Wedding changes contribute to expense

Wedding changes contribute to expense

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This spring, I read in my local newspaper about how fewer people are getting married. One of the reasons mentioned for the decline was expense. Wedding changes in the last few generations may have contributed to the expenses incurred.

According to Forbes, the average wedding in 2024 is $33,000! That’s insane. I agree with a friend who said that she’d rather spend that money toward a home. We spent under $6,000 for our daughter’s wedding; and while we did our best to be smart, I still think that’s a lot of money. With the help of friends, we hosted a lovely wedding.

Invite fewer guests

Yet, the newspaper article got me thinking about how much has changed in weddings. When my grandparents married, their guest list was minimal compared to today’s guest lists. In the newspaper article announcing my grandparents’ wedding, it says, “A wedding dinner was served in the home of the bride’s parents to 14 guests.” Fourteen! That’s much more manageable and less expensive than feeding 200 guests. Yet, it’s difficult to whittle the list when you want loved ones to celebrate with you.

I wondered when larger wedding receptions began, so I did a search and learned that larger receptions became popular after World War II. That explains why my grandparents had a small luncheon, a common practice prior to World War II.

Share resources says that a bride should budget thousands for her dress since the average cost in 2024 is between $1,800 to $2,400. Gulp. I admire the savvy shopper who can find a beautiful dress which is also more affordable. You may remember me discussing this in another wedding blog.

Two of my aunts shared a wedding dress.  Each bride wore a veil, but one chose a crown to go with the veil. The bride who wore the dress the second time modified the dress, so one bride had three-fourths sleeves, and the other wore short sleeves. Since one married in November and the other August, that made perfect sense. Both brides look beautiful on their wedding day.

Sharing a dress is one way to save money. For more ways to share resources, check out my blog about other ideas for saving money planning for a wedding.

Bachelor/bachelorette parties

Other wedding changes over the years involve the expenses tied with bachelor and bachelorette parties. Live Science reported that the first recorded bachelor party occurred in 1922. Wikipedia mentions bachelorette parties started in the 17th century. Of course, they didn’t begin as we remember them in modern times. Yet even since I married, these parties have transformed from an evening of getting together with friends to elaborate, extended weekend get-a-ways. Instead of going out to eat, friends spend a lot of money on trips.

I have heard young people mention concerns about accepting being in wedding parties because of the expense. One person said it cost $1,000 to be in a wedding including the clothes, gifts, lodging, travel, and party. Call me crazy, but that boggles my mind. It’s also expecting a lot from your friends, who are often just starting out their own careers, homes, and families.

Daily expenses climb

Expenses continue to climb in most areas of our lives. I want my children to start their lives in a good spot, not heaped in debt. As my husband and I creep toward retirement too, we don’t want to blow our life savings on an event that is over in a day.

One of my wise uncles told me once that the wedding lasts only a day, but a marriage a lifetime (at least that is the hope). So, I agree that we should invest all that money that the average people spend on a wedding in the marriage.  Maybe if we did, more people would embrace getting married rather than avoiding it.

What are your thoughts about wedding changes in recent times?

Photo credits: First photo by Elizabeth Wallace, Birchwood Studio. Second and third photos supplied by brides.

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4 Replies to “Wedding changes contribute to expense”

  1. Well thought out Michelle. I think the expense of weddings are over the top crazy. What people used to do for a wedding, some are now doing for a prom. So how do you top that for a wedding and make “yours” better than “theirs?” A lot of the “old” ways really made more sense. But that train has left the station and unfortunately it will probably only get worse. It’s hard not to feel the pressure to keep up.

  2. The original wedding dress was purchased from the sale rack at a bridal store for $30. Many brides made their own wedding dress and then reused that material to make a christening gowns for baptism of the babies. The wedding reception was held at church with wedding cake served with a beverage. Ice dream, nuts and candies were a special treat.

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