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The Biggest Waste of Money in American Society is the $30,000+ Wedding
It's time for some sanity on weddings
You have young couples getting together, struggling to pay their bills, maybe with college debt to pay off, probably getting ready to work on a kid – which we all know is insanely expensive these days – and they’re going to spend $30,000+ on a one-day ceremony. Let’s also not forget that a man is supposed to spend a “two-month salary” on an engagement ring. That’s another $8,692 of that median salary. Now, we’re pushing up towards $40,000 – and that’s before the honeymoon, which may add thousands more.
You may say, “Well technically, the bride’s family is supposed to pay for the wedding.” Yes. TECHNICALLY. But does that always happen? No. Even if it did, would that young couple be better off starting with $30,000 that they could use for a down payment on a new home? How about spending that money on a mid-sized car? What about just having $30,000 in the bank in a world where 64% of Americans say they live “paycheck-to-paycheck?”
Of course, it could be worse than just spending $30,000, which could make a huge difference in getting your marriage off to a good start. An awful lot of Americans actually GO INTO DEBT to pay for their weddings:
Unfortunately, many couples start their wedding planning assuming they can keep costs under control. But a 2019 study by LendingTree found that 45% of newlyweds went into debt for their wedding.
This is particularly ironic because (depending on which statistics you believe), somewhere between 40-50% of all marriages end in divorce. Does anyone actually have an ex they wish they’d spent an extra $30,000 on instead of banking it? Exactly. Worse yet, what causes divorces? Well, there are a variety of things, but take a look at #5:
How many marriages do you think have ended up in divorce at least in part because of financial problems related to the wedding? It has to be a small, but significant percentage, right?
With that in mind, why are there so many big weddings, particularly since, let’s be 100% honest, very few men care about having a big wedding ceremony? If anything, the vast majority of men don’t even want to attend a wedding, much less be strong-armed into paying an exorbitant amount of money and doing months of planning for an elaborate ceremony they’re only participating in to please their future wife. If their future wife were to say (and genuinely mean), “What I really want is to get married in a nice, quiet ceremony with just our parents and siblings,” the number of guys that would push back on that to try to get the huge ceremony is going to be infinitesimal.
Once, extravagant weddings probably made more practical sense in a, “If he can’t afford the wedding, how can he afford to support his new wife at home” kind of way. However, not only has it become much more common for women to work outside of the home, weddings have gotten several orders of magnitude more expensive over the years:
Is there any practical reason why marriages need to be so expensive and elaborate these days? Not at all. So, why is it like this? You can sum it all up in one word: Marketing.
From the time they’re little girls, women are hit with marketing about their “special day” that’s “just about them.” They see other weddings that look glamorous and cool. They look at more marketing, then they tell themselves, “Mine is going to be even better than that one day!” They often start thinking about venues when they’re teenagers, spend hundreds of hours planning it in their minds, romanticize the whole event, and then when the time comes to get married, they want everything to be “perfect” so they can show off their pictures for years to come. But, what really makes the day so special? Is it the ceremony along with the “perfect” dress, hors d'oeuvre, and flower arrangements? Or is it that they’re committing to a man that they’re hopefully going to raise children with? The man they’re hopefully going to spend the rest of their life with?
Now, I get it. Some women love their weddings. Some women have been dreaming of this big day since they were little, and they just can’t give up on the idea. Fair enough. However, if you’re a woman and that doesn’t describe you, you can be one of the women that helps break this chain. You can be one of the women who helps normalize getting rid of these over-the-top, wildly expensive, over-dramatic ceremonies. There are already women who are fine with small ceremonies or eloping to Vegas, but once it gets to a critical mass and more people start praising women like this for “putting their marriage first” and “being low maintenance,” the whole marriage ceremony industry will start to change for the better.