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What Do You Think About "Average" Wedding Prices?


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If I had a do-over, I would do an outdoor morning wedding with lunch reception, no alcohol other than toast. Those weddings are always fun for the whole family. Evening reception open bar means the focus is not on the union, and the kids aren't included.

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Go check out wedding wire for the complete list of things the happy couple MUST or be told they should be shunned. It is all about a checklist of Must Do's to make the guests happy. The posts and thread are jawdroppingly insane if there is someone who dares to want to do something different.

 

I think it is a load of dung.

 

ETA: The must do to please others is a load of dung, not getting married. Even more dung if the couple or families cannot afford the must dos and have to take out loans or set themselves back financially in order to appease the wedding planning gods.

When a relative was planning the food for her wedding the caterer pointed out she had no seafood on the menu. Sil informed her she is deathly allergic to seafood and since it was buffet style she didn't want to chance any cross contamination so she wouldn't end up in the hospital on her wedding day. The caterer informed her that the reception was not about what she wanted but about what her guests would want and guests want seafood options.

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Looking back, I didn't spend much, but I could have spent less and would spend less if I had a do over. 

 

I'm also too practical to let my husband spend money on jewelry.  I'm not into that either.  So he wasn't allowed to spend much on my ring.  Which is good because I lost the damn thing twice and replaced it twice (which isn't too painful when it's not expensive).  I'm not good with keeping track of little things like that because I'm just not interested.

 

Due to the expense of immigration, it was also better for us to save where we could. 

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I wouldn't want to kick off my marriage in debt and would much rather take that money and make it a down payment on a house. My husband and I put all of our money into education so when we got married 20 years ago as college students we decided to elope. We were impulsive and did it on a whim. I always wondered if I would regret it but nope, it has worked out just fine and given us a great story. I understand wanting to celebrate the event but oh my word. 25 grand? Even 10 grand just feels over the top to me.

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I think most people cannot afford to spend nearly that much and our expectations of normal are entirely skewed by marketing. If we want any hope of turning around the debt situation in America we are going to have to start being realistic about what can be afforded and focus on things that are more important. $25k towards a down payment or college debt repayment would be a much better use of funds than spending that much on a singular day. We will help our kids much more for things such as getting a house and getting started out then we will for a wedding. I will encourage my kids to be modest and keep within their/our means and as we are not *rich* that doesn't include a fantasy wedding.

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I'm home alone tonight and want to discuss this with my virtual friends. 😊 So, I was sitting amongst in-laws, who have grown children; they are talking about weddings. One SIL has an event planner as a DIL. Budgets are being bandied about and SIL makes a declaration that you can't have a "normal" wedding for anything less than $25k.

 

This makes me think SIL needs to get out and see the world more. I'm sure that being in the event planning business can get a person into kind of a bubble as far as what they think is normal.

 

As for us, DH and I got married in a very expensive tourist-y area (it was where my parents lived at the time) and we did it for much less than $25k. We did this by inviting fewer people overall and not having our wedding on a Saturday.  It wouldn't work for everyone, but I loved our wedding, we were able to really treat our guests to a nice dinner and a good party, and I was not overwhelmed by having 200+ people in attendance.

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Family culture is a huge influence. Also business culture...I did a wedding once for a local banker's daughter. He had business associates that would have been profoundly offended to not be invited as well as entertained in style. He was not an extravagant man by nature, but could not go out of his way to offend business associates. So fine linens, China, band, steak and lobster. The bank he managed was not some big corporate one like Wells Fargo or Chase. Just some mid size regional bank. I doubt he made even six figures, and likely borrowed from his retirement to pay for the shindig. Not cool, but he felt heavily pressured.

This is one of the things I'm turning over in my mind a bit. on my in-law side of the family, there have been four, soon-to-be five, weddings in the last few years. These have varied in "level" of extravagence, but have all been more according to expectations of this HCL area. (So, in other words, they have had typical wedding dresses, a ceremony, flowers, decorations, food, alcohol and some sort of venue for the reception, music, entertainment, transportation, photography.) So far, none of my nieces or nephews on my ILs side have had a small, backyardish type of wedding without serious food and alcohol. So there is sort of a precedent for the type of wedding expected in the family.

 

But, hell, I'm an iconoclast anyway. 😜 I did crazy things like homeschool. If my children's eventual weddings, assuming they have them, are not in keeping with what my nieces and nephews have done, well...oh well.

 

My tipsy SIL said to me, at her third child's wedding, "I don't envy you, having to top all these weddings!*" I was astonished. I said, "Well, I don't care about 'topping' anybody's wedding. My kids will have the weddings they have; it has nothing to do with what their cousins had. I care about WHO they marry, not how fancy the party is."

 

*And, not to be snarky, but honestly, that wedding was not that extrordinary. There were a few glaring flaws in the venue, most notably, far too little seating in the ceremony. A large proportion of people had to stand squished up against the wall for the ceremony because the space was too small. So - wedding was fun; it was adequate, but the bride did not have a very large budget and the venue was at a location where she works and was probably free.

 

The fanciest wedding so far was the one where the bride is now an event planner. Her father is a surgeon and presumably, the budget was very generous.

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I know these have come up before - but the 'average' is insane.

I spent <25% of that for dd's wedding two years ago.

but the church venue's (wedding and reception) were free, and we don't pay an officiant.

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One of the saddest wedding stories I have known--

 

Folks I knew overextended themselves big time on wedding day costs. Evening wedding at a megachurch with pricey chapel, gorgeous reception venue with full meal, classic car limousine with champagne. I don't know what the whole shebang cost, but I do know it was expensive. They also stayed at swanky hotels on the Florida coast for their honeymoon, and then mid-honeymoon decided they had liked one particular location better so went back there (resulting in some extra expenses).

 

Couldn't pay hotel bill at the end. Credit card denied. Snuck out of hotel.

 

When they got back home they were astounded and overwhelmed at wedding bills. (Not sure why it was such a surprise at that point...) They then returned ALL their wedding gifts (or as many as humanly possible) to pay down the wedding and honeymoon.

 

I learned of the gift return and hotel fiasco years later and was so saddened for them. 

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Word of warning on clearance sale dresses, they tend to mostly be in the size six to twelve range. If you need something bigger or smaller, it is going to be tougher to find.

 

If your bride is a size two like my Dd, well then blech! These are not commonly found on sale racks. Grrrrrrr...

Skip the wedding boutique & get a pretty summer sundress fromany place that sells dresses.

Same for bridesmaids.

Or for fancier, get anew years party dress on sale in Jan or after prom for bride & tell Althe bridesmaids to wear their "little black dress".

Or,only have 1 bridesmaid & let her pick any fancy dress

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My tipsy SIL said to me, at her third child's wedding, "I don't envy you, having to top all these weddings!*" I was astonished. I said, "Well, I don't care about 'topping' anybody's wedding. My kids will have the weddings they have; it has nothing to do with what their cousins had. I care about WHO they marry, not how fancy the party is."

 

This reminds me of a funny story.

When DD was a baby, we formed a weekly neighborhood moms' group with several others.  All of the babies were close in age, but it happened that mine and one other were born 2 days apart and were the first to have 1 year birthdays.  That mom and I decided to have a small party, and we consciously and specifically said that we wanted to 'set a low standard' so things would not be obligatorily showoffy or fancy for others.

 

We borrowed a slip n slide and put it on my front lawn, laid blankets down for the babies and moms, served smoothies and some kind of snacks (I forget what--maybe cheese and fruit?) and sat in the shade of a little front yard tree to talk.  I think we had an ice cream cake (it was July, we were hot).  No theme, no decor except maybe birthday napkins and plates, and just a really laid back, fun time.  

 

It was so relaxed and so much fun.  

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*And, not to be snarky, but honestly, that wedding was not that extrordinary. There were a few glaring flaws in the venue, most notably, far too little seating in the ceremony. A large proportion of people had to stand squished up against the wall for the ceremony because the space was too small. 

Was everyone invited that was there?

 

I ask because family lore has it that when my grandparents got married, the thinking was that church services are public events.  So anyone could go, and so lots of her father's business friends showed up out of respect/love for him, and there was standing room only at the church because of this.  This was stunningly surprising to me, but I guess at the time it was not unusual.  The 'extras' had no expectation of being invited to the reception.

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Our eldest daughter is getting married this summer. She will be starting her first year of medical school shortly after the wedding and her husband to be is in medical school now. Her wedding has been a bit of a compromise between what she wants in the context of what her great grandfather thinks she needs to have. Before anyone says it is her day and she should have what she wants; her father and I completely get that but one of the things she wants is for her great grandfather to be there and celebrate and enjoy this wedding. He isn't getting any younger and this very well could be the last great grandchild wedding he attends. To also be fair to her great grandfather he is gifting her/ her fiancé all of the reception "essentials" (venue, caterers, etc).

 

So in that context I think her/ our cost will be well under 5000. My mom made her dress but that was what she wanted and it looks stunning! We are also doing some of the flowers for her wedding because she wants some of her late great grandmother's roses incorporated into her bouquet. The actual wedding will be in the church she grew up in. Our church doesn't charge for the use of facilities for members although generally families do make a donation to one of the ministry funds in honor of the couple/child/event. Her father and I plan to do that. Her grandparents and great grandfather probably will as well.

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About venue  and pastor charges--locally in my Lutheran circles I don't think they charge but it's kind of understood that a donation for the venue and gift for the pastor are 'nice'.  It's very hard to figure out how much is reasonable because they don't want to 'charge' so they are uncomfortable having 'guidelines'.  It's tricky, but also very accessible.

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Was everyone invited that was there?

 

I ask because family lore has it that when my grandparents got married, the thinking was that church services are public events. So anyone could go, and so lots of her father's business friends showed up out of respect/love for him, and there was standing room only at the church because of this. This was stunningly surprising to me, but I guess at the time it was not unusual. The 'extras' had no expectation of being invited to the reception.

Almost certainly. Given that the ceremony and reception location were adjacent, I think it is highly unlikely that anyone was at the ceremony but not invited to the reception. I think the bride just miscalculated/was misinformed about how many people could be seated there. I know that she had benches made locally (rustic theme) because they were far less expensive than renting chairs. I remember her talking about it, and saying that the benches seated thirty each (or something like that), but in reality, thirty people could not have possibly sat on those benches, so a lot of people were standing. It was sort of a barn/outbuilding and it was just a lot smaller once there were a hundred-some people in it than it may have seemed when empty. Even the bride's walk down the "aisle" was sort of comically brief. Standing before the officiant, she was close enough to the front bench that I could have reached out and touched her dress.

 

Caveat: I hope it doesn't sound like I'm criticizing. When I got married, there were a ton of details about which I had no clue at all, and several things were screwed up/saved by alert friends and family members because I had neither money nor guidance to know these things. So, my nephew's wedding having a weird miscalculation as far as seating goes - it was noticeable, but I don't think it's the end of the world. Possibly the bride and/or groom were disappointed to realize the seating snafu, but it's the kind of mistake I would have been likely to make for my own wedding.

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I wish there were more free places or really low price to hold weddings in this area. That would help. But due to shrinking offerings at churches shrinking number of contributors at the VFW, the Moose Lodge, etc. cuts to the state and city parks budgets, everything has a BIG fee. A few, not many, churches mostly Catholic and Lutheran allow members to use the sanctuary for free for the ceremony, but almost none allow the use of their fellowship halls. Most of the other churches charge plain and simple no matter how long you have been a member there. $25.00 to unlock the church, $500 to rent it, $25.00 an hour custodial, ..... The city parks are not free. If you have a gathering of more than 20, you pay $250 or more. The justice of the peace hours have been cut back. Big fee, and only does marriages one Friday afternoon per month. I know of no pastor that charges less than $125.00, though the priests do it for free yet as part of their ministries. A judge to preside over a secular ceremony off site of his or her chambers is a very expensive option.

 

Eldest Ds got ordained online in a secular officiant program in order to perform a ceremony for his friends who had very little money to spend. They got married in the U of MI Flint university center. Nothing formal. They emailed their friends and told them to show up at lunch time to the second floor study area. Ds wore his suit, marriage license in hand. Groom had dress pants, button down and tie, she wore a white undress but than had flowers and ribbon in her long French braid, and blingy shoes. A couple of friends who were art majors were on hand with their nice cameras and so handed over the memory cards at the end of the event. Another friend who was a voice major, sang Capella, and anyone who was hanging out in UCen was treated to witnessing it. Then they all tripped over to the terrace of the Flint Farmer's Market - three blocks - and shared bottled, favored water, and a decorated sheet cake.

 

No frills. But very happy. They, I hate to say it, got away with this because both the bride and groom were orphaned young, abandoned by extended family to foster care. There were no family members with expectations to meet. In that respect, being so alone, was very sad. Heartbreaking. As a mom,it made me cry to hear that they had no family to care for them. However, they surrounded themselves with a support network of friends and made the best of a difficult situation.

I'm intrigued by this. Maybe I could look into becoming a secular officiant. I would be able to officiate at my many as-yet-unmarried nieces and nephews, if they wish, and I could offer officiant services through the event planner DIL maybe. Win-win.

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True, but I don't actually think the person who was using the term "average" was using it in the mathematical, statistical way. I think she was stating it from the experience of her DIL saying, "The least expensive weddings I have done are $25K. Nobody does a normal wedding for less than that. Some spend far, far more than that."

Ah, well in that case I would say there is probably a big difference in what a professional planner sees versus what people without planners do. If you don't have much to spend then why cut into that little bit with a planner? If you have plenty then it might be nice but if you have $3k then the planner won't take precedence.

 

I moved out at 17 and lived on my own in a different state soon after and never dreamed of asking for money. When I came back for the wedding it was only for family. Because I had multiple families that didn't talk to each other the last thing I wanted to do was have an expensive party in which they both had to come.

 

I have no idea how much my wedding cost because people gifted things for it and called that the wedding gift. Except mom, she gave me a gift and helped. :) She made the cake herself and paid for all the ingredients, bridges, toppers, etc. My dad and step mom paid for the flowers for the wedding party and parents which were basic but flowers add up fast. I paid for my own 99 dollar dress and photographer and the preacher. Venue was my in laws lawn because they take really good care of it and have pretty flowers. I have no idea where all those chairs came from. I'm assuming in laws. One Aunt gave me a huge King Salmon for a gift and another Aunt made a few huge deli trays. A few other people brought food too. I did almost no planning. People offered and I accepted and was grateful and the whole thing got planned in about a week. I had gotten a dress earlier and my bridesmaids picked out $60 dresses at Sears. So I 'm sure if you added everyone's contribution it was a couple thousand but no one person paid that and everyone seemed happy.

 

One member of the wedding party couldn't find a vest that fit so I had 3 guys with vests and one with just a white shirt. I don't think I noticed until I looked at pics. But it didn't bother me in the least because that kind of stuff isn't that important to me.

 

Fun fact- Our wedding night we stayed at a nice bed and breakfast. Then it was time to head down the Al-Can but we ended up sleeping in the back of the pick up in his parents yard before we left. They would have let us sleep inside but he didn't want to wake them. We got up about 2 in the morning to put the canopy on because it was raining. So that's what my honeymoon looked like. :)

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One of the saddest wedding stories I have known--

 

Folks I knew overextended themselves big time on wedding day costs. Evening wedding at a megachurch with pricey chapel, gorgeous reception venue with full meal, classic car limousine with champagne. I don't know what the whole shebang cost, but I do know it was expensive. They also stayed at swanky hotels on the Florida coast for their honeymoon, and then mid-honeymoon decided they had liked one particular location better so went back there (resulting in some extra expenses).

 

Couldn't pay hotel bill at the end. Credit card denied. Snuck out of hotel.

 

When they got back home they were astounded and overwhelmed at wedding bills. (Not sure why it was such a surprise at that point...) They then returned ALL their wedding gifts (or as many as humanly possible) to pay down the wedding and honeymoon.

 

I learned of the gift return and hotel fiasco years later and was so saddened for them.

Wow, that is quite the start.

 

 

I was completely clueless with weddings and people were generous but if you order something etc, you would think you would know what it cost. It can be overwhelming though.

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I'm intrigued by this. Maybe I could look into becoming a secular officiant. I would be able to officiate at my many as-yet-unmarried nieces and nephews, if they wish, and I could offer officiant services through the event planner DIL maybe. Win-win.

 

You can be ordained online to officiate at weddings. I know several people who did that.

Check out Universal Life Church.

https://www.themonastery.org/ordination

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I think saying that just shows a position of privilege.  Certainly people are getting married for much cheaper than 25K.  And to me, a non-traditional wedding or eloping is also "normal".  For people who have the cash to throw that kind of party, more power to them.  I've been to big buck weddings and have had a fabulous time.  I've also had a great time at simpler and smaller events.    I think going into debt at all for a wedding is ridiculous.   The culture that you NEED certain things to get married or have a baby is nuts to me. 

 

We had a larger wedding including widely flung family and friends.  I don't remember what we spent.  We spent money on reception venue and photography and went cheaper on buffet meal, had a DJ, no limos/fancy rental cars, I did my own planning.  We paid cash for the whole thing.  We were both professionally employed at the time and had just sold one house over cost.  It was a way to get some family together that only sees each other once every 10-15 years or so.   Neither of us had other debt.  I have no regrets about it. 

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I think it is completely ridiculous to blow 20k+ on a single party.

I hope my kids will feel similarly when they are ready to get married.

 

I don't even get why one would spend several hundred dollars on a dress that is worn on a single occasion only. 

 

I am with Regentrude on this one. But then I have always been more analytical than emotional about these things. I think the years that come after the ceremony are way more important than this one event. Even if money is not tight it would seem to me it's better spent on housing and other things when the couple begins married life.

 

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My tipsy SIL said to me, at her third child's wedding, "I don't envy you, having to top all these weddings!*" I was astonished. I said, "Well, I don't care about 'topping' anybody's wedding. My kids will have the weddings they have; it has nothing to do with what their cousins had. I care about WHO they marry, not how fancy the party is."

 

The fanciest wedding so far was the one where the bride is now an event planner. 

 

she sounds charming.  extremely competitive. reminds  me of when one of my sils made a comment about the other one "winning" by marrying off all of her children first.  gee, I didn't know it was a competition. . . . . . :glare:

 

About venue  and pastor charges--locally in my Lutheran circles I don't think they charge but it's kind of understood that a donation for the venue and gift for the pastor are 'nice'.  It's very hard to figure out how much is reasonable because they don't want to 'charge' so they are uncomfortable having 'guidelines'.  It's tricky, but also very accessible.

 

our church does not charge for performing weddings. (not even 'donations'.) many years ago, one of our church leaders lived in a rather rural area so people who didn't belong to it would ask him to perform the ceremony. (or who had come from more rural areas to find someone to perform the ceremony.)  when they'd go to pay him and ask how much - he'd ask how much the groom thought his services were worth.  he'd then give that money to the bride.

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Super-cheap wedding that was really lovely:

 

Bride's friend offered to let bride wear her wedding dress, which had been worn by a succession of a couple sisters in one family. Dress was old and dated. Dress fit the bride perfectly and she looked beautiful. She is one of those people who just always looks perfect and somehow fashionable no matter what she wears.

 

Bride's uncle offered to pay for catering. Okay, it was really cheesy. BBQ meat (yum) on plain white bread served in the bag for guests to select how many slices they want. :lol: Coleslaw. Corn on the cob. Salad. Wedding cake from local HEB grocery store.

 

Bride's grandma offered yard for wedding and reception. This was rural Texas and quite pretty. 

 

Bridesmaid dresses bought for $20 each. At least one bridesmaid wore hers many more times after that event to church and such. Sewing bridesmaid did alterations on sister's dress the morning of.

 

Grandma made flower girl dress at her own expense. Grandma's reflexes were not so good due to MS, so bridesmaid did a secret, last-minute (that morning!) marathon fix-it-up sewing session. Grandma none the wiser. Flower girl refused to participate the day of. (She was 8 or 9 and knew better. Oh well.)

 

Bride picked up some bunches of flowers at WalMart on the way to Grandma's house. Bridesmaid (same one who sews) tied them up into nice bundles for bride and bridesmaids to carry.

 

No idea what the hired hack officiant cost. 

 

It came together beautifully. 

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she sounds charming. extremely competitive. reminds me of when one of my sils made a comment about the other one "winning" by marrying off all of her children first. gee, I didn't know it was a competition. . . . . . :glare:

 

 

our church does not charge for performing weddings. (not even 'donations'.) many years ago, one of our church leaders lived in a rather rural area so people who didn't belong to it would ask him to perform the ceremony. (or who had come from more rural areas to find someone to perform the ceremony.) when they'd go to pay him and ask how much - he'd ask how much the groom thought his services were worth. he'd then give that money to the bride.

Yeah. She is. She's always had her eyes on every else's plate, concerned that someone else will have something better.

 

I'm a realist in this respect. I already imagine it is highly likely that a different SIL, who is both quite wealthy and is very spendy, will have a very, very extravagant wedding when/if her dd gets married. This SIL put on a wedding anniversary party for her parents a few years back; that was an extremely posh event that was basically the same as a very high-end wedding. It was on the top floor of a famous skyscraper and had close to all the elements you would have at a wedding reception, including flying in people from all over the country. SO...if it's a competition, it is clearly one I have already lost. 😊

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As some speak of skewing the average... I went to 10th grade at a fancy private school in coastal FL.  Many kids had oceanfront houses.  On my first day there, in class, kids were talking about how their summer went.  One told about her sister getting married... her family had rented a large cruise liner (the whole ship - not just rooms), had the wedding there on the way to England, helicoptered off the married couple to a private island for their honeymoon and flew the guests back on chartered flights.

 

I've often wondered what that cost.  It was back in the early 80s.  As I sat there in my thrift shop clothes, it also was a bit of a culture shock, but not one I ever cared to emulate.  I'm with those who think spending a huge amount on one day for a party is not the best use of $$... even if one has it.  But YMMV.  If you want to keep up with the wealthy, that just might be the bar you need to top.  I suppose I could look at Hollywood and find similar stories, but this one was all "business" wealth.  On the plus side, some of that wealth got redistributed.  ;)

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I know when I got married (granted - 24 years ago), my parents did not contribute a dime, although my mother put in substantial sweat equity and some of her friends acted as caterers. Some aspects of a "normal" wedding we simply went without (no limousine, no staffed caterers) and many things were DIY (centerpieces, programs, all flowers, videography). Our wedding cost was a bit over $5k for everything.

 

 

 

I've been married a little longer than you but not much. Mine was right at 5k. It was a pretty simple wedding. Nothing extravagant. We did have a professional photographer. We catered from a grocery store and my grandad's housekeeper (and her daughter) kept the simple luncheon buffet going for a very nominal fee. I'd grown up with her and they really didn't want to take any money but we insisted. We had no limo either. No need for one. The reception was in the church hall. We did use a florist for the basics (corsages, boutonnieres, my bouquet). Church hall was decorated with a few bought signs and streamers. Pretty common back then.

 

My sister, on the other hand, had a 25k wedding about 15 years later, with lots of luxuries. The groom's family did a rehearsal dinner that included all wedding guests, as 95% of them were from out of town. It was almost as extravagant as the wedding. Cocktail hour, sit down dinner, at the luxurious resort where we were all staying but a different "hall" than the reception so it wouldn't feel like the same party.

 

If I could have, I'd have had something in between what I had and what she had. I'd have liked a bit more time to relax with family & friends than doing it in the church hall allowed for. And I'd have liked dancing............... but I'd have been okay with a dj rather than a string quartet ;) I'm okay with what we did, just would have done it a little differently if I could have..........

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Yeah. She is. She's always had her eyes on every else's plate, concerned that someone else will have something better.

 

I'm a realist in this respect. I already imagine it is highly likely that a different SIL, who is both quite wealthy and is very spendy, will have a very, very extravagant wedding when/if her dd gets married. This SIL put on a wedding anniversary party for her parents a few years back; that was an extremely posh event that was basically the same as a very high-end wedding. It was on the top floor of a famous skyscraper and had close to all the elements you would have at a wedding reception, including flying in people from all over the country. SO...if it's a competition, it is clearly one I have already lost. 😊

 

my grandmother was like this.  it's a very sad way to live.  she was never happy, and always jealous of her sisters who married "financially comfortable" (re: not particularly wealthy per se) husbands.  however - that wasn't "all" of her sisters, only about three?  (out of nine total.)

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I guess I kind of feel like people who "diy" sometimes act like everyone should do it that way "because it can be done". Well, for some of us, it is far better to pay more, if we can, and let someone else do it. I would lost my mind if I had to help my child put on a diy wedding. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off? No. Cooking and prepping the day before and day of? No. No. No. I would want to be spending that time with my child and the out of town company. I'd be so anxious about not being with them and then not really get to enjoy the festivities. So again, NO. That doesn't mean I don't know how to handle money or that I don't know how to use it wisely. Doing it differently doesn't make me less wise. I don't see myself contributing 25k to my kids weddings but enough that I'm not cooking or decorating the night before or the morning of. Nope, not a snob either. Just pragmatic about what I'm capable of and need to enjoy my own children's weddings.......... Granted, I'll be in charge of rehearsal dinners rather than the wedding/reception but still will have the same view. And they're likely to be large as our family culture does  include all out of town guests and family.

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Skip the wedding boutique & get a pretty summer sundress fromany place that sells dresses.

Same for bridesmaids.

Or for fancier, get anew years party dress on sale in Jan or after prom for bride & tell Althe bridesmaids to wear their "little black dress".

Or,only have 1 bridesmaid & let her pick any fancy dress

Nice idea but around here her size is simply not stocked. That was the point of my lament. Very few places even regular department stores carry size two so dress selection for any occasion is quite limited if one is not willing to spend a fortune.

 

None of her bridesmaids were that small so we're all able to get a dress in pink or brown for $75 or less.

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I guess I kind of feel like people who "diy" sometimes act like everyone should do it that way "because it can be done". Well, for some of us, it is far better to pay more, if we can, and let someone else do it. I would lost my mind if I had to help my child put on a diy wedding. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off? No. Cooking and prepping the day before and day of? No. No. No. I would want to be spending that time with my child and the out of town company. I'd be so anxious about not being with them and then not really get to enjoy the festivities. So again, NO. That doesn't mean I don't know how to handle money or that I don't know how to use it wisely. Doing it differently doesn't make me less wise. I don't see myself contributing 25k to my kids weddings but enough that I'm not cooking or decorating the night before or the morning of. Nope, not a snob either. Just pragmatic about what I'm capable of and need to enjoy my own children's weddings.......... Granted, I'll be in charge of rehearsal dinners rather than the wedding/reception but still will have the same view. And they're likely to be large as our family culture does include all out of town guests and family.

And this is a valid point. DIY made me very worn out by the time the wedding arrived, and totally exhausted by mid way through the reception. And the two hundred we paid for custodial did not actually cover as much help with cleaning up as we thought it would. 3pm wedding ceremony, and reception over by 7:30pm. I did not get to bed until 1am. I felt sick, nauseous, and bone tired for several days. I did not enjoy the day at all. But I had only Dh and my son's for support network. His parents were from Pennsylvania and headed out the second the reception was over, I have few IRL friends so only one that stayed to help - the one for whom I later decorated her daughter's wedding - my sister was headed to the airport, and certainly the narcissistic sister in law around to "help". Though the reception was held at the church we attended at the time, the culture there is not any kind of general assistance with putting on weddings. They simply do not get I involved that way.

 

Nephew was smart. Divorced parents, lots of animosity, no assurance that they would behave themselves. So they went to Vegas on a group on all inclusive. Spent $2000.00, had a great vacation, and no crazy relatives to make them nuts. The photography was super bargain priced and they had shutterfly wedding books made up for everyone when they got back.

 

Of course the two divorced parents have done nothing but complain about being left out even though their collasal immaturity plus narcissistic behavior of step mother caused the element to begin with!

 

My favorite events to plan are corporate. So easy least by comparison. I once did a Dickens theme Christmas party for a company which was a blast - nice budget too so I made it an amazing dinner event - and then they let me use the decorations to pull it off for a church group. Really nice events.

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I guess I kind of feel like people who "diy" sometimes act like everyone should do it that way "because it can be done". Well, for some of us, it is far better to pay more, if we can, and let someone else do it. I would lost my mind if I had to help my child put on a diy wedding. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off? No. Cooking and prepping the day before and day of? No. No. No. I would want to be spending that time with my child and the out of town company. I'd be so anxious about not being with them and then not really get to enjoy the festivities. So again, NO. That doesn't mean I don't know how to handle money or that I don't know how to use it wisely. Doing it differently doesn't make me less wise. I don't see myself contributing 25k to my kids weddings but enough that I'm not cooking or decorating the night before or the morning of. Nope, not a snob either. Just pragmatic about what I'm capable of and need to enjoy my own children's weddings.......... Granted, I'll be in charge of rehearsal dinners rather than the wedding/reception but still will have the same view. And they're likely to be large as our family culture does include all out of town guests and family.

Yeah, that's why I said it is also valid. Personally, I like DIY things. I get a thrill out of pulling off something for less money because I used my creative and organizational skills to good effect. My DD's graduation party two years ago, for example. We did order fried chicken, but everything else was DIY. It was (mostly) fun and, even with the one thing that was too tedious and not fun at all, it gave me a great story to tell. DD and I still talk about it, "Remember how we made and decorated all those nautical-themed cookies? That was just CRAZY-CAKES!"

 

But I know not all people like that sort of thing.

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I guess I kind of feel like people who "diy" sometimes act like everyone should do it that way "because it can be done". Well, for some of us, it is far better to pay more, if we can, and let someone else do it. I would lost my mind if I had to help my child put on a diy wedding. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off? No. Cooking and prepping the day before and day of? No. No. No. I would want to be spending that time with my child and the out of town company. I'd be so anxious about not being with them and then not really get to enjoy the festivities. So again, NO. That doesn't mean I don't know how to handle money or that I don't know how to use it wisely. Doing it differently doesn't make me less wise. I don't see myself contributing 25k to my kids weddings but enough that I'm not cooking or decorating the night before or the morning of. Nope, not a snob either. Just pragmatic about what I'm capable of and need to enjoy my own children's weddings.......... Granted, I'll be in charge of rehearsal dinners rather than the wedding/reception but still will have the same view. And they're likely to be large as our family culture does  include all out of town guests and family.

 

dh would do most things diy - because he's a control freak.  same with 1dd.  she loves to cook/bake, so she was chatting with the chef where she works -  the woman had catered her own wedding dinner and made her own cake.  you still have to have people to serve it . . . 1ds gf (wants to be a chef/caterer) has also talked about catering her own wedding.  she gave 1dd a very standard wedding cake recipe. dd used it for my bd cake.  it's really good.

 

I don't want to have to think about it - and if I could afford to hire everything out - I would.  but $$ is a consideration, so you figure out where you have to spend and where you can "diy".

 

some people have the time - some people don't.  for 2dd's wedding. ..  I developed a kidney infection the day of.  I didnt' want a long dress - but it was the only one I could find.  no one saw my long underwear or sheepskin slippers underneath . . .  a family friend was in charge of much- and I'm  so grateful to her.  I was trying to help clean up afterwards - and her adult dd was like "Mom, make her lay down!"

 

Nice idea but around here her size is simply not stocked. That was the point of my lament. Very few places even regular department stores carry size two so dress selection for any occasion is quite limited if one is not willing to spend a fortune.

 

None of her bridesmaids were that small so we're all able to get a dress in pink or brown for $75 or less.

 

that's when you start looking at making something - even if it means you find a bridal seamstress (who would have access to better  fabrics).

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Re. DIY--

 

I like to entertain, and I enjoy making things and cooking.

 

Having said that, I wanted to relax and enjoy my own wedding.

I had friends tell me not to bother spending money on it because I wouldn't have a good time anyway because I'd be so nervous, and I wouldn't even remember it.

Another friend, who is Vietnamese and had a really big wedding (300-350 guests), at least two changes of formal clothes, complicated, told me that the key to her having the wedding come off at all was making a detailed schedule and handing it out to everyone in the extended family plus lots of her friends, so that all would help keep things on track.

 

I was absolutely determined to plan everything well enough that I would have no obligations on the Big Day.  So I asked all the questions in advance, I got the hotel to cater everything, I met with the DJ twice beforehand and gave him lists of songs, we had a photo session with the photographer in the morning, and then once things started they just flowed.  I distinctly remember looking around the room at the reception, and seeing all the waiters taking plates of food to the tables, and realizing that, yes, this had worked out great.  I DID have fun at my own wedding.  I remember it very fondly, almost 30 years later.

 

I would not have enjoyed this nearly as much if I had had more to do or if I had a lot of volunteers to coordinate.

 

The only thing I forgot was a plan for stashing the wedding dress/veil between the wedding night in the bridal suite and our trip to the airport.  The only thing I could think of to do with it the next day was bring it over to my parents' house.  Awkward.  

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I will not be paying for weddings. End of story on that. I will likely give a nice gift, like $5K. They can spend it on a wedding, a honeymoon, house, whatever.  But honestly, I will even have to figure out how to equalize that. I would want to give a nice gift to each of my children and do not wish to exclude a child just because he did not get married. 

 

My husband and I got married by JP. I think it was $25. 

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Re. divorced parents...

I had a colleague whose parents' divorce was so bitter that he wasn't sure until the day of the wedding that either would attend if the other did.  He rented an entire bed and breakfast, held the ceremony and reception there, and had rooms for both parents there (widely separated).  That way they could show up or not, or come and then leave, without causing a lot of churn.  

 

I thought it was absolutely pathetic that they couldn't at least show up for him and let him know that they would do so.

 

I attended another wedding where there were two complete sets of wedding pictures, one done with the bride's father and stepmother, and the other done with the bride's mother and stepfather.  Keeping it klassy.  Not.

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Here's my beef with the Big Spend weddings:  they consume an awful lot of your life to plan and execute them.  I'm not sure it is worth it, from that point of view.  It doesn't ALWAYS end up this way, but sometimes the spendy wedding turns into Queen for a Day and it's just not the point...and it can take away a lot of what should be memorable for reasons other than the perfection of the bridal bouquet, if you know what I mean.  

 

If someone with a net cash value of $1,000,000 spends $40,000 on a wedding, that's no going to be the same relative cost/expense/stress as when someone with an annual income of $40,000 does the same thing.  That just seems disproportionate to me.  It's not the cost of the wedding that makes a good marriage, and that is really the point of the thing.  

 

But to each his/her own.  All I can say is that the things I remember from weddings are the things that were not planned for...the dog walking up the aisle during one wedding, the groom breaking his foot the night before the wedding so the bride AND groom coming in in wheelchairs, decorated with streamers.  The smile on the groom's face.  The bride pulling her vows out of the pocket of her wedding dress.  (WHAT a great dress--it had POCKETS!) The little brother breakdancing to everyone's amazement (at the reception!).  The bride's blushing at the truly earthy marriage service in Eastern Orthodoxy.  The toasts of close friends who knew really *embarrassing* stories.  :0)  You can't buy these things.  

 

 

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I guess I kind of feel like people who "diy" sometimes act like everyone should do it that way "because it can be done". Well, for some of us, it is far better to pay more, if we can, and let someone else do it. 

 

FWIW, I'm in that group.  I'm artistically challenged and I hate to cook.

 

I'm still not into spending 25K though.  That's why we kept our own basic and were glad when our son and his wife chose to as well.  I guess I never bought into the "big fancy wedding" picture regardless of who is responsible for actually doing it.

 

YMMV - and that's ok.  It take all types to make the world go around - honestly, not sarcastically. 

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Yeah, that's why I said it is also valid. Personally, I like DIY things. I get a thrill out of pulling off something for less money because I used my creative and organizational skills to good effect. My DD's graduation party two years ago, for example. We did order fried chicken, but everything else was DIY. It was (mostly) fun and, even with the one thing that was too tedious and not fun at all, it gave me a great story to tell. DD and I still talk about it, "Remember how we made and decorated all those nautical-themed cookies? That was just CRAZY-CAKES!"

 

But I know not all people like that sort of thing.

 

I can handle diy for graduation but I did use a baker for the cake........... just not something like a wedding ;)

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Yes Patty Joanna, all wedding dresses should come with pockets. Sadly they do not. But buying a street dress, cocktail dress, etc

does not get you pockets either. Women's clothes are notorious for not having pockets. Grrrrrrr.....

 

As for custom dress. My mom was going to sew dad's dress. We priced out the fabrics at $500.00 Dd really had her heart set on lace, lace, and lace. When what she liked went on sale for $750 and could be ordered in a size two (patterns rarely go down below a size four so require a lot of alteration anyway) I just figured I would save mom the labor. She then made the children's outfits, and did the tailoring on middle ds's suit because he is so tall and thin that suit coats have to be significantly altered in order to not look like sacks on him. I quilt, but am not good enough to even consider sewing an evening gown type dress.

 

Local, professional seamstress are bizarrely expensive. We could never have had a lace wedding gown made for less than $750 in labor plus materials. As it was I paid $150.00 to have the waist taken in a little, and the hem shortened one inch. It did not have along train. The cost is a supply/demand thing. There are very, very few people left in the area that have the expertise to do this kind of sewing.

 

Way back in the day, my mom made my gown and it was gorgeous! But at her age and infirmity, it just turned out to be better to buy.

 

At any rate, all I have in my future is m.o.g. which I think is code for "wear something nice,show up on time, smile" duty. Since I have gotten rid of all of my event planning stash except the yardage of white chiffon and pearls, I really cannot be prevailed upon to decorate. I will however, if asked, provide amazing music for the whole event. I'd rather be at the piano anyway! :D

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I agree that it takes a certain type of personality to pull off a diy wedding. My mother is that personality. She loved being in charge of every aspect of my wedding, and I was more than happy to let her do it. Lol

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One one thought on diy. If you do it and want to make bouquets, please read up on how to properly wire and anchor flowers. I have seen did bouquets falling apart as the bride walks down the aisle, boutonnieres that do not survive photos, etc. There are methods to the floral assembly madness. You will use a lot more floral wire and tape then you probably think is necessary. If doing live flowers, you need to know each species, how long it can be worked with before needing water and refrigeration, etc., how long each species will last in damp floral foam, before wilting.

 

For novices, live hydrangea is NOT your friend. Save that for centerpieces so you can leave it in a vase with LOT of water to drink, and no fussing. It is easily stressed.

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I worked as a wedding planner when I was in college - before the days of all the fancy wedding shows - and my brides back then (20 years ago) paid an average of 10-12K on their North Texas affairs, of which I collected about 10% as my fee. I usually saved the brides the cost of my fee by finding discounts where I could. My own wedding was at Disney World 16 years ago, and we paid $10K (not counting engagement ring, travel costs or honeymoon) including pictures at the Magic Kingdom, Mickey & Minnie at the cake cutting, and a horse-drawn carriage with the usual stuff of photos, video, music, etc. Granted there was only 11 of us at the destination wedding. The price of weddings is crazy now, but I am sure the planners enjoy the fees.  I priced out our Disney wedding recently, and I am not sure we could afford it now.

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Yes Patty Joanna, all wedding dresses should come with pockets. Sadly they do not. But buying a street dress, cocktail dress, etc

does not get you pockets either. Women's clothes are notorious for not having pockets. Grrrrrrr.....

 

As for custom dress. My mom was going to sew dad's dress. We priced out the fabrics at $500.00 Dd really had her heart set on lace, lace, and lace. When what she liked went on sale for $750 and could be ordered in a size two (patterns rarely go down below a size four so require a lot of alteration anyway) I just figured I would save mom the labor. She then made the children's outfits, and did the tailoring on middle ds's suit because he is so tall and thin that suit coats have to be significantly altered in order to not look like sacks on him. I quilt, but am not good enough to even consider sewing an evening gown type dress.

 

Local, professional seamstress are bizarrely expensive. We could never have had a lace wedding gown made for less than $750 in labor plus materials. As it was I paid $150.00 to have the waist taken in a little, and the hem shortened one inch. It did not have along train. The cost is a supply/demand thing. There are very, very few people left in the area that have the expertise to do this kind of sewing.

 

Way back in the day, my mom made my gown and it was gorgeous! But at her age and infirmity, it just turned out to be better to buy.

 

At any rate, all I have in my future is m.o.g. which I think is code for "wear something nice,show up on time, smile" duty. Since I have gotten rid of all of my event planning stash except the yardage of white chiffon and pearls, I really cannot be prevailed upon to decorate. I will however, if asked, provide amazing music for the whole event. I'd rather be at the piano anyway! :D

 

 

Re: the dress.  I got married in 1981, when there was no silk satin to be found in any wedding dress store anywhere on the planet.  It was the era of polyester Qiana.  I lived in Colorado at the time, and even though I went (not as the destination but as an adjunct to a fun trip) to Priscilla's of Boston to look for a silk satin wedding dress, all they had was a silk SLIP.  Well, I was NOT going to wear Qiana, so I found some yardage and designed the dress and had it made by an expert seamstress (yes, I had to pay) and even so, the dress was less expensive than anything I could buy off the rack and I got *exactly* what I wanted.  It was so pretty--a candlelight white dress.  :0). I still have it, and my plan is to be buried in it, with the cummerbund wrapped around my wrinkly old neck.  It doesn't always cost more to get what you want.

 

I shall (please God) be MOG, and like you, would rather be at the piano, anyway.

 

 

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I agree that not everyone wants to do the DIY thing.  I don't have a problem with hiring it all done. My mother was a floral designer with 2 kids at home (2 on their own) with bills to pay. She, like everyone else in the wedding industry, was happy to have the work.

The problem isn't the cost itself or who does the labor, the problem is that as a nation, most Americans are in debt and the odds they'll ever get out and get ahead is low for most of them. Dumping money into a wedding when you can't truly afford it is insane.  By afford it I mean able pay for it in cash while having no other debts beyond a reasonable mortgage in relation to your earnings. People with student load debt, credit card debt, car payments and such shouldn't spend a lot on a wedding because they already owe so much in relation to their earnings.  Debt cycles are hard to get out of. Math-she's a heartless b***h.

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What is really sad to consider is that sometimes the couple is divorced even before the wedding debt is paid off. I've known several instances where this was the case.

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We got married in a church, invited all family and friends (but not mere acquaintances) and had just under 100 attend. Did an evening wedding with dessert + drinks reception. Had a new dress and tux, rings, fresh flowers, nicely but simply decorated reception location (used DH's neighborhood clubhouse with a big inside dining/dance room and beautiful wrap-around porch). $4000, including the honeymoon (4 nights at a nice cabin in the mountains). MIL and Aunt contributed much of the homemade (delicious) desserts and we paid a local woman who did a side business to do our wedding cake.

 

Totally a real wedding in every way. If we'd had any financial help I'd have done a proper meal and had the wedding earlier in the day but as it was we didn't want to leave anyone out so dessert + drinks worked. But even a proper meal would have only brought the total to $5000 likely.

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I agree that not everyone wants to do the DIY thing.  I don't have a problem with hiring it all done. My mother was a floral designer with 2 kids at home (2 on their own) with bills to pay. She, like everyone else in the wedding industry, was happy to have the work.

 

The problem isn't the cost itself or who does the labor, the problem is that as a nation, most Americans are in debt and the odds they'll ever get out and get ahead is low for most of them. Dumping money into a wedding when you can't truly afford it is insane.  By afford it I mean able pay for it in cash while having no other debts beyond a reasonable mortgage in relation to your earnings. People with student load debt, credit card debt, car payments and such shouldn't spend a lot on a wedding because they already owe so much in relation to their earnings.  Debt cycles are hard to get out of. Math-she's a heartless b***h.

 

Oh, I would never encourage debt for a wedding. If I can't pay it when the credit card comes bill comes in, I don't buy it. I'd agree with most of what you say, except perhaps car payments. To me, that's a regular expense and not something we strive to pay off early. For others, it is. But we do tend to put 20-25% down and get rates of 1-3%........... It's just that sometimes, here in the hive, there is some serious judging of people who don't diy for almost anything. Sometimes it can get to a person.

 

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