I got a lot of comments on the cost of my wedding yesterday. I should have clarified a few details. I was still a little groggy from the jet-lag. I'll address all the comments here.
Moneymonk noted that 23K is a down payment on a house and car. My perception of money is different, because I lived in Boston and San Francisco and it's not close to a down payment here. That doesn't make it any less money, but just something worth thinking about. The amount of money means something different to nearly every reader. Bill Gates probably wouldn't bat an eye at such a tiny sum. To someone who make minimum wage though, this is probably an enormous windfall. MapGirl really helped make me feel good by saying that she knows people that spent as much for half the amount of people.
Susanna mentioned that "the cost of a wedding depends not only on how many guests you have, but where you have it." The location of our wedding was very ideal. It was in a extremely ritzy New England town. A friend of mine looked to have her wedding there, but I think the cost would have been near 6-figures for what she had in mind. The connections we had helped us get a similar quality place at cost. She also mentioned the photographer absconded with her money
(yikes). One way we saved on costs was by not getting any prints. We simply chose to get the negatives and will print out what we think is the best. We'll cut a couple of corners on the wedding albums and not get the thousand dollar bindings and everything.
PF Odyssey wisely mentioned that the net expense is much less. We haven't opened all the gifts yet, but if I had to take a guess, I'd say that we'll probably get $12K in gifts. I didn't really want to bring in the net expense into things, because it just seems wrong to factor in gifts.
We did receive some financial help from our parents. One thing that we did early on is ask parents to pay for the relatives and their friends. This may sound like an unusual prospect, but we wanted to have a much smaller wedding. My wife's mother invited over 60 friends and relatives including second cousins. My wife's father (they are divorced) added another 30 people to the invite list of people who "must be invited". If we were going to finance this on our own we would have just invited immediate family and friends. The agreement was a compromise that I suggested which only seemed far. With this financial deal and the aforementioned gifts, there's a chance that we could come close to break even.
Angie Hartford chimes in with "What you spent on it is your business. FYI: $22,500 is 11.66% of your total net worth. Whether or not you consider that to be a good use of your money is also your business." Ouch, I shuttered in reading that. However, I looked at it a little more and realized that while it was true with the original information I wrote, it's not true in reality. Also, the net worth I post is my own net worth, not my new wife's. We are not rushing in to combining finances (tomorrow I may talk more about this), but her net worth is close to mine (she has more in real estate equity, mine is more in retirement savings). If we had to finance the whole $22,500 ourselves it would probably be closer to 7% of our net worth. We planned it so that wouldn't be the case, and the net expense is very minimal to our net worth - perhaps close to one month's savings by the time it's all said and done.
I'm going to go a little off-tangent and claim that the net worth calculation isn't very valid anyway. If a person was just out of Havard Business school with a 150K salary, limited debt (pretend my parents helped me), and limited net worth, should he/she have a very, very cheap wedding? I would argue that they could have at least an average wedding - one many times their limited net worth. And now back to wedding comments...
Jon mentioned that the open bar was the toughest decision at his wedding. After everyone in my social circle, even the ones that make less money than us, had an open bar, I felt that it was only fair to pay for their drinks. Yes, it was expensive and I think came in at $3500 for all the top shelf liquor we had there. I had thought that we had requested more Absolut-level vodka than Grey Goose, but in hindsight the difference in pricing was minimal, so I'm glad we went with the best stuff.
Dong and Chuck asked about the honeymoon. I don't know how I didn't mention this in the original post. When we lived in Boston we had planned to go to Napa on our honeymoon. Now that we live an hour drive from Napa, it seemed a little silly. We'll probably take a weekend soon and go there. San Francisco in the summertime is pretty nice for someone that's used to Boston winters. In November, we have a Carribean cruise scheduled along with a week stay in Aruba - one of my favorite places in the world. The cruise was booked for around $650 a person, and because it includes meals, should be fairly cheap. I had mentioned in the past that we own a timeshare in Aruba. We will likely do some shopping at the local grocery store to get food on the cheap. We'll do most of the dinners out, but I imagine breakfast and lunch will be home-cooked. We'll save on flights because it's more or less what we would have paid for our usual yearly vacation - we'll just be there longer.
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