I know it's a total cliche, but having a wedding is so much more expensive than I realized. I had been interested in weddings for quite a while, read a lot of wedding blogs, saw a lot of budgets, and thought I had a good idea of how much things cost. On principle, I have never wanted to have an expensive wedding. Even spending $10,000 - $15,000 seemed to me like a lot for one event, but I had reconciled myself to the idea of spending that much and thought it was totally possible.
But after we got engaged and I started researching specific rental companies and caterers in the area, I realized I had radically underestimated those costs - more on that in another post. The wedding that we are currently planning is looking to cost around $30,000. I feel weird just writing that. Me, who won't even buy myself new clothes, have an expensive wedding? It does not compute. I've looked at my budget over and over again, trying to find a way for the numbers to add up differently, but they won't.
Yet, when I contemplate each individual cost, they all seem worthy. Of course we want to have our wedding on Evan's family farm, so we don't want to look for another, more all-inclusive venue. Of course we want to have all of our family and friends there (and Evan has a lot of friends), so we can't cut the guest list. Of course we want to have a DJ, because having a great dance party is important to us. Of course we want the food to be as local and organic as possible.
This is despite taking certain measures to save. We're not paying for a venue. I'm hopefully altering a family dress rather than buying a new one. My mom is going to do the flowers. We're going to do mostly electronic invitations. We're not going to have a cake. We don't care about having photography as art. But all that is somewhat inconsequential next to the cost of catering and rentals.
I am vacillating between just accepting that this is how it must be, and wondering if there's some other way. No one else seems to care besides me. Evan has already reached the acceptance stage. My parents, who taught me my frugal values, are incongruously unbothered by the cost. I should also add that we are lucky to be in a position that we, and our families, can afford to spend this much on our wedding. Yet, that $30,000 still stands there. It's enough to live on for a full year. It's enough for closing costs (in New York) or a downpayment (in other places). Not to mention all the philanthropic good it could do. It doesn't quite make sense to me that people are willing to spend so much on a wedding, when most people, myself included, don't think to spend that much on solving their life problems or improving their day to day quality of life.
Maybe I should think of it as an investment in building our lives together. It's important to us to have a wedding, to recognize our newly combined family, to acknowledge our close loved ones, and to gather our community together to help marry us and commit to supporting our lives together. And we also are excited to throw a fun party. Who knows, maybe (hopefully?) it won't end up being that much.
You hear that the average wedding is around $28,000, and I guess it's for a reason. I always thought it was because of the lavish, expensive weddings throwing off the average (what journalists should really share are the median wedding costs). Or I self-righteously thought it was because a lot of people are willing to splurge on things that seem silly to me, like expensive wedding gowns, letterpress invitations, favors, chivari chairs, twee decorations, etc. However, reflecting on it from this new perspective, I suppose that most people don't set out wanting to spend that much and wouldn't if there were more ways not to.
So tell me, what are your experience with how much weddings cost and how do you feel about it?
UPDATE: Literally a day after I wrote this I finally found two good catering options who cost 5k less than most caterers and will therefore bring the wedding total down to $25,000. Still not cheap, but certainly better than $30,000!