Monday, 26 February 2018

A splurge to remember

I'm constantly amazed at how much some people spend on weddings, and what they could have done with all that money instead of splurging it on a single day of celebration.

I see the average cost of a wedding is now £27,000, which includes £4,354 for venue hire, £3,630 for the honeymoon, and £3,353 for the food. I guess it also includes a special car to arrive in, a photographer, the wedding dress, wedding favours and umpteen tips for the service providers. That's a staggering amount to mark the fact that you love someone.

I'm not criticising those who choose to splash out so much on their "big day". It's their choice and nothing to do with me. If they want a super-ceremony they'll always enjoy looking back on, why not?

But personally I can think of much better uses for £27,000. Like building up a deposit to buy a home. Or several luxury holidays. Or updating the kitchen. Or buying a new car. Or regular visits to a favourite restaurant.

When Jenny and I finally married, after cohabiting for many years - because her occupational pension would only go to her spouse if she died - we didn't want an elaborate ceremony. We had a hefty mortgage at the time, and money was short. And anyway, we knew we loved each other and wanted to stay together, and we didn't see the need for a lot of fancy razzamatazz to prove it.

So we had a very simple ceremony, with two old friends as witnesses, and then took them for a slap-up meal at - yes - our favourite local restaurant. Total cost of the wedding was the marriage fee, whatever that was, plus the restaurant bill of around £80 at today's prices. Not exactly ruinous!

A good job we didn't have confetti. That would have been another fiver....


  1. The astronomical cost of current weddings is not to be believed, except to show us how the other 1% lives and or goes into debt.

  2. Joanne: This is it, probably a lot of people can't really afford the expense but are pressured into a lavish do and get themselves into debt (or more debt).

  3. I never understood the huge wedding thing either Nick.
    Bob and I lived together at least a year before we got married and neither of us wanted a big celebration.
    it seemed a little silly.
    so many celebrities now spend at the very least a couple million dollars or even more on their wedding.
    then what?
    the marriage lasts about 30 minutes? what better ways they could spend such huge amounts of money.
    to simply help humanity!
    not that all rich people have to care for the world.
    but what if?
    what a difference it would make to drill water wells or help the children?
    I know that some like Matt Damon DO help. and there are others. I've such great respect for him and for those who at least try to spend their extra millions in helpful ways.

  4. I always felt that spending that much on a wedding indicated a somewhat odd sense of priorities but it seems most people don't agree with me!

  5. Tammy: True, those phenomenal sums of money could be better used for charitable purposes. And yes, what a waste of money if the marriage is over in a few months.

    John: £1,000 is a pretty modest sum. Clearly you resisted all the extravagant extras.

  6. Jenny: There are a surprising number of people who hanker after a really flamboyant occasion with no expense spared.

  7. Andy and I got married by a Justice of the Peace with just my parents, Andy's mother and one of his sister's there as witnesses. My folks had a celebration dinner at a fancy hotel for the rest of our families that evening. Andy had a job in France so we left California the next day. We had each saved $4000 and spent half of it traveling around Europe the 13 months we were there, the other half coming back to the states the long way. Much better than a fancy wedding, we thought!

  8. Jean: Travelling the world sounds a lot more exciting than a white wedding, but still, each to their own. Impressive that you both managed to save $4000. That was a lot of money in those days!

  9. Karen and I got married in July 1972 in Illinois, a little over 2 months after we met in Wisconsin, and just before I was to be transferred to a navy base in California. We were married by a Methodist minister at the county courthouse, no witness required. Our expenses were a simple white mini-dress for Karen -- no idea of the cost --, wedding rings (a little less than $500), and the fee for the license.

    Our youngest daughter had a much more expensive wedding, but they paid for it and didn't go into debt -- she's a bit of a wheeler-dealer (She and our granddaughter are in New York City right now and most of her expenses are being compensated some how or another.) Our expense for her wedding was the wedding dress -- about $200.

    Oldest daughter got married at the courthouse by the county judge. They had been living together for 14 years, so just kept it simple and cheap.

    I just don't understand the over-the-top weddings.

  10. Mike: That all sounds very simple and straightforward. Is there some assumption maybe that the more you spend, the more you prove you're in love with each other? And a more basic ceremony means you might not be in love at all and you're just going through the motions?

  11. The best weddings I've been at have been more a party, cheap and cheerful and many singing their party pieces. But to each his own. My extended family's weddings have been extravaganzas, one enormous one in Brazil. I can't attend such affairs. Frankly I don't enjoy them.

    The hot thing here are destination weddings which put the guests at great expense to attend, I think this burden on guests outrageous. One I heard about on the weekend from a dear friend involved her niece and Mexico and nearly 100 are attending. Flabbergasting doesn't cover it. It begs the questions why?

    But to each her own.


  12. As I remember, the total spent our wedding (mum 7 dad paid for the reception and we paid everything else) was about $4000 which at that time was about a third of the average wedding. One of the local church ladies accused me of having a cheap wedding except it was a less flattering word than cheap that I can't think of. Any ways......

  13. also, seriously, did none of your readers have an average kind of wedding? because you know, there is a reason average is average

  14. www: A wedding party is good. More enjoyable, I would have thought, than the wedding ceremony itself, however posh.

    Destination weddings must be horribly expensive for those who feel obliged to attend them. Do the wedding couple not realise the financial strain they're causing people?

  15. Kylie: She really thought $4000 was a cheap wedding? She must be made of money. What's the cost of your wedding got to do with her anyway? But I bet she was happy to mop up all the food and drink your parents had paid for.

    Well, of course an average includes both the lowest and the highest totals, so it would include a million-dollar wedding as well as a £100 one. For the likes of you and me, the average is probably a lot less than £27,000.

  16. You haven't seen fancy weddings till you have seen some of ours down here.

    My wedding was a simple affair conducted at home with just a few members of both our families and some friends followed by a reception at home catered professionally. The total cost then was about one month's salary for me.

    My son's two weddings have also been simple inexpensive affairs as in our family we don't believe in big fat Indian weddings. We have better use for the money.

  17. Ramana: Well, at least we don't have a tradition of giving the bride mountains of jewellery. And one month's salary seems more than enough for a meaningful wedding. As the article says, an over-flamboyant wedding can easily mean "the sacred union of two human beings is but a detail".

  18. I so agree, all that money on one day. I would like a nice frock and a bit of a do for friends and family but not to the tune of £27,000, I would rather have lots of lovely holidays.

  19. Polly: A nice frock and a bit of a do sounds about right. And yes, personally I'd much prefer lots of holidays to a one-day blow-out.

  20. I don't think they should include the honeymoon cost in the wedding cost - that's just the luxury vacation you mentioned. Anyway, I've had two weddings now, Both pretty simple. We decided to have a wedding this second go-round because we wanted to include our children. But even so, we didn't splurge. Inexpensive venue, inexpensive dresses, food we made ourselves, free photography and minister. Heck, I even did the flower arrangements myself, mostly from our yard, and spent a grand total of $20 on flowers. I was glad we chose to put money toward a great trip to Italy instead. SO much of wedding expenses are just unnecessary.

  21. Agent: You're right about the honeymoon being just a luxury holiday. So - no splurge. That's a smart idea to do the food and flower arrangements yourself. I wonder how this tradition of mega-weddings came into being?