The average wedding should cost $5500

Remember the other day (week?) how I was saying I’d love to know the actual median income of marrying couples? Well, the statistics are in! Yay numbers! Excite!

I did a little sleuthing and calculating. Statistics NZ tells us the median marrying age in NZ is 30.1 for women and 32.2 for men. So, applying this information to the handy personal income X age table, we can estimate the median income for those ages is about $32k a year. So as a couple, they’re bringin in $64k. But wait, there’s more! We have to take tax into account. The online tax calculator reveals after tax, the couple is left with about $55k in actual money to live on. If they’re financially responsible, they could save 10% of their income for a year, leaving them with: $5500 wedding budget.

Now there are two important things to notice here.

One. This is a median, which means HALF OF ALL WEDDINGS SHOULD COST LESS THAN THIS. Even a $10k wedding, which is considered pretty low budget, is freakin double the cost of what should be the completely average, run of the mill wedding. I don’t know the size and shape of the income distribution, so I can’t tell what proportion of marrying couples actually can afford a $10k wedding. But I’m guessing it’s a pretty small number. Which brings me to…

Two. Numbers that get thrown around as being low budget are still unaffordable for almost everyone. Wedding norms and expectations are SO out of touch with our lives, it’s insane. It’s like everyone going around thinking they can’t do without a personal butler and a private jet. Weddings are categorically out of proportion.

So from now on, when some magazine features ‘budget’ weddings in the $10-20k range, we can say, “Screw you, Magazine. You don’t know shit. Lower income wedding budgets should be more like $2-5k, you snob”.

Never have I more wanted to shout We need a new paradigm!! And a revolution!

And just in case anyone needs reminding, expensive weddings are not inherently better than affordable ones. This couple had two celebrations, a $600 one a WIC compliant one. Guess which one the bride preferred?

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11 responses to “The average wedding should cost $5500

  1. Why save for a year? Aren’t most engagements more like 1.5 years?

  2. Yes, $5,000 was the sweet spot for us as well, which was indeed 10% of our income as the Hindsight Groom was then unemployed. We paid cash for everything. If the money wasn’t in the designated savings account, we didn’t spend. Period.

    In the absence of a “reasonable” wedding budget, we had to be both creative and thoughtful. Not creative in the way my MIL suggested and making everyone buy meal tickets, but creative in thinking of fun, low cost options that our guests would enjoy.

    In the end we had two weddings (one on each coast) for under $5,000 and began our marriage financially solvent. Even nowhere are few things I spend thousands of dollars on. Because in the real world $5k is a nice chunk of money for most people!

  3. Dave – well, I think one reason engagements take 1.5 years now is because that’s how long people need in order to save up. I understand that back in the day engagements tended to be way, way shorter. And their weddings were obviously correspondingly way, way more affordable. Sounds like a good situation to me. So the 1 year thing I picked is actually still quite a long time to be saving 10% of your income, and 1 year is somewhat trivial to use as a benchmark, but I had to choose something, and in today’s context is just seemed kind of reasonable 🙂

    Christie – TWO weddings for $5000? So they each cost an average $2500? This is stuff I need to hear more about. Do you have a complete budget break down somewhere? I’d love to read it.

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  5. I agree with your wedding budget. Also, what is up with the idea that the engagement ring has to be the value of 3 months salary? Unless, you are Prince William that money should be going into a tax deferred retirement plan–not a ring.

    • Leslie – YEP. I don’t find financial irresponsibility to be romantic!

      Apparently the 3 month thing was invented by De Beers (yknow, the diamond company) some time in the first half the 20th century. Hmm, I should look this up.

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  7. This is very, very interesting. We just started planning our wedding a couple of months ago, and decided:
    1. We wanted something simple, fun, with our friends and family (about 60ish people).
    2. We also wanted to spend as little as possible (meaning that we would cut down everything we deemed unnecessary but still make our guests comfortable with enough food, drinks, etc). And I like making stuff so I’m actually looking forward to all the DIY projects!

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