According to Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal, spending a ton of money on your wedding could have a devastating economic impact on your life, years after the ceremony is over and all the bills have been paid.
"Your $18,000 wedding? It may really end up costing you between $90,000 and $200,000," Arends writes, "That $2,000 dress? Think: $10,000 to $22,000. The $10,000 food bill for your guests? Try $50,000 to $110,000. No, I am not kidding." Arends argues that the real cost of a wedding can be determined by noting how much a bride loses, in the end, by not saving those wedding dollars for the future: "the biggest cost of every dollar you spend is invisible. It's all the money you'd accumulate if you saved it instead. Over long periods, this cost dwarfs the mere sticker price, often by a factor of several times." In other words, if you'd put that $7,000 into savings, as opposed to spending it on a dress, you'd be much better off in the long run.
Yet it's doubtful, to me anyway, that this info is going to stop the determined from having their dream day. Weddings, just like finances, are an incredibly personal thing; you may not agree with your friend's decision to spend $10,000 on a dress when she still owes $120,000 in student loans, but it's not really your place to point such things out. Sometimes, you have to shut up and mind your own damn business. Still, knowing that the median cost of a wedding is $17,500 is a bit daunting to those of us who want a party but don't necessarily want to go broke throwing it. My boyfriend (fiance bugs, sorry) and I are in the midst of figuring out how we want to celebrate our wedding next year, and every time we calculate the cost, we start talking about all of the things we could do with the money instead. However, if you're the type of couple who truly wants the big wedding day, I'm sure the costs are nothing compared with the memories and happiness the day brings. Right? The trick, I guess, is finding a balance between having a great day and going completely bankrupt doing it.
Oh, and as Arends notes, stay away from the cash bar. You could have the cheapest decorations, most terrible cake, and flimsiest dress around, but as long as you have an open bar, your wedding will be considered a success by all in attendance. Sure, it may be a little costly, but seeing your Aunt Helen break it down on the dance floor with your college roommate while your best friend from elementary school stands by and laughs is really just priceless, isn't it?