Over the Top Weddings Becoming America’s New Normal

MoneyAmericans are spending more on their weddings than ever before.

It can be easy to get carried away with spending on the big day — it is a celebration of romance, after all — but according to a new survey by WeddingWire, the spending is getting a little out of hand.

For example, the average cost of a wedding ceremony and reception was around $16,000 back in 2007. Nowadays, an engaged couple can expect to spend about $28,000. And inflation only counts for a portion of that increase. To put that in perspective, this price increase still represents a 46% increase in a decade.

What’s interesting though is how the average number of wedding guests has barely changed. In 2007, it was standard to have 110 guests attend the festivities; nowadays, the average number of wedding guests is 165. This means that the overall price of an average wedding has increased a staggering 81%.

So why are brides and grooms spending more on their wedding, without having a significant jump in the number of guests they invite? There are so many aspects of planning a wedding that can end up costing a pretty penny, including food and drinks, venue, flowers, design, etc.

WeddingWire expert Anne Chertoff explains to Refinery 29 that the average couple may be spending more as a way to enhance their guest’s experiences. Chertoff believes that there is more of a pressure now to host a picture-perfect and fun event, and this pressure can be blamed in part on the rise of social media.

Only 20% of couples a decade ago reported that they felt pressure from the media to host a perfect experience, but today that number has grown to 40%. Because of this overwhelmingly need to have a buzzworthy event, about a third of all couples are hiring wedding planners, compared to 10% in 2007. They are also focusing on outdoor weddings, and considering that the Knot’s 2014 Real Weddings Study found that June is the most popular month to get married, this bodes well for Instagram-worthy fantastic photo opportunities.

On top of social media pressure, young people are also delaying marriage. Because many couples are getting married later in life, they may simply have more money to spend on their wedding day.

Even though the dream wedding may be fun, these wedding expenses can fare relatively horribly on the newly married couple. According to the U.S. Census, the average income nationwide hasn’t risen to match this over the top spending. It has actually stayed rather idle — growing from $56,122 in 2007 to $55,775 in 2015. When compared to inflation rates, this means the average household income has actually decreased by 20%, yet spending is at an all-time high.

Brides and grooms are even spending a lot more on the engagement ring. Even though nearly a third of those buying diamond jewelry are willing to spend more than $1,000 for the perfect ring, it looks like that number may be becoming the new normal. On average, the price of an engagement ring has grown by a whopping 57% since 2007 to a shocking $4,758.

Interestingly enough, the number of wedding Do-It-Yourself projects has more than doubled, despite increased spending. So even though brides and grooms are trying harder to save money in some areas of planning, they are spending quite a lot in others. Some are even asking their guests to shell out a whole chunk of cash to attend their wedding.

Take one U.K woman for example. According to a recent Yahoo! Lifestyle report, she was invited to attend a wedding week in the U.S. and was expected to travel across the Atlantic with her husband to attend. She was told to leave her children at home because they weren’t allowed at the ceremony or reception.

In the invitation, the woman was asked to attend five different organized events, pay for her and her husband’s accommodation, a car hire, and purchase something on the bride’s gift registry, where no item was less than $500. Additionally, they were expected to pay for the bride’s hotel night the before to show her their support.

Not to mention the bride and groom didn’t even attend this woman’s wedding.

The woman crunched the numbers and estimated that this wedding week would cost around $9,450. But this astronomical figure didn’t eve include food except for the day of the wedding.

In an attempt to justify this hefty price, the woman and her husband had considered taking their young children to Florida then driving five hours each way to the wedding the day of. The future bride and groom rebuked this idea, saying their guests had to attend all the festivities leading up to the big day, or not bother coming.

Over the top, to say the least. But, unfortunately, not that uncommon either.

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