A few years ago, the popular wedding planning site The Knot released a study revealing how much money the average American couple spends on a wedding, and it’s to the tune of over $30,000. That’s a year’s salary for some. And, keep in mind that study came out in 2017 so today, the number may have increased. That’s a scary thought. That figure of roughly $30,000, by the way, is just the average. So keep in mind that you have those spending way more than that. Oh my goodness. On one day of their lives. Some are spending the money it could take to fund their lives for several years all on one day’s experience.
Is it worth it? The answer is different for everybody. I guess it depends on what you want out of a wedding. Are you trying to prove something to others? Are you trying to impress people? Or are you trying to create an unforgettable yet intimate experience with the people who really mean something to you? The truth is that, even if you are leaning towards that last experience, you still don’t have to spend a small fortune to do so. The wedding industry is, in many ways, a scam. A lawn is a lawn is a lawn…until somebody wants to host their wedding on it. Then it’s a “venue” that costs $7,000 per day. A cake is a cake is a cake…until it’s a wedding cake, and then it’s $400. But…it’s just flour and eggs and sugar. Did the value of those multiple by a thousand suddenly?
Some of the upcharge is inevitable. If you want a day that is truly special, then certain things are going to be pricier than they normally would be. Sure, you can feed friends at a potluck for $5 each, but that’s baked beans and hotdogs. This is your wedding, and you want to do something a bit more upscale. Even still, you should know there are some expenses that are a total scam. There’s enough stress that comes with wedding planning as it is.
Designer flower girl dresses
Spending a lot of money on any clothing for children is a big mistake. You know how nobody ever wears their bridesmaids dress again? Well flower girls really can’t wear their dresses again because they will outgrow them before you can bat an eyelash. Go simple and budget-friendly on these.
Save the date cards
Do you really need to pay for the expensive paper and the little ribbon-covered envelope that looks like pearly gates just to reveal the date you will have your wedding? A simple e-card, notifying people to mark their calendars, should suffice. Save the fancy paper for the formal invitation.
Hair and makeup
Tell a makeup artist or hairdresser that this up-do and glamour session is for a wedding, and the price goes from $150 to $500. For the exact same hair and makeup they charge $150 for, on regular occasions. You probably have a friend who is great at hair and makeup who will do this for you for free.
Like we said, a cake is a cake is a cake. It’s flour and sugar and eggs. There are certainly bakers who make especially yummy and beautiful wedding cakes, but no cake is worth $500. And a cake goes away. It’s not like photos or a dress that you can keep forever to look at later.
You do not need to shell out a ton of money to print a hundred personal programs, for each person to take home. They aren’t keeping those. They go straight in the trash. Put the program on a large board where all the guests can find it and leave it at that.
A rented car
Like a limousine or old classic car to drop you off and pick you up. You’ll need to rent it for the day, because no person or car service wants to drop it off with you for one hour, take it back to the lot, and bring it back at the end of your wedding for pickup. That’s just bad business. So you may spend $1,000 to be in this car for…thirty minutes?
Name cards for tables
This is another item you would like everyone to stash away as a keepsake, but they won’t. You have your seating planned out. You know there are enough chairs for everyone and who is at what table. Just put a large chart up in the dining room, denoting who is at which table, and let your guests figure it out from there.
Individual menus are expensive, and unnecessary. You can have one menu on each table or, better yet, one large menu right at the entryway to the dining area. It’s not like this is a restaurant where people will pick out their order on the spot. These little menus are just an expensive formality—the meals have been selected.
There are special stores just for wedding shoes. They take what would typically be $40 shoes, add some sparkles, and charge you $400 for them. Meanwhile, nobody sees your shoes—the dress covers them up—you take them off after the ceremony because your feet hurt, and you never wear them again because they don’t go with anything besides a wedding dress.
The goodie bags
You treated everyone to an evening of cocktails, dinner, and dancing. You already spent a lot of money on this shindig. It really isn’t necessary to send everyone home with a customized coaster or photo frame. These items don’t mean nearly as much to your guests as they do to you, but they sure do cost a lot.
Ah yes. The wedding dress. I bet if we could ask brides around the world for their real, honest answer to this question, “Are you glad you spent that much on your dress,” the responses would be bleak. They may not be honest, of course, because they want to justify their decision to spend what could have been the down payment on a car…on a dress they wore once.
Official wedding venues
If the venue you are considering is known for weddings, walk away. It’s going to cost way too much. You need a big space to put people. You need bathrooms, shelter, and room. You do not need to use the ballroom at the Four Seasons to do that. How about a generous friend’s back yard? Or a park?
If you have servers circling the entire evening, taking drink orders, passing out appetizers, and handing out tiny, individual desserts, it’s going to cost you. Have a bar where people can go order for themselves. Put appetizers and dessert on a table. Guests can serve themselves. Just have servers hand out the salads and entrees.
An all-night photographer
You will want a photographer to take professional photos of your bridal party, but maybe you don’t need one to stick around the entire night. Put polaroid cameras on the tables and ask guests to take photos with these. They will be fun, quirky, and genuine.
So the concern is there may be wedding crashers. In spite of what the famous movie may make you believe, this is not very common. Your guests would probably sniff these people out on their own. And, furthermore, paying two body guards $400 for the night is more expensive than letting a wedding crasher or two sneak in and steal $15 worth of appetizers.