Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Weddings are expensive for everyone March 20, 2011

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 11:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

First:  No, I am not engaged.  Just wanted to calm everyone down.

Whenever I read a personal finance book/blog/website, I am warned that I better save up for my wedding.  I’m quoted figures like $20k, or more, for even a small wedding.  I’ve thought, “Well, I love my friends and family and everything, but $20k for one day?  Are you serious?”  Even though I’m not planning a wedding or anything, I’ve already made a few ( financial) decisions about if/when I get married.

My dress will NOT cost thousands of dollars. I’ve seen episodes of Say Yes to the Dress (I admit, I watch it from time to time!) where the girls have a price goal of $5k, or more, or sometimes the father announces “Price is no object, I just want my little girl to be happy”.  At which point I yell at the TV.  I want to look good, but I’m pretty sure I can look pretty good without spending a fortune.  Plus, I’d only wear the dress one day.  And knowing my luck, I’d probably spill something down the front of it.

My cake will be amazing. I don’t need it super fancy.  I need it super tasty.  I also don’t need it in the shape of something ridiculous and difficult to make.  I might even go with cupcakes.  Haven’t really thought farther than “delicious cake”.

Other than that, haven’t really given much thought to what I’d want for my wedding.  So, we’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it.

But my other realization about weddings?  They’re not just expensive for the Bride and Groom (or their parents, depending on the situation).  They’re also pretty expensive for the guests.

I’m planning on attending two weddings this year.  I’m glad to be going, because I love the couples that are getting married, and it will be great to be there on their big day, and share it with them and a lot of other friends.  But these are the first weddings I’ve been invited to that require travel.  All other weddings that I’ve been to (with the exception of my older sister’s) have been local.  A GPS-guided drive to a town outside of Boston.  No flights.  No hotel stays.  Just a drive to a beautiful wedding.

So, I’m realizing that, besides saving up for my wedding, I need to save up money for my friends’ weddings.  Airfare isn’t cheap.  Round trips tickets could be upwards of $500.  And even with a group rate, the hotels are still $100 or more per night.  Plus, there’s the wedding gift, and I’m probably going to need a new dress.  Yes, I want to buy some new dresses.  And so maybe I’m using my friends’ weddings as an excuse for new dresses.

So, I am going to have to start two different wedding funds:  the one for my own wedding, and the one for my friends’ weddings.  They’re going to keep getting married, I can’t stop them!  And I want to go.  I don’t want anyone to think I’m not willing to go to a friend’s wedding.  Now I just need to figure out which flights to get.  I’m really bad at shopping for flights, through all those online sites.  Where do you go to find cheap flights?  I’ve tried a lot of the aggregated sites like Kayak, Expedia, and Travelocity, but I also know that not all airlines are searched by those sites.  So, suggestions would be greatly appreciated on that front!

Also, I’m curious…those of you out there that have gotten married, or are getting married soon:  how much did your wedding cost?  Is that $20k figure books keep throwing around accurate?  Did you spend a lot less or a lot more than that amount?  And how did you keep your costs low?

How much will you spend?  And do you have any definites like my dress and cake plans?  Is cost no object?  Or will you be trying to get by spending as little as possible?


9 Responses to “Weddings are expensive for everyone”

  1. Revanche Says:

    *hand raised* Cheapskate here. I haven’t posted my budget yet because it’s still a work in progress while I break out categories and the amounts/percentages I’m assigning to each, but this isn’t going to be that $20K average.

    You’ll be hearing more about the actual details and what I actually spend soon enough!

    I’ll likely spend (probably am coming close) more on attending friends’ weddings than on my own wedding. That savings fund is my travel and gift fund, whereas my own wedding fund is separate and temporary.


  2. Jared Says:

    Costs escalate most rapidly, I think, when you start expanding the guestlist.

    Catering ranges anywhere form $40-150+ per person if you’re having a meal. Open bar tabs can run up a very high bill as well. In addition, more people means the need for a larger (and more expensive) venue.

    You can cheap out on a lot of stuff on your big day, but if you really want to cut down on the big bucks, pare down the guestlist.


    PS: Another thing to consider is where you’re getting married – compare say, a church in Peabody with a local catering company against a banquet hall at the Hyatt on the Charles River…


  3. Annelise Says:

    I’m in two weddings this summer. Basically, if I am going to be a bridesmaid (these are times 4 and 5), I plan on spending at least $1,000. I will get payback though. 🙂

    Airfarewatchdog is the best place to search for flights. Sign up for their fare alerts…each Wednesday they send an email with fares from your city to domestic and int’l destinations. They also have a piece on Yahoo about how to find the cheapest fares. And they post “flash sales” on twitter and their blog. Also, the Bing travel predictor will let you know whether you should buy a ticket now or wait. Very helpful.


  4. Annelise Says:

    For hotels, sites like Expedia DO have coupons, so search Retailmenot for Expedia,, Hotwire, and Priceline coupons. Sometimes hotels will also match the online rates without booking directly. You can also use to search for strategies on how to get exactly the hotel you want or nicest possible hotel on Hotwire/Priceline. They even have maps of the Priceline hotels. I have saved an additional 50% off the discounted price by bidding on Priceline before.

    As for clothes, Nordstrom Rack is a great place to look. And Target has really cute, basic party dresses that are usually on sale for $40 or less.

    Okay, now I am done. Sorry for the long comment!


  5. Kendall Says:

    As far as airline tickets go, check out for flights (it’s a hip chipmunk). It looks at major aggregators (orbitz, expedia, etc). It is an aggregator of aggregators if you will, but it also looks at the flights in a very helpful and awesome format. It arranges them by “agony” (some balance of cost and flight length), but you an also arrange them by time and price. It’s quite helpful. I think the only airline you’ll miss if you use that is southwest, but southwest not usually cheaper unless you buy far in advance.


  6. Anisa Says:

    I think ours came it at around $13K, but we didn’t really make much of an attempt to save money. Snowflake finds Say Yes to the Dress completely baffling because, in his opinion, my dress was the best dress imaginable and since we paid less than $1000 for it, nobody should ever pay more than that. It also really helped that we decided against the Marriott ($84/person for lackluster food and drink and uninteresting reception hall) in favor of Malone’s Banquet (Malone’s is a really delicious steakhouse in my home town, we paid $50/person for delicious food and much better selection at the bar.)


  7. SS4BC Says:

    I’m going to two friends weddings this summer and likely between the two I’ll spend around $1000 total. Airfare, places to stay, car rental. It sucks. I love my friends and want to be there, but man, having my vacation money go towards paying for a weekend wedding isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I started saving for the vacation initially. =)

    That said, I’ve been VERY lucky that the majority of my friends have stayed single until this year. I had a good 6 years of no weddings until this year where I have 2. So I guess I can’t complain too much. 😉


  8. Craig Says:

    So if you’re looking at many places for Saturday/Sunday in a major city, you’re looking at more than 20K just because most hotels and other venues have minimum amounts, regardless of the number of guests, so even with less guests, it may be hard to find a venue that is suited for less guests. Restaurants are supposedly cheaper options, but I would say if you want a wedding in a city (easier for out of town guests to get to then somewhere in a suburb), then you’re looking at much more than 20K. They also tend to raise prices like education, more than inflation each year.


  9. […] = 'wpp-258'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true};I was chatting with Stephanie from Graduated Learning about how to minimize costs for wedding travel the other day and figured I’d make a post […]


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