The Real Reason You Will Have Sticker Shock While Planning Your Wedding
When it comes to planning the most important day of your life, everyone expects to pay a pretty hefty price and are happy to do so! However, it never fails, that as the costs start adding up, everyone cocks their head to their side and starts to wonder “Is there a wedding tax?”
The harsh reality is there isn’t a wedding tax. Unfortunately, we as both a society and an industry have set our selves up for sticker shock when it comes to weddings. We feel uncomfortable sharing how much we spent on our wedding (unless we got a killer, unrealistic deal). Also, the industry itself isn’t transparent with pricing, because it often is providing custom work, and vendors are afraid that showing their prices will scare customers away. Even the biggest names in the industry, which produce reports on what the average couple is spending on their wedding, are basing costs on what couples put into the budget portion of their planning app. Unfortunately, most people don’t fully fill those out, and almost always drop them once a planner is on board. In fact, if you look at the average cost of a wedding planner in any of those reports, what you are seeing is actually the average cost of a day of wedding coordinator.
All of this leaves couples woefully unprepared to start effectively planning for what they are actually going to spend on their wedding. Often they recruit a person they can truly be honest with about what they paid, who has gone through a wedding of the same social status, and understands their own financial situation. This person is generally called mom or dad and this parental figure most likely last celebrated their big white wedding in the 1980s. Unfortunately, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices have gone up about 200% since the 1980’s. This means for every $100 your parents spent on their wedding, you will spend about $300. Most people, don’t think of the change in the buying power of the dollar over the span of their lifetime, making our most trusted source, unable to give us accurate pricing information.
So that leaves us with the question, what is a realistic price or budget for a wedding?
Unfortunately, that question is extraordinarily complicated! There are a lot of answers which are made more complicated by social expectations, geographic region, and the particular situation of the couple getting married. Luckily we here at DC Engaged, have noticed a particularly fascinating correlation between cars and weddings. It just so happens that people tend to spend about the same amount of money on a wedding as they would if they where in the market for a car.
If you happen to be a Prince with a Bugatti (costing approximately $1.7 million), you will probably drop over a million on your wedding, because a $20,000 oil change is no big deal! That isn’t what the average person is paying or driving though. There are plenty of people in the world who just want a good solid car that will get them to work without causing too many headaches from a break down and generally looks nice.
The median price for a standard car probably sits somewhere around the $35,000 to $50,000 mark and in the wedding world that is a pretty reasonable wedding.
Now if you want something with a little flash to make the neighbors jealous and keep up with the Jones’ you will probably start to step it up and get that Porsche 911 Carerra of weddings, you are starting to look at about $100,000. With each step in luxury for a car, there is an equivalent step in luxury for your wedding. The reason is because weddings, like cars, serve a practical function, as well as, a status symbol Often times, those that have the liquidity and desire to buy a Ferrari, also have the liquidity and desire to pay the same on a wedding.
Also, just like in cars, the number of people you have to carry impacts your costs. If you have a large family and friend group, you may need some extra seats in your car and your wedding. This means that you are probably going to have to get a van or SUV, over a 2-seat roadster, and have a larger 300 person wedding. This would cost the same as the smaller high-end wedding, but in a different way. You can also choose to put your love of the environment into your car in the form of a hybrid, and your wedding in the form of a eco-friendly wedding. Both of these have an added cost, but if these costs are worth it to you, then they won’t matter.
At the end of the day, you can always take the walk to work and go to the courthouse for your wedding. There is absolutely no shame in that! You can get a used car and fix the engine yourself, just as you can DIY your flowers and find some really great deals if you hunt for bargains and aren’t afraid to make it work sometimes! DIY can also mean you are fixing up a 1960’s convertible Beetle with so much wonderful retro flair that it doesn’t “save you money”, but expresses your vintage style. At the end of the day, you spend what you want to spend on your wedding based off your values, your financial situation, and your feelings of social pressure. All weddings by there nature are beautiful and the marriage is always what is most important!
Finding the right wedding, is like finding the right car. They both have to have the features you care about, for the amount you are willing to spend. However, we believe that you should also be aware of what you should expect when you start to financially prepare for your wedding.