Saturday, May 17, 2008

Empirical Costs of Weddings

Curiosity kind of got the best of me last night and I had a choice to go out to the bars wherein I'd run into the same ol same ol "Tanya" who majored in "child psychology" and likes to "partay" and watches "Teen Idol" not to mention the Ambercrombie and Fitch Frat Boys with their hats on backwards getting ecstatic or borderline suicidally depressed if some guy they have no relation to scored a goal or not on the TV or...

look up the historic costs of weddings.

Sadly the Federal Reserve does not have this data series in their FRED database, but I kind of poached a couple numbers to make for a somewhat decent chart. I only had about 7 datapoints and just averaged them over the period of time to the next datapoint to fill in the chart, but you get the idea;


Seriously, you know, could you maybe put your kid through college instead? I'm serious, this is just more proof it's all about "them" and nothing about the kids.


And understand 90% of that is for fluff. If you think about the actual wedding it should be about two people; the husband and the wife. Loved ones, be they friends or family should be there too, but this BS where I saw $500 wedding cakes and $2,000 dresses, and limo service and so forth. Here's a screenshot from a web site that shows all the various amenities (though some would claim "requirements" of a wedding);

You add all this unnecessary crap up and no wonder you're blowing through two kid's worth of college tuition in a day. It's all about the show, the bigger the better, the fancier. My feathers are more colorful than yours, my chest is poofier than yours. Forget what the marriage was supposed to be for like "love", no, it's starting to seem to me to be a bragfest. I'll put another chart here, though I have no data, this is just my impression that I got as I was reading through all these sites

Seriously, if I do get married, I'm eloping. None of this limo, free drinks, rent out the Hilton or "horse drawn carriage crap" (I did that once, not get married, but took a girl out on a horse drawn carriage ride, back when I was young and foolish had some notions of chivalry and hope, wasted $85 for 45 minutes, and then the next two dates got the flaking out at the last minute thing, and that was just $85, I can only imagine what they'd charge you for a wedding).

That's another thing, what's the mark up on a wedding. That's the business to be in. I teach dance on the side, the few weddings I've done it's amazing how little they care about price. And there's a time factor there too. They don't want a full hour of lessons, they just want 15 minutes, and then you get the ef off the floor and let the bride and groom do the dance while nobody really learned any real dancing as it's impossible to teach anything in 15 minutes. But for 15 minutes work you can earn about $100. Again, they're not paying for actual dance lessons, thereby implying people would learn to dance, they are paying for the right to brag they had a dance lesson.

Eh, maybe I'm just overthinking the cost of weddings, being too economic. I should realize it's all about love and money isn't an issue...

until of course financial problems arise...

which is a major contributing factor to divorce.


Kasia said...

You are most definitely NOT overthinking this. You are dead on.

I'm planning my wedding now. Between our two sets of parents, we've got about $7,000 in budget (slightly flexible) plus whatever we want to put into it. We would've eloped, but we're practicing Catholics and want to get married in church. (And if you do that and don't invite anybody, you can bet your buttons people are going to be ticked at you.) And I did want a wedding dress and veil - hey, I'm a chick, what do you expect? :-p

I got my dress on clearance for under $200. My groom and the groomsmen are wearing suits (since they will still HAVE those after the wedding, as opposed to spending who knows how much to RENT tuxes). Since our wedding is at noon it would be kind of rude to not feed people, so we're having a luncheon at a local restaurant. Local halls didn't have lunch prices - this place has lunch AND kid prices, which is good b/c we're inviting our friends' kids.

All told, we will probably run about $7 or 8K with the whole thing. About half of it is food. The church doesn't cost anything, strictly speaking, but they do ask that you make a donation (which is more than reasonable, since it's costing them money for utilities and whatnot), and we do have to pay the music director for her services (again, reasonable).

I still think $7K is pretty ridiculous for one day, but now that I've done the research I at least know where most of it goes. I could have a cheaper wedding if I wanted to cut my guest list dramatically, but I'd rather make my sacrifices elsewhere (have an inexpensive dress, have lunch instead of dinner, we're using a freelance florist who has virtually no overhead, a friend is making the centerpieces, etc).

Ugh. Weddings give me hives!!! How anyone can spend $30K on a wedding is totally beyond me...

Ken Breadner said...

Great've been reddited, deservedly so.
I got married in 2000. It cost me just over six grand and that included the honeymoon.
And I'm still married.

Unknown said...

This is one way that marriage will hurt the gay community in California. They'll be hurting gay couples, known for their disposable income, right in the pocketbook.

Before you say, "OH SHI---, I could make some big money planning gay weddings!!" keep in mind that the gays already have the wedding planner business covered. Totally.

But the 20-30k figure is all about making the woman happy. Totally. The fantasy production they've looked forward to for their whole lives. Perhaps the gays will be able to side-step this madness?

Anonymous said...

Before Queen Victoria showed up, people were much more practical regarding weddings (buying dresses suitable for re-use and such). It was she who introduced the concept of a white wedding dress and other eccentricities that now form the modern marriage ceremony.

(Not to mention DeBeer's marketing strategy for selling diamonds in the 1920s to 1940s.)

If I remember correctly, catering services usually charge much more for weddings than business events/meetings, even if it is the same food.

John said...

I got married this fall (second for both of us) and spent $85. $35 for the license, $50 for the judge. Then we went home and told the kids we got married. We went for dinner so I should add that in. One week from decision to date.

We're gonna get rings sometime., we keep saying...

Kasia said...

But the 20-30k figure is all about making the woman happy. Totally. The fantasy production they've looked forward to for their whole lives. Perhaps the gays will be able to side-step this madness?

Two things: first, you're dead on about the fantasy production and making the woman happy. We're taught from an early age, however unintentionally, that our wedding day is going to be the ONE PERFECT DAY in our WHOLE ENTIRE LIVES, and we simply MUST have a floaty white snowbeast dress with a zillion-layer veil, and be sure to consider a tiara, dear, because you KNOW you are a PRINCESS...

I saw a first communicant at church yesterday who not only had a tiara, but also a bride-like updo that was totally inappropriate for an 8-year-old. And I'm pretty sure she was wearing make-up. I just thought "hoo, boy, talk about missing the point of the Sacrament. Bet you and your family are going to go NUTS when you get married..."

Second: I think gay couples will probably vary on this as much as straight couples do, i.e. some will be at 20 - 30 K and some will be down closer to John's $85 plus dinner. But at the beginning, when there's the novelty, I'd say it's more likely to average near the higher end than the lower end.

Angela said...

You're dead on. I have a friend who swears $20,000 will just cover the catering costs of her wedding. Me? I'm aiming for under $5,000, and that's including the honeymoon.

And for your question on how much is the mark-up on weddings: a customer of a friend is a wedding planner, and she makes 10% off of whatever you spend on your wedding. If you spend %15 grand on your wedding, you have to add another $1500 on top of that for her fee. Insane.

Vacuero! said...

we spent 5000 on our wedding, that included our Honeymoon.

the honeymoon was 3000 haha

Ryan Fuller said...

If weddings are a spending contest, I think the rules ought to be written in such a way that whoever gets closest to matching John's budget wins.