Are Americans Spending Too Much On Weddings?

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About Gint Aras

Gint Aras has two decades of experience teaching, over ten of them in a Chicago-area community college. He writes a weekly column, True Community, about young men and education. His writing has appeared in St. Petersburg Review (forthcoming, 2014), Antique Children, Criminal Class Review, Curbside Splendor, Dialogo, Šiaurės Atėnai and other publications. He's a photographer and the author of the cult novel, Finding the Moon in Sugar. Check out his website, Liquid Ink and follow Gint on Twitter @Gint_Aras.


  1. I am highly dubious that the typical couple are spending such sums on a wedding. While the average wedding may indeed cost such an amount, what we really need to know is how much the median cost of a wedding is. Let’s not forget that the average will be dramatically skewed by however much the most recent Kardashian wedding will have cost.

  2. I remember my wedding in 1984 cost $2000–and we naively thought it was very opulent. My then-brother in law later told us that he would have rather seen us spend the money “on a side of beef” than that “silly wedding”. At the time, it really hurt my feelings, but now (long since divorced and almost thirty years later) it makes more sense to me as I struggle to make a living.

    I love the idea of a wedding, but I hate the idea of starting off a marriage in debt from the wedding.

    If I were to get married now, I would have a celebration that was in tune with my (our) finances.

  3. Weddings have become spectacle. If only we paid as much attention to the marriage portion of the program.

    • Considering that most couples have had sexual relations and cohabited, perhaps even had children for some time before marrying, and marriage is increasingly approached as something that you slide into by degrees, the wedding, unsurprisingly, becomes the focus of a much larger portion of the expectation and planning.

  4. My husband and I eloped just pastor us and the maintenance men who served as our witnesses. Entire wedding including license, dress and hotel stay was under $500. DH’s family through as a party at a local restaurant costing $1000 in 1998. We had my family over for a cook out. Have never regretted it not once. We were telling our story to my husband’s niece and new husband after their $40k wedding. They looked at us like we were nuts. After two years of marriage they downsized to a one bedroom apartment from a two because they still don’t have a down payment for a house. Hmm.. I’m wondering which one of us is nuts.

  5. Did anyone mention the cost of bar/bat mitzvahs? Same like weddings, I suppose…

    Has anyone done a study on the lavish cost of a wedding in relation to its longevity? I have been to quite a few fancy affairs and have been quite surprised to see some of these marriages end up in smoke so many years later….

  6. Yesterday, unwell, I had a TV day. It was mind numbing, but at the same time fascinating … There was on one channel alone two wedding movies in the afternoon. Bride Wars and Leap Year. (oh dear to both!) On the other channel was ‘He’s Just Not That into You’ (which was, not bad, it has to be said) .. but ultimately it’s a movie about getting hitched. But flicking thru’ the other Sunday movies on offer .. that was the answer to all the endings!
    Living in Europe – we see the US from the outside – so it’s different (and vice versa of course). Sure the world over gets married – but the Hollywood preoccupation with wedding movies – or sole solution happy endings – to be married – just comes off as bizarre. (And ripping the sole out of good actors too.) But more .. it puts that huge subliminal social pressure on people, thinking that the whole Overspend, Cinderella dream is what has to be bought into – to be happy.
    I know a RomCom is a great excuse for IceCream Popcorn day, and we all love a sick day in front of the TV. But actually, a lot of people watch what their fed and then go on to think it’s real (look at Fox News, people actually believe that stuff!)
    From the outside … It’s like the American dream is to go to a school in 90210, join a Frat and (if you’re not eaten by a Vampire) get married … There’s like nothing else on offer.
    Once again .. we gotta be careful what we buy into. Break out of the hypnosis machine. And be an individual. Especially in Love… it’s precious. Not prescription.
    Happiness is connection. Not to a Checkbook, the top Jock and a Vera Wang wedding dress, but to each other. And there’s no price on that ..

  7. John Anderson says:

    I personally would rather have the down payment for a home than spend the money on a wedding, since I already have a home it might not be as important. At age 30, they may already be somewhat established and feel that they can splurge.

    A friend of mine was invited to a Filipino wedding. He was amazed at the amount of money spent. I told him that I’ve been to a few especially of family member and it’s not unheard of to spend over 40K, but it’s not just the couple. There are usually several sponsors each kicking in 1 or 2K, the parents help out, etc. I contributed $200 to a girl’s cotillion once.

    It’s a good thing you didn’t mention how much money is spent on a bachelor party. That could run several thousand dollars as it is, but I guess if people are stripping off at the wedding, that could reduce that cost too. :)

  8. I was looking for a small-ish wedding with close friends. My wife’s family didn’t feel that way. Damage to the tune of $100,000, but hey, the in-laws’ hearts want what the in-laws’ hearts want. I was just the groom.

    • Tom Brechlin says:

      LOL Zack …. my daughter’s wedding didn’t cost that much but for me, the $30K+ was a lot for my check book. But my wife and I eloped 38 years ago and total cost of the church, supermarket cake and coffee, our clothes, we may have inched upward toward $200. My wife and I have no regrets but it was for damn sure my wife wasn’t going to let her daughter get married the same way. We paid for the wedding, they saved and bought their house …. It all worked out in the end.

  9. Yep. Pretty much. People spend way too much money on these weddings and not enough focusing on what it all means, the significance of what is being celebrated, about how to strengthen their partnership. Weddings are a madhouse industry in and of themselves. It’s sad that that gets lost in what a marriage means.

  10. catherine Stukel says:


    Remind me to show you a text message I sent to someone yesterday. It was about this VERY topic. I totally agree. Wbat ever happened to gold bands and bath towels?



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