The cost of getting hitched

Posted in marriage and relationship
by Lorain County Moms

By Traci Arbios,

Spring is upon us, a time when young lovers’ thoughts turn to each other, their relationship therewith and the explosive ticking that is the pressure of the social clock. I cannot begin to count the number of times my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I, just a few years into our courtship, were asked, “So when are you getting married?”

“Never,” I would reply to their gaping maws. “It’s too expensive.”

But it wasn’t the party I worried about. Or the honeymoon, because we had no plans for one anyway. And nevermind that we had both been married and divorced previously; we could handle that emotional baggage. Our issue? The fact marriage would permanently blend and increase our individual family numbers to a massive six kids (and one almost live-in best friend that eventually did become our seventh), ALL OF WHOM would need college educations. Also? We would suffer deeply from a much heavier tax burden. THOSE were very serious issues. Well, those and the recession.

In the end, love won out. We wanted the words — husband and wife — to be applicable to each other and would connect us as a family. And though our wedding cost FAR less than the national average and our Familymoon even less so? Our wedding budget was still one of those “If I don’t look at it in the face, it’ll go away” items for us.

FACT: We did not look too carefully, and it went quickly. But money issues? THEY did not go away. Rather, they were always waiting for us to look at them.

Money is a chronic issue in most people’s love lives, like that constant, necessary third partner in any relationship; and when it’s not around? NOBODY is happy. Best to be honest and do the breakdown of your needs up front.

So, lovebirds: if you’re thinking about tying the knot, be aware of some general numbers:

The Cost of Getting Hitched (according to a 2011 Brides “American Wedding Study”)

Reception (AWESOME party for roughly 150 to 200 guests): $13,370

Dress (that you will wear EXACTLY one time): $1,290

Photographer (to capture every moment for all eternity lest you forget): $3,300

Florist (whose product dies like pretty much within 24 hours): $1,430

Cake (NOM): $480

Rings (which you will have all your lives): $1,500

Other (license, tips, bridal party gifts, panty hose, all the itty-bitty stuff):$5,130

TOTAL: $26,500

So there you go.

Personally, our wedding was mere itty-bitty a fraction of this massive total — less than the “other” amount in itself. So how did I keep costs down?

Our reception was smaller — about 80 people — and held in our home.

I made the cake and the bouquets/boutonnieres.

I wore a gorgeous, awesome dress off the rack.

We didn’t hire a photographer.

Our rings are simple, matching bands.

We DID have a caterer, though.

In all honesty, we had a budget and agreed on the items that were important to each of us. And we earnestly tried our best not to go into (too much) debt.

Things we knew: We love parties, and throwing parties. We knew this wouldn’t be our one and only party, so we didn’t have that “It’s our only chance” feeling. Plus we’d done this before; it didn’t need to be a ONCE IN A LIFETIME shindig for obvious reasons.

So if you think heading down the aisle might be in your plans, chat with each other about the budget, and what items are important to you. And after the wedding, remember to keep finances a regular, sincere discussion. Because according to a 2008 GFK Roper poll? Twenty-two percent of divorcees say money was the cause.

Happy spring.

Traci Arbios is a mom, stepmom, adoptive mom and working mom. She lives with and writes about her blended family of seven kids, two pets and one amazingly patient husband at Find her on Facebook at; contact her at; or zap her on twitter, @traciAWESOME.

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. User agreement and discussion guidelines.