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A $10,000 Wedding? 40% of Americans Say, "I Do"

Affluent households thing between $5,000 and $1000 is appropriate to spend on a wedding. Are they for real?

| BY Donald Liebenson


There were 2,270,593 weddings in America in 2014. According to the Wedding Report, a research company that tracks wedding industry trends based on government data and daily surveys of couples, the average cost of these nuptials was $26,444.

But four-in-ten couples went the frugal route, spending no more than $10,000, according to a USA TODAY report on the study.

That’s about right, agree one-third of Affluent households surveyed in 2014 by Spectrem Group, who said that between $5,000 and $10,000 was an appropriate amount to spend on a wedding. Twenty-seven percent upped the ante a bit, indicating that between $10,000 and $20,000 was an appropriate cost for a wedding.

From “Say Yes to the Dress” to “Bridezillas,” the most extravagant weddings have become reality TV fodder. But Affluent households do prize frugality as among the primary factors in their wealth creation (along with hard work, education and smart investing). Weddings can put that philosophy to the test.

What do they consider to be the biggest wedding expenses? Affluent respondents are putting more money into the food (33 percent)  and venue (32 percent) than they are in the ring and honeymoon (11 percent each). Less than 10 percent said the bar bill was their biggest wedding expenditure.  

Across wealth levels, the wealthiest respondents (with a net worth of at least $ 5 million) were more apt to spent most on the venue, while those with a net worth of less than $100,000 prioritized spending on the ring (21 percent) and the honeymoon (16 percent).

Age is not a significant factor in what couples prioritize in their wedding spending, although the youngest respondents under the age of 40 were the most likely to focus on the ring (19 percent).

And now the reality check. According to its latest annual Real Weddings Study, the Knot, a multiplatform wedding resource puts the average cost of a wedding at $31,213: Other key expenditures:

Wedding dress:  $1,357

Engagement ring: $5,855

Wedding planner: $1,973

Venue: $14,006

Spending on wedding gifts is in line with accepted gift giving etiquette, Spectrem Group finds.. Four-in-ten affluent respondents (42 percent) said that between $101 and $200 is an appropriate amount to spend on a wedding gift for a close friend of family member, while nearly half (48 percent) said that up to $50 was appropriate to spend for a casual friend or business associate.

And who is paying for all this? On average, The Knot survey found, the bride’s parents and the bride and groom each contribute 43 percent, while the groom’s parents kick in 12 percent of the total wedding budget. Only 12 percent of couples pay for the wedding entirely themselves.

Last year, 45 percent of couples did go over budget, while roughly one-fourth said they did not even have a wedding budget, up from 17 percent in 2009.

Affluent households are not proponents of going over budget when it comes to wedding planning, according to Spectrem Group research. Nearly all (96 percent) said they have not taken on debt to finance a wedding.


About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.