The Hidden Cost of Weddings


I want to take a quick moment to address the subject of weddings.  Thanks to television shows like the Bachelor and posts on Facebook, Americans seem to think that a wedding should cost a fortune.  The average American wedding is $26,444, but that doesn’t tally the entire economic cost.  Weddings cost your guests a fortune too.

Location weddings are the worst.  Not only are you expecting your guests to shell out money for an exotic hotel, but they have to board a plane, tip everyone and use precious vacation time.  This is a tall order in my book.  My wife (the editor of Financial Judo) and I routinely debate the merits of attending weddings, especially when they are far away.

Let me address the worst part of a wedding.  You will hardly get to spend any quality time with your friends and family!  So after you’ve been harassed by TSA, flown across the country, rented a car, checked into a room and paid for a gift, you’ve probably spent $1,000.  I’ve got a better idea.  How about sending a $400 gift, saving $600 and avoiding a tremendous amount of aggravation!  At a typical wedding, a $400 gift would probably put you in the top three gift givers.

Married couples really only remember three groups from their wedding.  They are the top three gifts, no gift, and “RSVP’d but didn’t show and never explained why.”  After the newlyweds are finished regretting the no gift and no show folks, they’ll say “Do you remember how generous Uncle Phil was at our wedding.”  Over time, they won’t even remember that you weren’t actually there.

I will admit that when my wife and I got married, we had a wedding reception.  But it cost about half the national average.  We shopped around and found a reasonable place that offered appetizers, dinner and an open bar for $50 a head.  I’ve been told that this deal is no longer available since the facility went out of business. I’m sure my Irish family’s alcohol consumption contributed to their demise.

We had about 150 friends and family attend the event, so the reception cost less than $10,000.  I’m not going to order you to skip the wedding reception in favor of investing because that would make me a hypocrite.  But if you can persuade your fiancé to take the cash over the party, then you two will be on the road to financial freedom before you even say “I do.”