Wedding Costs from the Dude’s Perspective

If you’ve watched past the commercial break on My Fair Wedding or actually been to one, you may have gathered that getting married costs a few dollars. Or tens of thousands of them! Although, as a dude, there were some costs I missed: before I got married, I was not expected to make an appointment at Kleinfeld or tell a camera crew, “The dress chose me, y’all!” There are some moments you can’t put a price on. Our parents, who work hard and live unflashy upper-middle class suburban lives, decided to splurge a bit and helped us with most of the costs but I still went pretty broke on it. Here’s where the money went:

The engagement ring: We’ve been living together for the past few years. Before I proposed, we went to Beverly Hills (hey, don’t do this!) and went to every fancy jeweler in the neighborhood. I wanted to make sure I bought the right thing and we figured we’d start with the best and work our way down, which slightly happened. We both liked a small, shimmery ring at Tiffany’s, her favorite movie is Breakfast at Tiffany’s and you can guess how this ended.

I bought it with help from an inheritance from my grandmother, who was a classy lady and would’ve approved. I did enough research to learn diamonds are priced on size, color and clarity, and as long as you’re in the upper range, you can give up a couple of notches on the latter two if you want a bigger rock. (Let’s be honest: You do.) Or you can not buy a diamond at Tiffany’s, or opt for a gem that doesn’t star in politically fraught Leonardo DiCaprio movies. (Nope.) The day I went in, I had the choice between a .42 carat stone and a .57 one in my chosen band—I went for the bigger one. Pre-#YOLO, even! Cost: ~$8,000

The proposal: I surprised her in the living room of our one-bedroom apartment after work. We went out for cake and coffee at Sweet Lady Jane’s after calling our parents. Cost: $20.

Conversations with my mother over our year-plus engagement: Hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours. Cost: Free, I think! Thanks, Verizon. (Mom pays my phone bill.)

My wedding wardrobe At 5’8”, I had a hard time finding a suit that fit properly and had one done made-to-measure at L.A.’s Thick as Thieves, who made me a beautiful, full-canvas wool-silk blend garment that would’ve been twice as much at Bloomingdale’s. Cost: $600. After buying brown pairs of Allen Edmonds dress shoes on eBay for months, I ordered a new pair in black, the Park Avenue model, for the wedding. $330. (You have to amortize serious dress shoes over the length of their use, so these are really only $15 a year. A bargain!) I bought a dress shirt and silk cuff links at Bloomingdale’s ($80, $8), wore a belt from Macy’s ($45) and socks from Uniqlo ($5, tops). Total: $1257. My parents covered the suit and shoes.

The groomsmen gift: We went a little overboard on our wedding party. I had a Best Man and six groomsmen. Instead of buying them cuff links or leather flasks or some other obvious thing they’d never use, I had wedding ties custom-made for them by L.A.’s the Windmill Club, who makes handsome short-run tie offerings every season. (Kevin Burrows, the proprietor, also co-wrote the upcoming Fuck Yeah Menswear book, so he’s kind of an expert.) We collaborated on the fabric and measurements and ended up making 10 – one for me and two for the dads. Cost: $900. Fuck.

The bachelor party: We skipped Vegas and drove from L.A. to San Diego, where we stayed at the Double Tree (cookies: free!) and went on a brewery tour. The guys covered this one and kept handing me $20s at the strip club. Total weekend costs, according to my ATM receipts: $100.

The rehearsal dinner: The night before we got married, we gathered an intimate group together at Stella Mare’s, drank a lot of wine and everybody gave speeches and cried. It was a really beautiful and cost nearly as much as the bluebook value of my car, which is a 2002 Toyota Camry. As is tradition, my parents paid for the dinner and the booze. My wardrobe for this: a Brooks Brothers jacket (on sale, $300-ish), a J. Crew dress shirt (on sale, $30), Brooks Brothers silk knit tie ($80), Uniqlo slacks ($30!), Paul Smith socks ($30, a gift) and Allen Edmonds shoes (eBay, $50). We saved on Instagram photography ($0).

The rental house Instead of a hotel, my groomsman, their plus-ones and I stayed in an enormous five-bedroom house 15 minutes from the wedding for the weekend. It included a ping-pong table, guitars and an ocean. If they ever do a Real World: Santa Barbara, they can film it here. Total cost for two nights, split 10 ways: $1350.

The wedding: Her parents graciously volunteered to cover most of the costs with my folks picking up the rest, which we mutually agreed should be kept at a reasonable, un-splurge-y rate. “Reasonable” being a word with an extremely stretchy definition after we decided to get married in her hometown of Santa Barbara, Calif., which happens to be one of the wedding capitals of the world. We struggled a bit with the “Who should pay for what” conversations: both sets of parents were trying to be generous and kind, which was a good problem to have but meant there was confusion over the levels of funding needed. We sorted this out over the phone, obviously.

We put the bulk of the money toward a caterer and the venue, a beautiful park overlooking the ocean, which we thought we’d get a bargain on since it wasn’t the Four Seasons. That was before we installed a tent with a chandelier for the reception. We both have large-ish families and didn’t want to skim on friends, which meant we wound up with about 160 people in attendance at the caterer’s per-plate rate.

After attempting to plan everything ourselves for about a year, we caved and sprung for a wedding planner, who gave us a nice last-minute rate and saved us the infinite psychological price of day-of panic attacks. Headaches aside, once we arrived, everything was perfect. The DJ surprised us with “Ni**as in Paris” after a half-hour of our snobby indie-rock, which was a highlight, and the cake would’ve made Rick Ross weep. Total cost: I’d rather not put a number on my in-law’s generosity, but let’s say it was about a year’s worth of Ivy League education, give or take a private dorm. 1

1 Harvard tuition is $37,576. Health Services Fee, $930. Student Services Fee, $2,360. Room, $8,366. Board, $5,264. Subtotal, $54,496

The honeymoon Her grandmother booked us two nights at San Ysidro Ranch, which costs more than our rent. We ordered champagne room service ($200), burger room service ($110), breakfast room service ($140), had a Swedish massage ($100) and listened to Rick Ross in the private hot tub (Rdio subscription: $4.99). We’re going on a longer honeymoon next spring in Europe that we’ll be paying for, which is why we’re still living in a one-bedroom apartment and eating canned tuna.

All in all, having an amazing, disaster-free wedding was worth the money and the months of planning, even if it means a lifetime of guilt/gratitude to our parents, who are now flawless saints. If we could’ve gotten paid in “We had the best time at your wedding!” we would’ve broken even, and what more could we ask for? We did manage to do it without quite spending Say Yes to the Dress dollars, which: Netflix subscription, $7.99 a month. Watch the Atlanta spin-off first, it’s the best.

David Greenwald is a Los Angeles journalist/husband.

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136 Comments / Post A Comment

Megano! (#124)

So, what is the point of a rehearsal dinner, exactly?

deepomega (#22)

@Megano! It’s a more intimate meal with Important People, which is variously defined as: Parents, people in from out of town, people participating in the wedding itself who were therefor at the rehearsal.

wearitcounts (#772)

@Megano! it’s usually to offer a meal to out-of-town guests and bridal party members as a thank you for the travel/bridal party expenses. also, fun and mingling.

ghechr (#596)

@Megano! Also, before the dinner, the people in the wedding party actually rehearse the wedding ceremony (at least that’s what we did at my wedding?). So the dinner is like, right after the rehearsal.

Megano! (#124)

@ghechr I would rather just have a smaller wedding/those are the only people I would invite anyway.

sally (#917)

@Megano! It is valuable for introducing members of the wedding party who come from different ends of your life, as I learned when a friend that I bridesmaided for decided a rehearsal dinner would cost too much, and rehearsal was some hand-waving, and I lined up to process with a guy I had never laid eyes on, much less been introduced to, who apparently had gotten into the reefer on the way to church. Later, when we had to dance together, he didn’t recognize me.

A rehearsal dinner, instead of making your friends go buy themselves dinner in the hotel, makes your wedding a lot more fun.

bibliostitute (#285)

@sally Yes. Totally clutch! It will allow your buddy who just landed in America three days ago to go to your wedding some time to cry himself out about how wonderful it all is so that he will actually read English and not tears. And meet some amazing grandparents who he will call pistols, and mean it!
Not that this, uh, happened to me or anything.

@Megano! Without giving short shrift to anything else, I would say my rehearsal dinner was the favorite part of my wedding. We went out for pizza! Our families met–for the FIRST TIME! It was really fun and chill and lovely and it was at our favorite pizza joint and it was a blast. It definitely set the tone, and it was cheap as a mofo, and it made everyone excited about the wedding.

deepomega (#22)

Oh god oh god just the IDEA of buying a diamond ring in Beverly Hills is giving me vapors. There’s a diamond district right downtown dude!

deepomega (#22)

@deepomega Also what kind of “one month’s rent for the honeymoon” are we talking? A month’s rent from a studio in Palms? A month’s rent from a two bedroom in Silver Lake? This is a big spread!

madrassoup (#929)

@deepomega But there is no movie called “A Bacon and Egg Sandwich in the Diamond District!”

shannowhamo (#845)

@deepomega I….don’t understand spending that much money on a tiny piece of easily loseable jewelry. And I instantly dislike any woman who insists on a diamond, which might make me mean and judgey.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@shannowhamo There with you on both those points!

littleoaks (#1,801)

“burger room service ($110)”

Of all things, this tidbit is the one that made me go “WHAAAA?!” aloud.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@littleoaks They were WEDDING BURGERS. A bargain, when you think about it.

Beck (#2,269)

@littleoaks for me it was “mom pays my phone bill”

julebsorry (#1,572)

Just had a weird emotional roller coaster ride from reading this article, followed by the “my parents drove me to the bank and told me to get a loan” article:

“So unfair! Everyone else’s families are so generous! My wedding would have been so much nicer/easier if my family had pitched in like this guy’s did…”
“Oh wow, I am SO LUCKY my parents paid for room and board on top of my full-ride scholarship…my family is so generous!”

Perspective, y’all.

deepomega (#22)

@julebsorry More money doesn’t make weddings easier, it just makes them more expensive. Wedding costs expand to fill all available budgets.

synchronia (#185)

@julebsorry I hear you, AND… can we *please* ban the word “nicer” as applied to spending-more-money, especially for weddings? “Fancier”? “More high-end”? I could even allow “classier” since at least that admits class has something to do with it.

raptor41d (#1,404)

@deepomega and synchronia Yeah, more money does not necessarily equal “nicer.” We spent about $6,000 on our wedding. And by “we”, I mean our parents. My dad told his coworkers what I had set the budget at, and they did not believe such a thing was possible. But it was.

Anyway, because of a confluence of stuff that I claim little to no credit for–timing, who was able to attend, and some luck with the weather–it was a truly awesome party. At each wedding we’ve been to since, we’ve had friends come up to us and say, “This is great, but your guys’ wedding–that was amazing.”

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@synchronia And yet, spending that much on a wedding is also the opposite of “class.” So it works in multiple ways.

Emma Peel (#317)

@WaityKatie Why? I don’t think anyone should HAVE to spend that on a wedding, I wouldn’t think less of anyone who celebrated in other ways, and it’s pretty clear the writer’s was a fairly upscale celebration (bespoke ties whut?!) but not Donald Trump-style over-the-top. I don’t think it’s “the opposite of ‘class’” unless they’re using the money to serve sushi on body models or something tacky like that. If you have the money and you want to throw a gorgeous party, what’s wrong with that?

I wouldn’t spend that much, but my parents have made it clear that their contribution to my wedding will be to show up and be happy for me, and I can’t fathom the income I would need to make to be comfortable dropping upwards of $50K on a party — a hell of a lot more than I make now, that’s for sure.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@Emma Peel It’s a matter of opinion, obviously, but mine is that spending that much on a party is pretty stomach-turning. If you (or your parents) have that much just lying around, there are ample numbers of things to spend that on that could actually make the world better. I mean, people can obviously do what they want with their money, but they can’t make me like it.

Genghis Khat (#584)

@WaityKatie Money is there to be spent on things one enjoys. I think weddings come in for extra scrutiny because they’re perceived as a female thing (even though they often involve at least one dude) whereas say, getting a nice car does not. Some people can afford different things than other people, and not everyone is obligated to craft their wedding dress out of lentils and serve their guests bbq in a public park.

-A veteran of the Jezebel wedding wars

deepomega (#22)

@Genghis Khat This is true. But also, wedding things are inflated in price, because there is a huge culture created around carefully making your wedding The Best. Just like diamond cartels invented demand for diamonds, the WIC invented demand for huge fucking cakes that still cost twice what a huge fucking cake that wasn’t labeled “wedding” would cost.

(If they got a 75,000 dollar car and said that was the “non-splurge-y” option, you think nobody would criticize them?)

Genghis Khat (#584)

@deepomega As someone says downthread,I think it’s a don’t hate the player hate the game situation. People who have expensive weddings are not tacky.

I don’t own a car and take the bus. A prius costs about what a wedding costs, and I’m not going to tell someone who buys one of those that they are tacky and I am classy, and I don’t think anyone thinks a prius is like a jag. These are not like, celebrity wedding costs we’re talking about here.

I agree that there is too much pressure for weddings to cost a lot, and that it’s a rip off, but I don’t think it makes people who do them tacky or a fool just like a don’t think owning a nice car makes one tacky or a fool.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Genghis Khat You could really argue that buying brand-new cars is tacky and also maybe foolish. Buying something you know is overpriced is also debatably both things. I don’t think it’s scandalous to say that, I mean, there’s a reason people like to buy things on sale or shop around or go to thrift stores.

So people should spend whatever they want, but I do think spending can have ethical or moral markers attached to it and I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

Genghis Khat (#584)

@aetataureate Oh I definitely agree that spending has ethical implications and is political, but I also think that in particular wedding spending is scrutinized out of proportion with other expensive things.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@Genghis Khat I wouldn’t call it tacky (because I don’t really use that word) but I would call spending 50-70,000 dollars on anything, including a car, wrong. I just think that it is ethically wrong to spend on consumer goods (which includes weddings) what could support a family for a year. Yep, I’m a judgmental bitch, but that’s how I feel. I don’t care if it’s a cake or a Land Rover, honestly.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Genghis Khat Yup, I agree. There is something really obnoxious about spending like that, we can just both be judgemental B’s. And eventhough the writer didn’t share the total cost of the wedding, spending over a grand on the groom’s wardrobe speaks volumes! My whole bridal getup wasn’t a grand, not even close! BUT my husband is the same height as the writer- he got a suit (Men’s Wearhouse, very classy) BOGO with my dad no problemo, they do this thing called tailoring.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Genghis Khat The funny thing is, I totally disagree with the notes under mine qualifying spending as purely about the total amount, because to ignore quality of goods and relative lifestyle is really misguided. We shouldn’t eliminate all high-quality items and think that will somehow alleviate poverty. People can spend their money how they want and when you buy a certain car or piece of clothing you’re getting a certain level of quality. But to knowingly overspend or pay for status or social appearances is a separate thing. Like, to spend $8,000 on a small diamond that isn’t even ethically sourced, that is a total headscratcher. As someone in this thread said somewhere, how does it feel having that hang over your head?

cmoney (#2,344)

@WaityKatie

Right, but if people don’t spend that kind of money on consumer goods, then the people who make those goods would be out of a job and there would be more people in need and the cycle would spin out of control. Remember all that money spent means people got paid. The LA economy in particular, is especially dependent on lavish events.

If it makes you feel better, by spending the money that means that the government can tax it as income (and probably at the highest marginal rate) and get further sales taxes, funding a lot of the social welfare programs less advantaged people need to survive. If they donated that money they would be able to deduct it from their gross income (which potentially means lower tax brackets and thus less taxes overall on the remaining money) and we would have no control over where it goes (and most individual donations go to churches and religious organizations).

TL;DR version: Our economy basically requires that rich people spend their money instead of hoarding it/donating it all away to charities of their own choosing. To criticize people for doing so is wrong-headed and terribly destructive.

@shannowhamo No offense to Men’s Wearhouse, but that suit will be stiff and hot and not last nearly as long as the one I bought for another couple hundred bucks. (And which funded an American small business.) The wardrobe was purposefully an investment — I’ll be wearing the suit, shoes and tie on a regular basis for years to come.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@cmoney Yeahhhh, I’m not really buying this, sorry. I’m sure the palace at Versailles employed a lot of people too. An economy that depends on a handful of plutocrats showering pennies down (or trickling them down, if you prefer) on the masses is not really that great.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@WaityKatie with you. Those who lost their jobs in the luxury industry would just adapt and enter the mid-range industry, because if there was higher demand for it, more jobs would be created there.
Yes, some would lose their jobs and not adapt, but the world’s Darwinian like that.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Critty Pryde@twitter He wears a suit once a year, I think it’ll hold up just fine for his needs. BUT it’s true, you can invest in a suit but you can’t use your height as an excuse to get it custom- if you want a custom suit, own it. Any idea how much the bride’s dress was? Because unless she’s planning to wear it for her second wedding, it ain’t no investment.

cmoney (#2,344)

@WaityKatie

I mean what do you propose they do with the money instead? We live in a capitalist economy that only works when people SPEND money. This is not a trickle-down economics argument. Trickle-down economics is when rich people argue that they should have to pay lower taxes because then they will have more money to spend which will boost the economy. The problem is that they don’t spend the money in ways that directly employ more people, but invest it into things that largely serve to make them even wealthier. Here, we have an example of people actually putting the money directly into the economy, which if all wealthy people did then the trickle-down argument could potentially work.

As I mentioned above, I like taxing the wealthy! But you can’t tax them if they donate all their money to charity. The more these people donate their money the less the government gets to have. We have no control over where people donate their money (you get the same tax deduction for donating to Focus on the Family as you do for donating to the HRC). For example, wouldn’t you rather have Dan Cathy (President of Chik-Fil-A) spend all his money extravagantly and be taxed than donate it to his borderline hate groups? I understand the distaste at extravagant displays of wealth, but it’s not like these people are lighting their money on fire when they throw a massive wedding. It all goes back into the economy. What would you propose they do as an alternative? Most charities wouldn’t be able to as effectively help as many people as the government could with that money anyways.

Also, to be honest, $600 for a custom-made suit that the author will wear again is a bargain. Go into most department stores and their off-the-rack suits (which need tailoring costing $20-$100) will cost more than that. Even suits at Men’s Wearhouse hover around the $300 mark before factoring in tailoring costs (except during sales) and they will never look as good or last as long or be as comfortable as the custom made suit (which considering they still cost $300 is problematic).

Mad respect for your willingness to put these numbers out there. Seriously. It drives me crazy to read articles about wedding planning without actual sums of money attached to them.

@TheclaAndTheSeals RIGHT? I’m very impressed.

bitzy (#1,630)

@TheclaAndTheSeals I second that! As evidenced above, there is so much judgement towards spending too much, spending too little, your MOM! pays for that?, that could buy a house!, etc. Thanks for putting it out there. I’ve been to weddings that cost $5000 and ones that cost $100,000 and there really was not that much of a difference between them. When I started planning ours, my dad (who mostly paid for it, so.) said the only things the guests care about, after basic food and shelter, is a happy couple, music, and copious alcohol.

thematt (#1,017)

So about $75K all-in. That’s (1) about what I expect to spend next year, (2) something like 18 months’ income for an average American, and (3) depressing for both of those reasons.

(And echo @TheclaAndTheSeals – I would’ve appreciated seeing honest numbers like this before I started planning my own wedding.)

@thematt I wish there were more transparency around wedding expenses, the way there’s starting to be more transparency with salaries. For most people, a wedding is the only time they’re going to hire a caterer, DJ/band, florist, etc. It’s hard to know what things cost in your region unless you have the time to call every vendor in every category. And there’s a lot of sticker shock for people, not surprisingly. A version of glassdoor.com but for weddings would be awesome.

(edited for grammar)

ElBlynx (#499)

@TheclaAndTheSeals Although you have to pay to be listed, A Practical Wedding Vendor Directory has prices for all services for businesses around the country. Most people don’t list their prices because of a combination of sticker shock and because they want to sell you on a quality of service before telling you how much it costs. Also, sometimes brave bride bloggers will post final prices for their events, so you can try to find some in your geographic area (Sorry, I’ve never come across a blogger groom–hopefully they exist, too!)

@ElBlynx I’m a regular APW reader and love that site. I haven’t found the vendor directory to be that helpful, though. I wish there were more florists, planners, giant tent people, A/V techs, etc. In my state, there are exactly zero APW-approved vendors.

I’m imagining a site kind of like these comments where people just write down the category and what they spent on it. It’d be interesting to see what people prioritized and get an idea of the upper and lower ranges. Like, the kind of info you’d get from your friends if you were ballsy/rude enough to ask to see their budgets.

synchronia (#185)

@TheclaAndTheSeals I got a lot out of this APW thread where commenters listed their budgets.

@synchronia Helpful!

madrassoup (#929)

I think I’m more hung up than I should be on the thought of drunk hipsters letting loose after a few cocktails and too much “snobby indie-rock” and singing alllll the lyrics to “Paris” (in a scene filled with so many ironies and disconnects that it feels indulgent to even point them out).

deepomega (#22)

@madrassoup Especially in Santa Barbara.

@madrassoup i’m more upset that Dave didn’t acknowledge that I had pre-requested the song on his dj’s website, which is a thing you can do these days I guess. and yes, the bride’s father was getting down to it.

Dancercise (#94)

“I got you a wedding ring… tone.”

deepomega (#22)

OK, as another dude who got married in April, in LA, here are my numbers! All include tax and gratuity already. (People getting married: Don’t forget tax and gratuity!)

We had 90ish guests, and our food was a food truck, which cost us about 19 bucks per head for all you can eat tacos. No drinks, we did that ourselves. So 1700ish.
Venue was about 3500, including 500 for a parking lot, a couple hundred for paying security and staff, etc. Was way bigger than our guest list, since we had a ton of out of town people who didn’t make it. The real advantage was that it was gorgeous without decoration, and they let us provide food and DJ and alcohol ourselves. (Also that it was several thousand dollars cheaper than other comparable places.)
Clothes: 1100 or so between the two of us. I actually spent more on my suit+shoes+shirt than she did on her dress and shoes and etc., because I am vain.
Alcohol: About 900 bucks, plus another 200ish to pay a friend to bartend. We bought the liquor at the 30% off sale at Ralph’s, the wine at the BevMo 5 cent sale.
Cake: My sorta-sister made a billion cupcakes, at great cost to her sanity. We paid for incredients, which I think ended up being 100-200 ish.
Rings: 70 each, silver rings from Bario Neale jewelers. We thought about getting non-silver rings, but they are BASICALLY visually identical, so at a certain point you’re paying to not have to explain why you only have silver rings. No engagement ring, because diamonds are terrible and multiple rings are weird, but there WAS an engagement bike and also an engagement kitten. 500ish for both.
Music: 600 bucks for a DJ-dj, not a wedding-dj. He was amazing, provided his own equipment, and did an awesome job
Staff: We hired two PA friends and one who does second AD shit to do the day-of coordination. Great decision, cost 400.
Accidental bachelor party expenses: It is a long story (no it isn’t, it’s a short story that involves a lot of booze) but I picked up the tab for the whole thing. Oops. 500 bucks.
Other foods, furniture rentals, etc.: Another 1500 or so total, including snacks, tables, chairs, etc.
Honeymoon: We went to Australia for two weeks, and it was easily the most expensive single thing. 5000ish for the whole thing.

Total: I dunno, I think around 13000 for the wedding, plus 5000 for the honeymoon? I’m probably missing a few expenses, but that’s the gist. So you do not HAVE TO spend 75,000 on a wedding, guys, and doubling our guest list would only have affected staff, food and alcohol costs. We could’ve done it for 150 for under 20,000 I think.

deepomega (#22)

@deepomega Oh, shit, rehearsal dinner – that was the one part that our parents paid for, and it was about 2 or 3 grand for 18 or so people. We got the back room of a fancy fucker of a restaurant that my dad loves. It was great! Our original plan had been a pizza party, but they insisted.

And also I guess full disclosure, between various parents and grandparents we got about 5 grand in wedding gifts – so while it’d be nice to say we “paid for all of it” obviously they’re gonna try and do SOMETHING.

Slutface (#53)

@deepomega Your wedding sounds awesome! Congrats!

ElBlynx (#499)

@deepomega Tax and gratuity really do add up, especially when you pay those on top of something like a catering bill that includes food, labor, permits, and rentals.

That said, we managed to have two weddings (with 100+ people each) for under $25,000. Secret one, you can have a baller wedding in Central America for not a lot of money in a way that supports the local community. You can have a scaled-back, but still full-on celebration in one of the most expensive cities on the West Coast through being creative, supporting small businesses, and not giving a f*ck about bullsh*t. The best weddings I’ve been to are all about celebrating the couple and the people who have supported them over the years. The worst weddings are where the guests don’t feel taken care of and the couple is MIA for most of the event. More money does not mean a better or more fun wedding!

I should probably never get married because I would just blow the whole budget trying to hire Grandmaster Flash.

deepomega (#22)

@Reginal T. Squirge This was my big concession to the realities of budgets – I wanted a live band originally, but, uh, YOWZA

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@deepomega Thanks for sharing your numbers with us. I’m happy to see someone point out that you can have an awesome wedding in LA for less than 75 grand (or whatever we are speculating the total was here.) I think you were really smart to try and look for non “wedding” vendors etc.

One of the most effed up parts of planning one of these things is that everything magically gets converted to “wedding dollars” instead of, you know, actual dollars. Everything becomes suddenly relative, like, yeah this cake is 3,000 bucks, but it’s a Wedding. Cake. Yeah this photographer will cost one thousand dollars an hour, but these are Wedding. Photos.

Logic flies out the window and suddenly you find yourself calling a $50k party “reasonable” and “un-splurge-y.”

I’m not even trying to bash this author, because I had a wedding myself, so I know what happens to the brain. What’s crazy to me though, is that after all was said and done I was “proud” that my beautiful, blog-worthy wedding cost “only” 11 thousand dollars, 10 of which were paid by my mother.

Only 11 thousand dollars? Two years later I still think about that money. I cannot believe that a single day in my life could have cost so much. It was an amazing, perfect wedding, etc etc but holy shit.

I don’t even know what I would do with a $75,000 wedding hanging over me. How does that even feel?

Again, I’m not trying to suggest that there’s anything wrong with this author’s parents choosing to spent their own money that way. But maybe calling it “reasonable” is a bit of a stretch? Maybe by Southern California Wedding Industrial Complex terms you could say that, but maybe it’s dangerous to think in such terms? 75k is still 75k, right?

deepomega (#22)

@AnnieNilsson This is what the WIC is for – normalizing complete insane costs. I actually lied to our venue rep about what the party was to get the non-wedding price, which they honored. We also had my dad and our friends do the photography, which was super low-key, and knocks a couple grand off the budget right there. We basically treated it like a party, not a wedding, which helped a LOT.

But, yes, bashing anyone for any wedding costs is bad, because people exist in a culture of fucked-up-ness, and it is EXTREMELY tough to not get sucked into wedding attitudes about what you should and should not be paying for.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@deepomega If you do that at the wrong place, and they see a bride and groom, you will get the wedding bill, so be careful how you recommend that. I know a limo service that said if they come to pick someone up in a wedding gown and they aren’t paying for the wedding limo service, they keep driving.

Worker Parasite (#2,292)

@deepomega Food truck yessss! Had a taco truck at my recent wedding, was delicious and so incredibly affordable!

shannowhamo (#845)

@deepomega Your wedding does not make me gag like the writer’s! It actually sounds alot like my wedding this past April! We couldn’t bring in our own booze so we had to spend more on that but our Ipod was our DJ so we saved it there (spent about the same overall.)

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@deepomega
“But there was an engagement bike and an engagement kitten”
Seriously printing off your whole wedding cost analysis for my in-laws…

@deepomega Now I will inevitably be disappointed by any proposal that does not include an engagement kitten. Thanks for that.

But seriously, your wedding sounds great! Hiring people for coordination just on the day of seems like a great idea

AJ Sparkles (#150)

@deepomega I am sorry this is going to be such a long rant, but you really hit a nerve with the lying to your rep. I have spent 10years in catering & this has happened to me (which is why it is such a nerve) & every time it just fucks my staff. If I tell you that you need 4 servers to do xy&z & you are maliciously withholding information that would change your labor cost- well, golly, you get your price, but you are just ripping off my staff. These guys then have to bust their asses to do twice the work in the same amount of time- which means the same pay. Sometimes the owners will dig into their profits to say thank you for busting it out, but that rarely happens. Events are already brutal & if you lie, that fucks the planning, that just makes it even harder for the people who are working to make your day awesome.

And you can say “I didn’t lie about something about something like that, the venue wasn’t effected or anything.” Well, one, yeah, there is more liability for a wedding than say a corporate fundraiser, cause drunks & two, just the idea that you needed to do so- that really illustrates the challenge in providing a wedding related service. People are kinda temporarily insane while planning a wedding. There are inadequacy fears wrapped in entree choices & judgmental in-laws helping you pick out the china. Some people do things & act in ways that are entirely unacceptable outside of their mostimportantday (such as lying).

@AnnieNilsson- That “thing that happens to the brain” is unleashed on your vendors & that is why we charge wedding prices. The. Corporate Fundraiser. Chicken. does not come with emails questioning what the guests will think of them that there is no steak option. The. Wedding. Chicken. on the other hand, does come with those emails & maybe also a frantic phone call on your day off to discuss if it is tacky to have disposable plates or not (answer: totally cool if they are compostable). So, no, I do not think it is unreasonable to quote more for a wedding because it is hellalot more work, time & frustration. If your response to that is to just lie in hopes of pulling a fast one & receiving a better price, you are only perpetuating the cycle. The way you break the cycle is by being honest, tell your rep what you want, tell them your budget, have a conversation. This is not the last day of your life & really is it the most important? If y’all stop treating it as this “has to be perfect day” & “a true reflection of who you are as a couple” then we’ll stop charging you more to deal with that insane notion.

And.. then we’d all just have potlucks & I’d be unemployed… but still, less crazy, it’s a good idea!

ennaenirehtac (#199)

@shannowhamo That was what I came here to say: wedding DJs suck, and iPod playlists of songs you know your friends will dance to are sooo much better (and cheaper).

littleoaks (#1,801)

@AJ Sparkles I am genuinely interested to know more about the additional work goes into catering a wedding versus another kind of event, both in terms of preparation (fielding more calls?) and the day of (wrangling drunks?).

deepomega (#22)

@AJ Sparkles I appreciate where you’re coming from, but if the only way to account for this is a blanket across-the-board Wedding Tax, then you’re going to screw over a lot of couples who don’t want those things and aren’t assholes about their wedding. For instance! I (the groom!) signed the contract without my fiancee ever having seen the venue in person, because it was exactly what we wanted and there was no reason to make her come out to see how great it was. (She’d seen photos online.)
We did not say “this is a corporate fundraiser,” we said “family party,” which I think is about the same amount of expectation of drunkenness, etc. Also we still paid for insurance, because you’re legally obligated to. The problem is that nobody will ever believe you if you say your wedding is going to not involve yelling at people, or that you genuinely don’t thing this is the “most important day of your life” – so you either have to pay that wedding tax because OTHER couples are assholes, or you have to lie to the vendors. It sucks.

Edit to add – it’d be AWESOME if vendors had tiered packages of quality of service. Pay more to get more phone calls freaking out about the food! Of course, my guess is you’d argue every wedding would need the highest, most comprehensive package, because every wedding goes full on bridezilla. And that’s just not true. Also, I should mention that I told all our vendors before we signed the contract that it was a wedding, I just lied to get the initial numbers from them.

bitzy (#1,630)

@deepomega Bands aren’t that expensive! Use gigmasters.com. You put in what you want (including price!) and they send it out to all bands that meet your criteria and they contact you. Within about 4 days of our listing, we got 8 bids that came with detailed prices, youtube accounts to see them play and hundreds of reviews from past events.

We got an awesome band for the whole night for around $1700 altogether (tax, tips, all that jazz), which was only a few hundred more than a DJ. Yes, they did play some of the cheesy wedding music (Shout!), but that’s what Aunt Alice, Mom’s college roommate, and your bar friends will all be dancing to. Also, the band leader MCed the whole shebang and learned our song for the first dance, which was awesome.

AJ Sparkles (#150)

@deepomega Thank you for elaborating that you did disclose that it was a wedding beforehand! That is entirely different than the surprises I have had thrown at me on the day of. As far as catering pricing & a “wedding tax,” that’s already a thing & I do it & I’d be happy to explain why!

There is no standard for the catering industry that dictates quote format. Some people calculate a flat package rate, a per guest cost (everyone will sell it to you like this), some line item everything & some just say, here’s the bottom line. Most of the time though, you will pretty consistently see something like “service charge” or “production charge” that is a percent of either the food & labor or just the food. (This is not a gratuity that goes to your servers as you would think a “service charge” would be. Really, the charge goes to paying rent & insurance & taxes & well, profit. Your servers don’t see a dime). Anyway, that % varies. What I set up is a standard 22% production charge for all weddings. If you have a wedding planner who will act as a buffer for the crazies, I’d drop it to 18% (18% is what I would charge for a family reunion or any other regular event). That said though (!) I have brought down that percent based on conversations with the couple who did not have a planner. There was one that was so laid back- it really was not a wedding. They had only passed appetizers & they wanted it to feel like a cocktail party. They were up front with their budget, communicated well & so I moved numbers around to make it happen within their budget. If you really feel you are not having a wedding-wedding, explain why & you may get a discount. It is a lot easier for me to remove a “batshit fee” at some point along in the process rather than tack on when things get all batshit. Also, it sounds like you guys were pretty cool about it- That might be why your rep still honored the initial quote.

AJ Sparkles (#150)

@littleoaks Oh, you got it! First off, I should disclose that I am in the process of changing careers & if I sound bitter, it’s becaue I am. So excuse my ‘tude & enjoy the rant.

Preparation: There is a lot more uncertainty & people change their minds & every time they do so, I MAKE A NEW QUOTE. That chicken example is in no way far fetched that I’d have a month of back & forth emails about how can they have a steak option but pay the chicken price. Can we just have less servers? No, never negotiable. What if we have smaller portions? No, that just makes me look unprofessional & you look cheap (No one will have anything to say about a happy belly full of chicken, but your guests will remember that they ran out of protein). Just to clarify, I am not judging someone if they cannot afford the steak. It is the emotional attachment to the steak that I find frustrating. If a corporate client tells me that they would like steak, tells me their budget & those things do not match, then I’d tell them what the price would be, & hey, you totally could do a great chicken & stay within your costs. Their decision is normally, “I’ll find more money” or “Great, let’s do the chicken.” If I have the same conversation with a couple planning a wedding, there is a lot more emotional attachment to the steak followed by back & forth decisions of do they want to go over budget in order to have steak or not. Yes. No. Yes. Wait. Well, what if… HOW CAN WE HAVE STEAK? On top of that, I find it comes from this really ugly place of feeling like their guests will be judging them & keeping score. No one is doing this. Your guests need to feel like they are taken care of & after that, they are busy dancing & celebrating & showing y’all with love. No one will remember. Make a decision. Stop the revisions.

As far as the day of: It’s mostly a matter of the shuffling of people. Most of my weddings would have the reception on one end of the property, followed by cocktails in another & then dinner in whole ‘nother location. Every time, a location is added it also adds- trash pick up, rentals- set up & break down & then all of the rentals need to come back to the same location to be processed. Trekking 150 chairs across the property is hell- especially at the end of a long night. Not only that, but even if you have one location, there a lot more “activities.” The cake cutting, passing the cake, champagne toasts, special flutes for the couple that are always lost until the minute before. There is always constant running in anticipation the next thing. & yeah to the drunk wrangling- people tend to get wasted at weddings. There is a higher probability of vomit or just stupid shit we’d have to deal with. There was one woman who was out of her fucking mind & she sliced open her foot on the dance floor. Our chef ended up driving her to the ER. Good times. I’m not saying that every wedding guarantees this kinda fun filled adventures, but it sure increases the chance.

'riella (#2,067)

This became 20x more hilarious after reading “Santa Barbara” if only because I now live in Isla Vista and the idea of anything classy or glamorous here would give anyone a giggling fit.

DarlingMagpie (#1,695)

Here’s the problem with the wedding industry in the current economy. He bought an $8000 engagement ring but his mom pays his phone bill? HUH?

deepomega (#22)

@DarlingMagpie Yes yes yes yes yes. The wedding industrial complex strikes again.

Emma Peel (#317)

@DarlingMagpie I mean, not that you shouldn’t have cut the cord by the time you’re of marrying age, but I’m 25, all my friends are employed and almost none of us pay our own phone bills. Family plans mean that extra lines cost a lot of parents about $10/month and/or it’s such an ingrained habit that it’s just never changed. My parents started to ask me to chip in once I hit $40K and was offered a work stipend for phone, but their attitude is “why should you pay $70/month for yourself when you can pay $10/month and stay on our plan.”

I do pay them back for data because they consider a smartphone a luxury while a phone is a necessity, and also, work stipend.

City_Dater (#565)

@DarlingMagpie

Thank you. I stopped reading right there, mumbling to myself, “if that is true, you are too young to get married, people.”

jfruh (#161)

@DarlingMagpie @City_Dater – I have lots of real genuine adult friends who do this! LIke a friend of mine who is 38 and I just attended his *second* wedding! I think it really is a matter of his parents only paying $5 per month per line for everyone and it’s been going on for so long that he actually feels like it would hurt their feelings if he switched.

readyornot (#816)

@DarlingMagpie I agree with jfruh; I think the family plan is just a way to get out from under kinda crazy monthly phone bills. Maybe ten years of family plan adds up to $8000, even if it doesn’t go to an engagement ring.

I would also really like to chime in and say, though, that we could really raise awareness around the whole engagement ring nonsense. You don’t need a bigger rock! You especially don’t need a bigger NEW rock! Buy a synthetic stone, go vintage, go for a cheaper colored stone (sapphires are traditional, not DeBeers white diamonds), give each other engagement watches (practical and symmetrical!), give each other a vacation. My now-husband’s mother was pretty adamant about giving us a family heirloom stone, so I now have a ring with both a diamond and a (personally significant) sapphire which I never wear, but I would never have had my fiance buy a new diamond. Your consumer choices have political consequences.

ciphressinchief (#1,880)

@Emma Peel Um where is this world where you can add a line for $5 – $10. I actually am asking. I just switched to verizon and am splitting the family plan with my sister and my share is $75? It’s $40/ month just to add another device, ie not including data. I feel like I may have a mistake…

deepomega (#22)

@ciphressinchief You save about ten bucks, usually, if you add another phone onto family plan. That’s still around 30-40. Definitely not “add five dollars,” although it used to be. Probably the people saying that haven’t seen the numbers in about 5 or 10 years.

shannowhamo (#845)

@deepomega It’s still alot cheaper than a plan by myself (says that 30 year old who’s married and who’s dad pays her cell phone…) $8000 engagement ring is nuts, cell phone paid by parents or not.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@ciphressinchief This is where magical old grandfathered in plans come in. You just switched- they are giving you the newest in suck-up-all-your-money plans. When my parents got me a cell phone in high school, family plans were actually still a new-ish thing, and we could add a line for $10/month. And since we’ve stuck with Sprint for all this time (like, 13-14 years since my parents got cell phones?) we keep our old awesome deal.

I’m 23, and my parents still pay my cell bill despite my full-time job. It’s still $10/month for my line, plus a $10/month surcharge for a smartphone. We have unlimited texting and unlimited data for everyone. Our nighttime minutes start at 7pm. I also have unlimited minutes with anyone on Sprint, ie my whole family. I probably use under 100 minutes per month out of our shared minutes. My phone bill costs my parents $20 a month. One day, I’ll force them to let me pay for it- but right now, they won’t let me, because entry level non-profit jobs in NYC don’t pay that well.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@RachelG8489 I think that’s great of your parents. It means they know you’ll always be able to contact them in an emergency, and call them anytime without having to worry about the cost (I’m sure they miss you, so this would be serious added value for them).
It’s what my Father in Law does with my Sister In Law who is currently at University – as long as you don’t hang up on your parents mid-conversation like she does, you’re a good kid. :-)

Titania (#489)

@RachelG8489 I’m almost 27, but my family has that same old, amazing, grandfathered Verizon plans with unlimited texting and data, and since calls are free to Verizon members and five specified numbers (aka the only people I actually talk to on the phone for any length of time are my parents) it basically costs nothing, comparatively. I started paying my parents the $30/month for data like 18 months ago, in the form of quarterly payments, and I paid for my own upgrade to an iPhone when my Blackberry died, but there is just no good reason to leave the family plan.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

I need to go back in time and be raised by richer parents/grandparents, meet a person with rich parents/grandparents, and THEN think about getting married.

deepomega (#22)

@WaityKatie No you don’t. Just don’t get married in Santa Barbara, or have a chandelier tent.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@deepomega $54,000 for the wedding alone WHUT? This article is giving me indigestion.

charmcity (#1,091)

This blew. my. MIND. for so many reasons and on so many levels! Thanks for putting the numbers out there.

jfruh (#161)

OH SHIT LET’S GET REAL ABOUT WEDDING EXPENSES YEAH ITEMIZED QUICKEN REPORTS YOU’RE ALWAYS THERE FOR ME

Preface: This was (a) in 2005 (though I don’t think inflation will have sent things up too much since then), and (b) in Baltimore. The number of guests who actually came clocked in at 130ish.

*Biggest single expense was the caterer. We didn’t have a wedding planner, so he also gamely took on the role of making sure things happened as they were supposed to on the day of. It was a buffet but a really nice one with lots of different kinds of food. $11,700, includes cake.
*Also, we bought our own booze (just beer and wine) and paid some guys the caterer recommended to bartend. $1,460.
*The venue — a museum — was site of both ceremony and reception. $3,425.
*Decorations: $750 (lots of random stuff we used to gussy up the space, mostly these bouquets of paper flowers that served as centerpieces, paper flowers are super cool and last forever, you guys)
*Wedding day clothes for my wife: $400 (J. Crew wedding dress, represent). (I also bought a new suit but I wear it for other things so I don’t count it as a wedding expense per se.)
*Makeup and primping for my wife: $350
*Invitations + save the date cards + postage for same + printing of our wedding programs: $1,000. This was the one expense that really kind of gobsmacked me.
*DJ: $600
*Photographer: $630 (She just took pictures and gave us a CD with all the files, which we really liked better than the weird “we hold your photos for ransom and you pay by the print” racket)
*We didn’t have a wedding party but we had “co-MCs” (my best friend and my brother-in-law, the latter of whom was the legal officiant, thanks to the Universal Life Church). Gifts for them: $150
*Wedding rings (simple white-gold bands) + engagement ring (custom-made around a diamond my stepmother gave us because it was one half of a set of earrings that she had lost the other half of): $930.
*Website: $20 (you can’t have a wedding without a website, chumps).

This puts the total at around $21,500, which on the one hand struck me then and strikes me now as a HORRIFYINGLY LARGE NUMBER — we had repeatedly claimed that we would not spend a lot, but we did. But, in comparison to others (like Mr. Greenwald!) this can seem shockingly low. We received financial help (in the form of “here are some checks with which you can pay for wedding expenses”) from our parents and my wife’s grandmother to the tune of $6,600. My dad also did the traditional “I am your dad and will pay for your rehearsal dinner” thing, which we tried to keep as small/simple as possible by really only including our parents and people who were participants in the wedding (MCs/readers/singers) and their dates, but it was at a fancy place and still probably was around $1,000.

Also, we spent a hefty sum on our honeymoon — two weeks in Greece, $5,300. In addition to a regular registry we did a “honeymoon registry” where people can pledge money to aspects of your honeymoon but really it just passes through to you as cash and you can spend it on cocaine if you want. (J/K WE SPENT IT ON OUR HONEYMOON, WHICH WAS VERY EXPENSIVE.) That registry plus my Italian step-relatives who give envelopes of cash as is traditionl got us around $7,200 in wedding gift cash, a figure that also gobsmacked me and made me feel more than a little awkward and terrible (we still deposited it all an everything though).

deepomega (#22)

@jfruh Shit invitations, that’s what I forgot. Love this though. Glad you didn’t buy greek cocaine.

Also the wedding rings are probably the one thing that the passage of time would have affected. You can’t get gold bands for under a grand now.

jfruh (#161)

@deepomega There was a t-shirt in the display window of a store near our hotel in Athens that said (in English) “WILL FUCK FOR COKE.” I still think it’s the most amazing t-shirt I’ve ever seen.

(Also you forgot invites as in forgot to account for those costs in your accounting, or forgot them in the sense that it’s 2012 and who the fuck needs a piece of thick embossed paper sent through the mail anymore?)

deepomega (#22)

@jfruh Haha the former, as a dude who likes type I definitely did way-too-expensive invites. I think it was not as much as yours, though, since we did a single sheet and no response envelopes or save the dates (because, as you point out, it is 2012). We did do Fancy Type on the invites but that’s because I’m a nerd, my partner would have been a-ok with Kinkos invitations, and even then only for the relatives who don’t understand email.

shannowhamo (#845)

@jfruh for anyone wanting to save $20-You can get a free wedding website on mywedding.com! They have cute templates, too, and NOT affiliated with The Knot because The Knot sucks.

loren smith (#2,300)

@deepomega My new husband and I got our (very plain, 14k white gold) wedding bands at the Zales Outlet store in the Tulalip outlet mall. We had to do an awful lot of explaining that “plain” doesn’t mean “many tiny tiny diamonds”, but we ended up with two lovely bands for about $700.

jfruh (#161)

Also, I do find it interesting that this is billed as “from the dude’s perspective” and doesn’t include things like dress, etc. Did you not have combined finances at the time? Do you not now?

peanutbutterpie (#1,450)

I don’t have all the breakdowns at hand but we spent somewhere around $12-$13K on the whole shebang in the metro DC area (90 guests). Rehearsal dinner was $500 in Chinese food for like 25-30 people at a relative’s house the night before. You can get a really nice looking diamond for a LOT less than $8K. Like A LOT. But I guess if you’ve got it, spend it! We also got around $2K in gifts from people (not counting what our families contributed to the wedding costs, which was substantial), I think? My advice is don’t get hung up on everything looking perfect or having matching linens and elaborate floral displays. We did have about $1K in flowers but other than that absolutely zero decorations and the whole thing still looked really fancy and classy.

zou bisou (#1,637)

@ David

It’s not your fault that your in-laws threw you a great party- hell it’s awesome! And you showed gratitude which is important.

@ All
Lots of bitter people on this thread. No one is putting a gun to your heads and forcing you to rent a chandelier for your tents. The fact of the matter is that weddings don’t have to be expensive, but lots of the good ones are. Just be thankful to be invited! Then go to city hall and do your thang.

deepomega (#22)

@zou bisou Well the problem (as with, say, FEMINISM) is not that you don’t “have” to have chandelier tents, it’s that there’s a ton of social pressure to have chandelier tents. This is what the Wedding Industrial Complex is for. You have parents who will tell you (as mine did!) that a food truck is a shitty thing to feed people at a wedding. You have friends who get real uncomfortable with you not having a bigass diamond ring, or a boss who says you’ll realize the error of your diamond-less ways on your second marriage. You have teevee shows devoted to glorifying expensive-because-they’re-expensive weddings. That’s the problem!

deepomega (#22)

@deepomega (That said, I would not get MAD at David for having an expensive wedding, any more than I’d get mad at a stay at home mom for staying at home! You can have an expensive wedding without it being part of the Wedding Industrial Complex!)

@deepomega The WIC is total bullshit and I hate it. We are agreed on that.

What I’ve noticed in wedding planning is that someone is always judging you. If you don’t have a chandelier tent, did you not want your Big Day to be special? If you do have a chandelier tent, why are you so fucking materialistic? And on and on and on.

deepomega (#22)

@TheclaAndTheSeals Yes. It’s a microcosm of patriarchy. (Serious sentence!) And I know that if my parents paid for it, my wedding would have cost twice as much, because their expectations would have gotten involved. Basically we should hate the culture, not the player. Or something.

@deepomega I hate the culture at large, but I also specifically hate all the people who say anything besides “congratulations” and “that sounds great” when it comes to wedding planning. Anything = both “you’re not serving liquor?” and “flowers are a waste of money.” Whether their point is that you should spend more money or less, neither is helpful.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@TheclaAndTheSeals And that’s why as adults we need to say “fuck people who judge how I spend my money” and move on. Grow a thick skin and have the party you want. Want to go to City Hall? Do it. Want to drop $50,000 grand on a big wedding? Do it. Just don’t cry that someone thinks it’s tacky/cheap/garish/whatever.

@josefinastrummer Word.

pernickety (#2,057)

@deepomega
I think the point about hating the game and not the player is a good one, but I can’t get 100% on board with it, because:
(1) The writer appears to be educated and intelligent and possessing of an internet connection. So he is not or should not be ignorant of problems with diamonds, the Wedding Industrial Complex, etc.;
and (2) if we absolve everyone of all individual responsibility, then the problem is reinforced by those people and we get nowhere;
and (3) it would be different if he expressed a genuine, personal and strongly held preference for chandeliers in tents and Tiffany diamond rings that could plausibly be separated from the preferences of the Wedding Industrial Complex, but he doesn’t. This is in contrast to the fancy ties, which seems so much better, since that’s clearly a personal thing.

Kate (#1,408)

You are so right, the Atlanta spin-off is VASTLY SUPERIOR to the original Say Yes to the Dress. WHY IS THAT?

Also: got married in 2004 for about $200 (ceremony, wedding bands, dress + shoes) and then had a teeny reception for about $500. Got engaged earlier this year with a massive 1.8 carat diamond ring, later realized I DID NOT WANT TO GET MARRIED to this person. Cost: heart comma broken, quantity one.

jfruh (#161)

Also ONE OTHER THING about David’s wedding in terms of “things we didn’t spend money on that I kind of wish we did” was the whole wedding planner thing. We didn’t have one — never even thought about getting one, because of money and the WIC and anyway throughout the whole process we were all like “why would you need one, planning a wedding is fun” (we really did have fun planning it!) but then on the day of (which was genuinely awesome, I should emphasize) there were several moments when one of us was like “Shit, we have to go be in charge of something for five minutes instead of just relaxing.” All our guests were actually super-helpful and eager to help (Important Wedding Lesson: The people who love you WANT to help, give them small tasks to do, it makes them feel special and they will do them with gusto) but my wife and I were the only ones who had the whole plan of the day in our heads, so there were times where we had to make decisions. It would have been nice to have a wedding planner just for like the last day or so! I’m sure that would set you back a four-figure amount, though, maybe? No idea what wedding planners cost, honestly wish David had broken out that cost.

deepomega (#22)

@jfruh What we did (and I leave this here mostly as a warning to other commenters getting married!) was hire a friend who does assistant directing shit for teevee and movies. It was perfect. She only worked the day of, was able to enjoy the party and reception, and still held everything together.

shannowhamo (#845)

@jfruh There are also “day of” planners- MUCH more affordable and makes things much much easier. I would have never considered it but my cousin got married right before me and so I used the same lady she did. $400 was PRICELESS in the grand scheme of things, making sure everything ran smoothly, set-up and tear down.

Brunhilde (#78)

@jfruh I did this for two of my sisters’ weddings, since I used to cater and event-plan. They were really casual affairs though, so it wasn’t hard, I had lots of family help (Oh we need people to put beer and ice into tubs? Which of my 27 cousins isn’t doing anything?), so it was fun, and good for me to have something to do so I didn’t get too drunk. Which I suspect was part of their initial motivations for asking me in the first place.

bitzy (#1,630)

@jfruh The general standard for a full-service wedding planner (not just day-of) is 10% of your costs. For example, she showed you a short list of 3 venues that met your criteria, you pick one that costs $10000, and she gets everything sorted out with them, so her fee is $1000 for that. Which seems insane, but I wish I had the cash to delegate a lot of that shit out. Luckily for us, the place we had our ceremony and reception was AWESOME (restored ferry boat from the 20s in the middle of Seattle) and includes a day-of event planner to run the show. A lot of caterers will also include a day-of coordinator person for a small fee (“small fee”) if you ask.

Brunhilde (#78)

@bitzy I can vouch for said venue’s (and said wedding’s!) awesomeness.

bitzy (#1,630)

@Brunhilde Thank you! I actually just added up what the whole shebang cost and got a little dizzy, but it was a lot of fun and Dad paid, so fuck it! And we have a LOT of alcohol left. Well, did. Last Sunday we drank all of the leftover champagne in mimosas, watched the Hawks, and ate frittatas (it was glorious) and I have been making my way through the wine. Liquor was pretty much toast by the end of the night, though.

ElBlynx (#499)

Hilarious aside, for years I thought “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was literally about a couple enjoying eating at a breakfast place called Tiffany’s. This is probably directly related to why I don’t understand diamond rings and have an engagement/wedding ring that survive mud, sea water, and rigorous pipetting.

theguvnah (#2,351)

This guy’s mom pays his phone bill but he’s getting married?

I’m pretty baffled by this.

Also – no, we don’t all “want a bigger rock.” #cheesey

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@theguvnah I’m with you. If you are getting married, your mom should not be paying your phone bill! And I think big engagement rings are tacky and not for me, so add me to the list of people who don’t want a bigger rock.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@josefinastrummer Well, his mom also paid for the wedding, so at least he’s consistent.

@theguvnah I have a moderately-sized sapphire ring and I manage to scratch myself with the edges of the setting sometimes. Aside from all the other reasons not to get a big diamond, I think I’m too clumsy for one.

Also too scatterbrained–I thought I’d lost my sapphire ring once and felt panicked and guilty until I found it. I don’t think I could leave the house with something that cost $8000 on my finger.

M.O.B. (#2,352)

Having been the mother of a bride I can tell you that there is so much that goes into arranging a wedding when you have large families, not the least of which is having to include everybody. And, as some commenters pointed out, it is hard to get a sense of what is a reasonable budget given the number of guests, type of venue etc. And, there are costs that become apparent only AFTER you have made those decisions. I learned a lot in the process and if I were to plan another wedding I would make different decisions. No regrets though.

In defense of phone bills: Some people have excellent family plans through a parents’ employer at a rate they would not be able to get on their own. Doesn’t every one try to save money any way they can these days?

deepomega (#22)

@M.O.B. I mean sure. I had one of those when I was younger. But I paid my parents back for it, because it was still mine, I was just piggybacking onto their discounts.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@M.O.B. Yes, we try to save money where we can. But at some point, you need to cut the cord and tell your kids to pay for their own phones/rent/weddings.

M.O.B. (#2,352)

@deepomega: Exactly.

Also, must mention that the wedding was the largest expense we have ever had (except our house) and it was a stretch. Don’t plan on doing it again; would NEVER consider buying a car that cost as much, but as a celebration of a life event with family and friends: totally worth it. Even moreso, now that it is in the past.

My parents pay my phone bill because we’ve been on the same family plan for a decade. They can pay $10 or I can get a new plan and pay $70. (I should’ve mentioned: I pay for my data.)

Sorry to not break out more numbers, all, but I didn’t see all the final bills because I didn’t pay for them. But it was not a $75,000 wedding, even with the rehearsal dinner.
–David

shannowhamo (#845)

@Critty Pryde@twitter I’ve been a little judgey about your wedding but I will defend staying on the family plan- I’m married, my husband gets his phone from work, so why no be on my parent’s plan?

meg (#329)

@Critty Pryde@twitter thanks for your honesty – I truly wish for your marriage to be as beautiful and joyful as your wedding day sounds! surely that’s all anyone can hope for when planning, attending or judging a wedding.

ThatWench (#269)

@Critty Pryde@twitter I also want to say thanks for putting yourself out and sharing your story/numbers. I know comments sections about wedding spending will always become pretty critical pretty fast (even with commenters that are all above-average, like the billfold), so even as we debate the WIC and the clothing and the stones and the like, I wanted to make sure you know that we appreciate your courage to be at the center of it all. And I think we all wish you and your family the best!

pernickety (#2,057)

@Critty Pryde@twitter
I’m not sure how this can be true, since I added the costs you gave (using 50k for the wedding itself, 3.5k for the rehearsal dinner and 1.4k for San Ysidro Ranch room for two nights), and the total is $71,382. This doesn’t include your bride’s dress, shoes, hair, makeup, nails, outfit for the rehearsal dinner, bridesmaids gifts, any bachelorette expenses, or the wedding bands.

Jane Dough (#2,358)

We got married (in San Francisco, 2005) for around $4500 (50 guests)

Ring: Used the diamond from my grandmother’s engagement ring, got a new setting: $150
Bride’s Dress: Gold evening dress by A.B.S. $160
Groom: Velvet jacket, silk shirt and dress pants: $275
Attendants: none
Flowers: picked up at the Flower Mart by the bride, arranged by a friend
Cake: Towering, elaborate dark chocolate cake, dusted with gold leaf (from a local bakery that does not do wedding cakes, but does make large special occasion cakes) $180
Hotel for wedding night: boutique hotel, $300
Venue for ceremony: Penthouse room in same hotel, with fireplace and wraparound windows (I forgot– maybe $200 for the hour?)
Venue for reception: rented out a wine bar for the night: $800 plus $2500 bar minimum
Officiant: $300
Food: $1500 (catered from Asqew)
Decorations: $250 for candles, silver confetti, branches with white string lights, and tulle.

Everything was lovely, except for Asqew, who effed up our order.

1. I’m waiting for the new Siberian diamond mines to come online — I’m budgeting a week’s salary so we can get a wheelbarrow or two full.

2. I’d like to do the wedding itself Russian style, with a trip to City Hall followed by champagne and photos with a bear cub at a local monument.

3. I haven’t run these plans by the S.O. yet.

I respect and admire the willingness to post the actual cost of things, knowing that the wedding ambushers would jump all over it. That said, our wedding cost around $2,000.00 for a wedding at home including rings, clothing, honeymoon weekend, officiant, luncheon with champagne – everything. There was additional cost for travel, as we were married in Massachusetts since Oklahoma did not feel like Marriage Equality was appropriate. If a couple or their families have enough money to spring for a big wedding without incurring debt I say Go For It, but it is certainly nothing worth going into debt for.

Brunhilde (#78)

WHICH SAN DIEGO BREWERY!?!? Okay, I’ll go finish reading this now.

Brunhilde (#78)

@Brunhilde The only other question I have is: Which strip club? Cheetas?

Pumpkin (#2,153)

Oh god, this post gave me hives.

bitzy (#1,630)

For more cost reference, here is my breakdown:
Seattle, early September (high season), about 85 ppl

Venue (including ceremony, day-of planner, cake, and catering) – $8,500
Officiant – $300
Stationery and postage – $775
Photographer (digital images, no prints or albums from them) – $1700
Band – $1750
Hotel suite for 3 nights and late night room service – $700
Flowers – $600
Transportation (family, wedding party and out of towners) – $1100
Beer and booze – $775
Wine - $800
Rings – $550
Suit for him and ties for wedding party – $500 (I think?)
My dress and jewelry – $1000
Gifts for wedding party – $250ish
Primping for me – $200

I honestly have no idea what the rehearsal dinner cost but it was really nice and included all of our out of town guests (around 45 ppl) and was generously paid for by my in-laws.

I refuse to add up those numbers because I know it will equal a ridiculous amount.

Oh my god, I just finally read this now and all I can say is HOOOOOOOWHAT!

I managed to get married, and none of this madness happened. None of it.

Faintly Macabre (#1,043)

@werewolfbarmitzvah But how will your male wedding guests remember you without custom-made ties???

Olivia2.0 (#260)

I mean – am I to assume that this wedding was approximately $60,000? I just (JUST!!!!) got back from our honeymoon and we got married in Chicago, 65 people, and did it for under $17,000…..I mean, it’s Chicago – it’s not inexpensive…this seems unreasonable to me – or at least A LOT!

P.S. Mike Dang I am HAPPY to itemize my wedding expenses – and I’m also an event planner as a job so…maybe helpful? I guess mostly why I bring that up is that I have a VERY comprehensive spreadsheet detailing every cost. Of everything.

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