There are a number of great mysteries in life.
Where does the Abominable Snowman live?
Where was the Garden of Eden?
Do any of the Kardashian cabal have any discernible skills?
Kim Kardashian is engaged. Again. This time it’s to rapper Kanye West. They plan to spend $5 million for a Mediterranean honeymoon. There’s no guess of how much the wedding will cost. But, it’s bound to cost far more than the $10 million for Kardashian’s previous wedding and 73-day marriage to basketball player Kris Humphries.
That wedding included $2 million just for flowers and $20,000 for a cake.
It also included $50,000 for a facelift for matriarch Kris Jenner because—well—when you look like Kris Jenner you should have a facelift for a wedding.
Now, if we were absolutely honest, most of us would say we wouldn’t mind living like a Kardashian, surrounded by money and gifts of all kinds. Being famous for having been on TV reality shows appeals to the lowest part of our cerebral cortex.
Many of us try to get close. Here’s one way.
The average wedding now costs almost $29,000, according to the website The Knot, which tracks those kinds of amazing statistics.
Here are some of the costs that make up that average wedding.
First, there’s the engagement ring. Figure an average cost of $5,431, according to The Knot.
Once the ring is secured, it’s time to send invitations. Cost is a mere $453.
Because weddings are like live theatrical performances, there’s a rehearsal dinner—that one averages $1,135. The cost of hotel rooms and amenities is not figured into the overall wedding costs.
Wedding gowns, worn once and stored in mothballs, average $1,211, according to The Knot. Some gowns for the financially avaricious can top $20,000. The groom’s tuxedo, which is rented and returned, is only about $230.
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Because weddings are often more about vanity than love, there is an average cost of $2,379 for the photographer and commercially-produced prints. But you can’t just have still photos. You need video. Add another $1,619 for a videographer.
The average cost for the florist is $1,997. These would be the flowers and arrangements that will wilt two days before the honeymoon is over and the newly-wed couple are sparring about why the groom spends more time watching football than the bride does shopping.
If there are musicians at the ceremony, add an average cost of $554 for a singer and a pianist, organist, or even chamber trio to play soothing music and the “Wedding March.”
The average combined cost of the ceremony and reception sites is about $15,000. The good news is that includes the seats and decorated tables. But, it doesn’t include the minister, rabbi, or lawyer who prepares the pre-nup and seven years later the divorce papers.
Catering, which costs about $63 per person, is usually a buffet of prepared foods that can be picked up at the local supermarket for about ten bucks. Favors at the reception tables average $289, the smallest cost, says The Knot. For dessert, there’s a $560 wedding cake, a piece of which the bride and groom feed to each other if they’re civilized, or smash into each other’s face for that one special photograph that will be framed as a remembrance of downright stupidity.
A small combo, which has memorized “The Hokey Pokey” and “The Chicekn Dance,” will cost $3,084. But, the average DJ and sound system is only $988.
Add a $708 rental for a limousine, because what else says love more than an over priced car to show one’s importance?
Just figuring the average cost, the couple begins their marriage with a $28,000 deficit. Honeymoons, in reality an extended Spring Break, can add at least $2,000, with many over $10,000, an expense that credit card companies encourage.
Here’s a reality—the cost of a wedding has no relationship to the enduring love of the couple, and all of the wedding gifts won’t even come close to the cost of the wedding, even if the bride’s financially-strapped parents pay for much of it. So, there’s no need to show off your have-not wealth in order to impress others at how wonderful you are or how much they think they are.
Why not just use that $28,000 and the cost of the honeymoon for a downpayment on a house? Or for a cushion to pay necessary household expenses? Or to help raise that child who was so inconsiderate that she decided to be born three months after the wedding.
But there is one way to impress others. If you are determined to spend about $30,000 for a wedding, why not take 10 percent of everything you plan to spend, and lower your expectations. Instead of $2,000 for flowers, why not just $1,800? No one will notice.
For the average wedding, you’d save about $3,000 total. Now take that $3,000 and donate it to something that really really matters—like the Humane Society . . . or the Red Cross . . . or the local Food Cupboard . . . or the Free Medical Clinic . . . or maybe to an organization for the homeless.
They can all use that money far more than your $1,847 wedding planner.
Walter and Rosemary Brasch, who have been happily married three decades, spent less than $500 for a nice wedding and home-made reception. Walter Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania.