The average wedding cost in 2015 was upwards of $30,000 according to theKnot.com. Here at the Free Wedding we think that’s nuts! I mean, we’re talking $30,000 for one day of your life. That’s more than many people make in a year. That’s the cost of a new car, or a down payment on a house. Heck, that’ll buy you a house outright in some areas of the country. How many hours would you have to work to make $30,000? I realize that little girls start dreaming of their wedding day from a young age. Right now my 2 and 3 year old daughters have decided they want to marry each other, which is fine by me because I’ll only have one wedding to pay for! But I digress, little girls spend years developing crazy expectations about what their wedding should look like, which might be why they feel entitled to an extravagant event centered around themselves. But does anyone else think this is insanity? Apparently not, because the wedding industry nets more than $80 billion per year!
Anyway, this got us thinking, how could that money be put to better use? Can younger couples really afford to spend tens of thousands on lavish weddings at the start of their marriage? Is your fancy wedding bankrupting your future?
Let’s explore a hypothetical scenario:
Instead of spending that $30,000 on a wedding, a couple instead puts that money into an investment account. They leave it there untouched until they decide to retire. When they check their balance 40 years later, they have nearly $500,000. Now that’s not chump change.
Assuming 7% growth over time (a conservative estimate), the following would be true:
A couple who got married in their 20’s would double their money in their 30’s, quadruple it by their 40’s, and have nearly $500,000 by retirement age. And that doesn’t include any additional investment by the couple. Alternatively, you would have to invest $2000/year for 40 years to achieve the same result.
Having this money could be useful throughout the marriage for things like:
- Supporting your family during a period of unemployment
- Allowing one spouse to stay at home with the kids when they are young
- Covering unexpected health problems/expenses
- Funding your kid’s college education
- Taking an anniversary trip
- Allowing you to retire early
What if more couples did this when they got married instead of buying a huge wedding. They would have far more financial security, and would probably worry less about money—which happens to be the number one thing couples fight about the most.
Now, I realize that often the parents are the ones paying for the wedding. But don’t you think many parents would rather set their children up for financial success than blow a crap-ton of money on a big party? Everyone comes from a different financial background, and if you have the money to spend then you have the right to do what you wish with it.
When my daughters get ready to walk down the aisle, I plan to offer them and their future spouses two options—Option 1: We’ll decide on a total wedding budget, and whatever money is not spent from that budget will become a cash wedding gift to invest or use for a house, or a rainy day fund—completely up to them; or Option 2: You can have the giant crazy wedding, but no check. I’m willing to bet that given the choice, many couples would try to keep costs under control and choose Option 1. By giving the couple a financial stake in the game, they will be more willing to make compromises and choose less-expensive options because it helps their bottom line. The trend I’m seeing is that couples who pay for their own weddings tend to be more conscious of the money being spent, where couples who have their parents write the checks tend to spend more because they want what they want.
So before you throw a ton of money at your wedding, consider alternate ways that you could use the money. You deserve a wonderful wedding day, but before you go writing big checks decide what’s worth more—an expensive wedding now, or more financial security in the future. If you pick the latter, your future self says thank you!