Guess what? Eighty years ago, a groom’s tuxedo cost almost as much as a bride’s gown and couples were still shelling out nearly half of their combined income to show their love. America, fuck yeah.
Quartz compared contemporary wedding costs to those during the Depression-era of the 1930s and found some interesting parallels and departures. For example, engagement rings weren’t a thing in the 1930s because the DeBeers diamond company had yet to launch their “aggressive” marketing campaign, proclaiming "a diamond is forever" thereby forcing the hand of many men. This advertising and cultural shift came in the 1940s, when dudes cracked open their wallets for diamonds in droves. Before that, only about two-thirds of couples bought engagement rings at all and they usually cost around $1,824 in today’s dollars. Engagement rings in 2013 — data for this comparison was pulled from a 2013 bridal survey on The Knot and a 1939 study of 154 couple by University of Illinois sociology professor B.F. Timmons — run about about $5,600. Ch-ch-changes.
Brace yourself, flowers and party favors used to be cheaper too. In 1939 only half of the couple surveyed even had party favors for their guests and flowers and decorations tallied up to about $285. In Total. Soup to nuts, ladies. Today, flowers at a wedding run about $2,069. Feel free to whip out that bucket of tears right now as you remember the obscene orchid costs and regrettable pennies spent on those M&M's with your initials on them.
On the other hand, despite what Say Yes To The Dress advertises, the average contemporary bridal gown costs $1,281. That is only about $100 more than a wedding dress in the 1930’s, adjusted for inflation. What this calculation is most likely omitting however is the cost of accessories and tailoring after a gown purchase, which can run another $1,000 plus. While shopping for my wedding dress, I once saw a sparkly belt, which I probably could've made with supplies from Michael's, Jo-Ann Fabrics and a hot glue gun, selling for almost $3,000. But Lord, I really considered buying it for two seconds, and then I came to my senses. That's how these bridal retailers get you, stay woke.
Ultimately, we victims of the today's wedding industrial complex have a median wedding cost of $29,548 while our Depression-era foremothers were looking at a $6,481 bill. Life isn't fair but just think about what people will be shelling out in 2094! If we look at it that way, we win. Maybe.
Image via Getty.