On Valentine’s Day this year, The Knot released their 2018 Real Wedding Study, which they describe as “the most comprehensive study of Americans married in 2018.” I’ll take their word for it. It took this long for me to respond to this obviously very important report because I’ve spent the last two weeks coming to terms with the fact that not only will I (presumably) one day have to stand in front of all my family friends and actually admit to experiencing an emotion, but also that I’m going to have to pay probably somewhere in the ballpark of $50K to do it. Yes. Fifty-thousand dollars.
If you’ve ever watched a single TLC show in your life, the fact that the weddings make up a multi-billion dollar industry shouldn’t surprise you. What should surprise you is that most of these couples think that their photo booths/hashtags/cupcake bars/flower crowns/rustic-meets-whimsical-weddings are even the slightest bit unique. Sorry Tiffany, but every girl in your sorority will be making her bridesmaids wear blush (even though it’s basically a flesh tone on the paler amongst us, but WHATEVER). It doesn’t matter if you think you did it first.
Before diving in to the highlights, I think it’s important to note that we here at Betches are not anti-wedding. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We love any excuse to dress up, drink to excess, and make fun of people we went to college with. Sure, it’s expensive and sometimes soul-crushing, but so is everything else we do. At least with weddings, we’re guaranteed a few good photos and some bomb cake.
But to be entirely honest, this report has brought out my inner cynic because it’s just made it so apparent that weddings are a business before anything else. Not only that, but they’re a business built on a rock-hard foundation of trying to outdo every single one of your friends while pretending that you aren’t.
Let’s be real—we aren’t out here spending on average $30K (but realistically more) to prove that we love our significant other. We’re doing it so that we can talk about it for the next 20 years of our lives. So we can post TBT’s once a week for the next three years. So we can hold up our own “big day” against every other “big day” that we attend until our next “big day” because, spoiler alert, half of us are getting divorced anyway.
I’m fun at parties. I swear. Bring me as a date to your next wedding. Let’s break down how much people are really spending on weddings, according to The Knot.
Average wedding cost: $33,931
If, like me, you are incapable of contextualizing numbers, let me help you. The median household income in December 2018 was $63,517. For the 2017–2018 academic school year, the average cost of tuition was $34,740. The average wedding is just about the same cost as a year’s worth of rent for an average two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. Not sure if I’ve actually clarified anything here, but I have severely depressed myself about the state of the world.
Most expensive place to get married: Manhattan – $96,910
This feels obvious. Don’t get married in Manhattan. Who do you think you are, Blair Waldorf?
Least expensive place to get married: Idaho – $16,366
To be fair, though, you couldn’t pay me $16K to get married in Idaho.
Average wedding gown cost: $1,631
Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress in my time, but this actually feels lower than I would have guessed? Are all of the surveyed brides hitting the Kleinfeld sample sale? If so, they are braver women than I.
Average number of guests: 136
This is especially tragic because I promise you that not one person on God’s green earth can name 136 people they’d happily spend the average $70 a plate for.
If you’re still experiencing sticker shock, allow me to help you by giving you a list of The Knot’s top 10 most expensive places to get married. Either avoid these wedding destinations, or, if you and your family and friends already live there, start
crying saving up now, I suppose.
1. NY – Manhattan $96,910
2. NY – Long Island $66,409
3. IL – Chicago $60,294
4. Rhode Island $59,201
5. MA – Cape Cod $58,425
6. NJ – North/Central $58,107
7. NY – Westchester/Hudson Valley $57,678
8. NY – NYC Outer Boroughs $56,967
9. NJ – South $47,148
10. Philadelphia/Delaware $46,640
So basically, the takeaway here is, don’t get married in the New York/New Jersey area! Great, great.
As for how the hell people are affording weddings that are way more than my annual salary (in Manhattan, anyway)? Part of it is preparation—92% of Generation Z-ers reported that being financially stable before marriage is very important to them. In other words, they’re not getting married until they know they can afford it without going into credit card debt (which might be why your boyfriend hasn’t proposed yet—or it could just be because he plans to lead you on indefinitely). But experts at The Knot say affording your dream wedding—whether it’s $1,000 or $100,000—is all about budgeting. (Hit me up in the comments if you’re able to successfully pull off a $1,000 wedding.) The Knot says, “it’s important to figure out what you want to spend early on in your planning process.” Once you’ve done that, determine your priorities. “Sit down with your partner and list out the three or four things about your wedding that are the most important to you both,” The Knot advises—whether it’s a baller cake, a gorgeous venue, or yes, even a tattoo artist. Then spend your money accordingly.
But as for how they can actually pay for it? As my friend who recently got married says, “You save over time and pay in installments.” The Knot advises, “Consider putting all the money you’ve saved for your wedding into a separate account, so you can easily track additions and withdrawals without getting it confused with the rest of your day-to-day funds. Pay for as many of your expenses as possible on a credit card that gives you added benefits like airline mileage, rewards or cash back. Everyone making wedding-related purchases (your partner, parents and so on) should all be on the same card system, allowing you to benefit from the rewards you accrue and easily track of your deposits, payments and purchases.” And, of course, “to avoid credit card fees, pay the bill off in full each month.” And if you need help budgeting, The Knot offers couples a wedding budget tool online and in The Knot Wedding Planner app, so they can continuously update their spending and stay on track financially.
Images: Jenny Russell / Unsplash; Giphy (4); girlsthinkimfunny / Instagram