty about 50 people buying $300-600 airplane tickets to come have hotdogs on your parents’ lawn for an hour.

    2) It’s also important to keep in mind that all of the “I did things myself and saved a ton” and “my mother was happy to plan it, and….” stories come at a real cost, as well. For a couple where both partners are on professional tracks with long work hours, and their parents aren’t retired and have their own full and busy lives to lead… at some point the cost to scrimping and doing everything yourself can in real terms becoming much higher than just paying someone. (

    (This last point is one that is particularly vivid to me right now, having had my mother just about reach her breaking point in dealing with my constant scrimping and saving on every aspect of my upcoming wedding “just on principle”, and finally explain that she’s really sorry, she wants this to be just what I want, but at some point she just wants to have the time to relax and see all of the relatives that have come in to visit, and if she has to pay for a caterer instead of chopping all the vegetables herself in order to do that – well, that’s why she spend so much of her life being careful how she spent her money and saving well, so that at times like this she can spend the money to get things that she really values, like connections with family!)

  30. Daisy Says:
    June 16th, 2007 at 4:11 am

    My bf asked me a similar question last week, and I told him I could not come up with any reason to spend that kind of money. A wedding is about making a serious commitment to another person. IMHO, turning it into a big ego-fest cheapens the significance of the “ritual” portion of the event.

    Yes, it’s a major event–one worth celebrating. But, some of the best, most memorable, most enjoyable celebrations I’ve been to have been cook-out/hang-out type gatherings in a friend’s backyard. So, I suppose that’s the kind of reception I’d want.

    That said, I’d never criticize someone who wanted something a lot more elaborate. To each his own.

  31. pauld Says:
    June 16th, 2007 at 8:05 am

    Here’s a suggestion. Take the $28,000, invest it in the stock market to obtain an average 8%/year return. Then on your 50th anniversary, use your money to throw a well-deserved $1.3 celebration.

  32. MoneyNing Says:
    June 16th, 2007 at 11:33 am

    I’m in in the middle of planning my wedding, and we have decided on a rough budget of $10k. It doesn’t include the ring and honeymoon though, as it will only cover the celebration (the “4 hour” event).

    As a site though, I hope everyone realizes that people who read this site (and other personal finance sites) will have a different response than the general public. I would assume that there are many ladies that will choose a $30k wedding, but the responses here seems to make everyone think like woman will choose the $30k to invest or use.

  33. MossySF Says:
    June 16th, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    My wedding a few years ago was roughly 30K+. While we trimmed costs as much as we could, it impossible overcoming food and space. Who’s going to prepare and cook a grand feast for 250 people? And who has the kitchen space to do it?

  34. guinness416 Says:
    June 16th, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Great response c (number 29, above). I’m actually surprised to hear that people’s parents still pay for their weddings. That’s certainly not the case in my social or professional circles. (And yeah, we eloped).

  35. plonkee Says:
    June 17th, 2007 at 9:39 am

    $30K is about £17K at current exchange rates. I reckon I’d need to spend £7K to fund a wedding with about 80-100 guests, not including a honeymoon.

    If someone offered me a substantial sum to put towards a wedding or to use for something else (and I was getting married) I’d probably feel obliged to use it for the wedding. Its all very well scrimping and saving if you don’t have the cash, but when you do, its hard to explain to people why you would want to do things cheaply.

    Weddings aren’t just about the couple they are also about family and friends. At least thats how it works for me.

  36. earme Says:
    June 17th, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    My parents told me in high school that I could have money help for college or for a wedding. There was no chance I was getting married out of hs, so I opted for help with college. Because I didn’t want to be in crazy debt when I graduated college I went to jr college for two years and my parents paid for everything (I lived at home). Then I went on to a four year college and took loans to pay for what my parent’s couldn’t and what my scholarship didn’t. I ended up getting married four years after college and assumed we wouldn’t have any help (my college loans were paid off by then, but my new car wasn’t). My parents paid for a small bit of it, but between our wedding and our honeymoon we spent under $15,000. I live in the Chicago area and recently saw a statistic that said in this area weddings generally cost closer to $50,000. We also bought a house the year we got married and spent more than $15,000 for a down payment.

  37. Miguel Says:
    June 18th, 2007 at 9:07 am

    My wedding (over 15 yrs ago) was small, simple, and tasteful. We kept it small with about 40 guests max – only family and very close friends. I’m pretty sure it cost something like $5,000, and we paid for it ourselves.

    To save on costs we did the following:

    1) Instead of a big dinner, we had a sit down brunch and a friend of ours hosted a party for us at their home after the brunch (for extended family & friends we didn’t have room for at the main event).

    2) Instead of a full bar, we served only wine and champagne.

    3) Instead of a band, we had classical musicians.

    4) Instead of a wedding hall or hotel ballroom, we had the reception catered in a nicely decorated restaurant.

    I don’t think our guests felt like we cut corners and we received many unsolicited compliments on the wedding for years to come (which told me they were heartfelt compliments). Many people told us that it was one of the nicest weddings they had ever attended.

    I some respects, the way we went about planning the wedding became the template for our relationship. It was modest in cost, yet very classy – my wife has a way of getting the biggest bang for the buck. This is the way we’ve gone about virtually every major expenditure in our marriage – carefully, thoughtfully, independently, and with an eye for the bottom line. As a result, we count now ourselves among the financially fortunate.

    All that said, we’ve been to some of those $80K weddings – usually by people who could hardly afford such extravagance. They’re fun events, but I’m glad its on somebody else’s dime.

  38. Amanda Says:
    June 18th, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    My parents hosted our wedding and we were grateful. It was a big wedding, and I know it was costly, but being given the balance rather than have the wedding was not an option. My parents didn’t say you can have this wedding or you can have X amount of money. I would have taken the money if it had been offered that way, but having a big wedding is a tradition for my family and something my parents really wanted to do for us.

  39. English Major Says:
    June 18th, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    I’d use some of the money ($10K or less) on a wedding and the rest on launching a married life (house down payment, &c.). I can’t imagine not being able to throw a loving, memorable, lavish wedding on $10K. Granted, I’m only 23 and my social circle hasn’t had any weddings yet (though my boyfriend’s sister did just get married, in a beautiful little chapel in a dress off the rack and a veil she made herself, with buffet dinner and dancing to the tunes of an iPod DJ to follow–I can’t imagine she spent anywhere close to $30K), but I can’t see anyone I know going in for the Pretty Pretty Princess Fantasy Wedding Package. Certainly, it’s not for me–I just wasn’t brought up to think that my whole life hinged on One Special Day. My parents got married in their apartment; they cleared out all the furniture and hired a caterer and a justice of the peace and had a party. As I type, they’re celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary in Venice–which, thanks to good decision-making, they can easily afford.

  40. HC Says:
    June 18th, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    I usually wonder about family size when I see these ranges of wedding estimates.

    If I ever were to get married, simply inviting immediate/extended family (ie, direct descendants of grandparents) and associated dates would be 31 people. Maybe the younger cousins wouldn’t have dates (some are already engaged), so I could get it down to 28.

    Assuming any potential fiancé would invite similar numbers, we’d be at 50-60 people before inviting even close second cousins, much less friends.

    I suspect a reasonable guest list for any potential future wedding of mine would be between 125 and 175. And given the dictates of my faith tradition, having it outside of a church wouldn’t be acceptable, though I’d be quite willing to consider a UU ceremony if my spouse came from a different background.

    So while I gnash my teeth at most of the expenses associated with a wedding, I doubt I could get by on less than $5,000 without disappointing myself and the loved ones I’d want to share the day with me.

  41. Breanna Says:
    June 18th, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    I am a woman, and had desired a lovely wedding since I was about 5 years old. I got that wedding – and I swear it didn’t cost more than $500, about half of which was paid by my parents.

    I was in college at the time (a year ago), and was married in the school’s chapel (free) using a big room downstairs for the reception (free). We had about a dozen people there, just close family and close, mostly local friends. I had bought my dress three years earlier on ebay ($50) – and it was a couture style in 100% natural silk that had never been worn, so it wasn’t a “cheap” dress, just a low price. My husband borrowed a kilt from a friend who had dozens of them, and my husband also cooked the main course for dinner (turkey dinner, total cost for that was probably around $100). My mother and sister did all the flowers (silk flowers and ones we had picked out of a friends’ garden; total cost $100ish); this fully decorated the small chapel, got me a huge, lovely bouquet and several centerpieces for the reception. Two of my friends handled the rest of the cooking. We burned our favorite music onto CDs (free) to play at the ceremony and reception. I had bought shoes, but actually forgot them at home and so borrowed shoes from a friend (my “something borrowed”). I wore a necklace and bracelet my father had given me years ago, and the perfume my mother had got me on my 16th birthday. The wedding rings were plain white gold bands, total cost $150. The officiant was a pastor who was a friend of a friend and presided for free, and also gave us a free course of premarital counseling. My father and I went shopping the night before the wedding to buy such things as vases, tablecloths, a stand for our “wedding pies” (my husband hates cake), and that accounted for the remainder of the cost.

    We insisted that our friends not give us wedding presents, as everything about the wedding was a very special, very personal present from those who loved us best. And it was aesthetically as well as emotionally beautiful.

    In my case, even that much was a financial challenge as my husband and I were both “starving college students” and none of our parents had much money; the circumstances differ for everyone, but I am certain that in no case is $30,000 required to have a happy, beautiful wedding.

  42. credit card smart Says:
    June 18th, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    I am getting married this October and I am going to have NO wedding. This is a stupid waste of money. Why use credit cards, get into debt for a ceremony?! I’d rather use this money to buy something useful for my house.

  43. Stacey Says:
    June 19th, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    @ #42, don’t you mean “our” house?!!

  44. Livingalmostlarge Says:
    June 19th, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I would take the money for the house. But since my parents didn’t pay for my house or my wedding, and I still had a wedding for about $15k for everything including honeymoon. Depends on priorities. Looking back I wish I had been offered money but whatever. It was a nice wedding, I enjoyed it and I enjoyed my expensive honeymoon as well. I wonder what it would be like to be offered that much money? Will I offer my kids that or expect them to do it themselves?

  45. S Says:
    June 20th, 2007 at 10:04 am

    My parents did give me a significant amount to help with a down payment for a home and I really appreciate their generosity. But I have to say, if I wasn’t gay, maybe I would opt for a wedding, maybe not a $30K one, but a nice one. Right now though, I’m not sure my family is ready for a mixed race lesbian wedding/commitment ceremony quite yet . . . maybe in a few years. I know my partner would love to have one!

  46. Kevin in Palm Harbor, FL Says:
    June 20th, 2007 at 10:23 am

    My wife and I got married nearly 2 years ago. After we selected the location, my dad decided to offer us 20k to do a smaller wedding at a different location.

    We turned down his offer.

    Mom and Dad know a ton of people, and wanted a ton of family there, so they paid for that portion. My wife and I paid for our friends and her much smaller family. The rest of the cost of the wedding was split between several parties (including my parents and us).

    It would have been nice to have 20k, but the wedding is an experience that you will have forever, and it’s something that people are still talking about nearly two years later.

  47. Shannon Says:
    June 20th, 2007 at 10:31 am

    The stress from planning a wedding almost killed me! So we decided to elope on Valentine’s Day 2006. It cost us $40 for the license. We were married by the city clerk in a beautiful intimate ceremony that was perfect for us. We decided to have a ceremony and party for our family and friends later in the year. Due to some family conflicts we weren’t able to have it until just recently, this past May 12th. We had a gorgeous outdoor wedding ceremony and reception at my mother’s home, and it cost less than $1200. Plus $650 for both of our rings (we waited until the public ceremony to exchange rings.) We could have spent less on the wedding bands, but we wanted to splurge since we’d been so frugal in every other aspect, including me foregoing an engagement ring (my choice! There’s always time for diamonds when we’re better off financially.) Besides the rings, we paid for my dress (less than $200), attire for my husband and 2 stepsons, the wedding cake ($250 — could have been less, but this was another splurge), for me to have my hair done ($40 including tip), the second marriage license ($40), and the officiant ($100 including tip). We spent around $700, and the rest was picked up by my mother. Mom’s brother-in-law arranged for his church to loan us a nice outdoor gala tent, tables and chairs for the weekend. My mother rented a second tent, table linens, plates, silverware, champagne flutes, etc. With the help of some friends and family members, she made most of the food, with a few items catered. We reused some of the items we had made for my sister’s wedding, including decorations and a card box. It was a gorgeous elegant wedding, and the guests still remark how it was as nice or nicer than any traditional wedding they’d been do.

  48. Satoru Says:
    June 20th, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve been to several Chinese weddings and those are a bit easier to swallow in terms of cost overall. Mostly because I find that at Asian weddings the only thing people give is cash. There aren’t any tables filled with boxes of useless garbage you will re-gift within a year. I’ve seen weddings where they start cracking open the envelopes immediately to start paying off the caterer on the spot. I mean it won’t cover the whole event, but if you can get like 70% of just the banquet/catering costs that’s a big help. If you really like your friends/family give them cash and they will secretly thank you :P

  49. Angie Hartford Says:
    July 3rd, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    I would hope that anyone’s wedding costs would be consistent with their values, ideals and budget. If you’re quite well-off, a $30,000 wedding might seem low. If you’re not, even $3,000 can be way too much of a stretch.

    The goal of the wedding is to get married. Anything above that is a lovely extra; but certainly not mandatory.

  50. pam Says:
    July 6th, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    I’m getting married in 8 days. (8 days!) Total cost: about $5,000.

    That includes designer wedding gown, honeymoon in Mexico, and custom wedding rings.

    Where did we save? Reception – held at the church. Food – buffet style with close friends bringing some of the side dishes. Photography – family member. Flowers – made my own silk flowers arrangements.

    Of course, I would have to say my family isn’t “well off.” My mom gave us $1,000 and his parents paid for the hotel for the honeymoon. The rest fell upon the two of us.

    If I had the option however, I would take money for a down payment on a home rather than a couple hours of extravagance.

  51. Emily Says:
    July 30th, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    My wedding cost over 30K, but it was my parents choice… they wanted to invite the 300 people, not me… I think I only knew about 30 people at the actually reception, but I will admit the presents were nice.

  52. equipmentleasing Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 3:05 am

    I have always told myself not to have an expensive wedding, sure it isn’t easy getting those cash in hand unless somebody’s gonna pay it for you ;) So I’d rather have a $30k to start our life than spend it on a one day affair.

  53. Weekly Roundup | Cash Money Life Says:
    September 15th, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    [...] Financial Matters – Which Would You Rather Have?: JLP asks his readers which they would rather have, $30,000 dollars for a wedding, or $30,000 to [...]

  54. Around the PF Blogosphere: June 15, 2007 Says:
    November 13th, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    [...] asks which one you would rather have: a $30,000 wedding or $30,000 to help get you started in life. How about both? Get a $30,000 wedding to marry someone who can help you get started in [...]

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